In late spring of 1962, Time magazine had a picture of President Kennedy attending a basball game in San Francisco with his host, a multi-millionaire real estate developer with a fascinating biography: He was born in southwestern Russia in 1906, drafted into the czar's army in 1917 (11 years old!!) and marched off. In a few months the Bolsheviks took over the country, surrendered about a third of it to Germany, and the army fell apart. Since the kid's home was on the German side of the line, he decided not to go back and hitchhiked 5,000 miles down the Siberian railroad to Vladivostok where he did whatever was necessary to survive until he landed a post as cabin boy on a freighter bound for the US. He landed in San Francisco in 1919: 13 years old, no friends, no family, no education to speak of, and knowing just as much English as he had been able to learn from the sailors on the trip across the Pacific. Forty-three years later he is a wealthy man with his picture in a national magazine, sitting next to his good friend the president.
I suspect the guy had a pretty ruthless record on his journey from janitor to landlord, and I'm not sure I would ever want to invite him to my home for dinner, but I surely do admire his survival skills and I think about him whenever I hear the whining for more government handouts.