- Unco Guid - Sheldon/Perry - Book Review - Shorey Obituary
Rotary's Power for World
this single page, of our website, is Paul Harris' entire second book, "This
Rotarian Age," reproduced here with links to many of the subjects
mentioned in the text. Follow these links to learn more as you read the
most definitive book ever written about the philosophy of Rotary, from
the man who invented it, Paul P. Harris.
Now in PDF for easier reading.
If anyone is ever discouraged about being a Rotarian because there is
not enough humanness to the movement, he will be put at ease by reading
this work. If one has been discouraged about the Rotary movement not
being big enough or important enough for him to be associated with, this
work surely will convince him otherwise.
That the Rotary movement is like a great musical production of many
parts, through all of which runs a single motif " or perhaps a tapestry
of many parts through all of which a single golden strand is discernible
" is the impression that one must get from reading "This Rotarian Age,"
described to us so interestingly by one whom the movement has honored
with the title of President Emeritus, and who continues to honor and
serve the movement by his own life and by his continued and faithful
devotion to Rotary.
CHESLEY R. PERRY
Harry L. Ruggles
A. L. White
Rufus F. Chapin
Fred H. Tweed
The 1905 Group -- The Rotary Club of Chicago
The Garden of Good-Will, "Comely Bank"
The Path from "Comely Bank" to the Home of Silvester -- Through
the oak wood--
This Rotarian Age
I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked.
"Begin at the beginning", the king said,
"And go on till
you come to the end; then stop."
Adventures in Wonderland"
Rotary has been the
subject of friendly comments without number and the target of a few
animadversions not so friendly. Both have served purposes, not always
the purposes the writers have had in mind. A phenomenon sufficiently
luminous to attract the attention of millions of people in scores of
nations should be better understood.
K Chesterton, whose
references to Rotary have revealed no inclination to flatter, has on one
occasion at least, referred to the present period in the world" s history
as "this Rotarian age". To Rotarians there is some consolation in the
thought that he concedes that the movement is making imprint upon the
times, even though he does make it manifest that he considers the step
from the Victorian age to the Rotarian age a step backwards.
It would not be fair to the critics of Rotary, who include some of the
most brilliant of the British and American writers, to charge them with
prejudice. It can, however, in truth be stated that thousands of the
great educators of many nations, not less profound, even if less
scintillating, differ with them in their conclusions. The enrollment of
such men is testimony to the fact that
insincerity and superficiality are not necessary qualifications for
After having made due allowances, however, for the difference between
the esoteric and the esoteric viewpoints, and admitting that
a member of an organization is not the ideal person to whom to look for
a fair appraisal of its qualities, even a member, by reason of long
connection with the movement, may be able to marshal facts of interest
to those to whom Rotary is a quandary, leaving the reader to commend or
condemn to suit himself.
One desiring to make
further study of the movement would do well to read "Rotary?",
a survey made by seven social scientists of the University of Chicago; "Rotary
" a Business Man" s Interpretation" by Frank Lamb, formerly a
member of the faculty of the University of California; and "The Meaning
of Rotary" by Vivian Carter, a journalist of London, England.
As to this particular book the writer must admit in advance that he is
distinctly partisan although he has tried to be fair. He is one of the
one hundred and fifty-six thousand members who love Rotary and believe
in it. Most naturally, the critics emphasize the things in Rotary which
they do not like. Most naturally, the writer emphasizes the things
which, in common with his fellow Rotarians, he does like.
A member who would write the story of Rotary must obtain suitable
perspective. It is human to magnify the importance of the immediate, not
easy to realize that the high values of today may be the low values of
tomorrow. What a present is, in the minds of the majority, always will
be. In the present lies the perfection which past generations have died
for and which future generations will venerate.
civilization has attained its Ultima Thule. Viewed in improper
perspective, the creations of Raphael and Angelo are monstrosities;
viewed in proper perspective they are immortal.
How can a Rotarian divorce his thoughts from the immediate, the
international convention of yesterday, the club meeting of today, all so
important, so impressive? Verily we live in the present and well that is
so. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof" and, if we may be
permitted, the happiness thereof, also.
But divorce himself
from the present he must, if he is to obtain suitable perspective. He
must think not only of rotary itself, but also of its relation to other
things equally important. Is it of the eternal cosmos, or will it whiff
out leaving nothing to challenge the attention of historians of the
future except the epitaph, "Born
February 23, 1905.
Died ----. A brief but happy life"?
We may properly think of Rotary" s ancestral and environmental
influences. It is manifest that a movement, which has gone so far in the
brief period of thirty years, must have been the result of slowly
gathering forces; it could not have been the inspiration of any one man
or group of men; it could not have been spontaneous any more than
earthquakes or volcanoes can be spontaneous.
Considered in this
light, the life span of Rotary cannot be measured by a score or so of
years; it is of ancient lineage and its ancestry includes men of many
nations of diverse languages and customs. To trace its ancestry, one
must press back through the ages. return
to top of page
sends the dawn, He sends it for all."
Outline of History," Mr. Wells writes: "Somewhere, about 50,000 years
ago, if not earlier, appeared Homo Neanderthalensis (also called Homo
Antiques and Homo Primo genus) a quite passable human being."
In the cold, shivering twilight, preceding the
daybreak of civilization, the dominating emotion of man was fear. He
shrank in terror in the presence of forces beyond his control and
ruthlessly destroyed beings within his dominion. Self-preservation was
the controlling motive. Life was his most sacred possession and was to
be preserved at any cost. Lives of other beings, human or brute, were of
Selfishness was unrivalled, supreme and unopposed
except by selfishness. That which was coveted was appropriated if not
guarded by superior forces. The human animal, though lacking the
strength of the lion, the ferocity of the tiger, and the agility of the
ape, possessed a brain of potentiality and thereby gained dominion over
the lower orders.
Sex attraction served to propagate the species, but
man long remained slightly above beasts of prey. He heard the song of
bird and witnessed the play of the young, but he was serious. His world
was filled with dread things of
reality and even more dread things of imagination.
Suspicion begat fear and fear begat enmity.
In course of time, religion came with its rites
invoking the aid of good spirits which were even more powerful than the
bad spirits, and thus for the time being tempered the agony of fears.
But primitive man had enemies real as well as imaginary, and they were
not subject to priestly sorceries. The bludgeon and, in course of time,
the bow and arrow were brought into play to defend man from his
flesh-and-blood enemies. Then, as now, offence was considered the best
method of defense. Fear took no chances. Better slay first and think
later. Strangers possibly might not be harboring ill-will, but the
natural assumption was what they were and that they were waiting
opportunity to give it expression.
In Mr. Wells" "Somewhere" men were harassed by
enemies real and enemies imaginary. Night hours were rendered hideous by
the play of evil spirits in flashing lightening and booming thunder, and
the day was filled with terrors of skulking enemies of the wooden glens;
and neither day nor night offered respite from fears.
Then one who might have led the way out of the era of
distraction was born. In course of time he learned to lift his thoughts
above the common level. To him, precedent had meaning if it squared with
reason; not otherwise. His thoughts were free from bias. Neither thunder
nor lightening caused him to tremble, nor did he fear the stranger. He
could have led his people out of their wilderness but for an untoward
event. He ventured too far. One morning as he stood on a high rock
gazing at the rising sun as had been his custom, there was a sharp twang
of a bowstring, the whir of an arrow, the thud of a fallen body,
and far down in the valley by the swift-flowing, rock
bound stream lay all that was left of him who had lived in advance of
his times. He was the first in whose bosom dwelt the spirit of goodwill
toward all men.
A Teacher, whose name became immortal, arose to
embrace the doctrine of the brotherhood of man, giving it religious
sanction as a part of the "inspired word". He suffered contumely,
ridicule, disdain, and eventually death for having lived too far in
advance of His times, but His doctrines lived in the hearts of His
devoted followers who grew in number until they girded the earth. Other
religions taught the doctrine of universal brotherhood and made it an
essential part of their faiths.
was born in Scotland another who lived in advance of his time, one who
stoutly refused to do obeisance to unreasoning precedent; one whose soul
overflowed with the poetry of life. Of
all the words of the Scottish bard, none will be more highly
appraised nor longer remembered, than
"Then let us pray that come what may,
As come it will for a" that,
That sense and worth o" er a" the earth
May bear the gree, and a" that.
For a" that and a" that,
It" s coming yet, for a" that,
That man to man the world o" er
Shall brothers be, for a" that
the compass of these words have
been found all the philosophy, all the hope, the substance of every
prayer of the first seer, but how vain were the aspirations and hopes of
this widely separated twain. Primordial forces were to
be reckoned with, as is the case even now though
generations have lived and died since the lips of the sage of Ayr were
sealed in death.
sun breaks through the clouds, so the love of fellowship has
from time to time throughout the ages broken through the crust of
suspicion and hatred. Slowly and gradually men who have loved fathers,
mothers, sisters and brothers have drawn neighbors and friends within
their circles. The primitive manifestations were crude but culture is
not a sine qua non of good will. Rare Ben Johnson surrounded himself
with men of his kind, but Burns perforce found companionship in yokels.
Many obstacles to the expansion of good will have
presented themselves. Differences in languages and religions have been
among the most formidable, but commercial rivalries have also been
dissension breeders. Average public opinion has always been in favor of
the limited circle. To leave matters as they were was to be in popular
favor; to sponsor the broader outlook was to become a social outcast.
Many who now view as a matter of course the march of civilization to its
present stage and find satisfaction in it, are skeptical as to the
future. History has no lesson for them. Had they lived in the cave
period, they would have branded traitor, him within whose heart first
dwelt the spirit of good will toward all men. return
to top of page
The Cradle of Religious Liberty
THE CRADLE OF
scan your brother man,
Tho" they may
gang a kennin wrang.
To step aside
"ROBERT BURNS "Address
to the Unco Guild (sic)."
was Harris' favorite poet and he quotes him often. See
a related article.]
There is nothing in the genius of America more precious today than the
spirit of religious and political tolerance in its application to our
own people. It did not come naturally; in fact, it would be difficult to
conceive of any more dogmatic and less tolerant people than the first
settlers on New England shores. They were sterling, courageous men and
women who had willingly sacrificed the comforts of an older civilization
and endured hardships beyond description in order that they might enjoy
Their convictions were
so deeply rooted that departure from their standards seemed desecration.
They, who so valued religious liberty for themselves, denied it to
others. Once irreconcilable nonconformists, they became conformists to a
new order and rigorous disciplinarians in matters pertaining to the
faith. No will but theirs was tolerated. In the name of religion,
unconscionable injustices were imposed upon dissenters. Their ingenuity
in devising forms of mental and bodily suffering was boundless.
14 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
The stocks, whipping posts and stake were popular instruments of
torture, and slight in fractions of the law brought down upon the heads
of Unfortunate offenders, public ignominy and shame. The early New
Englanders were more than grim defenders of their faith. Their offensive
was so vigorous and well-sustained that there was little occasion for a
defensive. If there ever was a militant religion, it was that of early
New England. The austerities of the faith of the Pilgrim Fathers
out-shadowed the loveliness of Christian tenets. Theirs were strange
interpretations of the words of the "Prince of Peace."
Of the punishment for witchcraft Nathaniel Hawthorne said, "These scenes
you think are all too somber. So in deed, they are, but the blame must
rest on the somber spirit of our forefathers who wove their web of life
with hardly a single thread of gold."
Magistrates imposing death penalties were as lacking in enthusiasm for
their work as Pontius Pilate of old, on a certain memorable occasion.
They yielded, even as Pilate bad yielded, to the clamor of public
New England judges, in ordering unfortunate women to bear throughout
life the scarlet letter "A" to proclaim them adulteresses to all the
world, must have spent many sleepless nights when the words, "Let him
who is without sin cast the first stone," occurred to them.
The modesty of the early New England settlers seems to have been more in
evidence than their mercy, for it has been stated that it was due to
regard for feminine delicacy that women sentenced to capital punishment
were burned and not hanged. Hanging might make an indecorous display of
THE CRADLE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY Page 15
Descendants of New England pioneers are proud of their ancestry and glad
to proclaim the fact that so far as the United States are concerned, New
England is in deed the cradle of religious liberty. Reaction releases
energy and the reaction against intolerance in New England was swift and
far-reaching. From having been among the most intolerant, they became
Maryland, however, contests the claim of New England to the title of
"Cradle of Religious Liberty." The legislature passed a law in 1649
entitled, "An Act Concerning Religion" which reads as follows:
"Whereas, the enforcing of conscience in matters of religion
hath frequently fallen out to be of dangerous consequence in
those commonwealths where it hath been practiced, Therefore be
it now enacted that no person shall be molested in respect to
religion, except that all persons who deny the Holy Trinity
shall suffer death and confiscation."
There seems little choice to be made between the penalty of death as
imposed by the early settlers of Maryland upon those who would not
embrace the doctrine of Trinitarian lam, and the penalties of the
stocks, whipping-post and stake as inflicted by the early New England
settlers upon those who could not, or would not embrace the stern, un
compromising doctrines of the Puritans. Whether New England or Maryland
has the more authentic claim to the title, the uppermost thought in the
minds of the readers of history is that they both ought to be very glad
they are out of a mighty bad mess. Both New England and Mary land must
defer to Virginia in matters of political significance to our country.
16 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
In New England a school
of liberal thinkers and writers, Emerson,
Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, Holmes, Bryant,
Lowell, and Thoreau,
arose and New England became the national center of education and
culture. In the ministry Brooks, Phillips, and Beecher were proudly
proclaimed as among the great.
With such a galaxy of thinkers to lead New England out of its morass of
bigotry and intolerance the future seemed secure. Not only did the
different branches of the Protestant faith find ways to live together,
but the mantle of tolerance was enlarged to include within its folds the
Catholic immigrants who began to arrive in numbers. The first inroads
into Anglo homogeneity were made by Irish and French Canadian settlers.
Their boys played with boys of Mayflower ancestry on historic commons,
with little regard to social, political, or religious differences. An
interesting anthropological experiment had begun. The melting pot was
boiling. From it was eventually to come a well-fused type, Homo
Americanus, fifty thousand years or thereabouts removed from Mr. Wells"
Homo Antiquus. Slow but certain progress has been made in the promotion
of better understanding since the morning when the winged arrow brought
to earth him in whose bosom first dwelt the spirit of good-will towards
all men. It has been a discouraging and contentious march, and much
blood, innocent as well as guilty, has been brutally spilled along the
way; but thank God for the progress made.
In the face of pseudo-statesmen shrieking the inevitability of war,
successive stages of civilization have been passed. The fealty of the
individual caveman to his family was reluctantly extended to others of
THE CRADLE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY 17
Clans have declared truces in inter-clan warfare to join in arms against
common enemies, with the result that nations have come into being, and
in turn nations even have allied themselves with other nations to wage
more effective warfare. The greater the coalition, the more devastating
and cruel the warfare; and yet, in the exercise of good conscience and
common sense, we know that it will not always be so; that the day must
come, "When man to man will brother be, for a" that." There are sane
methods of settling differences.
While the struggle for religious liberty had proceeded without
large-scale bloodshed in New England and elsewhere in the United States,
the struggle for political liberty had not fared so well. Two wars with
the mother country were fought before young America considered herself
entirely on her own, and another war was in the making. If there is
anything worse than international warfare, is civil warfare, and the
United States was destined to experience it in the extreme of
bitterness. In the early sixties the North and South joined in
During four terrible years the struggle continued toward its inevitable
conclusion " impoverishment, destitution, and unspeakable sorrow. The
hands of the dock of civilization were turned back, but the nation shook
itself loose and sadder, but wiser, struggled on again.
As before stated, it is the writer" s purpose to relate the story of the
rise of Rotary, and in order that the spirit of the movement may be
better understood, he has drawn attention to antecedent circumstances
which he thinks, in a measure responsible, for the state of mind in
America which made the birth of Rotary possible during the early part of
the twentieth century.
18 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
He makes no mention of the unceasing effort of European countries to
substitute peace psychology for war psychology, except to acknowledge
that they were not without good effect even in instances when they
seemed to fail in their purpose. There can be no doubt that the
sentiment in all countries favors peaceful settlement of international
differences, and that all men, whosesoever they may be situated and
whatsoever their experiences may have been, deplore the fact that war
still continues to be the ultimate recourse.
that it may find a way to help promote international understanding and
good to the end that resort to arms may be less frequent in the future.
Ideas have unhinged the gates of empires. Epigrammatic utterances have
influenced the lives of generations of men. Soon after the end of the
civil war, a New York editor wrote a sentence of four words: "Young man,
go west." It aroused New England and all the east to action as no words
in times of peace had ever aroused those parts before. From farm,
factory, and home the trek began. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers,
uncles, aunts, and cousins all were there. Every known means of
conveyance was used. Slowly and laboriously these hardy pioneers
traversed mountains, hills, and plains searching for better and cheaper
land and other forms of wealth, and at the same time spreading the
doctrine of religious liberty. Here and there the numbers were augmented
by recruits from abroad " British, Irish, German, and Scandinavian, all
welcome and all high in hope as they struggled onward toward the
THE CRADLE OF RELIGIOUS LIBERTY 19
Now and then, small groups attracted by alluring prospects, detached
themselves and established communities along the way, in hopes that such
communities would grow into important cities, to the enrichment of the
The majority of the prospective town sites failed to develop in
accordance with expectations, and many were ultimately abandoned to
agricultural development or other purposes to which they were adapted;
others did come up to expectations, and a few developed far beyond
From some one of the many town sites prospected a mighty city was to
rise, the metropolis of the west. Where was it to be? One man" s guess
was as good as another" s, and fortune awaited the lucky.
Milwaukee was a favorite; Vincennes had its following; St. Louis was in
the running; and others thought well of the chances of Chicago which had
grown around Fort Dearborn, at the mouth of a river. Friends of the
latter held that Milwaukee was too far north; St. Louis, too far south;
that Chicago was near enough to the southern limit of Lake Michigan to
accommodate freight transportation by water, and also near enough to a
straight line across the continent to give it the benefit of
transcontinental transportation which was bound to be a factor in the
commerce of the future.
While the growth of other cities continued to give cheer to their
supporters, Chicago more than justified favorable predictions, and in
course of time became the unrivalled Metropolis of the West, a social
maelstrom where racial, political, and religious extremes met, clashed,
and ultimately merged into a semblance of homogeneity. In such
atmosphere and under conditions hereinafter described, the Star of
Rotary had its rise.
return to top of page
Can Anything Good Come Out of Chicago?
Genesis of Rotary
GENESIS OF ROTARY
"From quiet homes and first beginning, Out to the undiscovered
ends, There" s nothing worth the wear of winning But laughter and
the love of friends."
If one standing on a promontory of time could
have donned his metaphysical spectacles revealing thoughts and deeds
standing out in the affairs of men, as stately trees stand out in
landscapes, he would have observed a memorable struggle for existence "
the persistent and irresistible "Will to Be" of an ideal, which
eventually found expression in Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions clubs, and a dozen
As white corpuscles defend the human blood
against the ravages of disease, so the constructive forces of
cooperation, tolerance, courage, and brotherly love will eventually
overcome selfishness, envy, intolerance, hatred, and fear the most
destructive enemies of the social order.
In the city by the lake, a drama was to be
enacted, the importance of which could not have been foreseen. The
dramatis personae were men of the ordinary walks of life; business and
THIS ROTARIAN AGE 38
were friendly and congenial and each represented a recognized and
honorable vocation different from that of the others. In some respects
they were widely variant. They had been selected with" out regard to
religious, racial, or political differences. The group included members
of American, German, Swedish, and Irish ancestry, and representatives of
the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish faiths, all products of the
American melting-pot, and in that respect, fitting progenitors of the
international order which they were to bring into being.
There was Silvester,
a coal dealer, our first president; he was of German parentage. His was
a kindly nature and his face was wont to light up with pleasure on
GENESIS OF ROTARY 39
He told interesting stories of his boyhood home
on an Indiana farm, revealing the picture of a log cabin and family
group around the fireplace. He told of the hardships of early life; for
example, of the snow that used to pelt through the chinks in the roof of
the attic in which he slept, forming miniature drifts upon the floor. He
treasured the memory of early days. Though his life in Chicago had been
a struggle, he had managed to be helpful to the younger members of his
He had responded to his country" s call in its
time of need, serving in Cuba during the Spanish-American war. Clearly
he was eligible. Succeeding years have demonstrated the wisdom of the
selection; Silvester fills a worthy place, and his life becomes
increasingly useful with advancing years. He is the center of community
activities and church work, the key man in charitable undertakings. Many
young men have him to thank for years of wise counsel. Many crippled
children have him to thank for physical rehabilitation. To Silvester
every human need is a command. His telephone rings night and day, but he
is never too tired to respond although his health is not always the
best, and he is very tired at times. During the early days of the
depression, and until the charities in his part of the city were put on
an organized basis, Silvester" s office was made to serve as a
clearing-house, and many hundred needy were given relief.
While Silvester" s most manifest contribution to
the common weal has been through community service, his contribution
through vocational service, that is, in the management of his own
business has been scarcely less commendable. His "turn over" among
employees has always been negligible, though he has had many trying
cases to deal with.
