THE STORY OF A BOY, A
VERMONT COMMUNITY, AND ROTARY
By PAUL P. HARRIS
1948 First Edition/A.
Kroch & Son1
Virginia Military Academy Iowa Law School '91
RI soft cover
[text and photographs scanned from
a 1948 copy of "My Road to Rotary"]
Nearly all that I know of New England folks and New England mountains
and valleys is the result of observations made through the eyes of a
boy. The boy, of course, is myself but so many years have passed since
the period of the young boy that the old boy can think of him as a
personality apart from himself. Naturally I know the little fellow very
well. Yes, I well know of the dreams, mysticisms, impetuosities and
rascalities of which he was made. They were peppered with impudence and
sweetened with love of the beautiful world in which he found himself and
with love for his aged
made for him
Some folks go to the
mountains for inspiration; some for rest. Learned men write of the
mountains, poets sing of them and artists paint them. The boy takes them
all in his stride. Why should he not? Were mountains made for his
restless feet to climb? High though they may be, his spirit is still
higher. They are his to triumph over. He is exuberant; he is exultant
and his heart over flows with the ecstatic joy of living. The boy is
king of all creation, but, however pitiable it may be, boys must grow to
be men. It is sometimes said that the boy is father to the man; he leads
the man along pathways which his feet have trod. The man can
never get far away from the boy. What the
boy loved, the man loves. Gleanings of the boy shape the course of the
man. The writer of this book has e special reason to be grateful for
what the boy taught him. Love of life in the country; the blessings of a
well regulated New
England home; the importance of
education and devotion to high ideals.
The boy taught
the man the necessity of being tolerant of all forms of religious and
political faiths. He taught him not to be too critical of the views of
others, whatever those views might be. The boy taught the man of the
joys of neighborliness and friendliness and good will toward all. It
took considerable time for these lessons to sink in'the grown-up boy was
too busy having a good time'but I am glad to be able to say that
eventually the man took the teachings of the boy seriously and tried to
extend them to all men.
What is Rotary? Thousands have made answer each in his own way. It is
easier to note what Rotary does than what it is. One recently has said,
If Rotary has encouraged us to take a more kindly outlook on life and
men; if Rotary has taught us greater tolerance and the desire to see the
best in others; if Rotary has brought us pleasant and helpful contacts
with others who also are trying to capture and radiate the joy and
beauty of life, then Rotary has brought us all that we can expect.'
Chicago, October, 1945
Paul P. Harris.
Appendix* - Rotary's
Chapter 1 "Our Arrival in
The tall man took my
clenched fist in his warm, strong hand which was ever so much larger
than father's, with enormous thumbs which made excellent handles for
little boys to hold to when going over rough places and so we walked up
the street, father and Cecil following. This tall man was my
grandfather. It was a solemn procession and the solemnity was emphasized
by the awesome stillness and darkness of the night.
Grandfather, father, Cecil and I turned north at
the first corner, crossed the road and grandfather opened a gate and we
entered a yard. As
we approached the
side veranda of a comfortable looking house, a door opened and a dark-eyed
elderly lady stepped
out into the darkness holding a kerosene lamp above her head and peering
out into the night. She was father's mother and was destined to be mine
as well. Grandmother weighed precisely eighty-nine pounds; never more;
never less. It is said that fine goods come wrapped in small packages
and grandmother was certainly fine goods.
On that summer night she
greeted her son and his two children affectionately but quietly. We
gathered in the dining room and grandmother and father talked matters
over. I was not conscious of what they were saying but I can plainly see
them through the
mists which have been slowly
gathering for more than seventy years.
arose and went into a big pantry, (buttery, she called it) adjoining the
dining room and soon re turned with three yellow earthen bowls, a large
one for father and smaller ones for Cecil and me. A generous loaf of
bread, possessed of virtues beyond any I had ever tasted, soon made its
appearance together with a pitcher of sweet, rich milk fresh from the
udders of the benevolent old family cow, with which I was soon to become
acquainted. Oh yes I nearly forgot the heaping dish of blueberries
plucked from tangled bushes which lifted their heads between the rocks
on mountain sides, triumphantly offering to hungry humans the luscious
harvest which they, in spite of long cold winters, had succeeded in
extracting from sour and sterile soil.
Three chairs were drawn
to the table; one, a high-chair, survivor of previous generations, was
manifestly intended for me, and the feast began. Father and grandmother
continued their conversation as we ate while grandfather listened. We
boys were hungry and had but one matter to attend to'the matter of
The banjo clock, hanging
on the north wall was amazed at the unusual happenings and pointed its
long, scrawny finger warningly at the passing numerals until it finally
succeeded in attracting grandmother's attention, with the result that
she arose suddenly and said, For the Land Sake, Pa Harris, it's
nearly twelve o'clock!' The banjo clock was in no way responsible for
the remission; being both deaf and dumb, it could do nothing further
than to point its warning fingers and that duty, as heretofore related,
There was another clock hanging above the mantel-piece in the adjoining
sitting-room. It also was deaf but it was not dumb. While the best that
the banjo clock could do in the way of giving audible expression to its
thoughts was to emit an entirely meaningless tick-tock, the sitting-room
clock could make itself heard throughout the house and it unhesitatingly
did so whenever it had
anything worth while to say. The
sitting-room clock, working in complete harmony with the dining-room
clock, had been making a rumpus each and every hour during that eventful
The truth was that
grandmother had been preoccupied with the distressing troubles of her
son, my father, and in the multitudinous problems which confronted her
as a result of them. After her startled announcement, we boys were taken
to a bedroom henceforth to be known as our own.
The most conspicuous object which confronted us in our new quarters was
an enormous something which had the appearance of a very sick and
swollen bed. After having been undressed and put into clean nighties,
one after the other, we were lifted high and launched smack into the
middle of the distended stomach of the very sick bed and the next thing
we knew it was morning and we were wondering how to get out of the
predicament in which we found ourselves, almost submerged in the
yielding folds of the mattress which, in honor of our coming, had been
stuffed with clean, fresh straw, sufficient to provide restful and
cooling comfort until the cold nights of autumn would proclaim the
coming of winter and the necessity of providing the amazing bed with an
entirely new stomach, composed of downy, homegrown feathers to keep us
warm during the long, cold nights when winter winds would be howling
like wolves around the corner.
happened that we three, father, Cecil and I, had so disturbed the
serenity of the home life of our early-to-bed paternal grandparents, and
how it happened that the most
important personage of all young families, our mother, was not of the
for explanation. To satisfy those interested, I will state that economic
considerations had made it necessary to divide our family. In other
words, father, having failed in business in the West, had taken us boys
to his paternal home as a refuge, just as thousands of fathers bad done,
and still do, during periods of financial extremity. As our sister, Nina
May, was still an infant in arms,
our mother felt that it would be too much of an imposition on our
grandparents were she to come along. She preferred to carry on
as best she could in Racine, a
beautiful little Wisconsin city on the shores of Lake Michigan, where we
children were born. Mother was a Bryan and the Bryans were proud.
Father had been given a
drug store and a house of his own by grandfather Harris, a
thrifty New Englander, whose indulgence of his son was one of
the reasons why my father found it so difficult to keep income
up and expenses down. Having been given so vigorous a boost at
the beginning, it was quite natural for father to assume that
other boosts would follow as a matter of course. They did for a
time, but eventually, grandfather found it necessary to
liquidate father's business and to establish a new base nearer
his own home where the books could be frequently audited by one
familiar with double-entry' bookkeeping'grandfather
himself. His books, such as they were, were always in balance.
No entries ever had to be made in red.
Little as our
elders realized it at the time, all of the events above related,
even including the liquidation and closing of father's drug
store, proved to be fortunate for us boys. Cecil was to realize
temporary benefits and I was to have the benefit of a well
regulated, permanent home where nothing was ever either over- or
underdone; where ideals were of the highest and education the
While some of the Bryans were disposed to view grandfather Harris'
family from what they were pleased to consider a higher plane, they
would, I fancy, have freely admitted that there was not the slightest
danger that grandfather Harris would ever convert his possessions into
cash, leave his family to shift for itself, and fly away to parts
unknown in search of gold, pearls, diamonds or other so called valuables
as my maternal grandfather had done. It may also as well be stated that
it was my frugal, hard-working New England grandfather Harris who made
the last days of my more brilliant but less provident grandfather Bryan
and his self-sacrificing wife comfortable; and that it was this same
grandfather Harris, who, encouraged by his own sympathetic and
hard-working helpmeet, Pamela Rustin Harris, spread his mantle of
over the needy of all his
descendants. Even to this day the estate of grandmother still stands
open in the records of Rutland county's probate court, one of our family
still being a beneficiary of the small remaining income.
There must have been
great doings, much confusion and some weeping when our family broke up
housekeeping in Racine. It is always a sad piece of business to break up
housekeeping, even in cases where the gloom is not deepened by a sense
of defeat. In the case of our family, the grief must have been
particularly poignant. Everything had been done for my parents and still
they had failed. The future held no bright promise; there was nothing to
fall back upon except the supporting hands of grandfather and
grandmother Harris. It must have been especially humiliating to my
father to return to his native village vanquished and with only dim
hopes to sustain his drooping spirits.
Father, Cecil and I
constituted the vanguard of the refugees; the other members of the
family were to come to Vermont after suitable provision had been made
The incidents above
related were beyond the understanding of Brother Cecil and myself. No
defeatism tortured our souls. So long as we were fed, clothed, kept
comfortable and permitted to do very much as we pleased, all was well.
However, we were now in
our new home, and sad to relate mutiny broke out the very next morning.
She, who soon proved to be Skipper-in-chief, happened at the moment to
be lacing my shoes. Not knowing her exalted position in the family, I
naturally sup posed her to be one of the crew and refused to do her
bidding when she told me to lift my foot. Thinking it high time to put
her where she belonged, I said, You are not my Mamma and I won't
mind you.' The Skipper forthwith called my father to straighten things
out which he did with lasting effect, and I did not question further the
authority of the little elderly lady who, after all, seemed to have
matters well in hand.
Cecil and I promptly and
industriously proceeded to explore the wonders of our new home. What I
discovered and experienced
as the days, months and years went by
will appear in the chapters which follow.
Soon after our arrival
in Wallingford, grandmother saw that the clothes we were wearing were
not suitable for the lives we were to lead and the family seamstress,
Margaret McConnell, was soon at work on a hurry-up order. Margaret was
the personification of patience, otherwise she would never have
succeeded in inducing wriggling, squirming boys to stand still long
enough to have their clothes tried on.'
The entire outfit for
everyday summer wear consisted of waists and pants which were neither
long nor short; how far the latter extended below the knee depended on
how much material there was on hand; the idea being that if they didn't
fit this year, maybe they would next when, presumably, our legs would be
longer. Half way between knee and ankle was considered a safe place to
leave off, high enough to allow for wading in mud and long enough to bag
at the knee according to the prevailing mode. To make suitable allowance
for the fact that next year's boy might be anatomically different from
this year's boy, called for something in the nature of prophetic vision,
and that quality of mind Margaret undoubtedly possessed. Only once did
she fail. On that occasion the extension of my legs was shocking and the
expansion was also considerable. Had I ever succeeded in getting into
Margaret McConnell's creation, nothing but a corkscrew would have pulled
me out again.
Our summertime costume
of those days included, in addition to our waists and our nondescript
panties, broad-brimmed, some times badly torn straw hats. Shoes there
were none nor should there have been. I pity the small boy to whom the
joy of wading in mud puddles and twisting his toes in the long, cool
grass in the early morning hours is unknown. Grandmother knew these
things and forthwith emancipated us from the restrictions of city life.
Every evening, of course, we had to have our feet bathed in hot water
before we were permitted to insert them between the clean, crisp sheets
of our beds but that was a small price to pay for the infinite
satisfaction of being bare-foot boys.
have had a warm spot in his heart for such boys else bow could he have
Chapter 2 "Our
Farm and Mr. Wynne"
The garden demanded far more of the
attention of my grand father and his helper, Mr. Wynne, than both of its
neighbors put together. It required plowing, planting, fertilizing,
hoeing, weeding and potato bug picking all to satisfy the garden. The
orchard uncomplainingly suffered neglect. It could have stood a lot of
spraying and pruning but the best it could get was having the worm nests
burned off when they became too pestiferous for en durance. The hay
field gave bountiful crops of sweet timothy and clover for which it got
nothing in return but a few wheelbarrow loads of cow manure from the
barn yard. The droppings of the hen house, because of their high
nitrogen content, were reserved for the garden, and they were not
distributed lavishly but just so much to each hill in keeping with good
New England husbandry.
It was astonishing how
much good food grandfather and Mr. Wynne could get out of our rocky
garden, the potatoes alone being enough to justify its existence. We
grew ruddy Peach Blows, White Hebron Beauties, Early Rose and,
eventually, Burbanks. Old Mr. Wynne devoted all the space assigned to
him for the growing of potatoes, tatties' he called them. He had
a large family and they needed food. In the autumn he harvested his crop
and trundled it home in his wheelbarrow.
He and I were
great friends. He used to say that I was getting to be a big boy and
when I asked, How big, Mr. Wynner he said that I was
knee-high-to-a-grasshopper and weighed about four pounds less than a
straw hat. He was an old man and quite bent and he often sat down on his
wheelbarrow to rest and smoke his pipe and I often joined him, sitting
on one of the handles of the wheelbarrow. As he tamped his tobacco down
into the bowl of his pipe, scratched a match and lit up, I knew that I
would be welcome and took my accustomed seat.
Sometimes he sat
and smoked reflectively and sometimes he talked quite freely in his
broad Irish brogue. One day I asked him why he talked so funny and he
said that he did not talk funny, that it was I who talked funny and that
they would not be able to understand me at all in Ireland. When I asked
him why he raised so many potatoes he said that he raised them because
he liked to talk with the fairies that were always to be found in the
tattie' patches. He used at times to point out some of his fairy
friends to me but somehow I never could see them.
however, plenty of interesting things which I could see in the garden
all the growing season. In the early spring the lettuce and radishes
began to break their way through the soil, harbingers of good things to
come. The early peas began to climb the bushes provided by grandfather
and the vines of the case knife beans began to climb the poles cut by
Mr. Wynne in Pine Grove and planted in long rows stretching across the
garden. Previous generations of case knife beans had climbed the same
poles in other years and after having been dried and shelled, had
eventually found their way into the big iron pot in which they were
cooked to a delicious brown, covered with strips of pork, and borne
triumphantly, steaming hot, to the dining room table by Delia to gladden
the hearts of folks both old and young.
People from other parts of the
country sometimes wonder how the humble baked bean has been able to hold
its position for generations as prime favorite for Saturday night
suppers served along With cornmeal pudding on the aristocratic tables of
they would not
be so much given to wonder if they once had the privilege of eating
beans and brown bread as those delicious viands are served in New
The beans served
on our table could not have been nearly so inviting if grandmother had
bought them over the counter of a chain store. Our beans were the
product of the toil of Mr. Wynne and grandfather, and therefore they
were extra sweet.
As a matter of
fact grandfather and Mr. Wynne seemed to be of the essence of all of the
edible things which were grown on our miniature farm. The potatoes,
cabbages, beans, onions, turnips, beets and even the Northern Spy apples
seemed wondrously better when we thought of them as our produce grown on
our farm. The milk we drank, the eggs grandfather took from the nests in
the barn and the roasting roosters who learned how to strut and crow in
our barnyard. All of these things were a part of our very selves.
We lived near to
nature in those days; we were part and parcel of the universe and in our
own quiet enjoyment of things, our lives were fuller than they could
have been otherwise.
Mr. Wynne had a
pet toad that hopped along ahead of him, snapping up flies and other
insects as he went and Mr. Wynne was very careful not to step on him or
strike him with his hoe. I think that our toad recognized a certain
kinship with Mr. Wynne, any how, he was never far from him. Every autumn
our toad disappeared and every spring he reappeared entirely forgetful
of the fact that for much of the year he seemed to be nothing more
impressive than a badly soiled chunk of ice.
Mr. Wynne with
his wheelbarrow, his pipe, his tattles, his toad and his fairies was an
interesting person for a little boy to know and then too he was the
father of Mike and Jim, two of the best fighters in school and he was
also the father of Delia, our hired girl.'
Our garden certainly was rocky,
especially in the eyes of folks from more favored spots. I was
exhibiting it once with considerable
pride to a
cousin from the West who took the wind out of my sails by exclaiming,
Oh, I know what that is, that's your rock pile.'
The cow was the
principal beneficiary of the hay field although volunteer crops of
caraway seeds yielded their spice for the delectable cookies which were
eaten between meals by us hungry boys.
August when the weather promised fair, we had our hay-making. No wisps
of grass either in orchard or yard escaped the searching scythe of old
Mr. Wynne and when the hay had been cured and all of the windrows had
been raked into neat little cocks, along came Ab Harrington with his
well matched pair and his capacious hay rick and with the help of old
Mr. Wynne, tucked the entire crop away in the hayloft where it could be
forked into the chute leading down into the manger for the use of our
cow during the winter.
projected eastward between the Arnold Hill farm on the south and the
Alfred Hull farm on the north and the farm mg operations on the two
farms were all of interest. On the floor of the barn at the Hill farm, I
saw grain separated from chaff by the use of an old fashioned flail, the
only one I have ever seen in actual operation.
(father of Fay who later was to become my chum) managed the Hull farm
for Mr. Hull and did some of the light work such as raking hay with a
light horse-power rake. Old Nate Remington, who had worked many years on
the farm, did most of the work with the two-horse team, Bobby and
The Hull farm
barn afforded refuge on rainy days and there were hiding places in
plenty, and when we could think of nothing else to do, we could always
tease old Nate who regarded us as abominations. Once upon a time, he
gave way to his pent up rage and shouted, I'll put the flat hand
on ye,' which I am sure he would have done had he been able to catch
The barn with its hayloft, horse and
cow stables, poultry rooms, Wood and coal bins and meat storage rooms
was an excellent place In the summer time for us boys to paste pictures
of trapeze per formers, tightrope walkers, rifle shots, balloon
clowns and other
celebrities of the circus. Our improvised picture gallery engaged our
attention rainy days. My mania for collecting pictures still continues.
As long as we
kept a cow we continued our small farming operations. Grandmother, not
trusting anyone else to make our butter, made it personally. She
strained the big pails of milk into pans and put them into the pantry to
cool off. In the morning she heated the milk on the stove until a
blanket of cream arose. She then removed the cream with her big skimmer
and put it aside for churning day. Grandfather provided the power for
the churning operation.
cream, justly famed throughout England, is the exact counterpart of the
cream which grandmother skimmed from the milk of our cow. To those who
have been privileged to feast on English strawberries served with
Devonshire cream, no words of mine will be necessary. From such cream
grandmother's butter was made.
The hayfield in
our orchard also yielded considerable crops of daisies and brown-eyed
susans. They were prized for their beauty and also for their faculty of
determining for lovesick boys and girls whether or not their love was
returned. The first petal plucked stood for, He loves me,' the
second, He loves me not' and the last petal told the story to the
The yellow buttercups of the
hayfield, not to be outdone by the daisies, also laid claim to powers
beyond the ken of men. If a little boy wished to know whether or not his
sweetheart loved butter, the buttercups would tell. All that he had to
do was to place a buttercup beneath her chin and if it reflected yellow
thereon, then the adored one loved butter of course. I have tried this
device many times, not that I cared a fig whether the little lady loved
butter or not. I don't, in fact, recall ever having looked beneath my
lady's chin for the tell-tale glow. As I remember, I looked just above
the chin at the rose-petal mouth and the glistening pearls within. Oh
buttercups, buttercups, accomplices in the sweetest of frauds, would
that we could get together again!
"Our 14 Room House"
Evidences of good housekeeping were
to be seen everywhere about our house. The table linen was always
spotlessly clean, and here and there on the surface, a neatly laid patch
was to be seen, mute but eloquent testimony to New England thrift and
loving care. I never see such patches on table linens without an
accompanying flood of tender recollections. They are indicative of the
presence of the spirit that counts; the memory of which, cannot be
obliterated by the passage of years.
Even staunchly built New
England houses may disappear as a result of storm, flood or fire, but
memories of homes where love abides, are imperishable. When one looks
back over a long period of years, much which once seemed important,
fades into insignificance, while other things grow into such commanding
importance that one may in truth say, Nothing else matters.'
Sacrifice, devotion, honor, truth, sincerity, love'these are the homely
virtues characteristic of good, old-fashioned homes.
Grandmother's kitchen was like the
works of a clock; the engine of a motor vehicle; the heart of a human
being. In the kitchen,
the power which
controlled the domestic affairs of the house was generated. The kitchen
was a hive of industry.
Monday was an
especially busy day; all the machinery was put in mesh; even grandfather
had his part. He kept the fire under the stationary boiler burning
briskly, using only white birch wood which fired quickly and produced a
high degree of heat at precisely the right time. Grandfather also kept
the reservoir on the back of the stove full of water available for the
wash tubs or the boiler as Delia might need. Soft water only was
considered fit for washing dishes, for washing clothes on Mondays, or
for our tub baths on Saturday nights. Soft water, homemade soft soap,
and soft wood fires under the boiler were an unbeatable combination in
the war against uncleanliness. The pump at the sink in the kitchen never
failed to yield the needed supply of soft water from the cistern and the
spout in the summer kitchen was equally faithful in its undertaking to
supply all needs of cold hard water for drinking, cooking, refrigeration
and sewage disposal purposes.
The kitchen was
versatile indeed; it could turn its talents to service as a bakery on
bake days, a dairy on butter making days, a butcher shop during sausage
making, trying out lard and salting meats. The duties of the kitchen
also included a hundred and one unclassified services such as canning
fruit, rag rug making, etc., etc.
Of course the
kitchen had the summer kitchen to fall back on when its own resources
were overtaxed. The summer kitchen was supplied with a sink of its own
in which dishes could be washed in case the kitchen sink was being used
for other purposes. All the churning was done in the summer kitchen,
grandfather supplying what Mr. Jerome Hilliard might have designated as
kitchen was the repository of the rag bag into which all surplus rags
were put and held for the coming of the ragman. The rag bag played an
important part in our domestic economy as it paid for all brooms,
dusters, tin ware and other odds and ends.
The summer kitchen was provided with
a coal bin and space for neat piles of wood sufficient for immediate
needs. There was, 50
r as I know,
never any jealousy between the kitchen and the e summer kitchen. The
kitchen knew that it was the hub of our little universe and the summer
kitchen was content to play a subordinate role.
The kitchen was
also blessed with two butteries (pantries), the larger of the two
opening into the dining room, thus saving many steps. The dishes, all
except chinaware, were also kept in the larger of the two butteries;
there were also three barrels, one of which contained wheat flour, one
buckwheat flour, and the third sugar. Kitchen utensils, eggs and many
other household utilities, were kept in the larger of the two butteries.
buttery was reserved for milk, cooked meats, fruit and other food which
needed to be kept cool. This small buttery was protected all the year
round against even the most penetrating rays of the sun. Winter
accumulations of snow along the outer wall of this small buttery
remained late in the spring after it had disappeared elsewhere, except
perhaps from the top of Killington Peak. To grandmother, the larger
buttery was always the south buttery' and the smaller one the
north buttery,' but by what process of reasoning I have never known, as
both butteries had been wisely located on the north side of the house.
Of course the
kitchen could not have played its stellar role so successfully had it
not been for the huge, three-roomed deep cellar which kept bulky
vegetables and fruits extra cool even in the summer months. The potatoes
of course had to be sprouted when the warm days served notice that the
sun had issued its annual proclamation to all living things to come out
and get warm.
Our great box
refrigeration through which the cold spring water Incessantly flowed on
its way to the lavatory played an especially Important part during the
period when we had our cow. The butter was made in the summer kitchen,
after which it was stored in big earthen crocks and placed in the great
box where it was kept cool by the constantly flowing water.
Vermont farmers, who were fortunate
enough to have springs near their houses, frequently built small houses
over them and
walls the dairy operations were conducted and the dairy products stored
for use by the family or for sale when accumulated in sufficient
quantities. Butter and eggs were sold at the store where the family
traded, or, in some cases, exchanged for needed commodities. Cool spring
houses with their odors of fresh cream and butter were about the
sweetest places there were on old-fashioned farms and how refreshing it
was to step into the spring house on hot days in summer.
The water from
the spring was generally carried through pump logs to the barnyard where
hot, thirsty horses, coming in from the fields, could refresh themselves
in contentment and where all other farm animals could enjoy the cool,
flowing water. Modem electric refrigerators may be more efficient but
they never can match the sweetness of the old-fashioned spring houses of
In the old days
many farm women made cheese as well as butter but that practice ceased
when the cheese factories came. Vermont green cheese, sometimes called
sage cheese, gained an enviable reputation throughout the state and
throughout New England. I can still see our cheese maker, Martin
Williams, with his mortar and pestle preparing his sage for use in his
great vats of curds. It was his custom to mix tender clover leaves with
the sage so that it would not taste too strong. Alas! the cheese making
industry in Vermont was short lived as it was replaced by the famous
Herkimer County New York State cheese long before Wisconsin became the
cheese making state of America.
the next in order. Cheese factories were turned into creameries and
Vermont farmers brought their whole milk and took away the skimmed milk
to be fed to their pigs just as before.
The cream was separated from the
milk, cooled and placed in large cans which were put into heavy stuffed
jackets and shipped by fast trains to Boston or New York where it
arrived in time for breakfast. This practice with some refinements still
continues and doubtless will continue until the aeroplane changes the
thrifty Vermont farmers have their own cream separators now.
compared with many New England houses our
house is not old, even
now being only one hundred years old or thereabouts; that is to say that
it is only about as old as the city of Chicago where houses quickly come
and go. It is as staunch to-day as when built and, if no untoward
circumstances disturb the serenity of its mounting years, it is
doubtless destined to be really old, even In the New England sense,
sometime in the centuries to come.
automobiles on the Ethan Allen Highway, it is distinguishable by two
large letters H.H.' worked out in the pattern of its imperishable
roof of slate. The letters stand
for Howard Harris, my benefactor and grandfather. The house is now owned
by Mr. and Mrs. R. C. Taft who have raised a fine family in it.
How the house
happened to be built so recently was due to a misfortune which at the
time seemed calamitous. The original residence was destroyed by fire one
Christmas night. The fire began in grandfather's store which, for
convenience, had been built near the house.
Of the days of
the reconstruction of the house, I have never learned anything except
the fact that the versatile carpenter employed his spare hours, when the
weather interfered with his building operations, in making grandfather a
pair of fine boots. In conformity with the prevailing fashion they were
made to reach nearly to the knees, although shoes would have been far
more comfortable and equally serviceable.
These boots were light in weight,
very soft and pliable and they served him as best boots for nearly forty
years. During that period, they were worn every Sunday and when
grandfather was traveling; in fact, on all special occasions and, when
he was finally '˜aid away, his weary feet were tenderly placed in the
soft, pliable top boots made by the versatile carpenter.
"Mr. Webster Makes a Dive"
The yarns related were not
distinguished for their originality; in fact, the same story was
frequently told over and over again, sometimes on one person and
sometimes on another. The truth was sometimes accidentally spoken but
the practice of speaking the truth was looked down upon. If no one else
laughed at one's story, the man who told it always could and did, and
that helped some; funny stories sound forlorn and hopeless if no one
thinks enough of them to laugh.
Mr. Asa Webster, grandfather's aged
clerk, differed from the others; under no circumstance would he laugh at
his own story; he stood so straight that he leaned backward in this
respect. He generally looked lugubrious and sad when he told a story,
very much as if he had a suspicion that someone might doubt his
Asa Webster was considered the most
distinguished liar in Wallingford, a position of which he was
justifiably proud. His reputation drew about him a school of embryonic
liars very much as Plato and Socrates drew about themselves the budding
philosophers of Athens; Wallingford was in fact the Athens of liars.
to gather evenings at grandfather's
store for practice and to profit from Asia's words of wisdom. He, like
many other great artists, was temperamental; he could brook no rivalry.
Whenever his supremacy seemed threatened by the younger element, it was
his custom to cram more wood into the stove until the smoke, or rather
until the heat, drove the pretenders out. On the occasion in question,
he overdid it; the store and then the house caught fire.
When he was asked how he escaped from
the terrible conflagration, Asa is said to have replied that he put on
his stovepipe hat and his long-tailed coat and then, after having run a
few steps to gain momentum, he dived through the smoke and flame and
through a pane of glass out into the open. When some doubting Thomas
asked, How big was the pane of glass, Mr. Webster?' he
unhesitatingly answered, seven by nine inches.' Some of Asia's
best lies were extemporaneous. He was a natural.
Grandfather never rebuilt his store
but Asa Webster built a house and store across the street. His emporium
was the progenitor of the modern five-and-ten cent store, though his
patronage consisted mostly of boys whose maximum expenditures were one
cent, not five.
Mr. Webster entered the merchandising
field against stiff competition. Beside the general store, the dry-goods
store, and the hard ware store, there were several merchants who like
himself were specialists. Luther Tower dealt in sweets'candy and honey
mostly. George Tower sold lemons, crackers and dried herring. George
Edgerton specialized in soda-water, licorice, nuts of sundry kinds and
ages, and all-day suckers. Obadiah Makepeace sold a highly specialized
line of household necessities.
These merchants were all fine
gentlemen and Obadiah Make- peace was a genius in the art of
salesmanship. If he ran out of one of his specialties, he generally
managed to get his customer to buy another, even though the two
commodities might be entirely unrelated. For instance, it was said that
one of Obadiah's customers called at his emporium one day for some
kerosene oil, and, having run out of that household necessity, Obadiah
is said to have answered,
I am sorry, I have no kerosene
oil this morning, but I have some excellent New Orleans molasses.'
Obadiah had a habit of bowing,
smiling and wringing his hands as he made such remarks which had
hypnotic effects on prospective customers making them want to buy
whatever was offered. Even such a switch as that from kerosene oil to
molasses seemed not so very remarkable to those who knew Obadiah.
In an emergency such as that above
described most salesmen would have run up the white flag; not so
Obadiah. Any man, woman or child entering his emporium with a coin in
his pocket, was en titled to a run for his money and that is exactly
what Obadiah gave them. Not until the door was closed behind the
departing customer was the battle given up, or rather, postponed.
It seems a pity that such a gentleman
should have had to suffer from so grievous a malady as epileptic fits
and it was also unfortunate that they had the effect of transforming
this mild, gray- haired gentleman into something resembling a
head-hunting Igorot of the Philippines. To us boys, Obadiah's reversion
to the elemental constituted an interesting break in the current events
of the day.
I remember seeing him running down
the street once upon a time apparently in hot pursuit of a fleshy
French-Canadian woman, a respectable citizen of our town. It was a
torrid day and the fat lady was wholly unprepared for the kind of
marathon in which she found herself inadvertently entered but she
managed to cover considerable ground in an increditable short period of
time after she discovered Obadiah in pursuit. For every masculine yell
Obadiah emitted, Angelina let out a feminine scream. If this episode
caused me or my playmates anything in the nature of heartbreaking grief,
it has escaped my memory. I do remember that we were deeply interested
in the race. Angelina was a few steps in the lead; could she hold it?
Some imps of Satan manifested their partisan ship by yelling Go
it, Obadiahi', while others manifested theirs by adjuring Angelina to
Shake a leg, for the love of Mike.'
As I am writing of times
which preceded the invention of the cash register, I have no means of
knowing what the average daily
take of these specialty
stores of Wallingford was; on high days and holidays, perhaps a dollar;
perhaps two. On the Sabbath day, everything was locked tighter than a
Illustrative of the
occasional prodigality of Vermont young man hood, I remember hearing a
farmer boy from Sugar Hill, some what boastfully perhaps, exclaim to
George Tower, the purveyor of crackers, lemons and dried herring,
What do I care about expense to-day; it's the fourth of July, give me
another dried herring.' George, in seeming approval of the patriotic
sentiment expressed, affected the desired exchange and the one-cent
piece was deposited in the cracker box which served as a cash drawer.
Measured in terms of
dollars and cents the little specialty stores of Wallingford were
failures but their social advantages were beyond price; they afforded
their aged owners something to occupy their minds. Tending store was
better than moping about the house, nuisances to everyone, even to
themselves. Such stores were also of value to the other old men who
visited them because they afforded them social outlets. The labor of
tending store was negligible; in fact, George Edgerton used to lie on a
couch all day long and into the evening, and, if the unexpected happened
and someone wanted to make a purchase, George waited upon him as soon as
he recovered from his surprise.
Hours meant nothing to
such merchandisers; their stores were connected with their houses and
the store bell could be heard day and night. No New England storekeeper,
aspiring to create a cultural center, needed to languish long in vain
desire. A circle of comfortable chairs surrounding a base burner stove
and a sizeable cuspidor or coalhod within firing range of the tobacco
juice sharp shooters, who took pride in their marksmanship, would lure a
coterie of gentlemen of leisure during the winter months as certainly as
molasses would draw flies in summer.
There being various
stores in which one could loaf without being expected to spend money it
was customary for each loafer to make his selection and become one of
the dependables. Lee Simonds, for instance, owed allegiance to
Edgerton's a then prevalent
type of drugless drug
store; Alonzo Canfield to Sabin's tin and hardware shop. Alonzo was a
man of exceedingly few words; in fact, I cannot remember of his having
said anything, except when someone asked, How are you to-day,
Lon?', he answered that inquiry with one word and one word only,
bilious,' accompanied by a wry look and by an expectoration without
visible results. I always thought that Lon was trying to spit his
billiousness out; he had plenty of powder but no shot. It seemed to me
that it would have been better for him to have learned to chew tobacco,
then he would have had something to show for his efforts. I think it
would have been more satisfactory to his fellow citizens to have seen
something coming when Lon went through the motions of expectorating.
My grandfather was never
known to spend an hour at any other store than Webster's. Ephraim
Hewlett was an habitue of the store of his son Danforth, of whom he was
very proud. Roz Sherman was an experienced loafer as were also his
nondescript and hungry hounds, although their interest was centered more
on the cracker barrel, from behind which they were frequently and
unceremoniously kicked. Wallingford boys scattered their patronage about
visiting several stores and factories during the course of an afternoon
or evening, drinking in the words of wisdom so liberally scattered
about. Calvin Townsend's drug store; Luther Tower's candy shop; George
Tower's emporium; Ben Crapo's dry goods store; the sash and door
factory, big and rambling and redolent of the odor of pine; Harshie
Ensign's grocery store; Obadiah Make- peace, sundries, all had their
Then there was Charlie
Clag horn's livery stable; William Ballot's grist mill; Martin Williams'
cheese factory; John Misfire's ox bow shop; Frank Hadley's snow shovel
factory; the cider midi; one- legged Mr. Pratt's shop, where
wooden overcoats' guaranteed to fit and to give wearers perfect
satisfaction (sometimes called coffins) were made; Polite'
Johnson's harness shop; Johnnie Adair's tombstone factory; Jim Dolan's
barber shop with the shoemaker's shop adjoining; Dr. Eddy's photographic
studio and dental laboratory
where boys had their
teeth extracted without gas; the Wallingford Hotel, run successively by
Horace Earle and Lyle Vance for the accommodation of commercial
travelers who seldom came and soon went; Joe Randall's and old man
Clark's blacksmith shops; Jerome Hilliard's wagon shop, and last and by
far the most important of all, the Batcheller pitchfork factory.
All of the above named
stores and places played major or minor parts in the economic and social
life of Wallingford.
The first building of
the fork factory is said to be the oldest of its kind in the United
States. For more than one hundred years, it has been known as the
Old Stone Shop.' It has housed many successive industries since it was
used by the Batchellers. During my day, it was known as the oxbow
factory. In recent years, it has been converted into the Old Stone
Shop Tea-room' and is admired and patronized by many tourists traveling
along the Ethan Allen Highway.
Chapter 5 "Church Reveries"
Whatever else the members did they
could not have been guilty of certain of the improprieties of the
present day. They would not, for instance, have turned around in their
seats and nodded to friends or neighbors. They had to bear ever in mind
that they were in the house of God.
Saturday nights we were given
scrubbings in the wash tub in the kitchen and on Sundays we had to dress
up and go to church and Sunday school. Upon our return, we could throw
off unnecessary impediments, put on fresh, clean waists and enjoy
ourselves within prescribed limits. We could walk in the orchard and eat
apples, currants, black raspberries or such fruits as were in season. We
could read books but we could not run and play unless we did so in
remote parts of our premises beyond the reach of grand mother's eyes. We
could not leave home nor were our friends permitted to come to see us.
The latter provision was hardly necessary because our usual playmates
were also prohibited from going beyond the confines of their yards.
When our cousins from Rutland were
visiting us we could, of course, enjoy each other's company. All New
were expected to be little grown-ups
on the Sabbath Day; the ecstatic joys were for other days. I cannot,
however, remember having been bored by New England Sabbaths; they
afforded me an opportunity to plan my campaign for the coming six days.
The Reverend Aldace Walker was the
minister of our church and his long white beard seemed to qualify him
for his saintly role. To this day when one speaks of the prophets
of old,' there comes to me a vision of Reverend Aldace Walker in
flowing dressing gown, pitcher in hand, going to the village pump for
his supply of cold spring water. He was loved and revered by the members
of his congregation.
Reverend Aldace Walker was eventually
succeeded by Reverend Elija Huntoon and he by the Reverend Gamaliel
Dillingham, who must have been a very holy man if one were to judge by
the length of his prayers and sermons and his solemn appearance. It was
the Reverend Camaliel's custom to begin his Sunday morning prayer by
asking blessings on all those occupying positions of authority.
Beginning with the President of the United States and continuing down
through the entire directory of federal and state officials; he even
threw in a few kings and queens for good measure. I used to be surprised
at the number of notables on his list and at his lavish prodigality in
the bestowal of the Lord's blessings. If anyone was overlooked it was no
fault of the Reverend Gamaliel, and maybe the Lord would make up for it
An apostate by the name of Dannie
Foley, manservant of Mrs. Ranney and her son, Willie, of New York, who
summered in Wallingford, put it in his own way when he said, Why
in the name of Heaven don't the Reverend Camaliel say, '˜God bless them
all, black, white, green and yellow' and let it go at that?' If left to
his own initiative, Dannie would seldom, if ever, have found his way to
the Ranney pew, but attendance at church being part of his job, he had
to sit and take it with as good grace as possible. He would gladly have
collaborated with the Reverend Gamaliel in the abbreviation of his
sermons had he been called upon to do so. I know from what I heard
Dannie say that he thought long sermons
threatened to wreck the country we
all hold dear and that they were more devastating by far than storm or
My own position as I remember it, was
a compromise between the e of the Reverend Gamaliel's and Dannie's
views, with a gentle leaning toward Dannie's. I cannot say that I
remember very much that was said by the ministers of our church during
my childhood days. I think their sermons were over my head,' but
I did enjoy the singing of our mixed quartette who did far better than
might have been expected, and, in the quiet and refined atmosphere of
that old New England Church, my thoughts may have been raised to a
higher plane than would have been the case had I spent my time
elsewhere. There was something peaceful about it all and a sense of
propriety and well-being.
At times my thoughts rose to exalted
heights as I pondered the heroic battles of Frank Nelson, as related in
Frank on a Gun Boat,' and my heart went out to the good old slave,
Cudjoe, in the hair-raising predicaments in which he found himself as
related in the thrilling story, Cudjoe's Cave.' My only regret
was that Providence had, for some inexplicable reason, cast me upon
unromantic shores. However, I would make the best of matters for the
time being; perhaps someday I would become either a soldier, sailor or a
locomotive engineer. I might some day enjoy the privilege of fighting
battles and sailing tempestuous seas and then returning to Wallingford
all dressed up in clothes with brass buttons to dazzle the eyes of
Wallingford's pretty girls, while I appeared to be supremely indifferent
and confined myself strictly to the business of being a hero. Indulgence
in such mental journeys was in no respect interfered with by the
Reverend Gamaliel's sermons; in tact, my flights of fancy seemed
stimulated by them, and at times the Reverend Gamaliel played his part
in my world of dreamland. In the twinkling of an eye, I could convert
our solemn parson into a wild man of Borneo, or into whomsoever else I
chose. On the whole the church was a very helpful influence.
Possibly at infrequent times
something in the nature of a spirit of reverence possessed me as I sat
in the family pew between
grandfather and grandmother, although
my thoughts more frequently flew away to the hills and my eyes were more
frequently fixed on a tree just outside the window than upon the face of
the preacher. Sometimes birds came and sat upon the branches of the tree
and there made love to each other or quarreled, as their moods might be.
They seemed entirely oblivious of the fact that it was the Sabbath day
and that the Reverend Camaliel was turning the searchlight of the spirit
into the dark recesses of the souls of the members of the Congregational
Church of Wallingford; little pagans were they.
was something distinctly New England in the crisp rustle of the clean,
prim dresses of the women, and a fragrance of perfume, sparingly used,
was in the air. If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then New England
women must be among the elect.
Grandmother's dress was always suitable for the day. Her black silk gown
and the few simple ornaments that went with it, seemed especially
appropriate on Sunday mornings. It served many years as did
grandfather's Sunday suit and overcoat, his Sunday-go-to
meetings,' so to speak. Did grandmother have a Paisley shawl? She
certainly did. So did Aunt Mel and all other women whose husbands could
afford them. Paisley shawls were badges of gentility. Aunt Mel also had
a sealskin coat; it was given to her by grandfather. I think Aunt Lib
also had a sealskin coat which was later given by her to Cousin Mary.
That made two sealskin coats in one family. How is that for high?
Grandfather's every day clothes were well sponged and mended though they
bore evidences of wear and were faded. His every day overcoat was a
familiar sight about town. An older and bigger boy once sneeringly
remarked, Here comes old Harris with his mouse colored overcoat.'
Had I been big enough to do so, I would have smitten him down. No one
knew better than I why grand father made his clothes last so long. No
one knew better than I that the frugality that characterized his life
had a purpose back of it'the purpose of serving them whom he loved.
Grandmother made herself responsible for the tidy appearance of both
grandfather and myself on Sunday mornings. One of the familiar and
homely sights early in the morning in those days was grandmother giving
grandfather's ears and neck a scrubbing with a well soaped cloth and
greasing his boots with chicken fat to make them clean, soft and
pliable. One of her wrists was permanently lame due to an injury in
former years and such tasks must have been difficult, but never once did
I hear her complain and grandmother's lame wrist came in time to mean to
me a badge of honor.
I happened to cough during church service, grandmother would hand me a
slice of sweet flagroot prepared by her own hand. The sugar coating was
a bit too sweet and the root itself a bit too bitter but her kindness
left its impression. I have never gotten over my habit of coughing.
Spells continue to come at inopportune times, especially in church, and
now it is another kind hand that plunges into a reticule and emerges
with a soothing lozenge, the hand of my Scotch wife, Bonnie
Jean,' fourth in order of the balms of John and Annie Thomson of
Toward the latter part of grandfather's life, he frequently fell asleep
during the sermon and the droning voice of the minister seemed to
aggravate his infirmity. It therefore became my self- imposed task to
keep him awake during the service. I could best accomplish this purpose
best by folding my legs in such a manner as to bring my toe into
proximity to his foot which also was ex tended. My toe frequently
touched his a score of times during the course of the long-drawn out
sermons and it seems to me now that my toe must have acted from force of
habit rather than from any deep-seated conviction that grandfather could
find more stimulation in the sermon than in the lovely little catnaps
from which I so frequently awoke him.
were two semi-sacred days, if that term can be used, Thanksgiving Day
and Fast Day. Church services were held in the morning on both days at
the customary hour. We were told at the Thanksgiving Day service how
thankful we should be and why;
mention being made however, of the prospective turkey dinner, the very
heart's core of Thanksgiving Day. I thought that at least a passing
mention should have been made of the Turkey and Chicken Shoot'
going on almost within hearing distance.
the benefit of those who have never seen a New England turkey and
chicken shoot,' I will say that in my day, it cost ten cents for a shot
at a chicken and twenty-five cents for a shot at a turkey; the birds
going to those who succeeded in drawing blood. Certain thrifty Vermont
farmers, not hampered by church-going habits, made it a business to
market their flocks in this manner and they saw to it that it required
exceptional marksmanship to bag a bird. The birds were tied to stakes on
a hill side which seemed to me to be miles away. Exceptional marksmen
were sure of their birds but they were not permitted to repeat. Others
seldom drew blood and it was their dimes and quarters that made turkey
and chicken shoots profitable to their sponsors.
Day had slipped considerably from the rigors of Colonial times; in fact,
the feasts of Fast Day had become their distinguishing feature. Owing to
the fact that Fast Day dinners were served after church service, they
were usually good. I heartily believed in Fast Days and thought that
their observance should be kept up. Church going on Fast Day was
elective in our household and I did not elect to attend.
Chapter 6 "The
Bells of Wallingford"
There is nothing more likely to cause
a church bell to crack up than getting mixed in its theology but the
theology of our bell was sound; that is to say, it was a Congregational
bell. Its resonant voice rang out twice every Sunday morning. There was
the early bell and the late bell. The early bell summoned all persons
within the sound of its voice to abandon worldly pursuits and cajoled to
church forthwith. It was evangelistic in its fervor; it pleaded
deprecated, warned and cajoled. It worked itself into a fury of
passionate and wild crescendo. It turned somersaults, cartwheels
and handsprings. At times in mad
caprice, it threatened to hurl itself from the belfry. It was difficult
to associate staid and sober Captain Johnson with such a delirious and
unaccountable bell. It must be remembered, however, that Captain Johnson
had never been marked for his piety; he never went to Friday evening
prayer meetings nor did he partake of the bread and wine on communion
The late bell was tolled in well
timed strokes; it indulged in no such exuberance of spirit as did the
early bell; it was reproachful and condemnatory, far more in keeping
with the character of Captain Johnson as we knew him in every day life.
Each stroke was a solemn proclamation of what might be expected by folks
who failed to repent of their sins and come to church.
In the belfry of another church
barely two squares distant, at precisely the same minute, another bell
began to cavort and go through convulsions of its own, all to the same
intent and purpose. In fact, it aped and mimicked the Congregational
bell but it was not nearly so sound in its theological conceptions. It
lived in the belfry of the Baptist Church. It must have had a Captain
Johnson or his equivalent of its own though who he was I never knew. I
suspected that it might be Seward Ainsworth who was organist, choir
leader, soloist, Sabbath School superintendent, Justice of the Peace and
sundry other things.
One of the most irrational
assumptions of the Baptist bell was that salvation depended upon
complete submersion and that meant a breath taking sousing of the
penitents by the minister in the frigid waters of Otter Creek. Church
members and other spectators could sit on the opposite bank and witness
the ceremony if they chose to do so and little boys, of course, always
chose. It was a thrilling sight to see red bearded and upright Reverend
Henry Archibald, stiff and solemn, lead shivering sinners out over
slippery stones to where the waters ran swift and deep, plunge them
beneath the surface, then lead them, coughing and choking, to shore,
washed,' as the Psalmist expressed it, whiter than snow.'
All of these proceedings were,
supposedly, in keeping with the doctrines of the Baptist bell; at least
it can be said that the Baptist bell never kicked up any fuss on such
occasions but remained serenely silent throughout it all. In other words
it held its tongue and thereby set an example for humans to follow in
cases of doctrinal differences of opinion. Whether the Baptist bell held
its tongue in its cheek or elsewhere is not known, but in any event its
tongue did not wag and that was a blessing. New Englanders know what a
mischief-maker a wagging tongue can be.
The wise old Congregational bell knew
that there was a screw loose in the Baptist bell's thinking and
therefore all the more loudly proclaimed the virtue of sprinkling as a
means of accomplishing the mutual purpose. The debate waxed furious and
even became acrimonious at times. Ejaculations, epithets, accusations,
innuendos, iterations and re-iterations were bandied back and forth. It
was a conglomeration of the doctrines of Calvin, Knox and Wesley with a
somber Johnathan Edwards undertone.
There was a Catholic church in
Wallingford but having no bell of its own, it could not take part in the
argument; the best that the Catholic church could do under the
circumstances was to lay low and grind its teeth, if it had any. What it
would have said had it not been speechless is open to conjecture. it is
however fair to assume that it would never have yielded its air rights
to its clamorous neighbors.
Whatever else may have been claimed
for the Wallingford church bells, and there was much in their favor, it
can hardly be contended that they exercised a unifying influence in the
community. It might have been better if they had gotten together and
talked things over instead of getting so excited. Possibly they might
have compromised, each admitting, for the time being, that there were
three available and well blazed trails to the Kingdom.
However the church bells were not
always contentious. On sad occasions when villagers had passed to the
mystic beyond, no jargon of argumentative bells announced the fact. Each
bell did so in its own distinctive and obstinate way. The consensus was
whether the passing
neighbor had been in life theologically right or theologically wrong,
sound or unsound, in death his remains were entitled to quiet and
peaceful interment and it was then too late to do anything about the
matter anyway. So it was left to the church bells to herald the passing
of their respective members; the other bell remaining in reverential
silence. On such occasions one stroke was tolled for each year of the
life of the deceased. At the first solemn stroke villagers threw down
their work whatever it happened to be. Housewives, doing their washing,
withdrew their hands from foaming suds, gave them a hasty wipe on towel
or apron, and, with bated breath, ejaculated, Some one's dead!'
Then began the count, one, two, three, and as the approximate age of
every villager was known, it was not difficult for the church bell to
convey its message. As the count of the strokes continued, one heard
such remarks as, Thank God, it isn't Millie!' I can see
grandmother in memory as she stood one day on our back porch counting
the lugubrious strokes''eighty eight, eighty nine, ninety!' then
turning to grand father and saying, It's Mr. Lovett, Pa; he has
gone to his eternal rest; well, he lived a long and good life; been
ailing for a long time; he's deserving of a rest.' No theological
distinctions marked the resting places in the cemetery, Congregational
family lots and Baptist family lots were interspersed among each other.
Being more or less mixed
in my theological conceptions, I used at times on Sunday evenings, while
sitting on the threshold of the kitchen door, eating my usual Sunday
evening repast of bread and milk, hold clandestine trysts with the
notoriously unsound Baptist bell. It was within range of my vision and
we became quite friendly. As the Baptist bell went through its
contortions in supreme effort to bring the hard shell Baptists out to
Sunday evening meeting, the swallows, who didn't believe in such
demonstrations, flew madly about until quiet was restored and they could
return to their homes in the belfry.
There were other bells;
in fact, Wallingford was a village of bells, the tintinnabulations of
which were heard far and wide.
There was the shop bell
and the school bell. In winter after a carpet
of snowy white had
spread itself over hills, roads and roof tops, there were tinkling
sleigh bells without number.
None of these last named
bells were sectarian in character, nor were they in any sense of the
word devisive. The shop bell summoned the workers of the village to come
from their various homes to the shop, there to earn their daily bread
midst the din of heavy trip hammers and clanging steel. The workers
included Irish, French-Canadians and Americans. None was very rich; none
The school bell summoned
all the young folks; Sons and daughters of Congregationalists, Catholics
and Baptists. In the public school they were all served alike under the
benign influence of teachers consecrated to their tasks. They were as
one family the members of which were worthy of the friendship and esteem
one of the other.
