A Not So Secret Book Signing

Carrie Fuller
December 01, 2010

His latest book, A Secret Gift , was featured on CBS Sunday Morning on November 28, in the Seattle Times on  November 20, on WBUR’s On Point Radio on November 12, in the New York Times on November 7, and in the Wall Street Journal on November 5, as well as many other media outlets.

That’s why when Emerson Journalism Department Chair and Professor Ted Gup hosted a book signing and reading of A Secret Gift at the Emerson College Bookstore on November 30, the store was packed.

A real-life Secret Santa at the peak of the Great Depression, Gup’s grandfather Sam Stone, was an anonymous donor to those in need. A Secret Gift is the story of Stone’s gift to the residents of Canton, Ohio.

Using the name “B. Virdot,” Stone placed an advertisement in The Canton Repository days before Christmas 1933, pledging to give 50 to 75 needy Cantonians a financial gift for the holidays. He received hundreds of letters, and found the need was so great that he sent out 150 modest checks to local families.

At the book signing, Gup read a few letters that Stone received. He spoke about the impact the gifts had on the lives of the families, and the effect the story has had on his own life.

“The story moved a lot of people, not least of whom was me.”

"My thing as a writer is to try to remember the forgotten, to remember the extraordinary lives of ordinary people," said Gup.