40 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
His foreman in charge, who has been many years in
Silvester" s service, never fails to avail himself of every opportunity
to speak a good word of his boss. More than once he has told the writer
that if anything ever happens to the "Old Man" to make it necessary for
him to discontinue the management of the business, he will terminate his
service, because he never could be satisfied to work for another after
having worked so long for the "Old Silvester" s record in community
service, vocational service, as a humanitarian, neighbor and friend,
will stand a lot of beating, as the English put it. To put it in other
words, it is a splendid exemplification of the doctrine of Rotary in
action. In the very early days of Rotary, Silvester sponsored the
reading of papers on the respective vocations of the members. Was it the
beginning of the vocational service activity in Rotary? Perhaps not, but
it certainly was in perfect keeping with the developments which came
another of German parentage; Gustavus, a promoter. His personality
challenged attention. His was a rare combination, the good in him easily
outweighing the bad. He was a stormy petrel, vehement, impetuous,
imperative, domineering, in one breath; then calm, docile, and lovable
in the next. He was always thought compelling; his words were spoken
with lightning like rapidity, and with such force that men frequently
stopped in the street to look at him. His educational advantages had
been limited, but his English was classical.
Where he found the vocabulary with which to give his furious thoughts
expression, was a quandary. Gus"
membership was of brief duration. The
feverish ups and downs of business resulted first in his resignation
from membership, and a few years later in his death. Requiescat in pace.
Dear Gus, you rested little while here.
GENESIS OF ROTARY 41
a merchant tailor who hailed from the state of Maine, was of the number.
He was an agreeable fellow. He had never quite reconciled himself to
life in a large city; in fact, through all the years his thoughts have
constantly reverted to the state of his nativity. There he spends his
summer vacations, and to the rock-ribbed state of Maine he will
eventually return to spend his remaining days.
Hiram, due to circumstances beyond his control,
did not retain his membership in the club, though he has frequently
manifested interest in the movement and shown that he cherishes the
memory of the early days.
see Hiram Shorey's obituary and a "Horse Story"]
These three men and
the writer constituted the first group to foregather in the fellowship
of Rotary. They were the vanguard of a mighty host, but
to mention the four without including the fifth "
would be to do an injustice.
a printer, was number five. He
measured up to every requirement, insofar as his business habits were
concerned; he was reliable, punctual, and straight-forward; dishonesty
was to him incomprehensible. The only question in the minds of the
others was, "How does he stand in point of fellowship?" He seemed cold,
unemotional, and inexperienced in the ways of men. Harry had been raised
on a farm in northern Michigan. His father had been an upright and
religious man, whose weakness had been his childish faith in all
mankind. As a consequence, his cupboard was so frequently bare that the
belief that man was created for the purpose of waging merciless war"
fare against poverty was deeply embedded in young Harry" s mind.
42 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
All doubts as to his sociability were soon
dissipated. He proved to be the most friendly of all. When in the
company of his Rotary friends, his cup of joy ran over. He was
responsible for the introduction of song in club programs; in no other
way could he adequately express his happiness in the Rotary fellowship.
A rare soul indeed, is our Harry.
One of Rotary" s best known song leaders advances the four following
reasons for the inclusion of group singing, in Rotary: first "
it promotes fellowship, second "
it recreates, third "
it stimulates interest in music, and fourth "
if songs are selected which fit in with the purposes for which the
meeting is called, it serves to prepare the minds of the members for the
message which is to follow.
The writer is in accord with the above, and
drawing upon his own experiences, is prepared to say that speakers
frequently find inspiration in the music which precedes their efforts,
assuming of course, that suitable selections have been made.
GENESIS OF ROTARY 43
If a suitable selection has not been made, the
songs may serve to disturb the composure of the speaker and thereby
impair his effectiveness. Many an inexperienced speaker has been thrown
completely off his stride and moved to substitute an extemporaneous
speech for one carefully prepared, in a desperate effort to adjust
himself to the spirit of the meeting. Much responsibility rests upon the
shoulders of the song leader; it is not infrequently within his power to
make or break a meeting.
The only thing about the early Christians which
baffled Pliny" s understanding was their psalm singing.
Plato said: "Through music the soul learns
harmony and rhythm, and even a disposition to justice, for can he who is
harmoniously constituted ever be unjust? Is not this why music and
harmony find their way into the secret places of our soul, bearing grace
in their movements and making the soul graceful? Music moulds character
and therefore shares in determining social and political issues."
Damon said: "When modes of music change, the
fundamental laws of the state change with them. Music is valuable not
only because it brings refinement of feeling and character, but also
because it preserves and restores health."
Dr. William Chalmers Covert, moderator of the
Presbyterian Church of America, pleads for a tidal wave of hymn singing
as the best available means of restoring the spiritual power of the
Christian church. There is no doubt in the mind of the writer that song
has awakened the spiritual forces in Rotary as nothing else could have.
Singing is not indulged in by Rotary clubs of
some countries and all clubs are given full privilege to do as they
please about including it in their programs. Possibly there are
temperamental differences between people of different countries which
have a bearing. Perhaps not. Time will tell.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE 44
Long may you live to revel in the companionship
of your friends, Harry. We of the old guard know that long after the
last note of the "Stein Song," sung in response to your baton shall have
died away, memory of your warm, friendly spirit will be kept green.
whose vocation is the real estate business, entered the charmed circle
as number six. He was our first secretary.
Quiet, unassuming affability was his dominant
characteristic. There were no rough corners on Bill. When his sorrows
came, he faced them with characteristic serenity.
a manufacturer of folding organs, could not have been denied membership
after one had glimpsed his twinkling eye and sensed his humor. He was
our second president. He suffered a stroke some years ago, but he has
never permitted his affliction to break his spirit; he is the same old
Al. Suddenly removed from a life of activity to a life of immobility, he
remains undisturbed and pro" claiming his happiness to his more
GENESIS OF ROTARY 45
It was necessary, of course, to give each member
of the little group a nickname. "Boy Orator" was the sobriquet given
Charlie. Its fitness was made manifest during the course of arguments on
constitutional questions. Charlie had his own ideas as to what
constituted good Rotary, and he took them seriously. Incidentally he was
the un official recorder of the club. His private records admirably
reveal the spirit of the period. Were it not for his foresight, there
would be little in the form of written word to remind one of the happy
days of 1905.
"Doc" was a town man and a bachelor, the Beau
Brummel of early Rotary. He was the envy of the unsophisticated young
men from the country. He knew what clothes to wear and how to wear them,
but he was no mere manikin; he was a real he-man, and a remarkable
46 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
One of the most picturesque figures to be seen on
the bridle paths along Chicago boulevards was that of our "Doc." For
twenty- five years, he seldom missed a morning except in midwinter; it
mattered not how late he had retired the night before. The Chicago club
has always stood in the forefront with respect to the warmth of its
greeting to non-resident Rotarians. There is but one reason for the
distinction, and that is to be found in the person of warm-hearted,
genial "Doc." He served faithfully twenty- six years, and went to sleep
one night, never to awake again.
a banker. The name Rufus was happily and most naturally changed to
"Rough-house" in Rotary circles. The appropriateness of the change will
be apparent to all who know Rufe as the most quiet and inoffensive
gentleman imaginable. He is the treasurer of Rotary International, a
position he has held for a quarter of a century. His friends are legion.
Of all his outstanding characteristics, none has
been more marked than that of his love for his mother. He is a town man
and a bachelor and as long as his mother lived, she was his constant
companion. Together they attended all international conventions,
receptions, and parties. He had no other chum. He was always a good
fellow; as a son he was wonderful. Rufe has been con fined to his
apartment during the past three years as a result of a nervous disorder,
but he has gallantly risen above his misfortune and is as buoyant and
hopeful as ever. He astonished the writer recently by stating that he
considered his physical disability one of life" s great experiences, one
he would not like to have missed. In Rufus" case, also, it is manifest
that the spirit has been triumphant over the flesh. What an example he
has set for us. No ill can affect one so splendidly equipped.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE 47
was Barney the
undertaker. It required little imagination on the part of him who tagged
Barney with the pseudonym, "Cupid" " he is such a roly-poly individual
and his quiver is always full of arrows. When he lets them fly, they are
very likely to reach their mark " " human heart.
Cupid had no children to fasten his affections upon, but he was no
stranger to conjugal bliss. One sad morning after a brief illness, his
life" s partner left him.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE 48
The great question among Cupid" s many friends in Rotary was, "How will
he bear up under the deepest sorrow ever visited upon any man?" How
would he, who by reason of his vocation had lived so much amid the
shadows, carry on now that his own day of darkness had come?
His friends were not held long in suspense. Cupid
conducted the funeral and was unusually solicitous as to the comfort of
his Rotarian friends assembled to make manifest the sympathy with which
their hearts overflowed. When the last rite had been per formed, Cupid
stepped forward and his face was almost radiant as he took his last,
long, lingering look, and the writer who stood nearby heard his softly
whispered words, "Goodbye Gertie."
But of the days after: to many it is the days after, that count. For
more than six years Cupid lived alone in the big apartment where he and
Gert had lived so happily together. During that entire period things
were left just as she had placed them. Under Cupid" s instructions her
room was swept and dusted, and her bed linen changed just as had been
GENESIS OF ROTARY 49
When Rotarians called, they were cordially
received and they were always welcome; but when Cupid learned that some
of his friends were calling with unusual frequency because they feared
he might be lonesome, he assured them that he was not lonesome; that he
was quite happy. The indisputable fact was that Cupid and Gert were
living together as before. Eventually he went to Europe, wandered about
on the continent for several months quite alone, then returned to
Chicago and took up the threads of business life again.
big, hale and hearty, and possesses a magnetic personality; his manifest
geniality impresses even the passing stranger. Men stop on the street,
take a second look at him, smile broadly and pass on. Waiters in
restaurants, shop-keepers, and news boys give him special service and
attention. Their service is spontaneous. Wherever he goes he gets the
best of everything. What does he give in return? Nothing, that he is
conscious of. He is just him self " genial, kindly old Freddie, and he
looks the part. He never learned how to be a gentleman; he didn" t need
to; he was born that way.
His greeting is more than cordial; he glows with
enthusiasm. His parting is no less impressive. He hands the de parting
one his hat; holds his overcoat; pulls his undercoat down; and starts
him off with a vigorous handshake and a "Goodbye, Laddie." If Freddie
has ever had a grouch, none can recall it.
But can one be all that Freddie appears to be, and still be sincere? Is
his manner not a veneer merely put on for the accomplishment of a
purpose, and then cast off as soon as the purpose has been served? No,
Freddie" s manner is not a veneer; he has no repertoire of mannerisms.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE Page 50
His greeting to me today will be his greeting to
you tomorrow, and what is more, it is his daily greeting to the members
of his family. His courtesy to his sons at the breakfast table is no
less marked than his courtesy to an honored friend.
But how about the employees at his factory? A man may be courteous to
his friends, kind to his family, and yet be a brute to his employees. It
is said of Charles M. Schwab that his employees call him Charlie. It
would be lese-majesty in some institutions for an employee to call his
big boss, "Charlie." Dignity has its place but it can be made a fetish.
If Freddie had been dependent upon dignity with which to maintain
discipline, he would have made a mess of it. Not being overstocked with
dignity, he substitutes something else " brotherly love; with that, his
cup fairly runneth over.
GENESIS OF ROTARY 51
Before his own fiery furnaces, where grimy men work with gigantic ladles
of molten metal, he may at times be seen, like some big bear, cuffing
his men about to their mutual delectation. But how about discipline? Can
it be maintained, or will it eventually be destroyed by indulgence in
such incongruous unconventionalities? It" s a difficult question to
answer. Freddie" s business has only been running a little more than a
quarter century, but it can truthfully be said that during that period
there has never been even the semblance of a strike, the boss"
idiosyncrasies notwithstanding. The payroll has lengthened from two
names to seven hundred, and the business is still growing so rapidly
that additions to the plant have to be built every few years. The last
time the writer walked with Fred between his batteries of pounding
machines, happiness seemed to be trailing in his wake. Every face wore a
smile. There was no intimation of impending trouble. After all, there
must be a boss, and where could another be found like good old Freddie?
Friends of the writer sometimes call upon him for
assistance. Some young man coming to Chicago needs a job. The writer
generally knows where one can be found, if the applicant is right. He
puts in a call for Freddie, tells him his tale of woe, and presto
change, there is a new man on the job in Freddie" s factory.
A crippled boy, who proved to be a bad actor,
some years ago was sent to Freddie. Three times he jumped his job and
bummed his way, twice to New Orleans, once to Washington, D. C. Three
times he was forgiven and started on the straight path again. Verily,
you are a wonder, Freddie.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE Page 52
To employers of labor who have tried every other
expedient " division of profits, stock purchases on favorable terms,
medical dispensaries, dental clinics, hospitals, night schools,
lectures, concerts, play-grounds, better housing, and so forth in the
modern manner, (all of which reflect everlasting credit upon the
business men of this generation) and yet have failed " to such I would
say, "Try one more expedient. Put a little of Freddie" s salve on your
industrial disturbances." The essence of it is humanity, friendliness,
brotherhood, good-will. It may not effect a cure, but in no event can it
possibly do harm.
not merely sympathetic with the extension of Rotary outside of Chicago.
He actually participated in it, notably in New York. Of
the New York Club Freddie is known as the founder.
What of this attribute which we term personality?
Is personality merely good or bad, charming or disagreeable, as the case
may be; or is there a deeper significance? Is personality not a manner
of window through which men" s souls may be seen?
Personality has power to uplift, power to
depress, power to curse, and power to bless. Personality commits murder
at times. Not always in momentary passion frequently coolly,
deliberately; murder by inches. A thrust is made at the breakfast table,
another at lunch, a third at the evening meal, and little jabs during
the long hours of the night. The flowers that bloom in cheeks begin to
fade " the first indication that a personality homicide is in progress.
They do not all have venue at the fireside, though the most dastardly of
them take place there.
GENESIS OP ROTARY Page 53
They may occur in factory, office, warehouse,
church, school, and in the market place. Personality homicides recognize
no sanctuary. How devastating may be the blights of sorrow which follow
in the wake of frowns.
Personality" s power to bless is made manifest
daily, hourly, in every nation, city, and town; in home, factory, and in
all places where men and women congregate.
Gracious and pleasing
personalities enrich and sweeten life. Your personality has been a
benediction to me at times, Freddie.
In the immortal words of Harry Lauder, "Long
may your lum reek."
"Personality is to a man what perfume is to a flower."
"CHARLES M. SCHWAB,
in "Ten Commandments of Success."
There were others of the first year" s group
worthy of special mention. Doc Hawley, an eye, ear, nose and throat
specialist, a gentleman of culture; Doc had a warm heart and he was very
responsive to human needs. In the very early days he delivered an
address before the club on handicapped children, and on another occasion
took up a collection for one who was in sore distress. Doc Baxter, an
eminent physician who had studied abroad, and who later endowed his alma
mater; Bob, an architect whose hobby was work in the interest of
libraries; and big genial Harry " then a manufacturer, now retired " but
a regular attendant at Rotary club meetings, either in Chicago or in
California where he spends a part of his time; John, a decorator; Max, a
furniture dealer; and Charlie, a florist who expressed his good-will in
flowers, one for each plate; a cross-section, so far as it went, of the
big town, each representing an honorable calling differing from all
others in the membership; each viewing it as a special privilege to be
selected as the representative of his vocation, and appreciative of the
responsibility incident thereto; each with a broad catholicity of
outlook, and a lover of his fellowmen. There were no drones in the 1905
THIS ROTARIAN AGE Page 54
Everyone was interested and busy. Practically
every member contributed some one or more serviceable ideas. Several of
these ideas are in operation today; for example, the mid-day meeting,
the practice of using photographs in rosters, the presentation of papers
on vocational subjects, and many others.
When dinner meetings became a feature, a "Know
Your Chicago" campaign was begun, and meetings were held in all of the
important hotels scattered throughout the entire city in systematic
sequence, the ladies of the members frequently participating in the
enjoyment of these social and educational pilgrimages.
Several of the members had been raised on farms,
and the majority were of the class of country and small town boy who in
search of fortune had gravitated to the city. While not self-made men,
they were in the process of making, and most of them had made sufficient
progress to justify the assumption that success in considerable degree
was to be realized in the future. Some had received the benefits of
college education; more had not.
The lives of most of them had not been easy. From
early childhood they had been taught to work. Two opposite concepts of
life had been pointed out to them by their kind but not indulgent
parents, in order that they might make wise selection between the two.
There was the shiftless, happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care concept, the
goal of which might be the poor-house, and surely would result in loss
of self-esteem. On the other hand, there was the ambitious, industrious
concept which would probably lead to a position of influence, power, and
the respect of the community, as well.
GENESIS OF ROTARY Page 55
The parents of the members of the group had been self-sacrificing
fathers and mothers, wrapped up in the future of their children, and
none respected them more than did the beneficiaries of their kindly
ministrations. That being the case, parental instruction and admonitions
had been more than mere words; they had made deep and lasting
When these young men entered business, their
objective was to carry out the wishes of their parents; to be credits to
them; in short, to achieve success. Those of the number who came from
the country had been woe fully lonely at times, their unruly thoughts
flying away to the green fields and the happy companionship of boy hood.
Streets paved with cobble-stones had been sorry substitutes for green
pastures. Those from the country had frequently spent Sundays and
holidays rambling about, gazing upon restless throngs and dreaming of
happier days climbing hills with congenial friends.
The best time and place for a country-bred boy to be lonesome is on a
Sunday afternoon in a city park, where unknown people swarm in search of
amusement. One need never be lonesome, in the country amidst God" s green
hills, or loitering alongside babbling brooks, with the air full of
songs of birds and fragrant with the odors of mint and balsam. City
parks give sweltering humanity opportunity to breathe on hot, sultry
afternoons, and bring happiness in abundance to those who have not been
reared to better things.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE Page 56
Others of the group were city-bred and they had
fared much better; they were adjusted to their environment, but they
appreciated good fellowship, and they also were led by the star "
Personal ambition had been largely responsible
for the grouping. United they would stand; divided they might fall. And
so they helped each other in every way that kindly heart and friendly
spirit could suggest. In the main, the efforts were directed to helping
each other in business " helping each other to attain success. They
patronized each other whenever it was practicable to do so, extended
helpful influence and gave wise counsel, when needed. There being no two
members of the same vocation, mutual assistance was very practicable.
The purposes of early Rotary have been frequently
described as selfish, and so indeed they may seem to have been. There
are, however, those who have designated their days as members of the
Chicago club in 1905 as the sweetest and most selfless of their lives.
Whether a member was selfish or unselfish depended, of course, upon
where he found his happiness. If he found it primarily in gaining
advantage for himself, he was selfish. If he found it in helping his
friends, he was unselfish. Naturally both types of mind were represented
in the early days of club number one, as is true everywhere.
that they might post themselves as to the business lives of fellow
members, their meetings were held in their offices. They rotated from
office to office and largely by reason of that practice, adopted the
Some realized the business advantages sought;
others did not. All realized the advantages of friendship.
GENESIS OF ROTARY 57
In the social desert of a city, they possessed an
oasis all their own. To it the chosen few came to revel in the delights
of friendly communion. No longer would any of them have occasion to
dream in city parks and public places of happy days gone by; the "Happy
days had come again."
were different from meetings of other clubs of the day; they were far
more intimate, far more friendly. First names were always used, while
"Misters" and all other prefixes which might in any way interfere with
the free flow of spirits, were banned. They became boys once again.
Sir Henry Braddon, Australian Rotarian, has said:
"One way in which Rotary develops the
individual is in preserving the boy in him. Deep down in the
heart of every good fellow there is a boy, a boy whose outlook
on life is rather wonderful, unspoiled, with no prejudice, no
intolerance, with keen enthusiasm, ready friendliness. and all
those qualities that we love to see. But as the years go on the
boy is apt to become submerged, and it is a sad day for the man
when the boy can be said to have passed away. Age is not a
matter of figures on the baptismal register; it is a condition
of mind, very largely. When our ideals weaken, our enthusiasms
wane; when we become cynical, over-engrossed, then we have
become old, no matter what the exact tale of our years. As long
as a man keeps his mind resilient, his nature open to friendly
influences, he will never grow entirely old, and Rotary
encourages and helps to develop him by keeping the boy alive in
The postulate that all men had been created free
and equal had so natural a part in the thinking of the first of
Rotarians that it was accepted without discussion. Protestant, Catholic,
and Jew; American, German, Swede, Irishman and what-not, mingled
together in happy accord. They had embarked upon a glorious adventure.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE Page 58
Clubs with memberships based upon racial and religious qualifications
there were in plenty. To begin with, there were clubs composed entirely
of those of Protestant ancestry, to which neither Jews nor Catholics
need apply. Jews and Catholics, also gregarious in nature, had clubs of
their own. The Turnverein societies supplied the needs of the Germans,
and innumerable other racial groups formed in all parts of the city. In
business, sports, and to a great extent in the schools, the melting-pot
was working; but in social life it fell short. While native Americans
were loyal to the principles of freedom and equality in business and
political life, they were not disposed to give it sufficiently liberal
construction to jeopardize social distinctions. It was one thing to give
the children of poor immigrants educational advantages, quite a
different thing to throw their doors open to the poor immigrants them"
selves. The result, most naturally, was that the children advanced more
rapidly than their elders in inter-racial understanding.
There is charm in the
friendship of men of one" s own way of thinking, men who have inherited
the same tendencies, the same strong points and even the same weak"
nesses; but there is also charm in the friendship of men whose
experiences and inherited tendencies are different. They are like books
which excite curiosity and wonder.