The bells of Wallingford
threw aside all differences on occasions when homes, stores or shops got
on fire during the night. There being no linguistic difficulties, they
all set up the same cry, Wake up! There is a fire; bring along
your water pails,' and again, on the night preceding the Fourth of
July, either of the two church bells which happened not to be guarded by
a vigilant sexton, was likely to break the silence of the night with an
infernal din which was not so much a celebration of the Declaration of
Independence as it was an announcement of the fact that mischievous boys
had eluded the watchfulness of parents and were for the time being in
possession of the town.
It was even rumored at
times that the grave and solemn sextons of the churches were not always
particularly averse to such out breaks of lawlessness but rather
contrived to egg them on. How ever in one instance it is reported that
the boys climbed into the belfry, attached a stout piece of string to
the clapper of the bell and threw the other end of the string into the
shrubbery, thus making it possible to ring the bell from the outside. On
that occasion, the sexton, thinking to make a capture of the offenders,
climbed stealthily up into the belfry but watchful boys followed, locked
the door of the
stairway, leaving the sleuth to enjoy the jubilant music of the bells
during the remainder of the night.
To hungry boys, the most
welcome of all was the dinner bell which, in the strong hands of mother
or the hired girl, announced the fact that savory and satisfying food
had been placed piping hot on the dining room table and was ready for
business. Where is there a well organized and healthy boy who will fail
to throw down bat or ball or even abandon his intended slide to second
or third base when he hears the sweet voice of his own dinner bell?
There was no need of
announcement of what the feast was to be; it announced itself the moment
the kitchen door was thrown open. It couldn't have been more
intelligible if the corned beef, salt pork, cabbage, turnips, beets and
onions had thrust their heads up out of the boiling pot and yelled in
chorus, New England boiled dinner for you, my boy. Pull up your
chair and prepare to get busy. Don't mind about washing your face; you
washed your face yesterday. What matter if you do track the kitchen and
dining- room floors a bit, it's good, clean mud and what's a mop for any
how? Throw your hat at the nail on the wood-shed door and we will do
what we can to please you.'
Even if the steamed
cornmeal pudding had thrust its head from beneath its own popping cover
and yelled, Don't forget me, my boy, I am coming along later,' it
would have added nothing to the convincing appeal of olfactory nerve
aroused by the gods of hunger. If one wants to catch a bird, put salt on
its tail; if one wants to catch a boy, tickle his olfactory nerve.
There were also bells
perched on the tops of locomotives; they gave warning to village folks
gathered at the station for the purpose of boarding cars or seeing
friends off on journeys to Rutland, nine long miles distant. One
shudders to think how many fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers would
have been run down by the cruel, ruthless iron wheels had it not been
for the warning voice of the locomotive bell rung so lustily by the
fireman sitting opposite his majesty, the locomotive engineer, who in
regal pomp bore the responsibility for the preservation of the lives of
scores of passengers
living along the line.
The throne of the Caesars could not have compared in august splendor
with the cab of the locomotive familiarly known as Green Mountain
Boy.' His majesty the loco motive engineer bore his honors without
undue pride considering his exalted position. He sometimes even deigned
to look down and wink at adoring little boys, who had resolved to rise
some day to the same exalted heights and inspire little boys of coming
In the summertime,
cowbells on the necks of leaders served to keep the herds together in
mountain pasturelands, and sometimes even the tinkle of sheep bells was
The most joyous of all
bells in Wallingford were without doubt the sleigh bells. How they rang
out! especially after the first snow fall in late autumn. Downy flakes
falling silently in the night had carpeted the earth in pure white. What
happy surprise to youngsters, who, jumping from warm featherbeds,
tumbled into their clothes and glanced out of the windows on sights
unknown. No farmer or villager who had a horse was too poor to own
sleigh bells. Their joyous clamor announced that the time for winter
sports had come. There would be sleigh rides without number and coasting
on the hills.
There would be snow men
to be fashioned with pipes in their mouths. There would be snow houses
to be lived in and snow forts to be assaulted with flying missiles made
of snow. There would be moon light sleigh rides and a world of romance
for giggling boys and girls, snuggled beneath buffalo robes in clean
crisp yellow straw spread thick on the bottoms of sleds drawn by high
stepping greys, blacks or bays, with their belts of jingling bells. Even
the horses seemed to sense the spirit of it and to welcome the
transformation from dull brown to crystal white.
Yes, the jolliest of all
bells were the dancing, rollicking sleigh bells of winter. Would once
again I might experience the ecstatic joys of boyhood as they sprang up
in my heart on the mornings of late autumn after the first fall of snow.
sledges with the bells, Silver bells!
What a world of merriment
their melody foretells!
How they tinkle,
In the icy air
While the stars that over
sprinkle all the Heavens
seem to twinkle with a
Keeping time, time, time in a
sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinabulation
that so musically wells
From the bells,
bells, bells, bells
From the jingling and the
tinkling of the
"Buttercup, Queen of the Pasture"
Many years after the events here
recorded, Cecil, suffering bodily ailments painfully manifest to
relatives and friends, invariÂably stoutly insisted that add was
well. If he knew what fear was, he never admitted it. One of the
last things he said to me as his sun was about to set was, "Whatever
else may be said of me, no one will ever be able to say truthfully
that I didn't enjoy life while it lasted/' True to the last word and
syllable, my brother!
Of all my many sins
the one I most regret was the one of strikÂing you, my dear
brother. One summer day in Wallingford, in a burst of anger I shot
my fist out through the battered hat you were wearing and landed a
full blow on your face. You were both hurt and humiliated and your
eyes filled with tears but you did not strike me back. I was ashamed
and would have given all my small posÂsessions to be able to take
back the cruel blow. Thousands of times the scene has come to my
memory always with a feeling of sorrow.
So Cecil took the
business of driving Buttercup to pasture in his customary stride,
although all he had learned of cows during our brief residence in
the West was what was delivered at the back door by the milkman, and
of that there had never been too much.
took to himself a junior partner in the business of driving the cow
to and from the pasture. Why he did so I do
Buttercup, Queen of The Pasture
not know unless it were for the sake
of company. In any event, I was given the honor though my faith in the
good intentions of cows was shaken by the fact that they had been
equipped with formidable horns, a fact not easily reconcilable with the
ideals of peace on earth, good will toward little boys.
The results of our first day of
driving Buttercup to pasture were not reassuring. Buttercup, with other
cows belonging to our neighÂbors opened warfare in the lane leading to
the pasture and it seemed for a time as if bedlam had been turned loose.
By interposition of Providence, someone had left a capacious drygoods
box in the lane 'a refuge in time of need. I stood not upon the order of
going but into the drygoods box I scrambled, leaving Cecil and the boys
of the neighborhood either to carry on or else find drygoods boxes of
their own. From within my fortress, I viewed the clash of horns and
heads with a somewhat limited degree of composure, but did not
relinquish the strategic advantage of my position until Cecil and the
other boys assured me that the war was over; that the belligerents had
been driven into the pasture and the bars put up to prevent egress to
the lane. If they had further disputes to settle they would have to
settle them in the pasture behind five feet of sturdy bars.
With this seeming inauspicious
beginning, my education in the manners of cows continued until I came to
an understanding of them, and so, to love them. To me cows are
reminiscent of my childÂhood days. Pastoral paintings arouse something
altogether agreeable in me.
Buttercup was a Hereford, of a breed
imported from England and reputed to be more productive of meat than of
milk; however, our cow managed to be productive of both. She was larger
than any other cow in the pasture, even larger than Jimmy Conley's cow
which stood next in order. The cows of other neighbors recogÂnized the
priority rights of Buttercup and stood aside while the bars were being
let down, giving her the right of way in going in and out of the
My Road to Rotary
When Buttercup was fresh having
given birth to a calf, she used to yield two big pails of rich,
foaming milk. Her breath was wondrous sweet; no victim of halitosis
she, and she had other good qualities too numerous to mention, most
important of which perhaps was that she was truly our own, good
faithful Buttercup. Had there been a '"Who's who" in cowdom, I am
sure her name would have been given a place at the top of the list.
Her soft mooing was sweet music in my ears and had it not been for
the outbreak of temper the time she cleaned Jimmy Conley's cow up in
a battle for the supremacy of the pasture, I would always thought of
her as a true Christian cow. Not that I thought any worse of her for
having stood up for her rights; in fact, I gloated over the victory
if memory serves me right and I may even have egged her on a bit.
I used to think that Buttercup
must have been terribly lonely, pent up as she was in a small stall
during the long cold winter months with only one small window to
look through and only snow to look at when she did peek out. She
did, however, have the satisÂfaction of knowing that her stall was
on the south side of the barn and that the icy winds from the North
Pole had thick walls and several tiers of neatly piled wood to sift
through before they could touch her thick old hide. The hens and
their male escort the rooster were under the same roof and the hens
cackled whenever they laid their eggs and the rooster was the best
kind of an alarm clock when it came time for announcing the coming
Grandfather also was a regular
visitor both morning and eveÂning, bringing generous portions of
cornmeal in exchange for whatÂever quantities of milk Buttercup
might yield. High days and holidays meant nothing to her; she kept
right on feeding, giving milk and chewing her cud. She may also have
lived over again in dreams the happy days of summer spent in the
pasture with other lady cows and one gentleman cow, big, brown and
sleek. She may, in fact, have treasured memories of her friends very
much as I treasured memories of our summer visitors, especially the
sweet girls. She must have had a comforting philosophy of life.
Buttercup^ Queen of The Pasture
Perhaps Buttercup had a very good
time peeking through her tiny window. One of my own most interesting
distractions during extra stormy days in winter, was to kneel on the
floor in front of one of the sitting room windows, with my nose
flattened against the pane, looking out at the falling snow, noticing
especially the big flakes. Some of them were of gigantic proportions,
completely overÂshadowing their comrades of the air. How varied their
shapes and how lazily they drifted down from somewhere. God only knew
where, how silent they were in their flight and their landing and how
wondrously clean and white.
When the flakes were falling by the
thousands, I used to wonÂder how long it would take for them to bury us
all but when grandÂmother glanced out of the window, she used to say,
"This storm will not last long; big flakes are too lazy to do much
damage; it is the small flakes one has to look out for; small flakes
haven't much sense; they sometimes pile themselves on top of each other,
day in and day out, until nothing short of snow ploughs can dig the
roads out." Another one of grandmother's sayings was, "It's a mighty
cold day when the bright sunshine can't set the eaves-spouts
Grandfather did the milking as a rule
at our home but he was not expert. He could milk with one hand only and
his performance was not more impressive than a one-handed piano player.
He never used to bury his forehead in the flank of Buttercup as more
experienced milkers would have done but sat bolt upright, balanced
precariously on his one-legged stool, and holding the pail in his left
hand. His position was in no respect impregnable as it left him entirely
exposed to the swishing tail, which, in fly time not infrequently
wrapped itself around his neck. This interlude, however well intended,
was annoying to grandfather though a source of considerable pleasure to
the audience of two small boys.
Our barn was the scene of many a
performance worthy of a place on the vaudeville stage. One night when
tall grandfather was trying to induce, cajole, push or pull Jason, a
half-grown calf, son of Betty, Buttercup's daughter, into the barn yard
through a very low door, a drama was enacted. Jason, after long having
My Road to Rotary
every blandishment grandfather
had to offer, suddenly changed his mind and bolted through the door,
dragging grandfather in his wake. Had he been a well-intentioned
calf he might have seen that it would be difficult for grandfather
to negotiate the low door on high but Jason was either unconcerned
or else he did not care a fig what happened to grandfather;
manifestly he had resolved to throw off all responsibility in that
regard. Anyhow grandfather did his part like the true New England
gentleman that he was; at just the right moment he ducked as
skillfully as any boxer could have ducked the blow of an adversary
and both Jason and grandfather came through. Having accomplished his
purpose, Jason stopped as precipitately as he had begun and he and
grandfather, both with legs spread wide as a safeguard against any
eventuality, looked each other over. They had never seen each other
in just that light before.
The following morning. Cook, the
butcher, led Jason out of the yard; henceforth he would be spoken of
as veal; he had been too individualistic for grandfather.
My love of bovine creatures once
lured me to the Channel Islands of the British seas, Jersey,
Guernsey and Aldemey, in order that I might see the aristocrats of
cowdom feeding on their native hills. While on those islands, I
learned that in order to get back to the real origin of the species
one must cross from the islands to the coast of Brittany where two
priestly Orders each developed its own pure and distinct breed of
cattle. I learned that when the monks were banished from France,
they took their domestic animals with them; one order to the nearest
island, Jersey, and the other to GuernÂsey; still others went to
the Island of Aldemey.
The cow population of Guernsey
numbers six thousand only but there are hundreds of thousands of
Guernseys scattered throughÂout the world, most of them in the
United States. It may be gratiÂfying to my fellow New Englanders to
know that Peterborough of the State of New Hampshire is the center
of learning in regard to Guernseys and that the Guernsey publication
issued in that small
Buttercup, Queen of The Pasture
considered authoritative throughout the world, even includÂing the
island from which the animals migrated.
It has always been a source of
wonderment to me why it is that only farmers and dairymen appear to be
interested in cows. Much has been written of the admirable qualities of
dogs and horses, but little attention has been given to the
characteristics and personÂalities of cows. The only book I ever read
on the subject designed to be read by laymen, was a story entitled, "The
Stalled Ox", by a New England writer who describes some of the laws and
regulations recognized as rules of conduct (codes of ethics, if you
please) in the relationship of one bovine with another.
During the course of an automobile
trip through Wisconsin, I spent a night at the home of a well-to-do
farmer, who had a fine herd of Guernseys. He was the son of German
immigrants and he loved his cows. It was his custom to take his morning
shower bath and shave in a compartment of the bam adjoining the
immaculate cow stables. One day he had a radio installed that he might
listen to music while performing his ablutions. This he did without
having any idea that early morning concerts would be enjoyed by any
other creature than himself but it seems that the radio went wrong one
night with the result that in the morning the concert had to be omitted.
He was aggravated and annoyed, the more so when he disÂcovered that his
cows were nervous and fretful and that not until morning music had been
resumed did they become contented and willing to let down a full flow of
I might have doubted the story of the
German farmer had I not once heard in a lovely pastoral district in
Switzerland that on farms where cows are accustomed to whistling
milkers, those who have not acquired the knack of whistling need not
Once upon a time, I spent a happy
afternoon in the hinterland of Montreux on Lake Geneva, only half a mile
from the busy tourÂist center. It was like stepping back from the
twentieth century to the peace and quiet of past generations. Tiny
villages where old folks could sit in comfortable chairs near a little
center by the vilÂlage pump where farmers brought their cows and work
horses. A half mile further along, there was a tiny village with a milk
store where farmers operating the small farms brought their milk in
large cans and customers came for it with pitchers.
Not far distant a hay crop was being
harvested on a half-acre plot by a man, a boy and a friendly ox. The air
was full of the fraÂgrance of new-mown hay and men, women and children
were doing things in a leisurely manner seemingly enjoying their work
and breathing in the serenity of it all. Peace is traditional in
Switzerland and why should it not be? There is nothing more peaceful
than a Swiss countryside dotted with big, brown Swiss cows.
An American friend of mine whose business it is to
buy and sell cows tells me that cows transferred from one farm to
another freÂquently let down in their production of milk. One Guernsey
cow which he had recently sold at a fancy price, had to be returned to
the farm from whence she had come. Prior to the sale she had been
producing fifty pounds of milk per day, but after the sale she produced
twelve pounds only, so the buyer was only too happy to return her to the
seller at the purchase price. Upon being reÂturned to her former stall
her appetite returned at once and normal production of milk followed.
The farmer was glad to get his cow back and declared that he would never
sell her again; that
if she loved her home that much she was entitled to remain in it for the
rest of her life.
The sentiment expressed by the American farmer did
not differ greatly from that of the Hindoo farmer who cares for his aged
and decrepit cows as long as they live and gives them decent burial when
death comes. Oh, the Hindoo idea of the sacredness of
the cow is pure superstition, you say. Well, as for myself, I have never
been able to define clearly where superstition leaves off and
someÂthing else begins. As for our old Buttercup, she possessed
attributes which folks of our faith designate as purely Christian, as
for inÂstance who better than she demonstrated the doctrine that it is
better to give than to receive; her milk was almost a complete food in
itself. From her own body Buttercup nourished me as a mother nourishes
a child; my bone and my flesh was of her munificence.
of The Pasture
What did she get in return? A measure
of corn meal, green grass from the pasture, hay from our orchard, and a
warm stall in which to pass the days and nights of winter; that was all.
For a picture of tranquility and
contentment, I know of nothing to compare with cows in pasture enjoying
their noontime siesta, lying in the shade of trees bordering on the
brook from which they have drunk their fill of clear, cold water. In
their own sweet Elysium, with eyes half closed, they rest during the
heat of the day with nothing more serious to think about than horseflies
and the agreeable pastime of chewing their cud.
When I at times have thought that my
feeling towards cows as a symbol of tranquility may perhaps have been
overtender, the folÂlowing words of John Burroughs, America's most
loved naturalist, bolster my faltering faith:
"All the ways and doings of cattle
are pleasant to look upon, whether grazing in the pasture or browsing in
the woods, or rumiÂnating under the trees, or feeding in the stall, or
reposing upon the knolls. There is virtue in the cow; she is full of
goodness; a whole' some odor exhales from her; the whole landscape looks
out of her soft eyes; the quality and the aroma of miles of meadow and
pasÂture lands are in her presence and products. I would rather have
the care of cows than to be the keeper of the great seal of the
naÂtion. Where the cow is, there is Arcadia. So far as her influence
preÂvails, there is contentment, humility and sweet homely life/'
I know nothing whatever of the
sacredness of cows but I do know that it would give me a homey feeling
if grandfather, grandÂmother and our old Buttercup were to meet me at
the gates of gold.
"My Red-Headed Chum"
Aunt Sue (Mrs. Wesley Cavelle)
was mother's elder sister who had been widowed by the war between
the States, and being childÂless she naturally took great interest
in her sister's children.
discussions, her devotion was rewarded by permisÂsion to take Cecil
back with her to the West not far from where mother was keeping the
home fires burning by giving music lessons and caring for Nina May.
The separation was thought of as tempoÂrary but it proved to be
practically permanent, excepting for a very brief period only of
family reunion in Cambridge, New York, and a slightly longer period
in Fair Haven, Vermont.
My home was to
continue to be with my grandparents in Wallingford; in that
beautiful village, surrounded by mountains that needed to be
climbed; hills, which in winter held their white bosoms out so
invitingly to the sleds of happy youngsters, and in summer echoed
with the voices of dashing brooks where shy trout sought cover
beneath overhanging banks; in that village graced by windÂing creek
and nearby sparkling lakes; where the crisp frosty air of winter
rang with the impact of skates on ice and with joyous shouts
My Red-Headed Chum
and laughter; where in summer boys,
whose brown and glistening bodies knew not the shame of bathing suits,
disported themselves in the clear, cold water. There my home was to be
with wholesome New England orderliness, cleanliness, kindliness,
thoughtfulness and good living. A lucky boy was I, the second of the
three children of George and Cornelia Harris, grandson of Henry and
Clarissa Fobes Bryan and great grandson of Reuben and (Huguenot) Olive
Cecil had fallen into
the hands of Aunt Sue and Nina May rested within the warm embrace of
mother. There was only one left to enliven the home of the aged couple
and that one was I. Many have said, ''What a pity it was that the Harris
children could not have been kept together/' So it was but that was not
destined to be.
determination and physical vigor overcame the handicap of having been
born the baby of her family but father, though possessed of intelligence
in a marked degree and given a good education, was not possessed of
courage, determination nor physical vigor. The ways of the world were
too much for him.
Sometime after the departure of Aunt
Sue and Cecil a new boy began to creep into my consciousness; his hair
was a fiery red and he was of the right sort. I am certain that he was
of the right sort because during the many years of our most intimate
companionship we never had one serious disagreement. We always stood
together in all things; the downs as well as the ups. When punishment
and disgrace were my lot, my redheaded friend. Fay Stafford, suffered
them with me, though neither punishment nor disgrace would have been
visited upon him had there been no Paul.
His older sister tells me that when
she also was a child, I used to make my way to their home and lispingly
ask, "Can Fay come out to play with me?" We were about the same age he
having been born in February and I in April of the same year and
generally speaking we were evenly matched. I shall always feel that I
was singularly blessed with the companionship of Fay during the
formative period of my life. He was the first of a long list of friends
My Road to Rotary
have enriched and sweetened my
life, but of them all, there was none better, none more true, than
my red-headed boy friend of the granite hills.
Just to climb snow clad
mountains, not infrequently, was our sole objective; the weather
might not be inviting for any other outdoor sport. There was always
a measure of glory in the achievement of getting to the top although
climbing through snow which had drifted, was always a laborious
One Saturday Fay and I determined
to climb Bear Mountain, or as far up as we could during the short
winter day. I concluded that it would be the part of wisdom to say
nothing to grandmother about our objective, so we labeled our
expedition "a hike" which might take the entire day. Grandmother had
no particular objection to hikes but warned us again about the
dangers of trying to climb icy mountains. She said, "If you must
climb mountains, boys, do it in the summer time, don't go rambling
over mountains in the winÂter." Fay answered rather gaily, "Well,
the mountains are there, Mrs. Harris, and must be climbed and who is
there to climb them exÂcept Paul and me?" Grandmother was not
convinced but the joint appeal of two of us was more than she could
Grandmother always had a soft
spot in her heart for Fay, and I always thought that she considered
him a restraining influence on me. I have seen her stop in the midst
of her work frying her delecÂtable "riz" doughnuts, spear one of
them with a fork while it was sizzling hot and hand it to Fay on a
plate. On the Saturday menÂtioned, she gave us a sack of fresh
doughnuts, bade us be careful and to be home early.
It was our usual plan to go
direct east to Bear Mountain, Willie Strong and I having done it
more than once, but, for the sake of variety, Fay and I hiked some
miles north on that carefree SaturÂday morning; the climb would be
easier than on the more direct route and that would be an advantage
there being considerable snow on the ground.
The day promised to be fair and
indeed it was so during the Best part of the journey. There was just
enough cold in the air to
make our ears and noses tingle and
when did a New England boy ever fail to experience a sense of joy when
the air was cold and his ears and nose tingled?
Not far from the Ed Crary farm,
we swung to the east, over
a stone and rail fence and into a pasture, then up into the sprawling
hills lying in the direction of Bear Mountain. Our glorious expediÂtion
was on its way; great explorers were we; our fame would spread far and
our names be long remembered. Of the various points of the compass we
might have chosen, we chose this one. Why? BeÂcause it was one of the
very few which was entirely unknown to us. How could there be adventure
in tracing a known course? Would Christopher Columbus have endured his
suffering had there not been a new world to discover?
So we trudged merrily on
our way, singing and shouting as we went along. During the course of the
forenoon we saw a dilapidated farm house in the distance, and, working
in the barn, an unkempt man and boy. The spirit of adventure caused us
to bend our steps in their direction as it was worth while to become
acquainted with folks whom we had never seen before.
When we approached
within hearing range, we called out and waved our hands. The boy waved
back but the man leaned on his fork with which he had been pitching hay
to his stock and gazed at us stolidly. Fay shouted, "Good-morning, Sir!"
and the man replied, "Good-morning, yourself. What ye two doing up here
anyhow?" "Oh, just came to look around; any gold mines around here?
Might buy one or two." "Nope" said the man, "neither gold mines nor much
of anything else worth carrying away. We're poor folks, live on ham
sandwiches and snow balls, mostly snow balls in the winter time. Won't
ye have a snow ball?" "No, thank you" I answered, "must be on our way."
"On yer way where?" he inquired. "Most anywhere," I answered. "Mostly to
Bear Mountain, I guess." "Yer better keep out Bear Mountain on a day
like this." "What's the matter with a day like this?" I inquired. "It's
nothing but sunshine." "Yes, the sun is shinin' right now but there'll
be snow afore night. Better turn round and walk towards home, if yer got
My Road to Rotary
With that the farmer and his boy resumed their
labors while we sat down on an ancient wooden sled and lunched on
grandÂmother good "riz" doughnuts. We then continued on our way
toÂward Bear Mountain not much disturbed by the farmer's prophecy.
When had we ever in our lives quailed in the face of a snow storm?
We had enjoyed them and exulted in them when they were fast and
furious; we were Green Mountain boys; no shiftless farmer could tell
us where to get off when it came to snow storms.
So on we went over
hill and valley, pasture and woodland but there was no gainsaying
the fact that the snow did begin flying through the air in ever
increasing volume. By four o'clock in the afternoon it began to be
difficult to see our way but we had no fear, not as yet although we
did consider the advisability of turnÂing around and finding our
way back to the home of the farmer. Eventually we did turn back but
by that time the snow so filled the darkening air we could not
determine which way was back.
In this dilemma we
almost ran into an old wreck of a barn which manifestly had served,
at some time, to store, until needed, hay which had been cut in the
surrounding pastures. Barns far sepaÂrated from farm-houses or
other buildings were not uncommon in that
circled the building trying to find an opening, in which attempt we
were soon successful. Inside we found some shelter from the sweeping
snow and wind but none from the cold. As the temperature had been
steadily falling, we were soon chilled to our bones. A skunk, better
clothed than we, slunk out under the sill of the bam, leaving us as
far as we could see the sole occupants of
The question which
agitated our minds was whether we would be able to remain in this
miserable shack until the storm abated or until daylight of the
morrow came. We thought of the worries of the folks at home and
about grandmother's remarks about going into the mountains in the
winter time but there were other matters far more pressing. Were we
to be the subjects of a tragedy and were we writing a chapter
destined to be recorded in the annals of
My Red-Headed Chum
our valley. Were we to
be victims of one of Vermont's great storms? Perhaps the story would be
printed in the schoolbooks in order that boys and girls of future
generations might know what becomes of headstrong boys who will not heed
the warnings of their elders who know much more than they? Such and many
other forebodings filled our troubled minds but the question as to
whether we should breast the storm again or remain in our flimsy shelter
was our immeÂdiate concern. The question would probably have been
readily anÂswered had we been sure of the points of the compass and
which way would take us back to the house of the farmer far in our rear.
Well advised or ill
advised, we did break out into the storm holding each other by the hand
in order that we might at least have each other and also help each other
through the drifts. Fortunately there was no disagreement as to
direction though neither was confiÂdent. Although we could see but a
short distance ahead, we pressed on and in course of time we came to a
steep declivity ahead of us which confirmed our fears that we had
completely lost our bearings;
we had encountered none
such on our route from the farmer's house. Should we now turn back or
should we turn in another direction? We finally pressed forward in the
belief that we could never regain the farmer's house or even the
abandoned bam. We thought we might be more protected from the storm by
the trees and hills if we could get down below. We therefore descended
the steep slope hanging to the branches of trees and bushes as we made
When we got to the
bottom of the decline, we judged that there was a frozen brook before us
because of the formation of the botÂtoms and the lay of the land. We
crossed the brook and being somewhat sheltered from the wind, we could
see that there was a long strip of land bordering on the brook. Could it
be a road and if so where would it lead? Sustained by hope, we clambered
up the steep side of the stream, sometimes through deep snow-drifts and
sometimes over rocks which held their heads above the subÂmerging snow.
When we were surely on
level ground, we looked up and down the level strip and resolved to
follow it as far as we could, walking
My Road to Rotary
down the slope rather than up. Imagine our
relief when we found that a small, flat bridge extended across the
bed of the small brook, making it certain that we were traveling on
a road lined with tree clad hills. It was a strange land to us but
human habitation must be found not far distant from the road.
Continuing our laborious course we came to a watering trough, a
re-affirmation of faith in our belief that we were on a road. For
some minutes we stood by the watering trough, blessed evidence of
the existence at some time or other of men and thirsty horses.
I stood for some time surveying our
surroundings; there was much about them that seemed familiar and yet
I could not recall them. Suddenly a transformation took place with
the hitherto strange and unknown land was
changed to a familiar scene. With joy ringing in my voice, I
shouted, "Oh Fay, this is the Gulf Road." I knew then that we were
within four miles of home and that I knew every step of the way.
We could not lose our way now. Steep hills on
both sides marked our course and the frozen waters of Roaring Brook
were near at hand. Could we breast the storm and struggle four weary
miles through the snow? We could and we would; courage had come back
to us. Far down in the valley was the love, light and warmth of
We were painfully conscious of the fact that
we were not the only sufferers from our unhappy adventure. I knew
how anxiously grandfather and grandmother would be waiting. Had
grandfather known in which direction to look for us he would ere now
be on his way with lantern in hand and Fay's father, mother and
sister were, without doubt, anxiously waiting for him.
We made our way
carefully along, stopping often to rest and turn our faces away from
the storm in order to gain breath for further efforts. Each step had
to be high in order to disengage the foot from the ever deepening
snow. Those who know what it is to wallow through deep snow will
appreciate the struggle which was before us. One factor favored
us'we were New England mountain boys and our muscles were hardened
by climbing hills for the joy of coasting down. Snow held no terrors
for us, it was our friend and
My Red-Headed Chum
we loved it. So we made our way through the night,
the whiteness of the snow making our surroundings less awesome though
there was neither moon nor star to light our course. In places the gulf
narrowed to the width of the road and the boughs of the evergreen trees,
weighted with snow, extended nearly across the roadway imÂpeding our
It seemed like an age before the curve in the road
told us that the old sentinel. White Rocks, was standing watch over our
valley only a mile or so on our left. We could not see White Rocks but
we could sense their benign presence and felt the better for knowÂing
they were near. The course narrowed perceptibly as we rounded the curve.
There was only sufficient width for the road and RoarÂing Brook, under
the frozen waters of which speckled trout hiberÂnated and awaited the
spring freshets to set them free.
Soon all fears were banished by the recognition of
shadowy outlines of the houses in which farmers and their families were
slumbering throughout the long winter night. Then we passed the school
and came to the village stores though the last light had been
extinguished at an earlier hour. We turned the hotel corner, passed
Judge Button's house and there before us was my blessed home. Lights in
the South parlor window proclaimed the fact that grandÂmother,
grandfather, and Delia were all sitting up and anxiously waiting. We
stumbled against the kitchen door which was promptly flung open before
us and grandmother's arms were open to receive us as she fervently
uttered the words, "Thank God, it's the boys. They are home/'
It was only the work of
a moment for grandmother and Delia to strip the wet garments from our
shivering bodies. Grandmother as usual in all such circumstances took
command. "Don't stand round here doing nothing, Delia. Put plenty of
birch wood into the stove, throw the dampers wide open and give us a
rousing hot fire. Get out the yellow wash tub, Pa, and fill it with hot
water and I will put plenty of mustard into it. Get round the comer and
off with your underclothing, boys. Get me the ginger bottle, Delia. Ill
make some hot ginger tea. Put some coals in the bedpan. Pa,
My Road to Rotary
and warm Paul's bed;
we will put both boys in it. The main thing is to keep them warm and
perhaps we can sweat out the freezing effects of this storm."
haste to fill her orders and then drew his boots on and lighted his
lantern preparatory to going out into the storm. "I'll run over to
Phon Stafford's," said grandfather "and tell him to come over and
get Fay." "It's a bad night to go out. Pa," said grandmother. "Of
course the Staffords must be told but mark my words. Pa, Fay
shouldn't go out of this house to-night. He has had enough fighting
snow drifts and snow storms for one night. We'll see about taking
him home in the morning."
So Fay and I slept
together that night as we had done many times before. Our toes
tingled with the heat of the mustard and our bodies sweat from the
heat of the ginger inside. This was Fay's last adventure in winter
mountain climbing. He developed a fever in the night and in the
morning of the day following, his father took him home, put him to
bed where he remained for several days. He was forbidden by his
father from participating in further adventures of this kind.
at about 15 years of age
at about the same age
Lowell Snowdon Klock
Chapter 9 "Parental
Later in more congenial and carefree
company, I was soon plungÂing into deep green waters and exploring the
wonders to be found there "on my own," and with the infinite
satisfaction of knowing that, with the exception of Cecil, no other
member of the family knew that I had become an amphibian.
I unexpectedly came upon father in
the woods one day when I was playing "hooky" and he promptly cut a stick
of the appropriÂate size and gave me a good tanning. On another
occasion when I was indulging in the grand old game of running away from
school, I came dangerously near him. I saw him but he did not see me and
My Road to Rotary
I slithered away to safety,
exulting that the gods were with me for once.
Father used to pace back and
forth on the garden walk and, while he seldom spoke, I am sure that
he was thinking deeply;
that he yearned to find ways and
means to restore his self-respect and the esteem of his relatives
and friends and also of his family. The great question was: How
could he earn the necessary money? Grandfather could not be expected
to provide the herewith indefinitely.
During this period father turned
to invention. Among other things he invented a newspaper holder to
be hung on the wall; a '¢lamp chimney cleaner, and a device intended
to protect railroad companies against misappropriations of cash
fares paid by passenÂgers to conductors. None of his inventions
succeeded in bringing him the millions he sought, so he tried other
means. Once he was a traveling salesman; at another time, he was a
worker in a toy factory in Mechanicsville, Vermont; at other times
he wrote articles for newspapers, but nowhere did he find success.
Some of father's newspaper
articles were printed and won conÂsiderable praise; they won few
dollars however. The publishers were willing to print them so long
as they cost nothing, but not longer. Even in the midst of his
tribulations father preserved his sense of humor and not
infrequently made use of it not only to provoke laughter but also to
gratify his inner craving to get back at a world which had used him
so inconsiderately. When a certain newspaper published one of his
long and capably written articles without tendering compensation, I
heard him say, 'Thank God, he didn't charge me for advertising
space' Father's articles covered a wide field. Nothing seemed
entirely beyond his reach, history, politics, philosophy, religion,
geology and science in general, all were in his line and although he
took most naturally to humor, it was of an iconoclastic order; he
was a master of invective. Whether father specialized on geology
during his college days or whether he took the subject up later, I
do not know but he wrote long articles on that subject.
On Sundays with Mr. Cal Higgins, he
took long rambles in the hills. Mr. Higgins, who in common with others
who ran trip hamÂmers in the factory, became very deaf later in life
but he used to love to tell me of his long walks with father and he
never tired of telling me about the time father bet ten thousand dollars
that he could outdistance Mr. Higgins in rolling stones down the
mountain side. Father lost the contest and told Mr. Higgins that,
unfortunately, he did not happen to have ten thousand dollars in his
pocket that morning but that he would give Mr. Higgins a good, five-cent
cigar instead. The offer was gladly accepted and the ramble conÂtinued.
One summer afternoon when grandfather,
grandmother, the hired girl and I were living alone, I was walking along
the principal street in the village, a scant block from home when I saw
a lady crossing the street. She was leading
a child and
carrying a satchel. She had evidently come from the railroad station and
was advancing toward me. I had never seen so beautiful a lady nor one so
well dressed. The nearest approach I had ever seen was a neighbor name
Ann Simonds whom I greatly admired. The strange lady's presence was so
overwhelming that I experienced a sensation I had never known before. I
was suddenly ashamed of my torn hat, my soiled waist, my patched
trousers, and, most of all, my bare feet. I was sorely embarrassed as
the lady came forward, looking me searchingly in the eye; I stood
spellbound and speechless looking into hers. She inquired, '˜Are you
little Paul Harris?' Astonished that the beautiful lady knew me by name
and swelling with emotion, I stammered, "Yes, Mam," whereupon she took
me in her arms and passionately kissed me and her face was wet with
tears. The words she spoke are emblazoned on my memory. There were,
'˜Then I am your mamma, my darling Paul'
Vague memories of
someone very like the lady who had taken me in her arms began to take
shape but they were still dim and disÂtant. Then the thought burst upon
me that this must be the very lady grandmother referred to when she
concluded our evening
My Road to Rotary
prayer with, "God
bless papa and mamma forevermore/' Here was my mamma at last. She
took my hand in hers and I led the beautiful lady and my sister,
Nina May, to the only home I knew, my New England home.
How long mother
remained in Wallingford I cannot remember;
it seemed not long.
Sometime during her visit she gave me a bouquet of lilies of the
valley. I know not where she obtained them but lilies of the valley
since that day have seemed to me the purest of flowers, a fitting
symbol of mother love, and they are always assoÂciated in some
indefinable way with the beautiful lady whose presÂence so thrilled
me that midsummer day in Wallingford.
The chronology of
events in the lives of our family are lost to me. The main objective
in the lives of both my parents was to assemble their children under
one roof and to feed and clothe them. One attempt to establish a
home was made in Cambridge, New York, but proved a failure. I was
left alone much of the time, mother being away giving music lessons.
The life which had come to me unbidden seemed not worth while; heavy
clouds which hung over me seemed at times to engulf me; there was no
silver lining to them. Sometimes, to be sure, they parted for an
instant and perÂmitted the love light to shine through; that was
when mother had time to fold me in her arms and utter sweet words of
affection. Conditions must have seemed hopeless to both of my
parents. Mother put up a courageous fight, worthy of the daughter of
her schoolteacher mother, Clarissa Fobes Bryan, and worthy of her
Huguenot grandmother. Olive Chapelle Bryan.
One dark night a man
whom I had never seen before drove up to the door in a sleigh. He
was elderly and bearded. Mother adÂdressed him as Mr. Hitchcock.
When I meet anyone by the name of Hitchcock, I connect the name with
the elderly bewhiskered man with his sleigh and buffalo robes and
the drive of that winter night. On that memorable night, Mother, Mr.
Hitchcock and I got into the sleigh, the buffalo robes were tucked
about us and we were soon gliding over the moonlit snow. Where we
were bound for I did not know until I eventually heard mother say,
"Mr. Hitchcock, this
little boy is going to his grandpa and grandma to live."
Our sleigh ride
terminated at the railroad station. A curtain has been drawn over what
followed but it is fair to assume that mother put me on board the train
in care of the conductor and that I arrived in Rutland in due time. I
was probably met by grandfather or grandmother or both, taken aboard the
same train that father, Cecil and I had taken on that ineffaceable first
night, the nine miles intervening between Rutland and Wallingford were
passed in the customary time, and I slept that night in my comfortable
bed in the blessed home of my grandparents. I was back to the home of
freedom and plenty; no more would I suffer want.
Back in Cambridge a
mother's heart was furiously beating. A second time she had been driven
to the realization of the fact that, even with her courageous
assistance, it was impossible for father to keep the family together. It
must be admitted that housekeeping was not congenial to mother's nature
while giving music lessons was. Her income from her music lessons was
insufficient at times to provide one and occasionally two maids and to
help feed the family in time of need. She was a firm believer in keeping
up apÂpearances at all times and the way she spent money was perfectly
scandalous in the eyes of her frugal New England mother-in-law. The extravagances
of father were less conspicuous than those of mother but certainly more
personal. Cigar bills and kindred expenses could hardly be considered
necessities of life. However no one with a knowledge of the facts could
have spoken of father as a good provider; in fact that honor to
grandfather for whom there was no escape. Grandfather simply had to be a
good provider or the clock would run down.
As I grew older
grandmother and I used to have heated arguments as to who was most to
blame for the unhappy condition in father's home. One day grandmother
said, Your mother is very wasteful, Paul; some women can throw more food
out of the back door with a spoon than their husbands can put in the
front door with a shovel. Your mother seems to me to be that kind of a
woman, I am sorry to say. The idea of her keeping a servant and
My Road to Rotary
two of them when
your father was having all that he could do to supply necessary food
for her and the children.
brought on a storm of anger; manifestly, it was easier for her to
see mother's faults than her virtues and she seemed utterly
oblivious of father's faults. With considerable asperity, I
answered, "Mother kept help in the kitchen so that she could go out
and give music lessons. We would have starved to death if she
hadn't." "Oh no, it has never been that bad, Paul," grandÂmother
said, "and the first duty of a mother with six children is to stay
at home with them; whatever else may happen, that's where her place
should be. If she will attend to her family, things will come out
right somehow. I have seen many cases where it has worked.
Providence seems to take care of widows with children. Pa never
would have let them suffer if things were going right in the home,
and, more than that, your father would have done much better in his
work if he could have had the inspiration of a good, well-regulated
home. That would have been much better than gewÂgaws, or anything
else money can buy."
Way down in my
heart, I couldn't help feeling that there was something in what
grandmother had said. The leaven of my grandÂparents' philosophy
was working. I could clearly see that happiness, contentment and
peace depended more upon orderliness, thoughtfulness and kindliness
than upon genius, spasmodic effort or keepÂing up appearances.
However, mother had been wonderfully couraÂgeous and father could
hardly have claimed that virtue. What kind of a prodigy mother would
have had to be in order to have filled the expectations of
grandmother, is difficult to imagine.
Chapter 10 "Rapscallions"
wild bee's morning chase, Of the
wild flower's time and place, Of the
tenants of the wood;
Flight of fowl and
habitude, How the tortoise bears his shell, How the wood-chuck digs his
cell, And the ground mole sinks his well;
How the robin feeds her
young, How the oriole's nest is hung;
Where the whitest lilies
blow, Where the freshest berries grow, Where the ground nut trails its
vine, Where the wood grape's clusters shine;
black wasp's cunning way, Mason of his walls of clay,
And the architectural
plans Of gray hornet artisans!
For, eschewing books and
tasks, Nature answers all he asks;
Hand in hand with her he
walks Face to face with her he talks, Part and parcel of her joy,'
Blessings on thee, barefoot boy!
We rapscallions of the
Wallingford chapter had to keep ourÂselves posted as to everything
going on about town. The barber shop the post-office and the railroad
station were important centers of information. In one way and another we
learned all the important railway news up and down the line; even the
names of the brakemen and the engineers were known to us. We knew
whether they chewed tobacco or not and if not, why not. It gave the
rapscallions a mighty good feeling when they happened to wake up in the
Chapter 11 "A Pond is
AS I THINK of
the days of my boyhood, winter sports and pleasures seem more thrilling
than those of other seasons. We boys never had a dread of the so-called,
"shut-in" season; in fact, there was none so far as we were concerned.
Under one pretext or another, we would manage to get out into the snows
and storms. I cannot ever remember having wished that a blizzard would
let up; I always wished that it would continue to pile the snow higher
and higher until all signs of the world we knew would be obliterated and
a new, strange and fantastic world would take its place. All New England
boys who have been reared in the country or the small village appreciate
the ecstasy of being "snowed in." To me Whittier's"Snow
Bound" is and ever will be the most bewitching of all poems:
So all night long the storm roared on;
The morning broke without a sun;
In tiny spherule traced with lines
Of nature's geometric signs,
In starry flake and pellicle,
All day the hoary meteor fell;
And when the second morning shone,
We looked upon a world unknown,
On nothing we could call our own.
Around the glistening wonder bent
The blue walls of the firmament.
No cloud above, no earth below- A universe of sky and snow!
The old familiar sights of ours
Took marvelous shapes; strange domes and towers
Rose up where sty or corn-crib stood,
Or garden wall or belt of wood;
A smooth white mound the brush pile showed,
A fenceless drift what once was road;
The bridle post an old man sat
With loose flung cloak and high cocked hat;
The well curb had a Chinese roof;
And even the long sweep, high aloof,
In its splendor, seemed to tell
Of Pisa's leaning miracle.
Weird and fantastic shapes assumed by old friends, hitching posts, rail
fences, well sweeps or what not, required introductions anew as if we
had never seen them before and where drifting snows had been piled into
embryonic mountains they had to be climbed and christened by the
dauntless explorers. From the high rails of half-submerged fences,
somersaults had to be turned into the air and landings had to be made on
our feet or on our backs on the soft cushions of dazzlingly white,
feathery snow. Over the fences, across fields, pasture lands and
meadows, we had to make our way. Struggling through deep drifts of snow
was laborious exercise; we panted for breath; our bodies were wet with
perspiration and our faces aglow with the health giving exercise. What
mattered it if our boots and our coat sleeves did fill with snow packed
hard by our struggles; we could sit down in the snow and wrest our boots
from swollen feet and discharge the excess burden; take wristlets off
and shake them; give our ears a hasty rub or two, and then on again to
overtake our intrepid leaders if we could.
How the sun shone, not infrequently blinding us as its light was
reflected by the myriad crystals. Here and there a scolding squirrel
could be seen high up in a tree top congratulating himself perhaps on
his hereditary virtue of conservation and on his store of sweet hickory
nuts, saved for just such occasions. Here and there a rabbit path
crossed and re-crossed itself; not so much because bunny feared
impending evil as it was because bunny enjoyed the fun of throwing farm
dogs off the track in case they happened to be looking for trouble. Here
and there a chickadee voiced his jubilation.
In course of time we made our way home to steaming hot dinners and then
hastily started out on new adventures. On Saturdays and holidays, we
could pursue our courses indefinitely with never a thought of school,
home, church or anything else of a worrying nature.
Here and there across the dazzling landscape an industrious farmer might
be seen digging his way out to the highway with the aid of a sturdy pair
of oxen or horses and a home-made snow plough. If such scene presented
itself, or if, perchance, a locomotive with snow plough attached were to
appear along the railroad track, the expedition would change its course.
Such activities had to be investigated to make certain that they were
being conducted with efficiency and dispatch. This was before the days
of the rotary snow plough. Ploughs were forced through drifts by sheer
power, and, when halted, there was nothing for the engineer to do but to
back up, get a flying start and plunge in again. Considering the heavy
snow falls and the lack of modem equipment, it was astonishing how
quickly normal schedules were restored. The snow crews knew their
business and through the heavy storms they worked day and night. It was
a joy to walk down the track where the snow crew had driven its plough
through the drifts and piled up walls of white along the track. Another
thrilling sight was to see the first train come through after the storm
registering the domination of man in affairs mundane.
Sleep? Oh, how we slept the night after a storm, but not always was our
slumber dreamless. We sometimes dreamed-hoped and prayed, perhaps-that
rain might fall during the early hours of the night and that the rain
might be followed by a frost during the early hours of the morning so
that when we got up we might find another thrill-that of the crusted
Winter had so many charms that substantial enjoyment was to be found
even in anticipation of them. Thanksgiving Day was always celebrated in
our home. Uncles, aunts, cousins, and later, father, mother, brothers
and sister were assembled to enjoy the feast of stuffed turkey and
cranberry sauce with its succulent accompaniment of chicken pie. After
dinner it was customary for the young people to go to the pond to see
how the ice was forming and to speculate as to how soon the skating
could begin. We skipped stones over the thin ice and enjoyed the
strange, weird music which broke upon the frosty air as a result of the
One day to our everlasting amazement we discovered a new lake, at least
one we had never seen before, although in the summer we had walked over
every foot of the land now covered by water. There it was nestling in
the woods, two islands in the center. Columbus could not have been more
delighted with his discovery. Why we had never seen or heard of it
before, we could not imagine. We eventually learned that it was the
result of heavy autumn rains and that it was known as "Little Pond" to
distinguish it from what we knew as Fox Pond. In other words, Little
Pond was simply a basin surrounded with mountains and hills. In the
summer the basin was dry and in the winter it was partially filled with
water. How such a gem of a lake had failed to escape the eyes of
Wallingford grown-ups, was a quandary. I suppose the reason was that it
was tucked away in a fold of the hills where grown-ups seldom had
occasion to go even in summer and in winter never.
In fact, Little Pond had almost managed to escape the eyes of us
rapscallions. In the summer it was nothing but a dried up muck hole in
the center of a hayfield. The muck hole was made by the owner of the
land who used the soil, made up of decomposed vegetable matter, to
reinforce less favored fields. During the years subsequent to our
discovery, when the muck hole began to fill up in the autumn, we boys
inspected it frequently in anticipation of joys to come. The two islands
were covered with bushes and constituted excellent ambush for Indians,
highway robbers, bandits, escaped prisoners or whomsoever might be
seeking refuge. We adopted Little Pond as our own and loved it more than
any other; it was our discovery.
Dear Ladies of Wallingford: High have your praises been sung for having
rechristened Fox Pond, "Elfin Lake" to gratify your esthetic natures,
but why, I pray you, did you stop there? Would not "Lake of the
Fairies," or "Lake of the Witches," have added a touch of delightful
mysticism to Little Pond even if it does dry up in the summer? Perhaps
it did not dry up in the summer; perhaps the fairies spirited it away to
gladden the hearts of other little boys in some faraway spot in
fairyland. However I am sure that neither witches with their brooms nor
fairies with their wands could have so stirred things within me as did
my first sight of magical, miraculous Little Pond. If the souls of
departed boys have wings, they must hover over that sheet of mystical
frozen water at about the time the moon takes its great lantern in hand
and steps over the top of Bear Mountain to light the pathway of boys who
have shouted themselves hoarse, skated themselves weary, and are Oh so
hungry! as they wend their way over Joe Shum's Hill and across
Anderson's bridge, to the light, warmth and love of home.
One Christmas morning, I found in the chimney corner a brightly painted
sled with a picture of a reindeer painted on the seat. It was the gift
of my father then working in a toy factory in Springfield. That was the
most joyous of all the many joyous Christmas Days of my boyhood.
During Christmas holidays, my cousins Mary, Eddie, Mattie and John Fox
frequently spent the entire period with us. All hands were up in the
morning before the break of day and the rising sun found us well wrapped
in heavy jackets with tippets protecting our necks, wristlets protecting
our wrists and mittens our hands against the cold and snow. We wended
our way to Little Pond or Fox Pond as fancy might lead us. Once "Inky"
Ballou and I skated almost to Rutland on Otter Creek, our progress being
slow because of frequent interruptions caused by shell ice where water
flowed too rapidly to permit Jack Frost to do a good job of solid ice
Frequently as we boys and girls trudged along the roads to the frozen
lakes and ponds, we heard the baying of hounds on the mountainside in
hot pursuit of fox or rabbit. How their voices rang out in the quiet
winter air. They were so distant that we could not see them even when
they came out of the wooded parts of the mountainside into the open
where, in summer, cows grazed between rocky outcroppings and where
prickly blackberry and raspberry bushes laden with luscious fruit waited
for transfer to cups and pails of industrious boys and girls.
Indeed we did not need to see the hunt; we could picture it in our
minds. We knew each and every hound in the pack. They were "Roz"
Sherman's hounds and we knew that "Roz" and his companions were not far
behind. It was jubilee time for the keen-scented, loudmouthed long-eared
songsters. All summer long they had been kicked about as they slunk
around the hotel and grocery stores in search of stray bits of food. No
one had respect for "Roz" Sherman's hounds, a fact of which they were
painfully aware. Dismal howls emitted in village streets were the result
of kicks from men and stones thrown by boys. "Roz" Sherman's hounds
completely lost their self-respect in the summertime but with the first
snow, they became kings of creation as with yelps and howls they chased
four-footed wild creatures to their lair, or to within gun shot of the
slow-footed humans lagging far behind.
If the weather was cold as was usually the case, our caps or toques were
drawn low, and if perchance, in spite of all precautions the ears of
some member of the party were frost bitten, as shown by the tell-tale
whiteness, a well known remedy was quickly applied-a handful of snow
briskly rubbed into the ailing member until circulation was restored.
Upon arrival at the pond the first step was to strap our skates on
securely and speed away across the ice to gather deadwood to build a
fire before which we might toast our backs, faces and sides each in
turn. During the extra cold winters the ice was eighteen or more inches
thick and therefore safe for skaters as long as the kept away from the
great holes where the ice cutters were gathering their crop.
