by Brad Dison
The true measure of our character is often determined by how we treat others, especially strangers. The origin of the Good Samaritan dates back to the Bible. In Luke 10:30-34, Jesus told of a man who was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. Along his trip, robbers attacked and beat the man. They stole his clothing and left him for dead. The first two men to pass the traveler purposefully avoided him. It was a man from Samaria, the third traveler to come upon the injured man, who showed him mercy. The Samaritan bandaged the injured man’s wounds, took him to a local inn, and nursed him back to health. Since that time, anyone who has helped a stranger with no expectation of personal gain has been referred to as a good Samaritan. The following is the true story of a modern-day good Samaritan.
On June 8, 2013, a group of tourists were taking in the sites in Toronto, Canada, on what was the final day of their cross-Canadian train trip. Jim Walpole, a retired General Motors manager from Defiance, Ohio, and his wife, Marilyn, a nurse, were among the group of tourists who walked down King Street East toward historic Old Toronto. Marilyn led the group, followed by her husband and the other tourists.
Along the walk, Marilyn heard a slight moan coming from behind her. Jim had tripped on the sidewalk and fell into some construction equipment. As Jim fell, a piece of scaffolding gashed his neck. Jim held his hands out to break his fall. When he hit the ground, he broke one of his fingers. Marilyn turned around and saw that Jim’s face and clothing were covered in blood. Jim laid bleeding on the sidewalk in a daze.
The good Samaritan was smoking a cigarette a short distance away, and saw Jim fall. The good Samaritan could have continued smoking his cigarette. He could have looked away, but not this good Samaritan. Before anyone else responded, the good Samaritan sprang into action. Without hesitation, he crushed out his cigarette and ran to render aid to the moaning, bleeding man. He knelt down beside Jim and quickly assessed the situation. The good Samaritan removed his scarf and placed it over Jim’s neck wound to slow the flow of blood. The good Samaritan reassured Jim in a soft, calm voice that he was going to be fine.
Toronto restauranteur Ben Quinn also saw Jim fall and saw the good Samaritan rush to his aid. Ben saw that the saturated scarf was no longer absorbing blood. Ben ran to his car and retrieved a towel. The good Samaritan replaced the saturated scarf with the towel and applied pressure to Jim’s wounded neck. They were afraid to remove the towel and check on the wound because they feared Jim would bleed to death. If the gash had severed Jim’s jugular vein or his carotid artery and had they removed the towel, Jim could have bled to death within a few short minutes.
Although Marilyn was a nurse, she allowed the good Samaritan to help. She later explained; “He really knew what he was doing. That’s why I thought he was a doctor. He had no qualms about getting blood all over him. That would be a real concern for some people.” When the ambulance arrived and medics took over for the good Samaritan, Marilyn asked him “What’s your name, sir?” He simply responded, “John.” Marilyn said “I didn’t ask for a last name because I didn’t figure I would remember it.”
The medics transported Jim to Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital, just a few short blocks away. At the hospital, a doctor carefully inspected Jim’s neck. To Jim’s relief, the doctor reported that the scaffolding had missed the critical vein by only an eighth of an inch. The doctor closed the neck wound with ten stitches and set his broken finger. Jim considered himself lucky.
John contacted the hospital following the incident and was relieved to learn that Jim would make a full recovery. A reporter followed up on the story the following day and asked John why he, a man who had no medical training, had stepped in to help someone he had never met. John humbly replied, “Any citizen would do it. It’s nothing special.” John wanted to avoid drawing attention to his actions. Marilyn and Jim were certain John had saved Jim’s life.
Like Jim and Marilyn, John was only in Toronto for a short time. John was in Toronto for just three days performing as the famed Italian lover Casanova in a traveling opera called “The Giacomo Variations.” Everyone’s focus was on Jim’s neck and not on the good Samaritan who stepped in to help. Under different circumstances, they certainly would have recognized John from movies such as “In the Line of Fire,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Johnny English,” “The Man in the Iron Mask,” “Red,” “Con Air,” “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” and a plethora of others dating back to the 1970s. John has appeared in over one hundred film and television productions. He is currently starring in two tv series; “Space Force,” and “The New Pope.” John, the good Samaritan, also starred in a movie which bears his name, “Being John Malkovich.”
Luke 10:30-34 (New International Version).
The National Post, (Toronto, Canada), June 10, 2013.
The Gazette, (Montreal, Quebec), June 11, 2013, p.24.
The Desert Sun, (Palm Springs, California), June 12, 2013, p.D7.
IMDb.com. “John Malkovich.” Accessed June 12, 2020. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000518/?ref_=nv_sr_srsg_0#actor.
A writer of history, Brad Dison earned his master’s degree in the subject from Louisiana Tech University. He has written four history books and has been published in newspapers and scholarly journals. Keep up with the column through the Facebook group “Remember This? by Brad Dison.” For more real stories about real people with a twist, listen to Brad Dison’s podcast “Remember This?” at http://www.BradDison.com.
Categories: Special Feature