GENESIS OF ROTARY Page 59
The 1905 members
of the Rotary Club of Chicago, so valued the friendship of their
fellow-members that they put a ban upon religious and political
discussions, fearing that they might become disturbing factors, and they
were richly rewarded for their foresight. There was plenty of dynamite
in questions which might have been raised; but they were not raised. The
formula was very simple; it read, "GO about your common tasks together,
avoid discussions of dissentious subjects, and your reward will be
friendship." The formula was worthy of adoption in much wider circles.
The sparkling wit of the Irishman vied with the
quaint humor of the Jews, to the delectation of the members whose
ancestry represented a galaxy of nations. Acquaintance is the great
intermediary; it soothes troubled spirits, subdues unworthy suspicion,
and as a rule eventually ripens into friendship.
"One man is as good as another " and a great dale better, as the
Irish philosopher said."
Unfortunately there are some folks in the world
who actually cherish ancient and hereditary animosities, fanning the
flame of century-old hatreds as matters of religious or racial duty.
They habitually speak evil of representatives of countries other than
their own, and in fact, seldom speak a kindly word of anyone even of
those who are supposed to be their friends. It is a matter of habit
largely, and Rotary associations tend to bring about the substitution of
friendly sentiment for unfriendly Sentiment.
But how dwarfed the soul of those who recognize
no Virtue save within the membership of their own little group or sect.
They still live in the atmosphere of the Middle Ages.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE Page 60
They know nothing of the problems of this world
because they are not of this world. Their heroes are of the dead past.
They sequester themselves lest they become contaminated. Contributing
nothing, they gain nothing; theirs only to criticize those who work.
Ideals which they hug close to themselves, they deny to others. Even
their own virtues seem vices when displayed by others. Their holy
evangelism becomes despicable proselytism when exercised by others.
In the clashes between ignorance and
intelligence, ignorance is generally the aggressor. To attempt to
superimpose its views through the exercise of force, is seldom the part
of intelligence; it is frequently the part of ignorance. The less one
knows, the more he thinks he knows, and the more willing he is to employ
any and all measures to enforce his views upon others. The stocks, and
the many other means of inflicting physical and mental anguish were the
devices of ignorance. The story of the aggressions of ignorance against
intelligence can never be told.
The way to put an end to these indefensible
practices is to promote intercourse between members of different sects
and citizens of different nations.
Segregation never brought anyone anything except
trouble. If there is discord in a community, be it religious or racial,
the most certain way of fomenting it is by saying, You remain on your
side of the deadline and we will remain on ours. Ours is an Anglo-Saxon
community, and we want to keep it just that. We will continue to live on
the east side of the tracks, you on the west. There you may build as
many churches as you please and have things all your own way, so you
leave us alone.
GENESIS OF ROTARY 61
When an individual, a sect, a clique or a nation
hates and despises another individual, sect, clique or nation, he or
they simply do not know the objects of their hatred. Ignorance is at the
bottom of it. Ignorance is a menace to peace. The higher the general
average of intelligence, all things else being equal, the less the
disposition to be meddlesome, critical, and overbearing. Individuals and
nations owe it to themselves and the world to become informed.
Even the most bigoted of zealots have come to see
that religious differences can not be ironed out through process of law;
they are also slowly learning that they can not be ironed out through
the exercise of social pressure.
Rotary" s program of promoting better
understanding between different racial groups and between devotees to
different religious faiths, so simply and yet so auspiciously begun in
the year 1905 has met with greater success thus far than the
negotiations of diplomats. It has been the way of Rotary to focus
thought upon matters in which members are in agreement, rather than upon
matters in which they are in disagreement. Rotary has satisfactorily
demonstrated the fact that friendship can easily hurdle national and
religious boundary lines.
One" s religion is one" s own possession and he has
a right to it. One" s nativity is not of his own choosing, but whatever
it may be, it is entitled to respect; and all nations have honorable
place in the world" s family.
Insularity induces the superiority complex, and
the superiority complex is responsible for much trouble. Permanent
superiority has never been realized by any nation in history. After the
rise comes the fall.
Page 62 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
The nation that is supreme above all others
during one age, will be eclipsed by another in the next age. The very
strength of a nation eventually proves to be its weakness. After
maturity comes old age; after ripeness comes decay. It is nature" s law
and can not be repealed or over He who makes the eagle scream, the lion
roar, the bear growl, is not doing his country a service; he is probably
not even trying to; he is in all probability trying to do himself a
service; he is doing his country a disservice. There is, however, a
species of homo sapiens even more pitiable; it is those who, when
traveling abroad, rise superior to the country to which they owe
allegiance and expose its weaknesses to sympathetic and admiring
The writer is an American and has no apologies to
make for that fact. He grants all others the privilege of proclaiming
allegiance to the countries to which they owe it. No one ever rises in
the writer" s esteem through disloyalty to his country, whosesoever it
may be. One ought to love his country so well that he will resolve never
to create enemies for it, nor subject his fellow countrymen to ridicule
through proclaiming the land of his allegiance, "God" s own country." One
may manifest his own ignorance in that manner, but insult is a poor
means of winning friendship. The best way to win the esteem of others is
by observing the simple rules of decency. If they won" t accomplish the
desired result, nothing will.
Obviously the only
possible means of holding together the little group of Rotarians of
1905, consisting as it did of men of variant racial origins and
religious faiths, was through the exercise of tolerance. Proselytism had
no place; it would have wrecked the movement in its inception.
GENESIS OF ROTARY 63
Sir Wilfred Grenfell says that it is the height
of impertinence for anyone to criticize the manner in which another
keeps in touch with God.
this simple plan all went well. So far as the writer was concerned it
imposed no hardship. He was of conservative New England stock, his
ancestry being traceable to the Pilgrim
fathers; but as heretofore said, New England sentiment had
undergone much change since Mayflower days.
In the Vermont village where the writer spent his
boyhood days, there was one Jew and one Catholic priest. They were both
friends of his father who greatly, valued their friendship. Mr. Pincus
was the clothier, and the separation from his kind seemed no sorrow to
him; his flow of spirits was ever ready and enjoyable. The writer also
has happy recollections of friendly chats between his father and the
priest, whose garden adjoined. He is satisfied that they experienced a
special zest in their contacts growing out of the very fact that their
back" grounds were so entirely different.
Then again, a few years later, while attending college, the writer
happened to be the victim of a painful accident in which a priest whom
he did not know, played a Samaritan part. The writer had been thrown
from a carriage and had landed on his face and stomach in front of a
Catholic church. When he regained consciousness, his head was being
supported by the priest, who was holding a glass of wine to the writer" s
lips. With such experiences lingering in memory, tolerance came
64 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
pointing to a man across the street, laid to a friend: "I don" t like
that man." To which his friend answered: "Why, I didn" t know that you
were acquainted with him." Lamb whimsically rejoined: "I am not
acquainted with him; that" s why I don" t like him." How true it is that
dislike vanishes in the light of acquaintance. The best guaranty of world
There are few fundamental differences between
races of men. All venerate justice, honor, integrity, and love; all
despise injustice, dishonor, dishonesty, and hatred. Without
acquaintance it is human to ascribe unworthy motives; with acquaintance
it is human to do the opposite. With acquaintance ripened into
friendship, the chances of dissension are remote.
How strange it is that murder has the sanction of
law in one and only one of the human relationships, and that is the most
important of all, that of nation to nation. If we resort to arms to
settle personal grievances, we must suffer a penalty. As nations, we
glorify and idealize wholesale murder. In the relationship of man to
man, we must be gentlemen or forfeit the esteem of our countrymen; in
the relationship of nation to nation, we must be brutes, or forfeit
their esteem. The condition represents the great outstanding blotch upon
civilization. Soon may the long-looked-for, long-prayed understanding
Rotary continued in its own sweet, self-centered way. Winds blew and
storms raged without, but within, all was well. Could the Bard of Ayr
have visited the group, he would have wondered how so much happiness and
merriment could be possible without the use of the friendly cup. It
would have been necessary to explain that the cup had fallen into bad
hands in the U.S.A. Rotary has never taken sides on the prohibition
question, but Rotary gatherings have been characterized in all countries
GENESIS OF ROTARY 65
Drunkenness has been practically unknown in
Rotary circles. International conventions and district conferences where
large numbers of Rotarians are gathered together, constitute striking
contrasts with meetings of many other organizations whose members view
such occasions primarily as opportunities to celebrate their temporary
release from restrictions which hamper them in their home towns where
they have reputations to maintain.
John Sullivan and Jack Murphy were the
forerunners of a fine line of Catholic Rotarians. . . Max Wolff and Max
Goldenberg were the first of an equally fine line of Jewish Rotarians.
In course of time, as the movement grew and spread, Christian
Scientists, Mormons, Mohammedans, Buddhists, and many others have been
added to the list, in living demonstration of the fact that religious
and racial homogeneity is not a sine qua non to friendly inter course.
Catholic priests, Jewish rabbis, and Protestant ministers sit together
at Rotary meetings, singing songs and indulging in happy fellowship.
Many thoughtful and ably written articles on Rotary have appeared from
time to time in the Christian Science Monitor, and the Mormon church has
been represented in the Salt Lake City Rotary Club by its highest
officials. Religious organizations work in complete harmony with Rotary
and many clubs in the smaller communities, where the facilities offered
by hotels and restaurants are inadequate, have their luncheons or
dinners in church parlors, where they are served the best of meals by
the ladies of the church to whom the opportunity of earning money with
which to support church activities, is welcome.
Page 66 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
The writer and his wife, while visiting a Rotary
club in a small southern city, fell into the hands of a reception
committee consisting of a Presbyterian minister, who was the president
of the local club, and a Catholic priest, then the vice-president. It
would be difficult to find better friends. The Presbyterian" s sentences
frequently ended with an appeal to the Catholic in the words, "Isn" t
that so, Gene?"
At the close of the day, the writer said to the
president, "You know there is always a mountain peak in every town I
visit, Charlie, and the mountain peak to me today is the love of a
Presbyterian minister for a Catholic priest." President Charlie" s answer
was, "I am glad to hear you say that, Paul. My love of Gene is indeed
genuine." Then he continued: "I have just been talking to him, and what
I said was this: "You know, Gene, my little girl is to be operated on at
the hospital tomorrow morning at nine o" clock. They say it is a minor
operation, but there are no minor operations when our loved ones are
concerned. Tomorrow morning at nine o" clock I want you, Gene, to be on
your knees praying for my baby." Gene" s answer was, "Charlie, I" ll be
there." " In this beautiful relation ship, all of the cumulative
animosity of generations had been wrung out and tender sympathy and
affection only, remained.
Rotary has become an integrating factor. Whether
the New England fathers have turned in their graves is a question;
perhaps they have been rejoicing with us.
With thoughts and deeds no more pretentious than
those above related, the life of a movement, which was destined to
circumnavigate the globe with incredible speed and make itself at home
in all civilized nations, had its beginning. Some of the early members
even now in this day of wondrous achievement and bright promise still
hark back to the delightful intimacy of friendship which was at its best
in the dear old days.
GENESIS OP ROTARY Page 67
have the members of the 19O5 group hung together; death only has been
successful in separating them.
Small wonder that many were disposed to leave well enough alone; to
remain content basking in each others smiles, and leaving the world to
drift along according to its own will. They had built well enough to
suit them" selves. They had built on the most substantial of all
foundations " goodwill and friendship.
The germ of Rotary might have been confined in
its tiny shell; but it was not destined so to be. Fantastic dreams of a
Rotary far-flung and adjusted to much broader purpose, yet retaining all
its pristine vigor and loveliness, had disturbed the complacent
serenity. It was a Utopian dream and commanded scant sympathy. It would
have been unreasonable to expect practical business men to risk all that
had meant so much to them, to the rash experiments of a dreamer; and yet
ideas and ideals, if they are worthwhile, have the habit of living.
Schopenhauer in his
"Ethics of Love," reduces love to its biologic purpose, the propagation
of the species.
: Humiliating as the tenet may be to the romantic lover, it
is manifest that the "will to be" of the unborn babe,
makes vassals of its parents.
Perhaps in the birth and development of Rotary to
its : present vantage point, there has been an ever-present,
unalterable, irresistible destiny, to which all members have been and
still are subject, in the face of which man is impotent and
Whether it is that Rotary was born under a lucky
star, or whether it is that its "will to be" was undeniable,
Page 68 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
The birthday of Rotary, February 23rd, is
celebrated throughout the length and breadth of the movement. Of all
days in the Rotary calendar it is considered the most important. It is
not remarkable that this is so. To celebrate birthdays, whether of
individuals or of movements, is very human. In the case of Rotary, with
its unprecedented rise from obscurity to vast influence within the span
of thirty years, birthday celebrations were inevitable; they were the
best means of demonstrating loyalty, and of renewing and invigorating
faith. Inspiration is to be found in the thought that as the world
revolves, it brings a pro" cession of national groups to consciousness
of the arrival of the natal day. There is inspiration in the thought
that the sun never sets upon Rotary.
Among the not unwholesome attributes of man, is
reverence. In dark ages, it raised him above the brute world into a
kingdom of his own; it gave him incentive to move onward and upward
toward an idealism, the height of which was limited only by his
perception. Primitive reverence was extravagant and unrestrained.
Birthday celebrations in Rotary are apt expressions of the restrained
and rationalized reverence of modern times.
Evolution is natural, orderly, economic, and
constructive. Revolution is the reverse; yet both have played their
parts in the advancement of civilization.
"72 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
Marking the close of the middle ages, the moral
and intellectual standards of the European nations changed so completely
that the period was designated the renaissance, or rebirth; it was
The progress of Rotary has been mainly
evolutionary; one change has followed another in orderly sequence, and
yet the history of the rise of the movement reveals a period when the
expansion of purposes and ideals was so pronounced that it may well be
designated the period of Rotary" s renaissance. Like all other
revolutionary periods, it was a time of disillusionment, disenchantment,
anxiety, hope, fear, despair, conflict, and heartache.
Had Rotary not been subjected to the stress and
strain of its never to be forgotten renaissance, had it not been born
again, there would be little to celebrate. Rotary" s rebirth, with the
exalted hopes, higher purposes, and expanded vision, was the greatest of
all events in the eventful life of the movement.
The rumblings of the renaissance began to be
heard during the latter part of 1906; it began-in earnest in 1907 and
continued until 1913. During that period Rotary expanded from a local
group, gathered together in the city of Chicago for mutual advantage and
fellowship, to an organization of international vision and nobility of
In the beginning of Rotary" s renaissance there
was little to justify fond hopes and profound ambition, but the one
element to all substantial achievement in all fields of human endeavor
was present, and that was faith. With" out faith Columbus could never
have fought his way against wind and wave to the western hemisphere.
With" out it, the brilliant Galileo and the patient Pasteur would
THE RENAISSANCE 73
have remained at the level of mediocrity. Without
it, Rotary would have remained a lone maverick of clubdom.
Frequently have the words been heard, "You little
thought that Rotary would become the worldwide power for good that it is
today. You builded better than you knew." It is obvious from this and
other expressions that the current belief is that the character of the
present movement and its wide spread was entirely unforeseen and largely
accidental. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The plan was
conceived in anxious, earnest reflection, and was painstakingly carried
Under circumstances somewhat similar, President
Hoover said: "People seem to have the idea that there is some sort of
miraculous operation in accomplishment; that somebody conceives a
perfect and complete plan, which can simply be charted and placed in
operation. Things never happen that way. Something needs to be done.
Mistakes are made " but that does not matter; one must press on. One
day" s work at a time."
is worthwhile comes without effort. It could not be appreciated if it
were so to come. Rotary was not the result of a stroke of genius; in
fact, there is little if anything, even original about it. There is
wisdom in the expression, "There is nothing new under the sun."
To the world in general, the most unique feature
of Rotary is its so-called classification plan, by which membership is
confined to one representative of each business and profession; but even
the classification plan is not original. Long before the birth of
Rotary, a social club existed in London, the membership of which was
based on vocational classifications.
74 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
The factors which distinguish the Rotary clubs from their early English
prototype are the idealism, ambition, enthusiasm, and determination
which have always characterized Rotary. Two
other organizations of ancient origin embodied features which later
found place in Rotary. One
was an organization founded by Benjamin Franklin in Philadelphia which
adopted the classification plan; and the other "La SociΓ©t des
Philantropes" with headquarters at Strasbourg, now removed to Nancy, was
almost identical with Rotary in its idealism and purpose. Neither of
these organizations became known to Rotarians until long after the birth
How far ambitions of Rotarians had progressed by
1910 can be easily ascertained by a perusal of the record of proceedings
of the first Chicago convention. Briefly it may be said that in some of
the addresses, the speakers predicted progress nearly equal to the
The renaissance demanded more than mere
extension, even though extension be to the farthermost corners of the
earth. Something yet needed to be done; the purposes and the ideals had
to be expanded to dimensions proportionate to the increase of physical
growth. Somehow, the esoteric Rotary must acquire an exoteric outlook.
With no lesser vision could ambitions be realized.
To accept the new doctrine, involved immense
expansion of the old. To immeasurably expand a doctrine which had proven
itself eminently satisfactory to the great majority was difficult. It is
not easy to become a prophet twice in the same city. Where would the
movements of the past have been, had it been necessary for the founders
to admit their shortcomings to their followers?
THE RENAISSANCE 75
Difficult or easy, the lack of vision had to be
confessed if there was to be a renaissance in Rotary. Fortunately there
were those in the rank and file who were in sympathy with the wider
outlook and they so expressed themselves. In days of tribulation,
sympathetic under standing is helpful; it tends to confirm one in his
beliefs and to bolster faltering hopes. To pioneer, whether it be in the
realm of physics or metaphysics, is to travel a lone some road and words
of encouragement are frequently, sadly needed. Nothing is more
disconcerting than the blank look of friends to whom one" s hopes are
unintelligible. Oh, for a face alight with friendly enthusiasm. How it
brightens life, and how sad the lot of him to whose friends his most
cherished ideals are vagaries. Though such friends be speechless, their
lusterless eyes tell the story. They might as well say, "I" m sorry; I
wish that I could go along with you, but I simply can" t. I must be
honest with myself and with you. There" s nothing to it; you have been
The needed words of encouragement eventually were
spoken. On one occasion, a flood of eloquence served to illumine the
shaded pathway. How serviceable words were in preparing minds for the
new era, is difficult to determine. It is certain that mere words could
never entirely serve the purposes of Rotary" s renaissance. The eloquence
of deeds was needed, and even it might prove unavailing.
In such atmosphere,
Rotary" s first public service was rendered. It consisted of initiating
and promulgating the establishment of public
comfort stations in
Chicago. Of all the multitudinous undertakings of Rotary, the writer can
not recall one more ambitious. Rotary" s first public
76 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
undertaking resulted in the enrollment of every
important civic organization in the city of Chicago, and also the city
and county administrations, in its support. For more than two years the
battle against indifference, vested interests, and so forth continued
until eventually Chicago" s first public comfort station was established
on the northeastern corner of Washington and LaSalle streets. The
greater significance however, was in the fact that it was the precursor
of thousands of similar services rendered by Rotarians throughout the
world. Its lesser significance is to be found in the fact that the
Rotary Club was raised to the rank of a civic organization in Chicago,
to be counted on, henceforth, as an asset in the city. The head of the
Y.M.C.A. expressed the prevailing sentiment when he said, "The Rotary
Club of Chicago has now shown reason for its existence."
It has been stated that the purpose of going into
the field of civics was to camouflage the real purpose, which was
profits. The writer can not speak authoritatively as to what was in the
minds of others. He can speak regarding what was in his own mind. He was
engrossed in the business of building up a club of the best possible
kind. He had a vision of the possibilities of great expansion and he
wanted to make his club worthy of its manifest destiny. Some who joined
Rotary much later, have expressed them selves as amazed on discovering
that Rotary was not full- fledged in the very beginning. It was not, and
it would not have been in the natural order of things had it been so. In
fact, to the thoughtful observer, Rotary is not full- fledged now, and
the writer hopes that it will never arrive at that state, during his
THE RENAISSANCE "77
There was, however, something better and that was
the saving grace of discontent. It didn" t have to be imported from
distant cities or countries; it was at hand in abundance sufficient for
the purpose. Henry Ford was not satisfied with his first automobile; if
he had been satisfied, his automobile business would not have prospered.
He kept right on making automobiles, and producing new and better models
as time went on.
The inventor of the first Rotary club was more
conscious of its deficiencies than anyone else could have been; so
conscious of them that he could not have thrown down his tools if he had
wanted to do so. He kept on.
If there are still remaining any who continue to
think that Rotary" s turn to public service occurred outside Chicago,
they are mistaken. Rotary" s first introduction to that form of activity
occurred in the city of its origin.
As the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined. The
beginning had been made. Rotary was no longer to live within itself. But
much remained still to be done in order to make the renaissance
effective, and some of it could be better done in new fields, free from
tradition, and where there was less to be undone. Forward-looking
Rotarians of Chicago took it to such new fields.
Early in the year 1908, Manuel Munoz,
a member of the Chicago club, was prevailed upon to carry the message to
San Francisco. He pledged himself to interest some suitable resident of
the city of the Golden Gate in the organization of a club. In Homer
Wood, a young lawyer, he found the right man. Homer not
only organized a club in his own city, but in conjunction with other
friends organized clubs number three in Oakland,
and number four in Los
78 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
That the San Francisco club took itself seriously is evidenced by the
fact that Mr. Charles M. Schwab was the speaker at the first meeting.
