After the passing of grandfather,
I finished the year at Princeton and then returned to spend
the summer in the home with grandmother. As might be expected,
she was pensive at times. I knew that she was terribly lonely
but I did not know it from anything she said; it was more from
the things she did; she wandered about the house at times as
if in a maze.
On occasions she would ask me
to walk with her in the orchard as the sun was sinking low;
grandmother always loved to see the sun as it sank behind West
Hill; she spoke of the changing colors of the clouds from pearl
to pink, to roseate hue and then, to fiery red.
"That's a grand panorama,
Paul. Could anything be more majestic? It's the work of a kindly
and omnipotent hand. Sunsets always give me a feeling of comfort,
repose and confidence. Nothing ill can come from the hand of
one who loves beauty so and brings it to his children."
She seldom spoke of grandfather
though I knew that over and above all of her words was the ever-present
consciousness of him. On one occasion she did speak of him as
we were walking down the path in the orchard together. As near
as I can remember, her words were:
"I feel that I have been
fortunate, Paul, far beyond my due in having had the unwavering
love of your grandfather for more than sixty years. No woman
can be blessed by anything to compare with the love of a good
husband, the father of her children. Our lives haven't been
easy; in fact, it has been a constant struggle from beginning
to end and we have had our full share of sorrow. We lost three
children and they were all very dear to us. We used to wonder
at times whether anything in life was worth while but there
were still duties and tasks to do; there were the living as
well as the dead. There can never be anyone so near to a woman
as her husband. My thoughts have been Pa's thoughts and his
have been mine. It seems to me that part of me is living and
part of me is dead."
"Paul, I wonder at times
if you realize how much you meant to Pa. At times, it used to
seem to him that his life had been a failure. As you know, he
had high hopes for your father. He spent money freely for his
education and his disappointment almost broke his heart. And
then you came to us quite providentially and Pa fastened all
his hopes on you. Paul, you must not fail him. Work hard and
live honorably for your grandfather's sake."
After another lingering look
at the fast fading color in the west, grandmother turned and
I followed her down the hallowed pathway to our house.
This is not primarily a story
of grandfather and grandmother except as it serves to illustrate
the character of the folks who lived in New England during the
days of my boyhood, and, to a considerable extent, the character
of the folks who live there still. It is not primarily an autobiography,
though the facts revealed were seen through my eyes. The eyes
of most of the companions of my boyhood have long been closed
Instead of returning to Princeton
in the autumn, I began a year's employment in the office of
the Sheldon Marble Company in West Rutland. All I had to do
was to get up at 5:00 AM., breakfast, walk a mile to the office,
attend to all the stoves, sweep and dust in readiness for the
arrival of the officials and office men, and then do my day's
work with the others-and find things to do when not told. Before
the year closed I graduated from office boy to more important
positions. It was a valuable experience. After that it was grandmother's
decision that her grandson should go west to study law.
During my last days in the valley,
I had a feeling that I was standing on the threshold of life
and that the future was all uncertainty. Would I be able to
cope with the destitution and privation which I must inevitably
encounter or would I be driven back, bruised and beaten as my
father had been?
There was this difference between
my father's case and mine; there was still a home in which my
father could find shelter; in my case, there soon would be none.
The old home, sacred to the memory of grandfather and grandmother,
was before long to be closed never to be opened again as a home
for our family. Grandmother was to spend the remaining days
of her life in the comfortable home of her daughter, Aunt Mellie
Fox, Uncle George and their family.
My father was dependent on the
trust created by grandfather and such further assistance as
might be given him by grandmother. Quite clearly the time was
not far distant when I would be on my own.
Perhaps the saving clause in
my grandfather's will was that which left me to my own resources,
except for some little help from grandmother. I did not regret
it; my life was to be an adventure; what more could a live,
energetic boy have asked. I have always felt considerable pride
in the fact that grandfather felt I would be able to take care
of myself. My inheritance was far more enduring than money could
have been; the munificence of my hard-working, self-sacrificing
grandparents gave me the advantage of a formal education in
preparatory schools, college and the university but far more
important they gave me the advantage of their example in their
well-ordered home where love abode.
I think I inherited something
of grandfather's broad spirit of tolerance. Grandfather was
an ambassador of good-will in the eyes of the youngster who
sat at his table during his impressionable years; he never spoke
evil of any man nor of any man's religion or politics.