The rumbling and grumbling coming from the pond would have frightened
youngsters unfamiliar with the strange sounds. The only explanation I
have ever heard for these sounds was that they came from air imprisoned
beneath the ice; I have never heard such sounds except on mountain
lakes. We boys scoffed at the air theory and preferred to think of the
sounds as the voices of gnomes, protesting to the Devil perhaps for
having shut them so tightly beneath the thick ice of the pond.
Occasionally fast trotting horses matched their speed on the smooth
surface of the pond where a half-mile straightaway had been marked out
but our greatest joys were those of our own imaginations; wars were
fought with savage tribes of Indians; wolves were killed and skinned;
and vast continents explored.
At noon we hastened home to appease the hunger gods which were rioting
within us in spite of the ample breakfasts of wet browned and buttered
buckwheat cakes, hot from the griddle and generously baptized with maple
syrup straight from the mountain side. Grandfather bought his maple
syrup, fifteen gallons at a time and his buckwheat flour by the barrel.
Both purchases required endless investigations, samplings, etc.
Buckwheat cakes with crisp fried potatoes on the side constituted our
breakfasts all the year round.
After dinner we went at it again and not until darkness of the brief
northern winter day was beginning to fall was the last skate un-strapped
and the day's outdoor job finished.
Chapter 12 "Then
UPON OUR RETURN to the village, after the day's outing was over, our
visiting cousins were always confronted with a serious question. Where
were they to take supper? Their Uncle Ed and Aunt Lib Martindale had
their latch strings out for their nieces and nephews. They had no
children and our folks had but one, a rapscallion by the name of Paul.
There was more prospect for merriment in the Harris home and that was a
factor to be considered; it gave the Harris home the edge, so to speak.
The common sense thing, of course, for my cousins to do was to ascertain
which house was to have the best supper and unless Aunt Lib could show
good reasons to the contrary, the honors would be ours. When we arrived
home Cousin Ed would ask the question, "What you got for supper, Ma?"
and when the answer was given, he would scurry through the back yard to
Aunt Lib's and put the same question to her.
There was one thing, which when offered, always overcame all advantages
and predilections, and that was corned beef hash. When that toothsome
dish was offered, all bets were off. It used to seem to me that my
cousins would gratefully have accepted an invitation by Satan himself if
corned beef hash had been on the bill of fare. Had it been left to me, I
would have filled the cellar knee-deep with corned beef hash on the
first intimation that my cousins, the Fox boys and girls, were coming.
Our cellar was well stocked with good things and the cold storage room
in the barn was stocked with foods which had to be kept frozen. When the
winter season had advanced far enough so that steady cold could be
relied upon, grandfather bought from a farmer one-half of a bog and
one-quarter of beef. Some of the hog went into salt pork, lard, ham and
sausage and some of the beef was corned. Every inch was used. Pig's ears
made succulent souse and pig's feet were an excellent relish and the
pig's curly tail was the most delicious tidbit of all; it would fairly
melt in one's mouth, The residue from the trying out of lard was called
scraps and they were almost too rich even for the stomachs of boys.
Whatever remained of the pork and beef was hung in the store room and
frozen stiff for daily consumption during the winter season.
We had chickens and eggs from our henhouse and vegetables from our
garden. Apples, pears, currants and berries from the mountainside
together with small quantities bought at the grocery store were enough
to sustain us until the butcher, the fishman and the hulled corn man
came on their rounds. I almost forgot the chunk of dried beef and the
salt codfish that adorned the walls of the cellar stairway. Both were
hard enough to knock a man cold if used for that purpose, but in the
hands of New England housewives they became food for the gods.
After a day on the ice followed by a hearty supper, we began our games
on the dining room table. Old maid, authors, logomachy, dominoes and
checkers. Then for the evening there were butternuts in plenty from our
aged but still productive trees, a step only from the summer kitchen
door, and there were hickory nuts the fruits of Saturday forays in the
mountains. Forays is right for we frequently helped ourselves to the
storcs, accumulated by squirrels, which we found in hollow trees.
Robbers? Maybe, but remember it was this same breed of four-footed
rascals who helped themselves to butternuts from our trees.
There were Gilliflower, Baldwin and Northern Spy apples and Flemish
Beauty pears from our orchard, and, if all these were not enough to save
us from starvation, there was corn to pop, molasses candy or fudge to be
made and maple syrup to be waxed or grained as taste might dictate, or
mixed with butternut meats to make the tastiest of all maple-sugar
After such matters had been attended to and the heads of the younger
children began to droop, grandmother would say, "Children get off to
bed, there are other days coming you know." So away to bed and dreamless
slumber we would go in preparations for the events of another day.
As the winter advanced pastimes changed to suit changing conditions. The
turn of the year ushered in the real winter. Heavy falls of snow opened
up opportunities to catch rides on sleds of indulgent farmers returning
to their farms on the mountains after having delivered their loads of
four-foot wood; jubilant precursors of the modem hitch-hiker were we. To
the stout legged farm horses it mattered not whether we were on or off
and even our bobsleds with their long connecting boards added little to
their burden. The bobs, or traverses as we called them, were to us
essential because of the return trip down the mountain, the return being
the principal lure.
When the snow was packed hard or turned to ice the descent was in the
nature of a parachute jump. Sometimes we arrived at the bottom of the
mountain right side up; at others, after long leaps over
"thank-you-marms" and slews at curves, we were spilled along the road, a
jumble of excited laughing boys.
In case anyone happens not to know what a "thank-you-marm" is, I will
explain that it is a big bump in the road something like the take-off on
a ski jump. No mountain road was complete in my day without its
"thank-you-marms." When tired farm horses drawing heavily loaded wagons
up the mountains needed rest and breathing spells, they could relieve
themselves of strain by pulling over a "thank-you-marm" to the level
spot in the road on the up-hill side. There was always a
"thank-you-marm" at the watering tough half way up the mountain side
where horses could rest an extra long time and drink their fill of the
cold, sparkling spring water contained in a trough made from a log hewn
out to fit the needs. On hot summer days watering troughs and
"thank-you-marms" were to tired farm horses previews of Heaven.
When coming "lickety-split down a mountainside in a buckboard or buggy
with your sweetheart by your side, if you do not slow up when you see a
"thank-you-marm" before you, you and your sweetheart will find
yourselves thrown high in the air. In this event if you are born and
bred Vermonters, you will, as you straighten your hats on your heads,
ejaculate, "Thank-you-marm." To foreigners this may seem a very silly
piece of business and easily avoidable, but to Vermonters of my time
those words would come out to the accompaniment of uproarious laughter,
in spite of all we could do.
"Thank-you-marms" served also another purpose dear to the hearts of
boys; in fact, we never could have gotten along without them in the
winter time. When "Sabe's" Hill, short for Sabin's Hill, was coated with
ice, it was the sportiest hill by far in our part of the valley. Its
descent was long and steep and it was abundantly supplied with
"thank-you-marms , one of which was glorious indeed. Our sleds were no
high spindly affairs such as were used by girls or sissified boys. They
were built from rock maple, braced and riveted like battleships. They
were provided with runners made from hard, round steel which gave them
springiness as well as endurance. At no point did these marvelous
creations stand more than six inches above the hard packed snow.
It was a sight to see a daring and skillful coaster take off from the
top of a hill. He would grasp his sled by the seat, one hand forward,
the other aft. He would then run briskly forward to the brink of the
hill to gain momentum and then spring high into the air carrying his
sled with him. While still in the air he would stage an amazing
contortion, and when the runners landed on the ice the rider would be
seen lying securely on his left thigh, his right foot dangling like a
rudder on the rear, his hands unchanged in position, his shoulders
crouched low with his head between the runners almost skimming the
Who is that taking off? By crackeyl it's wild Bill Rutherford on his
homemade sled. He is flying like a bullet toward the big
"thank-you-marm" opposite Martin Williams' house. Up he goes high into
the air. "Betcher he jumped forty feet." "Now he's past the cheese
factory; now he's out of sight." Well, that is one thing
"thank-you-marms" are good for. Beside giving tired horses a chance for
breathing spells, they give little boys a chance to see daring coasters
at their glorious best.
If neither skating nor coasting conditions were such as to appeal to us,
mountain climbing was in order, or leaps from cliffs into deep banks of
snow. High up we discovered especially fine views of my beautiful valley
in its white blanket of snow and of other mountains far beyond.
Sometimes we climbed over the top of a mountain and down into an
unfamiliar valley; exploration was the charm of mountain climbing
through deep snows; we found ourselves in new, thrilling and fanciful
worlds. These events occurred long before skiing became popular; that
sport would have added much to the joy of our adventures.
On bright days millions of dazzling snow crystals sparkled in the
sunshine and on cloudy days, other delightful pictures were revealed; it
mattered little what the weather was, joy was always to be found.
Some of the recesses of the forest were like great cathedrals and the
tall spruce trees with their branches bent to the ground by their
burdens of snow, were like titanic vestured monks bowing low. The white
birch trees which some poet has designated, "white angels of the forest"
hallowed the scene with their chaste and modest presence.
The unearthly quiet was broken at times by the cawing of a crow lazily
circling in the sky above or by the drumming of a cock partridge as if
he were proclaiming the sanctity of the forest cathedral and warning
against the intrusion of apostates. Who better in tune with the Infinite
Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an Earl
And the poorest twig on the elm free
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
We were occasionally rewarded materially for our efforts by the
discovery of that rare product of the forest, genuine spruce gum; but we
stood not in need of material rewards; they are temporary at best. Our
greatest reward for our labored climbs through drifts up the mountain
was imperishable. The indefinable enchantment of the awesome silence of
the mountains still lives and brings peace to tired nerves and assures
us that beneath the mystery of human existence there is something
When a frigid night followed a warm bright day in winter, a new glory
awaited us in the morning; that of the crusted snow strong enough to
support us with our sleds, skates or improvised toboggans made from
barrel staves. Hills and mountains were the equivalent of scores of
toboggan chutes. From the top we could glide to the bottom with amazing
speed and when the snow was deep enough to cover stone walls and rail
fences, over them also we sped.
Sometimes we made snow shoes of our barrel staves, fastening them to our
boots with leather straps, and made the descent, or as much of it as we
could without mishap, standing erect. However, mishaps were more the
rule than the exception and the last part of the course was generally
covered in an ungainly sprawl. The victim was usually greeted with
raucous guffaws by the onlookers but it was all taken good naturedly as
a matter of course. If the weather continued cold enough, and the sun
shone not too brightly, the crust remained all day and possibly other
days to follow; but whether the duration was brief or long, we were
always prepared to meet with exuberant spirits any changes dame nature
might make. Even when the mountains were coated with solid ice, we could
chop holes for our moccasined toes and make precarious ascent to the
I shall not soon forget the time a companion, who was climbing in
advance of me, lost his toe-hold and came hurtling past me like a streak
of light subject to no law except the law of gravity which claimed him
as its own and flung his helpless body over a precipice far down below.
In tenor I worked my way down the side of the mountain fully expecting
to find his mangled remains. Imagine my relief when he emerged in sight;
merciful Providence had covered the rocks at the foot of the drop with a
blessed protecting blanket of soft, deep snow.
It required a deal of persuasion to induce grandmother to permit me to
go coasting in the evening. To her mind all the sins of the universe
were committed under cover of night. My plea generally had to be
reinforced by that of some of the older children in whose discretion she
had confidence. Moonlight coasting parties were delightful but the old
moon really had to shine if I was permitted to go out. Of course the
girls were included in the coasting parties, and on one occasion I
experienced a thrill such as never agitated me before. Though I made no
mention of my emotion, it was clear that deep down within me there was
something more than a mere casual regard for a certain plump,
fair-haired, brown-eyed little lady whom I managed to get seated next to
as we were about to take off from the top of the hill. I entertained
fond hopes that my sentiments were reciprocated, but I had no means of
knowing, it being the case that her adoration, if any, was as mute as my
The possessory passion had gotten a grip upon me, and, in the secret of
my innermost thoughts, I welcomed the fact that I had a girl of my own.
Her residence in our valley was brief. Where she came from; what
Wallingford family she was connected with, I do not know but it was the
sweet and appropriately named Josie Lilly who first set my heart to
palpitating. Josie was only one of a procession of comers and goers who
spent periods of varying duration in our valley; most of them came
unheralded and left unmourned, after having caused mere ripples on the
surface of our everyday lives.
Sometimes we climbed into the mountains to see the French-Canadian
farmers cutting down trees for firewood. It was a sight to see the tree
crash down after the vigorous strokes of the axeman. They could make the
trees fall just where they wanted them to fall. The skill with which
they could lop the branches off with a few strokes, then saw the trunks
into just the right length, split them and convert them into cord wood
which they piled along the pathways convenient for loading on the low ox
drawn sleds, was wonderful to behold. Riding down the mountain sides on
the wood sleds was a dangerous though exhilarating sport; the sleds
carromed against the rocks and stumps but eventually arrived at the
bottom right side up.
Whatever else may be said of our French-Canadian immigrants, none could
deny that they were the most colorful of all of our newcomers in New
England. Whether they were joking or talking seriously was always a
matter of conjecture. Their strutting pomposity and stories of
impossible achievement were unique, take them as one would. It remained
for William Drummond, a Scotsman to immortalize the French-Canadians in
his book of rhymes, "The Habitant." We youngsters were always sure of
one good laugh at least when we made for the forests on the
mountainsides where our own "Habitants" were cutting their wood.
"Then Comes Spring"
NOT INFREQUENTLY one hears old timers say, 'There are no winters now
such as there were in my boyhood days." Those words express my own
feelings but statisticians tell us that the difference is more imaginary
than real; that the days of extreme cold and heavy snow-falls impress
themselves deeper than others on our memories. However I do know that
when the sleigh-bells began to be heard in early winter, they were
generally quite common until the spring freshets announced the fact that
winter had, "brokenup." We endured or enjoyed, as the case might be, the
severe cold when the thermometer at the post-office indicated sub-zero.
The ice crops on our ponds and lakes was generally satisfactory. In
Montreal and Burlington, Vermont, the street-cars ran on sleds instead
of wheels during the winter.
When visited by icy blasts from the Polar regions, it was exhilarating
to see the ruddy faces of boys and men of the countryside, the men with
ice laden moustaches and whiskers rubbing their ears, swinging their
arms and stomping their feet to restore circulation to tingling toes and
The red-hot stoves in school-houses and other public places were
gluttons for coal and chunks of maple wood but they were good friends of
boys and men. They were frequently completely surrounded by lively,
healthy happy folks chaffing each other and swapping yams as to the
extremity of the cold spell and speculating as to the probabilities of
its long continuance, which we boys hoped would be forever.
During severe spells the frost on windows assumed fantastic shapes,
completely obscuring the view outside. Long, thick icicles, the result
of intermittent freezes and thaws, hung like grim specters to the eaves
boughs, and occasionally they snapped off as a result in changes of
temperature and fell to the ground with a crash. Woe betide the boy or
girl who is cracked on the head by a mammoth icicle falling from an
eaves bough at the wrong time.
When the warming sun of early spring began to melt the snow in the
mountains, the brooks and rivers became swollen to their brims, not
infrequently submerging the meadow land, and during the first cold night
every spot in the village capable of holding water became a skating
rink. We could find ponds suitable for skating in yards and gardens and
in the ditches along the roadside; in fact almost anywhere.
One might wonder as to how rapscallions could find pleasure in wading in
mud puddles or on the edges of brooks swollen by the melting snows of
the mountains. Well, to begin with, one must have imagination. To the
rapscallions of my New England Valley, brooks were not brooks, they were
great rivers, the Niagara, the Amazon, the Mississippi or whatever we
pleased. The mud puddles were lakes of enormous proportions; and both
rivers and lakes afforded us opportunities to try out our new rubber
The deafening roar of Roaring Brook was a reminder of the fact that the
spring floods had come. Grandmother used to regale us with stories of
the great flood of a year long passed, when Roaring Brook and Otter
Creek had entered into a conspiracy to drown all the folks in our
valley, good, bad and indifferent, before some resourceful Yankee Noah
could spring up and go into the ark building business and thereby thwart
the purpose of the unholy alliance. The conspiracy, because of failure
on the part of the conspirators to pull together, failed as everything
fails when the co-operative spirit breaks down. Just what was the
matter, I do not profess to know; grandmother never told us. It is
possible that boisterous Roaring Brook wanted to monopolize all the
honors and that the customary peaceful Otter Creek would not stand for
it and kept on carrying everything that Roaring Brook and all of its ilk
had to offer down to Lake Champlain and dumping it unceremoniously into
that capacious reservoir. However, folks in our valley were not
oblivious of the rowdy nature of Roaring Brook nor of the fact that it
wished them no good.
We were always ready for the coming of spring with its lush green grass,
sweet scented lilacs, apple blossoms, trailing arbutus, dandelions and
veritable lakes of yellow cowslips, with their broad green leaves. The
dandelions and cowslips, properly cooked, provided our tables with a
welcome change, and, though we knew nothing of such things at that time,
replenished our supply of vitamins, which had been depleted during the
six months of ice and snow. Provided with shoe knives and pans for the
dandelions and water pails for the cowslips, we went gaily forth for the
harvest of edible things.
Even before the dandelions and cowslips had sprung up from lithe cold
earth, water-cress was green along the flowing brooks. Parsnips, planted
in the fall and imprisoned in their icy tomb during the winter, managed
somehow to gather nourishment from the cold soil and were all the
sweeter for their hibernation. Horse-radish roots which had been planted
by grandfather years ago in an out-of-the-way corner of the garden, were
waiting for the spade before the frost was out of the ground.
Thrifty New England housewives made their own soap for clothes and
dishwashing, floor-scrubbing and other cleaning purposes. Soap making
was a homely ceremony which we boys looked forward to. It had its place
in the domestic economy. It saved considerable expenditure and cost
nothing except planning and labor. No wonder that New England pots and
pans were clean and that floors shone.
When the bright warm days began to come regularly, the soap making
ceremony began. Grandfather would place a barrel on a big flat stone
which had for generations been the center of soap making rites, fill the
barrel with wood ashes, then pour water in on top of them, letting it
seep down through the ashes into a drain cut in the flat stone which led
into the big iron kettle placed on the ground below. When the water had
all run through it would be baled back into the barrel to course its way
through again. Each time it would become redder and stronger and when it
was strong enough to float an egg, it was ready to receive the pans and
pails of fat which had accumulated during the winter. Vigorous stirring
of the lye and fat mixture resulted in the emergence of the good, clean
soft. soap. It was brown in color and soft in texture; of strong but not
unpleasant odor; it could be lifted by hand from the container in
quantities to suit.
One of the joys of springtime were the long walks which George Sabin and
I took after supper. When the roads were muddy, the railroad provided
the only dependable footing. George, who had learned to smoke early in
life, used to puff his pipe vigorously as he told me of the wonderful
contrivances he had read of in Popular Mechanics and elsewhere. He was a
big boy and he had an enormous head with no vacant space in it.
He also was given to reminiscing and he always embellished his
reminiscences with a wealth of detail which made them seem very
plausible indeed. For instance, in telling the story of his fall from
the flat roof of the oxbow factory, he explained that it was the result
of his losing his grip on the nut of a large bolt on the roof to which
he had been clinging while trying to clamber over the cornice from a
stationary ladder. Nothing could have been more natural; his fingers
slipped off the nut and down he came. Fortunately he was able to get his
feet out of the way and to land in a sitting posture on a ten foot beam
which happened to be lying, providentially, on the ground. It was as
easy as landing with a parachute. When I remarked that it probably
knocked the breath out of him, he nonchalantly answered that it probably
would have had he not held his breath. When I reminded him that his
tactics were just the reverse of that of cats under similar
circumstances, he answered, "Exactly. Those fool cats will get their
legs broken sometime."
The rush of business in the tin shop during the winter was the result of
the accumulated orders for sap buckets to be used in maple sugar making
in the spring. George could turn out an amazing number of tin sap
buckets during the winter months; his output ran to seven or eight
hundred all made by hand; he kept up his school work as well. The tin
shop turned out good work but no time was lost in either orderliness or
cleanliness. The floor was carpeted with scraps of tin and other debris.
George used to say that his father calculated on sweeping the floor and
cleaning up about once every ten years but that they usually were too
During the summer months Sunday School picnics were held in the not too
far distant woods, and, upon rare occasions, railway excursions were
planned to points of interest far, far away. They were memorable
affairs. Once we visited potteries at Bennington, and once, glory of
glories, we went to Lake Bomoseen near Hydeville, twenty-five miles from
home, where a little steam yacht had been engaged to take the most
venturesome out on the expanse of water in order that they might gain
first-hand information as to what seafaring life was like and thus
become more appreciative of the sacrifices which were being made by our
missionaries in the South Sea Islands and other distant parts.
The baskets provided by the ladies for picnics and excursions were
capacious and stuffed with toothsome sandwiches and scrumptious
chocolate and cocoanut cake, even cream puffs at times.
In the winter oyster suppers and New England dinners took the place of
the festivals, picnics and excursions as money makers to support the
less alluring activities of the church. Occasionally the ladies of the
Congregational church used to get up what they called a "hard times
dinner." George Sabin, who thought much about his food and could
appraise a dinner as well as anyone, said that times were hard but he
thought they were not that hard-referring to the dinner. However, hard
times dinners were money makers for the church as the ladies could
contribute almost everything. We rapscallions considered dinners,
picnics, excursions, etc., far more important as Christianizing
influences than foreign missions or any other questionable enterprises.
The changing affairs of community life demanded our attention. When old
Mr. Clark the blacksmith died, a younger man, hailing from I know not
where, arrived in town to continue his business. His name was Peck. His
bulging muscles provoked our admiration and prepared our minds for the
leadership which he promptly assumed.
Mr. Peck had a battle-scarred, veteran fighting cock which he exhibited
with pardonable pride and offered to match him against any bird in the
county. Up to that time, it had never occurred to me that our old
rooster whom I had named Methuselah, might, in his advanced years,
become a famous fighter and thus reflect credit both on grandfather and
The matter was soon arranged and another boy and I captured Methuselah
and took him to Peck's for the encounter. Not having any available money
for a purse, it was agreed that the fight should be for glory and that
the reward should be the championship of Rutland County, the title which
Peck's rooster was supposed to possess.
When we saw the two opponents together, I would have bet a million
dollars on grandfather's representative if I had possessed that much
money. Methuselah was inches taller and heavier by far. His plume was of
variegated colors. Though his ancestry was unknown, he had the
characteristics of a Plymouth Rock, for'd his midscuppers and of a Buff
Cochen aft. When Methuselah got his first look at Peck's spindle-shanked
and dissolute bird, he emitted a guttural sound like a laugh which
seemed to say, "So this is what I have got to lick! Well, turn me
After a few minutes of fighting, Peck's rooster began sagging in the
knees and Methuselah gave him what seemed to be his coup de grace.
Peck's rooster laid himself down and passed out, or at least seemed to
pass out. Methuselah crowed and flapped his wings. I yelled to Peck,
"your old spindleshanks is dead," to which Peck replied, "not by a long
shot. He is only taking a little nap; didn't you see him wink at me?
That means that he will wake up in a minute or two and give your old
bird the trimming of his life."
Peck's prognostication proved to be more accurate than mine. Three times
Peck's bird laid himself out apparently dead to the world; after each
round there seemed nothing left but the funeral ceremony. Methuselah
indulged in the customary wing spreading and crowing jubilation, in
which we joined in spirit, but three times the corpse came to life and
started in fighting where he had left off; he didn't seem to know
anything else. His third resurrection was discouraging to Methuselah but
he plucked up courage and killed the game cock once more, only to see
him arise again undaunted.
At this point, Methuselah began to be a bit groggy and to luff a bit to
the sou-west. He seemed to have lost interest in the fight and seemed to
be trying to fix his mind on more agreeable matters.
If the truth must be made known, Methuselah was in reality a
"passafist;" he might be drafted, as he had been, for belligerent
purposes but he never would have enlisted voluntarily. Peck's game cock
may have sized Methuselah up as that kind of a soldier; at any rate he
won but it seemed to me that he did so under false pretenses, rising
from the dead so many times. Methuselah was an honest rooster and he
could not stand for anything crooked so all we could claim for him was
the honor of being runner-up for the championship of the county.
I never told grandfather how near his rooster came to being champion; in
fact, I concluded not to mention the affair to him at all. Several weeks
passed before Methuselah got back to normal so that he could overcome
the habit of veering sou-west when he approached grandfather for his
meed of corn.
Peck was not the only newcomer to brighten life in our community. One
whose name I cannot recall, entered a class in our school. His
outstanding characteristic was his mastery of expletives - particularly
those of a profane order. His profanity flowed trippingly from his
tongue and he had not been with us two days before he launched a
campaign to get up a baseball team. His formula was very simple; we must
have a blankety-blank good pitcher, a blankety-blank good catcher and a
blankety-blank good everything right down the line, and that would make
a blankety-blank good baseball team. Not knowing anything about it
ourselves and our blankety-blank newcomer seeming to know all about it,
we left it to him but he quit school and the town before a week had
passed without a blankety-blank word about where he was going.
"Vermont Maple Syrup"
WHEN SPRING WARMED the maple trees sufficiently the sap began to flow,
and Vermont farmers who were fortunate enough to have sugar bushes,
began preparations for sugar making. Harvesting the maple sugar crop is
a combination of hard labor and spring festival; more of labor than of
festival. John Burroughs called sugar making, "that fascinating
half-work and half-play pursuit."
Those who have been initiated into the rites of sugar making approach
the ceremony with an attitude of mind peculiar to it. To begin with, the
flow of sap in the maple trees is one of the first harbingers of spring.
It is in the nature of a proclamation that winter with its short cold
days and long cold nights is giving way to the influence of the sun.
When the sun shines brightest, the sap flows most freely. On warm sunny
days when the cold of the night has been dispelled by the rising sun the
sap runs into the spout and drips into the pail in fast succeeding drops
as if in gratitude for the warming rays and in haste to do its part.
Though Vermont farmers issue no engraved invitations to village boys
bidding them to their sugar bushes and to help themselves to sap, sugar
and syrup to the fullness of their capacity, it is well understood that
sugar-making time is the farmer's one prime opportunity to relax the
customary and necessary rigor of his thrift and establish himself in the
good graces of the boys. The spring vacation was the period of treks to
the sugar bush. In rubber boots we waded through every swale along the
valley road; then over the fence we went and up the mountainside while
the sun shone as if to make up for lost time.
When a snowfall came late in March, after winter snows, except patches
that had drifted into protected places, had melted away, folks used to
call it the sugar snow. That was the equivalent of saying that
Providence had caused the fall of snow in order to make it good sledding
in the sugar bushes on the mountain sides so that the farmers could
collect the sap with less difficulty. The sugar snow was supposed to be
the last of the season but it did not always prove to be so; it often
had to yield that honor to other light falls of snow coming as late some
years as the middle of April.
Newly fallen sugar snow enabled rapscallions to study the ways of the
little wild creatures of the hills and the valleys. Here, one would find
the cautious footprints of a woodchuck; there, the halting, irregular
print of the browsing rabbit, and sometimes even the many gaited fox
would have left the prints of his soft pads upon the snow. The
partridges and crows left their own private brands on the white sugar
snow and the delicate tracery of the feet of tiny field mice could be
seen almost anywhere as they emerged from their covers of tangled grass
and crusted snow. There were squirrel tracks beyond number but they were
not of much interest because, high up in the branches of the trees, one
could see the impudent creatures themselves and hear them scolding and
watch them chasing each other in spirals up the trunks of the aged oaks
and beeches to the dismay of redheaded woodpeckers and chickadees
searching for their breakfasts.
Occasionally a blue-coated, brown-breasted bluebird could be seen, and,
not so frequently, a precocious robin high up in the treetop making
observations perhaps as to the weather and giving pre-auditions of the
songs he was to sing when lovemaking time came. Lazy crows, high in the
air, cawed either in felicitation as to the change God had made in the
weather, or in derision of the humans creeping along the surface of the
earth far down below.
Perched on outcropping rocks, we feasted our eyes on the panorama spread
before us and then we made search for the sweetest tree, frequently
wastefully emptying the buckets of solid ice formed during the night in
order to get at the extra sweet residue left in the bottom of the
bucket. Vandals indeed we were during sugar-making time. It required
approximately forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup so there
should have been no sap wasted upon the ground.
In compensation for stolen sweets, and other things to follow, we helped
the farmer to gather the sap, lifting the buckets from their spouts and
pouring the contents into capacious hogsheads on the low ox-drawn sleds
for transportation to the sugar house, either to be boiled down in huge
iron kettles, according to the old process, or separated in gigantic
rectangular pans, according to the then new way of making sugar. Sugar
making was a night and day occupation for the energetic fanner; sap had
to be gathered in the day time but the boiling down process or the
evaporating process could be done as well at night. The period during
which sap flows is not a long one and ambitious farmers owning and
operating sugar bushes have to make the most of it.
The supply of wood with which to keep up the fires was near at hand. The
lusty farmer, skilled in handling an ax, could, with amazing speed, fell
dead trees and cut the trunks and limbs to suitable size for use in the
sugar house for keeping fires hot beneath the huge pans of liquid
sweetness. The swift, sure stroke of a well-sharpened axe in the hands
of a farmer in the sugar bush, was fascinating to wide-eyed boys from
the village; no missed strokes were respectable; the blade had to fall
within an infinitesimal fraction of an inch from where it had fallen on
the preceding stroke. To fall on precisely the same spot would be to
miss the mark, as would also a stroke too far from the landing place of
the preceding stroke to permit of the slicing off of a good clean chip.
The examination of a tree that has been felled by an experienced
woodsman reveals true economy of effort; no slovenly workman he. The
blade is swung high and at the apex of its flight, it pauses for an
instant, and then descends in a graceful curve to its mark.
Sometimes when tramping through the woods, one is startled by a whir of
wings and the flash of a bird descending from somewhere in the sky. The
curve described at the end of its flight, when landing on the edge of
its nest or elsewhere, is very like the flight of the blade of an axe in
the hands of an experienced woodsman; it is poetry of motion. Many
farmers make their own axe helves evenings in the winter, fashioning
them to their respective tastes and as delicate in balance as the bow of
The sleds were built low to keep the center of gravity down and thus
avoid upsets when they were drawn over huge rocks and down precipitous
declivities in roadless forests. How to get between, under, or over
trees and rocks, involved the solution of geometrical problems possible
only to the minds and practiced eyes of New England sugar bush farmers.
I have seen sleds with hogsheads full of the sweetish liquid, after
herculean tugs by whiplashed but patient oxen, come hurtling down a
rocky declivity in a manner which threatened to break the necks of the
oxen in their wooden yokes and yet I have never seen one of the
hogsheads upset or one of the oxen injured. The runners of the sleds
were made of tough wood instead of iron or steel and could be hauled
over rocks or turf or through snow or water with almost equal facility.
Improved methods have done away with much of the drudgery of sugar
making and oxen are seldom seen in the sugar bush now. One more
picturesque feature of former days has vanished into the past.
The maple tree is a worker of miracles beyond the ken of man. Who
understands the force which draws the sap against the law of gravity up
to the billions of chemical laboratories at the tips of tiny branches?
I have heard folks ask whether the tapping of the maple trees, and the
drawing off of great quantities of sap, injured the trees as the pine
frees of the south are frequently injured by drawing off their sap for
the manufacture of turpentine and rosin. So far as I have been able to
learn maple frees are never injured by their annual tappings; nature
seems to have made provision for them. They give sap much as cows give
milk; the sap is the milk of the maple tree, not its life blood.
I remember well the struggle for supremacy between the old-fashioned
boiling down process and the modem evaporating process of making syrup.
The old-fashioned product was much darker than the new, differing
somewhat as buckwheat honey differs from honey gathered from sweet
clover. My own preference was for the old-fashioned syrup; it seemed
sweeter and heavier. The process of sugar making and syrup making has
been greatly improved in recent years. The sap goes in at one end of the
evaporating pan, passes automatically through successive chambers and
passes out the other end as pure maple syrup.
Cousin John Fox married the daughter of a pioneer in the manufacture of
sugar-making equipment and the business still continues. Farmers as a
rule prefer to make payment for their equipment in maple syrup and that
makes it necessary for the manufacturer to dispose of the product. The
Rutland company and another company in St. Johnsbury divide most of the
honors as purveyors of pure Vermont maple syrup.
Graining syrup and waxing it were processes dear to the hearts of the
boys and girls of my day. To grain it, one heats the syrup and then
whips it in a saucer with a fork until it becomes hard and white. To wax
it, one pours the hot syrup on hard-packed snow where it stiffens into a
delicious stickiness and can be picked up with a fork. Butternut maple
candy was another product of the sugar-making period in the good old
days. Oh, me! Oh, my!
Maple syrup was an essential for the enjoyment of buckwheat cakes-maple
syrup and plenty of butter. Grandfather was fond of the combination, and
so was his grandson. Grandfather personally attended to the procurement
of the buckwheat flour and the maple syrup for use in our house.
After having taken infinite pains in selecting the flour and the syrup,
grandfather didn't permit all to go for naught due to a preparation of
the cakes not in accord with his ideas on that subject. I heard him say
to grandmother one morning at the breakfast table
"what's the matter with the buckwheat cakes, Ma? They don't appear to be
up to snuff this morning!"
"I don't know that there is anything the matter," grandmother answered.
"Delia fried them just as usual except that I put a little baking soda
in them. I thought they were getting a little sour."
"Sour!" exclaimed grandfather. "That's just what they are supposed to
be. Take the sour out of buckwheat cakes and they might as well be
thrown to the dogs as far as I am concerned. That's what distinguishes
buckwheat cakes from other cakes, their sourness. To preserve the
sourness is just why we carry the batter over from day to day, isn't
"I suppose it is," admitted grandmother. "Well, I'll have them made just
as sour as you want them, Pa-sour as pickles if that's what you want."
"Buckwheat cakes never could be too sour for me," said grandfather. I
agreed with grandfather in that. If there is anything that will spoil
buckwheat cakes and make them look as if they had an attack of jaundice,
it is baking soda. The above conversation settled the matter of soda in
our buckwheat cakes.
"The Last Day of School"
IN MY BOYHOOD we did not have to depend entirely upon imported talent
for entertainment; some of it was home-grown and of the best; Caleb
Pennypacker for instance. Caleb was the son of Jonas Pennypacker, a hard
working man who never smiled. Caleb was nothing that his father was and
everything that his father was not; he never worked and he always
grinned; in fact, his face was wreathed in grins from morning until
night and his grin begot grins on the faces of others. He enjoyed the
distinction of being the "grinniest" and the naughtiest boy in town.
There was little room for melancholy in Wallingford as long as Caleb
lived there. He viewed the world as a huge joke and all he had to do was
to unleash it and that duty he gladly performed.
To us younger fry perhaps the most conspicuous of Caleb's varied skills
and accomplishments was the knack he had of converting himself into a
sore-eyed old man through the simple expedient of turning the upper lids
of his eyes inside out where they would remain until he willed it
otherwise. This amazing transformation, he could accomplish in a
twinkling and folks who saw it for the first time never knew whether to
laugh or to cry. The exercise of this remarkable faculty was an
excellent way of relieving the tedium of school life. Whenever the
teacher became too serious, Caleb could relieve the tension by turning
his upper eyelids inside out. For this voluntary contribution, he was
frequently ferruled but he was never cured of it. Naturally all of the
boys envied him and did their best to follow his noble example but none
succeeded. When Caleb left school turning eyelids inside out became a
Naturally there were other boys who made contributions of an extra
curricular nature to school life. George Marsh could make his ears wag
as a horse wags his ears in fly time. It was a grand accomplishment and
always brought down the house. "Inky" Ballou could make his knuckles
crack like a pistol shot. Such contributions are entitled to honorable
mention but the only one to really shed lustre on the Wallingford school
was Caleb in his inimitable performance of turning his upper eyelids
When school was in session, some of the trustees made unexpected calls
in order to inform themselves of the progress being made. When Trustee
Charles Congdon called, he was generally expected to make a speech and
he always lived up to expectations. He invariably closed his remarks
with a poem which he considered appropriate. I heard it so often, I
remember it now:
"As I walked by myself I talked to myself, and myself said unto me:
'Beware of thyself, take care of thyself, for no one will care for
Whenever I saw him coming into the room I had difficulty in restraining
myself from arising and greeting him with the words of this poem.
Mr. Congdon was, however, a fine old gentleman. Among other things, he
rented saddle horses at twenty-five cents per hour to those who could
afford that luxury. I enjoyed the inestimable privilege of hiring a
saddle horse from Mr. Congdon once upon a time. Where I got the
necessary twenty-five cents, I do not remember, though so important an
event should have stamped itself upon my memory as did the experience of
finding a silver ten cent piece in a pile of rubbish back of Ben Crapo's
store. The fact that I found the ten-cent piece was not the wonder; the
wonder was that some Vermonter must have lost it without publicizing his
calamity; he may, of course, have gotten it dishonestly. Sometimes boys
served as temporary hitching posts for farmers with business to transact
at the grocery stores; it was easier to throw the reins to a boy than to
hitch and unhitch. On taking up the reins again, he would say, "Thank
you, boy; some day I'll give you a quarter, the first one I find rolling
up hill." That was the nearest I ever came to earning a quarter as a
On the first day of May it was customary for the school teachers to take
their charges into the woods to gather May flowers and trailing arbutus
and to welcome the migratory birds to their northern homes. Once a
Maypole was erected in the school yard and we danced and frolicked
around it in the manner of another age.
Decoration Day was another celebration which took place at end of May.
We decorated the graves of the soldiers, who had died in the Civil War,
with spring flowers and we placed a small flag upon each grave. Civil
War Veterans dressed in full regalia, led the procession to the cemetery
where patriotic speeches were made. Our veterans made a very brave
showing; Harlon Strong, our Sunday School Superintendent, Martin
Williams, the cheese-maker, Mr. Thomas, the paper-hanger, all looked
particularly well in their uniforms and our hearts swelled nearly to the
bursting point when the Congregational church quartette sang, "We deck
their graves alike to-day with springtime's fairest flowers," and again
when the Hartsboro drum corps played. "John Brown's body lies mouldering
in the grave "Yankee Doodle" and other patriotic airs. Deaf as I have
become to many shallow forms of emotional appeal, my toes have tingled
and tears have come welling into my eyes when our few remaining Civil
War Veterans came limping by in recent years.
Joy bells surely rang in our hearts in the springtime; like frisky lambs
we cavorted and, like tumblebugs, we turned somersaults and handsprings
without regard for life or limb. One day Fay's father, who had been
watching us from a distance, shouted, "Remember, Boy, your neck isn't
long enough to splice."
Early in June came the long awaited "last day of school." The air in the
school house is heavy with the perfume of gorgeous red, pink and white
peonies. The girls are arrayed in new summer finery; the boys stiff and
uncomfortable in their best Sunday clothes. Grand orations have been
carefully committed to memory during long evening hours at home and
nothing except the dread bugaboo, "old man stagefright," is likely to
interfere with their delivery. There is no getting away from the fact
that "old man stagefright" is a factor to be reckoned with. He begins
his work early; long before the great occasion. During the quiet hours
of the night he is on hand to prod his helpless victim. Can anyone
imagine worse fortune than waiting for his name to be called on the
program of the 'last day of school?" One after the other, earlier
victims have been called upon; they have taken their place on the
platform, tremblingly waged battle with the "old man," and returned to
their respective seats either in victory or defeat.
Then comes the last name on the program. There is nothing to sustain the
victim except the thought that it will be over soon, and the glorious
long vacation that appears like a beacon-light ahead. A cold sweat
stands in beads upon his brow; from somewhere in the distance a voice is
heard. What is it that it says? "Paul Harris will now recite 'The Polish
Boy'." I arise and step forward, "old man" close by my side. Soon
another voice is heard, loud and brave- whose is it? Great Scott, my
own! I have a vague feeling that the three of us, "The Polish Boy," "old
man stagefright" and I are making quite a job of it but I am not sure of
that fact. A lady in the front seat is having considerable trouble with
her new hat and seems little concerned with the stirring events taking
place on the platform; Thank God, she doesn't have to be reckoned with!
I wish they all had new hats to fuss with; anything to take their minds
Eventually the last word rings through the packed schoolroom and Paul
Harris returns to his desk amidst salvos of applause. The Polish boy is
forgotten and the "old man" buried, not to be resurrected until one year
hence, when in due course of events there will be another 'last day of
The professor closes proceedings with appropriate remarks; touches his
desk bell for the last time, and I slither away through the jam of
mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, out of the suffocating
atmosphere of the peony-scented room, out, out, where I can get a breath
of uncontaminated air; and hasten to the swimming hole; oh, the swimming
hole; glorious, carefree vacation time has begun.
Oh, for boyhood's time of June
Crowding years in one brief moon
When all things I heard or saw
Me, their master, waited for.
-John Greenleaf Whittier.
Vacation days were anxious days for grandfather. One day he asked me to
go with him to the barn. Arriving there we seated ourselves, he in the
wheelbarrow and I in the swing and then he said:
"Paul, I want to talk with you about your future. It is a matter of
great concern to me. I wonder at times if I am doing right by you. It is
my observation that growing boys should have daily work to do and I feel
that boys who are taught to work have a great advantage over boys who
have nothing to do except play. You do nothing but race from morning
till night, Paul. Now there is not much work about this place except
what I do myself but what I want you to do is to study a part of each
vacation day and the best time to begin is right now."
He drew from his pocket an ancient spelling book, yellow with age, and
began to pronounce words for me to spell. This experience was repeated
several times during the summer and upon such occasions it was my custom
to dawdle lazily in the swing, which had been dedicated to other
purposes, and to spell as best I could, although I fear I did so with
unconcealed resentment. The swimming hole cried out its invitation to a
plunge and my mind was tortured with fears lest the gang break up before
I could report for business. If such a thing happened, my day would be
ruined; nothing could compensate; nothing perhaps except a fight, a
flood, a fire or a circus. I did not, however, forget grandfather's
The thirst for learning is a New England characteristic. From New
England it was extended throughout the United States. Senator Justin S.
Morrill, the father of the land grant bill, was a Vermonter. By virtue
of his efforts agricultural colleges were established in every state in
I had no objection to reading assuming that the reading be something
sensible; I did not consider Pilgrim's Progress nor Plutarch's Lives in
that category. Indian Pete and similar stories in the Youths Companion
fired my imagination and let to further explorations in the field of
literature. However explanations in nature's great out-of-doors were
Living among mountains as I did, most naturally mountain climbing was in
my line. White Rocks, near Wallingford and Killington Peak not far from
Rutland challenged my attention. My experience in climbing these two
heights inspired me in later years to greater undertakings in the
The ascent of White Rocks began over boulders which had been wrested by
storm, frost and perhaps earthquakes, from the perpendicular face of the
mountain above them. Some of the lichen-covered rocks were fifteen or
more feet in diameter and the surfaces of many of them bore the graven
initials of generations of visitors, some of them distinguished in
business or the professions. J. T. Trowbridge, the writer of boys'
stories, once lived in Walling-ford and his initials appeared among
After the boulder region had been passed, the climb up the precipitous
face of the mountain began. It would not be considered even worthy of
mention by an Alpine climber, but to the tyro it was a climb. I know of
but few who have undertaken it but to me it was one of the things that
had to be done. I think that I experienced more satisfaction the first
time I climbed White Rocks than I did from climbing Pike's Peak years
later. I had looked forward to it since the day grandmother decided that
I was too young to accompany a certain old gentleman on an expedition to
White Rocks which he intended to make for the purpose of gathering rare
specimens of lichen. Some day, I hoped, I would be big enough and strong
enough to do the job. The top of White Rocks had a romantic interest not
shared by other spots of the Green Mountains and one reason why I wanted
to climb to the top was because it was there that Captain Kidd was
supposed to have buried his chest of gold. How Captain Kidd happened to
be in the vicinity of White Rocks calls for more explanation than I am
able to make.
Still another reason why I was anxious to make the climb was to obtain
the unsurpassed view of my valley. In the summer time, nothing was to be
seen of the houses in the village from the top of White Rocks as they
were hidden in the foliage, nor could more than a brief glimpse be had
of the winding creek. However, beyond the village and nestling at the
foot of West Mountain, Fox Pond (excuse me, Elfin Lake) could be seen
sparkling in the sun. Hot and perspiring as I was, it seemed to cry out
to me. I never failed to resolve to go to the lake for a refreshing
plunge immediately upon my return to the village but I do not recall
ever having carried out this resolution; by the time I arrived home the
coolness of the evening made the water seem less attractive and besides
I was tired and I had a lot of miscellaneous business to attend to when
the gang gathered for the evening's tryst.
How inviting the swimming hole was on hot afternoons as we got our first
glimpse of it through the woods. Some unregenerate youngster yells,
"Last one in is a... etc., etc.," and off we start at high speed,
stripping our clothes off as we run and into the water we plunge like so
many bull frogs. Happy Days! Happy Days!
There are many other spring-fed ponds set like gems in the hills and
mountains surrounding Wallingford; Shrewsbury Pond, Tinmouth Pond, and
the two Sugar Hill Ponds, sometimes called Spectacle Pond because of
their resemblance to a pair of gigantic spectacles. Griffin Pond was
high up in the mountains east of Danby and its waters were cold enough
to be inviting to brook trout which, because of the depth of the water,
were of a high color ranging from pale pink to salmon.
There were also the much larger lakes, Bomoseen, St. Catherine and
Dunmore, and, in a longer radius Lake Champlain and beautiful Lake
George. No one objected to the term 'Lake" being applied to these larger
bodies of water except a few die-hards who continued to speak of Lake
Bomoseen as "Castleton Pond."
Anyone desiring a broad view of the surrounding mountains and hills,
lakes and ponds, would do well to climb Rattlesnake Mountain near Lake
Dunmore, select the highest tree and from its topmost branches survey
the county as far north as the Canadian border.
"Berry Picking and Trout Fishing"
IN THE EARLY SUMMER there were wild strawberries to be picked.
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and finally huckleberries
followed in turn. Berry picking on the mountainsides was work and it was
not always easy to find boys willing to undergo the hardships except the
boys from the poor families who needed the money which could be realized
from selling the fruit from door to door. Some of these boys were
interesting companions, and spurred on by their mothers they could be
depended upon to be on hand at an early hour and thus insure a good
day's pick. Even in the long summer days, they would call for me before
daylight and we would be well up the mountain when the early morning
train from Rutland began to creep along the Otter Creek valley far
It was always a matter of wonder to us to observe how long it took the
whistle of the train to reach our ears after our eyes had discerned the
faint puffs of smoke making the announcement of the fact that the sound
was on its way.
Fog generally followed the course of the creek; we had not been
conscious of its presence while we were in it but viewed from high up
the mountain it was clearly defined.
No part of the day is so entrancing as early morning; so full of hope
and expectation. If one would see the pageantry of sky and cloud, let
him go to the mountains at daybreak and breathe in the charm of it to
the accompaniment of the songs of awakening birds and the fragrance of
the wild rose.
Each berrypicker was provided with both pail and cup, the latter
remaining buttoned on the suspender until the picking got under way.
When the accumulation of berries in the pail justified the change, the
pail was placed in the shade of a convenient growth of ferns and the
berries were then picked into the cup and the contents emptied into the
pail at convenient intervals.
The strawberries grew mostly in the foothills where the soil was
slightly sandy. They were much smaller than garden strawberries and much
sweeter. It required perseverance to pick even one quart of field
strawberries but they were appreciated because of their scarcity.
Raspberries and blackberries followed the strawberries as the season
advanced and they, in turn, were followed by the low-bush blueberries
which grew in abundance on Green Hill, where the sour, rocky soil
produced other things sparingly. Somehow the roots of low-bush
blueberries, along with wintergreen and ferns thrived on the sterile
soil of Green Hill, and other vegetation begrudged them not their sole
occupancy. In return for such privileges as it enjoyed, the soil on
Green Hill produced blueberries which were really blue and wonderfully
sweet. Blueberries have now been domesticated but not so successfully,
it seems to me, as the strawberries and the raspberries; some of the
sweetness has been lost in the effort to increase the size.
The huckleberries were the last in the march of the seasons. They were
larger and darker in color than the blueberries and lacked some of their
flavor but they grew more abundantly and the bushes being high they were
more easily picked. One can strip high-bush huckleberries directly in
the pail and a good picker can fill a water-pail, holding ten to twelve
quarts, in the course of a day. They also are content with small favors
so far as soil is concerned; in fact they are even less demanding in
their requirements than the blueberries. They grow among huge boulders
at the bottom of White Rocks. No berrybushes are so prodigal in their
giving and so modest in their demands as the huckleberries of the
Grandmother used to smile sweetly when I brought home my day's pick of
huckleberries but I must admit that I was not entirely free from
self-interest; I had grandmother's luscious pies in mind. While neither
of my grandparents asked me to go berrying or even suggested it,
grandmother never failed to express a genuine pleasure when her tired,
sunburned, barefooted grandson made his appearance with a pailful of
cleanly picked berries fresh from the mountainside.
When I was a child, father, yielding to my importunities, took me trout
fishing one day, with the result that the virus got into my blood. From
that day on, every mountain brook has had its fascination for me. Every
likely pool beneath rock, log, or overhanging bank has been a challenge
and I have yet to see a more thrilling sight than that of trembling,
bending rod and glistening trout as it emerges from its cold, dark lair,
dances aloft for a moment in the sunlight and then falls upon rock or
bank my captive.
I have yet to see any more beautiful living creature than a brook trout.
Note the perfect symmetry of outline and the delicacy and variety of its
colors. Its mottled back varies in accordance with the color of the
bottom of the stream and the water in which he has made his home; the
darker his surroundings, the darker he is and therefore less easily seen
by his enemies. Trout-fishing boys and men admire the rich red of the
belly fins, but far exceeding all in beauty is the delicate coloration
of the flanks of the creature with its crimson spots encircled with
rings of azure blue. No artist, painting on Dresden china, could equal
the shading of the multicolored sides of this creature of the cold
sparkling streams of the New England mountains.
Why should men and boys find such joy in the capture and killing of so
beautiful a creature as a brook trout? Our congenital instinct, I
imagine; something we may get over in time. Not so very long ago,
beautiful song birds were slaughtered for their flesh and their
feathers. We have outlived that savagery and now think of such creatures
as our best friends, delightful to listen to and to behold.
Perhaps our beautiful friends of the mountain brooks will come into
their own some day; there are signs of it already. We don't often hear
men speak of the number of brook trout they have "killed" in a day;
modern fishermen no longer kill for the sole purpose of killing. It is
not good ethics among sportsmen of this day to take from a stream more
fish than they have use for.
Calling at the public library one day to ask for books on fishing, the
librarian surprised me by asking, "which do you want, philosophical or
practical?" The question amused me so that at first I laughed outright
but eventually when I had thought the matter through, I answered, "I
expect the book I am looking for is what you would designate as
I had figured it out right. The practical fisherman is one who is
interested primarily in "the kill." To the philosophical fisherman, the
catch is only a part of the story, a very small part likely. He is
interested in the great outdoors; he places first the opportunity to
commune with nature and to partake of its healing power. He can follow a
stream or sit in a boat as the case may be without the slightest sense
of loneliness; he is the philosophical fisherman. Isaac Walton was one.