From San Francisco the good word was speedily carried to Seattle.
San Francisco Rotarians take pride in the fact
that theirs is club number two, and well they may; it is no small honor
to be number two in a list of three thousand, seven hundred. The Rotary
Club of San Francisco may also well take pride in the way Homer and
other charter members of the San Francisco club threw themselves into
the effort. Californians are hard to beat, particularly in games calling
for cooperation. They break from the scratch like whirlwinds. They are
true sons of the "Forty-niners," the most intrepid and indomitable of
only accomplished the feats above related, but he responded instantly to
requests from Chicago for help in efforts to win New York and other
eastern cities to the cause.
There have been few, if any, such wild fires of
enthusiasm as took place on the Pacific coast at that time; it seemed
providential. It revived faith. The organization of club number one had
not been difficult; the work was near at hand. To bring about the
organization of a second club vicariously was another matter. The record
of having organized one club in Chicago was not convincing even to
members of the Chicago club. It was easy enough to visualize work
already done; but to believe that the same thing could be done elsewhere
called for a measure of faith beyond that which might, with reason, have
been expected. In Chicago there were "our men" to deal with, but where
in the wide, wide world were there others like ours?
THE RENAISSANCE 79
The state of mind both outside and inside the
membership was, "Show me." The Pacific coast epidemic did that very
thing. New York, Boston, St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans, St.
Joseph, Lincoln, Minneapolis, St. Paul, Tacoma, Detroit, and other
cities, both east and west, where seed had been sown, began to think
that there might be something worthwhile in the movement; that its
success might not be dependent upon the idiosyncrasies of any one group
of men. One after another they dropped into the hopper. There were a
tidy sixteen to assemble at the first convention in 1910.
In some of the literature published at
headquarters, Manuel has been referred to as the organizer of the San
Francisco club. To this, ever-watchful Rotarians of San Francisco have
taken exception. As they put it, "Manuel may have been the cap that
caused the explosion, but Homer was the explosion," a summation to which
neither Homer nor Manuel would take exception. The San Francisco
development was the joyful arrival at the end of a weary journey.
Another long step had been taken toward bringing about the renaissance
of Rotary. That the desirability of extension could ever have been
questioned seems strange when viewed in the light of subsequent events.
Just what would have become of the Rotary Club of
Chicago, had it not been for the urge to carry the movement into other
cities and other countries is difficult to conjecture; it is safe to
say, however, that it would have lacked its most inspirational feature.
Individual Rotary clubs of today are borne on the tide of the world-wide
movement. From the expenditure of time and money,
80 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
rich dividends continue to flow in at an ever
What a privilege it is to be linked with one
hundred and fifty thousand other men of more than eighty nations,
differing in languages, customs, and historical back" grounds; and yet
alike in one respect " all business men, held together by a common ideal
applicable to all phases of life, the ideal which is popularly known as
the ideal of service.
It is Tuesday and the noon approaches. Suspend
business for a time and go with me to a meeting of the Chicago club. Six
or seven hundred busy men of affairs have cast aside their anxieties and
are refreshing them" selves in friendly relaxation, a relaxation as
complete as that experienced by the German business man with his glass
of beer, the Englishman with his afternoon cup of tea, the Spaniard with
his midday siesta. The need of breaking the tension of modern life is
made manifest by the enormous increase of nervous disorders.
Fellowship, music, and addresses follow, one
after another. The program is of a cultural nature, a brief graduate
course in the actualities of life. The educational advantages of many
business men are limited. Rotary presents opportunity to make up for
Who is sitting at the speaker" s table today? At
the right of the chairman sits the man who is to deliver the principal
address; he is of wide renown, a specialist in personnel work in great
corporations. He will tell of experiments that have been tried and found
successful in promoting the welfare of the man who toils with his hands;
but before he speaks, the man on the chairman" s left will be heard for a
moment. He is a Londoner, a
THE RENAISSANCE 81
leader in British Rotary. He will tell of the
activities of British Rotarians in bringing about a better understanding
between nations. It is a joy to know him intimately as we do. Then there
is one from Czechoslovakia, and a dear friend from Mexico, another from
Japan, and a titled Rotarian from Australia. These men are towers of
strength in Rotary in their own countries.
What a remarkable world we are coming into!
Boundary lines no longer seem impressive. There were no foreigners on
the calling of our fathers, but we of this generation are privileged to
know men of many nations. It seems a topsy-turvy world today; what shall
we say of tomorrow?
Goodbye Chrysalis ... We Must Be Off
WE MUST BE OFF
signalize successes gained, and to solidify the movement, a convention
was held in Chicago during that summer of 1910, Chesley
the laboring oar. Representatives of clubs in sixteen of the most
important American cities were in attendance. From the Chicago
convention the National Association of Rotary Clubs emerged, with a
carefully studied constitution and by" laws. Headquarters were
established in Chicago, where they still remain.
The success achieved served to stimulate
ambitions for greater things. The welding of the forces into a national
unit encouraged dreams of an international unit to include many, if not
all nations. Dreams might prove valueless, but they were inexpensive and
there was no valid reason why they should not be indulged to the limit.
So imagination was permitted to run riot and random shots were fired in
all directions in the interest of extension, and in the hope that some
one of them might hit a vulnerable spot.
No longer was the success of the movement
dependent upon the efforts of men of any one city. Voluntary
propagandists were well scattered throughout the land and
86 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
new cities were frequently being enrolled. Nor
were the efforts of enthusiasts confined to extension. Many useful ideas
were submitted. The most important contribution of the period was the
platform which was submitted by the Rotary Club of Seattle. It was
adopted at the second convention (Sheldon" s slogan, "He profits most who
serves best," having been added to it) as the platform of the National
Association of Rotary Clubs.
The platform accomplished an important purpose in
that it clarified the vision and tended to give the movement a better
sense of direction. It filled a place not covered by either constitution
or by-laws. It emphasized the importance of fair-dealing and high
standards in business.
Naturally, Canada presented the most logical
field out side of the United States for extension, and chance made
Winnipeg the most available city. The bombardment of Winnipeg" s ramparts
began in 1909 and never ceased until capitulation in November, 1910.
Thus the movement was provided with an excuse for discarding the name, "National Association of Rotary Clubs," and appropriating the more
pretentious "International Association of Rotary Clubs."
It takes more than one swallow to make a summer,
but one Canadian Rotary club sufficed to internationalize Rotary. In
fact, the fever was at the time running so high that it is questionable
whether even the inclusion of Winnipeg was necessary; Rotary simply had
to become international somehow.
After Rotary had penetrated into Canada, Great
Britain seemed in the eyes of optimism to be waiting just around the
corner. The pessimists were, nevertheless,
GOODBYE CHRYSALIS. . . WE MUST BE OFF
running true to form. To them, the hope of
winning the British to the movement was sheer naΓ―vetΓ©. The British were
caste-ridden, and far too cold. Fancy Sir John becoming chummy with a
retail tradesman, his greengrocer, for instance. Time has revealed,
however, that the Briton is not so stratified as was supposed. Sir John
has shown himself human and deeply interested in the problems which
confront his fellow-members, whether their stations be high or low.
It is not the purpose of Rotary to make social,
religious, or racial composites of its members. To attempt to do so
would be to attempt a disservice rather than a service. To attempt to
erase social, religious and racial differences would be an attempt to
deprive civilization of one of its most promising methods of progress.
Under existing conditions each social, religious and racial group
constitutes a proving ground on which to test its theories, with the
result that civilization is enriched and thought raised to higher
What a pity it would be, for instance, if the
colorful lives of the various European nations were blended into one.
Where then, could be found the fascination of travel?
Who would be interested in a garden containing
flowers of one species or one color only? Variety has been truly said to
be the spice of life. Sameness is monotonous, depressing.
Rotary brings men differing in social status,
religious beliefs and nationality together in order that they may more
intelligible to each other and therefore more sympathetic and friendly.
Rotary does not function alike in all nations.
Climatic differences frequently account for temperamental differences.
88 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
Sunny skies are conducive to light-heartedness,
buoyancy, and impetuosity; dull skies to thoughtfulness, reticence, and
reserve. The use of given names is an overture of friendship in some
countries; the use of family names an overture of friendship in others.
Such considerations are not of the essence of Rotary. Friendship is of
the essence of Rotary and customs best calculated to promote its growth
The opportunity to plant Rotary in the British
Isles was not long in coming. A Boston Rotarian, who had offices in
London and Manchester, was induced to co" operate with a Chicago
Rotarian in the organization of a club in London. Their efforts were
successful and the enthusiasm of those who were watching and waiting in
Chicago knew no bounds. Dreams were indeed coming true.
They assumed that their representatives were the first to obtain results
in Britain, but they were destined to experience a surprise. Indirectly
they learned that a native
of Dublin, who had for a brief period been a member of
the San Francisco club had returned to his native country and
established a club in Dublin, and was engaged in organizing another in
Belfast. The story seemed too good to be true, but it was true. A stray
spark had blown across the seas from the huge bonfire in San Francisco.
The mysterious but wonder-working Irishman was
soon broken to harness and set to work in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Liverpool,
and Birmingham. Those cities having been gathered into the fold, the
British situation was taken in hand by a scholarly gentleman of
But he who has once given himself to dreaming is
not easily satisfied. The flying start in the land of Anglo"
GOODBYE CHRYSALIS . . . WE MUST BE OFF 89
Saxons spurred to further undertakings. Letters
were written to German and French representatives of Amen" can business
houses, and to lawyers in Australia, but with" out material results.
A Chicago member, who was about to make a
business visit to Cuba, was prevailed upon to attempt the organization
of a club in Havana. He did his best, but his efforts were doomed to
failure. In a spirit of hopefulness he had undertaken his mission; in a
spirit of despair he returned, contending that Rotary was solely an
Anglo-Saxon idea; that it never could be appreciated or understood by
other races. Those who have been privileged to become acquainted with
the splendid Latin American Rotarians know how erroneous were his
Members from Tampa, Florida, brought Cuba into
the movement and while still in the hot flush of victory, duplicated
their efforts in Spain.
After the dissipation of the Anglo-Saxon myth all
things were possible. One after another, clubs were established in South
America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and in the
islands of the Eastern seas.
In the main, Rotary" s missionaries have been
members who, imbued with the faith, have volunteered to carry the
message. As a rule they have even paid their own expenses. Several have
been of very high standing. Among the distinguished men who have
rendered voluntary service in the extension of Rotary are: Dr. Wilhelm
Cuno, once chancellor of Germany; Sir Henry Braddon of Australia; Sir
George Fowlds of New Zealand; Federico Pezet, Peruvian Ambassador to the
United States; Umekichi Yoneyama of Japan; and the ambassador deluxe,
James W. Davidson of Calgary. These Rotarians were
90 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
moved to take up their tasks because of their
confidence in Rotary and its ability to bring about better understanding
between nations. Back of it all was the desire to be of service to their
own countries. Dr. Cuno is reported to have said that he would rather
promote the interests of Rotary in his country than be chancellor of
Eventually the desultory character of Rotary
extension gave way to orderly, systematic procedure. The question of the
universality of Rotary" s appeal having been satisfactorily settled, the
next question in order was how large must a city be in order to be
eligible. It was at first con tended that clubs must be limited to
cities of not less than fifty thousand population. Experience soon
demonstrated that so drastic a limitation would be unnecessary. By
successive stages it was reduced to twenty-five thousand, ten, five,
two; and eventually the conclusion was reached, that it was not so much
a question of population as it was a question of the character of the
men making application. Since arriving at that conclusion, successful
Rotary clubs have been established in towns of one thousand inhabitants
and even less.
While the record of extension has constituted one
of the most interesting chapters of Rotary history, the development of
ideals and practices has gone on apace. Deeds preceded the written word.
After service had been rendered in manifold forms, the word "Service"
with all its varied meanings and implications, was written in the Rotary
Succeeding the platform came the code of ethics,
the product of the minds of a devoted group of Sioux City Rotarians. As
the slogan, "He profits most who serves best," constituted the climax of
the platform, the Golden
GOODBYE CHRYSALIS. . . WE MUST BE OFF 91
Rule, "All things whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do ye even so to them," constituted the climax of the
code of ethics.
of the Golden Rule as a summation of the hopes and ambitions of Rotary
has recently met with serious opposition from different quarters. It is
not that any appreciable number lack faith in the Golden Rule as a guide
in the affairs of men. The objection most frequently heard is that it
has so long been identified with religious movements that its adoption
by Rotary affords reasonable grounds for the assumption by the
uninitiated that Rotary is in fact a religion. It being the case that
Rotarians do not consider Rotary a religion, it is probable that the use
of the Golden Rule in Rotary literature will be abandoned.
During the course of the life of the movement,
many misconceptions as to its origin and as to its motives have arisen,
not the least persistent being the belief that Rotary is an offshoot or
auxiliary of the Masonic order. There are, of course, Rotarians who are
also Masons, but there are also Rotarians who are Catholics. What ever
they may be outside of Rotary, inside they are friends.
During the year 1915, Guy
Philadelphia wrote a booklet entitled, "A Talking Knowledge of Rotary."
He sought, as his predecessors in the literary field had sought, to
express Rotary as it was, rather than to set up new ideals and
standards. Within the limitations set by its author, it was a valuable
contribution to the cause and it was helpful to clubs both old and new.
For some years, "A Talking Knowledge of Rotary"
constituted the most available chart; in fact, it has not been entirely
outgrown at the present time. It has, to
92 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
considerable extent, been superseded by a flood
of pamphlets treating at length of various subjects.
The idea of mutual helpfulness had given way to the idea of general
helpfulness, epitomized in the term "service." International service,
which looms so large at present, then ranked as a by-product. It was
expected that international understanding and good-will would be the
natural consequence of working together at common tasks.
Harris visited Brisbane,
Australia. In a newspaper interview he commented on "He Profits Most Who
Serves Best." You must study the final intent of Sheldon and Harris'
belief of Sheldon's purpose along with Harris' comments in this article.
From the reading of "This Rotarian Age," the is substantial evidence
that our "longer" motto was designed as a "Vocational" challenge, but a
reminder to stewardship. On the left is the comment from the 1935
Brisbane article, published the same year at "This Rotarian Age."
see "Sheldon" in our Early
Read a summary of Sheldon's 45
minute speech to the 1921 convention
in Edinburgh where he clearly defines his philosophy of "Service" and
his "motto" for Rotary.
THE GODS WERE PROPITIOUS
that the gods were propitious was manifested one evening soon after the
beginning of the renaissance, in the admission to membership in the
Chicago club of two men who were to leave indelible imprint upon the
movement. One of them, Chesley
R. Perry, was a native of Chicago; the other, Arthur
Frederick Sheldon, was a native of Michigan, who had come
to Chicago after graduation from the University of Michigan, to take a
position with a concern engaged in selling subscription books.
Sheldon arrived in the time heretofore described
as Chicago" s zero hour. The chaotic condition in business affairs
impressed him deeply. Frequently it seemed that virtue was without
reward; that one" s chances of business success depended upon his
willingness to be ruthlessly aggressive and even dishonest if need be.
Sheldon valued honor above material gain and revolted against the
salesmanship methods he was expected, by his employers, to use. One day
his disgust was so overwhelming that he cast his outfit into a
convenient gutter and sent his resignation to the house.
The doctrine of caveat emptor was, at the time,
applied to the consumer. Ill-will and distrust characterized the
attitude of business toward competitors and the welfare of employees was
given scant consideration. Sheldon
96 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
noted, however, that there were certain
conspicuous exceptions to the rule; that some of the most fair-minded
and liberal business houses were the most successful, and he set out to
study the principles which made for success. His studies led him to
reverse his previous impressions and eventually to the conclusion that
there was but one dependable route to permanent success, and that was
the route of service.
What some saw vaguely, Sheldon saw clearly.
Success did not depend upon ruthless aggressiveness and selfish ness; it
was the inevitable result of the application of the law of service which
was to him a natural law, as natural and as unerring as the law of
gravity. He became an evangelist in the realm of business, as Dwight L.
Moody had been in the world of religion. There was, in fact, much in
common between these two Chicagoans. Both were fired with the crusader" s
passion and with indomitable purpose. Both had captained characteristic
Chicago revolts against unrighteousness. Both had roused the dormant
powers of resistance.
Sheldon" s ambitions were boundless and his
convictions profound. Some of his ideas came like flashes of
electricity; others through slow evolution. "He profits most who serves
best," was forged in Sheldon" s brain as he unfolded his long legs and
emerged from a barber" s chair in Minneapolis one evening in 1908. Other
epigrams have been made and remade, time and time again, during long
periods. When uttered, they seemed the inspiration of the moment; they
were not " they were the results of soul travail.
The epigram, "He profits most who serves best,"
has been the object of much criticism as being too worldly,
THE GODS WERE PROPITIOUS 97
and also the cause of speculation as to what
Sheldon had in mind, pecuniary or spiritual reward.
The writer believes
that Sheldon, so far as he himself was concerned, was interested
primarily in what might be termed the spiritual reward, but his aim was
to bring the maximum of good to the largest possible number. He
recognized the fact that the largest number were interested in pecuniary
profits and therefore the pecuniary profit-seeking group was the group
he desired to reach.
He did not try to destroy the profit motive but
rather tried to do that which, to his mind was more practical, that is,
sublimate it and regulate it so that it would be of benefit to society
at large and also to him who served. If the world" s thinking was to
continue to be in terms of profits, he would at least bend his efforts
to making profits legitimate. With what some might consider fanatical
zeal he contended that profit was as inevitable a consequence of service
as heat was the inevitable consequence of fire. The bigger the fire, the
greater the heat; the greater the service, the more the profit.
A well-intentioned minister, introducing Sheldon
to his congregation in Rochester, New York, once made the mistake of
saying that to follow Sheldon" s doctrine would of course not be to one" s
financial advantage but that he thought that one would be more
compensated by the satisfaction he would experience in realization of
the fact that he had done the right thing. This was not Sheldon" s
doctrine and it required most of the time allotted him for his speech to
beat down the bad effects of his unfortunate introduction.
Sheldon was not forgetful of the spiritual
advantage of service; he was keenly alive to it, but he felt that his
98 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
special mission was to reconcile man" s prevalent
and natural desire for profits with the highest possible ideal of
service to humanity. His addresses made a deep impression on some of the
members of the Chicago club, and his slogan "He profits most who serves
best," eventually be came the slogan of Rotary.
Rotary" s slogan has been of inestimable value in guiding the course,
notwithstanding the fact that it has been forced to divide honors with
the still more altruistic concept expressed in the words, "Service
above self," the
contribution of Rotarians of Minneapolis.
convention in 1921, Sheldon was selected by the program
committee as the one best qualified to interpret to British Rotarians
the ideal of service as understood in America. The invitation was
accepted, and those who heard the message say that it was as of one
Wherever the English language is spoken, Sheldon
students may be found. The writer has been astonished to find many among
Rotarian leaders abroad. They are admirably prepared for Rotary
responsibilities. Sheldon is as devoted to his ideal today as he was a
quarter of a century ago. His most cherished hope at present is, that
his courses may be adopted in the public schools in the United States
and in all other countries where sympathizers may be found. He realizes
that the impressionable youthful mind presents his best opportunity.
Sheldon will never retire; it is doubtful whether he will even ease up.
His ideals, to him, are life.
The other candidate who was admitted to
membership on that memorable evening, is the only national and
international secretary the movement has ever known. To
THE GODS WERE PROPITIOUS 99
Perry is Rotary International.
Chesley is a native Chicagoan. He literally grew
up with the city, and understands its traditions as few do. He has been,
to a great extent, master of his own destinies though he enjoyed the
advantages of a cultural back ground. His love of literature has been a
profound influence in his life. He is an omnivorous reader and at
present is primarily interested in literature which in one way or
another bears upon the objects of Rotary.
During high school days, Ches was president of
the literary society and associate editor of the school paper, but he
was the recipient of many other honors, such as manager of the baseball
and football teams, captain of the military company, and president of
Cook County base ball and football leagues, as well.
His love of literature also led him to a
connection with the Chicago Pubic Library and to teaching in
night-schools. He enlisted in the Spanish American war, returned as
first lieutenant, and was afterward promoted to a captaincy. During his
military service he acted also as correspondent for several important
publications. His various experiences splendidly qualified him for that
which eventually became his life" s work " service in Rotary.
Ches" vision has always been wide enough to
comprehend the possibilities. His devotion during a score of years has
made Rotary what it is. If ever one has been blessed with the capacity
for singleness of purpose, it is he. Morning, noon and night; day in and
day out; year in and year out " always the same indomitable will to
carry on. He believes in the eight hour shift, but he works two of them;
he believes in holidays " one can do so many things on Saturday
afternoons, Sundays, on Christmas
100 This ROTARIAN AGE
and New Year" s " so many little things that one
finds difficult to reach when one" s office is full of fellow workers,
when there are, so many callers and the telephone so frequently
"Faithful unto the last little detail," is what
is said of him. It seems providential that Rotary has always had at its
helm such a man. What would have been the result had it been otherwise?
He might have had the diplomacy of a Talleyrand, the finesse of a
Disraeli " what would it have mattered, had he not been faithful to his
Through administration after administration, his
work continues. Figures at the directors" table change, all save one.