My year of work passed quickly
and the day so long anticipated came at last. Grandmother and
I were entirely alone except for the presence of an elderly
woman who had taken most of the housekeeping cares from the
worn and weary shoulders of grandmother. For one reason and
another, it had been planned that grandmother and I were to
spend these last few hours together, possibly because Aunt Mellie
and Uncle George knew that grandmother would prefer it that
way. They were to drive to Wallingford later in the day, lock
up the house and take grandmother with them to return no more.
It was early in the month of
September and the morning was bright and cheerful although our
hearts were heavy-laden. The parting hours were spent in the
dining room; grandmother and I sat on the horsehair sofa facing
the table, where for years we all had eaten good wholesome food,
and where, long before my time, father had eaten his meals.
The banjo clock hung on the north
wall where it had been for at least three generations and we
were within hearing of the sitting room clock not far away.
In fact there had been no change in the dining room since the
night of the feast of bread and milk and blueberries, served
to father, Cecil and me years ago.
While the kitchen was the center
of the house so far as activities were concerned, and the sitting
room the place for rest, reading and reflection, it was the
dining room where important discussions took place; the dining
room was the scene of the alpha and omega of my New England
When grandmother could control
her emotion, she said:
"This seems not new to me,
Paul; I have lived it over and over again. I have even thought
of what my last words should be but they have all gone from
me now. I must not, however, talk about myself; it is of Pa
and his high hopes for you that I must talk. You do know, Paul,
how Pa's thoughts centered on you, don't you?"
I answered, "Yes, I am conscious
of it and I hope that I shall not prove entirely unworthy of
his trust but he has set a high mark to live up to."
"It is indeed a high mark,"
she resumed, "but you are capable of living up to it; you
must, Paul. I know how anxious you are to see the world. Pa
and I talked that over and he was not opposed to it if you can
accomplish it without neglecting your studies. Where there's
a will, there's a way, Paul, and you will have to work it out.
It won't be easy but it can be
done. The night you and Cecil and your father entered this house
is still as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. Some folks
said that we were making a great mistake in assuming the responsibility
of raising you, Paul. We were getting along in years and had
already raised a family. You may have heard some such talk,
Paul," looking at me inquiringly.
I answered, "Indeed I have,
Grandma, indeed I have and I thought that it was probably true."
"There's not a word of truth
in it, Paul. Banish it from your mind; instead of shortening
our lives, I think it has lengthened them. Folks who have raised
families and seen their children go out into the world are generally
pretty lonely. When the fountains of love dry up there isn't
much to live for so your coming to us seems now to have been
Providential; we had to have someone to lavish affection upon;
there were worries enough, of course, but that is life. I have
thought sometimes that it may have been an injustice to you
to have been tied up here with two old folks; children need
brothers and sisters to round out their lives; however you soon
found companions of your own selection and that helped some.
With these words grandmother
had told me all that had been pent up in her heart.
Glancing up at the banjo clock,
I was alarmed to note that the hands pointed to eleven o'clock;
I had fifteen minutes only to catch my train. When I arose to
go, grandmother, for the first time in her life, so far as I
knew, burst into a flood of tears. I threw my arms about her
frail body and said, "Never mind, Grandma, I shall be back
to see you soon." Her answer was a shake of her head; she
spoke no words.
On my way past the home of Judge
Button, I stopped to tell Ellen to please go in and comfort
grandmother and that service she was more than glad to render.
Around the corner, down Depot
street and alongside the white fence where the shadows of grandfather's
lantern had danced in fantastic figures, down to the railway
station, prim and tidy as it had always been, I made my way.
There was the usual flurry of excitement as the eleven-fifteen
train came in and went out. As I went with it my heart was tumultuously
beating as familiar objects faded in the distance. I was alone
and terribly lonely. Grandmother was the last guard; the key
would soon be turned in the door.
I received frequent letters from
grandmother, all of which have been carefully preserved. She
kept me posted as to the events in her new home. For instance;
Cousin Mattie was enjoying a trip to Europe in the company of
good friends and the incidents of her travels were of great
interest to grandmother; it was wonderful to have a granddaughter
in Europe; grandmother had never thought of such a thing and
Mattie would never be the same girl again after having had a
trip to Europe. She wrote also of the kind thoughtfulness of
other members of the family; everything was being done for her
One year and one month from the
date of my departure from the old home, I, then a student in
the law department of the University of Iowa, received a telegram
from Uncle George stating that the spirit of grandmother had
flown in the night. There had been nothing to indicate that
the time was near; grandmother simply went to sleep and did
I did not return for the funeral
but father, mother and other members of the family were present.
