Nice advice from Grandma
In the early 1950s, my brother Kermit was 7 years old and I was 5. We were playing outside our rural Alleghany County home discussing frogs and lightning bugs and other important topics. Our discussion led into some criticism of our sister, who did not share our love of frogs.
Our grandmother, "Grandma," who was no doubt watching us as we played in the yard, overheard our discussion and reminded us that when we couldn't say something nice about someone we should say nothing.
About that time we noticed John Doe (name changed for obvious reasons) staggering down the then unpaved road that ran in front of our house. Apparently in a drunken stupor, John whistled away as if he had not a care in the world. He was a local resident and was known for his harmless alcohol-induced escapades.
My brother, being the wiser of the two of us — after all he was 7 — piped up, "Well, Grandma, what 'nice' could you say about John Doe?"
Without missing a beat, Grandma responded, "You know he does whistle right nicely."
Today, several decades later, my grandmother has long since left this world, and my brother and I are retired men in our 60s. Even to this day, whenever Kermit and I are talking critically of another person, one of us will say to the other, "Remember John Doe." Then we'll smile to ourselves and remember Grandma and her sage advice and say nothing more.