One man is ever-present, frequently suggesting, never insisting, ready
to carry out orders be they well or ill- advised. There are one hundred
and fifty thousand beneficiaries of his trust " a sacred obligation, but
no one senses it as he. If one were to subtract from his total
contribution to the cause that part which might with reason be said to
have been compensated, the remainder would still entitle him to place in
the front rank of Rotary.
When his services began in Rotary, the force
consisted of one part-time man " Ches was that man. Today his staff and
assistants are more than one hundred in number. Their devotion to their
chief and loyalty to the cause is most pleasing. During depression times
salary reductions were accepted as a matter of course. The spirit of the
force typifies the spirit of Rotary. To practice what is preached is the
genuine desire of all engaged in the service.
While variety in the national origins of
employees of American institutions is not uncommon, it is especially
noticeable in the headquarters of Rotary International. Fair-haired
employees of Teutonic origin mingle in happy
THE GODS WERE PROPITIOUS 101
accord with fellow employees of Latin extraction.
Head" quarters become more and more international in character as time
A number of the staff have been recipients of
degrees from universities. Educational requirements have in" creased as
the movement has expanded, cultural education naturally being given
first rank. Some members of the staff have three, four, a half dozen,
languages at their command. A majority have knowledge of at least two
languages. Foreign born and educated members of the staff insure the
correct use of idioms in their respective languages.
A useful and interesting office organization
known as the Staff Society helps to develop acquaintance and maintain
fellowship, promote educational and recreational activities, and keep up
the morale of the office.
A recent visitor at headquarters expressed
himself as follows: "I found the whole staff of Rotary International in
action, nearly a hundred strong and it" s the nearest thing to a bee-hive
I ever saw among humans. Here is the throbbing heart of Rotary, the
great central organ that pumps the constant, pulsing stream of Rotary
achievement and ideals into eighty countries of the world. And here is
the vortex where that life-blood comes back to be translated and
enriched with direction and inspiration before it goes back into
circulation. Mail comes in and goes out mountain-high, much of it in
foreign tongues; cables and telegrams flutter like birds; yet with all
that high-pressure there is a cordial, friendly feeling of team work and
pride in the job. It is the practice, rather than the exception, for the
staff of Rotary International to give up Saturdays, Sundays and holidays
to the work they feel
102 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
must be cleared. They preach service, they live
it, and they give it. And with full appreciation to a hundred loyal
hearts who assist him it is only fair to say that the prime credit for
the incredible performance belongs to Chesley R. Perry, Secretary of
"Rotary is a world force, an international fact
as well as a factor, and the International offices are worthy of Rotary.
Here is a great corporation with a 1934-35 bud get of about $764,000 for
administrative purposes and $200,000 for "The Rotarian" magazine. Its
salary budget, including the President" s office and secretariats in
Europe and Asia, but exclusive of the magazine, is $188,000
approximately 30 of the total administrative budget. This figure is 20
lower than what is considered normal and permissible in organization
budgets. It is certainly not too high."
The writer believes that much of the credit which
he himself has been given for the success of the movement should have
gone to Ches" account. He is certain that many of his own contributions
would have come to naught had it not been for the untiring zeal of his
coworker. The writer can truthfully say that throughout the many years
of service together, Ches has been more than fair; he has been uniformly
generous He has always had the faculty of detaching himself from the
consideration and judging all questions in the light of the best
interests of Rotary. It is an honor to have been so long associated with
such a man.
If there are Rotarians who still think Ches cold
and unemotional, I, after more than a quarter century of intimate
contact with him, am prepared to testify to the contrary. Some of the
deepest and most enduring friendships
THE GODS WERE PROPITIOUS 103
give little outward manifestation of their
presence. Still waters run deep.
Two antagonistic schools of thought developed in
the course of time. To the proponents of vocational service, the work
seemed so important and so eminently adapted to Rotary, that they viewed
with jealousy the ease with which community service monopolized the
interest of many of the clubs, particularly in the smaller cities.
Hundreds of small towns and cities, all but dead so far as civic
consciousness was concerned, took on new life and strove to make
themselves the best and most progressive in the country. Boys" bands
sprung up wherever it was possible to take root. Boys" camps were
inaugurated. Languishing Chambers of Commerce revived and new Chambers
of Commerce organized where there had been none before. Rotarians were
more than propagandists; they frequently constituted the entire working
force. Those who could not contribute money, contributed labor.
Rotarians in small towns became jacks during the construction of camps.
Anyone who could drive a nail could qualify as a carpenter, while
druggists and grocers became bricklayers and plumbers when occasion
demanded. The women served appetizing lunches and eventually won for
themselves the endearing term of Rotary-Anns.
There never had been such doings since
barn-raising days. Not the least in importance, was the change in
108 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
demeanor of the citizens. Years seemed to have
been shaken off; they were boys again. Old grouches began to smile, and
ancient feuds languished for want of sufficient animosity to keep the
fires burning. Community service proved its worth.
In the larger cities where social welfare work
was better organized the expression of good-will manifested itself in
different manners, generally through cooperation with existing agencies.
In Great Britain and other countries outside the North American
continent, forms of service suitable to existing needs were rendered.
Inspired by the example of Rotary, many other
organizations dedicated to similar purposes came into existence in the
United States and Canada, Kiwanis and Lions standing next to Rotary in
point of membership. Rotary welcomed all and considered it a privilege
to give them assistance " an attitude of mind for which Rotary has been
amply compensated in the splendid achievement of these kindred
Boy work which had occupied the center of the
stage for some years was destined to have a rival. A splendid citizen of
Elyria, Ohio, came into Rotary bringing his own pet propaganda with him.
In fact, he made application for membership in the Rotary Club of Elyria
for the express purpose of getting the backing of Rotarians for his
enterprise; the care, cure, and education of crippled children. To write
the story of Edgar Allen is to record one of the greatest humanitarian
achievements of all time. His selection of Rotary as an agency through
which to secure for such unfortunates the birthrights to which they were
entitled was a high honor to the movement. Acting mainly through
Rotarians, the International Society for Crippled
GROWING PAINS 109
Children has brought about the organization of
more than forty state and provincial societies to promote the interests
of crippled children.
If the reader has had his doubts as to whether
the raison d" Γͺtre of Rotary has not been sufficiently established, let
it be known that tens of thousands of handicapped children are being
rehabilitated, raised from dependency and afforded opportunity to live
happy, useful lives through this ministration. All honor to Edgar Allen
and his associates in this noble work.
In the meanwhile those to whom Rotary" s great
opportunity seemed to be in vocational service, that is, in providing
high standards and ideals in the business and professional world, were
not idle. Through their influence, scores of national trade associations
were organized on vocational lines in the United States, and codes of
ethics were adopted. Even conceding it to be true that the adoption of
codes of ethics by national associations is no guarantee that the
members of such associations will live up to the standards established,
it cannot be denied that the fixing of such standards is a splendid
impulse in the right direction.
Some of the most influential leaders of Rotary
were deeply impressed with the possibilities of this activity; they
contended that Rotary was an organization of business and professional
men, and should devote itself exclusively to business and professional
problems; that the plan of confining the membership of clubs to one
representative of each vocation had significance in vocational service,
and no significance whatever in community service, which should draw on
all citizens willing to help.
110 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
Such Rotarians also convincingly contended that
vocational activities were preferable because they enabled Rotary to
project its influence to non-Rotarians through national and
international trade associations. If Rotarians would assume the role of
business evangelists, the standards of trade would soon be raised to
Theoretically the advocates of centering all
thought on vocational service presented a formidable case. A world wide
organization, dedicated solely to the purpose of raising standards of
trade, would not be merely of direct value; it would be of indirect
value, in that it would bring about a better understanding between
nations; but Rotary had not begun its career with any one single purpose
paramount to all others, and it was late in the day for a second
In the smaller towns and cities the need of
community service was manifested in every quarter. There was nothing
abstruse about it; it called for action rather than study or the
exercise of the imagination. To one who employed few, if any clerks or
helpers, the employers employee relationship seemed not a serious
Certain leaders who were not adverse to community
service, were nevertheless of the opinion that clubs should not
participate as clubs; that they should go no further than to encourage
their members to take part in community activities sponsored by other
organizations, except in rare instances where there were no other
organizations qualified to act; in which cases, Rotary clubs might take
up the work until other agencies could be organized for the purpose.
The theory was that inasmuch as membership in
Rotary clubs was confined to one representative of each vocation,
GROWING PAINS 111
Rotary could best act as a propagandist, making
the needs known and assisting in mobilizing forces to carry on. A
limited number of the opposition even went so far as to charge the
advocates of boy work and crippled children work with insincerity,
contending that they were not so much interested in the work as they
were in squaring themselves against the implications of selfishness
resulting from the exclusiveness of representation.
Boy work and crippled children work zealots were
not content to be dismissed with a theory. or with charges of
insincerity. They were not interested in refinement of reasoning. To
them, service was the ideal, and the role of the propagandist seemed an
attempt to avoid responsibility. They had no fears of things being
overdone. What they did fear was that splendid opportunities for service
might be lost and that Rotary might eventually become merely another
banquet-eating, cigar-smoking, song-singing, speech-making,
back-slapping aggregation of clubs. They had no orthodoxy other than the
orthodoxy of ser vice. They were willing to leave preaching to the
preachers; they wanted to do things here and now, and wanted
fellow-members to join with them.
Rotary clubs had become service clubs, not in
name only but in fact also. They turned their hands to any and all
community undertakings in need of their services with such alacrity that
their more philosophical brothers rose up in alarm lest their own pet
theories be swept from the boards entirely.
The climax came in 1923 during the course of a
convention in St. Louis. All possibilities of a schism were prevented by
the adoption of a memorable resolution, designated as number
thirty-four, by virtue of which all
112 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
clubs were granted complete autonomy in relation
to club activities, but were admonished against permitting any activity
to obscure other features of the movement. The resolution was wise,
timely, and satisfactory to the opposing factions. It cleared the
atmosphere. It was mainly the contribution of a brilliant and devoted
Rotarian from Nashville, Tennessee.
Can a club of fifty or a hundred members
influence the character of a small city? It has been clearly proven that
Rotary clubs do influence the characters of the cities in which they are
established. The influence naturally is most noticeable in the smaller
communities. Many a dejected, spiritless town of the Main Street variety
has been revived and invigorated. Existence can become drab in" deed in
small towns where there is no public spirit and where home-folks are
given to bickering and gossip. If the spirit is what it should be, life
should be at its best in the smaller communities.
small town clubs have frequently, with deep feeling, stated that the
advent of Rotary has wrought wondrous changes, that contentions and
petty jealousies have given way to civic consciousness and enthusiastic
Charles E. Barker,
formerly physical director for Mr. Taft while he was president of the
United States, is responsible for the statement that the complexion of
the small towns in America has been entirely changed by Rotary and the
other organizations which have followed its lead. As Dr. Barker had
visited nearly one thousand of them, he knows whereof he speaks.
Cooperation is the keynote of happy community life.
GROWING PAINS 113
The influence of Rotary has frequently been
brought to bear upon inter-city relationships through inter-city
meetings. Such meetings between the representative business men of
neighboring cities have on many occasions resulted in the suppression of
bitter rivalries and in the promotion of the cooperative spirit.
Intercity meetings have for many years been a feature of Rotary in
cities both large and small. It was the writer" s privilege recently to
attend a joint meeting of the Rotary Clubs of the rival cities of San
Francisco and Los Angeles. The goodwill manifested in representatives of
those two highly competitive cities was interesting indeed. Year after
year the two clubs visit back and forth, the members traveling nearly
one thousand miles in the accomplishment of their most laudable purpose.
Frequently intercity meetings are attended by
representatives of the clubs of twenty-five or thirty neighboring
cities; district conferences have brought representatives of as many as
one hundred different cities together, and international conventions
have brought representatives of half a hundred nations together.
Rotarians, while traveling in their own country or abroad, attend Rotary
club meetings when possible. By consulting their international directory
they can ascertain when and where the weekly meetings are to be held.
Meetings in the larger cities are sure to be attended by many visiting
Rotarians and special attention is given them. The record attendance of
visitors was made by the Chicago club during the course of a convention
of the National Educational Association. The great majority of the
members of the Association were Rotarians and eight hundred attended.
114 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
The Rotary Clubs of Belfast and Dublin, Ireland,
held frequent joint meetings throughout the critical period of
dissension between the north and south of Ireland.
Rotary has given special study to reconciliation
of conflicting interests and has accomplished wonders in this direction
through the simple expedient of bringing opponents and rivals together
in the atmosphere of good-fellowship. Where fires of animosity burn or
smolder is Rotary" s opportunity. Has the farming element in a community
lost faith in the business men? Then the business men will be hosts to
the farmers; there will be songs and entertainment, and there will be
straight-to-the-point talks, from which both sides will gain much
information and better under" standing will surely result.
Rotary has an appreciable influence even in the
larger cities. To one accustomed to life in large cities, the influence
of Rotary is discernible in the churches, chambers of commerce, social
clubs, lodges, golf clubs, craft associations, school systems and, in
fact, wherever men congregate.
Can fifty men change the character of a small
city? Yes, even one can, either for good or evil. If the home-life of a
society leader is impure, his example will be followed by others. If he
lives a life of service to his community, his town will be a better
place in which to live.
The activities of Rotary cover a wide range of
public and private service. Members may make selection of their
activities according to their special tastes and aptitudes. There are
comparatively few all-round Rotarians who throw themselves into all of
the recognized activities. An all-round Rotarian is an exceptionally
desirable citizen, one who would be an asset to any community in which
GROWING PAINS 115
might be located. From such, most of the leaders
Rotarian is interested in:
Service: That is, in matters pertaining to the administration of
affairs in his club.
2nd"Vocational Service: That is, in
matters pertaining to the ethical conduct of his business or
3rd"Community Service: That is, in
matters pertaining to the welfare of the community in which he
4th "International Service: That is, the
promotion of international good-will and understanding.
Dr. Stephenson of Edinburgh contends that there
is in reality only one object, and that is the promotion of the service
concept as the most suitable motivating influence in life. What we now
term objects, he considers ways and means of accomplishing the one and
only object. International Secretary Perry thinks of service as Rotary" s
super highway and of the four principal activities as the four lanes
resulting from the world war emphasized the importance of promoting
international good-will and understanding, as nothing else could. To
Rotarians of European countries, which are in such close proximity to
each other and where thoughts of possible future conflicts are always
uppermost in mind, the activity is of transcendent importance.
Rotary constitutes a new approach to a most
vexing problem. Here is a world fellowship of business and professional
men who have united themselves in the ideal of service. In the
atmosphere of fellowship, happiness is
116 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
found. An international fellowship of men bound
together by a common ideal, the ideal of service, is truly
inspirational. To such fellowship great things are possible, even the
advancement of understanding, good-will, and international peace.
all Rotarians, the opportunity afforded them by Rotary to participate in
the effort to promote international good-will is precious indeed. The
activity contains the essential elements of a great movement " idealism,
comprehensiveness, catholicity, " and is eminently adapted to Rotary" s
spiritual outlook. If the writer had come into Rotary with precisely the
same background of experience as Rotarians of Britain and Ireland,
France, Germany or Belgium, it is quite likely that the good objective
would assume such formidable proportions that all else would have been
obscured from his vision.
If, on the other hand, his bitter and soul-trying
experiences had been the field of industrial relationship, it would be
quite natural that he would have been tempted to focus all thought and
attention on that gravely important question. Rotary, being an
organization of business and professional men, is eminently qualified to
cope with such problems.
The writer doesn" t feel either, that he is in a
position to take exception to the thousands of Rotarians, whose big
hearts are full of sympathy with the unfortunate and who, like the Good
Samaritan on the road to Jericho, find them selves as they lift the
fallen and minister to their needs. Nor is he disposed to criticize the
position of those who believe that Rotary" s greatest field of usefulness
is in guiding the courses of the lives of the youth who will bear the
responsibilities in the years to come.
GROWING PAINS 117
The writer has implicit confidence in the
sincerity of the proponents of the various forms of service. Fearing the
prevailing sin, that great enemy of progress, indifference, as he does,
he is not concerned so much with the question as to what the service is
to be, as he is with the question whether or not Rotary is to make good
its high sounding slogan, "Service above Self." He is little inclined to
shout "Don" t" to any worthy effort. It is his belief that the best
results can be achieved through adherence to the present program of
giving the membership a reasonable selection of activities from which to
choose those best suited to the individual taste and to local
Entire agreement is too much to expect.
Presumably no two of the one hundred and fifty thousand Rotarians are in
entire accord as to the way in which Rotary can make the most of itself.
That men do not think alike is no more remarkable than that they do not
look alike. Shades of thought are far more variant than shades of color
and as difficult to change. One" s belief is dependent upon so many
influences " temperament, heredity, environment, experience, " that
leaders must temper their judgment with patience and kindly forbearance.
No dogmatic Rotary can be serviceable.
While debate as to the relative importance of the
various labeled and catalogued activities has continued long and loud,
and while Rotary shepherds have been desperately trying to drive and to
coax their sheep into prescribed pastures, many of the sheep have
insisted on selecting their own grazing spots. This condition has led to
speculation as to where they would go if left to their own resources. In
the larger American cities, many might wend their way back to the green
pastures from which they started in
118 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
1905, there to luxuriate in the companionship of
their kind, and let it go at that. The gregarious instinct is elemental
and frequently overshadows all other considerations. It has been the
cement that binds in Rotary. Neither Rotary, nor any other movement, can
get along without leadership.
It is characteristic of the times that the
results in all organizations " in churches, chambers of commerce and
elsewhere, " are obtained through the efforts of a comparatively limited
number of devoted and determined leaders who are prepared to sacrifice
time, effort, and means in the accomplishment of their objectives. The
thoughtful leader will study the tastes and needs of his followers with
the end in view of accomplishing the greatest possible good for the
greatest possible number.
The thought that the minimum possible benefit
from Rotary contacts is well worthwhile is a source of satisfaction to
those who serve the movement. No one can attend Rotary club meetings
with the necessary regularity with out finding his life enriched by the
friendly contacts, and his mental and moral outlook improved by the
cultural programs presented.
Knowledge of the objects of an organization is a
prerequisite to its fair appraisal. Measured by the yardsticks of a
chamber of commerce or a charitable organization, the results achieved
by Rotary would not be satisfying, nor would measurement of the two
above-named organizations by the Rotary yardstick be satisfying, and yet
many are prepared to pronounce judgment without adequate in- formation,
either as to objects or accomplishments.
It is manifest that Rotary could not hope to
compete successfully with the commercial clubs nor with the charitable
GROWING PAINS 119
organizations in their respective fields. It may
also be freely admitted that Rotary falls far short of doing all that it
might do within the limits of its objects.
Rotary" s objects are exhortations, not
inhibitions; they encourage the active, not the passive life. Members
are appraised according to their deeds, not according to their words.
Rotary clubs (from one in number to more than a thousand, including many
thousands of Rotarians) have participated in the following community
Coordination of service activities in the community; council
usually consists of members of all organizations interested.
Sponsoring of high school athletics and of installation of
Sponsoring air-ports, amateur aeronautics, etc.
Campaigns to encourage school attendance.
Financing and promotion
Big Brother activity
Boys" life survey
Fresh air, T.B., cripples, etc.
120 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
Chamber of Commerce
Promoting organization of associated charities, drives for
relief funds, employment bureaus, community kitchens, etc.
Citizenship and Americanization
Promoting fire protection, traffic regulation, public works,
zoning, tax reduction, etc.
ethics for high school students
Organization of and donations to
Providing community building especially for young people" s
centers or foreign groups.
Organization of leaders" club
Of social agencies, transportation,
finances, schools, etc.
Exchange of youth
Foreign students, tours abroad
(for school children)
Sponsoring oratorical or essay contests, safety-first campaigns,
Promotion of public health, dental clinics, pure milk, nursing
GROWING PAINS 121
Hospitals and clinics
Cooperation with courts, investigation of cases; paroled boys.
Public and school
Sponsoring song contests, community celebrations, music
Parks and playgrounds
Sponsoring community facilities for adults and children.
Helping students to earn their way, get loans, etc.
Student loan funds
Vocational guidance for young people
Y. M. C. A. and Y. W. C. A,
The above mentioned activities have in the
aggregate accomplished much good and they have, at the same time, served
another purpose. They constitute a symposium of experiments and thus
have met with varying degrees of success. Some of them will be repeated
again and again, and some doubtless will be discontinued. Perhaps
122 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
greatest opportunity has not been revealed as
yet; we shall patiently, persistently continue our exploring.
The following quotation is from page one of "Rotary
" A Business Man" s Interpretation," by Frank Lamb:
"There is a nursery poem
of six blind men of Indostan who went to "see" an elephant. The first,
bumped into his broad and sturdy side and began to bawl, "God bless me!
but the elephant is very like a wall." The second, finding the tusk, was
sure "the elephant is very like a spear." The third, grasping the
squirming trunk averred, "the elephant is very like a snake." The fourth
came into contact with one of the great legs and to him "twas clear
enough the elephant is very like a tree." The fifth, who chanced to
touch an ear, was confident, "this marvel of an elephant is very like a
fan." While the sixth seizing upon the swinging tail, "I see," quoth he,
"the elephant is very like a rope."
"And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong.""John 0. Saxe.