According to the current issue of the Rutland Herald:
"A small funeral party drove
down the Creek Road to Wallingford with the mortal remains of
Pamela Harris, widow of the late Howard Harris of Wallingford
and mother of Mrs. George Fox of this city. The attendance was
limited to members of the family and near relatives. No more
beautiful day could have been selected; the colors of the mountainsides
had arrived at the point of perfection as the funeral party
wound its way along the valley of Otter Creek to Green Hill
cemetery in Wallingford where the remains were laid beside the
body of the husband of the deceased.
The Herald extends sympathy to
Mrs. George Fox and her family and such felicitations as may
seem proper because of the fact that the closing chapter of
the long and beautiful life of her mother was written on one
of Vermont's most beautiful autumn days."
So grandmother was returned to
the soil from which she sprang; it would have seemed a desecration
to have laid the bodies of grandfather and grandmother anywhere
else, All of her life and the best part of grandfather's life
had been spent in the valley. Their children were born and brought
up there and there three of their children had died. During
the days of her childhood grandmother had tramped over the hills
in and above Green Hill cemetery; she had picked buttercups,
daisies and spring violets on Cemetery Hill and in its protecting
soil the bodies of generations of loved ones had been laid.
The small family lot lies on
the hillside not so far up as to be beyond hearing of the tinkle
of water as it falls from the ever-flowing fountain in Cemetery
Pond. In this lot, the bodies of Frances number one and Frances
number two, as well as the bodies of the eldest daughter, Mary
Reed and her husband, had been laid.
Grandmother seldom spoke of past
bereavements; possibly I never would have known of Frances number
one and Frances number two had it not been for their graves
in the cemetery lot and two tiny leather shoes which I discovered
in a drawer of the kitchen table; grandmother's thoughts were
mostly centered on her every day duties.
On all sides of the Harris lot
there were the lots of our neighbors, the Martindales, Buttons,
Munsons, Childs, Batchellers, Scribners, Hills, Kents, Ballous,
Ainsworths, Marshes, Millers, Townsends, Newtons, Coles, Staffords
and scores of others whose names were well known in our valley.
Yes, Green Hill cemetery had a rightful claim to the bodies
of grandfather and grandmother; to have turned deaf ears to
it would have seemed unjust. Our valley was grandmother's idea
Grandmother believed in the resurrection
and, it always having been difficult for her to meet strangers,
it would be a great blessing to be surrounded by home folks
when the horn of Gabriel sounded. A most welcome sight to grandmother
on the morning of resurrection day would be Judge Button with
his little gray shawl thrown over his shoulders and his customary
salutation, "Good morning, Mrs. Harris; this is going to
be a fine day."
I have frequently tried to picture
to my mind the events of that October day. The funeral procession
moving slowly down the valley, along lazy, winding Otter Creek,
lit up by the flaming colors of the hillsides and mountains.
I have recalled the last view which our folks had of the mortal
remains of grandmother almost as vividly as though I had been
present. I could see grandmother's worn hands lying on her breast
and the never-to-be-forgotten swollen bone of her lame wrist,
her supreme badge of honor. Nothing which manicurists and beauticians
have ever been able to accomplish with the hands of mothers
and grandmothers has ever seemed comparable in beauty with the
artistry of love and duty as wrought on grandmother's worn hands
and lame wrist. Of the eighty-nine pounds which composed grandmother,
every pound and every ounce was dedicated to loving service,
the ingredient which makes home life sublime.
For more than fifty years the
warm spring suns have brought back to life the grass and wild
flowers in the little cemetery lot; summer suns have brought
them to maturity and autumn winds have in due course directed
to the graves of grandmother and grandfather myriads of maple
leaves which also had spent their life courses and needed only
a quiet place to lie down and rest. The icy blasts of more than
a half-century of winters have sent snowflakes by the millions
to form downy blankets to protect the graves of grandfather
More than sixty years the aged
couple had carried their rugged cross together; so long, in
fact, they could not have done without it; they did not loathe
it, they loved it. A merciful Providence had arranged that grandmother
was to be the one to bring up the rear guard; there were so
many little things to be done and grandmother was the one to
do them. Grandfather would have been helpless without her and
I doubt whether he would have lived the year out. Scores of
times during each day he would have reached his trembling hand
out for her, forgetful of the fact that she had gone, and scores
of times each day the wound would have been reopened. No, it
was a blessing that big, strong grandfather went on ahead and
that little frail grandmother remained to finish up the odds
and ends that had to be attended to.
When Thoreau saw the woodsman's
axe destroying the forest, he exclaimed:
"Thank God, they cannot
cut down the clouds!