He taught the religion of the outdoors and did more to popularize
fishing than any other man in history. What delightful vistas of thought
he opened up to the delectation of his own generation and generations
yet to come. Professor Henry Drummond was a philosophical fisherman. Oh
yes, in a humble way, that's the kind of fisherman I have been.
The brook trout are not only the most beautiful of creatures, they are
the most shy and intelligent of fish. Men love to match wits with them
and a sophisticated brook trout wins against all except the most
In the business of outwitting brook trout, long-bearded Ed Sabin, the
tinner, and 'Peg-leg" Pratt, the coffin-maker, knew no superiors. They
were individualists pure and simple and while their technique varied
greatly, the results were the same-they caught the trout. Ed placed his
catch in a creel while "Peg-leg" would cut a crotched stick from the
underbrush, cutting one side close to the crotch and leaving the other
side long enough to accommodate the expected catch when strung through
their gills. "Peg-leg" ordinarily was slow in his movements but his
return from Roaring Brook was always a march of triumph; his head was
held high and his peg leg played a staccato tattoo on the board walks of
the village. As a rejuvenator, trout fishing takes high rank.
As was the case with berrypicking, my fishing excursions began before
the light of day. What mysticism there was in those early morning hours;
all the world was mine. Even grandfather, early riser though he was, had
not thought of stirring. I used to make my way quietly down the cellar
stairs to the swinging shelf, on which I would generafly find a platter
of brook trout, the result of a previous day's fishing. They had been
rolled in corn meal and fried in buffer and even though they were cold,
they constituted a fine breakfast.
Then I would take the chunk of dried beef which always hung in the
cellarway and from it cut several sizeable slices, my only provision for
lunch. I abhorred impediments and early discovered that a tiny package
of dried beef washed down by cold water from the brook, supplied the
I'm a merry mountain brook
Hiding in some shady nook
Babbling, laughing all day long
Running, dancing with a song.
I'm as free as winds that blow
Little care I where I go
Only let me have a run
Splashing, tumbling all in fun.
An obstruction in my path
Simply makes me swirl and laugh
Nothing stops me as I flow
Over rocks to pools below.
Birney C. Batcheller.
Child's Brook was my favorite; its source was a spring well up in the
hills at the foot of White Rocks. The water near the spring, being
protected from the summer sun by huge boulders, trees and bushes,
remained frozen the year round and was locally known as the "ice bed."
Within half a mile of the "ice bed," I could begin fishing the icy
waters of Child's Brook. Creeping through the undergrowth in the wooded
stretches and through the long grass bordering the brook in the
pastureland, I would let my bait float down into promising holes.
Sometimes the results were disappointing; in spite of my efforts to
conceal myself from the vision of the trout, the shy creatures had seen
me. All I had seen was a flash upstream or downstream like a streak of
light, a slight muddying of the water where the belly fins, serving as
feelers, had stirred up the bottom of the stream.
Then again hungry trout would rise to my bait one after the other,
several perhaps from the same hole. I can still feel the thrill of it;
the desperate last second of resistance and then the catch.
It was my custom to fill the capacious pockets of my jacket with ferns
and mint gathered along the brook and to bury each captured trout in my
thus improvised crypt, there to remain until I arrived home when I would
cast the entire conglomeration into a trough of crystal spring water,
and proceed to separate the trout from their clinging shrouds,
preparatory for cleaning, gloating the while at each prize and recalling
the very hole from which it had savagely risen to strike the bait.
When the sun had risen to a position directly overhead, I would rest
and, in the shade of spreading friendly beech tree, enjoy my simple
luncheon while luxuriating in the view of the valley, the music of the
brook, the aromatic fragrance of the mint, the soft breezes from the
mountains an occasional butterfly of gorgeous colors flitting without
apparent purpose from place to place, honeybees gathering sweet nectar
from the wild flowers of the mountainside, and the rustle of the long
grass bending gracefully in the wind.
What sweeter music than the song of the brook. A friend of mine, whose
photographs in the National Geographic magazine have brought joy to
millions of readers all over the world, told me that once while
traveling in the mountains with the two great naturalists, John
Burroughs and John Muir, he came upon Burroughs lying on his side on the
floor of an old and seldom used bridge. Upon inquiring as to what he was
doing, the grand old man replied, "listening through this knot-hole to
the music of the brook." Some hear sounds to which others are deaf. Few
indeed enjoy to the fullest the senses of sight, hearing, smelling and
feeling. What a privilege the companionship of these two men, who styled
themselves, "the two Johnnies-Johnnie of the birds and Johnnie of the
After lunch with knees planted on convenient rocks and hands on others,
I would let myself down and drink from the icy water. The brook
increased in size as it continued its course down the hillside, through
the meadow and into Otter Creek. The trout increased both in size and
sophistication as they entered the broader waters. Neither brook nor
creek was famed for large tout, even half-pounders being exceptions. The
two largest I recall having been taken from the steams in our
neighborhood were two pounders. I saw one of them and greatly envied the
I became fairly proficient in the art of angling as time advanced but
never to compare with Mr. Ed Sabin or Mr. 'Peg-leg" Pratt; they could
catch trout in any brook however bad its reputation might be. No brook
was ever fished out to them and they always fished alone.
I usually finished my sport late in the afternoon and returned to the
village, a tired but happy boy, after my adventure in solitude. If there
were sick folks in the village my catch was shared with them;
grandmother would have the trout crisply cooked and done up in a snowy
napkin and I was never too tired to make deliveries.
Grandmother had her other charities as well and in those, I was her
willing messenger. Many a basket and many a pail of delicacies I have
taken at her behest to the sick and needy. Two aged sisters, one of them
stone blind, both serene in their afflictions, were regular recipients
of grandmother's bounty and they always greeted me with a smile and sent
their messages of love and gratitude to grandmother.
"A Christmas Disappointment"
GRANDFATHER, who had always been so provident and had worried so much
about the improvidence of his son and daughter-in-law, feared above all
things that I too might develop spendthrift habits. In one way and
another, he tried to encourage me to save, his first step being to start
an account for me in the Rutland Savings Bank and to exhort me to make
it grow. I did not follow his advice very strictly but somehow, the
account did grow, grandfather spurring me on.
I remember that one deposit was made as a result of an experience with
which I was not at all in sympathy. It happened on a Christmas morning.
It had been my custom to hang up my stocking Christmas Eve, with the
expectation that I would find it stuffed to overflowing in the morning
and that there would also be sundry packages lying around too large for
admission to the stocking.
Trembling with excitement, I crept out of my bedroom before daylight,
made my way across the dining room and felt my way to the mantel in the
sitting room. I found the stocking right where I had hung it but to my
unutterable amazement and disappointment, it hung limp and empty so far
as I could see. My sobs soon brought grandmother to my side and she told
me to feel again in the stocking; to thrust my hand away down deep. I
did so and extracted a tiny package, which when unwrapped proved to be a
five dollar gold piece. Had it been a rock, it could not have been more
meaningless and again I broke down and sobbed. I had been expecting the
customary books, skates, a watch perhaps, popcorn, candy and other
things beyond even my own lively imagination; if Christmas was to be
anything less than an introduction to fairyland, it was to be nothing at
Later in the day after many conversations between grandfather and
grandmother, grandfather said to leave the matter to hun. Under his
orders, I hung up my stocking again and waited a reasonable time for
Santa Claus to make a return visit. Eventually, I again made my way to
the mantle, and, with many forebodings, reached my hand down deep into
the stocking and what did I find? Another five dollar gold piece. Shades
of my grandfather! Another five dollars! It was more than human nature
could bear and I set up a howl in tune with the disappointment within
Grandfather declared that he had gone his limit so grandmother took
matters in hand again, with the result that the good things, all that I
had dreamed of and more, were realized. Grandfather did not withdraw his
gifts; the two bright five-dollar gold pieces were added to my savings
account; a good day's work for a youngster who had not long since passed
his ninth birthday.
Strange to say, in spite of my lack of enthusiasm for saving, the
account grew to fifteen hundred dollars before I became of age. When
eventually my savings became subject to my disposal they were
expeditiously put to use. I am glad to be able to say, however, that I
used most of them to pay obligations of my father's family, of which
there many and of a pressing nature.
Thus ended all likelihood of my becoming a millionaire. As a matter of
fact, I don't believe grandfather would have had me be one. He was known
even in our village where thrift was the order of the day, as a frugal
man. The few spendthrifts of the village might have thought of him as
miserly, although I have never heard that characterization of my
He was indeed extremely saving; he could not bear to see anything go to
waste, not even a pin or a piece of string; he had a place for
everything, but it was all to a high purpose, one typical of the New
Englander of my day. He wanted to help all of his children and
grandchildren to become self-respecting and independent men and women.
He believed that the best way to accomplish this purpose was through the
encouragement of thrift and the provision of the best possible
educational advantages. I often wondered how he could see so clearly the
advantage of a good education, his own opportunities having been so
limited. He aimed to keep his own records and those of his son, my
father, clear and to provide educational advantages for his
grandchildren, so far as his means permitted and so far as their
ambitions prompted them to go.
So much can be truthfully said of my careful, saving New England
grandfather. I can also say, that notwithstanding my distaste for
lectures and the "do's and the don'ts" of which there were not many, and
notwithstanding backslidings too numerous to mention, I absorbed the
substance of my grandfather's teachings.
One of the strange characters in Wallingford in my time was a man whom
we knew as "Doctor Ainsworth." He lived in the hills not far from the
"ice bed." Though he was not a graduate of any school of medicine, he
sometimes prescribed for ailing country people who were even less
informed than he. His panacea for all human ills was said to be
buckshot. If a patient survived after having taken buckshot internally,
he was supposed to be immune henceforth from all ailments, except
perchance buckshot externally applied. While much is known of the
external application of buckshot to human beings, dogs, wild beasts,
etc., "Doctor Ainsworth" was, so far as I know, the sole repository of
knowledge pertaining to its internal application.
The "Doctor's" tall, gaunt, alert figure was a familiar sight in our
community. His eyes were bright and piercing and he carried a cane. How
old he was none, perhaps not even he himself, knew. His house was on a
seldom traveled road and he might have been designated a hermit.
With all the above qualities in his favor, his greatest glory was
reflected from a far more luminous personality, his sister. She was all
lustre, though personally known to but few of the folks of our valley.
She was a clairvoyant and as such she had made a name for herself in
While that city was then, as now, one of culture and on that account
spoken of as the "hub of the universe," its people were not well versed
in the occult. That science was as definitely the long suit of "Doctor
Ainsworth's" sister as buckshot healing was of the "Doctor" himself.
Her method was simple. When consulted by anxious Bostonians on
perplexing problems of health, love, finance or the status of departed
loved ones, she merely went into a trance and comforting words of wisdom
soon flowed from her lips. She became known as "Sleeping Lucy" and her
fame spread throughout the land.
To signalize her success and in order to do something for the village of
her nativity, she gave Wallingford folks a special trance which the
citizens might henceforth think of as exclusively their own. On the
occasion of this special trance "Sleeping Lucy" revealed a fact neither
known nor suspected up to that time. She told the world that Captain
Kidd, before the memory of living man, had visited our valley in search
of a suitable repository for his ill-gotten but long famed chest of
gold. When his eagle eye lit upon White Rocks towering in the distance,
east of the spot where the "Doctor" and his famous sister made their
home, he realized at once that there on the top was the very place.
There buried deep in the ground it would be safe from the prying eyes of
inquisitive man. The Captain, being a man of action, planted his famed
chest in the ground on the top of White Rocks.
It might be said that the story of "Sleeping Lucy" belongs not to truth
but to fiction. Some folks in my valley count it as libelous and as
insinuation that they are a simple-minded people which of course they
are not. Personally I cherish it as a legend like the legends of Norway
which rise above prosaic facts into the rarer atmosphere of poetical
fancy. Nations are enriched by their legends.
There was a "Sleeping Lucy," that much we know and many of her followers
believed that it was nothing for her to rise from mundane affairs into
realms unknown to ordinary mortals, and someone having knowledge of this
gift may have hung this yarn about Captain Kidd upon her; where facts
leave off and fiction begins, I neither know or care.
I will admit, however, that the story of "Sleeping Lucy" and Captain
Kidd was one of the reasons I wanted to climb to the top of White Rocks;
that I might poke about among the crevices of the rocks in case
something might have been overlooked by the gold diggers who came in the
wake of the Captain. Even a paltry hundred doubloons or a thousand
dollars might come in handy. So I figured.
The truth of the adage that mistakes will happen in the best regulated
families was demonstrated one summer evening on our hired girl's day off
when grandmother happened to be absent from home making a call upon a
neighbor. Grandfather had been left in charge of the house, a duty which
he did not relish and which he was seldom required to do. Now it was not
unusual for Mrs. Hudson Shaw to call at our house for the purpose of
obtaining a cup of yeast. "Borrow" was the term used although neither
Mrs. Shaw nor grandmother had the remotest idea that the yeast was ever
to be returned. This gentle fiction always pertained in transactions
when yeast was the commodity concerned. One was expected to return
monkey wrenches, screw drivers, etc., but in the case of yeast there was
no return tide. As a matter of fact, if Mrs. Shaw had ever come into our
yard with a cup of yeast and said, "Here is the cup of yeast I borrowed
from you last Wednesday, Mrs. Harris," I very much doubt grandmother's
being able to survive the shock; grandmother was not very strong.
On the occasion mentioned, it was grandfather who did the honors.
Gallantly responding to the request of Mrs. Shaw, he got the innocent
looking brown jug of yeast from its shelf in the cellar and proceeded to
remove the strings with which grandmother had secured the cork in place.
Suddenly there was an explosion and grandfather's head seemed to have
been blown completely off and a huge globe of putty in its place. Not
one feature was distinguishable. Not being experienced in the ways of
yeast, I set up a howl as any little boy might have done in being thus
summarily deprived of his only grandfather; to be sure, grandfather and
I had disagreed at times but that was no reason why he should have had
his bead blown off. What part Mrs. Shaw had in bringing about the
ghastly spectacle, I did not know but I regarded her with considerable
suspicion. Mrs. Hudson Shaw had always been spoken of as a nice old lady
and she was the mother of my dear Professor Will Shaw but the fact still
remained that the moment she crossed our threshold trouble began. Four
bulls and a catamount could not have done more to break up good
housekeeping than Mrs. Hudson Shaw and her cup of yeast.
The first intimation I had that possibly grandfather had not come to an
untimely end was when the globe of putty turned in the direction of Mrs.
Shaw and deliberately and clearly enunciated the familiar word, "Pshaw7
That word was the nearest semblance to profanity that grandfather had
ever been known to use. Sadly and solemnly, and I thought reprovingly,
the globe of putty looked at Mrs. Shaw very much as if to say, "Now, see
what you have done with your everlasting, 'may I borrow a cup of yeast?'
This ought to be a lesson to you, Mrs. Hudson Shaw. I have always tried
to be a good neighbor and I think I am a good neighbor but this thing is
being run into the ground. Henceforth, Mrs. Hudson Shaw, you can go hang
for all I care."
I think that grandfather was thoroughly ashamed of his thoughts but so
far as I know, not a word percolated through his mask of yeast. Anyway
from that day until the day of his death, I never saw grandfather with a
jug of yeast in his hand, and whenever grandmother brought her yeast jug
through the kitchen I noticed that grandfather always had some important
business to attend to in the wood shed.
There is, however, no great loss without some small gain and I am sure
that grandfather and I were nearer to each other after that episode and
understood each other better. When grandmother returned from her call
she found me asleep snuggled up in grandfather's lap with my arms
clasped around him. I had no intention of ever letting grandfather get
away from me again; at least not unless grandmother was present and as
for Mrs. Hudson Shaw, I would scream bloody murder if I ever saw her
enter our gate with an empty cup in her hand.
"Cupid and Bacchus"
NEITHER OF MY grandparents were given to attending social affairs.
Neighbors called on grandmother and she would pay return calls. Aunt Lib
Martindale called frequently and I am sure that her calls meant much to
grandmother. I remember Aunt Lib's fleshy figure as she rocked slowly
back and forth relating the news that had come to her ears, and, when
grandmother would in turn relate some tid-bit of information, Aunt Lib
would show her appreciation by an ejaculation which sounded like "Y-ee."
Whether "Y-ee" is a contraction of something else or whether it is a
noun, pronoun, verb or adverb, I do not know but I have heard a lot of
"Y-ee's" in my day. Aunt Lib also had a nervous habit, affliction I
think it might be called, of repeatedly closing her eyes tightly and
then opening them wide. I used to want to ask her why she went through
that performance but restrained myself for grandmother's sake. She used
to wear a little shawl over her head as she came through the path
connecting the Martindale home with ours. During the call the shawl
always dropped so as to protect her neck and shoulders.
The doings of the Fox children, my cousins, of Rutland constituted the
principal topic of conversation when Aunt Lib came to our house. It
seemed to me that the eligibility of every young man in Rutland was
canvassed by my grandmother and Aunt Lib in their quest of a suitor for
my cousin Mary when she became of marriageable age. Any young man who
had ever touched his hat to our Mary was marked a potential suitor and
put on the list for gentle panning or blessing as the case might be. I
possessed a mental "Who's who" on all of them and could have enlightened
them if they had consulited me about their chances of capturing cousin
One after the other, grandmother and Aunt Lib married off the several
children of the Fox family; set one boy up in business, the other in a
profession; married the girls off, and launched them all on
distinguished careers, while I, sitting on a stool beside grandmother,
took it all in and lent their conclusions my moral support.
To be sure errors in their reckonings revealed themselves; little
Johnnie did not follow in the footsteps of his father and become a
doctor as the board had planned, and faithful and self-sacrificing
cousin Mattie, nearest to me in age and my favorite, deferred the
announcement of marital vows until long after we had given up hope.
Failures in prognostication weakened my faith in the infallibility of
the strategy board, but I felt myself greatly edified in witnessing its
skilful maneuvers. It was like seeing a game of chess between the great
masters, my dear cousins being pawns in their hands.
While the doings and prospective doings of the Fox children were the
chief topics of conversation they were not the only ones. Sometimes
certain villagers were honored by specific mention but I cannot remember
that Aunt Lib ever had a hired girl anywhere near the equal of our Delia
or Mary in the news-gathering business. Aunt Lib was greatly handicapped
in this respect; Delia and Mary were unrivaled, better than some
newspapers I have read.
To Aunt Lib however go my thanks for having given me my first
impressions of neighborliness; it was good, old-fashioned neighborliness
unspoiled by frills; the kind which continues year after year without
break and always a beneficent influence.
Vermonters are famed for their frugality, and our valley had its full
share of frugal folks; among them was Mrs. Abigail Coleridge
-Aunt Abbie we called her. Aunt Abbie once became afflicted with
rheumatism which confined her to her bed. Someone advised her to take
Hood's Sarsaparilla and Aunt Abbie soon had an ample supply. In order to
avoid the high prices of Calvin Townsend's retail store Aunt Abbie
bought a dozen bottles at a wholesale drug house in Rutland. Whether it
was due to the virtues of Hood's Sarsaparilla or some other cause-a
change of weather perhaps-her rheumatism quickly cleared up.
Eliza Huntoon, a neighbor who chanced to drop in one day, saw Aunt Abbie
taking a liberal dose of Hood's Sarsaparila though she was running about
the house chipper as a sparrow. The neighbor inquired of Aunt Abbie:
"Why do you continue taking medicine, Aunt Abbie? You are entirely
recovered from your rheumatism, aren't you?"
"Yes," answered Aunt Abbie "but I paid seventy-five cents a bottle for
that Hood's Sarsaparilla and you wouldn't expect me to throw it away,
would you, Eliza?"
The next house south of ours was that of Judge Button, a refined and
educated gentleman, who had served as County judge at Rutland for many
years, continuing however, during his encumbency of office, to live in
Wallingford. During the latter years of his life he filled the position
of Justice of the Peace in Wallingford. The Judge heard petty cases of
misdemeanors and the trials were at times a circus for us boys. The most
common offenses were drunkenness and fighting and the dramatis personae
were pretty much the same folks all the time.
Bob Rutherford was one of the most frequent customers. Bob played
shortstop on the baseball team and played well when he was sober enough
to see the ball; he had his eccentricities and stuck to them come weal,
come woe. He was ill one day and a friend advised him to take a
teaspoonful of Hostetter's Bitters. Bob took the teaspoonful and then
announced that it was his opinion if a little was so good, much would be
better and so he drank the whole bottle. We expected to see him expire
but he grew more hilarious with each succeeding swallow, and when he
topped off with an even pound of honey which he bought at Luther Tower's
candy shop, we concluded that if he were ever to die someone would have
to kill him, which several citizens would have been glad to do.
Every' month or two, when Bob felt sufficiently prosperous, he would
take a jug and start for the New York State line, twenty-five miles
distant, where thirsty pilgrims from prohibition Vermont, were wont to
go to slake their thirst. Bob always began his return trip with his jug
full and arrived in Wallingford with it empty. Having had twenty-five
miles of joyous inebriation, he was ready to work in anyone's hayfield
at the customary wage.
Vermont was a prohibition state and the law was frequently evaded but
Vermont villages were cleaner and more orderly by far than border towns
in New York State. New Yorkers residing in the border towns used to
claim that the reason why they could not keep their towns clean and
orderly was because they were visited by so many "bums" from the state
Judge Button, who at the time presided at the court of justice, was
exceedingly deaf and very solemn. Witnesses always had to speak loudly
which they seemed willing to do, especially the contestants and their
lawyers. There were no regularly admitted lawyers but Mr. Elija Brewster
and Mr. Charles Congdon acted as such. Elijah Brewster was recognized as
one of our most distinguished citizens, a versatile gentleman, something
of a farmer, something of a capitalist and a politician as well. During
political campaigns he played an important part and for Fourth of July
orations, his services were indispensable. To use a hackneyed
expression, Elija Brewster could "make the eagle scream." Under his
capable leadership, we fought the battles of Bunker Hill, Bennington,
Saratoga and Yorktown over again. We couldn't help wondering how many
lives would have been saved and how wonderful it would have been, if the
British could have had Mr. Elija Brewster to deal with.
While Mr. Brewster specialized on events of the Revolution, he was no
tyro on the events of the Civil War; in fact, it was clear to all who
heard him orate that Elija was a war horse and that it was a pity he was
born too early to fight in one war and too late to fight in the other.
His speeches were inspiring; they made us swell up until we almost
burst. We felt that the United States could and probably should, pick up
all the nations of the earth and crack their heads together. We knew
that one American was the equal of ten of any other nation; that in
fact, America was just America and that all the rest of the world was
We also learned that America had always been entirely right in its
contentions and that its opponents had always been entirely wrong;
anyone who thought otherwise was a traitor to his country. How it
happened that our country had always been such a paragon of virtue was a
matter of conjecture. Mr. Elija dealt in "facts," not in theories. What
he said was simply and definitely true; no one who loved his country
could fail to recognize its infallibility in all things.
I do not know which of the two, Mr. Brewster or Mr. Congdon, knew the
most law; in fact, it was claimed by many that neither of them knew much
law and that Judge Button was the only person in Wallingford who knew
law and the Judge was very deaf. However, Mr. Brewster and Mr. Congdon
looked very learned and folks opined that things could not go very far
wrong while Judge Hutton sat on the bench.
Deaf or not deaf, the Judge knew how to separate the wheat from the
chaff. When at concert pitch, Elija Brewster's voice trembled with
emotion and his hands shook as if he were afflicted with palsy. It
always seemed to me that Mr. Brewster had a great advantage in this
respect. He made us all feel lachrymose at times but I felt that he
might have saved some of his tremolo so far as Bob Rutherford was
concerned, and that it might have been just as well to have given Bob a
bottle of Hostetter's Bitters and a pound of honey and turned him loose.
Bob, after a fight, used to look like a well-pounded beef steak but even
so, he always seemed uplifted after hearing Mr. Brewster speak so well
of him and cry about him so. Getting drunk and fighting were about the
only spiritual outlets Bob had; he never went to church nor to the
Friday evening prayer meetings in the little red chapel. Probably we all
had something in the nature of a spiritual uplift or awakening when we
heard Mr. Brewster explain the high moral tone of Bob 'Rutherford's
fights; I mean all of us except Mr. Congdon. He was an old campaigner
and not easily moved by such doings and besides he was on the other side
of the case, and it was to his interest to look as if he didn't believe
a word Mr. Brewster was saying and that he considered him a fraud
Judge Button always listened respectfully to eveiything the witnesses
and the lawyers had to say however foolish it might seem to other
people. The Judge's very presence spread a mantle of dignity over all
the proceedings in the little frame building where he held court as
Wallingford's Justice of the Peace.
No one ever thought of talking "out loud" or laughing, and men and boys
took theft hats off without being told to do so. In fact Judge Button
never issued any orders of any character to anyone that I can remember;
everyone instinctively tried to act as near as possible as Judge Button
acted during a trial of cases in his courtroom.
There has to be an end of all things both good and bad and, in course of
time, there came an end to Judge Button's tenure of office. The good,
upright old Judge went to bed one night tired and worn out and he never
arose again. A hush fell over the little village when folks learned that
Judge Button had passed on. The doors of the little office were locked
for some time. The villagers had not realized how important a part the
little office had played in the drama of community life.
I imagine that even Bob Rutherford missed the little office. What was
the use of getting drunk and fighting if he must be deprived of the very
heart and soul of the entire enterprise-trial in open court before his
fellow townsmen. It was not easy for a great and temperamental artist
like Bob to be pushed off the stage; to the folks of Wallingford, Bob
was Edwin Booth, Joe Jefferson and Nat Goodwin combined when it came to
There was no resident sheriff in Wallingford but Mr. Harvey Congdon,
brother of Mr. Charles Congdon, was Constable and when tramps entered
the village all one had to do was to send a boy to find Mr. Harvey
Congdon. He was old and frail and toed-in considerably but even so, he
was the best croquet player in Wallingford. Reverend Mr. Archibald, the
Baptist minister, was runner-up.
Whenever Harvey Congdon caught a tramp, it was his custom to say to him,
"Come along with me." There were no further preliminaries; these words
having been spoken, he took his prisoner by the arm and led him to the
village limits. Upon arrival at this point he performed the brief but
impressive ceremony of looking the vagrant searchingly in the eye as if
he feared he might forget him if he ever returned to Wallingford.
Harvey Congdon had a habit of spitting furiously whenever he became
agitated. We townspeople knew all about that and thought nothing of it
as several of our best citizens indulged in that practice. I have never
seen Mr. Harvey Congdon administer what might be termed his, "bums
rush," but I have often thought that his way of spitting right and left
must have been disconcerting to strangers; they must have been glad to
get beyond his range.
The Clarenden folks used to say that Mr. Harvey Congdon dumped more
vagrant tourists on them than all the other constables in the county,
though all Vermont constables were liberal in that respect; tramps had
to walk too fast for their enjoyment of the scenic wonders of our
"A Sad Tragedy"
FOX POND WAS NOT without its tragedies; one of Wallingford's most
beautiful young ladies, beautiful in character as well as in person, met
her death in the waters of the pond. She was much older than I but she
seemed particularly near to our family because she had once lived with
grandmother. In those days in New England, it was not unusual for
refined and educated young ladies to do housework when there was no
other demand upon their time. Their social status was in no wise
affected and the presence of such a person in the home was a social as
well as an economical advantage.
Nancy was dark-eyed, tall and willowy and would have graced any position
in which she might have found herself. She was loved and admired by the
townspeople both old and young and a dark shadow fell upon the community
when she left us. She had suffered as only the refined and cultured can
suffer until she could bear it no longer.
One night she arose from her bed and went out, down the familiar road,
across the creek bridge, on up the hill, through the woods, then down
the slope to Fox Pond, the scene of many a happy picnic in former days..
Slowly and with a determination one would hardly have thought her
capable of, she waded out into the cold water to a depth not much above
her knees, then fell forward face down and deliberately held herself in
that position until she died; the water was not deep enough to drown a
child who cared to live. In the morning a searching party easily found
The perseverance of Nancy in her determination to take her own life, was
a subject of conversation for many years. One never heard words of
condemnation; they were words of deep sorrow. The folks of our valley
had suffered a great loss. Nancy had always been a sweet influence in
Folks recalled the fact that one after another those nearest to her had
been taken; first her father, then her mother and then her kindly and
handsome brother, Neil, who died of tuberculosis while still a young
man. After the shock of these bereavements, her whole affection was
centered on her younger sister, Lizzie; Nancy simply had to have someone
on whom to lavish affection, and most naturally she turned to Lizzie.
There was little social life in our community, most of the young men
having gone west in search of larger opportunities. The two Gleghorn
girls found employment, as many other refined and capable New England
young ladies had done, working in the shirt and collar factory of Troy,
New York, sixty miles south.
The thought of our Nancy and our Lizzie working by the side of
foreigners was disturbing but the Gleghorn girls needed the money and
after all, such employment was a break in the monotony of everyday home
life in Wallingford and they could come home occasionally.
The combination was broken up soon by Lizzie being called upon to take
charge of the home of an aged neighbor and Nancy continued her life in
Troy alone. It's a long story, that of the passing of Mr. Frank Miller
and his having made Lizzie the sole beneficiary under his will. All of
these events seemed quite natural to Nancy and she was happy in Lizzie's
good fortune. The great shock caine when Lizzie married and Nancy
realized that her one remaining prop had been removed; Nancy henceforth
was to be alone.
This was more than she could bear; there had always been someone she
could serve; now there was none. Nancy was not the kind of young lady to
live without purpose, so, as has been related, she got out of bed one
night and made her distracted way down the creek road to the pond.
Stories of the migration of ambitious young men to the western country
are full of romantic and interesting incidents. They went from farms and
villages out into the unknown world, equipped with good principles and a
willingness to work. Throughout their wanderings they were sustained by
the hope of success and their
determination to render good accounts of themselves. Few of the home
folks give even passing thought to the Nancys and Lizzies who have been
left without prospects of becoming mothers with families of their own.
In rare cases young men who have attained success do return to pick up
the threads of youthful romance, but, as a rule, new romances take the
place of the old, and those who return bring with them their families.
In a few cases, New England young ladies of courage and determination
have taken matters into their own hands and joined the trek to the
western country. Some of the New England girls who struck out for
themselves became school teachers and few returned to New England. In
one instance, a far seeing and philanthropic migrant who had been
successful in the West, chartered a ship and took a load of marriageable
young women all the way around Cape Horn to Portland, Oregon, into the
outstretched arms of waiting suitors.
In another instance, the founder of a great system of restaurants which
extended throughout the Southwest, advertised in New England for young
women of character who desired to make permanent homes in the West. This
progressive employer of hundreds of young ladies, seemingly against his
own interests definitely urged his help to marry whenever suitable
opportunity presented itself. To be employed as a waitress in one of the
excellent Harvey eating houses along the line of the Santa Fe railway
soon became a satisfactory assurance of respectability and many happy
If our winsome Nancy had known of such opportunities, she probably would
not have waded to her death that night in Fox Pond. No one could have
presided over a home with greater dignity and charm nor have been a
better mother than Nancy.
In case there is any to whom the term, "hired girl" is not familiar, I
may say that in rural New England of my day, the hired girl was not the
equivalent of the city maid; she was an institution; she wore no cap or
other indication of servility. While waiting on table, she did not glide
noiselessly and speechlessly about surreptitiously purloining a
half-emptied plate and substituting another either half-full or empty.
When she entered the dining room from the kitchen, everyone knew she was
coming; she made no attempt to conceal her presence. When she planked
her ground grippers down, one had a feeling of security-no cinderella
slippers were they. She considered herself a member of the family and to
all intents and purposes she was. After having landed her cargo of
corned beef and cabbage, boiled dinner, pork and beans, or whatever else
might be on the bill of fare, she took her place at the table, and, in
due course of time passed her plate for a helping which had to be
In compensation for the customary amenities, she delivered tidbits of
local gossip, stored up for the occasion. She could give the "low-down"
on almost anything. Her antennae extended in all directions and it was
marvelous how much she was able to scoop in.
She had a superlative sense of dignity which she yielded to no one, it
mattered not what the occasion. For example, a New England housewife
once asked her "Biddy" to wear a cap and gown while serving
distinguished guests from the city. Biddy's answer was prompt and
unequivocal, "It is wanting me to make a fool of myself that ye are?
Stick that bonnet on your own head and that purty apron on your own
body. Bridget Moriarity will have none of them."
A city house maid is no more like a New England hired girl than a horse
chestnut is like a chestnut horse.
Our Mary and the Stafford's Myra had an organization of their own. They
used to get together evenings and talk things over; what was not known
by one or the other of them, was not worth knowing. Their gleanings gave
spice to table talk. There was never lack of matters to talk about at
our table and Mary or Delia as the case might be, contributed their full
Neither allegiance to the Congregational church nor allegiance to the
Republican party caused my grandparents to be narrow either in their
religious or their political views. I can never recall a time when we
were without an Irish Catholic girl in our house and the garden was
always worked by Mr. Wynne. I can also in truth say that I never heard
my grandparents speak in disparaging terms of either Catholics, Jews,
Democrats, or of members of other races or devotees of other faiths.
I early learned the essentiality of maintaining a mutually satisfactory
understanding with the hired girl, and, although there were no formal
treaties executed, there were certain strict canons of correct practice
which were always observed. Among other things it was understood that
neither should inform on the other. This was mostly in my favor as I
seldom had anything on the hired girl but she frequently had
considerable on me. When grandmother displayed her unfamiliarity with
affairs of common knowledge in the community, it was not necessary for
me to sit trembling in my chair; a wink across the table by the hired
girl was sufficient assurance that all was well.
When, by chance, I happened to stumble into the kitchen one night and
saw Delia sitting in the lap of Pete, her sweetheart and prospective
husband, I stumbled out again reserving my wink for a more appropriate
Tender recollections these-my heart swells with pride as I recall the
rigid observance of the niceties of our face-saving treaties; no mere
scraps of paper they-Ah no! As long as Delia and Mary lived, it was my
custom whenever in Vermont to call upon them in commemoration of the
faithful performance of their duties in our household. Both raised
children and had grandchildren in plenty. I do not think of them as
having been servants but rather as having been members of our family.
Although we had no hired man who sat at the table with us, I well know
the species and know that they also were independent in character. They
did not work for a wage merely; they worked to accomplish a task and the
task had to be sensible. Tell a New England hired man to transfer a pile
of stone from one corner of a field to another and he will do so
willingly; tell him to take the stones back again and he will do so
grudgingly but tell him then to transfer them somewhere else and it will
be up to you to find another hired man to carry out your wishes, if you
can find one sufficiently unprincipled. There must be common sense in
everything a New England hired man is required to do. New Englanders
abhor waste whether it be of time, money or energy. Perhaps that is why
their poorhouses remain tenantless, or nearly so, much of the time.
I suppose that there must have been an official poorhouse in our county
but I do not remember seeing it or knowing anyone who lived in a
poorhouse. New Englanders have always had an antipathy against paupers
except those who were in that state through no fault of their own. The
laws of most of the New England States at one time disfranchised
paupers, probably on the theory that if they could not manage their own
affairs, they would not be likely to make substantial contributions in
the affairs of state.
In the early days, in New England, it was the practice to sell the
services of paupers at public auction. The pauper went to whomsoever
would pay him the highest price for his services and the employer
henceforth became responsible for his welfare. The institution served
its purpose well enough to justify its existence in the opinion of the
majority of the voters for many years. A certain percentage of citizens,
unable to manage their own affairs to the satisfaction of the public or
to their own satisfaction, were willing to work and experienced a goodly
measure of relief from worry and anxiety in the transfer of their
burdens to the shoulders of other men more capable of bearing them.
All went well in the cases of the employers who were true to their
trusts; those who were really interested in the welfare of their
workers, but that much doubtless could be said for slavery. Good masters
in some respects were better than none but slave owners were not always
good masters, and it is equally true that employers of pauper labor in
New England were not always true to their trusts. Moreover there was in
the New England institution a suggestion of serfdom, which of course was
repugnant to men and women born and bred in that part of the United
States frequently spoken of as the "Cradle of Liberty."
The only case of pauper labor that I have ever heard of in My Valley was
the case of Nathan Remington, whose services were sold to Mr. Alfred
Hull; the relationship continued throughout the life of Mr. Hull and
throughout the life of his widow; nothing short of death could have
There were not many who came within the hired man class; that is, there
were few who habitually worked on farms belonging to others. Farmers and
their sons managed to do all the work of their farms except during
haying time possibly.
When a villager needed a man for a particular job, he could usually find
one suited to the requirements. There were a few elderly men who had no
regular employment and who were glad of the opportunity to earn a little
extra money. Some, who did not care to work for anyone and everyone in
need of help, would work for some particular person whose ways they
understood and approved. Mr. Wynne was always glad to help grandfather
out and Randall Nourse helped Mr. Ed Martindale quite regularly. What,
if any, other source of revenue Randall had, was not known to the
public. He occupied rooms in the basement of Alphonso Stafford's home,
and what, if any, cash he paid for the privilege was unknown. Perhaps he
paid nothing. Alphonso Stafford may have considered him a protection
against fire, burglary, etc. At any rate, Randall belonged to a class of
Wallingford citizens who lived respectably and well on an income
incredibly small. That is where characteristic Vermont frugality came
Mr. Justin Bacheller was the only villager who had a bonafide year-round
man servant but Mr. Bacheller was a lover of fast horses and John Catle
knew how to exercise and train them and there was not the slightest
servility in his service; he was one of the citizens of our village.
"A Reunited Family"
THE AFFAIRS OF my father's family were always at boiling point. It
seemed a great boon when grandfather bought another drug store for
father. This one was in the town of Fair Haven, about twenty-five miles
from Wallingford. The family was reassembled and in due time,
grandfather bought a good home for us. All seemed favorable; father's
optimism and enthusiasm knew no bounds. We were taken in by the best
people in town; we children went to church and Sunday school and took
our places in the village school.
Father worked hard and spent his leisure hours with the family. Sunday
afternoons he assembled us around the Chickering piano that grandfather
had bought for mother. Father led the singing although he knew not one
note from another; there were no more ups and downs in his bass voice
than there is in a bass drum but nevertheless he kept ponderously on in
his exuberance of spirit. When unfamiliar with the words of a hymn,
father used to extemporize; one never knew when he started a hymn where
he would finish up but he used to enjoy it because of its effect upon
mother. For example, he would sing:
"The mistakes of my life have been many
The sins of my life have been more, But thank Cod, I am no knocker."
The last line being his own, he sang it with gusto.
Quite true, my dear father, you were never a knocker. Your list of
friends included all sorts and conditions of men and you were as free
from religious and political prejudices as any man I have ever known,
except perhaps your father, my grandfather, from whom both you and I
inherited tolerance. And then there is another thing about you, my dear
father. It happened long after the years of which I have been writing;
in fact, long after you had left Vermont. I refer to the latter period
of your life when you were living in Denver. Mother was, at the time,
sadly broken; she was totally blind and helpless and then came the great
transformation of your life. You waited on mother so tenderly all of
those latter years; lifting her from her bed and placing her in her
wheel chair. I remember so well how patiently you fed her with a spoon;
how you hung on her every word and became her abject slave and when she
passed away, you tried so bravely to face life without her. You expiated
all shortcomings of former years.
Also see the 2012 RGHF Institute, Denver, for
photos of Paul's parents' graves.
Father resolved to be very economical when he took up life in Fair
Haven; he devised a system of barter and exchange; he used to swap
cigars for liver, tongue and tripe which he liked very much. Mr. Powell,
the butcher, was a prodigious smoker, and there being very little demand
for liver, tongue and tripe, the exchange seemed to be mutually
profitable. Father carried his system of barter and exchange all down
the line. He even used to hire horses and surreys from Mr. Hyde, who ran
the livery stable, and pay for their use in ten cent cigars. We had many
happy rides Sunday afternoons because of father's system of barter and
exchange. He would swap cigars for anything anyone had to offer whether
he needed it or not. He never seemed to figure that his cigars cost him
anything; it was alright with father so long as he didn't have to pay
In course of time, a new crop of children began to arrive, Guy, Claude
and Reginald came in turn and Aunt Sue, who came to live with us, got
back into her stride raising mother's children. Guy died in his boyhood.
Claude gave his life in his country's service in the Philippines at the
turn of the century. Reginald survived, became a member of the faculty
of the University of Wyoming, served in the U. S. Army during World War
I, and now resides in California.
Father worked in the garden during the growing season and raised
abundant supplies of potatoes, strawberries, grapes, chatting
occasionally with the Catholic priest who lived on the adjoining
property. Father figured that his garden produce cut down the cost of
So long as father continued to devote his best efforts to his drug
business and mother continued to devote hers to the home, things went on
fairly well but when father began to turn back to his old weakness,
inventions, and mother turned the housekeeping over to hired girls while
she gave music lessons, led church choirs and Welsh choral groups,
things did not go so well. Sometimes there was plenty of good food to
eat and sometimes the cupboard was almost bare; it was either feast or
Seeing the drift in the direction of the rocks, grandfather gave father
timely advice but father smiled indulgently, convinced that grandfather
was in his dotage at last. He invented a potato bug poison in
competition with paris green; he named his concoction london purple but
paris green continued to be the favorite. He also invented a physic and
gave it the name of august flower and since he had no guinea pigs to use
for experimental purposes, he used to practice on us children.
His experiments with chemicals resulted in several explosions severe
enough to rip the buttons from his vest and spot his clothes beyond
recovery. In business affairs and in domestic affairs, the tragedy of
Racine was being enacted all over again; it was as if neither of my
parents had learned anything whatsoever from the unhappy events of
We three older children were kept in school. The principal was a tall,
angular, rawboned man with deep-set severe eyes. His name was Ichabod
Spencer. He never stood erect but had an habitual slouch which created
the impression that he was in constant readiness to pounce upon someone,
innocent or guilty. His attitude struck tenor to the hearts of all
children within his jurisdiction. He was a natural born sleuth and was
likely to shuffle into our room almost any time of day. He wore a long
black coat and trousers which bagged at the knee. I don't recall ever
having seen the vestige of a smile on his face. Corporeal punishment was
a factor to be reckoned with in the public school of my day and Ichabod
Spencer seemed to enjoy administering severe floggings. There were
plenty of rooms in the building beside the school rooms where he might
have indulged himself, beyond the sight and hearing of the innocent
children, but it was not his practice to use them. The brutal punishment
was always administered even in the presence of the tiniest of the
children. In one case a child was so shocked that it shrieked in agony
and had to be removed from the room. A boy, in another case, was so
frightened and stunned that he could not bear food on his stomach for a
In major offenses it was customary for the teacher to send a boy for
Professor Spencer who always appeared with alacrity, bearing his
customary rawhide whip. There was a little Welsh boy in our department
by the name of Harry Parry; he was an incorrigible. In his case
Professor Spencer wasted no words. He used but two sentences, one,
'Harry Parry, come forward" and, "take off your coat, sir." Then amid
the boy's shrieks, Professor Spencer rained the cruel blows on, while
the pallid faced children trembled in their seats.
If Charles Dickens, before writing his Nicholas Nickelby, could have
seen Professor Ichabod Spencer, it would not have been necessary for him
to create the character, Mr. Wackford Sqeers. Professor Spencer was the
incarnation of the immortal headmaster of the Dotheboys School, and
Harry Parry, an American equivalent of poor Smike.
New England, unfortunately, had no Charles Dickens to throw a floodlight
of publicity on the abuse of authority in schools but educational
methods were undergoing great changes on both sides of the Atlantic
My experience in the school dominated by Professor Ichabod Spencer was
to me, "the last ounce that broke the camel's back." I could put up with
mismanagement in the home and in father's business affairs but the
incubus of Professor Ichabod Spencer was too much to bear.
However, our home at Fair Haven had to be given up and other
arrangements made. Eventually father and mother took up residence in
Colorado and remained there until summoned to the Great Beyond-mother in
1920 and father in 1926.
My home in Wallingford was still open to me and for the third time in my
brief history, I took refuge in its calm and repose. My experience in
Fair Haven greatly increased my sympathy for grandfather in the shadow
which enshrouded him during the closing years of his life.
I anxiously noted the effect of father's letters on grandfather. After
reading them, he used to sit for hours in his arm chair, sighing audibly
and his sighs at times seemed much like sobs; his sadness depressed me;
scalawag though I was, my heart was full of pity for grandfather, the
bearer of so many burdens.
At times grandfather and I enjoyed little confidences although the
initiative was always mine. While grandfather never said a word about
his feelings toward me, he had a way of looking wondrously tender at
As he advanced in years, it became increasingly difficult for him to
care for himself; sometimes he asked me to shave him and I responded as
best I could. At other times he asked me to adjust his truss. I cannot
recall his ever having asked me to do the chores but when he was driven
back into the house one day before completing his job of shoveling the
path through a heavy snow, I slipped out the back door, picked up his
shovel where he had left it and cut a clean path through the high drift
which had confronted him and then scurried along to the post-office.
One day as I was sitting in his lap, he told me that he could not expect
to be with us much longer. When I asked him how long, he replied, "at
the very outside, ten years" I then inquired, "do you want to live,
grandpa?" and he answered resignedly, "Oh yes, I want to live."
And so it is with men and with all creatures from the tiniest insect in
the air to the mammoth fish in the sea, they all cling to life;
manifestly Providence did not intend to make the passage from this world
too easy or inviting
I wondered how death must seem to one who must soon face it; would it
seem so terrible as it did to me? Grandfather had nothing to say on the
subject; I had done pretty well to get him to talk that much. Had I been
less tempestuous in nature and less interested in the amazing things I
was finding in life, I would have looked well to it that I added nothing
to grandfather's burdens, but I am sorry to relate that my affectionate
outbursts were not so frequent as they might have been and that most of
the time, I was just a boy well tuned to fun and mischief and to little
Despite all my misdemeanors and not infrequent relapses into savagery,
there was a warm spot in the heart of grandfather for his erring
grandson. One day when I was at my worst, grandfather told Mary Foley as
she was working in the kitchen at her pots and pans, "that boy will make
his mark in the world."
Many long years after grandfather's death, there came to me a small
well-preserved leather covered memorandum book containing a brief
summary of his financial standing on the first of January each year
beginning with 1826 and continuing until 1888, the year of his death.
Inscribed without date on one of the pages were the words: "For Ma and
Paul." It was an eloquent testimonial of the careful planning and
self-denial which made his benefactions possible.
Grandfather always had much time in which to think; some folks I knew
didn't have to do much thinking in order to talk, thinking and talking
to them being disconnected processes. With grandfather it was different;
it required several minutes even to say, yes or no," and he had to do a
certain amount of hemming and hawing before he could get those words out
and even they were qualified and buttressed by "perhapses," and
"may-bees," and "like enoughs," which would have taken the starch all
out coming from anyone except grandfather.
I soon learned that grandfather used these words as extra safeguards
against trouble in case his "yes or no," proved to be in error; it was
like throwing the brakes on when coasting down a steep hill. When folks
got to know grandfather well, they took his "yes" and "no" as the
copper-riveted low-down on the subject and it didn't make any difference
how many "perhapses," "may-bees" and "like enoughs" he threw in.
While Vermonters in general were not so conservative in speech as
grandfather, moderation was customary. We shall not forget the classic
story of Silas and Obadiah. Si was trying out his new automobile and as
ill-luck would have it, he ran over his friend Obadiah. In
consternation, he stopped his car and sang out, "Did I hurt you, Obe?"
The latter propped his head up on his arms and answered, "Can't say as
you done me any good, Si."
Most children have the advantage of the teaching and example of their
parents; few have the advantage of the teaching and example of their
grandparents as well. The philosophy of their parents, as a rule,
becomes their philosophy. I consider myself doubly fortunate in having
had the opportunity of choosing between the careful, orderly methods of
my grandparents and the disorderly though well-intended, methods of my
parents; I could never have been so appreciative of the home of my
grandparents had I not lived at times in the home of my parents.
A dear friend of mine used to say that every well regulated home should
have one ceremonial meal each day at which all members of the family
could be expected to be present and participate in the discussion of
events and plans for the future; he contended that ceremonial meals were
incomparable as character builders. Our supper was our ceremonial meal
if such a term could be applied to so simple a repast; at any rate, it
was at the supper table in my grandparent's home that we talked things
over. Grandfather used to sit in his arm chair at the supper table
paring microscopically thin slices from a small piece of hard cheese or
a doughnut and it was at these times that he gave voice to some of his
I have spoken before of his unusually large thumbs. The wags of the day
when grandfather ran a country store, used to say that he could make a
barrel of molasses spin out much farther by grasping his quart measure
with one of his enormous thumbs inside; the more thumb there was,
naturally the less molasses. While the quip was of course sheer calumny,
grandfather did have big thumbs and they showed to their best as we sat
at our supper table talking things over; there was something eloquent
and convincing in grandfather's thumbs.
Chapter 21 "A
GRANDFATHER, with his abiding sense of tolerance and his custom of
speaking no ill of men or of nations would seem to have been
particularly immune from the hatred or even the dislike of neighbors,
and so, generally speaking, he was. The most critical thing which men
could in truth charge against grandfather was that he took little part
in village affairs. His inability to express even his most deep-seated
convictions clearly and convincingly was responsible for the fact that
he left such matters to the eloquent speakers like Mr. Joel Ainsworth of
whom there were several ready and willing to express their opinions on
any and all public matters, whether such opinions were matured or spoken
offhand. Grandfather would pay his taxes and perform all public duties
which did not overstrain his faculty of speech. At the first indication
of rancor or even of spirited debate, grandfather would silently glide
away. To put it in other words, grandfather disliked controversy of any
With such mentality, grandfather would seem to be the last person in the
world to be party to a feud; and yet there is no gain-saying the fact
that he was party to a feud which began long before my time and was not
terminated during his life. Who was the other principal in this unhappy
affair? The very person with whom he most needed peace; his next door
neighbor, he whom we called Uncle Ed, the husband of Aunt Lib.
Uncle Ed unfortunately also was tongue-tied in the face of controversy.
If these two worthy New England gentlemen could have talked it out, or
even shot it out, the feud might have ended short of the death of either
of the principals but that was not to be the way of it. Nearly half a
century passed; the fire smoldered but never once burst into flames.
Grandfather met Uncle Ed almost daily on the streets of Wallingford but
no sign of recognition was ever passed. Grandmother and Aunt Lib, during
the course of Aunt Lib's daily calls, at times spoke of the feud and
sometimes speculated as to the cause of its origin but all was to no
avail. Aunt Lib once said: "How on earth it could have happened is
beyond me. Edwin has Mr. Harris to thank for everything he has in the
world today." But even grandmother and Aunt Lib were utterly helpless in
the matter; the feud had to continue its relentless course. Neither
grandfather nor Uncle Ed even mentioned the name of the other. Uncle Ed
vented his spleen at times on my father and on me but never a word about
grandfather. It was as though grandfather had never lived.
Both families derived their supplies of drinking water from the same
spring in the foothills and one common line of pumplogs carried the
water to the coupling boxes on our property where the water was diverted
to Uncle Ed's house and to ours. On occasions an ancient pumplog sprang
a leak and the supply of water stopped. This was a calamity to both
families and brought both grandfather and Uncle Ed post haste to the
coupling boxes to locate the leak. On such occasions it was necessary
for the two tongue-tied neighbors to work-sometimes frantically-together
and it was astonishing how much they could accomplish without a word
being spoken. When the job was done grandfather picked up his tools and
Uncle Ed picked up his and they departed for their tool rooms in their
respective barns, Uncle Ed in the meantime spitting quite furiously as
many Vermonters do when they have bad tastes in their mouths. I used to
imagine that Uncle Ed could happily have tried his crow bar or his pick
axe on grandfather but that would have been against the law and
Vermonters are law abiding folks.