"Most Rotarians are much
like the six blind men. Some particular object, some special activity or
some product of Rotary impresses them as most important and straightway
they exclaim, "This is Rotary!" The fact that others find some other
fundamental or are more interested in a different activity or attracted
to another of Rotary" s relations does not help them to see the whole of
Rotary, but instead they begin to argue, "What is Rotary," and the
discussion waxes as warm and the findings about as conclusive and
pertinent as that of the six blind men of Indostan."
"Work" s a grand cure for all the maladies and miseries that ever beset
mankind " honest work which you intend getting done." " Thomas Carlyle.
"What is meant by the service ideal? The author of the "Meaning of
Rotary" quotes several versions varying in word, but identical in
The Egyptian expressed it: "To seek for others the good one desires for
oneself." The Persian: "Do as you would be done by." Buddha:
seek for others the happiness one desires for himself." Confucius:
you would not wish done to yourself, do not unto others." Mohammed:
no one of you treat his brother in a way he himself would dislike being
treated." The Greek: "Do not that to a neighbor which you would take ill
from him." The Roman: "The law imprinted on the hearts of all men, is to
love the members of society as themselves." The Hebrew: "Whatsoever ye
do not wish your neighbor to do to you, do not unto him. This is the
only law; the rest is mere exposition of it." Lastly, Jesus of Nazareth:
"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so
Clearly it cannot mean that whose who are wedded to the service ideal
believe that wealth has no legitimate uses.
The Rotary conception of the service ideal, as the writer understands
it. Is placing service first in the sequence of events; in other words,
he who professes to be a devotee to the service ideal must fix his eye
on the service he is to render and not on the dollar he is to receive.
When the dollar is place in proximity to the eye, it is difficult to see
beyond. Dollar cornering per se is stupid procedure."
"While there are all too many professional men whose service fails to
measure up to specifications, it is nevertheless the case that students
of law, medicine, and theology are taught that the privilege of
practicing their professions entails certain obligations which must be
borne. The lawyer must remember that he is an officer of the court in
the administration of justice. The physician, that he is first of all a
servant of mankind. The preacher, that his is a sacred trust.
Lawyers must respond to the call of the court to defend gratuitously,
impecunious prisoners; the physician must give a percentage of his time
to patients who are unable to pay; the tradition of the ministry permits
no discrimination between the prosperous and the indigent; and other
professionals have their responsibilities.
A young lawyer recently, referring to an intricate law case which had
been in progress for three years, said to the writer, "That was a
wonderfully interesting case. I would have been willing to have handled
it for nothing, if it had been necessary," It was the tradition of the
bar which made the viewpoint possible. The young man loved his work.
What wonders could be achieved if all men were in love with their work.
The service ideal would quickly prove its practicability. "
Humane societies have frowned upon the use of dogs, cats, monkeys,
guinea pigs, and rats for experimental purposes. To medical men the
practice seems amply justified in the advancement of science. That they
are sincere in their viewpoint there can be no doubt. Many of the
profession have jeopardized, and even sacrificed, their own lives
through performing experiments upon themselves. If the doctrine of
"Service above Self" seems to some too Utopian for practical purposes,
they will do well to think of these high-lights of the medical
The practice of medicine and the practice of law have had the benefit of
time-honored traditions. Hippocrates, the father of medicine,
promulgated on oath to be taken by his followers which rings true to the
highest concepts of the present day, and the Justinian standards for the
practice of law were no less idealistic.
Emerson" s cryptic utterance: "All men are as lazy as they dare to be,"
will stand considerable dilution.
Vocational training has accomplished much in the direction of enabling
young men to find the work for which they are best adapted. The entire
outlook upon life can frequently be changed for the better by shifting
an employee from work he does not like to work that he enjoys.
Progressive employers now recognize this fact and make the most of it.
The writer recalls the case of a man, a lover of the outdoors, who found
himself working listlessly from morning to night in an indoor
occupation; he had not been able to achieve success. He took himself and
his prospects into account one day. Six months later he was engaged in
work in his natural environment and success was soon attained.
Vocational guidance experts contend that in the United States only four
men out of one hundred are properly placed in business. If their
contention is anywhere near true, the fault can be corrected and the
millennium will be discovered.
Who is there to whom
work makes no appeal? If there are such, they are to be pitied. The
minds of Galileo, Dante, Shakespeare, Goethe, Pasteur, and Edison were
not concerned with pecuniary gain. The greatest contributions to social
welfare and understanding have been gratuitous. The labor of the masters
has been inspired by a passionate love of exploration of new fields of
service. Maeterlink" s "Blue Bird" delightfully portrays the happiness
which comes from unselfish service. Lives of service are lives of
happiness. Take two children of the same family: for one reason or
another, one is taught to serve the other. Though the parents may not
realize it, the one who learns to serve will have all the advantage in
later years. In service there is happiness. In the vast number of human
activities there are opportunities for all types of service. This from
Anthony Adverse: "One
never realizes the fulfillment of life until he loses the sense of self
The professional schools teach the student that character is the most
reliable foundation upon which to build a successful future; that
success must depend upon the quality of service rendered.
The Bar Associations and Medical Societies of many cities, states and
nations, have for years been engaged in round-ups of shysters and
quacks, with the end in view of purging their professions of their
To be sure there is special reason why the practice of law and medicine
must, in good conscience, be kept pure the relationship of lawyer and
client, doctor and patient, are essentially trust relationships. In
order to benefit from the lawyer" s advice the client must have implicit
confidence, both in the ability and in the integrity of his lawyer; if
he lacks faith in either, the purposes of the employment are impaired,
if not entirely destroyed. A lawyer who betrays such sacred trust is an
enemy of society and it is the duty of the authority granting him
license to with draw his privileges through disbarment proceedings
initiated by his fellow practitioners.
The trust involved in the relationship of doctor and patient is even
more sacred, if such thing is possible. The duty motive and the profit
motive frequently are in conflict. The surgeon who would unnecessarily
operate upon an afflicted patient would merit the anathema of his fellow
surgeons, and if the circumstances were known, it doubt less would be
visited upon him; and yet surgical operations have undoubtedly
frequently been performed, not because the patient needed the operation,
but because the doctor needed the money; and it has probably as
frequently been the case that law-suits have been started not because
the clients" interests were best served by so doing, but because the
lawyer could thereby assure himself of a substantial fee.
It is the Chinese custom to pay the physician while the patient remains
in good health rather than during illness, from which fact one may make
his own inferences.
Professional men frequently encounter one difficulty which business men
seldom have to face, and that is the opposition of their clients.
144 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
A business man is not called upon to refuse to sell his customer the
goods he desires, while the professional man frequently is. To institute
a lawsuit merely because a client demands it and is willing to pay for
the service would be a violation of the lawyer" s oath and the lawyer
cannot justify himself for the acceptance of the mandate on the theory
that if he does not accept it some other lawyer will. A lawyer must not
for" get that he is an officer of the court, that the court is sup"
ported by the public for the purpose of dispensing justice and not for
the purpose of working injustice. The machinery of the law may be used
to prosecute under proper conditions but never to persecute.
The minister of the gospel frequently faces conditions which make it
necessary for him to choose between preaching his own doctrines and
preaching the doctrines of his supporters. Frequently, the temptation to
surrender his own views in favor of others probably less intelligent and
less conscientiously, thoughtfully, and prayerfully arrived at, is
almost overwhelming. The interests of his family tempt him to surrender
his leadership or at least to corn" promise it. Many a poor minister has
refused to do either, preferring to resign his post to another willing
to obey orders.
Frank Lamb in "Rotary, a Business Man" s Interpretation," quotes Ruskin
in "The Roots of Honor"" who, writing of the soldier, the pastor, the
physician, the lawyer and merchant, said that it is the duty of each, on
due occasion to die for his profession; the soldier rather than leave
his post in battle; the physician, rather than leave his post in plague;
the pastor rather than teach falsehood; the lawyer rather than
countenance injustice. What the "due occasion" for the merchant is, has
not been so clearly defined; it" s for him to decide.
Page 145 MEANING OF THE SERVICE IDEAL
But Ruskin goes on to say that to obtain profit is no more the function
of the merchant than that of the clergyman; that the stipend is a
necessary adjunct, but not the object of the life of either the
clergyman or the merchant.
Ruskin does not attempt to point out to the professional politician his
due occasion, but we find the professional politician, as a rule, most
desperately in earnest when he is building his political fences; perhaps
that is his due occasion.
The results obtained by Bar Associations and Medical Societies have not
all been attained at once. They represent the cumulative effect of years
of vigorous action.
Is there an essential reason why the work of the professional societies
should not be paralleled by organizations of business men? Some one may
answer, "Business cannot be placed on a plane with the practice of law
and medicine, because the practice of law and medicine is personal
service; the lawyer and physician have themselves only to account for,
while business employs hundreds and even thousands of men and women.
Business is already becoming professionalized. Since the state of
California passed its licensing law regulating operations in real
estate, thousands of real estate sharpers have been put out of business
and many other states are following suit.
What is there about business to render it immune to the service ideal?
Even labor organizations are now proclaiming the dignity of labor, and
why should they not?
The writer is convinced that business of the future will jealously guard
its good name, even to the point of driving its crooks into tall timber
to keep company with the shysters of the legal profession and the quacks
of medicine. Organizations operating under the name of "Better Business
Bureaus" are in fact already doing effective work to that end.
146 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
Rotarians believe that their own respective businesses afford the
average man the most available means of serving society; that in his own
business one is necessarily an expert, while he may be a veritable tyro
in the field of charities. Moreover, business is near at hand; it is
unnecessary for a business man to explore Kamchatka or the South Sea
Islands for an opportunity to do his part in making this a better world
to live in; ordinarily he can render better service in trying to
discover new means of kindling the fires of hope and ambition in the
hearts of his own employees.
Rotarians believe that
the world owes no one a living but that everyone should have an
opportunity to earn one. Rotary encourages every member to activity in
his trade association, particularly in work relating to ethical
standards. The writer is a member of the American Bar Association,
Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and for two
years had the honor of being chairman of the committee on professional
ethics of the latter, a member of other committees, a delegate of the
Chicago Bar Association to the International Congress on Comparative Law
at the Hague, and a member of the international Committee of the
American Bar Association. All positions afforded remarkable
opportunities to carry the Rotary ideal of service to his profession.
There are between eight and nine thousand lawyers in the city of
Chicago, and the Chicago Bar Association has been doing titanic work in
raising the standards of practice. Nearly
MEANING OF THE SERVICE IDEAL 147
three hundred lawyers have been made to walk the plank because they
would not observe the canons of good practice. Rotarians have not merely
been active in professional and trade associations; they have created
many national trade associations in the United States and some in other
The worship of wealth has been one of the greatest obstacles in the work
of promoting acceptance of the service ideal. It is so general, so much
a matter of course, that the "big" man has meant the rich man. He who
lacked great possessions has had to be content to remain small, and it
matters little what his contribution to human welfare may have been. We
have even gone so far as to use the expression "What is Jones worth?"
when what we wanted to know is, how much he possessed. There is no
uncertainty about the meaning of the answer: "He is said to be worth one
million dollars." His rating is entirely on his possessions. No
allowance is made for the man. Perhaps to those who know Jones best,
that manner of rating him does him no injustice.
During the course of a recent conversation with the writer, Rotarian
Frederick G. Smith of Omaha impulsively inquired: "What real need can
any man have of one million dollars? Why one million dollars, more than
one million walking-sticks, neckties, or one million of anything else?"
The best case I could make was to say, "Custom, habit, I suppose." If it
were the custom to measure a man" s worth by the number of walking-sticks
or neckties he possessed, the walking-stick and necktie factories would
be working three shifts, night and day. Children work strenuously piling
up heaps of sand, not because there is any scarcity of sand, but because
they want to have piles
148 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
of sand of their own, higher than the piles of other children. Children
pile sand, men pile gold, but their motives are not far different;
possession, coupled with the admiration and envy of those who do not
possess. Of the two, the children are in one respect, at least, the
wiser. There is no disagreeable aftermath to the accumulation of sand,
while there is to the accumulation of gold, as King Midas learned to his
sorrow in the days of old. Acquisitiveness is not compatible with the
It is not as though the subordination of the profit motive to the
service motive had never taken place before. There is nothing
revolutionary about it. The doctrine is as old as the hills. For
generations there have been individuals whose service motives have been
so dominating that they could not see beyond them. Spinoza was tendered
a gift of one thousand dollars by an admiring and grateful follower. It
was promptly refused because the great philosopher thought that his
poverty was essential to the fulfillment of his high purposes.
An American magazine offered Mr. Einstein a sum of money so large for an
article that he became angry, as angry as it is possible for one of so
serene a nature to be. His words were: "What do they take me for, a
prize-fighter?" When Princeton University informed Mr. Einstein what his
salary was to be, he exclaimed: "Preposterous" nor would he accept the
position until the amount had been greatly reduced.
But one might say, the examples that have been cited are those of great
geniuses who live in worlds of their own; they have their own
compensations. It is quite different with us; we have to get ours as we
go along. We
MEANING OF THE SERVICE IDEAL 149
are here once only and if we don" t have a good time now, we never shall.
If we stop, however, to think the thing through we shall realize that
the service motive dominates the lives of millions of men and women who
are not geniuses. If a person wants big money and the things that money
will buy, will he ever, for instance, go into the educational field?
Think of the school teachers who are content to give so much for so
But a new god has arisen to rival the money-god in the reverence of the
great masses of people. One doesn" t hear so much about millionaires
today. The new god is in some respects more pervasive than the
money-god. It is the god of indulgence and pleasure. It is more
pervasive than the money-god because it is within the reach of greater
numbers. It requires determination and sacrifice to accumulate a million
dollars or even a lesser sum; but indulgence and pleasure call for
little determination, little sacrifice. It is the most simple thing in
the world to become a pleasure-seeker. Little children could give their
elders lessons in the art if their elders needed them, which, generally
speaking, they do not.
It is still fashionable to worship mere things, which we hope will in
one way or another contribute to our pleasure. Prosperity is still
coveted and poverty is in anguish mourned. We are forgetful of the fact
that adversity is and always has been the great character builder; that
no strong nation was ever reared on prosperity. Prosperity leads to
mental and physical indolence, and is the fore runner of destruction.
Ancient Rome exemplified this fact better than any other nation.
Scotland and the New England states are fitting illustrations of what
150 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
climate and barrenness of soil can accomplish in character building, and
yet we, who are old enough to know better, still yearn above all else
for great material prosperity.
The late Charles
wizard of mathematics and the world" s foremost electrical engineer, was
once asked by Roger Babson to state what line of research such as radio,
aeronautics, power transmission, etc., in his estimation, promised most
for humanity. His answer was that the greatest promise was not in any
coming invention, but in spiritual forces, the greatest power in the
development of men. He then stated that men would eventually find that
material things do not bring happiness, and that when they do, the world
will advance more in one generation than it has in the past four. This
answer by the great scientist may seem an extravagant expression, but
Steinmetz was not given to the use of extravagant terms. Exactitude was
one of his most marked characteristics. What might spiritual forces
accomplish? They might perhaps find a way to avert war. What invention
could compare in value with the finding of a way to everlasting peace?
To Steinmetz, money was a means to an end merely and that end was the
procurement of the necessities. Be yond that point, he feared it as a
menace to the higher possibilities of life. He refused to accept any
salary for his services, the value of which was beyond appraisal, but
drew small sums from time to time as necessities presented themselves.
The late Luther Burbank, wizard of pollenization, told the writer that
he had made millions for other people, very little for himself.
From time immemorial,
the greatest of the great have proclaimed by word and deed their
adherence to the doctrine
MEANING OF THE SERVICE IDEAL 151
which Rotary had summed up in the words, "Service above Self." Who shall
say that the Rotary goal is unattainable?
"If profit and profit alone is the end sought by human effort," said Dr.
Nicholas Murray Butler in a report as president of Columbia University,
"then society must reconcile itself to steady disintegration, constantly
increasing the conflict between individual groups and nations, and
"It is only when men
rise above domination by the profit motive and learn to subordinate
profit to service that the
social, economic, and
political orders begin to come in sight of a firm foundation and a
continuing existence, with peace and happiness assured to the great mass
"A very large part of the revolutionary spirit now in many lands would
be quickly quelled could the mass of population be made to feel quite
certain that in transacting the greater businesses of the world, the
service motive comes first and the profit motive is subordinate to it."
Henry Ford says that when folks find out that they can make more money
honestly than they can dishonestly, they will be honest. It may, with as
much truth be said, that when folks find out that they can get more
happiness from culture than from wealth, they will have culture. The
relative value of wealth and culture was pretty dearly shown in a great
American city during the depression year of 1932, "Suicide Year." During
a period of twelve months a score or more of the city" s wealthiest men
took their own lives. During the same period ten thousand school
teachers, none of whom were possessed of wealth, worked without pay,
owing to the desperate financial condition
152 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
of the city, and not one of them committed suicide. In the case of
wealth versus culture, wealth comes out second.
The teachers had a wholesome philosophy of life to fall back upon " the
Rotary philosophy of service. They still had an abundance of work to do
" more than ever before, in fact. And when days of leisure came they
knew what to do with them. They had friends " not friends attracted by
their possessions; friends to share their thoughts with them.
Many had friends of other varieties. Some had feathered friends with
whom they held woodland trysts; some communed with other forms of tiny
creatures. Their range of interests extended all the way from
microscopic wonders to telescopic mysteries. In short, life never became
irk some; they never knew ennui; they never felt the slightest
indignation to terminate their great adventures.
Rotary is not of the communistic order; it is not of any particular
political order; its membership includes many orders. Rotary can have no
uniform or official opinion as to forms of government. Rotary concerns
itself with what its members do, not with what governments do. Rotary
seeks through the interchange of thoughts and experiences and through
participation, individual and collective, in activities, to educate its
members in matters of social significance in this particular period, in
order that they may be able to more intelligently discriminate between
the good and the bad, the temporary and the permanent, the wise and the
Many fathers who recognize the futility of great wealth as a means of
obtaining happiness for themselves, still desperately continue to fight
for it as a means of bringing
MEANING OF THE SERVICE IDEAL 153
happiness to their children, oblivious of the fact that a father" s
companionship is worth more to them than untold riches. The best
heritage a father can leave a son is the best education possible, and
the priceless opportunity of earning his own living.
One day two men were
discussing the merits of a brilliant young man, the only son of a very
wealthy father. The young man was gifted, studious, modest, and
sensible, and one of the men expressed the opinion that he possessed
every quality requisite to greatness. "All but one," said the other. "He
has never suffered." Cardinal Mercier put it: "Suffering
accepted and vanquished, will place you in a more advanced position in
your career, will give you a serenity which may well prove the most
exquisite fruit of your life."
Wise words! Fathers who shield their boys from every disappointment, all
suffering, and every pain, also advertently shield them from life" s
greatest privileges. The dean of men in a great university recently
stated that ninety per cent of the failures in his institution were due
to the indulgence of prosperous parents and the number of failures due
to adversity were practically negligible. Thomas Arkie Clark had no
desire to shatter a dearly beloved ideal in pointing out the
mercilessness of indulgent parents. If the possession of great wealth is
to result in the demoralization of our children, how can it possibly
A formidable obstacle to international understanding and good-will is
found in the varying practices in business matters. Differences in
business codes frequently give trouble. But Emerson, at a time when
business ethics were far below their present standard, said "After all,
154 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
ameliorator of the world is selfish, huckstering trade." The gulf
between the Anglo-Saxon conception of business ethics and the Latin
conception was thought by some to be so great that they despaired at
times of success in the international field. Mere differences in customs
were frequently given unjustifiable importance and they generally
disappeared in the light of understanding.
One frequently hears expression of doubt as to the practicability of
promulgating the spirit of service as a guiding principle in business.
The phrases, "Human nature is human nature," and, "Business is
business," still ring true to many, and exponents of less sordid
doctrines are considered vagarists or hypocrites.
"Business is business,"
the Little Man said, "A battle where "everything goes," "Where the only
gospel is "get ahead," And never spare friends or foes."
Business of all things has been considered immune to the crusading
spirit and some of the past performances of business amply justify the
low appraisal of its virtues.
And yet, from the beginning of time there have been crusaders; men who
have been willing to stake their all on principle. The sacrificial
spirit exists in the hearts of business men, as it does in the hearts of
educators, ministers, priests, and missionaries who from time immemorial
have deliberately turned their backs upon the road to riches. Business
has lacked only the esprit de corps, and that it is gradually gaining.
The crusaders of the days to come will be business crusaders and when
business undertakes a thing, it generally goes at the task with
MEANING OF THE SERVICE IDEAL 155
The Americans, Rockefeller and Carnegie, and the Englishmen, Cadbury and
Lever, were business crusaders. All four understood that wealth is a
trust of which creditable account must be made. Thousands of lesser
lights, have recognized the principle and given it expression, each in
his own way. The present tendency of business crusaders is to give the
toilers themselves, first consideration; to make sure that their factory
and home surroundings are conducive to happiness.
"Life without labor is
Labor without art is
Business is no longer a hit-or-miss undertaking; men seldom play
"hunches" now. Nothing short of the most scientific methods will stand
the competition of the present age. Many business establishments of
today are better equipped for scientific research than the universities
of generations past. Scientific management enables big business of the
present period to pay higher wages and heavier taxes than ever before,
and at the same time to respond to the hundred' and one other demands
made upon it.
Business practices have undergone particularly marked changes, and here
the influence of Rotary has been strongly felt. Under the old order, a
business man had but one thing to think about; that was how to get
money. Today he faces a multilateral problem. He who would succeed must
think much faster and deeper than the business man of past generations.