"There are some eternal
things that the destructive powers of men, in all their fury,
cannot destroy. To think on these things is to achieve an inward
quiet and peace even in a war-torn world. The stars still shine.
The sun still rises and sets. The mountains are not moved, Birds
sing. Little streams dance merrily on their way. Flowers bloom
and give off their perfume. The world goes right on being an
everlastingly beautiful place."
There are indestructible qualities
of human spirit, too. Mother love is immortal and though crushed
to earth it will rise again. Courage and sacrifice glow with
a new light in the midst of the black-outs of hope. Faith gallantly
rides the whirlwind sweeping the earth.
"You cannot cut down the
clouds! The spirit of man cannot be destroyed! The finest things
of life are immortal . . . they will survive!" - Friendly
31 - Five Years of Folly
As I sadly went on with my university
studies, awaiting news of grandmother's funeral and reflecting
upon the scenes and events of my boyhood, I felt homesickness
as few of my age would have felt it. I longed for the quiet
orderly home in the valley and the loving solicitude of my grandparents.
I dreamed of my Vermont mountains, and when I eventually saw
those of the West tears welled to my eyes.
"I am homesick
for my mountains
My heroic mother
And the longing
that is on me
No solace ever
While enroute to Iowa a year
earlier the boy from a Vermont village had spent a week in Chicago
where the unrest and wickedness of the bustling Western City
possessed him with a weird fascination. It was all so different
from his Valley. But he sensed something vital in it all. It
was a place to study the ways of men. Was there some place to
which men flocked? If so, what was the attraction? What were
the underlying motives which influenced the lives of men? Why
were some good and other bad? Why did some make sacrifices?
Did they pay? If so, how? Why were others wasteful in their
physical, mental, and moral resources? What did they get out
of it? Was there wisdom in grandfather's precepts-or was he
simply a well-meaning but deluded old fogey?
During his first year in Iowa
the boy read law in the office of St. John, Stevenson and Whisenand
in Des Moines; but when the summer months came he spent them
at Lake Okaboja where be fished and enjoyed outdoor life in
general, reading law when there were no more urgent demands
upon his time,
In the autumn he entered the
law department of the State University in Iowa City and graduated
in June of the year 1891. In the Iowa University he encountered
conditions quite different from any he had met before. The students
were older than those in the University of Vermont and at Princeton.
Most of them came from Iowa farms and many had taught school
as a means of raising the money necessary' to the completion
of their education. They were earnest men who had, for the most
part, passed their play period. The atmosphere was wholesome
and groups of law students frequently spent their evenings in
their rooms, conducting quizzes and discussing the theory and
practice of law.
As the writer now looks back
at his experiences in the various educational institutions,
he is prone to question himself as to what, if anything, he
got out of them; what, if anything, was there to justify his
grandfather's sacrifices and hopes? Was it worthwhile?
The best thing that the writer
got from his experiences in educational institutions came from
his contacts with other students. In scholastics he cannot lay
claim to have gotten much except, perhaps, a love of good books
by writers of many lands.
During his last days at the University
of Iowa the boy had one absorbing interest and that was to know
the ways of men; those of his own country first and then the
ways of the men of other countries. But could he accomplish
his purpose? In his heart of hearts he knew it was a mad adventure.
It would be a serious matter to violate the rules of conventionality.
All of the other members of his class would be sane and sensible.
Every one of them would be practicing law in a town of his choice
within sixty days of graduation. Folks back home would think
that he had gone stark crazy.
At that juncture an incident
occurred to bolster his faith. One of the lecturers on the commencement
program of his graduating class, a practicing lawyer who had
graduated from the University ten years earlier, stated that
it might be a wise plan for each graduate to go first to some
small town and make a fool of himself for five years, after
which he could go to the city of his choice and really begin
This advice resolved all doubts
in the mind of the boy; he would set aside five years to make
a fool of himself, not in any small community but in all parts
of the world to which he could manage to make his way. What
an adventure! After having had his fling, he would hang up his
shingle in some great city, Chicago perhaps, and settle down
and be regular. So the boy embarked on his fool's errand and
never once turned back. His sustaining hope was that his absorbing
interest in folks at home and abroad would carry him through.