While grandfather was a .listener more frequently than a speaker, he did
sometimes break silence.
During one of our supper-time conversations across the table,
grandmother asked grandfather if he had read a certain article it "The
Springfield Republican" on "Our American Way of Life."
He answered, "Yes, I read it, every word of it and I want Paul to read
He stopped there and probably would have pursued the subject no further
had not grandmother continued.
"I suppose you liked it, Pa; it is much as I have heard you talk.'
Grandfather answered thoughtfully, "Yes, I liked it and I don't see how
any American could fail to like it. I think we all appreciate our
privileges but we don't know just why we appreciate them and "The
Republican" has told us why. It is good to live in a country dedicated
to equality of opportunity for all. The Republican says some of the
other countries are dedicated to the direct opposite of that. They are
dedicated to the plan of special privileges. In such countries a few
people have the privilege of education which is denied to others and
naturally the few become the ruling class. In America we believe that
the benefits of education should be enjoyed by all who care for them so
that all may have a voice in governmental affairs and there will be no
need of ruling classes,
Then grandfather turned slowly to me and looked long and searchingly at
me, then added these words:
'That's the reason Paul, why I am so anxious that you have a good
education. I can help you; I will help you, perhaps, may-be
When grandfather finished with these words, I knew that the die had been
cast; that I was to go to college, perhaps, may-be, like-enough.
It has been said of Lincolns Gettysburg speech that most of the editors
of contemporary newspapers considered It a failure and Lincoln himself
considered it to be so. Years passed before it became recognized at home
and abroad as the greatest speech ever made in the English language.
Well, grandfather's speech was a Gettysburg speech to me, though
grandfather doubtless considered it a failure and many years elapsed
before it began to bear fruit.
Upon another occasion much later, grandfather made another speech during
the course of another ceremonial supper which served to influence if not
to define my future course in life. On that occasion, also, it was
grandmother who rang the starting bell.
"Pa, Aunt Lib says there's talk of electing Lawyer Lawrence to be Judge
in Rutland. I told Aunt Lib I guessed that would suit you alright. I
know you think a lot of Lawyer Lawrence, but what you don't know about
lawyers, Pa, would fill a book. You have never employed a lawyer in your
life either to prosecute another man or to defend yourself."
"No, I never have, Ma, nor do I expect to but I have read every word the
Rutland Herald has ever printed about Lawyer Lawrence and I think he is
worthy of any honor they can show him."
"What have you read about Lawyer Lawrence, Pa, that makes you feel that
way about him?"
"Enough to make me conclude he is different from many of the other
lawyers. He always seems interested in justice. He don't make a lot of
high-falutin arguments in order to keep in the public eye. He is sparing
of his words but every word he does speak is listened to by both judge
and jury respectfully."
That was not a very long speech compared to others I have heard but it
was very convincing to the youngster sitting at the supper table and
listening in with wide-open ears.
During the year of 1896, I took up the practice of law in Chicago and I
tried to be the kind of lawyer that Judge Lawrence and grandfather would
have liked me to be. As Chairman of the Committee on Professional Ethics
of the Chicago Bar Association, I tried scores of cases of infractions
of the Code of Ethics by unscrupulous members of the Bar.
But to the boy in Wallingford there were other vocations then more
attractive than the Law. To be a locomotive engineer had the glory of
sitting on a throne and ringing a bell. On the other hand for a talking
job there was auctioneering for example.
Vermont farmers were tenacious. Having once gotten a grip on a place
they could call home, only the direst of calamities or death could break
it. In our valley as elsewhere there were occasional auction sales and
they most naturally were of interest to curious boys. The most
fascinating feature was the jargon of the auctioneer; some of it was
sensible and some of it was senseless, the only requisite apparently was
that it be continuous. The senseless part of course was of the most
interest to boys. It was a wonderful display of linguistic ability with
its twitters and burrs, its whistles and slurs, and still not a thing
said that had any meaning to anyone. I used to think perhaps that its
purpose was to make the farmers laugh and so keep their minds off the
fact that they would be in danger of spending some of their hard earned
savings if they didn't watch out. Anyway such performances met with our
approval and we used to twist our own mouths into unrecognizable shapes
emulating the example of the smooth-tongued auctioneer. I thought
seriously of taking auctioneering up as a profession in case grandfather
objected to my becoming a locomotive engineer, soldier, sailor,
conductor, brakeman or maybe a spy.
The auctioneer mixed considerable business with his comedy and his
efforts did not cease until almost every object which could be classed
as salable had changed hands. To the sold-out householder, however, no
matter how successful the sale may have been, it was a tragedy and the
hollow jokes of the auctioneer were often more mockery than humor.
Every article no matter how dilapidated, from the baby carriage to the
old family clock, had its story that reminded the survivors of the
patient devotion and sacrificial frugality of some hardworking father
and mother in days gone by. It seemed a cruelty to lead the domestic
animals from their familiar home and even the inanimate objects-chairs,
books, tables, sewing-machines and churns-seemed to share in the sadness
incident to the breaking up of a loved home.
WALLINGFORD was composed of Main Street (now called the Ethan Allen
Highway), River Street, School Street, Depot Street, Sabe's Hill, Mill
Lane and a half dozen less important lanes leading hither and yon,
affording out-of-the-way places where some folks could live and others
could make snow shovels, or bows, cheese, cider, etc. Grandfather's
house was on Main Street.
The most interesting place in Wallingford for boys having nothing to do
was the railway station, which we termed the "depot." Interest arose to
great heights twice a day, once around a quarter past eleven in the
morning and once at half-past four in the afternoon, when the
north-bound passenger trains went through. The morning train was sure of
a goodly number of passengers from Wallingford to Rutland nine miles
north. While it was not called, "the shoppers special," generally
speaking that was what it was. Most everyone living in Wallingford had
to go to Rutland once in a while. "Up to Rutland" was the expression
used though Otter Creek obstinately continued to flow from Wallingford
to Rutland and never from Rutland to Wallingford, as far as I know.
Local grocery stores enjoyed most of the patronage of the village, but
Rutland dry-goods stores, boot and shoe stores and clothing stores
captured the best of the trade in their respective lines. Mail order
houses were unknown. Passengers on the quarter past eleven train, could
return on the three o'clock freight train, which carried one passenger
coach, otherwise they were compelled to wait for the night train leaving
Rutland at ten thirty in the evening, which was considered a giddy thing
The afternoon train north was known as the mail train and it was
patronized by few of the villagers. Something unusual had to happen to
justify going to Rutland so late in the day. Scandals arose very easily
in our valley. People going to Rutland on the quarter past eleven
morning train planned to get to the depot ahead of time in order to make
certain that they did not miss the train. Early arrival also gave them
an opportunity to exchange shopping news and tidbits of gossip on
A bench ran the full length of the south side of the waiting room which
was warmed in winter by a coal stove and, My goodness! how that stove
could heat. Harlie Morgan was the station agent; he and his wife lived
in comfortable quarters between the waiting room and the freight
warehouse, all being under one roof.
In addition to free living quarters, Harlie was paid a salary of six
hundred dollars a year and permitted to make whatever he could on the
sale of coal to Wallingford folk. In return he was supposed to be on the
job day and night, to receive and send telegraph messages for villagers,
and more particularly, to receive instructions from the train
despatchers, which were communicated by him or his assistant to the
conductors of trains passing through. The Bennington and Rutland
Railroad, having a single track only, the lives of its passengers
depended upon the accurate work of the dispatchers and of station agents
along the line. Harlie customarily had an assistant who worked without
compensation other than the privilege of learning the railroad business
including telegraphy. Upon his assistant fell the duties of keeping the
station warm and in good order, delivering telegraph messages to
villagers and bags of mail to the post-office, assisting trainmen in the
loading and unloading of freight and express, making out waybills and
otherwise making himself useful. When he had become sufficiently
proficient, the assistant also received and sent messages.
There was always an air of excitement about the station just before the
arrival of the two most important passenger trains and the excitement
increased to a grand crescendo as the locomotive hove in sight around
the curve. We knew the names of all the locomotives, "Green Mountain
Boy," "Green Mountain Girl," etc., etc., and many were the speculations
as to which one could run the fastest but they all presented brave
fronts, as, rocking from side to side, they rounded the curve and dashed
across the bridge spanning Roaring Brook. The engineer sitting jauntily
in the cab window seemed to experience justifiable pride in the stir he
was creating. Anyhow, with a clanging bell and tooting whistle, the
"quarter after eleven" and the "half-past four" dashed in, paused a
moment or two for loading and unloading and dashed out again, leaving
Wallingford folks to their own devices in the matter of finding ways to
pass the time.
Of the two mentioned trains, the half-past four was the most interesting
because of three personalities presented to our enraptured view. One was
the engineer heretofore mentioned. Another was the resplendent John J.
Parrish, conductor, who, in his immaculate gold-braided uniform and
white double-breasted vest, presented a figure; he did indeed. In a
popularity contest had the choice been left to the unmarried ladies in
villages along the line between Bennington and Rutland, "John J." as he
was familiarly known, would have led in a walk.
To us boys, however, the most scintillating personality was a slim young
brakeman by the name of Thompson, who gave us daily thrills in an
exhibition of consummate grace, agility and in skill in throwing
himself, sometimes with lantern in hand, aboard the last car of the
swiftly moving train as it left the station. Why did trainman Thompson
wait for the last car before boarding the train? He might of course have
boarded one of the others with little or no danger; in fact, he might
have boarded any of them before the train had gotten under way but where
would have been the glory? Even fat and pompous John J. could do that
much; as a matter of fact, he did. No, trainman Thompson had no
intention of letting John J. capture the show. Besides he owed something
to the open-eyed hero-worshipping youngsters of the villages along the
Almost any of them would have rather stood in the shoes at trainman
Thompson than to have been President of the United States.
I forgot to mention that the four-thirty carried a Pullman Palace Car
(palace car, mind you) and we derived considerable satisfaction in
studying the faces of the strange creatures who rode in
them-millionaires perhaps. Later I knew a Middlebury college student who
had ridden in one of them from his home in Ludlow. When he landed at
Middlebury, he yelled to the assembled collegians, "Hi fellers, I came
down in the palace car," after which he was always known as "Palace Car
Once we saw a strange looking man and we all wondered who he could be.
George Sabin said that he guessed he must be a Democrat, at least he
looked like one. We wondered how George knew what Democrats looked like,
for, with the exception of Danforth Hulett, our one Democrat, he had
never seen any, but George was a great reader of Popular Mechanics
magazine and we never questioned his judgment on anything.
After the drop of the final curtain in the daily drama at the
Wallingford depot, a reverential silence possessed the youthful
audience. To have broken the spell at once would have been desecration.
Slowly and silently we turned our faces eastward. One privilege only
remained; that of carrying the mail to the post-office and awaiting the
distribution of the same. Anti-climax? Yes, but someone from somewhere
might have written a letter, or possibly some kindhearted advertiser may
have responded to the earnest and oft repeated appeals for advertising
picture cards. Possibly the Youths Companion might have come with its
continuation of the story of "Indian Pete" which ran serially in that
magazine. All of these things failing, there was still the comforting
thought that the train would come through on the morrow at half past
four and once again the curtain would rise on Wallingford's daily
"movie" to the increasing wonder, inspiration and envy of boys.
The stores of Wallingford were good places to fall back on for
rapscallions having nothing to do. There was always something going on
in Danforth (Dannie) Hulett's store; it was the emporium of the village.
At Hulett's a little of everything could be found. Farmers' overalls and
jackets, agricultural implements, leather and rubber boots, galoshes,
umbrellas, household utensils, crockery and a limited line of dry goods
and other odds and ends occupied the front part of the main floor. A
huge coal stove, surrounded by chairs and a generous cuspidor, cheered
and warmed the entire first floor.
The rear part of the main floor was given over to groceries, sugar,
flour, crackers, cheese, butter, eggs, molasses, vinegar, pickles,
prunes, raisins, sardines, mackerel, oysters, herring, apples, oranges,
California grapes packed in sawdust, etc., etc. In the store room in the
rear, there were barrels and bags and boxes of bulky goods which could
be rolled or trucked or carried into the main store as needed. Piles of
codfish, salted to a degree that they could easily have stood on their
tails if they could have preserved their balance, lined the rear of the
Along one side of the store were the scales where wagons, loaded or
empty could be weighed, and in later years a butcher shop was opened in
the basement. Hulett's was, in fact, the one indispensible store in the
community. It did not exist by virtue of the personality of its owner.
Danforth was a strange, silent man. Big, handsome, swift moving and
polite Fred Stafford was the front man but even he had no time for
banter with customers. The store was a successful merchandising
establishment. From it developed the big Combination Cash Store of
Rutland, in which Fred Stafford was partner.
One of the most memorable features of Hulett's store was the variety of
pleasant odors which greeted our nostrils; the molasses, the vinegar and
pickle barrels, and the boxes of prunes all shed delightful aromatic
aroma throughout the store and even the rubber boots and cracker barrels
had their own distinctive though less pleasing odors. The codfish and
the boxes of herring in the store room kept up the odoriferous
Oh, yes! we rapscallions in common with the regular patrons of Hulett's
helped ourselves from time to time to crackers with a thin slice of
cheese, prunes, etc., etc., as the idea occurred to us. I do not
remember ever having been chased away from the cracker barrel, the prune
box or the other places which we patronized; it must have been the
policy of Huletts to figure rapscallions as necessary nuisances.
And then there were those tobacco-juice sharpshooters who frequented
some of the stores. Of course, the great majority of gentlemen of
leisure in our valley knew nothing of the joys of tobacco chewing; they
made up for the lack in some other way. Those who were addicted to the
filthy habit had a strange attraction for rapscallions. Bull's-eye shots
at distant cuspidors by those who could handle a quid of chewing tobacco
always won the admiration of hero-worshipping boys. I have seen some
fine examples of such marksmanship.
So-called Indian tobacco grew in abundance in the pastures and we
rapscallions used it as a substitute, thinking that we might possibly
educate ourselves up to the point where we might use the genuine
article, but all efforts failed and I never knew of any high record of
marksmanship achieved by users of Indian tobacco, though one of our gang
could expectorate quite a distance by squirting the juice between his
teeth. Unfortunately, he came of a family that was not highly respected
and we considered his chance of shedding lustre on our community rather
Wallingford had its quota of those who made their living without the aid
of factories, stores, offices or other tangible evidences of their
existence. In other words, we had some who made their living by the
exercise of their wits.
To the traveler along the creek road between Wallingford and Rutland,
Galusha Haversham, with his flowing sidewhiskers was a familiar sight.
His nose was so wondrously long that it constituted a picture in its own
right, and on his black silk neck-tie, he sported a diamond cross of
dazzling brilliancy. No, Galusha was not a millionaire as some might
suppose; he sold pianos occasionally, but, according to the best
obtainable evidence on the subject-Galusha himself-what pleased him most
was to soak the other fellow in a trade. No one ever outwitted Galusha.
Call him a slicker and his eyes would twinkle with pride; call him a
hypocrite, well that was another matter; such characterization would
have been a reflection on his professional pride.
The blood of the Yankee trader surged in his veins; wooden nutmegs and
basswood hams were not in his line; that worthy enterprise was
monopolized by Connecticut Yankees, but Galusha was with them in spirit,
the idea being to do the other fellow and to do him first.
Galusha had a flair for horse-trading. It mattered not to him whether
defects were latent or patent. Galusha could get away with murder when
it came to trading horses. His smile and easy assurance dispelled
doubts; it was an honor to be hornswoggled by the Great Galusha. Oh yes,
he was strong on pedigrees. The more dejected a nag was the greater the
need of an impressive pedigree. Galusha could always fill the need and
he did so with convincing solemnity.
Galusha knew all of the horse-traders up and down our valley. One after
another, he took them all on, and one after another he took them all in.
In the highest degree, he was resourceful. When seemingly cornered, he
could always find a way to squirm out. For instance, when one of our
best known citizens charged Galusha an outrageous price for a fine colt
he had been raising and refused to take less, Galusha closed the deal at
our well-known citizen's figure on condition, however, that he be
permitted to make payment by his promissory note.
Our well-known citizen chuckled with glee when he saw Galusha leading
the colt out of the barnyard. He experienced a thrill of seemingly
justifiable pride. He had hornswoggled the Great Galusha and he would be
considered the shrewdest horse-trader in Rutland county henceforth.
When, however, he examined the promissory note, with thoughts of
discounting it at the bank, he discovered the fact that it was made
payable "at the maker's convenience" and our well-known citizen realized
that payday on Galusha's promissory note would never, never come. He had
made Galusha a present of a colt, Among other accomplishments he
possessed Galusha was a wizard in doping ancient horses up so they acted
like colts. The only inhibition he had was against trading horses on
Sunday. Being of Puritan stock, he customarily observed the Lord's Day
by refraining from trading horses, unless perchance, too good an
opportunity presented itself; in such event he sometimes restrained his
piety within reasonable bounds.
Though he never operated in gold mines or gold bricks, he firmly
believed in the principles which the "get-rich-quick" gentry espoused.
Some folks from other parts wondered how it could be possible for
descendants of the Pilgrim Fathers to be so heartless and deceptive in
the course of horse-trading; the point is, that folks from other part do
not understand the spirit of such transactions.
Trading horses and other commodities was a sport relished by both
parties however the deal might turn out. In horse-trading, deception is
a natural and honorable part of the game. When a boxer feints in order
to throw his opponent off guard, no one worries about the deception; it
is a part of the game. The horse traders and the boxers are both
interested in one thing-administering the final wallop; that's what
So Galusha continued in his own inimitable way, soaking this one and
that one but always apparently as guileless as a new born babe.
Chapter 23 "Our
GRANDFATHER'S LIFE lacked the inspiration of fellowship and he thereby
suffered a great loss; fellowship would have enriched and sweetened his
life. However, grandfather must have had certain resources within
himself. He never spoke of being lonesome. During the summer days, he
spent some of his idle hours out of doors wherever he could be most
comfortable. The front porch was a favorite resort during the morning
hours and he preferred to sit on the porch floor with his back against
the house. Why he never kept a comfortable chair on the porch, I do not
know. Probably it would have seemed too much of an indulgence; he
preferred to sit on the south edge of the floor of the porch. Sometimes
his left foot was on the ground and sometimes it was stretched out along
side its lifelong partner on the porch but whatever variations there
might be in the matter of posture, the spot where he sat down was always
the same; he was never known to sit on the north edge of the front
porch. I wouldn't have believed my own eyes if I ever had found him
How closely grandmother was tied to her home duties is evidenced by the
fact that during the eighty years of her life in Wallingford, she never
found time to visit the "Cascades," one of the sights of interest
located less than two miles distant from the house in which she was
Knitting stockings and other garments to protect her grandson against
the rigors of New England winters, was grandmother's relaxation from her
more arduous tasks. While she was more given to talking than
grandfather, she could not have been said to be talkative.
She said little of her forebears but I do remember hearing of an Uncle
Bucklin, who, like Joseph of old, during a period of famine divided his
corn with those in need. When a friend advised him to save his corn for
the use of himself and his family, he said, 'No, if everyone else is to
starve, we might as well starve with them."
While I was still a child grandmother's half-brother Bill came back from
the West in the last stages of consumption and as the doctor would not
permit him to smoke, he went to Webster's store where village loafers
gathered evenings and smoked their pipes until the air was blue;
great-uncle Bill derived much satisfaction out of thus having outwitted
the doctor but his victory was but temporary. A bed was soon placed in
the south parlor where grandmother nursed him. One morning in great
agitation she called Mr. Harvey Congdon who lifted the bedclothes on the
bed of great-uncle Bill, thrust his hand beneath them, then turned to
grandmother and whispered the words, "Yes, he is dead."
The front porch played very little part in our lives, although on
especially pleasant evenings in summer, grandmother would draw her chair
out and sit there rocking and viewing the parade of villagers walking or
driving past our house. Sometimes cows were driven home from pastures
along the village street by the children of our neighbors.
Whenever grandmother did sit on the porch, I usually sat on the marble
step leading up to it because I knew it was to be a period of
relaxation; it meant that she had cast aside household cares for the
time being. An evening on the front porch was as exciting to grandmother
as a trip to Europe would be to some folks I have known. With a
crocheted shawl thrown round her shoulders to protect her frail body
against the evening chill, she rocked slowly in her cane-seated chair,
talking quietly of times long since past and serenely viewing her garden
of old-fashioned flowers planted by her own hands.
Once in a while a passing neighbor, seeing grandmother sitting on the
front porch, would break his journey for a little chat with her and, on
less frequent occasions, neighbors would make a planned call;
neighborliness was at its best whenever grandmother sat on the front
There were certain friends almost certain to call; they were the
hummingbirds. In fact grandmother had extended them all a blanket
invitation, written in the only language hummingbirds know, the language
of long-petaled flowers.
Years before grandmother had planted a honeysuckle vine which twined
itself around the two posts which supported the porch. The hummingbirds
viewed the honeysuckle vines as exclusively their own, as indeed they
were. Neither other birds nor bees could reach down deep enough into the
flowers to extract the sweetness held in the long slender cups.
Grandmother and I spent many happy evenings on the front porch
witnessing the comings, the feastings and the goings of the tiny,
swift-winged hummingbirds and in noting their marvelous skill in flying
backward and forward or from side to side, or standing stock-still in
midair while they harvested the nectar from the honeysuckles.
The hummingbird that hung
Like a jewel up among
The tilted honeysuckle horns.
-James Whitcomb Riley.
One evening Mr. Joel Ainsworth called and grandmother had me bring him a
comfortable chair from the parlor. Mr. Joel Ainsworth was a distant
relative by marriage and one of our most respected citizens. In addition
to his other activities, he operated a small farm back of his house on
the highway. He raised vegetables sufficient for the use of his family
and produced eggs and milk enough to supply his own needs and a small
surplus to sell to neighbors. We were, at one time, among his milk
customers. Mr. Ainsworth was also county surveyor and insurance agent; a
very versatile gentleman indeed.
As soon as Mr. Ainsworth had seated himself, grandmother said, "I am
always glad to see you, Joel, and particularly glad to see you at this
time. I understand that you have been interesting yourself in the
candidacy of Mr. James A. Garfield for President. I thought that I would
like to get firsthand information as to how you stand on the question."
"Well, Pamela, nothing could give me greater pleasure than to let you
know where I stand. I am interested in James A. Garfield because he
seems to me to be another Abraham Lincoln, or as near like him as any
man could be. Of course there never has been and there never will be
another Abraham Lincoln. I have a notion, Pamela, that the best
character builder is adversity; at least that is the school that some of
our greatest Americans graduated from- the school of adversity. A man
who can work himself up from nothing to a position of high honor is the
man for me. James A. Garfield, like Abraham Lincoln, was born in a log
cabin and he had to depend upon his own resources. He had a mother of
splendid character who established his ideals. He did the rest."
After a pause, he continued, "Oh, I don't mean, Pamela, that it is
impossible for a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth to rise to
distinction but the man who has never known what it is to be waited on
has the best chance," and at this point, Mr. Ainsworth tapped the floor
very convincingly with his gold-headed cane.
"I quite agree with every word you have spoken, Joel," said grandmother.
James A. Garfield had to work hard on his father's farm and he had
nothing but strong hands, a courageous heart and good home teaching to
pull him through. Then there's another thing. He had ambition, if he
hadn't he never would have gone out into the world to fight the best of
them. I like all of his experiences, walking the towpath, teaching
school, studying law, working his way through college, going into
politics. It seems to me that he expected even then to become President
of the United States someday, and thank God, I believe he will. He is
typically American, I believe."
Joel Ainsworth and grandmother shook hands with an extra strong grip
when they parted that night and as for me, I felt that Mr. Ainsworth was
going home far too soon.
From then on, I was for James A. Garfield. Maybe sometime, I might get a
job on the towpath of the Erie Canal and, as stranger things had
happened, I might even become the President of the United States instead
of a locomotive engineer as I had planned.
Grandmother's journeys to the front porch were grand occasions, so
delightful that I wished they might be extended indefinitely but she had
duties to attend to and things beyond number to think about so,
ninety-nine per cent of the time, we lived behind the front porch. Yes,
in the rear of the north and south parlors. In other words, we were very
much shut in; particularly so in the winter when snows hampered the
movements of all except boys.
The passers-by were few and on bleak stormy days they dwindled down to
the vanishing point. It seemed to me that it would have added something
to our sense of comfort at least if we could have looked out from the
warmth of our south parlor at the few hardy and courageous neighbors,
who, in spite of biting winds and pelting sleet, struggled through the
storm to the post-office or store. However, there was only one member of
our family who was ever known to complain of loneliness and that one was
the least circumscribed of all, a boy named Paul.
During my earliest years in Wallingford, Mr. Asa Webster's store and
house were directly across the street from our house. His store was a
gathering place for certain old gentlemen of the neighborhood, and not
infrequently, three octogenarians, Mr. Webster, Judge Button and
grandfather were to be seen on the porch of Webster's store chaffing on
current events and bantering each other on their growing infirmities.
Mr. Webster, however, did most of the talking. He spoke mainly of his
own exploits of former years, how fast he could run and how high he
could jump. He attributed his physical prowess to his strict regimen of
daily exercises. It had been his custom to run a mile and split a cord
of wood each morning to get up an appetite for breakfast. In those early
days, when possessed of youthful vigor, he could spring so high into the
air that he could easily crack his heels together three times during the
interval of going up and coming down-at least, so Mr. Webster said.
When it was manifest that Mr. Webster was in a reminiscent mood,
grandfather used to lean his long-backed chair against the store front
hook his boot heels on the lower rung, grasp his long staff firmly in
hand, ready for any emergency.
Judge Button, having spent many years on the bench where he had heard
many strange tales, customarily cupped his ears and inclined his body
gently toward Mr. Webster as if fearful that he might miss some
essential part of the testimony.
It was customary for the Judge and grandfather to refrain from making
comments during the course of such recitals. Coarse laughter and ribald
remarks were conspicuous in their absence. Both auditors assumed the
appearance of deep solemnity, in fact, they seemed lugubrious at times.
So far as the writer knows, no formal code of correct practice had ever
been adopted; there was no need of one; they all knew their respective
parts and played them. In his heart of hearts, both Judge Button and
grandfather knew that Mr. Asa Webster was not only an infernal liar but
that he was also proud of the fact.
The nearest approach to a comeback that I remember was when Mr. Webster
in a burst of pride, after relating one of his great exploits,
challenged grandfather to walk him a race to Clarendon, three miles
distant, and return. Grandfather accepted the challenge.
Grandfather was very close mouthed about his coming marathon with Asa
Webster; even grandmother had no intimation of the great event;
everything, with one exception, went on as usual, the exception being
that grandfather began to indulge in long, daily walks. Grandmother,
later on, recalled the fact that grandfather seemed to be undergoing
quite a change in his habits; instead of his usual afternoon siestas on
the front porch, he began to take long walks in the country. Whenever
grandfather took these long walks, he took his staff with him. It was
too long to be called a cane but somehow it suited his needs; perhaps he
viewed it as something in the nature of a companion. In any event,
during the days preceding the marathon, grandfather hiked many a mile in
company with his staff.
It was very unusual for grandfather to make changes in his daily program
and grandmother was at a loss to know how it had come about. She knew
however that grandfather would mention the matter whenever he thought it
necessary to do so.
All we ever heard of the events of the race was what dribbled through by
way of Mrs. Button and her daughter Ellen. From that source we learned
that the marathon had taken place. The two octogenarians started out to
round the church in Clarendon. The Judge, in the meantime, sat on the
porch of Mr. Webster's store and acted as timekeeper and referee. It was
agreed, so it seems, that each contestant had to continue to the end
regardless of whether he was winning or losing.
It also leaked out that grandfather started out slowly but with measured
step; Mr. Webster was well in the lead; his step was springy and his
spirit exultant. Eventually he began to hear grandfather coming with
measured step from behind. This was very harrowing to the nerves of Mr.
Webster. According to the underground report, grandfather rounded the
church first and met Mr. Webster as grandfather was on his return to
Grandfather spoke not a word but Mr. Webster shouted to his speeding
opponent these words, "You don't seem to care much about good company,
When Mr. Webster returned, grandfather and the Judge were waiting for
him on the porch. The Judge took a look at his watch but made no
announcement; both he and grandfather looked very solemn indeed; solemn
as two great owls.
Grandfather said, apologetically, "I'm afraid I tired you all out,
Webster. I should have stopped to visit with you but I just happened to
think that my hens were out and I was afraid they might be scratching in
the Judge's garden."
Gone were Mr. Asa Webster's anecdotes of his great athletic
accomplishments. No longer did he amaze his auditors with yarns of his
bone crunching encounters with bears and tigers. Grandfather and the
Judge came to the sad conclusion that they had, so to speak, killed the
goose that laid the golden egg; Mr. Asa Webster never was himself again.
In course of time, Mr. Justin Batcheller, one of the partners of the
Batcheller Fork Company, wanted to build a fine home on the ground then
occupied by Mr. Webster's store and house, and, thinking that the price
might be boosted if the name of the prospective purchaser became known,
he asked grandfather to make the purchase for him. Grandfather complied,
buying the property in his own name for three thousand dollars. The
house and store were moved elsewhere and a fine residence built in their
place. When grandmother realized what had happened, she said, "Why, Pa
Harris, look what you have done; you have cheated yourself out of the
only loafing place you have ever known." And so he had; he never found
"The Debating Society"
SO FAR AS SCHOOL was concerned my shift back to Wallingford was
opportune. The school in Wallingford was to have a new principal,
Professor Shaw. I cannot remember ever having heard him called by any
other name, nor can I remember anyone's having spoken of him as an
intimate friend though he had been brought up in Wallingford. We knew
that his given name was Will and that he had worked at manual labor for
a time in one of the cities to the south of us to earn money for his
higher education and that he had eventually graduated from Middlebury
College, where he was known as the most powerful man in college.
When he became principal of the Wallingford school, he was twenty-six
years of age. His salary was six hundred dollars a year. He was
high-principled, vigorous, handsome, well dressed-a perfect specimen of
young manhood. He walked between his home and school on exactly the same
schedule, year in and year out. I can see him now as he passed our
house, his Latin textbook in hand, shoulders thrown back, chin thrust
forward and looking neither to the right or left. He seemed the very
opposite of Professor Ichabod Spencer with his shuffling gait, bristling
eyebrows and malevolent deep-sunk eyes. Professor Shaw loved boys and he
seldom had to use the rod of correction.
The debating society of the Wallingford High School was the inspiration
of Henry Lincoln ("Inky") Ballou, the first and only President. There
was every reason to believe that it would have continued its valuable
services to society for generations to come had it not been for one
untoward event. At its first meeting one of the members conceived the
idea that the deliberations of so august a body ought to be in secret
session in order that members might feel that they could express
themselves fully and without regard to what effect it might have on
their future political aspirations should they happen to run for
Congress or for President of the United States.
Another member said that in order to accomplish the desired purpose, it
would be necessary to have the members take an oath of secrecy and
allegiance. In the final analysis this meant that all members, old and
new, would have to be initiated if we were ever to get anywhere with
Inky's" idea. So the next meeting was set aside for the purpose of
initiating each other in the sacred rites. During the intervening weeks,
the members naturally spent most of their time figuring out what they
would do to each other when the time came.
To all intents and purposes, the debating society was already extinct;
nothing of it remained but the joint and several resolution to do each
other up nice and fancy on the great night of the initiatory ceremony.
When the appointed evening came round, the members were divided into two
squads, those who, for the time being were supposed to be members, and
those who were to be candidates. Some chose to be candidates, reasoning
that it would be best to have their initiation over with as soon as
possible so that they might concentrate on what they would do to the
others when their time came.
After the candidates had been excluded, the board of strategy held a
powwow and decided upon their maneuvers, which were simple enough. The
lights in the school room were to be put out and the candidates were to
be admitted, one at a time. The candidates were to be blindfolded and
informed as to the solemnity of the undertaking and told that it would
be necessary for them to go through a trying and horrible ordeal to
demonstrate their fitness for membership. Albert Mandigo was the first
candidate and he was not long held in suspense as to the nature of the
ordeal. One of our most distinguished members had been elected Chaplain
and another as Undertaker, and, as soon as Albert had been suitably
blindfolded, the Chaplain administered the last rites, ending with what
we thought to be a beautiful prayer. I cannot recall the exact wording,
but I remember that he ended every sentence with the brief imprecation,
"God have mercy on his souls."
The Undertaker then informed Albert that every provision had been made
for a suitable interment; that all details had been attended to and that
even if he came apart during the trying ordeal, each part would be
picked up and all put together again insofar as they could make the
At this point Albert informed the committee on admissions that he would
have to be going home; that he had promised his mother that he would be
home early and that he had already overstayed his time; that he would
come down some other night for the rest of the ceremony.
To this arrangement "Inky" Ballou, the lord High Executioner replied
with an emphatic, "NO," that no reprieve could be granted except by the
King, and that, unfortunately, the King had died a week ago Thursday.
Without further admonition Albert was seized by the slack of his pants
and the scruff of his neck by the two powerful hands of the Lord High
Executioner and rushed around and around the darkened hall with a speed
at which he had never traveled on his own feet before, and, in the
meantime, "Inky's" trusty knights and nobles thrust baseball bats, stove
pokers and other impediments ad lib between his flying feet punctuating
their efforts by groans, shrieks, maledictions and imprecations in which
the candidate unreservedly and wholeheartedly joined.
Candidate Albert was the one and only candidate initiated into the
debating society of the Wallingford High School. When the Lord High
Executioner went into the anteroom for candidate number two, he found
nothing but a row of empty chairs; the candidates, having heard too much
of what was going on inside the hall, had left for parts unknown.
When this discovery was announced, Albert the only certified and
bonafide initiate, put up a dismal howl. Up to that point he had been
sustained through his agony of bruised shins and strained back by the
thought of what was coming to his fellow candidates. Now he found that
he had been manhandled by the members. betrayed and deserted by the
candidates; life was no longer worth living. Some of the members held
with him and some against him but none found satisfaction in the thought
that the day of his own initiation must Inevitably come if this thing
was kept going.
Eventually President "Inky" arose and said, "I move that this debating
society of the Wallingford High School be adjourned sine die." What
"sine die" meant, none, with the possible exception of the Lord High
Executioner, knew, but all except Albert voted in the affirmative and
thus perished a noble cause.
Spelling was given much study in the Vermont schools of my day and some
of the students were exceedingly good while others were exceedingly bad.
Among the good spellers was George Hitt and among the poor spellers was
'Inky" Ballou., though "Inky" was excellent in everything else.
To make amends for his deficiency, "Inky" devised the plan of sitting
next to George in the spelling class so that George could covertly
prompt him. George became "Inky's" crutch, as it were, much to "Inky's"
advantage on all occasions save one. "Inky" never studied spelling any
more but became entirely dependent on George. In course of time, George
became curious to know just how far he could lead "Inky" off the track.
The opportunity was not long deferred. Professor Shaw pronounced the
word, "Mississippi" for "Inky" to spell and George realized that his
time had come; the word was full of possibilities. We had been In the
habit of spelling the word sing-song fashion, "Mis-sis-sip-pi" so
George, in order to throw "Inky" up In the air, changed the order and
began, "Mi-double s, i-double s, i-double p. 1" "Inky" followed him
slavishly to the end of the word but George continued on, syllable after
syllable in endless succession. How far he would have gone no one knows
but eventually George ran out of ammunition and "Inky" sank into his
"Inky" was always loyal to his friends as was evident one day when
someone spoke of the Mississippi. "Inky" remarked, "By Jimminy, that's a
hard word to spell; if it hadn't been for George, I surely would have
flunked when Professor Shaw asked me to spell it."
A few years later "Inky" became the crashing right guard of the Amherst
football team and still later, he became a Congregational minister. In
that capacity, he made his mark in the world hut I am not quite sure
that he could spell the word, Mississippi, even now; I wouldn't bet on
During the autumn the political fever broke out and on years of
Presidential elections the fever rose to high pitch. There was really no
necessity of exciting Wallingford people over politics for Danforth
Hulett, the son of Ephraim Hulett, was the only Democrat in town.
Danforth was one of the leading merchants of our village and later one
of the leading merchants of Rutland.
All that I knew of him was that his father always spoke of him as, "My
boy, Danforth' and that Danforth wore a cape instead of an overcoat,
picked his teeth with an ivory toothpick with a gold clasp, never spoke
to anyone about anything except business, and always voted the
Democratic ticket. He was fairly well balanced on everything except
politics but in that respect only he had a curious and incurable
disorder of the brain. Certainly there was little hope of showing
Danforth the error of his ways.
His Excellency, Governor Redfield Proctor, made a political speech in
Wallingford during one presidential campaign and all Wallingford, with
the exception of Danforth Hulett, went to the station to meet the great
man. The men waved their hats and cheered as the Governor stepped from
the train, tall, stately, with flowing beard, high silk hat and frock
coat. The East Wallingford band, swollen to eight pieces, struck up "See
the Conquering Hero Comes,"
Governor Proctor had much to say about the protection of home
industries, particularly the growing of sheep and the manufacture of
woolen cloth. He said that Vermont hills and mountains were well-adapted
to sheep raising; that Vermont farmers had formerly raised sheep in
plenty but that sheep raising had been killed by the importation of
cheap wool from Australia. He said that the many fast flowing streams
furnished unlimited power for the manufacture of woolen cloth but that
this industry had also been put out of business, except for the few
mills which managed to exist on the manufacture of cloth from imported
The torch light procession which followed Governor Proctors speech was a
magnificent affair as most anyone would have admitted. The torches were
sent down from Rutland and after being lighted were placed in the hands
of Wallingford Republicans; when the supply of men ran out boys were
substituted; any boy, the size of a peanut and upwards, was entitled to
the privilege of carrying a torch.
The East Wallingford band led off with two men abreast of each other but
on different sides of the road and the spaces between were filled with
boys carrying torches, so that the eight members of the band looked more
like eighty and the noise they made sounded like eight hundred.
The last feature of the procession was a boy leading a sheep, the sheep
looking as if he were not in sympathy with the demonstration and wishing
that the boy would lead him in the opposite direction; Jerome Hilliard
said that maybe the sheep was a Democrat and naturally objected to
marching in a Republican torchlight procession. The sheep bore a placard
which no one seemed able to read until finally a reporter for The
Rutland Herald said that it read, "I am a forlorn, helpless and almost
extinct animal known as a 'Vermont sheep. Please help Vermont sheep."
When Danforth Hulett was asked what he thought about it he said he
thought the best way for Vermonters to help Vermont sheep was to stop
buying woolen goods made in England and smuggled over the Canadian
The political rally and torchlight procession was pronounced a great
success and we all felt that we had done our best to show Governor
Proctor that we were behind him to the last man and boy; it must have
made him feel very happy indeed.
New England has always been proud of its Town Meetings at which matters
of public interest are discussed. All tax payers and everyone else so
far as I know were permitted to air their grievances. The modern Town
Meeting of the Air, listened to by millions of people is an adaptation
of the New England Town Meeting.
The Wallingford town hall of my day was not a credit to the community
but through the generosity of public-minded citizens, Wallingford now
has a suitable building where the meetings are held. Mr. Addison Stone,
who was Moderator for many years, would have graced any legislative
assembly of the country.
New England's reputation for probity in the administration of public
affairs is, partly at least due to its system of holding town meetings,
and where such a forum exists, the opportunity for betrayal of the
public trust is minimized. Airing matters of public concern is
stimulating to the thought processes of the citizens but the immediate
objective of the founders of the institution was to increase the
efficiency of administration through obtaining the collective judgment
of the citizens.
In the final analysis we American people get about what we are entitled
to in the administration of public affairs; neither graft nor any other
form of political corruption can exist if the citizenry are sufficiently
interested to keep themselves informed and I know of no better agency to
spread information than though some form of the New England town
New Englanders are always keenly interested in matters of national
importance. I shall not forget the hot summer day when the news of the
assassination of President Garfield was shouted through the village.
While such announcements are always a shock, in the days of my youth
they possessed us and filled every cranny of our lives. The most
important space in the newspapers was devoted to reporting the details
and amplifying the facts, sometimes in flights of imagination according
to the temperaments of the newspaper editors.
I well remember the precise spot on the Ethan Allen Highway where I
stood when the cryer ran through the village shouting, "President
Garfield Assassinated! President Garfield Assassinated!' It was a warm
summer day, Just after dinner; all was quiet save for the hum of bees
and other insects with practically no movements except the dust raised
by the flying feet of the cryer. I stood transfixed; rooted to the spot
as it were as I tried to grasp the significance of the event. Could
America survive now that President Garfield was dead! Slowly I regained
my equilibrium and made my way home to carry the sad tidings to
grandfather and grandmother.
"Entertainment Comes to Town"
WE HAD OUR fair share of unscheduled diversions in Wallingford.
Occasionally an aged French-Canadian came into town leading by a halter
a huge brown beast, a bear, which wore an appropriate muzzle. The man by
resorting to certain artifices of his own, would make the bear go
through the steps of an ungainly dance and sometimes man and beast would
engage in a wrestling match which had some of the appearances of
The Canadian kept up a running jargon addressed to the bear as the show
proceeded. Only one of his phrases sticks in my memory; it was, 'Turn
around, sir," and each time these words were spoken the animal did
actually turn around, although I was never quite certain that the bear
understood the words, in fact we boys could hardly understand them
ourselves. We noticed however that simultaneously with the speaking of
the words, the man skillfully threw a loop in the rope halter around the
neck of the beast thereby making it uncomfortable for him not to turn
around. We thought It probable that the bear understood the rope better
than he understood the words.
Not infrequently an itinerant peddler who dignified himself by the name
of "Doctor" used to come to the village to sell Kickapoo liniment
alleged to be a sure-cure Indian remedy for rheumatism. Anyone afflicted
with rheumatism had only to buy one bottle of Kickapoo at the very
reasonable price of one dollar and his troubles would soon be over. In
order to draw crowds, the doctor extracted teeth without pain and
without charge. An express wagon lighted by a torch constituted his
salesroom and also his dental laboratory. The doctor was the arch enemy
of both rheuma tism and pain from toothache and most folks suffered at
times from one or the other or both. It made one feel sad to see the
sufferers line up to avail themselves of the free services of the
"doctor." Whatsoever he may or may not have known about the merits of
Kickapoo as a remedy for rheumatism, he did know how to pull teeth.
Whether the process was painless as was advertised, or painful, as it
was ordinarily supposed to be, was never made known to the public. There
was, however considerable suspicion afloat that the pain was there as
usual but perhaps it was not so severe a pain to thrifty New Englanders
as the pain of having to pay out fifty cents, or perhaps even a dollar,
would have been. The "doctor" had repeatedly stated that it would not
hurt in the least, a point which he kept on maintaining in stentorian
tones even during the operation. It would have come with poor taste for
any of his patients to have denounced him as a liar, and, misery loves
company anyhow-others were standing in line.
When the "doctor" had accumulated his customary impressive display of
molars, cuspids, incisors, etc., the pay business of the evening began.
The theory was that the "doctor" had made a sufficient demonstration of
the fact that he could make quick disposition of human ailments. If he
could deal with such dispatch with offending molars, it stood to reason
that rheumatism had little chance of eluding him.
The sales of Kickapoo were fast and continued until a late hour. From
the "doctor's" remarks, we judged that Kickapoo was one of the world's
greatest wonders; so far as the United States was concerned it was the
greatest; Niagara Falls and the Yellowstone had their following but for
real grandeur one had to fall back on Kickapoo. Kickapoo never slept;
from morning until night it was ever at work for humanity. The small
price of one dollar per bottle was in no sense compensatory; it was
merely a necessity that the great work continue.
When the "doctor" finally packed up and left town, his stock of Kickapoo
had been greatly depleted but he took along with him a fine accumulation
of hard-earned Vermont dollars.
Not infrequently a negro minstrel show came to town. The end men were so
funny that it took a week to stop laughing. Walllingford was also
invaded from time to time by itinerant theatrical troupes. One played
"Uncle Tom's Cabin" with its judicious mixture of merriment and sorrow.
Had it not been for Marks, the lawyer, and his inevitable "umbrella," we
might never have recovered from the sorrow occasioned by the deaths of
Little Eva and Uncle Tom. Marks interpolated one laugh between every two
On one grand occasion, Tom Thumb, or someone pretending to be that
famous character, came with several other dwarfs, men and women, and put
on a show-and how those diminutive creatures did dance. I almost lost my
heart to one of the tiny women who looked so pretty and danced so
Nearly every year we were entertained by a troupe, traveling under the
name of "The Guy Family," father, mother and several children of various
ages, the youngest being little more than an Infant. Each member of the
family had his or her specialty suited to sex and age. It was a clean
and wholesome show and welcomed on each recurring visit.
Punch and Judy shows occasionally dropped in unannounced. They were sure
to attract crowds composed mostly of boys who were drawn to the scene as
flies are drawn by molasses. One man and a few trappings constituted the
entire show but what laughs the antics of the irascible Punch and the
much-pummeled Judy did bring forth. What has modem comic opera to
compare in humor with the resounding cracks of the staff of Punch on the
head of Judy.
Occasionally jugglers, sleight of hand performers and fakirs in general
held exhibitions on the village square summer evenings.
The grand splurge of the year, more dazzling even than the County Fair
in Rutland, was circus day. The fever began early in the summer when the
advance agents splattered fences, barns and every conceivable place with
huge and gaudy signs depicting hair-raising performances on the flying
trapeze, bareback riding, somersaults, single, double and even triple.
Stately ladies, apparently entirely unafraid, cracked their whips at the
snarling beasts in lion cages. There were elephants aplenty in size all
the way from the ungainly little fellows, tagging along with their
mothers, up to Jumbo, the mightiest beast on earth, whose hide hung
loosely on his frame like an ill-fitting suit of clothes or a rug flung
over a clothes line.
When the big-three-ringed circus in Rutland was in prospect, Wallingford
rapscallions scrimped and saved, ran errands, worked in hayfields or
wherever else employment could be had, in order to make certain that
they would have money in plenty for railway fare to Rutland, reserved
seats in the big tent, also for the sideshow and for ice cream, peanuts
and popcorn and a little extra for whatever might pop up at the last
After the delirious day had spent itself, it was a worn and weary lot of
Wallingford folks, both old and young, and other folks from further the
valley who piled aboard the ten-thirty train with its extra coaches for
transport to their respective stations and to their homes and
Wallingford was much like a deflated balloon the day following circus
day, and in fact, several days came and went before our little community
got back to earth again. Even then horizontal bars sprung up in back
yards; flying trapezes festooned trees; haylofts were turned into arenas
for tumbling; and the facilities for straining backs and breaking bones
were increased beyond measure.
The County Fair at Rutland was and still is a notable affair, drawing
visitors even from adjoining counties. A variety of events gave sport
lovers desired thrills. There were races between trotting horses owned
by residents of the county and driven as a rule by their owners;
baseball games; athletic contests, including races between hose cart
teams of firemen of the different towns.
These races in the day of volunteer firemen were spectacular events. The
prizes which frequently were expensive went to the team which in the
shortest time ran the prescribed distance and completed the coupling of
the hose with the hydrant in preparation for extinguishing the imaginary
Competition in this event was so keen that it was not unheard of for
local sportsmen to secretly subsidize fast runners from other towns and
enter them under fictitious names. Where was there a town of sufficient
size that did not have its hose cart team? The practice runs of such
teams, in preparation for the important event, afforded their fellow
citizens pleasurable excitement and stimulated their civic pride to the
point of affording financial assistance and offering modest bets in case
citizens of other towns with competing teams might happen to have a few
dollars to lose,
The usual quota of licensed shows, hurdy-gurdys and balloon ascensions,
bands and drum corps, vied with each other and strutting drum majors
caused feminine hearts to palpitate.
In the main, however, the Rutland County Fair was what it was purported
to be, an agricultural display where farmers could see the finest
available exhibits of registered horses, cattle, sheep and hogs and
equally fine exhibits of apples, pears, pumpkins, squash and cheese,
both the delectable green cheese and the ordinary Vermont cheese.
I never think of the Rutland County Fair without thinking of the annual
visits of Charles Harris of Brattleboro, his wife and daughter Lib, and
the old mare that hauled the ancient buggy back and forth. The County
Fair was a grand occasion to Uncle Charles. He attended it religiously
and made dazzling reports of its events to us as we sat at the supper
Uncle Charles' real relationship to us, I do not know, but it must have
been remote. He always called grandfather, Uncle Howard and he stoutly
averred that he expected to continue his habit of paying us his two
weeks annual visit as long as Uncle Howard lived. To grandmother and
perhaps to grandfather also, Uncle Charles' statement was more of a
threat than a promise but there was nothing that one could do about it.
Uncle Charles had a long beard, and, while visiting us, he always wore a
stovepipe hat and a Prince Albert coat. Had he set out to make of
himself a living picture of the conventional Uncle Sam, he could not
have done it more effectively.
Uncle Charles must have believed in large families; anyhow, he had one,
fourteen boys graced his board and eventually his prayers were answered
in the coming of a girl, Lib. Whatever Lib may have been to others, to
Uncle Charles and his fecund helpmate she was the crowning glory; after
her birth the fountains ran dry. One can only speculate on what might
have happened if Lib had not arrived when she did; I imagine they might
have kept on trying and several more sons might have arrived; when
Vermonters have a purpose in mind, they are not easily discouraged.
After the last fork of hay had been pitched into the hayloft in the
autumn, the old mare's nose was turned in the direction of Wallingford,
sixty miles distant, and the annual trek was begun. None was more
conscious of what was up than the old mare herself; she knew every mile
of the journey and was given her head; she never failed to draw up at
our driveway gate before nightfall. When the opening of the gate
apprised grandmother that the annual bombardment was on, she always
ejaculated with manifest spirit, "For goodness sake, here comes Charles
For Uncle Charles the annual visit was the high spot of the year; his
letdown from farm duties was a jubilee of itself; his high spirits
engulfed the house and the village as well; no one was unconscious of
the fact that Uncle Charles had conic to town.
On the precise day set for the termination of Uncle Charles visit, the
old mare was hitched up at the break of day and goodbyes having been
said, they departed as they had come-Uncle Charles, his wife, Lib, the
old mare and the aged buggy.
I generally opened the driveway gate and saw them off, waving my hat to
them as long as they were in sight; the old mare heading south on Ethan
Allen highway, turning the School street corner easterly bent. There was
Uncle Charles, whip in hand, sitting bolt upright, his stovepipe hat set
firmly on the back of his head and a determined look on his face.
Good-bye for another year, Uncle Charles.
WHILE MY LIFE in our valley was devoted mainly to grand adventure and
mischief, I did have serious moments at times. It was difficult for me
to determine what was right and what was wrong; some things that seemed
to impress folks as sinful, did not impress me that way at all. I had my
own theories of right and wrong which probably would have shocked the
minister had he learned of them.