He must stand four-square to the wind. He must be right with his
customers, his employees, his competitors, with those from whom he buys
goods, and with the public as well. It is no easy task, and yet most of
the outstanding successes of the present age came as a result
157 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
of the recognition of these manifold obligations. The exigencies of the
times have challenged the resourcefulness of business, and business has
risen nobly to the challenge.
return to top of page
IS THE ROTARY CONCEPT OF A WORLD AT PEACE, UTOPIAN?
How do Members View Their Privileges?
There are indications from which conclusions can be drawn. Rotary is
thirty years of age. Although there has been little more than one year
of Rotary for every century of the Christian era, there are at present
nearly four thousand clubs. The clubs therefore range from one to thirty
years in age.
Since February 23, 1905, the day when the first Rotary club had its
first meeting, up to the present time, comparatively few clubs have
given up their charters. When one considers the ephemeral nature of many
organizations, the longevity of Rotary clubs is surprising, particularly
so in view of the fact that all clubs must be active in order to retain
their charters. Even during the depression, Rotary has held its own
remarkably well. At the present time the increase in the number of clubs
and the increase in the membership of existing clubs, steadily
But how about attendance? Do the members attend, or do they merely hold
membership? The answer to this
194 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
question is that each member must attend at least sixty per cent of club
meetings or forfeit membership. Sixty per cent is the minimum; the
average is much higher, and it is increasing, not decreasing " a healthy
indication. During the early days of Rotary, an attendance of one
hundred per cent of the club" s membership was an unusual event; today
one hundred per cent attendance is hardly worthy of mention. If a club
holds a series of consecutive one hundred per cent meetings, it will
command attention, providing the series is long enough. A dozen or
fifteen consecutive one hundred per cent meetings are no longer
remarkable; thirty or forty are, though there are Rotary clubs which
have held consecutive one hundred per cent meetings weekly for more than
a year, and one club kept a perfect record throughout a three-year
period. The records of some individual members continue without break
for a score of years. Members having such records, are most naturally
anxious to preserve them. Continuous good health is an essential,
because illness does not excuse absence so far as the records are
Of course, such results would not be possible were it not for the
constitutional provision whereby members absent from their home cities
are credited for attendance at meetings of Rotary clubs in other cities.
There must be some strong attraction to lure busy men from their offices
once a week, year in and year out. Rotary is ever virile, active,
enthusiastic, and never has there been a finer esprit de corps. We have
a cause and will to serve it.
It is not always convenient to set aside an hour and a half at noontime
for attendance at club meetings. Attendance frequently necessitates many
miles of travel. There
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF ROTARY 195
have been extreme cases in which attendance at important meetings has
necessitated hundreds of miles of travel. In the face of such evidence
it is fair to conclude that members think well of Rotary.
A Rotarian writes as follows: "Just as Rotary blends the practical and
the ideal, so Rotary blends good fellowship and informality with respect
and dignity. It has long been an unwritten law, but a well-respected
law, that no speaker before a Rotary club is at liberty to use off-color
stories or say anything before the Rotary club that he wouldn" t say if
the wives and daughters of the Rotarians also were present. Just as the
meeting of the Rotary club is neither the time nor the place for the
off-color story, so the club publication is not the place for anything
that may offend any member or his family. The fact that such a story may
be funny does not entitle it to a place in a Rotary publication."
There are values which men rate above dollars and cents, and at the top
of the list stands friendship. The writer has been deeply impressed at
times in the strength of the appeal which friendship makes and in the
number whom it influences.
Friendship thrives in the atmosphere of Rotary where formalities and
artificialities are brushed aside; where men, regardless of rank and
station, meet on a common plane. It is customary, though not compulsory,
in American Rotary clubs, to use the first name in greeting
fellow-members. It comes naturally to some, while others acquire the
habit gradually. Few fail to adjust themselves to the custom. In a large
percentage of cases the novitiate is happily surprised at the ease with
which he acquires the
196 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
habit, and after it has once been acquired, embarrassment is at an end.
The members are drawn from all ranks in business life, though the
average rank is high. The bank president may find himself sitting at
luncheon by the side of the proprietor of the tonsorial establishment in
his building, and if he does, the chances are that he will be glad of
the circum stance and enjoy the contact.
Not infrequently both father and son have membership and enjoy the
fellowship together. In such cases, it is often difficult to determine
which gets the more, the younger or the older man. The roster of most
clubs includes the names of several semi-retired business men of
advanced years, who retain membership because of the enjoyment they
experience in the entertaining and cultural programs and in the spirit
of the meetings.
The writer recalls the
case of an, elderly and partially invalided Rotarian, now passed to the
Beyond, who had entirely completed his years of business service. He
traveled nearly twenty miles for the purpose of attending the weekly
meetings, and the chair reserved for him was seldom vacant. It might be
difficult for the author of "Babbitt"
to determine what Bob Beck got from Rotary, but it is safe to assume
that he got something which he deemed worthwhile. It may have been a
hand-shake which paid him for his long Journey, or possibly a smile. One
of the best one-word sermons ever preached is the sermon "Smile"; it
cheers men in all walks of life and provokes friendship. Smiles quiet
the tempests that rise in the hearts of men. The writer once saw an
angry and vociferous crowd of men and women who had been unreasonably
delayed at a railroad station on a hot summer afternoon,
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OP ROTARY 197
calmed and pacified by the irresistible magic of a smile. Smiles warm
one in the winter, cool one in the summer, and cheer one all the year
There are on the face of the earth, those to whom such doctrine is mere
piffle. They consider themselves high above such things. From the
exalted heights of their imaginations, they look down scornfully upon
such childish exuberance.
Fortunately for the rest of mankind they, and not those whom they look
down upon, are the abnormals. They are not more discerning than the
average of men; they are less discerning. They judge others by their own
standards and their standards do not meet with the approval of men.
The late Cyrus Curtis, who, through his publications, The Saturday
Evening Post, The Woman" s Home Journal, and The Country Gentleman,
exercised a more powerful influence on the thinking of the American
people than any other publisher, was one among many whom the superior
mortals above-mentioned could not claim as their own. Mr. Curtis was an
honorary member of three Rotary clubs," Portland, Maine, his native
city; Philadelphia, the city of his adoption; and Miami, Florida where
he spent his winters. Mr. Curtis was a regular attendant at Rotary club
meetings whenever circumstances permitted. Would it have shocked the
sensibilities of the superior" minded men to hear the sage and venerable
publisher accosted by his first name? It didn" t shock Cyrus Curtis. To
Rotarians, he was always Cyrus, and he loved it.
During the course of a dinner on his yacht, one of the most beautiful in
the world, Cyrus Curtis told the writer that his greatest regret was
that so few of his friends could take time from their business to enjoy
THIS ROTARIAN AGE
with him. Cyrus Curtis loved his fellowmen and to him their hand-shakes
and smiles were not mere piffle; they were what made life worth living.
Henry Ward Beecher expressed
the spirit of Rotary when he said:
"Nothing on earth can smile but man. Gems may flash reflected
light, but what is a diamond flash com pared to an eye-flash and
a mirth-flash? Flowers can not smile " this is a charm that even
they cannot claim. It is the prerogative of man; it is the color
which love wears, and cheerfulness, and joy " these three. It is
a light in the window of the face, by which the heart signifies
that it is at home and waiting. A face that cannot smile is like
a bud that cannot blossom and dries upon the stalk. Laughter is
day, and sobriety is night and a smile is the twilight that
hovers between both " more bewitching than either."
Rotary aims to encourage the enrollment of young members. Youth is
enthusiastic and determined and con tributes much to the movement.
Youth, middle-age, and old age, all have their parts to play, and all
can profit greatly in their contacts with each other. In many in stances
the abundant energies of youth, and capital sup" plied by older members,
have been combined with telling effect.
Rotary has frequently proven a blessing to the older members when the
day for retirement from business comes. Many not only attend meetings of
their own clubs but also meetings of numerous other Rotary clubs.
Rotarian visitors at many clubs frequently out-number the local
Rotarians in attendance.
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF ROTARY 199
responsible for the statement that in advanced years men must turn their
minds to the affairs of state; it was but another way of saying that man
must, as he grows older, wean himself from thoughts of himself if he is
to realize life in full measure. This is a wonderful world to one who is
really of it. Every revolution of the earth on its axis, brings new
wonders to view. Kaleidoscopic changes in the affairs of men fascinate
the thoughtful observer. Opportunities to play worthy and interesting
parts in the game of life abound on every hand, and yet in the face of
all this plenty, members who have occupied important positions
frequently think that they have nothing to live for when their day for
If one thinks that he
has been robbed of all that life holds dear, be might with advantage
turn to David
Grayson" s books
and read "Adventures in Contentment" and "Adventures in Friendship."
Life is always worth while to him who enjoys the companionship of good
Is there anything more pitiable than one who approaches the end of the
Journey with nothing to think about except himself? Self will soon cease
to exist, but time goes on forever. Long after we shall have been
summoned, the world we have learned to love will still be struggling on.
There is significance in the words of the old hymn, "Pull for the shore,
sailor, pull for the shore. Leave the poor old stranded wreck and pull
for the shore."
a blessing, not a curse. It gives one the satisfaction of feeling that
he is pulling his own weight, but life is more than labor and business
should not be permitted to absorb one" s entire being. It has been said
that the average life in the United States of a business man, after
200 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
retirement, is three
years. If it is true, it is a startling demonstration of the truth of
the saying that it is easier to rust out than to wear out. What a pity
that in this world of so many needs there is so little that retired
business men can find to make life interesting. The first sixty-seven
years of the writer" s life have been high times. He wouldn" t have missed
them for anything. During the last four years he has been on the retired
list, so far as his law practice is concerned; the result of a nervous
by over-drawing his account. After he had liquidated his obligations to
nature for overwork, he contracted another for over-rest before he
eventually succeeded in getting his books balanced. He is now
transacting his business on a cash basis, and enjoying life. Manifestly
he must get back into business if he is ever to be at leisure again.
The late Dr. Francis Patton, the venerable past president of Princeton
University, with hearing greatly impaired, and eyesight almost gone,
found absorbing interest in writing. He told the writer that he and Mrs.
Patton, the latter totally blind, had made a great discovery; they had
discovered that human happiness was not dependent upon the possession of
either eyesight or hearing. His affliction had thrown wide open the
doors to a beautiful world of thought; doors which succeeding events had
almost closed at times. What can an enfeebled man, bereft of hearing and
eyesight, do? If his heart is unimpaired, if he has the courage of a Dr.
Patton, he can still find a way to make himself useful, and thus find
Men who during many years have been absorbed in business, frequently
find that physical ailments which seemed of little importance during the
days of urgent business,
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF ROTARY 201
after retirement press forward for attention and soon become more
engrossing than business ever was; in fact, they become the victim" s
business, and a worrisome business at that. A checkup at the hospital
may help some, assuming that the diagnosis is favorable; but an idle
mind will get into mischief. Wealth will not help; the chances are that
wealth will aggravate the misery. One may be fortunate in being too poor
to worry about his health; it is difficult to worry about two things at
one time and do both worries justice.
The things that will be helpful are not the ponderables of life; they
are the imponderables " kindliness, neighborliness, friendliness, and
love. Unless one can successfully cultivate such attributes, in many
instances leisure proves unbearable and life soon terminates. How
different with Dr. Patton. He rose above material considerations. In a
sense very different from that intended by Lord Byron, he worked the
mine of youth to the last vein of ore.
William Lyons Phelps, Professor Emeritus of English Literature at Yale,
and loved by all Rotarians because of his sweet philosophy of life, says
that one" s happiness depends upon the diversity and depth of his
interests; and Professor Walter Pitkin, of Columbia University, in his
admirable book "Life Begins at Forty" states that the life expectancy of
professional men exceeds that of business men; that the life expectancy
of business men exceeds that of laboring men; that the best way to keep
the body in good condition is through keeping the mind in good
condition, and the best way to keep the mind in good condition is
through keeping it stimulated by wholesome, active thoughts on a wide
range of subjects.
202 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
While in Glasgow recently, the writer learned of another remarkable
instance of a Rotarian who had found himself. For fifteen successive
years he has been lying on his back, incapable of moving either body or
limbs. His fast failing sight has made even reading impossible, and yet
this heroic man greets friends who call, with ringing laughter. He wrote
recently that his so-called affliction was anything but that; on the
contrary, it had proved to be his richest blessing. A mutual friend
reports that the so-called afflicted is continuing to carry on, and that
his noble example is serving to reinforce the courage of many
disconsolate. We who are in the enjoyment of life" s normal blessings
should be ashamed, in the light of such fortitude, to give way to petty
grievances. Equipped with such spirit as that of Dr. Patton and George
Walker, one can bear up under the most grievous burden that circum"
stances can impose. Their experiences make it easier to imagine what Mr.
H. G. Wells meant when he said that our present civilization is merely
the raw material out of which it is possible for men, if they so
incline, to create something really worthwhile.
The following excerpt from an article appearing in a recent number of
"The Pinion" published by the Rotary Club of Sydney, Australia, is
"If ever there was an object lesson for you and for me, it lies in the
later years of Rotarian Sir Edgeworth David whose death is chronicled in
"Bent, racked with pain, and moving with great difficulty, that
cheerful, kindly, uncomplaining soul fought his way to and fro " to the
University, to Rotary " clutching his way on trams with extreme
difficulty. Sometimes a Rotarian would give him a lift back after lunch,
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF ROTARY 203
more often than not Sir Edgeworth crept quietly around the edge of the
crowd, and made his own laborious way, hating the very thought of giving
trouble. So, while we rolled at our ease in cars, that poignant,
white-haired soul, with his habitual haversack and stick, battled his
way through the riotous and noisy city. The dignity and the courtesy of
him were like a blissful breeze from the cool heights."
"A little more
tired at close of day,
A little less
anxious to have our way;
A little less
ready to scold and blame;
A little more
care of a brother" s name;
And so we are
nearing the journey" s end,
Where time and
eternity meet and blend."
Rotarian Eddie Guest, who explores the depths of everyday affairs for
overlooked beauties, thinks that there is nothing in nature more
beautiful than the maple tree in its autumnal coloring. To his poetic
fancy, it is a pageant, a grand outburst, a final celebration just
before the leaves fall off and die; it reminds him of the final days of
some old folks he has known. I am sure that Eddie would have included
Sir Edgeworth" s name on his list of inspiring celebrants had he known
Under the Rotary plan, business is an important part of life but it is
not the all of life. It is recognized that there are arable areas in
life well outside that part assigned to business. He whose vision
extends no further than the field of business is to be pitied; it
matters not what his success in that field may be. What will he have to
fall back upon when business reverses come? How will he
204 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
occupy himself when his time for retirement comes? Rotarians who are
true to their cause will have interests to fall back upon. The Rotary
philosophy of life will serve in good stead. Public service is the best
kind of hobby; it is far more satisfying than collecting coins or
Health and happiness count far more than material possessions. The
outdoor life contributes to both health and happiness; therefore, let us
cultivate a love of the out door life. It is full of interest whether
our particular hobby be birds, flowers, or landscapes. My own hobby is
landscapes. Give me a view of long rolling hills with well- kept farms,
contented cows and sheep grazing on the hillsides and a meadow lark,
thrush, or robin singing in the distance. I have never been able to
determine which is the more beautiful, the hills of Scotland with their
gorse and rhododendrons in the spring, or the mountains of New England
with their sugar maples in the fall. Both are exhilarating. Jean revels
in sunsets and I enjoy them with her.
One retired friend of ours has taken up painting and another, gardening.
The latter is to be seen in his garden from the awakening of the first
crocus in the spring until the last chrysanthemum goes to sleep in the
autumn. Another friend loves books and revels in the companionship of
the great thinkers of all time. These are simple, whole some pursuits
and available to all, rich and poor.
During the course of years, many interesting testimonials of the value
of Rotary have come to the ears of the writer. Rotarians have frequently
called at his office and occasionally, with tears coursing down their
MEMBERS EVALUATION OF ROTARY 205
stated that Rotary has
been the greatest influence which has ever come to their lives.
Women have told him
that Rotary has been the making of their husbands; that they have been
far more considerate and thoughtful since becoming Rotarians " better
husbands and fathers than ever before.
Granting that some of these expressions may have been overdrawn, the
results which these witnesses claim to have discovered are precisely the
results which Rotary is striving to attain. Rotary aims to be practical,
and hopes to enrich life; its philosophy is a wholesome philosophy.
Rotary is without dogma, and tolerant at all times.
While the objects of Rotary do not include any reference to the domestic
relationship, it naturally follows that father and son days and ladies
days, which are frequently featured, serve to reveal parental and
conjugal responsibilities, as does also boy work, crippled children
work, and so forth. The member who finds satisfaction in opening
opportunities to boys in need is not likely to be indifferent to the
needs of his own son.
The friendly spirit of the Rotary club meetings frequently serves to
change the member" s entire outlook on life. There are miraculous
qualities in friendship. The writer can call to mind men who, to use the
Biblical phrase, have been "born again." For example, there was in a
small city of Illinois a man, whom we may call John Smith. He was a man
of indomitable purpose, who through his own unaided efforts had created
a huge manufacturing plant of national fame. His eighteen hundred
employees were always sure of their pay, but they were given in no
uncertain terms to understand who was boss. Smith was a man of iron.
206 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
He worked from early morning until late at night, and he could always be
found "on the job." His devotion to business had obscured all other
interests in life. He walked from his home to his office and from his
office to his home, bowing neither to right nor left. He neither had
friends nor felt the need of them; he was self self-centered, austere.
One day while visiting one of his offices in a distant city, his manager
asked him to attend a Rotary club meeting. Smith accepted the
invitation, though he would have preferred to have lunched elsewhere.
His impressions were not favorable. There was too much noise and
confusion, too little dignity, and the singing was not up to standard.
After the meeting, however, many of the incidents came back to him and
as he thought of them it seemed to him that there was something about
the spirit manifested that reminded him of something which had once been
in his life and had passed out. Eventually he determined to restore that
something, and when he returned to his home city, he organized a Rotary
club. His fellow members thought so much of the newborn John Smith that
they elected him president for six consecutive years. A few years later,
when he built a beautiful home, he caused a large Rotary wheel to be
fashioned in cement and given conspicuous position in the front of the
house so that passersby might see it and realize that there lived a
Three years ago, John Smith paid an installment of four hundred thousand
dollars to the John Smith foundation for dependent boys and crippled
Does it not seem strange that so capable a man should have permitted
himself to have gotten into such a rut as be formerly was in, and is it
not amazing that he could have
MEMBERS EVALUATION OF ROTARY 20" 7
been lifted out and landed on the broad highway of life again by so
simple an expedient, as the friendship of his fellowmen? The fact is,
that until he came, through Rotary, into intimate social contact with
men, he simply did not know them. When he once knew them he became aware
of their fine qualities and loved them.
John Smith departed this life recently and when he realized that the end
was near, he said to the writer, "It is not the question, Paul, how long
we are to be here; the question is, have we finished our jobs?" In the
passing of John Smith, the writer lost a staunch friend whom he greatly
Among other provisions in his will was one by virtue of which thousands
of helpless children will come into the birthright which Merciful
Providence must have intended for them. John Smith had finished his job
and was ready to lay himself down for well rest. Thousands now sing the
praises of the once friendless John Smith and his friends bear testimony
that the miracle of John" s new" birth was the result of the friendly
spirit of Rotary. To some of the so-called intelligentsia, John Smith
might seem beyond understanding, but to those who knew him best, he was
Men have expressed wonder that so simple an idea has carried so far;
that it has made itself at home in so many nations. To the writer" s
mind, the effectiveness of Rotary is partially due to that very
attribute, its simplicity. There are thousands of John Smiths in Rotary,
who are enjoying fuller and richer lives by virtue of the simple and yet
miraculous attribute of man, friendship. Whatever critics may have to
say, these men of position and character are ready at all times to rise
and call Rotary blessed.
208 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved
much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of
little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who
has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved
poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul; who has never lacked
appreciation of earth" s beauty or failed to express it; who has always
looked for the best in others and given the best he had; whose life was
an inspiration; whose memory was benediction.
Adult males only are eligible to membership in Rotary clubs, and the
curriculum constitutes a splendid course in adult education. In Rotary
the practical values of every" day life are brought out, and members are
taught ways of making themselves useful. According to old standards,
when a boy finished school, his educational work was sup" posed to have
been completed, whether it had extended beyond the sixth grade or
stopped short of there. According to the new standards, life throughout
is viewed as an educational process. All praise to the adult educational
movements which seek to give older members of trade and professional
organizations, opportunity to keep up-to-date in their practices. Rotary
sympathizes with their efforts. One is never too old to learn.