Why did races of men differ so
in their ways of life? He had read much literature in university
libraries by English, French, German, Russian, and Scandinavian
writers but his curiosity was whetted merely. Only visits to
foreign lands could satisfy his desires to know the ways of
In the accomplishment of his
ambition it was necessary for the boy to accept any and all
forms of service, whether of hand or brain. He walked many hundreds
of miles in the mountains and he tramped the streets of great
cities. He slept in the open country and in cheap city quarters,
and even went hungry at times. Thousands of times his thoughts
drifted back to his Valley and the comforts of his grandparents'
home. When hungry, what in good conscience did he think of most
frequently? It was not the buckwheat cakes smeared with butter
and maple syrup, nor ham and eggs, nor New England pork and
beans . . it was something he really thought very little of
in his boyhood days . . it was his grandmother's "riz"
doughnuts. Sometimes, when ill in distant lands, it was grandmother's
catnip tea or hot foot baths and her tender solicitude that
While his few remaining dollars
lasted hunting and fishing in the northwest was a grand vacation.
Before long he arrived in San Francisco, his money spent. He
was on his own at last. A college friend doing newspaper work
on The Chronicle, owned by M. H. De Young, got him a job as
a reporter on that paper with payment only for what one could
produce but times were hard and competition was keen. Another
reporter also near the bottom of the list on The Chronicle was
Harry C. Pulliam from Louisville, who later became president
of the National Baseball League.
Harry and Paul became chums and
decided to work their way through the state of California. Within
three days they were doing manual labor on a fruit ranch in
Vaca Valley. After making a "stake" there, they set
out from the Calaveras big trees on a three hundred mile hike
across the Trailless Mountain ranges. They explored now famous
but then little known Yosemite Valley. Their next engagement
was in the raisin-packing industry in Fresno. Finally they landed
in Los Angeles where Paul became a teacher in the L. A. Business
After nine months in California
Paul's next location was Denver, Colorado, where he demonstrated
his versatility by "play-acting" in a stock company
at the Old Fifteenth Street Theater. This adventure attracted
more publicity than he desired. He received letters from old
friends who were sure he had "gone wrong." He climbed
Pike's Peak and convinced himself that the stride, which he
had developed in the Green Mountains and tried out in the Sierra
Nevadas, would also work in the Rockies. He got a position on
the reportorial staff of the Rocky Mountain News where he remained
until he got a chance to try the life of a cowboy on a ranch
near Platteville, riding the range alone frequently for days
searching for stray cattle. Returning to Denver he worked on
The Republican where he encountered some of his San Francisco
newspaper friends drifting back eastward.
Florida was another land of romance
which appealed to Paul and as the fortunate beneficiary of a
railroad pass he landed in Jacksonville and became night clerk
at the St. James, the best tourist hotel in Jacksonville at
that time. He found the hotel business prosaic and soon left
it to become a traveling salesman through Florida for George
W. Clark who dealt in marble and granite, a business of which
Paul had gained a slight knowledge while working for the Sheldon
Marble Company in Vermont. George Clark was a great influence
in the life of the vagabond. Employer and employee soon became
fast friends. Years later George organized and became the first
president of the Jacksonville Rotary Club.
In March 1893 Paul departed for
Washington to observe the inauguration of Grover Cleveland as
President of the United States. While there he had a temporary
job on The Washington Star. From there he went to Louisville
to which Harry Pulliam had returned, hoping Harry could get
him on The Courier or The Commercial. This hope was dashed.
So Paul got a position with another marble and granite house
which gave him the opportunity to travel through Kentucky, Tennessee,
Georgia, and Virginia.
On arrival at Norfolk, Virginia,
he resigned his position and took the boat for Philadelphia.
From the period when Tom Brown of Rugby had first won his admiration
down through the days when the pen-folks of Dickens, Thackeray
and Scott had held him captive, Paul had longed for a sight
of the British Isles. For this he was willing to endure any
hardship. In the want-ad column of a Philadelphia newspaper
he found a notice that cattlemen were wanted by a Baltimore
house making a shipment to England. Before dawn the following
day a ship was plowing the seas and the young man who aspired
to learn something of the practical side of life was on board.
It was a rough voyage. The privation and suffering on that ship
were unbelievable. The food scarcely deserved to be called that.
The crew and the cattlemen included some of the most depraved
and vicious characters one could imagine. It was a most trying
Liverpool and its suburbs were
all Paul got to see before he had to return on another ship
of the same line. Great was his disappointment at not being
able to see London and he resolved to endure again even such
hardships that he might visit the British metropolis. The return
voyage was not so bad-but no mattresses, blankets or eating
utensils for the cattlemen. "Scouse" composed mostly
of potato and water, with sometimes small fragments of meat,
and mouldy sea biscuits constituted the principal food. Vermin
were plentiful. Immersions in cold sea water were frequent.