I am sure I would not have been left in such a quandary if the folks of
Wallingford had been divided into two camps; the good and the bad. If
all of the good folks had been church members and none of the bad folks
had been church members, the solution of the problem would not have been
so difficult, but, so far as I could see, the situation was badly mixed.
On one hand there was old Mrs. Page, a saint outright. It was her lot to
suffer cursing and other forms of persecution by her husband, the
profane and irascible Captain Page, beyond what would seem to be the
limit of human endurance. Manifestly, she was sustained by a sublime
faith. I frequently saw her bent figure passing our house on her way to
church. A smile which was beatific lighted her pinched and blanched
face. If she could have been taken as truly representative of church
members and the old Captain taken as truly representative of pagans, the
solution of the problem would have been easy. Eve7 sensible and
well-intentioned person in Wallingford would have joined the church.
Unfortunately for me in my troubles, those two were not truly
representative in their respective classes. There was a heap of good and
considerable bad both within and without the membership of our
While Judge Hutton's faith had never, to my knowledge, been subjected to
any such day in and day out strain as old Mrs. Page's faith was, he
seemed to have a sustaining philosophy which served him well during the
emergencies of life. The Judge was one of a considerable number of good
folks in Wallingford who supported the church but never became members.
None seemed to care to discuss their reasons for not entering the
fellowship of the church and I surmise that it would have been difficult
to get them into an argument on that subject
As Fay Stafford and I grew older, we were frequently called upon to act
as pallbearers at the funerals of infants and young children, the
prevalent idea being that it was appropriate that the young bury the
young. Possibly the grief of bereaved parents was softened somewhat by
the presence of children.
We boys took the task seriously, and in one case we showed our
appreciation of the kindness of Mr. John D. Miller, a bereaved father,
who had lent us books to read and who always greeted us with hearty and
familiar salutations, by cutting evergreen twigs and branches from the
mountain frees and lining the sides and bottom of the dark grave so that
it would not look so cold, cruel and forbidding when the body of his
only son was let down to its final resting place in the frozen soil of
the village cemetery.
One after the other, I fell victim to the ailments of childhood, mumps,
measles and scarlet fever. We had three old doctors in the village,
although one younger man could have taken care of all the cases. New
England doctors belonged to one or the other of two schools. They were
either allopaths who prescribed big doses or homeopaths who prescribed
To the "Homeops" the "Allopaths" were queer; to the "Allopaths" the
"Homeops" were ridiculous. To administer a dose of medicine so small
that it could be lifted on the point of a penknife, was the practice of
sorcery in the eyes of "Allopaths." Once having selected one's school of
medicine, it was customary to stick to it, come weal, come woe. It was
much like joining the church. "Once a Baptist, always a Baptist" was
frequently said, and, with equal truth, it might be said, "Once an
Allopath, always an Allopath."
We were definitely and incurably allopath, and fortunately we had an
allopath doctor right In the family, Dr. George Fox of Rutland. Dr.
George was the husband of Aunt Mellie, my father's sister. Uncle George
was called Doctor George to distinguish him from his brother, Dr. Bill,
who lived and practiced in Wallingford. Dr. John, who died before my
time, was the father of Doctors Bill and George, and faithful old family
doctors they all were. Dr. John was a son of William Fox, a farmer who
moved to Wallingford from Dorset.
William bought a farm bordering upon a lovely sheet of water. Neither of
the parties to the transaction cared much about this sheet of water but
it was eventually acquired by William, the purchase price being a barrel
of gin and for many years it was known as Fox Pond. Lovers of the
present Elfin Lake will be ready to conclude that the purchase price was
Doctors Bill and John did not monopolize all of the practice in
Wallingford. Dr. Hitt and Dr. Noble had their shares. Dr. Bill, Dr. Hitt
and Dr. Noble, each weighed well over two hundred pounds and their
buck-boards were bent nearly double at times bouncing over country
We enjoyed a special feeling of security in having a good doctor in the
family. I was taken severely ill one night. Suddenly the room I was in
began to whirl around me. The next thing I knew was that I found myself
tucked into an improvised bed in the sitting room, not far from the
coal-burning stove. Uncle George was sitting by my side and looking
anxiously into my eyes. He had driven his well known and faithful Billy
over the snow covered road to minister to my need. Uncle George and
Billy were a faithful team and their beneficent influence extended over
the whole countryside. I am sure that Billy sensed his responsibility,
as he was always ready to have his harness put on either night or day
and to struggle through drifts of snow during the fiercest of New
Uncle George's practice grew and it soon became necessary to get another
horse to help Billy out and it was then that Fanny came. It took Billy
some time to reconcile himself to the presence of Fanny but they
eventually became good friends and he always whinnied her a welcome when
he heard her coming into the driveway. In the heyday of his practice,
Uncle George kept a hostler to take care of the horses and to accompany
him on night drives, but that did not continue long.
To sick folks it was like receiving a bill of health to see bay Billy or
brown Fanny turn into their yards with grey beaded Doctor George holding
the lines. Calls on members of our family were, of course, without
charge but that meant nothing to Uncle George. Some uncles with children
of their own to make provision for, might have viewed with disfavor my
intrusion into the home of their well-to-do father-in-law, but not so
Uncle George. Never once did he either directly or indirectly manifest
disapproval of my addition to grandfather's family.
Under Uncle George's skillful and devoted attention, I was soon on my
feet. Successive ailments brought me down considerably as I had never
been a robust child, but the perfect regulation of affairs in my adopted
home, went far toward making amends for a rather poor start in life.
I was destined to learn more of Billy in later years. While visiting in
Rutland once in the winter, I had an experience I shall never forget. It
lingers in my memory because of the opportunity afforded me of observing
the good understanding between Uncle George and Billy and Uncle George's
dependence on Billy to carry him through.
Uncle George received a telephone call from a patient in Menden who was
desperately ill. The call was received rather late In the evening. While
he was getting ready, he noted my interest and to my joy, said, "Would
you like to come along, Paul?"
The night was cold and dark so I was provided with every safeguard to
make certain that I would not contract a cold. The fall of snow was
light at first but increased rapidly as we proceeded on our journey. The
hot soapstones at our feet were comforting and we wrapped the buffalo
robes tightly about us. As we approached the mountains the storm
increased and it was difficult to see far ahead. Billy was going along
without urging and he needed none; he had a job to do and he set about
doing it. Not until we actually got into the mountain road did the storm
assume menacing proportions. I was sure that Uncle George was worried
although he tried not to betray it. We could see nothing of the country
road after we had turned from the highway; whether we were in it or out
of it was a matter of conjecture. Billy stopped of his own accord to
regain his wind and Uncle George stepped out of the sleigh, waded
through the snow to Billy's head and slipped the check rein off to allow
him the full use of all his forces. Billy seemed to appreciate Uncle
George's thoughtfulness and when Uncle George patted his neck, he turned
his head and affectionately snuggled his muzzle under Uncle George's
arm. How we got to a point where we could see the bright lights of the
house, I do not know but when we finally did get there, we were met by a
man with a lantern who directed our course to a protected shed where
Billy was blanketed and fed.
After Uncle George had performed his professional duties and spoken
words of encouragement to both man and wife, we backed Billy out of the
shed and started our trip back home. When the time seemed suitable, I
inquired of Uncle George how he had managed to find his way along the
country road, and he answered, "I didn't find it, Paul. I couldn't see a
thing no more than you could. That was one of the times when I have to
leave everything to Billy. I have put him into a good many tight places
but he has never yet failed to pull me through. Billy is all heart.
That's why I chose him for this job. He is not so strong as Fanny but he
throws everything he has into his work. Yes, Billy is all heart.' After
that night what could I do but give Billy a place in my affections
second only to our Buttercup.
BUYING THE YEAR'S supply of wood and having it cut to suitable size for
use in the various stoves, was as thoroughly systematized by my
grandfather as buying the years supply of pork, beef, wheat buckwheat
flour, maple syrup and peaches. In fact everything done by grandfather
was well thought out and systematized. He had no grudge against
middlemen; he had, to an extent, been one himself, but he believed in
buying in large quantities and from the producers whenever it was
practicable to do so.
Grandfather's purse was a chamois skin pouch, fastened by a long thong
of the same material which he wound many times around it. Much time was
required to unwind the thong and the process gave grandfather
opportunity to change his mind about spending the money, if prudence so
dictated and a last minute reflection sometimes saved the day. To
grandfather, unwinding the thong of his purse was equivalent to working
out the combination of a safe by a modern businessman-a moment of grace.
He bought his wood both hard and soft from the French-Canadian farmers
having wood lots on the mountainside. He paid approximately four and
one-half dollars per cord for four-foot wood delivered In our back yard.
A cord of four-foot wood was the equivalent of three cords of wood cut
to stove size, as it is now sold.
The purchase was made in early winter and deliveries were to be made
whenever the sledding was good. Before the winter was far advanced, the
farmer's ox team and low sled piled with four-foot maple, beech, spruce,
pine and birch wood, made its first appearance and the wood was neatly
piled on the rise in front of the barn. This procedure continued until
grandfathers supply of eight cords or thereabouts had been delivered.
The piles were then measured by grandfather with meticulous care In the
presence of the farmer, and, if all was as per specifications,
grandfather and the French-Canadian farmer repaired to the kitchen, the
farmer stomping the snow from his high felt boots before entering, and
the final ceremony was performed.
They did not sit down; they stood by the side of the kitchen stove,
grandfather resting his arm on the hot water reservoir at the rear of
the stove. A few words of a pleasant nature on commonplace subjects were
exchanged, the farmer, in his broken English, doing nine-tenths of the
talking. When the psychological moment arrived, grandfather, slowly and
deliberately, reached into the pocket in the northwest corner of his
trousers, pulled out his chamois skin purse and the process of unwinding
I used to think that even the French-Canadian farmer derived a certain
degree of edification and inspiration from the ceremonious way in which
grandfather 'paid off." If the amount involved had been a million
dollars, the pay-off could not have been conducted with greater
ceremony, dignity and impressiveness. I do not recall having seen other
Vermonters equipped with grandfather's device to guard against reckless
expenditures but metaphorically speaking, when it came to a question of
dollars and cents, it took most of the Vermonters of my day a long time
During the days of my early childhood, the sawing of the wood was done
by little old Mr. Rutherford, working with a bucksaw. It was a
long-drawn out process which lasted most of the rest of the winter. As
the years advanced, Mr. Rutherford and his bucksaw gave way to a
circular saw driven by horsepower. The horse, which was old and scrawny,
contributed his share by walking up hill all day long on a treadmill.
The saw shrieked as if in protest against the use to which it had been
put, but nevertheless the bucksaw was hung on a peg for a long rest. All
parties concerned, except the horse, profited by the change.
After the wood had been sawed to stove length, it had to be split to
stove size and that is where another French-Canadian came in. For want
of a name which home folks could pronounce, he had taken the name of
Benjamin. Mr. Benjamin had the trunk and shoulders of a gorilla and an
axe in his hands was like a child's toy though murderous in its effect
on birch and maple. He seldom had to strike twice in the same place; the
chunks fell into suitable sizes as if by magic.
Both grandparents had a high sense of responsibility in connection with
the guidance of their volatile, mischief-loving boy and I gave them
ample grounds for discouragement. My mad pranks caused neighbors to
shake their heads dubiously; the prevailing opinion was that nothing
good could come of them.
Grandfather, for two reasons, continued to do most of the chores. First
it was the easiest and surest way to get them done; and second, to
assign them to me was the hardest and worst way to get them done, Only a
few odd jobs were left to me. Picking apples, pears, currants and
gooseberries were in my line, and, in early spring, the firewood which
had been thrown into a huge. shapeless mass by Mr. Benjamin, had to be
wheeled into the barn and placed in neat regular piles which would stand
the inspection of grandfather; that was my job. Five or ten wheelbarrow
loads per day and a few extras on Saturday, served, in course of time,
to reduce the pile but spring was well advanced before the last stick of
firewood was kicked from its jacket of ice, given a ride in the little
red wheelbarrow into the capacious barn and carefully piled ready for
use in the kitchen stove when its turn, came.
The tiers of softwood used for kindling and for quick and temporary
fires were in one place, and those of hardwood for use in continuous
fires were in another.
Woodfires were used to heat water for cooking, washing in the brick
encased boiler on wash days, and Saturday night baths in washtubs and
for heating the kitchen. Not far distant from the wood piles in the barn
was the coal bin where most of the winter supply of coal was stored.
During the winter, every morning after breakfast grandfather would
emerge from the house with full ash pans and empty coalscuttle. He would
empty the coal ashes in an out-of-the-way place and the wood ashes in
the smoke house for use in making soft soap in the spring.
Grandfather would then proceed to the barn, fill his scuttle with coal,
feed the hens and gather their morning's lay of eggs which he would
place in his ample pockets, load his left arm with wood, part soft and
part hard, pick up the scuttle of coal, and then make his way down the
gentle slope to the house,
Later in the day, he made a second and perhaps a third tip to the barn,.
These chores doubtless contributed to his physical well-being and he
continued them until the time of his death in his ninetieth year. Did
grandmother try to dissuade grandfather from continuing his daily tasks?
She did not; she knew how much they meant to grandfather; she knew that
they were wholesome stimulants even in his advancing years.
Our smokehouse being of a capacity far beyond our needs and our supply
of corncobs being short grandfather made a deal with Mr. Sinclair
Cruickshank whereby the Cruickshank hams were hung in our smokehouse and
Sinclair kept the smudge continuous during the curing period.
Mr. Sinclair Cruickshank was one of the picturesque characters of our
community. In memory I can see him now with his broad-brimmed hat pinned
up on one side like that of a peasant of the Tyrol, mincing along the
street with his basket of corncobs hung on one arm and his steps bent in
the direction of our home and smokehouse. Folks used to say that
Sinclair wore corsets and painted his face to make himself look
When the smoke from the final basket of corncobs had died down our hams
were taken to the basement. A slice of this ham, in company with a
half-dozen golden brown eggs fresh from the nests, fried to taste and
basted from time to time in its own delicious fat, was delicious. To one
brought up on New England home-cured ham and migrating to parts where
they know not of its virtues, the contrast between what is served when
he orders ham and the memory of the ham of his boyhood is enough to
bring tears to his eyes.
Grandfather's eating was always abstemious. His regimen was the result
of years of experimentation. At no meal did he eat very much and at
supper, he was particularly careful. A typical evening meal might
consist of a cup of weak green tea, so weak that it was almost
colorless; a piece of cheese and a doughnut or a part of one. I am aware
that modem dieticians would raise their hands and shoulders in horror
and declare that grandfather's supper was the worst he could have
selected; that mince pie only could have been worse. Such authorities
would have to be reminded of the fact that grandfather never ate fresh
cheese or doughnuts; both had to be aged to the point of being almost as
hard as the proverbial brick; that grandfather then cut off microscopic
slices and munched them slowly and carefully. Have I not yet proved my
case? Well then, I will shoot my last bolt, one that I have been saving:
Never during all the years that I lived in grandfather's home did I know
him to suffer one day from coughs, colds, indigestion, constipation,
insomnia or other malady and never did I know him to take a pill or a
spoonful of medicine of any character; not even grandmother's catnip
tea. Grandfather never needed the professional services of Uncle George
until the time of his last illness. Grandfather was his own doctor and
none could have been better. Mary Foley used to say that he could have
eaten and digested tacks as easily as some folks eat raisins.
Fancy a man in his ninetieth year, wearing a double truss, shoveling the
snow from his sidewalk long before daylight, and you have a picture of
grandfather as I knew him in the years preceding community snow ploughs,
automobiles, radios, yes, and of bath tubs, excepting the wooden wash
tub which made its appearance every Saturday night behind the kitchen
It was not the custom of New England families to lavish affection on
each other; none was lavished on me by grandmother excepting the
good-night and good-morning kisses and the nearest approach grandfather
ever made to manifesting affection for me was to permit me to climb into
his lap and rub his wrinkled and beard stubbled face with my soft and
loving hand. These visitations of mine came most frequently when I heard
grandfather sighing, and sometimes sobbing, after having received a
particularly discouraging letter from my father. These were memorable
occasions for grandfather and me. They doubtless served to raise
grandfather's drooping spirits and they also served to make amends for
many acts of insubordination of the unruly youngster who was sitting in
For some reason grandfather never seemed to worry very much about me or
my future; he seemed to think that I would manage to get along somehow
without having to be sent to jail or to the poorhouse (either or both),
although the slope of the road I followed at times seemed to be leading
in the wrong direction.
New England restraint also manifested itself in the relationship between
grandfather and grandmother. To have kissed his diminutive wife or to
have caressed her in public would have been beyond his understanding and
hers. Never was he known to address her as Pamela; never was she known
to address him as Howard. In the intimacy of the home, she addressed him
as "Pa" and he addressed her as "Ma," but it never went beyond that.
Even to their next door neighbor, they always spoke of each other as Mr.
and Mrs. Harris. Devotion, however, was manifested in undemonstrative
ways. For instance, in the ever to be depended upon cleanliness and
orderliness from cellar to garret, bringing a satisfying sense of peace,
comfort and well-being.
Grandfather never indulged in arguments with anyone on any subject. He
would suffer a grievance rather than argue about it. Grandmother used to
tell of an experience in Boston which Illustrated this characteristic of
grandfather. It seems that, contrary to his usual custom, he had taken
grandmother to Boston with him on one of his buying trips. As they were
walking on a busy street a drunken man staggered against grandfather,
assuming a belligerent attitude as he did so. Grandfather, sensing the
situation at once, bowed with a courtesy far beyond usual and said, 'I
beg your pardon, Sir," and then hurried along on his business.
My grandparents attended and supported the Congregational church of
which grandmother was a member. Devotional exercises were not practiced
in our home though grandmother read her bible regularly and at stated
periods, the minister called. His visits were never mentioned. One day I
happened to be passing the half-opened door of the south parlor and
observed both grandmother and the minister on their knees; he was
talking to someone, God, I presumed. Anyhow, there was something within
me which said, "This is grandma's hour; I must tread softly; she must
not be disturbed."
"An Industrious Community"
MY VALLEY WAS largely self-sustained In the days of my boyhood. The
meadowland near the creek was fertile and good for farming and the
surrounding hills provided an abundance of pastureland. Most of the
small industrial plants in Wallingford existed by virtue of the supply
of usable timber in the near-by mountains. There the fork shop found its
supply of ash for the handles of the pitchforks-for tails as they were
The snow shovel industry used the white ash grown in the mountains. The
wagon shop used both hickory and ash in the manufacture of its product
and tough oak for the hubs of the wheels. Chopping bowls, used by
housewives in the preparation of the delectable corned-beef hash and
mince meat for pies, were made from maple found in the mountains.
Old one-legged Mr. Pratt, the coffin-maker had an ever available snpply
of spruce and pine. The sash-and-door factory had to have pine. The
hemlock trees provided bark to tan hides and the cedars provided
shingles and posts. Vermont hillsides and mountains produce the very
best marble and granite quarries in the entire world. Brick-making was
once an industry in Wallingford but it passed out, along with
hat-making, and the lime kiln operates no more.
During my day the Batcheller fork factory was owned and operated by
three of the sons and one son-in-law of the pioneer Batcheller. The
oldest of the Batcheller sons had alienated himself from his brothers
and associated the Batcheller name with a rival enterprise which proved
unsuccessful; the remaining brothers stuck together and were successful,
illustrating the fable of the wise father, his sons and the bunch of
The Batcheller Fork Company employed a hundred or more men; the
employer-employee relationship was noteworthy and in many respects would
compare favorably with the advanced concepts of the present period.
While in the manner of their living they approached the aristocratic
order, in the conduct of their business the Batchellers were democratic
to a point which some would have considered extreme. It was customary in
New England in that period to reserve the soft jobs in factories for the
sons, grandsons and relatives of the proprietors, and they were
generally educated with that point in view. The Batchellers were no
exception insofar as giving their children the best educational
advantages in technical schools or other institutions according to their
choice, but there they parted with traditional practice. Sons were
entitled to jobs in the factory if they wanted them but that was as far
as special privileges went. From that point on advancement depended
strictly upon their own merits and ambitions.
I recall no instance of any son or grandson being stepped up into
positions of authority or management. They seemingly preferred to
continue to work at a bench or some other place, drawing precisely the
same pay as the men and women working beside them.
Of course there was never a strike in the Batcheller factory. Employees
were not organized there or elsewhere in that day but I doubt whether it
would have been possible for an organizer to have made headway In the
Batcheller shops. The democratic spirit and the unvarying fairness of
management would have constituted obstacles difficult to overcome, All
were friends and neighbors without rank or distinction. The same formula
rigidly adhered to would work wonders I am sure, even today.
Long after my time the business of Batcheller's was absorbed by the
American Fork and Hoe Company of Cleveland, a concern of national
importance which was in a position to make larger use of the facilities
of the Batcheller company. Wallingford suffered no loss; on the contrary
It gained by the change. The new manager took up residence in
Wallingford, having bought my boyhood home, where he has raised a fine
family. His interest in the affairs of the community was largely
responsible for the advanced policy of the company so far as concerned
its Wallingford plant.
Its most important civic contribution was the beautiful New England Inn
erected on the site of the old Wallingford Hotel. It is widely known as
The True Temper Inn, "true temper" being the trade mark of the company
applied to all its products which includes farm and garden equipment,
golf sticks, fishing rods, skis, toboggans, snowshoes, etc. The Inn is
located on the Ethan Allen Highway, the third building, or the second
house south of my boyhood home.
The Inn put Wallingford on the map at once as a summer resort of the
better class. The atmosphere is in keeping with the best New England
tradition. One traveling by automobile through the New England states
owes it to himself to pay The True Temper Inn a visit. There is much of
interest to be seen in My New England Valley.
Many strong men have gone out from the rocky hills of New England to
play important parts in the affairs of the world, Vermont soil lacks the
fertility of western farm lands but, perhaps for that very reason, New
England has been extraordinarily productive in strong men.
One raised to the hardships of life on rocky Vermont farms and inured to
the rigorous climate, could hardly fail to give a good account of
himself under more favorable conditions. It is said that Vermont in
proportion to its population, has a larger representation in "Who's Who
in America" than any other state in the Union.
Wallingford contributed its share to Vermont's quota of outstanding men.
J. T. Trowbirdge, writer of stories for boys, lived in our valley for a
time. Phil Emerson became a Federal Judge In Utah, Jeff Southerland, a
Chicago lawyer, served as assistant corporation counsel of that city for
many years. Aldace Walker, Jr, has heen Chairman of the Interstate
Commerce Commission; Nate Rounds, manager of a St Louis mercantile
house. Birney Batcheller, whose home was opposite ours, was the inventor
of the Batcheller pneumatic air tube for the transmission of mail
beneath the streets of great cites; the city of Philadelphia adopted the
Batcheller tube. He was also the inventor of other devices. He still
lives in the old home, writing books, poems and articles on scientific
subjects. He has written a real history of Wallingford. Birney was just
enough older than I to exclude me from his list of personal friends,
though his juvenile experiments in mechanical contraptions aroused an
awesome respect within me. He, Hiram Fales and I are about the only "Old
The list of Wallingford notables would not be complete without the name
of Will Coleman who came from the most barren and rocky farmland in the
township of Wallingford. Will's part of Wallingford was called
Hartsboro. Why Hartsboro was given a name of its own, was a problem. If
the statement that the noses of Vermont sheep have to be sharpened so
they can reach between the rocks for their nourishment is true of any
locality, it must be true of Hartsboro although I do not recall having
seen Hartsboro farmers engaged in that occupation.
There being no school in Hartsboro, the boys and girls of that locality
came to ours, The seven or eight miles per day on foot whetted their
appetites for learning as well as for the food they carried in their
John Gainey and Will Coleman always came together and they were muffled
up almost beyond recognition as they traversed the stony, mountainous
road on cold winter days. Both stood high in their classes. Upon
graduating, John returned to farm work but Will resolved to go into
The usual course for Wallingford young men who desired to enter business
was to gain experience in one of the local stores, and then perhaps,
more experience in a larger store in Rutland, the county seat, and then,
if successful, to seek more important openings in Troy, Albany, New York
or Boston. The hop, skip and jump policy was not suited to Will; he
resolved to get a position at once with some important company in
Boston. He saved up enough money to pay his fare to the New England
metropolis, one hundred and sixty miles distant and to pay his board in
a cheap boarding house for a few days.
Upon his arrival in Boston, he at once began a canvass of the important
business houses. Fortune directed his steps to the largest establishment
in the world engaged in the manufacture of shoe-making machinery. After
gaining admission, he asked to see the president of the company, which
request, of course, was denied, at least to the extent that it was
possible to deny such a young man. His persistence finally won him a
After he had stated his case, the president told him he would see that
his name was placed on the waiting list but Will informed him promptly
that this proposal was not acceptable and that he needed a job right
then and could not wait. Somewhat aghast at Will's insistence, the man
of affairs asked him if he knew his way around Boston, to which Will
answered, "No," explaining that he had just arrived in town, His
curiosity aroused, the president asked him how much he expected to be
paid for his services and Will answered, "Fifteen dollars and I am worth
The big man then informed the raw, gangling boy from Hartsboro that
Boston was full of experienced boys who would be glad to work for four
dollars per week. Will then said something to the man high up that has
become historical in the records of Boston's big shoe-making industry;
they were, "Fifteen dollars per week is my price and I will not work for
less but I will tell you what I will do. You put me to work and if at
the end of a week, you feel that you have not had your money's worth,
you needn't pay me a cent."
Will got the job; the only one he ever had occasion to ask for; all
other jobs came to him and they were all jobs with the same company. The
last post he occupied was that of general manager for the company's
entire European business with headquarters in Paris; that position he
occupied for many years.
I can vouch for the truth of the story above related. One of the
officials of the company, having learned that Will and I had gone to the
same school in Wallingford, thought that I might be interested, so, at
some inconvenience to himself, he looked me up during the course of a
visit to Chicago and told it to me. Needless to say, I was much
interested. Will's story seemed to me a classic, and in order that I
might be exact in my statements, I checked up with him the next time we
met in Vermont. Will Coleman has passed to his reward. As I review his
life from beginning to end, it seems to me that both as boy and man, he
was typical of the New England character taken at its best.
Some of the young men who went out from our community to tattle with the
world failed in this fight; some were driven back into our little valley
looking the worse for wear. Even the least successful, however, had
wondrous tales to tell of the strange sights in distant parts and such
prodigal sons were always sure of interested audiences, particularly
audiences composed of small boys. A few of our migrants were middle-aged
or even elderly, most of that class having been assured of jobs by
former migrants from out valley who had proven themselves able to make
good in their efforts to transplant themselves.
Among those who left us was a staid and sober merchant by the name of
Hiram Chapin. It was a surprise to everyone that 'Hi" had ambition and
romance enough to embark on a momentous adventure. His going was a
matter of great interest to his fellow-townsmen but what tongue can
describe the glamour of his return. He came back to our valley on the
back of a mustang, driving before him a herd of mustangs not yet broken
to saddle. He was dressed in wild west fashion with broad-brimmed hat
and bandana around his neck and altogether, he was a sight to behold. We
boys were proud of him and it gingered up our enthusiasm for the West.
Some of us who had been looking forward to being soldiers, sailors or
clowns in the circus, revamped our plans and began training for the
business of being cowboys. If a humdrum druggist like Hiram Chapin could
make such a hero of himself within six months or thereabouts, what might
not be expected of real, red-blooded rapscallions, like ourselves, for
"Grandfather Passes On"
AFTER I HAD COMPLETED my work in the Wallingford High School, I felt
prepared in mind for further adventures in the educational field.
Grandfather was sympathetic with my ambitions and very willing to back
them up with financial assistance. How he ever managed to see enough in
me to justify his confidence and support, I cannot imagine; it seems to
me as I look back that there was little to justify it.
I think that Mr. Jerome Hilliard, or almost any other respectable and
unprejudiced citizen of Wallingford, would have been willing to
enlighten grandfather on the subject if grandfather had sought advice
but he did not seek advice. The good folks of Wallingford might believe
that grandfather was betting his money on the wrong horse if they chose
to do so; that was their privilege; he had ideas of his own on that
subject and he was willing to back his judgment with cold cash.
Grandfather had a profound faith in education, and the least and perhaps
the most, that could be said in my favor, was that I possessed an
Of one thing I am sure, deep down in my heart, I treasured an abiding
love for grandfather; perhaps he suspected that much. My multitudinous
misdemeanors notwithstanding, I never knew grandfather to show signs of
annoyance when I threw myself into his lap and caressed him as he sat
sobbing beside the sitting-room stove. I am sure he knew I sympathized
with him in his grievous troubles.
The faith of my grandparents was put to even more severe tests during
the years which followed. My records in Black River Academy, Vermont
Military Academy, the Universities of Vermont and Princeton, left much
to be desired. The time-honored curricula of the period had little
meaning for me. Literature, philosophy, history, the humanities and
social sciences would, I am convinced, have meant much. As things were,
I gained most from extra-curricular activities especially those spiced
with insubordinations and outlawry.
There were also certain personalities among the educators with whom I
came in contact, that left their profound impressions on my mind; Major
Spooner at Vermont Military Academy; Professor Petty (dear old "Pet!"),
at the University of Vermont, and above all, Doctor James McCosh, who
was President of Princeton several years prior to the incumbency of
Woodrow Wilson. I was privileged to take logic and psychology under this
famous educator from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.
"Jimmie" was loved by everyone, and more than that, I always thought he
looked and acted like grandfather. From his habit of poring over books
he was even more bent than grandfather but he had the same type of
aquiline nose and his hair was silvery white.
On my first day in Princeton, I was taken to the home of the venerable
president by Professor Huss who introduced me. President McCosh did not
rise from his chair but he extended his hand to me, at the same time
inquiring, "And did ye come here to have a good time?" Somewhat
embarrassed by the question, I still had enough wits about me to answer,
"No, President McCosh, I came here to study." He pressed my hand quite
firmly and said, "Ah, that's right, me By."
One cold winter day while at Princeton, I received a telegram from Uncle
George, reading, "Come home at once if you want to see grandpa alive." I
knew Uncle George well enough to know that every word of his sad message
was justified and I took the first train to New York and there
transferred to a train leaving for the north country.
A cold, dreary landscape confronted us as our train made its way up our
valley and a funeral procession made my forebodings more acute. It was
coming on night as my train arrived at Wallingford. Only one person
stood on the platform, a boy named Preston. To him I went in haste as I
propounded the burning question, "Do you know how my grandfather is,
Bert?" He stammered a bit as he spoke the words, "I am afraid your
grandfather is dead, Paul."
Most of the story of grandfather's illness and death was told me by
grandmother and others who were present. I know that it is true because
it could not have been untrue. If you know folks well enough, you will
know what they will do under certain circumstances.
That winter had been the hardest on record throughout the north and east
and the record has never been equaled since. In New York City, the North
River froze over completely and many courageous New Yorkers fought their
way across in order to be able to say they had done so. Snow piled up as
high as the eaves troughs and traffic was stopped on the railroads for
several days. Folks who had failed to stock up on foodstuffs had to go
hungry but there was no shortage of food in grandfather's house.
Whittier's "Snow Bound" was outdone entirely and those who had thought
of that masterpiece as a fanciful exaggeration had to make new
reckonings. Grandfather certainly worked hard that year to keep the path
to the front gate and the brick sidewalk in front of the house clear of
snow but it was a losing game, as none knew better than grandfather.
Snowstorms were always a challenge to him; there must have been a
sporting element in his nature and he permitted none of his neighbors to
get the better of him. Long before daylight while most of the folks of
our village, both old and young, were still in bed, thinking of the
tasks before them, grandfather's snow shovel could be heard scraping the
snow from the walks.
There were times when grandmother viewed grandfather's determination to
keep up his outdoor work through the storm and blizzard with
considerable apprehension but he waived all protests aside in a manner
well understood by grandmother. The best that she could do was to make
sure he was well wrapped up to guard against the pelting snow or sleet
and then to let grandfather have his own way about it. Occasionally
grandmother would go into the cold, south parlor and peer through any
break she could find in the coating of ice on the window to see how
grandfather was getting along.
Once in my memory grandmother spoke to Uncle George about it; he
listened to her patiently until she had finished and then remarked,
"Pa's snow shovel is about the only medicine he takes, isn't it, Ma?" to
which she replied, "Yes, I suppose so." and grandfather was left to
prescribe for himself come weal, come woe. Whether his days would have
been more or fewer had he been content to sit behind the sitting-room
stove when the furies of the northern winters raged, no one, not even
Uncle George, wise, kind doctor as he was, could have told.
In the days before I left home nothing could have given me more
exhilaration, more real pleasure, nor have been better for me than a
bout with the snow-drifts after my return from my before daylight
journey to the post-office, or even before I took that journey. Most
naturally I did not fuss with grandfather for the privilege of shoveling
the snow. I knew, intuitively, as Doctor George knew, and in fact as
grandmother deep down in her heart knew, that grandfather never could
have enjoyed his cat naps in his big arm chair as he did without first
having done his morning chores.
He had given up his horses, cows, and the heaviest of his labors in the
garden, the hayfield and the barn, but his household chores he would
yield to neither man nor boy.
Grandfather did not say these things; it was not his custom to talk such
things over; it was not necessary to do so. When he pulled on his boots,
tucked his trousers into them, put his mittens on his hands, his
wristlets on his wrists, his tippet around his neck and went to the
woodshed for the snow shovel, one could readily understand that the snow
was to be shoveled and that grandfather was the man to shovel it.
Grandfather's snow shovel was a sort of symbol to me; a symbol of
courage and resolution. If our family ever adopts a coat of arms, it
should be a snow shovel-but not a snow shovel couchant for grandfather
never permitted his snow shovel to lie down on him, but a snow shovel
rampant, ever ready to do its part.
Upon arriving home I learned that one morning after grandfather's return
to the house, a severe cold seemed to have gotten the best of him,
growing steadily worse as the day advanced. He went to bed at the usual
time and slept through the night but, contrary to his custom, he did not
wake up at the usual hour and grandmother noted that he was breathing
heavily. For the first time in more than sixty years of married life,
grandmother got up, lit the light and called the hired girl who started
the fire in the kitchen stove, shook the coal stove down and cleared out
Grandfather continued to sleep and grandmother's anxiety continued to
grow until she could bear it no longer. As soon as daylight came she
sent a telegram to Uncle George who, upon receiving it, harnessed one of
the horses and set out through the deep snow for Wallingford.
Both Billy and Fanny had a way of reading Uncle George's mind and they
could tell from his manner whether or not it was an emergency; they were
angels of mercy at such times. Considering what had to be encountered,
Uncle George made his appearance in our yard in a brief period of time.
Stepping into the house where, after removing his great overcoat and the
arctics from his shoes and exchanging a word of greeting with
grandmother, he went directly to grandfather's bedside and examined him
After a brief pause, he turned to grandmother and said, "Pa has a touch
of pneumonia but I have hopes that his rugged constitution will pull him
through; we shall see; the crisis will probably come tonight."
Aunt Lib dropped in during the course of the forenoon, Uncle George
having called at the Martindale home returning to Rutland. Owing to the
fact that no path had been shoveled between the back doors of the two
houses, Aunt Lib had come to the front door which was unusual for her.
Ellen Button managed to make her way to the side door during the day and
Justin Batcheller and other near neighbors who had seen Uncle George's
cutter in our yard came to make inquiry. All were extremely solicitous
and spoke in low tones; there was no comment on the doings of the
villagers as was customary during neighborly calls. They looked solemn
but very kindly as though they were all of one family sharing
grandmother's anxiety. All near neighbors called during the course of
the day. Ellen Button, who had recently buried her father, the good old
Judge, called several times bringing such things as she thought might be
acceptable and she spoke soft, tender words of consolation to
Later in the day Uncle George came again from Rutland bringing Aunt
Mellie and after he had looked at grandfather again, they all took
chairs in the dining-room and talked in low voices. They had never seen
Uncle George in just the mood of that moment; he was even more
sympathetic than usual but there was a serious look in his kind blue
Later in the day he sent telegrams to father and mother and all other
near relatives. Father and mother came as soon as they could get
through. It was a blessed thing to have relatives and good neighbors at
hand; I do not know how grandmother could have gotten along without
their sympathy and counsel. As it was, she did wondrously well
considering the fact that during a period of sixty years she and
grandfather had been one and inseparable; not a thought had she failed
to share with him.
Grandfather's breathing was less labored but fainter and Uncle George
held out no hope. The passing was not long in coming. He never regained
consciousness; his tired old heart simply ceased to beat. A good
husband, father and grandfather and a true New England citizen had gone.
An undertaker from Rutland removed the body to the north parlor, a room
never opened but once before during the days of my boyhood. There
grandfather rested when I arrived. The room seemed icy cold as indeed it
was until near the hour of the funeral when the coal stove in the
sitting room and the soapstone stove in the south parlor and the kitchen
stove were all driven to the limit of their capacity in order to keep
their respective quarters warm and to send their combined surplus heat
into the north parlor which had no stove of its own.
Although grandmother had never been what one would call a managing
person, she arose to the emergency and did her full part. Her desires in
all matters were respected and followed to the letter.
The funeral services were simple. There were no flowers other than the
potted geraniums always kept in the kitchen and dining room windows.
Standing in the front hallway between the two parlors, the minister
spoke appropriately of the life of grandfather and the Congregational
church choir of three singers, Harlan Strong, tenor, Cal Hilliard,
soprano and her widowed sister, Mellie Cleghorn, contralto, sang,
without accompaniment, "Lead, Kindly Light" and other familiar hymns as
they had done scores of times before.
Though two of her children and many of her grandchildren were present,
it was grandmother's wish that I sit by her side in the back seat of the
first sleigh as we drove to the cemetery and to lean upon my arm as we
made our way along the path which the sexton had shoveled through the
snow to our family lot where the grave had been dug deep down to a point
below the frost line.
The family lot was enclosed by a cast-iron fence, the name, "Howard
Harris" being wrought in the gate. Grandmother held up wonderfully well
at the grave and upon our return home, and in fact, at all times during
I think it was upon the suggestion of my mother that it was decided to
have grandfather's will read while the relatives were present and I was
the one selected to read it.
The will provided that the estate was to be divided into three parts;
one-third to Aunt Mellie outright; one-third to Uncle George in trust,
father to have the income throughout his life; and the remaining third
to grandmother to dispose of as she pleased including any provision she
might wish to make for the continuation of my education.
The will was something of a surprise to neighbors who had thought that
grandfather would put me on an equal basis with Aunt Mellie and my
father but the only dissatisfied legatee was my father who chaffed at
the trusteeship, contending that it was not necessary for anyone to
exercise lordship over him in his own affairs and that went for Uncle
George in particular. Uncle George was not happy over the arrangement
but resolved to carry on as long as he could endure it, which proved not
to be long. Years later, Uncle George, in an effort to defend himself
against charges made by my father, showed me his book of accounts and
wanted to explain its entries. I merely said, "Close your book, Uncle
George. No explanations are needed." One of the most honorable and
conscientious men I have ever known was my Uncle George.
The humiliation of being singled out as an incompetent hurt father
grievously. Grandfather had sensed it all and that was why he sobbed as
he sat in his arm chair beside the sitting room stove during the latter
part of his life.
Chapter 30 "A Farewell to
AFTER THE PASSING of grandfather, I finished the year at Princeton and
then returned to spend the summer in the home with grandmother. As might
be expected, she was pensive at times. I knew that she was terribly
lonely but I did not know it from anything she said; it was more from
the things she did; she wandered about the house at times as if in a
On occasions she would ask me to walk with her in the orchard as the sun
was sinking low; grandmother always loved to see the sun as it sank
behind West Hill; she spoke of the changing colors of the clouds from
pearl to pink, to roseate hue and then, to fiery red.
"That's a grand panorama, Paul. Could anything be more majestic? It's
the work of a kindly and omnipotent hand. Sunsets always give me a
feeling of comfort, repose and confidence. Nothing ill can come from the
hand of one who loves beauty so and brings it to his children."
She seldom spoke of grandfather though I knew that over and above all of
her words was the ever-present consciousness of him. On one occasion she
did speak of him as we were walking down the path in the orchard
together. As near as I can remember, her words were:
"I feel that I have been fortunate, Paul, far beyond my due in having
had the unwavering love of your grandfather for more than sixty years.
No woman can be blessed by anything to compare with the love of a good
husband, the father of her children. Our lives haven't been easy; in
fact, it has been a constant struggle from beginning to end and we have
had our full share of sorrow. We lost three children and they were all
very dear to us. We used to wonder at times whether anything in life was
worth while but there were still duties and tasks to do; there were the
living as well as the dead. There can never be anyone so near to a woman
as her husband. My thoughts have been Pa's thoughts and his have been
mine. It seems to me that part of me is living and part of me is dead."
"Paul, I wonder at times if you realize how much you meant to Pa. At
times, it used to seem to him that his life had been a failure. As you
know, he had high hopes for your father. He spent money freely for his
education and his disappointment almost broke his heart. And then you
came to us quite providentially and Pa fastened all his hopes on you.
Paul, you must not fail him. Work hard and live honorably for your
After another lingering look at the fast fading color in the west,
grandmother turned and I followed her down the hallowed pathway to our
This is not primarily a story of grandfather and grandmother except as
it serves to illustrate the character of the folks who lived in New
England during the days of my boyhood, and, to a considerable extent,
the character of the folks who live there still. It is not primarily an
autobiography, though the facts revealed were seen through my eyes. The
eyes of most of the companions of my boyhood have long been closed in
Instead of returning to Princeton in the autumn, I began a year's
employment in the office of the Sheldon Marble Company in West Rutland.
All I had to do was to get up at 5:00 AM., breakfast, walk a mile to the
office, attend to all the stoves, sweep and dust in readiness for the
arrival of the officials and office men, and then do my day's work with
the others-and find things to do when not told. Before the year closed I
graduated from office boy to more important positions. It was a valuable
experience. After that it was grandmother's decision that her grandson
should go west to study law.
During my last days in the valley, I had a feeling that I was standing
on the threshold of life and that the future was all uncertainty. Would
I be able to cope with the destitution and privation which I must
inevitably encounter or would I be driven back, bruised and beaten as my
father had been?
There was this difference between my father's case and mine; there was
still a home in which my father could find shelter; in my case, there
soon would be none. The old home, sacred to the memory of grandfather
and grandmother, was before long to be closed never to be opened again
as a home for our family. Grandmother was to spend the remaining days of
her life in the comfortable home of her daughter, Aunt Mellie Fox, Uncle
George and their family.
My father was dependent on the trust created by grandfather and such
further assistance as might be given him by grandmother. Quite clearly
the time was not far distant when I would be on my own.
Perhaps the saving clause in my grandfather's will was that which left
me to my own resources, except for some little help from grandmother. I
did not regret it; my life was to be an adventure; what more could a
live, energetic boy have asked. I have always felt considerable pride in
the fact that grandfather felt I would be able to take care of myself.
My inheritance was far more enduring than money could have been; the
munificence of my hard-working, self-sacrificing grandparents gave me
the advantage of a formal education in preparatory schools, college and
the university but far more important they gave me the advantage of
their example in their well-ordered home where love abode.
I think I inherited something of grandfather's broad spirit of
tolerance. Grandfather was an ambassador of good-will in the eyes of the
youngster who sat at his table during his impressionable years; he never
spoke evil of any man nor of any man's religion or politics.
My year of work passed quickly and the day so long anticipated came at
last. Grandmother and I were entirely alone except for the presence of
an elderly woman who had taken most of the housekeeping cares from the
worn and weary shoulders of grandmother. For one reason and another, it
had been planned that grandmother and I were to spend these last few
hours together, possibly because Aunt Mellie and Uncle George knew that
grandmother would prefer it that way. They were to drive to Wallingford
later in the day, lock up the house and take grandmother with them to
return no more.
It was early in the month of September and the morning was bright and
cheerful although our hearts were heavy-laden. The parting hours were
spent in the dining room; grandmother and I sat on the horsehair sofa
facing the table, where for years we all had eaten good wholesome food,
and where, long before my time, father had eaten his meals.
The banjo clock hung on the north wall where it had been for at least
three generations and we were within hearing of the sitting room clock
not far away. In fact there had been no change in the dining room since
the night of the feast of bread and milk and blueberries, served to
father, Cecil and me years ago.
While the kitchen was the center of the house so far as activities were
concerned, and the sitting room the place for rest, reading and
reflection, it was the dining room where important discussions took
place; the dining room was the scene of the alpha and omega of my New
England home life.
When grandmother could control her emotion, she said:
"This seems not new to me, Paul; I have lived it over and over again. I
have even thought of what my last words should be but they have all gone
from me now. I must not, however, talk about myself; it is of Pa and his
high hopes for you that I must talk. You do know, Paul, how Pa's
thoughts centered on you, don't you?"
I answered, "Yes, I am conscious of it and I hope that I shall not prove
entirely unworthy of his trust but he has set a high mark to live up
"It is indeed a high mark," she resumed, "but you are capable of living
up to it; you must, Paul. I know how anxious you are to see the world.
Pa and I talked that over and he was not opposed to it if you can
accomplish it without neglecting your studies. Where there's a will,
there's a way, Paul, and you will have to work it out.
It won't be easy but it can be done. The night you and Cecil and your
father entered this house is still as fresh in my mind as if it were
yesterday. Some folks said that we were making a great mistake in
assuming the responsibility of raising you, Paul. We were getting along
in years and had already raised a family. You may have heard some such
talk, Paul," looking at me inquiringly.
I answered, "Indeed I have, Grandma, indeed I have and I thought that it
was probably true."
"There's not a word of truth in it, Paul. Banish it from your mind;
instead of shortening our lives, I think it has lengthened them. Folks
who have raised families and seen their children go out into the world
are generally pretty lonely. When the fountains of love dry up there
isn't much to live for so your coming to us seems now to have been
Providential; we had to have someone to lavish affection upon; there
were worries enough, of course, but that is life. I have thought
sometimes that it may have been an injustice to you to have been tied up
here with two old folks; children need brothers and sisters to round out
their lives; however you soon found companions of your own selection and
that helped some.
With these words grandmother had told me all that had been pent up in
Glancing up at the banjo clock, I was alarmed to note that the hands
pointed to eleven o'clock; I had fifteen minutes only to catch my train.
When I arose to go, grandmother, for the first time in her life, so far
as I knew, burst into a flood of tears. I threw my arms about her frail
body and said, "Never mind, Grandma, I shall be back to see you soon."
Her answer was a shake of her head; she spoke no words.
On my way past the home of Judge Button, I stopped to tell Ellen to
please go in and comfort grandmother and that service she was more than
glad to render.
Around the corner, down Depot street and alongside the white fence where
the shadows of grandfather's lantern had danced in fantastic figures,
down to the railway station, prim and tidy as it had always been, I made
my way. There was the usual flurry of excitement as the eleven-fifteen
train came in and went out. As I went with it my heart was tumultuously
beating as familiar objects faded in the distance. I was alone and
terribly lonely. Grandmother was the last guard; the key would soon be
turned in the door.
I received frequent letters from grandmother, all of which have been
carefully preserved. She kept me posted as to the events in her new
home. For instance; Cousin Mattie was enjoying a trip to Europe in the
company of good friends and the incidents of her travels were of great
interest to grandmother; it was wonderful to have a granddaughter in
Europe; grandmother had never thought of such a thing and Mattie would
never be the same girl again after having had a trip to Europe. She
wrote also of the kind thoughtfulness of other members of the family;
everything was being done for her comfort.
One year and one month from the date of my departure from the old home,
I, then a student in the law department of the University of Iowa,
received a telegram from Uncle George stating that the spirit of
grandmother had flown in the night. There had been nothing to indicate
that the time was near; grandmother simply went to sleep and did not
I did not return for the funeral but father, mother and other members of
the family were present. According to the current issue of the Rutland
"A small funeral party drove down the Creek Road to Wallingford with the
mortal remains of Pamela Harris, widow of the late Howard Harris of
Wallingford and mother of Mrs. George Fox of this city. The attendance
was limited to members of the family and near relatives. No more
beautiful day could have been selected; the colors of the mountainsides
had arrived at the point of perfection as the funeral party wound its
way along the valley of Otter Creek to Green Hill cemetery in
Wallingford where the remains were laid beside the body of the husband
of the deceased.
The Herald extends sympathy to Mrs. George Fox and her family and such
felicitations as may seem proper because of the fact that the closing
chapter of the long and beautiful life of her mother was written on one
of Vermont's most beautiful autumn days."
So grandmother was returned to the soil from which she sprang; it would
have seemed a desecration to have laid the bodies of grandfather and
grandmother anywhere else, All of her life and the best part of
grandfather's life had been spent in the valley. Their children were
born and brought up there and there three of their children had died.
During the days of her childhood grandmother had tramped over the hills
in and above Green Hill cemetery; she had picked buttercups, daisies and
spring violets on Cemetery Hill and in its protecting soil the bodies of
generations of loved ones had been laid.
The small family lot lies on the hillside not so far up as to be beyond
hearing of the tinkle of water as it falls from the ever-flowing
fountain in Cemetery Pond. In this lot, the bodies of Frances number one
and Frances number two, as well as the bodies of the eldest daughter,
Mary Reed and her husband, had been laid.
Grandmother seldom spoke of past bereavements; possibly I never would
have known of Frances number one and Frances number two had it not been
for their graves in the cemetery lot and two tiny leather shoes which I
discovered in a drawer of the kitchen table; grandmother's thoughts were
mostly centered on her every day duties.
On all sides of the Harris lot there were the lots of our neighbors, the
Martindales, Buttons, Munsons, Childs, Batchellers, Scribners, Hills,
Kents, Ballous, Ainsworths, Marshes, Millers, Townsends, Newtons, Coles,
Staffords and scores of others whose names were well known in our
valley. Yes, Green Hill cemetery had a rightful claim to the bodies of
grandfather and grandmother; to have turned deaf ears to it would have
seemed unjust. Our valley was grandmother's idea of Paradise.
Grandmother believed in the resurrection and, it always having been
difficult for her to meet strangers, it would be a great blessing to be
surrounded by home folks when the horn of Gabriel sounded. A most
welcome sight to grandmother on the morning of resurrection day would be
Judge Button with his little gray shawl thrown over his shoulders and
his customary salutation, "Good morning, Mrs. Harris; this is going to
be a fine day."
I have frequently tried to picture to my mind the events of that October
day. The funeral procession moving slowly down the valley, along lazy,
winding Otter Creek, lit up by the flaming colors of the hillsides and
mountains. I have recalled the last view which our folks had of the
mortal remains of grandmother almost as vividly as though I had been
present. I could see grandmother's worn hands lying on her breast and
the never-to-be-forgotten swollen bone of her lame wrist, her supreme
badge of honor. Nothing which manicurists and beauticians have ever been
able to accomplish with the hands of mothers and grandmothers has ever
seemed comparable in beauty with the artistry of love and duty as
wrought on grandmother's worn hands and lame wrist. Of the eighty-nine
pounds which composed grandmother, every pound and every ounce was
dedicated to loving service, the ingredient which makes home life
For more than fifty years the warm spring suns have brought back to life
the grass and wild flowers in the little cemetery lot; summer suns have
brought them to maturity and autumn winds have in due course directed to
the graves of grandmother and grandfather myriads of maple leaves which
also had spent their life courses and needed only a quiet place to lie
down and rest. The icy blasts of more than a half-century of winters
have sent snowflakes by the millions to form downy blankets to protect
the graves of grandfather and grandmother.
