'Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?'
-- Clarence Odbody to George Bailey, It's A Wonderful Life
In the holiday spirit, we reflect on our actions that influence those around us; it may be a simple smile when we greet our colleagues at work, research support for students, or help with recent drives at Teachers College to collect canned foods at Thanksgiving or warm socks at Christmas.
Service to others is a constant, though sometimes underappreciated core in many walks of life, from libraries and educational institutions, through to parks and city sanitation. And yet traditionally, it is one of the hardest things to measure, for numbers often don't reflect the quality, value, or importance of what's provided and its impact on the greater good. More often than not, we turn to our personal and shared experiences for guidance and meaning. For many in the "industry" there is the realization that service, on whatever level, reaps and sows its own reward, for it is not an exact science or even a science, but rather a wonderful narrative that binds our humanity and faith, wherever we are.
Did you know that Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life premiered on December 20th, 1946 at the Globe Theater in New York to benefit the Boys Club on the Upper and Lower East Sides? Although this fantasy film received mixed reviews at the time, it has become one of the most beloved and inspirational pieces in the history of American cinema -- and indeed, a staple Christmas holiday classic. Starring James Stewart as George Bailey, the fantasy drama is set in the fictional, small, upstate town of Bedford Falls, New York. It tells the captivating story of a selfless, kindhearted, and partially deaf man who has sacrificed his dreams to help others; in despair on Christmas Eve, George contemplates suicide, but is visited by Clarence Odbody, his guardian angel, played by Henry Travers, who will earn his wings if he can save him. Clarence takes George on a walk through his life's experiences, showing what would have happened if he had not been there. The cast includes Mary Bailey (Donna Reed), Henry Potter (Lionel Barrymore), Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell), and Mrs. Bailey (Beulah Bondi), among others.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Film To Aid Boys Club: Showing Of 'It's A Wonderful Life' To Be Presented Dec. 20. (1946, Dec 07). New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Frank Capra, Back Home in Hollywood, Demonstrates 'It's A Wonderful Life'. (1946, Dec 15). New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Van Doren Stern, P. (1946, Dec 15). 'It's A Wonderful Life' Started As the By-Product Of A Shave. New York Herald Tribune (1926-1962)
- Barnes, H. (1946, Dec 21). On The Screen: 'It's A Wonderful Life-- Globe. New York Herald Tribune (1926-1962)
- Crowther, B. (1946, Dec 23). The Screen In Review. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Our London, F. C. (1947, May 10). "It's A Wonderful Life": Frank Capra's Philosophy. The Scotsman (1921-1950)
- Frank Capra On His Christmas Movie "It's A Wonderful Life". (1981, Dec 25). The Washington Post (1974-Current File) Retrieved from
- Pollock, D. (1982, Mar 06). Capra Earns His Wings: Capra Tribute. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995)
- Delapa, T. R. (1984, Nov 30). 'It's A Wonderful Life' Tops The List Of Season's Traditional Film Favorites. Chicago Tribune (1963-1996)
- Cattani, R. J. (1989, Nov 30). 'It's A Wonderful Life'. The Christian Science Monitor (1908-Current File)
- Weinstein, S. (1989, Dec 09). Weekend TV: Holiday-Themed Shows, Led By Capra's 'It's A Wonderful Life,' Dominate Lineup. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995)
- Goodman, E. (1996, Dec 21). As 'A wonderful Life' Hits 50. The Washington Post (1974-Current File)
- Capra, Frank. Frank Capra: The Name Above The Title: An Autobiography. New York, Macmillan [c1971]. Main PN1998.A3 C26 1971
- Grabias, Magdalena. Songs of Innocence and Experience: Romance In The Cinema Of Frank Capra. Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, c2013. e-book
- Willian, Michael. The Essential It's A Wonderful Life: A Scene-By-Scene Guide To The Classic Film. 2nd ed. Chicago, Ill : Chicago Review Press, 2006. e-book
- It's a Wonderful Life, Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of EdLab Studios
Need to keep current, look to the past, teach a topic? The Everett Cafe features daily postings of news from around the world, and also promotes awareness of historical events from an educational context. Be sure to check the news postings on Learning at the Library, where you can delve into history.