While waiting at Baltimore for
another and better ship Paul walked to Ellicott City and soon
found opportunity to exercise his muscles in a hayfield. It
was heavy work for him. He did the best he could at it but soon
shifted to chores around the farmhouse in exchange for his board
and lodging. A job in a corn-canning factory paid him $1.50
a day. While on this job he learned to his delight that another
cattleship of a better line was soon to sail. Returning to Baltimore
he got a job as sub-foreman on the "Michigan" whose
destination was the Tillhury docks in the Thames about thirty
miles from London. Oh happy day!
Paul and a friend he had made
on board were soon walking the streets of London gazing at the
Houses of Parliament and all the famous places of history and
fiction. However, the best accommodation they could afford was
a cheap boarding-house in the Whitechapel district although
this was a locality of exceptional interest to the embryonic
sociologist from Vermont. As the ship returned via Swansea for
cargo Paul improved the chance to see something of Wales.
Arriving back in the United States
Paul immediately took the train to visit the 1893 World's Fair
in Chicago. Enjoyment of that beautiful Columbian Exposition
was a happy interlude in his vagabondage. There he found confirmation
of his faith in the future possibilities of that fascinating
metropolis. He had enough money for train fare and no more.
He found and became the guest of a college friend who was working
at the Fair. One day when entering the Vermont building to his
astonishment he observed his cousins, Ed and Mattie Fox of Rutland,
inspecting the exhibits. Instantly Paul turned on his heel and
left the building. The impecunious young man was in no mood
to reveal himself to his relatives.
One city of all American cities
was alluring; it was New Orleans, differing in so many respects
from other American cities. How to get there was the question.
It might be stated at this point that throughout his travels
Paul stole no rides; he either paid his fare or worked his way
and he always carried luggage. He was always willing to undertake
any kind of work by which he could earn a livelihood and he
always gave the best that was in him and if he failed it was
because of physical or mental limitations and not because of
indifference. Borrowed money was always repaid.
A loan from his college friend
in Chicago got him to New Orleans. While there he discovered
a want-ad for "a dozen men to pick and pack oranges in
Plaquemine parish." The next day a gang of men including
Paul, crossed the Mississippi river and were on their way to
the grove and warehouse of S. Pizatti in the delta not far from
where the Father-of-Waters empties into the sea. The business
of picking, packing, boxing and shipping proceeded satisfactorily
for several days. But suddenly a storm blew up. It became a
hurricane and a tidal wave. Paul and his fellow orange-pickers
in the darkness of the night waded and swam through the swirling
waters carrying women and children from their homes to the one
place of safety-the Pizatti warehouse. Then with axes and crowbars
thcy endeavored to cut the dike to let the waters into the river.
When the storm subsided the top of the levce was covered with
dead horses, cows, hogs, hens and birds. That coast storm of
1893 took hundreds of lives and the property loss was enormous.
Although many years have elapsed the horror and suffering of
that episode still remain in the memory.
A return was made to New Orleans.
Efforts to find employment on newspapers was fruitless. There
was much to see and study in that historic city but the avidity
of the traveler's longing for adventure had somewhat slackened.
His thoughts turned to the cordial hospitality of his friends
Paul's old position with the
marble company in Jacksonville was still open to him and he
returned to it. George Clark gave him territory over which he
had not yet traveled. He covered the Southern States, Cuba and
the Bahamas Islands. His visits at the home of the Clarks in
Jacksonville were truly high times. The employer and his salesman
were most intimate of chums. After a twelve month period Paul
notified George of his intended departure. George said; "Is
there nowhere else you care to go?" Paul answered: 'Yes,
there is one more place but I doubt your willingness to send
me." "Where is it?" inquired George. "Europe,"
said Paul. Two weeks later the wanderer was once again on the
high seas, under orders of his employer-chum to visit the granite-producing
regions of Scotland and the marble-producing regions of Ireland,
Belgium and Italy for the purpose of making arrangements for
buying the products of foreign quarries.
The writer could enjoyably consume
a great deal of space in the relation of wonderful months spent
in Great Britain, Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria,
Germany, Belgium, and Holland. As a visitor in the home of S.
A. McFarland of Carrara, Italy, Paul was the recipient of courtesies
little to be expected from comparative strangers. Among other
things Mr. and Mrs. McFarland insisted on lending him funds
with which to extend his travels on the Continent. The loan
was accepted, and repaid in due course.