More than sixty years the aged couple had carried their rugged cross
together; so long, in fact, they could not have done without it; they
did not loathe it, they loved it. A merciful Providence had arranged
that grandmother was to be the one to bring up the rear guard; there
were so many little things to be done and grandmother was the one to do
them. Grandfather would have been helpless without her and I doubt
whether he would have lived the year out. Scores of times during each
day he would have reached his trembling hand out for her, forgetful of
the fact that she had gone, and scores of times each day the wound would
have been reopened. No, it was a blessing that big, strong grandfather
went on ahead and that little frail grandmother remained to finish up
the odds and ends that had to be attended to.
When Thoreau saw the woodsman's axe destroying the forest, he exclaimed:
"Thank God, they cannot cut down the clouds!
"There are some eternal things that the destructive powers of men, in
all their fury, cannot destroy. To think on these things is to achieve
an inward quiet and peace even in a war-torn world. The stars still
shine. The sun still rises and sets. The mountains are not moved, Birds
sing. Little streams dance merrily on their way. Flowers bloom and give
off their perfume. The world goes right on being an everlastingly
"There are indestructible qualities of human spirit, too.
Mother love is immortal and though crushed to earth it will rise again.
Courage and sacrifice glow with a new light in the midst of the
black-outs of hope. Faith gallantly rides the whirlwind sweeping the
"You cannot cut down the clouds! The spirit of man cannot be destroyed!
The finest things of life are immortal . . . they will survive!"
Chapter 31 "Five
Years of 'Folly'"
This advice resolved all
doubts in the mind of the boy; he would set aside five years to make a
fool of himself, not in any small community but in all parts of the
world to which he could manage to make his way. What an adventure! After
having had his fling, he would hang up his shingle in some great city,
Chicago perhaps, and settle down and be regular. So the boy embarked on
his fool's errand and never once turned back. His sustaining hope was
that his absorbing interest in folks at home and abroad would carry him
Why did races of men differ so in their ways of life? He had read much
literature in university libraries by English, French, German, Russian,
and Scandinavian writers but his curiosity was whetted merely. Only
visits to foreign lands could satisfy his desires to know the ways of
In the accomplishment of his ambition it was necessary for the boy to
accept any and all forms of service, whether of hand or brain. He walked
many hundreds of miles in the mountains and he tramped the streets of
great cities. He slept in the open country and in cheap city quarters,
and even went hungry at times. Thousands of times his thoughts drifted
back to his Valley and the comforts of his grandparents' home. When
hungry, what in good conscience did he think of most frequently? It was
not the buckwheat cakes smeared with butter and maple syrup, nor ham and
eggs, nor New England pork and beans . . it was something he really
thought very little of in his boyhood days . . it was his grandmother's
"riz" doughnuts. Sometimes, when ill in distant lands, it was
grandmother's catnip tea or hot foot baths and her tender solicitude
that haunted him.
While his few remaining dollars lasted hunting and fishing in the
northwest was a grand vacation. Before long he arrived in San Francisco,
his money spent. He was on his own at last. A college friend doing
newspaper work on The Chronicle, owned by M. H. De Young, got him a job
as a reporter on that paper with payment only for what one could produce
but times were hard and competition was keen. Another reporter also near
the bottom of the list on The Chronicle was Harry C. Pulliam from
Louisville, who later became president of the National Baseball League.
Harry and Paul became chums and decided to work their way through the
state of California. Within three days they were doing manual labor on a
fruit ranch in Vaca Valley. After making a "stake" there, they set out
from the Calaveras big trees on a three hundred mile hike across the
Trailless Mountain ranges. They explored now famous but then little
known Yosemite Valley. Their next engagement was in the raisin-packing
industry in Fresno. Finally they landed in Los Angeles where Paul became
a teacher in the L. A. Business College.
After nine months in California Paul's next location was Denver,
Colorado, where he demonstrated his versatility by "play-acting" in a
stock company at the Old Fifteenth Street Theater. This adventure
attracted more publicity than he desired. He received letters from old
friends who were sure he had "gone wrong." He climbed Pike's Peak and
convinced himself that the stride, which he had developed in the Green
Mountains and tried out in the Sierra Nevadas, would also work in the
Rockies. He got a position on the reportorial staff of the Rocky
Mountain News where he remained until he got a chance to try the life of
a cowboy on a ranch near Platteville, riding the range alone frequently
for days searching for stray cattle. Returning to Denver he worked on
The Republican where he encountered some of his San Francisco newspaper
friends drifting back eastward.
Florida was another land of romance which appealed to Paul and as the
fortunate beneficiary of a railroad pass he landed in Jacksonville and
became night clerk at the St. James, the best tourist hotel in
Jacksonville at that time. He found the hotel business prosaic and soon
left it to become a traveling salesman through Florida for George W.
Clark who dealt in marble and granite, a business of which Paul had
gained a slight knowledge while working for the Sheldon Marble Company
in Vermont. George Clark was a great influence in the life of the
vagabond. Employer and employee soon became fast friends. Years later
George organized and became the first president of the Jacksonville
In March 1893 Paul departed for Washington to observe the inauguration
of Grover Cleveland as President of the United States. While there he
had a temporary job on The Washington Star. From there he went to
Louisville to which Harry Pulliam had returned, hoping Harry could get
him on The Courier or The Commercial. This hope was dashed. So Paul got
a position with another marble and granite house which gave him the
opportunity to travel through Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and
On arrival at Norfolk, Virginia, he resigned his position and took the
boat for Philadelphia. From the period when Tom Brown of Rugby had first
won his admiration down through the days when the pen-folks of Dickens,
Thackeray and Scott had held him captive, Paul had longed for a sight of
the British Isles. For this he was willing to endure any hardship. In
the want-ad column of a Philadelphia newspaper he found a notice that
cattlemen were wanted by a Baltimore house making a shipment to England.
Before dawn the following day a ship was plowing the seas and the young
man who aspired to learn something of the practical side of life was on
board. It was a rough voyage. The privation and suffering on that ship
were unbelievable. The food scarcely deserved to be called that. The
crew and the cattlemen included some of the most depraved and vicious
characters one could imagine. It was a most trying experience.
Liverpool and its suburbs were all Paul got to see before he had to
return on another ship of the same line. Great was his disappointment at
not being able to see London and he resolved to endure again even such
hardships that he might visit the British metropolis. The return voyage
was not so bad-but no mattresses, blankets or eating utensils for the
cattlemen. "Scouse" composed mostly of potato and water, with sometimes
small fragments of meat, and mouldy sea biscuits constituted the
principal food. Vermin were plentiful. Immersions in cold sea water were
While waiting at Baltimore for another and better ship Paul walked to
Ellicott City and soon found opportunity to exercise his muscles in a
hayfield. It was heavy work for him. He did the best he could at it but
soon shifted to chores around the farmhouse in exchange for his board
and lodging. A job in a corn-canning factory paid him $1.50 a day. While
on this job he learned to his delight that another cattleship of a
better line was soon to sail. Returning to Baltimore he got a job as
sub-foreman on the "Michigan" whose destination was the Tillhury docks
in the Thames about thirty miles from London. Oh happy day!
Paul and a friend he had made on board were soon walking the streets of
London gazing at the Houses of Parliament and all the famous places of
history and fiction. However, the best accommodation they could afford
was a cheap boarding-house in the Whitechapel district although this was
a locality of exceptional interest to the embryonic sociologist from
Vermont. As the ship returned via Swansea for cargo Paul improved the
chance to see something of Wales.
Arriving back in the United States Paul immediately took the train to
visit the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Enjoyment of that beautiful
Columbian Exposition was a happy interlude in his vagabondage. There he
found confirmation of his faith in the future possibilities of that
fascinating metropolis. He had enough money for train fare and no more.
He found and became the guest of a college friend who was working at the
Fair. One day when entering the Vermont building to his astonishment he
observed his cousins, Ed and Mattie Fox of Rutland, inspecting the
exhibits. Instantly Paul turned on his heel and left the building. The
impecunious young man was in no mood to reveal himself to his relatives.
One city of all American cities was alluring; it was New Orleans,
differing in so many respects from other American cities. How to get
there was the question. It might be stated at this point that throughout
his travels Paul stole no rides; he either paid his fare or worked his
way and he always carried luggage. He was always willing to undertake
any kind of work by which he could earn a livelihood and he always gave
the best that was in him and if he failed it was because of physical or
mental limitations and not because of indifference. Borrowed money was
A loan from his college friend in Chicago got him to New Orleans. While
there he discovered a want-ad for "a dozen men to pick and pack oranges
in Plaquemine parish." The next day a gang of men including Paul,
crossed the Mississippi river and were on their way to the grove and
warehouse of S. Pizatti in the delta not far from where the
Father-of-Waters empties into the sea. The business of picking, packing,
boxing and shipping proceeded satisfactorily for several days. But
suddenly a storm blew up. It became a hurricane and a tidal wave. Paul
and his fellow orange-pickers in the darkness of the night waded and
swam through the swirling waters carrying women and children from their
homes to the one place of safety-the Pizatti warehouse. Then with axes
and crowbars thcy endeavored to cut the dike to let the waters into the
river. When the storm subsided the top of the levce was covered with
dead horses, cows, hogs, hens and birds. That coast storm of 1893 took
hundreds of lives and the property loss was enormous. Although many
years have elapsed the horror and suffering of that episode still remain
in the memory.
A return was made to New Orleans. Efforts to find employment on
newspapers was fruitless. There was much to see and study in that
historic city but the avidity of the traveler's longing for adventure
had somewhat slackened. His thoughts turned to the cordial hospitality
of his friends in Florida,
Paul's old position with the marble company in Jacksonville was still
open to him and he returned to it. George Clark gave him territory over
which he had not yet traveled. He covered the Southern States, Cuba and
the Bahamas Islands. His visits at the home of the Clarks in
Jacksonville were truly high times. The employer and his salesman were
most intimate of chums. After a twelve month period Paul notified George
of his intended departure. George said; "Is there nowhere else you care
to go?" Paul answered: 'Yes, there is one more place but I doubt your
willingness to send me." "Where is it?" inquired George. "Europe," said
Paul. Two weeks later the wanderer was once again on the high seas,
under orders of his employer-chum to visit the granite-producing regions
of Scotland and the marble-producing regions of Ireland, Belgium and
Italy for the purpose of making arrangements for buying the products of
The writer could enjoyably consume a great deal of space in the relation
of wonderful months spent in Great Britain, Ireland, France,
Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, and Holland. As a visitor
in the home of S. A. McFarland of Carrara, Italy, Paul was the recipient
of courtesies little to be expected from comparative strangers. Among
other things Mr. and Mrs. McFarland insisted on lending him funds with
which to extend his travels on the Continent. The loan was accepted, and
repaid in due course.
Upon his return to his native land the vagabond spent several months in
helping George Clark in a subdividing and building project near
Jacksonville and then turned his sights northward to Chicago. George
pleaded with him to remain in Jacksonville, saying among other things:
"Whatever the advantages of settling in Chicago may be, I am satisfied
you will make more money if you remain with me." To this Paul replied:
"I am sure you are right but I am not going to Chicago for the purpose
of making money; I am going for the purpose of living a life."
Paul knew little of New York City and desired to learn something of the
great eastern metropolis before settling down in Chicago. George made
one more manifestation of his friendship by recalling his New York
manager to Jacksonville and putting Paul in temporary charge of the New
You were a real friend, George Clark, a grand and generous friend!
"A Shingle Is Hung Up"
THREE MONTHS SHORT of the period of
five years allotted to his fool's errand the vagabond arrived in Chicago
ready to take up the practice of law. His boyhood was past. Travel and
work are maturing experiences. Frequently after men have turned their
backs on every other opportunity of gaining wisdom they gain it through
toiling over the stony, tortuous, uphill pathway of experience.
At last my life settled down in earnest during the early spring of 1896
when the sap was in the maple trees back in my valley.
The vision of a world-wide fellowship of business and professional men
had not yet come; there were experiences of a different nature yet to be
had; but a wonderful foundation had been laid. Is it any wonder that an
impressionable mind which had found so much good in the midst of evil,
so much friendliness in places that might have been barren, so much
reason for confidence and faith in business men, should be receptive to
such a vision?
Chicago was experiencing hard times. I had anticipated hard times but I
could not see how they could be harder than the period of my vagrancy; I
considered myself a specialist in dealing with hard times. I made my
meager resources stretch as far as I could but to get started in the
practice of law was more difficult than I had expected it to be. To
"hang up my shingle" was a simple matter and while I had not expected it
to attract many, on the other hand I had not thought that it would be
completely ignored; so far as I can remember, the immediate results were
I spent considerable time about the Courts in order to familiarize
myself with their practices and I read law cases and precedents into the
late hours of the night but as for clients, there continued to be none.
I conferred with other young lawyers but learned little of benefit to
myself; some of them had means of their own; some had influential
relatives and friends and others, like myself, were struggling. How I
managed to get a small law practice started, which eventually grew into
a partnership and later other partnerships of which I was always the
head, is a long story and I need not go into it here, but, in course of
time the wheels began to turn, at first slowly then more rapidly. In due
course I became a member of the Bar Association, the Press Club, the
Bohemian Club, and was active in the Association of Commerce.
However, after five years of folly it was difficult at first for the
boy, now a young man, to settle down and become wise. He was dreadfully
lonesome particularly on holidays and Sundays. He pondered the question
of finding a way to increase his acquaintance with young men who had
come to Chicago from farms and colleges, who knew the joys of
friendliness and neighborliness without form or ceremony but it took a
long while for his thinking to produce results.
The impulse to review the scenes of his boyhood became pressing and I
finally set a day for my departure. Uncle George, to whom I owed so
much, met me at the railway station in Rutland and drove me to his home
in a phaeton drawn by a successor of bay Billy. Uncle George was still
continuing his practice but his heyday had passed; he was taking things
easier at last. The impressive enclosed station had burned and in its
place had been built an unimpressive open station. The voices of the
porters of the three leading hotels, the Bates House, the Berwick and
the Bardwell, extolling the merits of their respective hostelries in
stentorian tones and bewildering jargons, were conspicuous in their
absence and Merchants Row and Center Street were like streets of
Goldsmith's deserted village to the young man from Chicago.
Cottage Street where Uncle George's house, three storied with mansard
roof, was located was not nearly so wide as I had pictured it. The
welcome extended me by Aunt Mellie and Cousin Mattie was genuine though
subdued. Many changes had taken place in the Fox family; the ring of
laughter was no longer heard and most of the children had gone out from
the family roof. Uncle George spent hours on the side veranda away from
the street apparently indulging in meditation; he was as kind as ever
but seldom spoke except in response to remarks of others.
When I mentioned bay Billy, however, he did show interest and said, "I
have owned many a horse in my day, Paul, and I can't recall ever having
had a bad one but the nearest thing to a human being I have ever seen in
horseflesh, was Billy. He had as much affection as any child and much
more obedience; he had ideas of his own but he was not headstrong. He
would follow my orders even though he knew they were wrong but not
without manifesting his disapproval. It was not difficult for me to read
his mind, though not so easily as he read mine. Eventually I got to the
point of taking his judgment in preference to my own unless there were
some facts in the case which he didn't know. I wouldn't trust Billy to
treat any patients of mine, but as for matters within his jurisdiction,
he was generally the final word."
Cousin Mattie and I drove to Wallingford the day following my arrival in
Rutland. We took the Creek Road and every turn of it was reminiscent of
days of long ago. It was the same road over which the family funeral
party had taken the remains of grandmother that October day; the same
road I had tramped frequently. As we approached Wallingford landmarks
became more and more frequent. We passed the Jay Newton, the Robert
Marsh and the Hudson farms, the fork factory, the fair grounds, the
Catholic church, the Hull farm house, the Stafford house, and finally
drew up before the old home, the beloved home of my boyhood. Of course
we visited the cemetery next and spent reverential moments by the graves
of our grandparents.
Within a day or two I had taken up quarters in the Inn at Wallingford
and was renewing my acquaintance with old friends and familiar places.
My Sabbath School teacher, Anna Laurie Cole, was my most efficient and
available assistant in my efforts to build a bridge between the
pulsating present and the dreamy past; happily she still lives and still
constitutes my connecting link between the two periods.
One after another I visited favorite spots. The swimming hole in Otter
Creek near the covered bridge where naked youngsters had disported
themselves within plain sight of passing vehicles, plunging from the
rocks into the creek, not so much from a modest desire to cover their
nakedness as from a more immodest desire to impress passing home folks
with the belief that they were imps of Satan turned loose. I was sorry
to note that new growths of underbrush had intruded themselves in
places, which in other days had been reserved for the use of the feet of
graceless youngsters. In other respects, Otter Creek had not changed.
Next in order was Fox Pond of the glamorous past. In summer, autumn,
winter or spring, Fox Pond was the piece de resistance, except when it
had to give way to the even more romantic charms of Little Pond.
The "ice bed," Childs' brook, hillsides and mountains all were visited
in turn. During the days of my visit to the valley of my heart's desire,
I had ample opportunity to bring back to memory incidents of my boyhood
which had been obscured by the turbulent events of the years which
followed. In moments of quiet reflection on hillside and mountain, I
looked down into the valley through which Otter Creek flows so
peacefully and during such tranquil moments, I was astonished at my
resemblance to the boy out of whom I had grown; amazed at times in the
realization of the fact, how few changes had taken place. Fundamentally,
I was the same. The two old folks whose bones were resting peacefully
beneath the soil of the cemetery down in the valley, had fashioned me as
definitely as an artist could fashion clay. Their ideals had become my
ideals and the process had come about so gradually and so naturally that
neither grandparents nor grandchild were aware of it. Surely I had
fallen far short of living up to these ideals but the ideals were still
there. The principles of my grandparents had been made crystal clear;
they could not have been made more clear if the words integrity,
frugality, tolerance and unselfishness had been carved in gargantuan
letters on the bare face of majestic White Rocks.
There were moments while indulging myself in daydreams on the
mountainside when my conscience rebuked me for not being up and doing;
so many things needed to be done in this busy world and there was so
little time in which to do them, and then the thought came to me that
perhaps men had to dream and where could there have been a more lovely
dreamland than this very mountainside.
One day while resting from my climb on the top of a stone and rail fence
which separated two pastures, I looked down the mountain, beyond
pasturelands where cows were grazing, to the meadowland along the creek
where the hay crop was being harvested. The click of the mowing machine
was sweet music to my ears. The frugal farmer was rhythmically swinging
his scythe along the borders and in the corners to save the few
remaining wisps of timothy and clover with voluntary crops of daisies
and buttercups thrown in. The hired men were loading cured hay of
previous cuttings on hayricks for transfer to barn lofts for use during
the long winter months when deep snow would blanket the meadows and
bring nitrogen to the soil to maintain its fertility. I was too far up
the mountainside to enjoy the exquisite odor of the new mown hay but I
drank in the peace and tranquility of the scene and stored it up in my
museum of happy memories.
I recalled the fact that somehow many of my dreams had come true. I had
visited the land of Tom Brown of Rugby and Oxford; the land of
Shakespeare and Dickens; Burns and Scott; I had realized the witchery of
the Lakes of Killarney, the glory of the sunset on the Alpine Mountains
and the soft shading of Italian skies.
These and many other wonders in many countries I had been privileged to
see, without the aid of grandfather but at the cost of years of
unstinted toil, danger and even hunger at times. Perhaps dreaming is not
so bad if one dreams good dreams and makes them come true; all too soon
my vacation would be ended and I would be back in the grind again.
Chapter 33 "The
First Rotary Club"
"Rotary Begins to Spread"
THE INVENTOR of the first Rotary club
was more conscious of its deficiencies than anyone else. He rejoiced to
see it expand to helpfulness to others outside the membership of the
club, He dreamed of similar clubs in other cities.
Rotarians and other folks as well sometimes think that Rotary advanced
from city to city and from country to country very much as Topsy grew.
That it developed of its own accord and without effort on the part of
anyone. No, Rotary has not grown by virtue of the fact that a suitable
formula had been devised; it has become world wide in its influence
because of the untiring effort to extend it.
My relations with my friends of the Chicago club constituted a
remarkable illustration of the binding power of Rotary. Notwithstanding
the fact that Rotary had come to mean to me something very different
from what it still meant to some of them, our friendship remained
The Doubting Thomas's were ever present. There's but one way to convince
a Doubting Thomas and that is to do the thing he says can't be done and
on that basis the Doubting Thomas who said it would not be possible to
organize Rotary clubs in any city other than Chicago became convinced
that it could and should be done.
It was disappointing to me but most of my fellow Chicago Rotarians
refused to be stampeded into my "Rotary Around the World" phantasy.
Nothing is more disconcerting than the blank look of friends to whom
one's hopes are unintelligable. I soon learned that the best way to get
things done was to do them myself.
So I proceeded to address myself to the task of getting Rotary Clubs
started in cities throughout the United States. In this work
circumstances required that the effort be made by correspondence. My
classmates in the three universities, Vermont, Princeton, and Iowa, and
friends I had made in my five years of vagabondage were my natural
It was a long and frequently a painful grind; there were headaches and
heartaches in plenty, but there were also periods of joy and elation.
And all the while I was trying to keep up my law practice.
Three long years passed before the first victory was scored. To find the
right man to organize a Rotary Club in a given city was not easy. Manuel
Munoz proved to be the right man to carry the message to San Francisco.
He had been my room mate in the Del Prado Hotel in Chicago and was
fairly well versed in Rotary. While on a business trip to San Francisco,
then rebuilding after its earthquake and fire, Munoz interested Homer
Wood, a lawyer, and put him into correspondence with me. The result was
that in November, 1908 we had our second Rotary club. As if that were
not enough, alert San Franciscans organized Rotary club number three in
Oakland, club number four in Seattle, and club number five in Los
Angeles. New York and Boston were next and other cities followed. Some
of the Doubting Thomases were won over and joined in the extension work.
And so it went on from city to city and eventually from country to
country and my five years of vagabondage served me in good stead. After
all, I was only leading Rotary over trails I had already blazed.
Had my leadership been more skillful or my plans more definitely worked
out in advance, I doubtless could have secured the full cooperation of
Chicago Rotarians and gone forward with a solid front. As a matter of
fact, my conception of Rotary was undergoing evolutionary processes,
almost revolutionary at times. I had preached the doctrine of carefree
fellowship. I had been freest of the free, gayest of the gay, my voice
had lead in song and laughter. Members were satisfied with that order.
Now was something quite different. In this dilemna, it seemed easier to
organize new clubs with new and progressive thoughts than to reconvert
Our success in the United States inspired us to project Rotary over the
boundary line into Canada. After two unsuccessful attempts the right man
eventually was interested and the first club outside the United States
was organized in Winnipeg, Canada. Other Canadian cities followed
Flushed with success, we then felt that it was of vital importance to
get things started in Great Britain and of course, London was the choice
of all cities. To win London to the movement was a grand objective and
in course of time, the opportunity opened up.
My friend Arthur Frederic Sheldon had a representative in London and was
soon to visit him. Rotarian Harvey C. Wheeler of Boston had his business
located both in Boston and London. It was not difficult for Sheldon to
enthuse his representative, E. Sayer Smith, and with the cooperation of
Wheeler, the Rotary Club of London was organized. Wheeler became its
first president. There are seventy fine Rotary clubs in greater London
now and the total number of Rotarians in that city exceeds the number of
any other city in the world.
Having gotten their hands in. Sheldon and Smith went to Manchester and
duplicated their London achievement. I was pluming myself on having
initiated the first two British Clubs when Secretary Perry and I learned
that Stuart Morrow, an Irishman who had learned about Rotary while
travelling in the United States, had upon his return to Dublin proceeded
to organize a Rotary club there. He had already moved on to Belfast.
Needless to say we contacted Morrow at once and authorized and
encouraged him to continue his labors in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham,
and Liverpool. The five hundred Rotary clubs subsequently developed in
Great Britain and Ireland have been a bulwark for the movement.
The Latin American countries were next to occupy our attention and we
soon interested an American business man who had business which took him
to Havana, Cuba. He was a man of high ideals and much ability and though
he spent some time for Rotary in Havana he was entirely unsuccessful and
returned convinced that Rotary was an Anglo-Saxon idea that could not be
understood or accepted by other races, but two members of the Tampa,
Florida, Rotary Club, Angel Cuesta and John Turner, subsequently proved
that my emissary to Cuba was mistaken and those who have been privileged
to become acquainted with our splendid Latin American Rotarians of today
know how erroneous his conclusions were. Cuesta and Turner organized a
good club in Havana, Cuba, and Cuesta, pleased with his success, made a
trip to his native country, Spain, and organized a Rotary Club in
Madrid; the first club on the continent of Europe.
Angel not only financed his trip to Spain but before leaving gave a
substantial sum of money to further community service in the city of his
nativity. Having accomplished his self-appointed task, Angel returned to
his adopted country with never a word of his exploits except as the
facts were drawn from him. This man knew not what he had done. He had
opened up both Latin America and Europe for Rotary.
Heriberto Coates of Montevideo learned of Rotary while on a visit to the
United States and went home to develop Clubs in Montevideo, Buenos Aires
and other South American cities.
Fred Teele, an American civil engineer gave up an eighteen thousand
dollar per year position in Mexico, after having served as president of
the Mexico City Rotary Club, to accept a five thousand dollar job
spreading Rotary in Europe on the foundation laid by Cuesta and others
who had sown the seed in France, Holland, Denmark and other countries.
Teele's labors culminated in the opening of an office of the R. I.
secretariat in Zurich, Switzerland.
Two Canadian Rotarians, "Jim" Davidson of Calgary and Col. J. L. Ralston
of Halifax, gave their time gratuitously to open up Australia and New
Zealand. Rotary had by that time become prosperous enough to pay their
expenses. Some years later Davidson undertook the organization of clubs
in Southern Europe, Egypt, India, the Straits Settlements, Siam, China,
and Japan, thus completing the round-the-world chain. He worked without
compensation other than the expenses of himself and wife. This trip of
the Davidsons took three years. Jim left America with full understanding
that he had not long to live. He lasted until the completion of his task
but died soon after his return.
While the cases mentioned above are conspicuous examples it may in truth
be said that many thousands of Rotarians of high standing in business
affairs have given of themselves generously in the cause of Rotary. The
gratuitous work of devoted Rotarians in widening the sphere of Rotary's
usefulness has been amazing.
Everywhere in North America Rotary Clubs came into existence by the
hundreds and the thousands. Professional organizers were unnecessary.
Every club had the impulse to pass on to other cities the idea which it
had found so beneficial in its city. Clubs were grouped into districts
and local Rotarians were elected annually as "district governors." They
accepted the responsibility for extension in their districts and for the
further advancement of Rotary's objects and practices. They and their
colleagues, the governors of districts in all parts of the world, have
been and always will be the great unifying and steadying force of
While the record of extension is one of the most interesting chapters in
Rotary history, the development of its 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 plan. 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
unquestionable nobility of purpose.
Hundreds of small cities and towns, all but dead so far as civic
consciousness was concerned, took on new life after they organized their
Rotary clubs. Clean-up campaigns were inaugurated, Boy Scout troops were
given leadership and support. Boys bands were organized. Languishing
chambers of commerce were revived and new ones started. Boys camps were
established. 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-of-all-trades 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 Rotaryanns. There never had been such doings since barn-raising days.
Those who had stoutly maintained that it was sheer idiocy to assert that
Rotary was destined to make itself at home throughout the civilized
world finally had to lower their colors; and yet that was my prediction
at the first convention of Rotary Clubs held in Chicago in 1910, and
again at Convention number two held at Portland, Oregon in 1911.
My contribution to the international scope of the movement came as the
direct consequence of my five years of romantic vagrancy. How otherwise
could I have had the vision of Rotary Clubs in
London, Paris, Rome, Berlin and other cities throughout the world? Some
other person might have had the vision but not I.
There is wisdom in the expression, "There is nothing new under the sun."
Perhaps the most unique feature of Rotary is its so-called
classification plan by which membership is restricted to one
representative of each business and profession, but two centuries before
the conception of Rotary a social club existed in London the membership
of which was based on vocational classifications, and Ben Franklin
organized his "Junto" in Philadelphia on the classification plan. Many
years ago "La Societe des Philantropes," with its headquarters in
Strasbourg, France, was almost identical with Rotary in its idealism and
purposes. Needless to say that knowledge of these organizations of the
past did not come to the attention of the founders of Rotary until long
after its birth.
The question is often asked; "Why do Rotary clubs limit membership to
one man from each distinct business or profession?" Because our
experiment has proved in operation that it makes for congenial
fellowship, obviates business and professional jealousies, encourages
mutual helpfulness, stimulates pride in the dignity of one's occupation,
and broadens one's mind and sympathy with regard to the accomplishments
and problems of other occupations.
There are many organizations the membership of which is confined to one
profession or trade. Such organizations play exceedingly important parts
in the modern world. They enable men of a given trade or profession to
come together to exchange ideas and experiences and to discuss problems
of common interest. No one thinks of them as exclusive, though they
exclude all not engaged in their particular profession or trade; their
success depends upon their so doing. An association of surgeons does not
admit to their membership a manufacturer or a merchandiser. The success
of the organization and its promise of usefulness depends upon its
exclusion of men not versed in the science of surgery.
And while it is true that a surgeon can gain much from contact with his
fellow surgeons, one who has social contact with surgeons only would
become a dull fellow. He needs the broadening influence of contacts with
those engaged in other professions and business undertakings. He will
obtain such contacts to a limited extent in his church and social club,
but the church and club are not organized to fill the particular need.
If one is admitted to membership in a Rotary club, he will enjoy the
broadening influence of contact with men of all vocations.
And it must not be overlooked that being a Rotarian imposes upon a man
an obligation to carry into his trade association the ideals and
precepts which he holds as a Rotarian. He should endeavor to make them
appreciated and get them accepted by all in his line of business.
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 three hundred lawyers have been made to walk the plank
because they would not observe the canons of good practice.
Incidentally I was honored not only in being asked to serve at the Hague
Conference but also by the fact that America's greatest legal scholar,
Dean John H. Wigmore, was one of the two other representatives of the
Chicago Bar Association. Dean Wigmore's body now lies in Arlington
Cemetery in Washington but I am proud of my association with him at the
Hague where a deep and lasting friendship was begun.
Chapter 35 "The
Architect Finds a Builder"
of Ches to "World Around" Rotary came about in a peculiar way. An incoming
the Chicago club, not being in sympathy with the 'World Widers,'
appointed Ches chairman of the club's extension committee thinking thus
to spike the guns of those in favor of the wider viewpoint which he
considered irrational and visionary. [in a 1952 article Harry Ruggles,
the 4th president of Rotary discusses his
concerns about extension]
I realized the necessity of doing
one of two things, either losing entirely the sympathy of the Chicago
club or converting the newly appointed chairman of the extension
committee to the broader viewpoint.
So it came about that I called
Ches by phone one Sunday when he had ample time to talk. During the
course of the interview, Ches asked me the question: 'Why do you think,
Paul, that the Chicago club is as nothing compared with what you have in
I don't know how I answered but I considered
the situation desperate and fired all of my broadsides in defense of my
idea. Ches said little at the time but what he did say was enough. When
I hung up the receiver, I felt convinced that I had won a friend to the
cause. Shortly thereafter he and I, with the help of others, planned the
formation of an association of the then existing clubs. Ches took the
laboring oar in outlining and organizing the first
Some of my fellow Chicago
Rotarians had been helpful and encouraging. They saw possibilities in
our own country but none seemed to visualize the possibilities of a
world wide movement. The clubs organized in other cities were more
helpful in developing a wider philosophy. They had a fresh outlook on
Chesley Perry seemed to be able to grasp and
to fairly evaluate all essential features; he embraced Rotary
intellectually as well as sentimentally. Never again was it necessary to
fight the battle alone; Ches was always beside me or in front of me. He
was definitely in the fight." Page
244 Paul Harris
That first Rotary convention (of delegates from sixteen clubs) was held
in the Congress Hotel in Chicago in August 1910. Chesley Perry was
chosen by the delegates to preside over their sessions. A constitution
and by-laws were drawn up and adopted. The delegates spent many hours
discussing the meaning and potentialities of Rotary. The attendance at
that first convention was less than 100 but twenty years later when the
21st Rotary Convention was held in Chicago observing 25 years of Rotary
over 11,000 men and women were in attendance.
At the conclusion of the first Chicago convention I was elected as the
president of the Association which had been formed, and Chesley Perry
was chosen as its secretary. At the Portland Convention in 1911 I was
re-elected as president for a second year and at my request Ches
continued as secretary. At the 1912 convention in Duluth I retired from
active service and was honored by being made "president emeritus" of
Rotary International. For a third time Ches was elected secretary and
his annual re-election became a matter of course until he retired in
That Ches Perry and I have been able to work so well together surely has
been a great blessing to the organization. Has it perchance been due to
the influence of Rotary upon us? Every worker who gives himself to a
worthy cause is bound to realize some of its benefits.
Ches always pushed me to the front; confining his efforts largely to
work at his desk where he served throughout the years, taking few
vacations. His day was not an eight hour day; he generally could be
found at his desk far into the night. Through such devotion he built up
his fine staff of workers at Chicago and at other quarters throughout
the world. If I can in truth be called the architect, Ches can with
equal truth be called the builder of Rotary International.
Headquarters was developed on very democratic lines. We never considered
our fellow workers as employees; they were associates rather. All were
addressed by their given names regardless of the importance of the part
they played, and to them all the secretary was "Ches" and I was "Paul."
No one could by the widest stretch of the imagination say that Ches and
I were chums in the usual acceptance of the word. When we met in the
office, I saluted him with "Good morning, Ches," and he answered: "Good
morning, Paul." But we seldom went to lunch together. Often I would have
hailed the opportunity to spend an hour with Ches at noon time talking
over the happenings of the day but that was not to be. Ches took a light
lunch in his office and continued his work without material break of
Ches had his idiosyncrasies and I had mine. Some things were natural to
Ches, others were natural to me, but something more important than mere
chumminess was growing up steadily throughout the years; that was a
genuine affection born of respect for each other.
Something of the same character developed in the minds of new
international presidents and directors of the movement. They missed the
effusive welcome which they had expected but found something far better.
New officers approached their tasks with apprehension. Could they make
good? They were well experienced in Rotary in their home cities and
districts but service as president or membership on the board caused
nervous apprehension. All of this generally disappeared as the days went
by. Sitting beside the president at the board meeting was a man, the
international secretary, always ready to be called upon but never
obtrusive; a gentle touch here and there, a skillful mention of some
guiding principle. All doubts in their minds soon disappeared. When the
meeting closed all felt that with the compendium of information ever at
hand in their secretary no failure could come to the administration.
When in 1942 it became rumored that Ches was going to retire as
Secretary of Rotary International the air was full of conjectures as to
what would happen to Rotary arid what would happen to Ches. Phil
Lovejoy, a native of Portland, Maine, a graduate of the University of
Michigan, and a past president of the Botary Club of Hamtramck,
Michigan, who had been first assistant secretary for the preceding
twelve years was everyone's choice for the office of General Secretary
and was duly elected. The trains did not run off the track as feared by
many. Phil knew his job. He is ably supported by Lester B. Struthers as
assistant general secretary. Les has been in the organization for over
In his retirement Clies returned to activities in the Chicago Rotary
Club, first in committee work, then as director and vice-president, and
last year as president of our Club of 770 members. Like good wine he
improves with age.
Headquarters is not only a marvel of efficiency, but it is also Exhibit
A of Rotary doctrines. The staff, consisting of 150 earnest and happy
workers, are gathered together in the large room of the board of
directors for a meeting Monday after lunch, approximately once a month.
Smiling General Secretary Phil Lovejoy presides. A song in which all
join brings a sense of relaxation. Then Secretary Phil runs rapidly over
the affairs of the preceding month and of the month to come,
interjecting a bit of humor at appropriate places. The result is that
each member is educated in the purposes of the movement; that every
associate realizes the importance of his or her particular part in the
To facilitate the extension of Rotary throughout the world, and give
service to established clubs, a secretariat was early established in
London, England; some time later secretariats at Zurich, Switzerland,
and Bombay, India, were established under the supervision of the General
Secretary. These offices have rendered fine service to the clubs in
Britain and Ireland, Europe, and Asia.
In 1911 we authorized Secretary Perry to edit and manage a magazine for
Rotary which has grown into a most important factor in the advancement
of the movement and in the maintenance of solidarity among Rotarians. It
also is welcomed by libraries and schools, and frequently quoted by
other publications. For several years "The Rotarian" has been under the
able editorship and management of Leland Case, and its Spanish language
edition is well handled by Manuel Hinojosa.
The extraordinary progress of the Rotary movement has, most naturally,
necessitated the expenditure of large sums of money but it has all been
provided by comparatively small annual dues contributed by the members
of all Rotary clubs who have wanted to make it possible for men of other
cities and other countries to learn about Rotary and be given the
opportunity to share in its blessings, and in turn contribute to its
further development. The financial policy has always been conservative
and sound; go as far as you can with what you have at the moment. There
is a substantial surplus in the treasury available for all emergencies
which can be foreseen by prudent and farsighted men.
Though the annual budget of today may seem large, it is nothing compared
to what it would necessarily be were it not for the fact that thousands
of Rotarians, not alone in America, but throughout the world, are giving
their best efforts in the interest of the movement without any
compensation other than the satisfaction they find in advancing a
movement which to them holds great hope for a better world, a neighborly
Once during the early years of the movement, Secretary Perry came to my
office in Chicago to introduce the two splendid Canadian Rotarians who
had been commissioned by Rotary International to establish Rotary Clubs
in Australia and New Zealand. They expressed a desire to meet me whom
they termed the "Founder of Rotary." I gratefully accepted the honor but
suggested that perhaps my part had been overemphasized. Ches answered
for my callers and said: "I suppose that Rotarians come to see you,
Paul, in about the same spirit they go to visit the source of a great
I have often thought of those words; they constituted a high compliment
paid in the form of a beautiful anology. I accepted the compliment as it
was intended, but does the great river have its flow from any one
particular spring alone? No, the great river is the sum total of the
contributions of hundreds, perhaps thousands of little brooks and
rivulets, which come tumbling down hillsides and mountains, singing as
they go, eager to cast themselves into the channel of the great river.
Well, that is like the growth of Rotary. It has become great because of
the self-sacrificing contributions of thousands of Rotarians of many
There followed me in the presidency of the Association a long line of
devoted and able Rotarians who have given the movement great life, poise
and character. They have come not only from the United States but from
Canada, Mexico, England, France, Brazil and Peru. Each president has had
associated with him other able men who as members of the board of
directors, committeemen, and district governors, have come from scores
of countries. Each year's administration has made and is continuing to
make its important contribution to the extension and development of my
early conception of a world wide fellowship of business and professional
men united in the ideal of service. Club officers and members have made
many helpful contributions. Yes, indeed, the great river of Rotary is
the sum total of the contributions of many.
Rotary International has been extremely fortunate in many ways but
especially in its selection of presidents. It would require many volumes
to record their contributions to the movement, to estimate their
loyalty, their devotion, the sacrificial spirit they have so splendidly
manifested, and to adequately describe the leadership they have given to
the movement. Here I can but pay them the tribute of presenting their
1912-13-Glenn C. Mead, Philadelphia, Pa.
1913-14-Russell F. Greiner, Kansas City, Mo.
1914-15-Frank L. Mulholland, Toledo, Ohio.
1915-16-Allen D. Albert, Minneapolis, Minn.
1916-17-Arch C. Klumph, Cleveland, Ohio.
1917-18-E. Leslie Pidgeon, Winnipeg, Canada.
1918-19-John Poole, Washington, D. C.
1919-20-Albert S. Adams, Atlanta, Georgia.
1920-21-Estes Snedecor, Portland, Oregon.
1921-22-Crawford C. McCullough, Fort William, Canada.
1922-23-Raymond M. Havens, Kansas City, Mo.
1923-24-Guy Gundaker, Philadelphia, Pa.
1924-25-Everett W. Hill, Oklahoma City, Okla.
1925.26-Donald A. Adams, New Haven, Conn.
1926-27-Harry H. Rogers, San Antonio, Texas.
1927-28-Arthur H. Sapp, Huntington, Indiana.
1928-29-I. B. Sutton, Tampico, Mexico.
1929-30-M. Eugene Newsome, Durham, N. Carolina.
1930-31-Almon E. Roth, Palo Alto, Calif.
1931-32-Sydney W. Pascall, London, England.
1932-83-Clinton P. Anderson, Albuquerque, N.Mexico.
1933-34-John Nelson, Montreal, Canada.
1934-35-Robert E. L. Hill, Columbia, Mo.
1935-36-Ed. B. Johnson, Roanoke, Va.
1936-37-Will H. Manier, Jr., Nashville, Tenn.
1937-38-Maurice Duperrey, Paris France.
1938-39-Geo. C. Hager, Chicago, Illinois.
1939-40-Walter D. head, Montclair, N. J.
1940-41-Armando de Arruda Pereira, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
1941-42-Tom J. Davis, Butte, Montana
1942-43-Fernando Carbajal, Lima, Peru.
1943-44-Charles L. Wheeler, San Francisco, Calif.
1944-45-Richard H. Wells, Pocatello, Idaho.
1945-46---T. A. Warren, Wolverhampton, England.
Arthur Frederic Sheldon of Chicago made us see more clearly our service
responsibilities in business and we have him to thank for the slogan:
"He profits most who serves best," which was accepted as indicating,
strange as it may seem, that it was conceivable than an effort to give
the other fellow the best of it might result in getting the best of it
yourself. Minneapolis Rotarians gave us our other and more terse slogan:
"Service Above Self."
Rotarians of Seattle gave us our platform of principles and a group of
Sioux City Rotarians contributed the code of ethics. These and many
other contributions helped to give our movement its sense of direction.
In 1915 Guy Gundaker of Philadelphia, prepared a booklet entitled "A
Talking Knowledge of Rotary," to express Rotary as it was then
understood, rather than to set up new ideals and standards. It was a
most helpful contribution to the cause.
The Rotary Club of Birmingham, Alabama, made valuable contributions to
the interpretating of Rotary to the public as the Rotary Clubs of
Britain and Ireland also have done.
there was a second club, realizing the importance of community service,
I persuaded the Chicago Rotary Club to initiate the establishment of public
comfort stationsin the city
of Chicago, inviting the city administration and every civic
organization in the city to join our club in the undertaking. It is
possible that some more attractive objective might have been chosen for
our first venture, but it would be difficult to have found one which
would have stirred up more agitation. Two formidable forces rose up
against us; one was the Chicago Association of Brewers which contended
that every one of Chicago's six thousand saloons offered public comfort
conveniences for men. The other opponent was the Association of
Department Stores on State Street which contended that free
accommodations in their stores were available to women. The proponents
of the measure nevertheless persisted that men ought not to have to buy
a glass of beer nor women have to buy merchandise to make use of toilet
facilities. The stations were established.
Chapter 36 "Rotary Serves
in Two Wars"
In 1913 a tornado swept through
Nebraska and destructive floods appeared in Ohio and Indiana. The Rotary
Clubs in those states, supported by those throughout the nation, leaped
into action rescuing and feeding people and animals, and helping in the
necessary rebuilding work. Rotary had met its first great test as a
Then came the first World War and the
Rotary Clubs of the British Isles and Canada proved their value in war
time. When eventually the United States and Cuba entered the war, the
clubs of those countries were just as active in war time service as
those in Canada and Britain. Rotary's supreme purpose is to serve; never
was there service more appropriate than on this special occasion. Rotary
proved to be one of Uncle Sam's greatest assets. Rotary was born in our
land of freedom; it could have been born in any other land of freedom;
it could not have been born in a despotism. Some emotionally excited
members wanted to suspend our luncheon meetings during the war. Wiser
counsels prevailed. Rotary luncheons proved to be great centers for the
upkeep of morale'a place to meet, to plan greater service.
Great war time Rotary conventions were held in 1917 and 1918.
When civilization is at hazard, other
things must wait. Conventions were dedicated to war service.
Rotarians joined with hearty zeal in
Liberty bond campaigns, vacant lot gardening, putting libraries in camps
and cantonments; providing social fellowship for soldiers in towns
adjacent to their training centers. Rotary clubs interested themselves
in providing clothing, etc., for Europeans suffering from the war. Very
promptly after the declaration of war by Uncle Sam, the then over 300
American Rotary clubs had a committee in Washington to offer their
cooperation. They were particularly interested to see that our boys
going into service were recognized not merely as cannon fodder'
but as patriotic youths who should be made to feel at home in any city
or town near which they were encamped. (That was the back ground of the
USO of the Second World War.)
As World War I drew to its close we were told by high government
authorities that, of all organizations which had loyally and
patriotically responded to the call of the government,none had
exceeded the Rotary Clubs in
promptness or efficiency or in the accomplishment of results.
During the war years my ambitions for expansion to
other countries were thwarted but the number of clubs in the United
States, Canada, Britain and Ireland, and Cuba kept increasing and by
1919 there were nearly 500 Clubs in the United States, 24 in Britain and
Ireland, 23 in Canada, and we had a Club in China and one in the
another year or two we
had clubs in Uruguay, Argentina, Panama, India, Spain, Japan, France,
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Brazil, and Peru.
When finally the dove of peace
fluttered painfully, exhaustedly home Rotary resumed its normal
functions. The war was worth while; it taught us the value of unseen
things; that liberty can never be dear at any price. Rotary had taken
its place among enduring world forces, among the invisible things of
value which cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Inspiration is a
flame that soon dies if not fed with the fagots of service. The service
way out of difficulties is the constructive way. There was much to be
done in the days of reconstruction.
In 1921 North American Rotarians filled two ocean
liners with delegates to the first overseas Convention which was held in
classic and beautiful
Edinburgh, city of culture,
religion, education. After the close of that Convention, Rotary swept
over the continent of Europe. There was a sweep South also through Latin
America. World visions were becoming realities. As minds expanded hearts
also expanded to a conception of friendship to include all men,
toleration of all national and racial differences. Most of the signal
mistakes of history have been in the failure of diplomatists and
statesmen to realize that psychology influences the affairs of nations
just as it influences the affairs of individuals.
In another decade the world was upset
by the great recession in business relations in many countries and
especially in the U. S. Men seemed to lose faith in themselves. The
stock market crashed, factories closed down, unemployment was present
everywhere. Many organizations in the United States lost heavily in
member ship. It is pleasing to note that Rotary had a remarkably small
loss. Throughout the world Rotary clubs proved their value as morale
sustaining centers. Their meetings were fellowship spots where harassed
business men could give each other new courage.
Again the war clouds gathered. Again
the storm burst upon the world. The war-time services of Rotary Clubs
from 1939 to 1945 are too numerous to permit here more than a passing
reference. Wars of aggression made it necessary in some countries for
some Rotary Clubs to suspend'at least their active and public operations
but whenever they could succeed in doing so, they continued to meet. In
countries not waging aggressive war or not the victims of invasion, the
Rotary clubs knew what to do. They went into action. They responded
promptly and efficiently to the calls of their Governments and the needs
of their fellow countrymen. They were thoughtful of and helpful to
troops of allied countries training in their countries, and to refugees
who took shelter in them.
The members of the five hundred
Rotary clubs of Great Britain recoiled from the shock of the devastating
air raids, but after having lost a few clubs and a few members of other
clubs, they came back
stronger than ever. The
feeling among British Rotarians was that Rotary was not needed less by
reason of the war but was needed more. Rotary today in Britain is
stronger, more human, kindly than ever before. All the shelling and all
the bombing could not prevent the British Rotarians from finding times
and places to meet.
French Rotarians never quit except as they were
forced to do so by the invader in the occupied part of their country.
Charles Jourdan-Gassin, who was our host at the 1937
convention in Nice, France,
continued to serve as Rotary's district governor all through the war. In
various countries Rotarians were so determined to maintain their
fellowship that they risked the punishment of the invader and held
There are plenty of thrilling incidents to be
remembered as part of Rotary in war-time. A Polish Rotarian, formerly a
director of Rotary International, walks two miles to the American
embassy through the bombs falling on Warsaw to send what may be his last
greetings to the secretariat in Chicago. Danish Rotary Clubs emulate the
courage of their King and continue their meetings in spite of the Nazi
Rotary Club of Manila meets
on Bataan after their city has been occupied and Carlos Romulo escapes
to America to tell the story. Out in China the Chungking Rotary Club
meets every week no matter how many bombs come pouring down. In Calcutta,
India, a district Rotary Conference
goes on even under bombing and fears that the invaders may be close at
German, Italian and
Japanese Rotarians found it impossible to continue meetings when their
governments had entered or were preparing to enter upon programs of
aggression and war, but no one doubts that the spirit of Rotary has
persisted among many men of good will in those countries as it certainly
did in the subsequently occupied territories even though club meetings
The war has had a
stimulating effect upon the extension of the movement in the unoccupied
countries. Losses in some war-casualty countries have been offset by
gains in other countries.
for Artist Trebilcock's portrait of him to be hung in the
University of Iowa
While he and
Mrs. Harris are sojourning in Palm Springs, California, Paul
tries his hand at doing a half dozen desert landscapes in oil.
and other awards to Paul Harris now hanging in the board rooms
at Rotary International's central office in Chicago.
Officer Legion of Honor decoration is pinned on Paul in Paris,
Photo by Henri Manuel.
In the United States there was still
ample room for expansion. However, the burden of keeping up extension
had been lifted from the shoulders of Rotarians of the United States by
those of Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Cuba and the South
American countries sharing the responsibility.
I know of none who doubts that when
international affairs become stabilized, Rotary will be re-established
throughout Continental Europe. District Conferences are already being
held in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Switzerland and former Rotarians of
other European countries are patiently biding their time. Rotary cannot
be permanently blacked out by despotic fiats.
Friendship trees which I have planted in Germany,
Estonia, Finland, Norway, China,
and Japan may
have been laid low through the ravages of war but memory of them and of
their purpose remains ever green. The reconstruction of Rotary
throughout Europe is now being well planned and the flood of new clubs
in far way nations has gained amazingly.
No other non-governmental
organization has received such courtesies from Governments as have the
officers and the member clubs of Rotary International. Conventions and
conferences held in Europe and Asia have been given special privileges,
have been inaugurated by Kings and other Heads of Government; special
issues of postage stamps have been printed; traveling Rotary
International Presidents are invariably welcomed to audiences by the
Heads of Government in the countries they visit.
Some of my friends insist I should mention certain
have been conferred upon the writer. I shall do so only as offering
evidence that the Governments and institutions which conferred them were
thereby seeking to express their appreciation of the value to society of
the Rotary movement. They were accepted by me as honors conferred upon
Rotary. They are: Doctor of Laws (University of Vermont), Silver Buffalo
Award (Boy Scouts of America), Order of Southern Cross (Brazil), Order
of Merit (Chile), Order of Merit (Ecuador), Order of Cristobal Colon
(Dominican Republic), Officer of Legion of Honor (France), Order of the
Doctor honoris causa (College of Law,
Lima, Peru). Similar decorations have been bestowed by various countries
upon a score of presidents and other officers of Rotary International.
war period Rotary clubs not only met and served their countries and
mankind, they not only responded to the challenge of war, but farseeing
Rotary leadership in all lands knew the war eventually would come to an
end. There was no question but aggression would be repelled and freedom
re-established. While helping to accomplish this, Rotarians were giving
thought to constructive post war activities. The first world war opened
our eyes to the futility of emotionalism. Far more dependable grim
determination has now taken its place. There must be a better world
organization than the League of Nations. There must be less selfishness;
more of the Rotary ideal of thoughtfulness of and helpfulness to others.
