Sometimes there is a story behind a story, or in this case, a story behind a photograph.
It involves the front page picture Tuesday showing a plaque of the Ten Commandments on the desk of Lima Police Lt. Jim Baker. It was a neat photograph used to illustrate a story about how people deal with having their religious faith tested at work.
An even neater story, however, centers on how similar plaques ended up in so many Allen County homes.
It involves a retired veteran living up to a promise made during wartime.
Fred Carver, of Lima, remembered the many battles during World War II where soldiers would promise God to be better people if only they could survive the war.
Carver was one of those folks.
He made it a point to fulfill his promise when he retired during the 1960s from a career in the U.S. Air Force. He turned to volunteer work and made a pretty good pest of himself, becoming a nag that people could never tell no. That’s how he got the midget football league started in town.
But his most ambitious project came many years later in 2002 when he decided he wanted to put a copy of the Ten Commandments into the hands of every graduating high school senior in Allen County.
It was an idea he hatched 10 to 15 years earlier but could never get his arms around. Then in 2001 he just started having plaques built — 1,500 of them. It was a small portion of what he needed, but it provided a starting point.
Carver was 84 years old at that time and was slowly losing a 10-year fight with muscular dystrophy, but his willpower never wilted. Most of all, he still had that ability to keep people from saying no.
He took his idea to area businessmen in order to secure money for the lumber and other materials needed to build the plaques. The business owners were told they wouldn’t receive their names on the plaques or get any recognition — just a thanks and a handshake from Carver. When he finally was done knocking on doors, 99 businesses each donated $100 to the cause.
“They have helped because they believe it is the right thing to do,” Carver told The Lima News at the time.
While he was rounding up donations from businesses, he turned to four retired friends who had wood shops, Art Conrad, Mel Hardesty, Eddie Eddingfield and Al Thompson. They went to work hand-making more than 5,000 of the plaques as Carver, ever the salesman, visited every school district in the county, securing permission to distribute the plaques to students right after they received their diplomas.
“It may not do any good at all, but if at some point this helps just one kid, then the program has been successful,” Carver said.
The plaques even made their way into the U.S. Navy. Two women from Spencerville sent the Ten Commandments to their boys in the military, who were stationed on the USS Kittyhawk. The sailors showed them to the ship’s captain and he ordered 50 for the ship’s store, then reordered more later.
The mission was not tied to any church or denomination. In fact, Carver said a Baptist friend once quizzed him about how he thought Lima’s many Catholics would react to the program. “I pointed out that businesses operated by Catholics were our biggest donors,” Carver said.
We learned about Carver back then after someone wrote to the Letters column in The Lima News. It took a sales job on our part to get Carver to talk about his mission because, as he told the business owners, this wasn’t to be done for publicity.
Fred Carver died two years later on Oct. 9, 2004. He was 86.
We’re happy he let us tell his story. Such stories need to be told more often to remind us about the good in people. It was also pretty cool to see a copy of the Ten Commandments on the desk of a Lima police lieutenant 10 years later.
Fred Carver would have loved that.
ROSES AND THORNS: A few this week.
Rose: To Keith Faber, of Celina, who was named president of the Ohio Senate and Matt Huffman, of Lima, who holds down the No. 2 position in the Ohio House as speaker pro tempore.
Rose: To Tim DeHaven, who was recognized with the Senior Lifetime Achievement Award during the fifth annual awards gala by Baton Rouge Health Services Foundation.
Rose: It took a long time for it to be finished, but the new Elm Street project is a 100 percent improvement on the old road.
Thorn: No one seemed to know what was happening days after the Allen County Board of Elections turned over three cases of voter’s fraud to the prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor’s office said the Allen County Sheriff’s Office would be looking into the cases, but the Sheriff’s Office said they hadn’t heard a thing yet.
Thorn: In one of Allen County’s most horrific animal cruelty cases, 68-year-old Dennis L. Phalen, of Lima, is being arraigned today for beating a small dog with his hands and fists until the dog’s head was mutilated.
PARTING SHOT: Sometimes the majority only means that all the fools are on the same side.