Upon his return to his native
land the vagabond spent several months in helping George Clark
in a subdividing and building project near Jacksonville and
then turned his sights northward to Chicago. George pleaded
with him to remain in Jacksonville, saying among other things:
"Whatever the advantages of settling in Chicago may be,
I am satisfied you will make more money if you remain with me."
To this Paul replied: "I am sure you are right but I am
not going to Chicago for the purpose of making money; I am going
for the purpose of living a life."
Paul knew little of New York
City and desired to learn something of the great eastern metropolis
before settling down in Chicago. George made one more manifestation
of his friendship by recalling his New York manager to Jacksonville
and putting Paul in temporary charge of the New York office.
You were a real friend, George
Clark, a grand and generous friend!
32 - A Shingle is Hung
THREE MONTHS SHORT of the period
of five years allotted to his fool's errand the vagabond arrived
in Chicago ready to take up the practice of law. His boyhood
was past. Travel and work are maturing experiences. Frequently
after men have turned their backs on every other opportunity
of gaining wisdom they gain it through toiling over the stony,
tortuous, uphill pathway of experience.
At last my life settled down
in earnest during the early spring of 1896 when the sap was
in the maple trees back in my valley.
The vision of a world-wide fellowship
of business and professional men had not yet come; there were
experiences of a different nature yet to be had; but a wonderful
foundation had been laid. Is it any wonder that an impressionable
mind which had found so much good in the midst of evil, so much
friendliness in places that might have been barren, so much
reason for confidence and faith in business men, should be receptive
to such a vision?
Chicago was experiencing hard
times. I had anticipated hard times but I could not see how
they could be harder than the period of my vagrancy; I considered
myself a specialist in dealing with hard times. I made my meager
resources stretch as far as I could but to get started in the
practice of law was more difficult than I had expected it to
be. To "hang up my shingle" was a simple matter and
while I had not expected it to attract many, on the other hand
I had not thought that it would be completely ignored; so far
as I can remember, the immediate results were zero.
I spent considerable time about
the Courts in order to familiarize myself with their practices
and I read law cases and precedents into the late hours of the
night but as for clients, there continued to be none. I conferred
with other young lawyers but learned little of benefit to myself;
some of them had means of their own; some had influential relatives
and friends and others, like myself, were struggling. How I
managed to get a small law practice started, which eventually
grew into a partnership and later other partnerships of which
I was always the head, is a long story and I need not go into
it here, but, in course of time the wheels began to turn, at
first slowly then more rapidly. In due course I became a member
of the Bar Association, the Press Club, the Bohemian Club, and
was active in the Association of Commerce.
However, after five years of
folly it was difficult at first for the boy, now a young man,
to settle down and become wise. He was dreadfully lonesome particularly
on holidays and Sundays. He pondered the question of finding
a way to increase his acquaintance with young men who had come
to Chicago from farms and colleges, who knew the joys of friendliness
and neighborliness without form or ceremony but it took a long
while for his thinking to produce results.
The impulse to review the scenes
of his boyhood became pressing and I finally set a day for my
departure. Uncle George, to whom I owed so much, met me at the
railway station in Rutland and drove me to his home in a phaeton
drawn by a successor of bay Billy. Uncle George was still continuing
his practice but his heyday had passed; he was taking things
easier at last. The impressive enclosed station had burned and
in its place had been built an unimpressive open station. The
voices of the porters of the three leading hotels, the Bates
House, the Berwick and the Bardwell, extolling the merits of
their respective hostelries in stentorian tones and bewildering
jargons, were conspicuous in their absence and Merchants Row
and Center Street were like streets of Goldsmith's deserted
village to the young man from Chicago.
Cottage Street where Uncle George's
house, three storied with mansard roof, was located was not
nearly so wide as I had pictured it. The welcome extended me
by Aunt Mellie and Cousin Mattie was genuine though subdued.
Many changes had taken place in the Fox family; the ring of
laughter was no longer heard and most of the children had gone
out from the family roof. Uncle George spent hours on the side
veranda away from the street apparently indulging in meditation;
he was as kind as ever but seldom spoke except in response to
remarks of others.
When I mentioned bay Billy, however,
he did show interest and said, "I have owned many a horse
in my day, Paul, and I can't recall ever having had a bad one
but the nearest thing to a human being I have ever seen in horseflesh,
was Billy. He had as much affection as any child and much more
obedience; he had ideas of his own but he was not headstrong.
He would follow my orders even though he knew they were wrong
but not without manifesting his disapproval. It was not difficult
for me to read his mind, though not so easily as he read mine.
