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This story has been lifted from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. It has been taken to the hearts of many of us who work on the Apollo Journals, embodying, as it does, the spirit of cooperation and freely donated effort that has enriched these documents of great exploration.

Nail Soup

A Traditional Scandinavian Folk Tale, with thanks to Frank O'Brien.
One day, a man came into a village, and was very hungry. He went to where some women were tending a fire, and said, "Please, ladies, I am hungry and need a pot of water to make some soup."

"But of course, old man, but what are you going to make it with? You don't have any food with you."

The man smiled, and said, "But I do. I have a nail, and it makes the most wonderful soup. I would be happy to share it with you."

The ladies, of course, were skeptical. But, soon, a pot of water was boiling, and the man pulled out a small, carefully folded, piece of cloth.

"Here is the secret to my soup." He opened up the cloth, and pulled out a simple nail. "Now is the time to add it to the water!" With that, he dropped the nail in the pot. "Now, my soup is good, but it would be even better if I had an onion or two in it."

"I'll be happy to get you one", said one of the women. "And perhaps a carrot as well?"

"That would be very nice." And the onions and carrots were added to the pot.

Soon, a small crowd started to assemble. "What are you making?", one of the onlookers asked.

"Why, soup, and it's made with only a nail! It will be delicious."

The onlooker grumbled. "How can soup be delicious when made with only a nail? That's crazy! It needs some beans and potatoes to make it rich. Here, let me get you some." He went away, and returned with beans and potatoes that were quickly added. Seeing this, other villagers came with their gifts of meat, tomatoes and other vegetables. The pot literally overflowed with contributions from the people.

As the pot filled, the crowd grew larger. The soup was ready. Everyone had a bowl and more. As the old man retrieved his nail from the pot, one of the crowd exclaimed: "Thank you, old man for your soup. It was the best we have ever had. And to think, it was made with only a nail!"


And that is the story of the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal. Like Eric, we would like to say thanks to the Journal readers and volunteers, who have contributed so much.

David Woods and Frank O'Brien.

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Last updated Tuesday 08th May 2001