Weekly Rotary club meetings, committee meetings, board and intercity
meetings, district conferences, district meetings of presidents and
secretaries, meetings of the board of directors of Rotary International,
international assemblies, and Rotary International conventions are all
calculated to awaken civic, national and international consciousness,
raise standards of thought, broaden vision, and
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OP ROTARY 209
to help in promoting better understanding between members of different
Not least in importance
in the Rotary curriculum is the education which comes through contact
with fellow members. The secretary of the Rotary Club of Chicago once
remarked, "Chicago Rotarians seldom realize that they are better for
having known B. 0. Jones, but they are." Truer words could not have been
spoken. "Sunshine" Jones has for twenty-four years been carrying help
and good cheer to
thousands. He is Rotary" s ambassador to the afflicted. It is an honor to
be elected president of a Rotary club; it means that the members have
stamped the president- elect with approval; it also means that he who
has been thus honored stands an exponent of Rotary ideals. During his
entire year he is to appear before the membership, week after week. To
many he becomes a model after whom, consciously or unconsciously, they
fashion their lives. It is a still greater honor to be elected president
of Rotary International. He who occupies that post stands as an
exemplification of Rotary to the entire membership. Whatever be his
nationality he stands as an example of the manhood of the country he
represents, and the Rotarians of other countries are thereby given a new
vision of his country. The mere exhibit of a fine, manly, modest
personality does wonders.
Three Canadians and one Englishman are of the number who have thus far
been the recipients of Rotary" s highest honor, and the Americans who
know and love them have kindlier thoughts of Canada and England than
they have ever entertained before. Each has made magnificent
contribution to the movement.
THIS ROTARIAN AGE
has been extremely fortunate in its selection of presidents. It would be
impossible for the writer to over-express his appreciation of their
joint and several contributions to the movement; it would be impossible
for him to over-estimate their loyalty, their devotion, the sacrificial
spirit which they have so frequently made manifest. He wishes that it
might be permitted him to write the stories of their various
administrations, but to do so would be to write the history of the
movement and would require several volumes. The
writer has no doubt that it will be accomplished in the course of time.
The following is certainly not intended as a catalogue of the virtues of
the men who have served as international presidents but rather as the
impressionistic views of the writer as to specially outstanding
characteristics of each international president which have contributed
signally to the advancement of the interests of the movement:
Glenn C. Mead
of Philadelphia, Pa
Greiner of Kansas City, Mo
Mulholland of Toledo, Ohio
Allen D. Albert
of Chicago, Ill
Arch C. Klumph
of Cleveland, Ohio
Pidgeon of Montreal, Canada
John Poole of
Washington, D. C
Albert S. Adams
of Atlanta, Ga
of Portland, Oregon
McCullough of Fort William, Ontario, Canada
Havens of Kansas City, Mo
Guy Gundaker of
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF ROTARY 211
Everett W. Hill
of Oklahoma City, Okla... . .
Donald A. Adams
of New Haven, Conn.. . .
Harry H. Rogers
of Tulsa, Oklahoma
Arthur H. Sapp
of Huntington, Md
I. B. Sutton of
Newsom of Durham, N. C
Almon E. Roth
of Palo Alto, Calif
Pascall of London, England. .. .
Anderson of Albuquerque, New Mexico
John Nelson of
Robert L. Hill
of Columbia, Mo
Rotary is very
fortunate in that two only, of the above list, Albert S. Adams and Ray
Havens, have passed to the Beyond. All others remain as a group of elder
statesmen, ready to respond to any and every call.
The writer might add that his own name is generally included in the
above list. He has had the privilege of knowing each and every one of
his fellow Past Presidents intimately and considers himself singularly
blest in their friendship.
The writer is also frequently referred to as the founder of Rotary. When
James Davidson and Colonel Layton Ralston of Canada left for their
pilgrimage to Australia and New Zealand for the purpose of establishing
Rotary clubs in those countries, they expressed a desire to meet the
writer personally and one of them at that time, said that it did not
seem to him proper to depart on so important a mission without first
having met the founder of Rotary. He who is called the founder,
expressed his appreciation
212 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
of the sentiment, but also said that it was quite possible that the
value of his work had been over-estimated, whereupon Chesley Perry
remarked: "I suppose, Paul, that the desire to see you is somewhat akin
to the desire men have to see the source of a great river."
The analogy appealed greatly, yet it had one fault. We know that rivers
do not have their source in any one spring. We know that rivers are the
sum total of the hundreds of rivulets which course down the hillsides
and pour their volume into the channel of the great river. And thus it
is with Rotary. Rotary is the sum total of the contributions of hundreds
of big-hearted, broad-minded men who have given of themselves to the
movement. If, however, Rotarians must have, one to think of as the
spring, they must also remember that rivers have currents as well;
strong, resistless currents that run unceasingly. Rotary has its
current, persistent, indefatigable Ches Perry.
Rotary" s spread
throughout the Far East has been an unusually fine testimonial of the
devotion of members, who have been willing to sacrifice their own
important business affairs in the interest of the cause. The late James
Wheeler Davidson heads
the list. Jim, whose varied experiences included service as press
correspondent in the Russo-Japanese War, American Consul in the Far East
at several places, Arctic explorer with Admiral Perry, and President of
the Rotary Club of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, visited Australia and New
Zealand with Colonel J. Layton Ralston (then president of the Halifax
Rotary Club and subsequently Canada" s Minister of National Defense), and
established Rotary clubs there. In 1928 he and his wife Lillian Dow
Davidson, and their daughter Marjory
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF
were invited by the board of Rotary International to make a tour of the
Levant and Orient in the interest of Rotary, with the expectation that
he would be gone about eight months. Their journey, occupying actually
two and a half years, took them from Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Pales"
tine to Iraq, Syria, Persia, India, Ceylon, Burma, Malaysia, the
Netherlands Indies, and Siam, and thence to China, Manchuria, Korea,
Japan, and the Philippines.
More than a score of Rotary clubs in these countries are a tribute to
Jim" s energy and personality. In a few cases he found self-organized
clubs desiring recognition as Rotary clubs, lacking only knowledge of
the procedure. He had equipped himself in advance with letters of
introduction from men of high rank in the political and business life of
several countries. In many places he was able to persuade the highest
public officials to participate actively in the organization of Rotary
clubs, in the hope that they would serve to bring Europeans and natives
together. Usually the rigid caste lines and social customs gave way
before his genial contention that Rotary clubs should be as truly
representative as possible of the leading business and professional
classes of the city without regard to religious, political, or even
experienced many hardships but Providence seemed to protect them. An
auto smash-up on a road through a Malay jungle happened immediately in
front of a clump of thatched huts from which the natives sprang to
rescue the party from drowning in a ditch. Jim had several varieties of
fever, and Marjory was seriously Ill as the consequence of an insect
bite. And still they kept on planting Rotary clubs in the Orient. Jim
brought together groups of business and professional men of as
214 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
many as fourteen nations, while Lillian kept Rotarians throughout the
world on the qui vive of interest through writing illuminating articles
for "The Rotarian."
The brother of the King of Siam, Prince Purachatra, became the founder
president of the new Rotary Club of Bangkok, Siam, and Malay Sultans
became members of others.
East of Suez, Jim wrote that serious problems were arising in the Far
East and that the only agency that was even trying to develop better
understanding between these various national, racial, and religious
groups, was Rotary. The chain of Rotary clubs he established from the
eastern Mediterranean on through the Orient to China and Japan, forms a
series of outposts from which good-will, tolerance, and international
amity will be radiated among the count less millions of people mixed
together in Asia.
Among the Rotary clubs
organized by Jim are those at Athens, Greece; Jerusalem, Palestine;
Cairo, Egypt; Bombay, Delhi, and Madras, India; Colombo, Ceylon;
Rangoon, and Thayetmyo, Burma; Kuala Lumpur, Seremban, Ipoh, and Kiang,
Federated Malay States; Batavia, Bandoeng, Malang, Semarang, Java;
Medan, Sumatra; Singapore, Malacca, and Penang, Straits Settlements;
Bangkok, Siam, and Hongkong, China. In addition he surveyed Istanbul
(Constantinople), Damascus, and Bagdad,
where conditions were not, in his opinion, favorable for a Rotary club
at that time.
Jim was far from well when he and his family embarked upon their great
expedition but the man who had faced the rigors of Arctic winters was
not one to shirk responsibility. He heard the call and responded to it.
When he returned, it was manifest to his friends that he had spent
MEMBERS" EVALUATION OF ROTARY 215
his all. He survived a brief period only, but he had carved his name on
the imperishable records as Rotary" s ambassador deluxe, first and
foremost of a long and distinguished line of men who have given of
themselves generously in the interests of Rotary and without
compensation other than their inward satisfaction in having done a good
There have been thousands of other instances where the sacrificial
spirit of Rotarians has found expression in diverse and sometimes
individualistic ways. At the head of the list of individualists appears
the name of George W. Harris, of Washington, D. C., the friend of each
and every President of the United States who has held office during the
last thirty years. George" s peculiar fancy is to serve in the capacity
of Sergeant-at-Arms at the annual International Assembly. Year after
year he travels at his own expense to the assembly city wherever it may
be, frequently bringing his family with him. He is now known to
everyone. Swiftly he glides about in the performance of his tasks. His
devotion glorifies a post which few would have chosen.
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The considerate critic will nevertheless weigh his words carefully, lest
he overstate in his enthusiasm for his work. To err is human, and even
critics are human. Critics may err through the insufficiency of their
information concerning the objects of their criticism, and they may also
err through misunderstanding of themselves.
To pass fair judgment on the conduct of others may be exceptionally
difficult to one who erroneously believes his own nature to be normal.
The normal reactions of average men may easily be misjudged by those of
entirely different emotional natures. Herbert Spencer said that
education which directs the emotions into proper channels is even more
important than education of the so-called intellectual capacities.
Students of psychology and educators of the present day recognize the
truth of the statement. Rotarians who would not quite like to have
Rotary develop into a purely high-brow movement find satisfaction in the
fact that the great English philosopher recognized the importance of
harnessing the emotions of men for the benefit of the social order.
220 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
Rotarians may seem to their critics, unnaturally enthusiastic and
demonstrative at times. The warmth of their welcome may seem
exaggerated, even assumed; but in reality it is natural and genuine.
Rotary has been designated a bourgeois organization; but England has
been designated a nation of shopkeepers; the United States a nation of
pork packers, and so forth. England and America have survived, and
Rotary bids fair to do so. Rich and poor, princes and commoners have
enrolled in Rotary.
Rotary in the United States has been designated by certain well-known
critics, as shallow, boastful, and opinionated, entirely satisfied with
conditions "as is" in our "great and glorious country", and intolerant
of opinion at variance with the conventional; it has at other times been
designated an agency of impracticable reformers, dreaming of a world at
peace, and dangerously dissatisfied with things "as is" in our "great
and glorious country." As a matter of fact, Rotarians are not extremists
one way or the other. Idealists they are, to be sure, hoping for the
best and willing to make sacrifices for it.
It is not to be expected that a movement would attain the proportions of
Rotary without arousing criticism. Rotary" s conspicuous position makes
it a mark for professional critics. The friendliness and informality of
Rotary gatherings sometimes lead to an effervescence of spirits on the
part of excitable members which finds expression in boyishness. Such
manifestations constitute alluring opportunities for attack. It is not
difficult to caricature an individual who caricatures himself.
Another favorable opening to attack has been found in the natural
tendency to adopt high-sounding names and
PAGE H. L. MENCKEN 221
phrases. The term "Service" has at times become hackneyed. Rotary,
Kiwanis, and Lions clubs are frequently referred to as "Service Clubs."
Terminology may go far to make or break a movement. "Piety" is an
example of words which have suffered through excessive use.
High-sounding words and phrases suggest to the inquiring mind the
question as to their sincerity, and adverse judgment frequently follows.
There is at present a growing tendency in Rotary to get away from too
frequent repetition of stock terms and phrases, and to be more
conservative in expression. The term "usefulness" is less pretentious
and probably more suitable than the term "service." Rotary is a business
men" s organization and business men like to keep their feet on the
The practice of opening meetings with invocations has aroused criticism
and has been taken as an evidence of hypocrisy. It has, however, worked
out satisfactorily to the great majority of Rotarians, including those
who do not ordinarily incline toward religious observances. It is
believed that the effect sought has been realized; that is, that the
practice has resulted in raising the general tone of meetings.
One might well go farther and say that the practice of invoking Divine
Blessing in Rotary is anti-bigotry rather than pro-bigotry, it being the
case that no favoritism is shown in the selection of invocationists. One
day it may be a Protestant minister; another day a Catholic priest; and
another, a Jewish rabbi. In countries where other forms of religion are
represented in sufficient number, Mohammedan, Buddhist, or whatever they
may be, an invocation in form familiar to them might be in order. In
fact, the only members who could logically take offense are
222 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
those who view all forms of religion as menaces to civilization, and of
them there are not many.
However, criticism has its proper part in the affairs of men. Few attain
eminence without being subjected to it. It should neither be fought nor
ignored. It should be made to serve a purpose whenever possible. Many of
the criticisms of Rotary have dealt with the superficialities rather
than with the realities. They have been scathing, and at times
brilliant. If the critics had been versed in the history and life of the
movement, the subject would have proven less tempting, but the public
would not have had the benefit of the extravaganzas which have been so
Rotary" s reaction to criticism has in the main been commendable. The
leading critics have been frequently invited to speak before clubs, and
in one instance the Chicago club offered to let one of the best known
name his own terms for an address.
The writer thinks that Rotarians should be especially heedful of the
deliberate, thoughtful criticisms of the committee selected from the
social science experts of the University of Chicago. They cannot be
brushed aside as the vagaries of unpractical men. They are not
superficial; the committee had ample opportunity to study the literature
of Rotary and to consult with many Rotarians, and it has availed itself
of the opportunities. Their criticism is not inspired by ill-will; it is
inspired by goodwill. It should serve to shake complacent clubs out of
their complacency; indifferent clubs out of their indifference; and to
arouse all clubs to higher sense of responsibility. Such criticism is in
marked contrast in its spirit with Mr. Bernard Shaw" s
PAGE H. L. MENCKEN 223
flippant "I know where Rotary" s going; it" s going to lunch."
One of the recommendations of the University of Chicago Committee to the
Chicago Club, resulted in a change of the by-laws giving sanction to
discussion of controversial issues. The resolution in favor of amending
the by laws of the Chicago Club passed with an overwhelming majority and
the discussion of such questions is already being tried out.
The report of the committee treats the subject at considerable length
and very capably. To them, here lies Rotary" s supreme opportunity to
harness the power of our world-wide organization. To the committee, the
Rotary Club of Chicago, composed as it is of nearly seven hundred
business men of influence, representing as many different trades and
professions, constitutes an ideal forum, for the discussion of important
questions and an ideal group in which to develop civic leaders. To the
committee the prospects are so transcendent that they make the
accomplishments of the club in philanthropic and charitable endeavor
seem insignificant. The writer hopes, how" ever, that Rotary" s present
fields of useful endeavor will not be abandoned; surely not until
experiment clearly shows the wisdom of such course.
The progress of an
organization which must blaze its own trails is necessarily largely by
trial and error. The great difficulty is to assume and maintain the
experimental attitude of mind. Henry Ford was once asked by a newspaper
reporter if he was willing to concede that he had made a mistake in a
certain policy. The great industrialist answered that he did not
remember ever having made a
224 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
mistake; that he had
tried a good many experiments, some of which had failed to work.
Pride of opinion is difficult to overcome, particularly in large
organizations in which there are many leaders. The temptation to become
dogmatic is natural; one sees his own ways so clearly, other ways so
dimly. The writer is especially conscious of the difficulty because of
his own frailties. He tries to be fair, un-prejudiced and to pre serve
the experimental attitude of mind, but he Undoubtedly fails at times.
In Rotary as elsewhere, there is much talk of fundamentals " but what is
fundamental? Is, for instance, the elimination of discussions of
political questions of a controversial nature, a fundamental? It has
long been so considered. In fact, many Rotarians believe that Rotary" s
unprecedented success in bringing men of diverse races and faiths into
one fellowship has been based on the very fact that in Rotary the
members have found sanctuary, freedom from propaganda and proselytism in
any form. Rotary" s plan of recruiting its membership is both a strength
and a weakness; it is the cement that binds and it is, at the same time,
the TNT which could blow the structure into a thousand pieces if
The proponents of the old order believe that its preservation is doubly
important now that Rotary has assumed international character. When one
crosses international boundary lines, he will do well to tread softly if
he desires to make friends for his country. He had best not preach,
speak patronizingly, lecture, or advise; he will almost surely fail of
his purpose if he attempts to do so. He can advantageously use a few
flowers, at times; and flowers of speech always are in order. The writer
does not believe
PAGE H. L. MENCKEN 225
that a traveler should be a servile flatterer; no one likes a sycophant.
If one can" t think sweet thoughts, in common honesty, he ought not
express them. He had better remain silent, but he should remember that
we are all of one great family, facing the same problems, sensitive to
unkindness, responsive to friendly overtures.
The writer does not believe that one is called upon in the interest of
international good-will, to remain silent if his own country is
ridiculed or reviled. It seems to the writer, a good policy never to
provoke an attack and an equally good policy never to permit unjust
charges against one" s own country or one" s countrymen to remain
unchallenged; but when engaged in the discussion of international
issues, if Rotary is to engage in such discussions, whether the subject
be tariffs, debts, armaments, or what-not, we must be courteous at all
times lest we do more harm than good.
While the writer is deeply interested in education and hopes that Rotary
will play an increasingly important part in the promotion of a better
understanding of international problems, he realizes, nevertheless, that
one-sided education is worse than none. He believes that if a
representative of one nation is permitted to present his country" s case
before a Rotary club, a representative of the country holding opposing
views (if there is any) should be permitted to present the generally
accepted position of his country men. The writer would put it stronger;
he would say that both sides of all important moot questions should be
heard, or neither. As a lawyer, he knows that in the trial of cases,
juries will almost invariably find in favor of the plaintiff unless the
defendant also presents his side of the case. There is tragedy in the
fact that the policy of nations
226 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
with respect to declarations of war, generally has been based on ex
In one way or another, Rotary" s problems find a way of solution and the
problem in question will probably prove to be no exception. Of all the
problems which have confronted Rotary, perhaps none has ever called for
the exercise of so much patience and forbearance. If the experimental
attitude of mind is preserved, if pride of opinion is subdued, if
infinite care is exercised lest Rotary be made a means of nationalistic
propaganda, something worth while may come of it. In any event, Rotary
clubs are autonomous within the limits of the constitution; it is the
privilege of European clubs to experiment as they please within these
limits. Rotary has long been committed to the policy of permitting
Rotarians of different countries, great latitude in their methods of
expressing the spirit of Rotary in manner best adapted to their
respective needs. The needs of the New World may be one thing; the needs
of the Old World, somewhat different; and all Rotarians find
satisfaction in the adaptability of Rotary. The writer believes that
much progress in the direction of finding a common denominator has been
made; that American clubs are more like European clubs than they once
were; and that European clubs have discovered values in American
activities which were not discernible at first.
The comments of the University committee on fellowship, are of interest,
and especially that part appearing, under the caption, "Is Rotary
Fellowship a Detriment to Service?" It reads substantially as follows:
"The incisive question which must be raised is whether Rotary fellowship
is of a type conducive to service to society or
PAGE H. L. MENCKEN 227
detrimental to it? Are Rotarians "hail fellows, well met" who pay
lip-service to Rotary ideals but who are interested, primarily, in
personal friendships and cordiality; in what might be termed an
in-growing type of fellowship; or are they business and professional
leaders who associate with one another for the promotion of an
outward-looking type of fellowship for the fulfillment of the ideal of
service through individual or group action?"
The answers to the question regarding fellowship which was included in
the questionnaire sent by the committee to the membership of the Chicago
Rotary Club moved the committee to conclude that: "the great majority of
the members are bound together by a warm and deep cordiality which feeds
on itself, is self-sufficient, and furnishes relatively little
inspiration for individual or group action in fulfillment of the service
ideal; and that the type of fellow ship is wholly desirable per se, and
constitutes the psychological foundation for one conception of the
Further on the committee reports: "The type of fellowship prevalent
resembles the type found in social clubs and lodges. This is perhaps as
it should be and in modern urban civilization, with its cold
impersonality and confusion, any type of fellowship, any form of
cordial, personal relations is to be welcomed as a social good. But the
fact remains that fellowship of the prevalent type is not conducive to
the type of service which seems most desirable. The question of policy
must therefore be raised: Should Rotary endeavor by somewhat different
types of programs and group activities to promote a type of fellow ship
different from that caricatured in "Babbitt" and closer
228 THIS ROTARIAN AGE
to the type symbolized by common-spirited devotion to an active and
socially significant program of action?"
It seems to the writer, as before stated; quite in order constantly to
endeavor to improve the programs and thereby increase interest in the
hope that a larger percentage of the membership will become active
participants in the work of Rotary. The reader will bear in mind that
the survey was limited to the Chicago Club, by far the largest club in
the entire movement, and that very large clubs are more likely to be
"listeners" clubs, than discussion clubs. The tendency in the large
clubs is to bring in important speakers from outside the ranks of
Rotary, and the possibilities of general discussions are limited. The
committees of the Chicago Club are much larger than the entire
membership of some of the smaller clubs, and committee meetings to a
certain extent make up for the lack of intimacy between club members in
general. At such meetings, members of common mind and interest
experience the useful fellowship approved by the University committee.
The spirit of criticism is back of all progress. Industry makes rapid
strides because of its spirit of discontent. Progressive industry is
ever exploring new fields, reaching out into the unknown. Any
manufacturer who is content with simply maintaining present standards,
will soon be. out-distanced. The most interesting department of any
great manufacturing establishment is its research department, its
expression of its essential spirit of discontent. Rotary" s greatest
leaders are inspired by discontent. Rotary is not inclined to be
impatient with sincere criticism.
"Wud some power
the gif tie gie us
To see oursels
as ithers see us."
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