Eventually I got to the point of taking his judgment in preference
to my own unless there were some facts in the case which he
didn't know. I wouldn't trust Billy to treat any patients of
mine, but as for matters within his jurisdiction, he was generally
the final word."
Cousin Mattie and I drove to
Wallingford the day following my arrival in Rutland. We took
the Creek Road and every turn of it was reminiscent of days
of long ago. It was the same road over which the family funeral
party had taken the remains of grandmother that October day;
the same road I had tramped frequently. As we approached Wallingford
landmarks became more and more frequent. We passed the Jay Newton,
the Robert Marsh and the Hudson farms, the fork factory, the
fair grounds, the Catholic church, the Hull farm house, the
Stafford house, and finally drew up before the old home, the
beloved home of my boyhood. Of course we visited the cemetery
next and spent reverential moments by the graves of our grandparents.
Within a day or two I had taken
up quarters in the Inn at Wallingford and was renewing my acquaintance
with old friends and familiar places. My Sabbath School teacher,
Anna Laurie Cole, was my most efficient and available assistant
in my efforts to build a bridge between the pulsating present
and the dreamy past; happily she still lives and still constitutes
my connecting link between the two periods.
One after another I visited favorite
spots. The swimming hole in Otter Creek near the covered bridge
where naked youngsters had disported themselves within plain
sight of passing vehicles, plunging from the rocks into the
creek, not so much from a modest desire to cover their nakedness
as from a more immodest desire to impress passing home folks
with the belief that they were imps of Satan turned loose. I
was sorry to note that new growths of underbrush had intruded
themselves in places, which in other days had been reserved
for the use of the feet of graceless youngsters. In other respects,
Otter Creek had not changed.
Next in order was Fox Pond of
the glamorous past. In summer, autumn, winter or spring, Fox
Pond was the piece de resistance, except when it had to give
way to the even more romantic charms of Little Pond.
The "ice bed," Childs'
brook, hillsides and mountains all were visited in turn. During
the days of my visit to the valley of my heart's desire, I had
ample opportunity to bring back to memory incidents of my boyhood
which had been obscured by the turbulent events of the years
which followed. In moments of quiet reflection on hillside and
mountain, I looked down into the valley through which Otter
Creek flows so peacefully and during such tranquil moments,
I was astonished at my resemblance to the boy out of whom I
had grown; amazed at times in the realization of the fact, how
few changes had taken place. Fundamentally, I was the same.
The two old folks whose bones were resting peacefully beneath
the soil of the cemetery down in the valley, had fashioned me
as definitely as an artist could fashion clay. Their ideals
had become my ideals and the process had come about so gradually
and so naturally that neither grandparents nor grandchild were
aware of it. Surely I had fallen far short of living up to these
ideals but the ideals were still there. The principles of my
grandparents had been made crystal clear; they could not have
been made more clear if the words integrity, frugality, tolerance
and unselfishness had been carved in gargantuan letters on the
bare face of majestic White Rocks.
There were moments while indulging
myself in daydreams on the mountainside when my conscience rebuked
me for not being up and doing; so many things needed to be done
in this busy world and there was so little time in which to
do them, and then the thought came to me that perhaps men had
to dream and where could there have been a more lovely dreamland
than this very mountainside.
One day while resting from my
climb on the top of a stone and rail fence which separated two
pastures, I looked down the mountain, beyond pasturelands where
cows were grazing, to the meadowland along the creek where the
hay crop was being harvested. The click of the mowing machine
was sweet music to my ears. The frugal farmer was rhythmically
swinging his scythe along the borders and in the corners to
save the few remaining wisps of timothy and clover with voluntary
crops of daisies and buttercups thrown in. The hired men were
loading cured hay of previous cuttings on hayricks for transfer
to barn lofts for use during the long winter months when deep
snow would blanket the meadows and bring nitrogen to the soil
to maintain its fertility. I was too far up the mountainside
to enjoy the exquisite odor of the new mown hay but I drank
in the peace and tranquility of the scene and stored it up in
my museum of happy memories.
I recalled the fact that somehow
many of my dreams had come true. I had visited the land of Tom
Brown of Rugby and Oxford; the land of Shakespeare and Dickens;
Burns and Scott; I had realized the witchery of the Lakes of
Killarney, the glory of the sunset on the Alpine Mountains and
the soft shading of Italian skies.
These and many other wonders
in many countries I had been privileged to see, without the
aid of grandfather but at the cost of years of unstinted toil,
danger and even hunger at times. Perhaps dreaming is not so
bad if one dreams good dreams and makes them come true; all
too soon my vacation would be ended and I would be back in the