So for several years Rotary International has had a committee on
post-war activities, studying the problems that divide men and those
that unite men and what must be recognized in every country as the
rights and the duties of its citizens. This has been done so that
Rotarians may be better prepared to make their contribution to what must
be done by mankind to prevent future wars.
[Why Rotary Played a Role in the
formation of the United Nations!]
During the past ten years hundreds of Rotary clubs in the U. S. have
conducted some two
thousand institutes of international understanding bringing
to their communities hundreds of capable speakers, from both the U. S.
and various other countries, to present and discuss before public
audiences of from 200 to a 1000 people the current factors of
international affairs. The total attendance to date at these institutes
is something like 1,500,000. A fine accomplishment in adult education!
And in addition these speakers have been used to address high-school
assemblies totaling about 3,500,000.
Consequently it was not surprising that Rotary
International was invited by the United States Department of State to
send consultants and associate consultants to the United
on International Organization at San Francisco in May, 1945, and in all
eleven Rotarians served in one or the other of these capacities.
indicates that they made a very definite contribution to the thinking of
the official delegates who were charged with developing the charter. Edward
R. Stettinius, Jr., who was then
Secretary of State of the United States, wrote:
The invitation to
Rotary International to participate in the United Nations
Conference as consultant to the United States delegation was not
merely a gesture of good will and respect toward a great
organization. It was a simple recognition of the practical part
Rotary's members have played and will continue to play in the
development of understanding among nations. The representatives
of Rotary were needed at San Francisco and, as you well know,
they made a considerable contribution to the Charter itself, and
particularly to the framing of provisions for the Economic and
But in addition, Rotarians were also there as
delegates from their nations and therefore as active participants in the
Thomas A. Warren of
Wolverhampton, England, this year's president of Rotary International
fact that seven chairmen of national delegations at the San
Francisco Conference, and a score more of members of the
delegations, were Rotarians is a visible sign that the world is
hungering for our simple mission.' He
goes on to say that Rotary's vast program of institutes of
international understanding, carrying the good will message to
millions of high school students and adults and the lectures,
radio programs, literature, fireside discussion groups, etc. has
a most obvious effect on public opinion.'
Such an appraisal coming from one of
high rank among educators in Great Britain is very heartening to
Rotarians of sixty nations throughout the world.
President Tom considers education the
only permanent solvent of international difficulties. He contends that
howsoever capable and reliable leaders may be, their painstaking efforts
to avert war are frequently frustrated by misinformed and emotional
citizenry; that the only safe way is to bring general education to
The late Charles
Steinmetz, 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 realize that fact the world will
advance more in one generation than it has in the past four. This
statement 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?
From time immemorial the greatest of
the great have proclaimed by word and deed their adherence to the
doctrine which Rotary has summed up in the words, Service Above
Self.' Who shall say that the Rotary goal is unattainable?
Chapter 37 "We
Thank You Mr. Chesterton!"
While Rotary is not a secret order,
while it has no ceremonies or rites, the concept of Rotary in the minds
of those who are not members is naturally vague. In a general way, folks
think well and speak well of Rotary. Many who are not members themselves
number among their relatives or friends those who are Rotarians and from
them they have learned of the movement, its purposes and
Rotary is probably best known by its
good works of which there are many. Boys clubs, bands and camps beyond
number have been organized by Rotary Clubs and by Rotarians
individually. Rotarians are the mainsprings of almost every kind of
In some cities, every man on the
school board is a Rotarian. Under the devoted leadership of Rotarian
Edgar Allen of Elyria, Ohio, in two score of the states of America
societies for the benefit of crippled children were organized and new
laws passed for the care, cure and education of crippled children. The
work was also carried to Europe and two overseas conventions,
participated in largely by Rotarians, were held in the interest of
handicapped children. Thousands of little sufferers were beneficiaries
of this humanitarian work.
In fact this is Rotary's day. For the
first time in the life of the movement, the Great Powers of the earth
are definitely interested in the promotion of international
understanding and good-will.
This is the very essence of Rotary.
God grant that the Great Powers be patient with each other's
shortcomings, and ever remember that this is a predatory world in which
we have so long lived. As we emerge from the jungle age we can not, in
good conscience, point the finger of scorn at each other. The spirit of
tolerance which has made it possible for Rotary to form a world wide
fellowship of business and professional men will make all things
My lady Jean and I feel that we have been
singularly blest in the opportunity which Rotary has afforded us to win
the friendship of thousands of men of many nations and thus assure
ourselves of the fact that the concept of Peace on Earth;
good-will to all men,' is not an idle dream but that peace is sure to
come. It is a privilege to live in the year of the Lord 1945 and to
witness the great awakening; and once again we thank you, Mr. Gilbert
Chesterton, for coining the phrase:
This is the Rotarian Age.' Pages
Chapter 38 "Comely
"My Valley in These Days"
DURING THESE LATTER years, I have
paid annual visits to my valley and whenever possible, my lassie has
been with me. I have introduced her to the wonders of my boyhood days.
Our visits have generally been in the autumn when the rush of summer
visitors is past and the autumnal colorings of the foliage is at its
"October in New England
And I not there to see
The glamour of the goldenrod,
The flame of the maple tree!
"Vermont, in robes of splendor
Sings with the woods of Maine,
of gold and crimson stain."
There have been many changes since my day; that, of course is to be
expected. Though the population of living folks remains quite
stationary, the population of the little cemetery on the hill has
increased almost beyond imagination. There lie most of the folks of my
generation and their places in the community have been taken by their
children and their children's children as well as by other folks who
have been attracted to my valley by its beauty and its promise of
tranquility and peace.
New industries unheard of in my boyhood have sprung up; no one of my day
would have even thought of them. For instance: The demand for Christmas
trees in the large cities could not have been foreseen. In my boyhood we
did not celebrate Christmas in that way. We hung our stockings up near
the fireplace if we had a fireplace, and, if we had no fireplace, we
hung them on the mantel piece behind the coal stove where bluff, hale
and hearty Santa Claus could not fail to find them. It was easier to
understand how Santa Claus with his enormous pack could come down the
chimney to a fireplece than down the pipe of a coal stove, but the proof
of the pudding is in the eating and the proof of Santa Claus' visit was
the good things he left in our stockings.
Was the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung
By the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas
Soon would be there;"
-Clement C. Moore.
Naturally no one ever saw Santa Claus with the goods but no Christmas
tree could ever have stirred our imaginations nor awakened the joy in
our hearts as did the old-fashioned apple cheeked, potbellied Santa
Claus, filling our stockings while his reindeer team stamped their feet
on the roof, impatient to get away and gladden the hearts of other
youngsters throughout the valley and throughout the world.
We knew not the Christmas tree delusion; we would have said that city
boys could have all the Christmas trees they wanted if their daddies
were willing and able to pay the price.
In the early days of the industry, the slaughter of spruce trees was
indiscriminate and without regard to maintenance of supply. Beautiful
trees without number which might have gladdened the hearts of men, were
sacrificed for the ephemeral purpose. If it had been left to me, I would
have said, "Back to the good old days of the chimney corner stocking and
leave the trees to the adornment of the hillsides and mountains as the
Creator seems to have intended."
However, far sighted men eventually saw that the Christmas tree industry
could be made permanent if conducted in conformity with good husbandry
and so the selection of trees is now made with due regard to the effect
on other trees. In many instances nearby trees are benefitted by the
These trees do not have to be pampered by rich soil; they would not
thank one for such luxury. They like best to dig their roots deep into
barren and rocky soil and there find anchorage to hold them through the
tempestuous storms of northern winters. It is astonishing how much
loveliness can come from such soil. Spruce trees thrive in the New
England mountains without the aid of nurserymen.
Another source of profit to the residents of my valley which has
developed in recent years, is the picking, packing and shipping of
brakes, sometimes called bracken, to the markets in the large cities. We
never thought of brakes as things of beauty, although we considered
ferns beautiful and frequently gathered them to mingle with flowers for
decorative purposes. As the brake is simply an overgrown fern, there was
probably not much justification for our discrimination against the
Brakes grow in great abundance on the foothills throughout our valley
and find a ready market. This industry affords college students an
excellent opportunity to make money during the summer months. Florists
in the cities use vast quantities of brakes to pack around flowers for
shipment and nothing serves to keep fragile flowers so fresh and bright
as the lowly brake of the mountainside. They are also used to provide
inexpensive greenery for stores and homes during the shut-in season.
They ship well in tight little cases and keep fresh until used.
There need be no fear of overcropping; nature attends to that. It takes
one season only to grow fresh crops of brakes and they are harvested at
their maturity. One does not have to worry as to what a brake might have
grown to be as is the case with a baby spruce tree; if human hands do
not harvest the crop of brakes and ferns, Jack Frost will harvest them,
and as everyone knows Jack is neither respecter of persons nor of
things. He reaps where he has not sown and cares not a whit for
My valley shares also with other valleys throughout northern New England
in such profits as may be gleaned from the fleeting visits of winter
sportsmen who come north for the skiing and other sports. The railroads,
running week end snow trains, try to keep New Yorkers and other sport
lovers posted as to skiing conditions in parts most favored by devotees.
The weather conditions, however, change so rapidly that disappointments
are not uncommon,
Horace Greeley's advice, "Co West, young man!" rang like a clarion note
throughout New England during my time. Every hamlet made its
contribution to the development of the West. The contribution of some of
the small villages was amazing. One little settlement on Cape Cod gave
to Chicago the founders of three great institutions, the Swift Packing
Company, the First National Bank and the Tobey Manufacturing Company.
The air was full of stories of success achieved in the West. In fact,
the call was so stentorian that the ears of most young men were deaf to
the call of service at home, but there were exceptions. One country boy,
Redfield Proctor, developed the marble industry in our valley until it
became the greatest industry of its kind on earth, not excepting even
the world famous Carrara producing area in Italy where the quarries had
the advantage of cheap labor and a tradition of craftsmanship. In the
fine art of carving marble for statuary, the Italians were supreme and
the faultless white marble required for statuary was to be found in the
Italian quarries in sufficient quantities to meet the demand for this
The development of the marble quarrying industry in my valley is a long
story, but briefly it may be said that the Vermont quarries did
eventually produce statuary marble. Artists from Carrara were attracted
to Vermont by the certainty of steady employment and good wages.
Regulatory tariff laws were enacted.
Redfleld Proctor became Governor of Vermont, United States Senator, and,
in course of time, a member of President Benjamin Harrison's cabinet. In
other words, he learned his way around Washington.
The Honorable Redfield Proctor left no stone unturned. He was an ardent
advocate of the protection of home industries as most other Vermonters
were and still are. Whether he spread his mantle of protection over his
own industry or not, I do not know, but I venture to say he did.
The success of the Vermont quarrying and marble business was not solely
dependent on protective tariffs; improved processes played equally
important parts in offsetting the advantages enjoyed by the Italian
producers. Power-driven drilling machines with diamond studded drill
heads made quick work of boring holes for dynamite. Derricks hoisted
great blocks of marble from the depths of the quarries to the surface in
a twinkling and batteries of power-driven gang saws operated day and
night cutting huge blocks of marble into as many sizes as were required
by the orders on hand. Twenty-four hours of operation sufficed to saw
through a block. How was it possible for saws of steel to cut through
hard marble? The answer is simple; continuous supplies of sand and water
turned the trick.
Marble was not the only commodity produced by the Vermont quarries.
While the marble industry was casting off its swaddling clothes, another
industry in the northern part of the state was beginning to be heard of.
The granite quarries of Barre, Vermont, now enjoy the distinction of
producing more high grade granite than the sum total of all the other
granite quarries in the United States. Nature has been prodigal in its
gift of Vermont granite and the industrious and thrifty Vermonters have
made the most of their opportunity. Barre granite is found in slated
layers and not in pockets as is the case with Scotch granite. It is
possible to quarry monoliths forty feet long in the Barre quarries
without a single blotch or blemish, a result not attained elsewhere.
The supremacy of Vermont granite in monumental work is demonstrable to
anyone sufficiently interested to make inquiry at his local cemetery.
The durability of granite makes it the overwhelming favorite for such
The sagas of granite and marble production in the Green Mountains are
not rivaled by the production of slate but Vermont slate quarries are
among the leaders in that line also. The slate-quarrying industry was,
in the days of my boyhood, in the hands of Welshmen from the slate
producing areas of Wales. The Welsh not only controlled the production
of slate but they also made their influence felt in other activities.
They brought and for many years maintained their form of culture,
including their famed choral unions. No community was ever the worse for
its Welsh element.
All Americans who love their country are interested in its educational
and cultural advancement and in wholesome, healthful living. It gives us
pleasure to note progress in the direction of high moral, intellectual
and spiritual standards and makes us unhappy to note indications of
demoralization, disintegration and decline.
It is gratifying to know that the folks who migrate from the cities to
my valley and other parts of New England are, as a rule, the kind that
country folks can wholeheartedly welcome. There is no better guarantee
of character known to me than evident love of God's great outdoors.
While the majority of the newcomers to my New England valley are retired
business folks who wish to spend their remaining days in the restfulness
of the country, there are a considerable number of writers, artists and
educators who have no intention of retiring. They are attracted to the
mountains by their love of beauty and their desire to rid themselves of
the useless complexities of life in order that they may apply themselves
more effectively to their chosen tasks. Vermont has attracted more than
its proportionate share of these folks.
The beauties of the country and the attractiveness of country life have
always been a lure to men of letters. The superb English lakes drew to
them Wordsworth, Coleridge, Ruskin, Southey and other literary lights.
Tennyson found inspiration in the charming landscapes and seascapes of
the Isle of Wight. Similar examples are to be found throughout Britain;
there is the Shakespeare country, the Burns, Scott and Kingsley
countries and others beyond number.
Among those who have made their homes in Vermont during recent years are
Rudyard Kipling, Will Durant, Dorothy Canfleld Fisher, Sinclair Lewis,
Dorothy Thompson, Robert Frost, Frances
Frost, Sara Cleghorn, Frederic Van De Water, Zephine Humphrey, Walter
Hard and many others too numerous to mention. In fact, Vermont has
become a mecca for writers, artists and publishers. New England is
undergoing a literary renaissance.
From time immemorial men of letters have turned to nature's beauty
spots, there to gain inspiration from nature's handiwork and there to
cultivate the muse. Happily we have our own literary shrine in New
England and may we hope that literature may flower once again as men and
women of genius turn their steps in ever increasing numbers to the
beauty, quiet and tranquility of the land of mountains and valleys.
All varieties of tastes are represented by those who come to build
summer or all year homes in the country; some settle in high spots; some
in low; some in sunshine and others in shade. There are those who bury
themselves in the dense woods much as wounded animals flee to the
forests to escape from the terrors of men and dogs, to lick their wounds
and rest. Such folks are not, as a rule, unsociable; they are simply
worn out and need rest.
New Englanders are law-abiding folks, especially those who live in rural
districts. Crimes of violence are almost unknown. Like the eternal hills
by which they are surrounded, mountain folks are rugged and dependable.
During my boyhood days, I never heard of but one murder in the State of
Vermont, that of John P. Fair who was murdered in Rutland and the
murderer executed m Windsor a few months later. The affair created much
excitement throughout the State. I cannot recall any other crime of
violence in my valley during my boyhood days.
The list of cases of political graft and corruption are about equally
unimpressive. When the Honorable George D. Aiken, now United States
Senator from Vermont, was asked how much money he had spent on his
campaign for Governor, he answered, "I don't know exactly; it was about
The characteristic answer of Calvin Coolidge to the inquiry of a
newspaper reporter as to his being a candidate for re-election to the
Presidency, is still fresh in memory. "I do not choose to run is the
all-time classic on that subject and an excellent example of New England
conservatism and restraint.
The distinguishing feature of Calvin Coolidge's service as President was
his rugged honesty and his indifference to what folks thought of him as
long as he could maintain his own self-respect; he viewed all questions
from an entirely detached standpoint.
I think I know the New England character rather well; Mr. Coolidge and I
were brought up in communities only a few miles apart and we would have
been schoolmates in Black River Academy had he entered a year earlier or
I a year later. Calvin Coolidge's expressions were brief and
epigrammatical, but always true to the mark; there are times of national
stress when circumlocution is out of place and distasteful; folks want
to get down to brass tacks.
When the state of Vermont was visited by its greatest calamity, the
flood, proffers of assistance came from all directions. Congress
authorized the appropriation of a sum of money to fit the needs but the
State legislature refused to accept it and notified Congress that
Vermont could take care of its own.
Vermont did take care of its own by issuing bonds for eight million
dollars, a very large sum for so small a State. The bonds were readily
sold and promptly paid at maturity.
The state has a splendid university located on a superb site above the
city of Burlington. The institution was established by Ira Allen,
patriot and brother of Ethan Allen, more than one hundred and fifty
years ago. It leads in the cultural development of the state.
One of the most astounding recent developments is the Vermont Symphony
Orchestra, which would do justice to any city in the country. Its
members have to be drawn from many small cities and villages in all
parts of the state. An annual musical festival is held in Burlington.
Another cultural development is the assembly of members of high school
bands and orchestras from throughout the United States. Only those who
have won honors in their local high school bands and orchestras are
eligible. These young folks are given intensive courses in musical
education to fit them for further advancement in their chosen
Not to be eclipsed by the State University, Middlebury College has
established a unique summer school for teachers and writers on the top
of nearby Bread Loaf Mountain.
I have heard motorists say that one of the most delightful features of a
drive through New England is spending the nights in the grand old homes
and exchanging views with New England men and their wholesome, cleanly
wives, skilled in the art of good housekeeping.
Most of us know what it means to experience the disappointment of a
misspent vacation. After painstaking study of the literature of the
chamber of commerce, railroads and tourist agencies, the selection is
made and seems favorable. In fact it may be favorable in everything
except the character of the host and the patrons. When that fails to
measure up, there is nothing to do but to go home and make plans for
another year. A vacation cannot be recreative unless it provides
relaxation and a sense of well-being. New England housewives are famous
for their cleanliness, orderliness, good cooking and careful planning
and generally they have matters so well in hand that desperate, last
minute rushes are unnecessary.
The importance of cultivating the good opinion and friendship of the
residents in a community cannot be over-emphasized if one takes up
permanent residence with them. It calls for unremitting patience and
constant endeavor. One must get into the lives of the home folks if he
is to find the happiness he seeks. The friendship of the folks of New
England cannot be rushed; it is a matter of slow growth.
If a newcomer in a New England community will interest himself in the
welfare of the community, whether it be through church activities,
school activities or what not, he will soon learn the spirit of the
community and eventually become a part of it. He must, of course, leave
his high hat in New York, Chicago or wherever else he comes from; it
will be of no use to him in his new home.
There is room enough in my valley to provide suitable homesites for
millions who now merely exist in America's most congested city, two
hundred miles south, and the New England States in their entirety may,
with propriety, quote the words of the great Teacher, "Come unto me all
ye who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest."
Chapter 40 "Resting
On a never to be forgotten day, I was
standing at the speaker's table at a great meeting, having just finished
an address, when my lights went out. The last that I remember was of
falling across the table and of being surrounded by folks. Heart attack,
they called it. The specialist said it all when he said that I had over
drawn my account; that I was bankrupt and must liquidate my account with
I dreamed and longed for the country and as soon as I could be moved
from the hospital, I was taken to the Michigan north land, with its
hills and lakes, laughing brooks and singing birds and foliage of
various colors. It is a long story of ups and downs, of the comings and
goings of doctors and nurses, and it required one and one-half years for
me to climb up out of the black hole I had dug for myself. In the course
of time, however, I found rest and recovery. Then followed ten active
years; I had learned how to rest.
Three times I have
been beaten back into the country and
times I have found respite. Through
that process I have been able to live well beyond my three score and ten
years. Seventy-five per cent of my law class in the University of Iowa
now sleep beneath the sod. Of the living twenty-five percent, probably
none began life with less promise of health and strength, and probably
none has been subjected to greater strain. Truly I have much to thank
the country for.
Let the strings of your fiddle down, Mr. City Man,
lest your E' string or some other string, snap; one cannot
maintain concert pitch all of the time.
There should be periods in the life of every busy man when he does
nothing'just nothing at all.'
and most helpful feature in any people is undoubtedly the instinct that
leads them to the country and to take root there.
The city rapidly uses men up, families run out, man becomes sophisticated
and feeble. A fresh stream of humanity is always setting from the
country into the city; a stream, not so fresh, flows back again into the
country, a stream for the most part of jaded and frail humanity. It is
arterial blood when it flows in and venous blood when it comes back.
A nation always begins to rot first in its great cities, is indeed,
perhaps, always rotting there and is saved only by the antiseptic
virtues of fresh supplies of country blood.'
the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields; not in towns
and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.'
man bathing beside a Tahitian, is like a plant bleached by the
gardener's art, compared with a dark green one, growing vigorously in
the open hills.'
I have lived the greater
part of my life in a great city where my activities have been and still
are based. I recognize the important part that great cities play in the
advancement of civilization and I most naturally love the city folks
with whom I have lived and in whose companionship I have tried to play
my part in the life of the great city. Strong and courageous men are
stemming the tide of outlawry and our big cities are becoming more
livable each year. Crime and corruption of great American cities is
given much publicity and folks sometimes get the impression that the
majority of our residents are indifferent. Of course this is not so; the
vast majority are law-abiding citizens and education, art and culture
grow by leaps and bounds while schools, universities, churches,
libraries, parks, and playgrounds appear as if by magic.
I certainly would not
advise either men or women to shirk the responsibilities of city life
and flee to the country just for the purpose of living lives of ease.
There has been far too much shirking of responsibility by the so-called
better element,' and that is the reason why gangsters, racketeers,
kidnappers and other offenders gather in large cities where the
apprehension of lawbreakers is more difficult.
There are times for work
and times for rest and it is for each person to decide where his path of
duty lies. Taken by and large, I think the highest purposes of the
largest number would be best served if the population was more spread
out. To the man in the moon or to any unprejudiced observer, it must
seem an anomalous condition that human beings are spread so thickly in
some parts and so thinly in others; it is reasonable to suppose that, to
such an unprejudiced observer, a re-distribution of the inhabitants of
this planet would be in order.
If it were the Creator's
intention for men to live in masses, for
what purpose did he create millions
of acres of mountains and valleys where air and water is unpolluted by
the works of men? Folks tangle themselves up in great cities somewhat as
angleworms tangle themselves in the bottom of tin cans and bait boxes,
and, when there is nothing else to devour, men, like angleworms, all too
frequently devour each other.
The country has been my
refuge at all times; when I could not afford it as a luxury, I put it on
the necessity list and as such managed to get it. Years fall from my
shoulders when I ramble along the countryside.
For some years I
consistently spent my week ends during the winter months in the weird
but fascinating dune lands bordering on Lake Michigan in northwestern
Indiana. When the dunes get a grip on one, they never loosen their hold.
Dune-bugs' build shacks among the hills of sand and most of them
command beautiful views of the great lake.
change the contour of the land, burying forests here and uncovering
forests there. The flora and fauna of the Chicago dune lands is in
greater variety than in any other Central Western zone. Weekends spent
in the dunes in companionship with other nature lovers is an excellent
conditioner for the business trials of the coming week. Why should men
permit themselves to be kept indoors during the long winter months with
never a breath of fresh air and never the song of a bird to gladden
Club of Chicago,
of which I am a charter member, was established thirty-five years ago
for the purpose of giving young people opportunity to enjoy grand bikes
in the country. We have had as many as two thousand members, nearly all
of whom came to the city from homes in the country. The Prairie Club
gives folks an opportunity to renew their touch with their beloved
country, and in many instances has constituted the one and only avail
able means of doing so.
While Saturday afternoon
hikes are the distinguishing feature
of the Prairie Club, organized camps
and other similar recreational features which contribute to the health
and happiness of legions of school teachers, clerks, stenographers,
etc., are provided. The Saturday afternoon hikes are announced in the
Chicago newspapers and all nature lovers are invited to join them
without expense other than the necessary cost of transportation. The
hikes are care fully mapped out by competent leaders who have blazed the
trails and made arrangements with the railroads for as many extra
coaches as may be needed.
The Prairie Club
co-operates with the Rocky Mountain Club of Denver, the Sierra Mountain
Club of San Francisco, the Mountaineers Club of Seattle, the Nature
Lovers Club of Indianapolis and with many other clubs devoted to
promoting interest in out door life.
Chicago has a young man
from Boston to thank for its Prairie Club. His name is Alexander
Wilson and his name is
too little known.
No restrictions are made
as to the ages of the applicants for membership. The youngest regular
participant in the hikes whom I knew was a rugged little maiden three
year of age, who needed no assistance except that of being lifted over
fences by her parents. She could reel off a ten mile hike without
unhappy consequences. She is now a mother of strong rugged children of
The oldest Prairie
Clubber I have known was Captain Robinson, ninety years of age, who took
his camera along photographing un usual wild flowers and writing them up
for a magazine.
Naturalists have eyes to
see the beauties of uplands and low lands; noses to smell the aroma of
pines and balsams, and ears to hear the sweet song of the bobolink, the
meadowlark and that divine contralto,' the hermit thrush.
Many who know the
blessings of rural life plan to adopt it as soon as they can afford to
buy or build property suitable to their tastes and in conformity with
the standards they have set up; in many cases they find that their
standards are so high that it is necessary to defer moving to the
suburbs time and time again;
they defer too long'thousands build, move and then die, having enjoyed
their new home only a few years or perhaps only a few months.
Our home is located in
an extra large block in a suburb of culture and refinement and we have
enjoyed it for thirty-odd blessed years. We came none too soon.
Twenty-six families reside in our block all in homes of their own. When
they came to our block, husband, wife and children were living happily
together, but to-day ten of those houses are owned and occupied by the
widows of the men who built them and one is owned and occupied by a
widower. The percentage, ten to one in favor of widows, is a sad
commentary on the struggle for what men call success; it is almost as
devastating as the war which sons and grandsons of my neighbors are now
waging on the Eastern and Western fronts. These men came to our suburb
to get rest, and in that respect they were successful, but they rest
It is quite an
undertaking to move to a suburb but it is a far greater undertaking to
retire. How glibly men speak of retiring. Utopia, at last! Nothing to do
but to rest and luxuriate in the thought of having nothing to do! How
different they find it! Retirement is a crisis. A limited number only
come through. To throw the yoke off in advanced years is even a more
serious undertaking than it was to put the yoke on in the days of
vigorous youth. There is, however, a way out; new and engrossing
interests must be found; they are frequently found in the country.
young and vigorous, an emotional escape from life's realities does not
make a strong appeal, but life in the country need not be an escape from
realities; it not infrequently proves to be an opening to larger
opportunities for usefulness under more favorable conditions. Young and
vigorous shoots stand transplanting very well.
The gift of country life near woods and hills
Where happy waters sing in solitudes.
'John Mare Field.
a small house and large garden have?
And a few friends and many books, both true.
How blessed is he who leads a country life
Unvexed with anxious cares and void of strife
Who, studying peace and shunning civil rage
Enjoyed his youth and now enjoys his age.
After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics,
conviviality, love and soon have found that none of these finally
satisfies or permanently wears'what remains- Nature remains to bring out
from their torpid recesses the affinities of man or woman with the open
air'the sun by day and the stars of the heavens by night.'
Nothing can be more serviceable in
extending one's acquaintance among the best people than membership in a
Rotary club but if there is no available Rotary club, welcome an
invitation to membership in a Kiwanis club, Lions club or in any of the
recognized service clubs.
I hope it will not be
considered presumptuous for me to express the opinion that there can be
no better introduction to the life of a community than one that comes
through the local Rotary club. If there happens to be no Rotary club in
the community, there will surely be one not far distant and a few miles
ride in the country does not amount to much if one has a motor car.
Membership in any Rotary club gives one guest privileges in Rotary clubs
throughout the world. Many Rotarians visit Rotary clubs whenever they
chance to be traveling and this is a great boon to travelers in foreign
lands. Enthusiastic Rotarians frequently plan to visit club meetings In
neighboring towns thereby extending their acquaintance through their
part of the state.
"Mountains and Folks, Lakes and Birds"
AMONG THOSE who have come from cities
to take up permanent residence in our valley and who have endeared
themselves to home folks, was Mr. Addison Stone, a lawyer from
Washington, D. C. Mr. Stone married one of Wallingford's splendid young
ladies, Miss Lou Kent, and the young couple came to Wallingford to make
their home on the old Kent farm in the village.
Addison Stone was a gentleman and a scholar and he looked the part. Lou
Kent Stone had no apologies to make for the husband she had chosen. He
did not ape the ways of old residents but gradually became one of them.
I have never seen him going about his farm work dressed in overalls; his
clothes seemed to have been tailormade and at times he wore gloves; he
did, however, wear a broad-brimmed and somewhat battered straw hat to
protect himself from the hot summer sun. He was a gentleman farmer and
dressed like one. Addison Stone lived the life he wanted to live and
lived it in his own way. Most respectable folks in our village were
prohibitionists; Mr. Stone was not nor did he pretend to be one. Though
the Kent home was exactly opposite the Congregational church, I cannot
recall ever having seen Addison Stone in attendance at the meetings. He
went on the even tenor of his way and Wallingford folks began to think
that perhaps, on the whole, the way of Mr. Addison Stone was a pretty
good way. He paid his debts promptly and was honorable in all of his
dealings; he never high-hatted anyone and sought no honors.
This combination was quite
satisfactory to his fellowtownsmen and recognizing his unvarying
fairness and his ability to get along with folks, they drafted him to
fill the office of Moderator of Wallingford's town meetings. A more
dignified, honorable and able moderator than Mr. Stone would have been
impossible to find. Why did he not continue his career in 'Washington?
Manifestly he loved the life in our valley better than the life in the
nation's capital. He loved the country life with its tranquility and
neighborliness. He loved the beauty of the mountains and lakes.
No towering shaft marks the graves of Addison Stone and Lou Stone, his
wife, but their gift to the town of Wallingford of a tract of woodland
along the shore of Elfin Lake serves as a reminder that they loved the
valley and loved valley folks. No more fitting memorial could have been
selected. In that, we are all agreed.
I can recall several folks of culture and refinement who crept into our
community life so quietly and unobstrusively that they seemed to be home
folks from the beginning.
A beautiful illustration of the friendship which developed between city
folks and home folks is the story of Dr. and Mrs. Franklin Wood of
Boston, who, after spending their summer vacations in a small village in
Maine for some years, resolved to make the village their permanent home
when time for retirement came, Their plans having gone thus far to the
satisfaction and joy of both, their thoughts went further and they
resolved that since the village was a suitable place for them while they
lived, why should not the village cemetery be a suitable place for their
bodies when the call for the last great change came?
With happy expectations they called
on the cemetery trustees for the purpose of selecting and purchasing a
lot. One can imagine their surprise and disappointment when they were
told that there were no lots for sale; that the cemetery was reserved
entirely for home people.
Dr. and Mrs. Wood concealed their disappointment and continued to make
the little village their home and to make more friends among the home
folks. Eventually they were surprised again; this time happily. The
trustees called upon them and the chairman of the board, with great
solemnity, stated that the home folks had gotten to love them so well
they wanted to adopt them as their own. They stated that while they
could not change the rule about selling cemetery lots, they could and
would give them any lot they might see fit to select without charge. It
had required a long time for their affection to ripen but when the time
for fruition did come, it was worth the waiting.
"A good deed is never lost.
He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship
And he who plants kindness
If you would be happy in your new surroundings, you should cultivate the
acquaintance and friendship of the mountains as well as that of the
folks. It will pay rich dividends. The mountains are always at home when
you call; always available. Mountains never have moods and though storms
may rage against them, they remain ever the same.
Learn the names of your mountains, they will seem more neighborly if you
call them by name. If you are young and vigorous, climb them, Mr. City
Man, and if you are not young and vigorous, go into them by automobile.
Good roads run in all directions; it was very different in my day.
Select an "inspiration point" in the mountains and think of it as
peculiarly your own. Learn the secrets of the mountains; they will
confide them to you if you make them your friends. Go to your
"inspiration point" to witness the glories of the rising and setting
sun. Moonlight and starlight transfigure your mountains into things
weird but fascinating.
"Slowly climb the moon-touched mountains Up their stairway to the sky,
Slowly each white cloud ascending, Seems a soul that passed on high."
-Sam'I Miller Rage man.
Blankets of snow soften the rugged corners of mountains into rounded
curves. He who loves his mountains need never be lonely while in them;
how could he be if they are friends?
As for ponds and lakes, they are legion and each and everyone of them
has its own individuality. Most of them are inserted into likely places
in folds of the mountains and seem parts of them. How refreshing their
sparkling waters look on hot summer days. Strip and plunge into them if
you please; you will find them cool and invigorating and they will make
you glad that you are alive,
While making friends with mountains, folks and lakes, one must not
overlook the birds. They too are friendly and, when given to understand
that you are neighborly, they will meet you more than halfway. A great
variety of birds make their homes in the mountains; some are migratory
but for others the mountains are year round homes. A little suet placed
in sight from the breakfast room window will lure the chickadees and
woodpeckers even on sub-zero days. Bird-feeding stations add
substantially to the enjoyment of mountain and country homes. Make it a
practice to breakfast with your birds every morning and be sure to
scatter seed with a lavish hand. You will be repaid for your trouble a
hundredfold in the thankful songs of your feathered neighbors. Begin
your day, Mr. City Man, in the companionship of your birds.
Some species of birds think so much of their human friends that they
will take up residence with them if they can find a suitable cornice on
which to build their nests and raise their families.
Give Jennie Wren a chance, Mr. City Man, and she is likely to move right
in on you and so it is with the robins and turtledoves. The bobwhites
respond readily to friendly gestures and how sweet their friendly calls
Rabbits and squirrels may become even too neighborly and chipmunks,
after their hibernation, almost run over folks. Mamma Skunk and her long
line of children will waddle through your garden from time to time if
they are not molested and they had better not be molested either by man
or dog. When friendly relations are once established, they make good
Sly foxes raise their heads above rocks and tree stumps, pause for a
moments glimpse of their most dreaded enemy, man, and then vanish from
Not infrequently one sees an inquisitive deer or even several of them in
the mountains, and, once in a long time, one sees a bear which has
wandered down from the mountain fastnesses into pasture lands and into
the outskirts of small villages.
These creatures all serve to make the country interesting to folks from
the cities if they will open their minds and hearts to them.
One who plans to have a home in the country must view it as a serious
undertaking. First and foremost, he must examine himself and determine
whether or not he is really prepared in mind to embark on such an
important undertaking. It is not enough to be captivated by a beautiful
piece of scenery or by an attractive old New England home. It is far
better to try one's self out by frequent visits to the country, by
renting perhaps or at most building, a summer home in such manner as
will make it possible to convert it into an all year round home if he
becomes satisfied that it has proven itself; that it has found a
permanent place in his affections.
Having satisfied himself in this regard he can move forward with greater
assurance and in safety. He must examine the offerings of real estate
men most carefully. There must be an abundant supply of pure water; the
drainage must be good; the foundation of the house must be secure and
the timbers dependable. If he seeks happiness in his home, let him make
certain that it is a home he is building, not a castle.
If one would enjoy beautiful scenery, he must look well to the site and
particularly the southern exposure; it makes a great difference in the
winter, when one is shut indoors much of the time, whether the outlook
If one of the rooms of the house commands a fine view of the mountains
and valleys, one should capitalize on the view by building a picture
window. (My wife and I have capitalized on one unusually good view at
"Comely Bank." Our picture window is enjoyed by neighbors and friends
from all parts. Not less affectionately regarded by my wife and me is
our breakfast room window by the good grace of which we take breakfast
with our birds.)
Mountains and valleys, seashores, lakes and rivers and birds, all play
their respective parts; we admire and love them; the very sight of them
sends a warm glow through our hearts. We can sit at some vantage point
and drink in the scenery for hours at a time. We listen with joy to the
songs of the meadow larks, catbirds, thrushes and warblers. We may view
the swift flights of the larks, the twists and turns of the swallows as
they snatch their food in mid-air. We may intoxicate ourselves with the
sweet smell of spring flowers or the scent of new-mown hay at harvest
time, but all this falls short. Friendliness and neighborliness are
When the day is done, what can be more refreshing and satisfying than a
fireside chat with a good neighbor who has "just dropped in." The
conversation need not be, in fact must not be, fast and furious, if one
is in need of rest. If the nerves of one coming from the city are too
highly strung, he will find relaxation in the composure of folks whose
lives have been more wisely organized than his.
The folks of the valleys and mountains being off the beaten path are
sell-contained and are not subject to the mental and moral contagions
which sweep their courses over travel-worn routes. Such people have
obtained that very desirable state of being neither very rich nor very
poor. Their yearly crop of worries are endurable because they seldom
permit their ambitions to go beyond bounds; the business of "keeping up
with the Joneses" is not recognized as a worthy pursuit. In fact, there
are few "Joneses" among the best people. The folks of the mountains live
well-regulated lives and new comers would do well to emulate their
A good philosophy of life is better
than riches and it serves at all times, in prosperity and adversity.
Strange as it may seem, it was not the poor folks of the great cities
who took their lives during the period of the great depression; it was
the well to do; many of them, were rich but they had no sufficient
sustaining philosophy of life. Chicago school teachers worked for months
with not a dollar of pay; they had a sustaining philosophy of life;
their work still needed to be done and they did it.
There is a saying that New Englanders do not believe in doing anything
the first time, which, of course, is equivalent to saying that they are
not given to fads and modes, preferring the true and the tried. As a
matter of fact New Englanders are not averse to doing things the first
time. For instance: New Englanders introduced the institution, the town
meeting, which is the foundation upon which our democratic form of
government was built.
New Englanders are charged with being non-cooperative and yet the six
New England States work in unity unequalled elsewhere. The so-called New
England Council is an institution the purpose of which is to promote
co-ordination of government efforts for the solution of the problems
common to the six States-Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island and Connecticut. This institution is the most successful
example of regional co-operation known in this country. The governors of
the six states were sponsors and are now supporters of the council.
Naturally my own thoughts of New England are of roseate hue. Though more
than a half century has rolled past, I still see My New England Valley
through the eyes of a boy. Tender recollections of my grandparents who
did so much for me still hallow the picture.
As if it were but yesterday, I can see old Judge Button standing at the
garden gate, his little gray shawl thrown over his shoulders, and I can
hear his booming salutation to grandmother, "Good morning, Mrs. Harris!
It's going to be a fine day!" I can see him deferentially cupping his
most dependable ear as if he feared he might miss some word of her
reply. I can hear grandmother's oft repeated answer, "Good morning,
Judge! Yes, it is going to be a fine day; the good Lord never made a bad
day, Judge Button." Good folks were they! Yes, they were good folks.
Chapter 42 "The
End of The Journey"
God grant that
my vision of the faults of men and of nations be dimmed and my vision of
their virtues be brightened.
-Paul P. Harris.
Page 304 - The End
The Publisher, A. Kroch & Son, acknowledged the
contribution. This compilation of the first 43 years of the movement's
history is a remarkable document. It was not, however, included in later
reprints by Rotary International in the late 1900's. A detail overlooked
is that the Appendix is listed in the "Chapter Headings" of more recent
reprints. We have included it here with a feature never before
available. The 14 pages are linked to expanded articles on almost every
historical item. Though many are works in progress, as this project
continues to add more content, this appendix, along with the timeline www.historytour.org
will stand to direct you to significant events in the life of our
M. B. Selway,
Founder and Chairman
In this chronology, an
endeavor has been made to high-light each of the five year periods in
Rotary's brief existence. Even though this present chronicle, within the
space limitations, be short and incomplete, the record is an astonishing
one'in growth, in development of principles, in achievement.
Rotary International, with the local
Rotary clubs and the individual Rotarians, collectively and individually,
will continue to make their effective contributions to world
peace and security.
1905' THE BEGINNING '1910
founded in Chicago by Paul
P. Harris for
fellowship and mutual helpfulness.
Membership limited to one
man from each business or profession.
Name Rotary' adopted, originating from
practice of holding meetings in rotation
at different members' places of business.
1906 New club grows in membership. Intimate,
first-name acquaintance promotes fellowship.
Club singing introduced by Rotarian Harry
Rotary wagon wheel' emblem adopted,
the first of many varieties of wheel emblems' to be used by
different clubs, until 1912, when a geared wheel was adopted, this to be
followed by authorization of an official emblem (1924), a wheel of six
spokes, twenty-four cogs, and a keyway.'
1907 First community service: Public
comfort restroom installed in Chicago's city hail.
1908 Second Rotary club is organized in San
1909 Club Number 3 organized at Oakland,
Cal., which becomes first club to
hold weekly luncheon meetings regularly.
Additional clubs are started in Seattle, Los
York City, and Boston.
1910' UNIFICATION '1915
1910 Wide interest beginning to be manifested in
new service club idea. First
Rotary Convention held
in Chicago, organizes sixteen existing clubs into a united body: The
National Association of Rotary Clubs.
adopted in form of five objectives, subsequently to be changed from year
to year until (1921) when a new objective was adopted '˜to emphasize the
international influence of Rotary,' forerunner of Rotary's famed
Rotary becomes international when a club
is started in Winnipeg.
idea spans the Atlantic when clubs are started in Dublin,
London, and Belfast.
The National Rotarian' takes
birth, forerunner of The Rotarian' (1912) and the Spanish edition
Revista Rotaria' (1933).
At the Portland, Oregon, (U.S.A.)
He profits most who serves best' is
added to the
Rotary Platform,' later to become,
Service Above Self,' through
wide usage, Rotary's unofficial motto.
1912 Canadian (Winnipeg)
delegates appear at Duluth
(U.S.A.) convention; London,
England, club cables for membership.
Constitution is revised; name changed to: The International Association
of Rotary Clubs.
districts (then called divisions) are established, 5 in U.S.A., 2 in
Canada, one in Britain and Ireland.
Emeritus' designation conferred on Founder Paul P. Harris.
census: 50 clubs, 5,000 members.
Rotary clubs contribute active relief service and more than $25,000 for
victims of Ohio and Indiana flood.
First delegates from Britain and Ireland attend
convention in Buffalo,
N. Y., U.S.A.
World War I begins in Europe. Eight clubs in Great Britain and Ireland
engage in many kinds of relief work, including housing of Belgian
Study of Philosophy' of Rotary is
begun at the Houston
Club Number 100 started
at Phoenix, Ariz., U.S.A.
service of clubs in Great Britain and Ireland intensified:
Entertainments for wounded soldiers; combat battalions raised; Rotary
companies of special constabulary organized.
New standard club constitution and model by-laws
adopted at the San
Francisco convention for
all new as well as existing clubs, includes a provision for
additional active members, previously known as partnership, associate,
or second active member.
Rotary Code of Ethics'
was adopted and during subsequent years come into wide usage until
general distribution was discontinued (1927-28).
system of districts enlarged and term Governor' established.
Charter No. 200 issued
to new club organized at Columbus, Ga., U.S.A.
1916 El Club Rotario de La Habana is
started in the capital of Cuba, first to be organized in a non-English
A Talking Knowledge of Rotary''first
comprehensive statement of Rotary ideals and activities is adopted at Cincinnati
Attendance contest inaugurated.
initiated on Rotary-wide scale.
patriotic convention is held in Atlanta,
clubs in United States take on war service of many kinds: Liberty Loan
drives, promotion of civilian military training, mobilization of school
boys for farm work; campaigns for clothing, food, tobacco, books and
magazines for army training camps.
Fund, forerunner of the Rotary Foundation, established.
Interest of Rotary Clubs in crippled
children is aroused.
The 300th Rotary club organized at Huntington,
1918 Win the War' Convention held at Kansas
City, Mo., U.S.A. First club to be
organized in South America is started at Montevideo,
The 400th Rotary club organized at Fort
Scott, Kans., U.S.A. Total
membership passes 40,000 mark!
Allied Rotary Club of France' formed
for Rotarians in armed services, forerunner of the Paris
Rotary club started
three years later.
extended to Philippine Islands, China, Panama, India, the Argentine.
Roll of countries in which there are clubs now
Nebr., U.S.A. receives
charter No. 500!
1920' THE WHEEL MOVES ON!
club started at Madrid,
Spain'first to be organized in
Rotary Club of New York City holds
first Boys Week' observance, an event destined to extend rapidly
to many countries; resulting in the organization of a National Boys and
Girls Week Committee for the United States (1927) to give impetus to an
annual celebration to focus attention on youth problems and to support
local youth organizations.
First club organized in Japan,
10OOth Rotary club is started in the ancient city of York,
W. Davidson, of Calgary,
Layton Ralston, of Halifax, appointed
as commissioners to organize clubs in Australia andNew
Zealand. First clubs started at Melbourne and Wellington.
International goodwill and
objective adopted at Edinburgh
convention to be held outside the United States.
The Wheel Moves On! Clubs organized in South
Africa, France, Mexico, Peru, Denmark, and Newfoundland.
Harris speaks of International
Friendship and Peace MP3 File 4:00
minutes, courtesy of Rotary International with a grant from Rotary
Global History Fellowshiphttps://www.rghfhome.org/origin/grants/recipients/2009/archives0909.htm questions
about these audio pieces can be directed to Rotary History and Archives
staff - firstname.lastname@example.org
Association Constitution and By-Laws completely revised; name shortened
to Rotary International'; adoption of standard club constitution
made mandatory for all new club subsequently organized.
Clubs organized for the first time in Brazil,
Norway, and The Netherlands!
1923 President Warren
G. Harding (U.S.A.)
addressing the Rotary convention at St.
Louis, Mo., says:
If I could plant Rotary in every community throughout the world, I
would do it, and then I would guarantee the tranquility and the forward
march of the world.'
Rotary policy in objective or community service
Resolution 34) more
earthquake in Japan brought thousands of dollars from clubs all over the
world and from Rotary International Tokyo Rotary judiciously distributed
contributions: to a local hospital for lying-in cases; to public schools
in Tokyo and Yokohama; and for construction of a two-story Rotary
Home' for orphans left homeless.
Movement intensified to encourage members to have
their business and craft associations adopt codes' or
standards of practice' based
upon a model code' suggested by Rotary.
Rotary started in three additional countries: Belgium,
Italy, and Chile!
1924 Rotary clubs started in Switzerland
and Bermuda. Total membership
passes the 100,000 mark!
1925 Rotary Charter No. 2,000 issued to Ketchikan,
Rotary extended to five additional countries: Czechoslovakia,
Guatemala, Austria, Hungary, and Portugal.
office of Rotary International's Secretariat established at Zurich,
First Pacific Rotary Conference' held at Honolulu, with more than
400 present from eight countries.
Clubs started in Sweden,
Venezuela, Finland, and Colombia!
1927 Great Rotarian Ideal,' reaffirmed by
King Albert in officially opening the eighteenth
convention at Ostende:
The great Rotarian ideal, essentially a humanitarian ideal of
brotherhood, may have an efficient application in the broad sphere of
inter national relationship. Friendliness in international relations can
be fostered by friendliness in international trade.'
Aims and Objects plan
of club administration and club activity, originating in Britain and
successfully employed by many clubs there, adopted by convention action
as recommended procedure throughout Rotary.
Seven additional countries come within Rotary's
friendly sphere of influence: Paraguay,
Costa Rica, El Salvador, Ecuador, Bolivia, Germany, and Java.
W. Davidson, of Calgary, Canada,
appointed to carry Rotary idea to countries of the Orient, travels by
plane, by train, by bus, by caravan, is impressed, in his contacts, by
Rotary's genius for uniting divergent elements for common community
Pacific Regional Conference is held in Tokyo. First club started in
Federated Malay States.
1929 Rotarian Davidson's energy, enthusiasm, reflected
in new clubs in:
Egypt, Palestine, Ceylon, and Burma.
clubs also appear in Nicaragua, in Jugoslavia, Roumania, and Luxembourg!
Anniversary convention held in Chicago.
Rotary's birth place, with more than 11,000 registered, from 58
countries, breaking all records.
Service Membership made available to members' upon retirement from
active business or professional life.
regional conference for Europe, Africa, Asia Minor meets at The Hague
with 800 members present from 28 countries.
mark in membership passed.
Jim' Davidson's magic
hand creates more clubs'in Algeria
Morocco, Southern Rhodesia, Straits Settlements, Kenya, Siam:
club started in Estonia.
1931 Rotary's twenty-second annual convention
meets in Vienna,
a convention notable for Rotary advancement, magnificence of musical
Government issues set of six stamps commemorating convention which has
since become scarce collector's item.
depression reflected in loss of eighteen clubs, largest loss to date.
Clubs started in Poland,
Hong Kong, Lebanon, and Danzig.
World-wide depression results in first net loss (annual) in Rotary
history; 27 clubs terminated; decrease in membership, 2,000.
First club started in Latvia.
office of Rotary International's Secretariat for Middle Asia authorized;
eventually established in Singapore (1935), relocated later in Bombay
Revista Rotaria,' Spanish edition of The Rotarian' established
for Rotarians in Latin-America.
First club started in Bulgaria.
membership suffered for second year, partly offset by organization of
107 new clubs.
A short business creed,' called the
Four-way Test,' is
adopted by Rotarian Herbert J. Taylor, of Chicago, and associates,
subsequently to enjoy wide usage amongst Rotary clubs and Rotarians.
and towns throughout the world Rotary clubs found generally to be
splendid stabilizing influence in midst of depression.
1934 First Council on Legislation held as integral
part of annual
First Institute of International Relations'
sponsored by Rotary
Club of Nashville, Tenn., U.S.A.,
forerunner of thousands of Institutes
of International Understanding sponsored by Rotary clubs.
Rotary extended to Lithuania,
1935'FORWARD AGAIN! '1940
1935 President Lazaro Cardenas, addressing more
than 5,000 delegates and in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City,
extends official welcome to Rotary's
26th annual convention!
from six to four.
First club started in Tunisia.
Rotary Founder, Paul P. Harris, makes
round-the-world trip, visiting
clubs in Orient and in Australia and New Zealand, receiving many
and Paraguayan Rotarians in South America participate in organized
relief work for prisoners of war in their countries.
First regional conference in South America at Valparaiso, Chile.
Rotary extended to Fiji
Islands and Sarawak.
Rotary Charter No. 4,000 issued to new club at Hanover,
Institutes of International Understanding' inaugurated.
General redistricting program creating 23 new districts, changing
boundaries of many others.
Rotary's twenty-eighth annual convention at Nice,
opened by President Albert Lebrun, who extends welcome to nearly 6,000
delegates and guests from 65 countries.
Asia office opened in Singapore.
Rotary clubs started in Netherlands
West Indies, Monaco, and Syria.
As a result of pressure by Nazi authorities, forty-two
clubs in Germany and the club in Danzig disbanded.
Rotary passes the 200,000 mark in membership!
clubs in Austria (11) and Italy (34) disbanded, grim prelude to what was
to occur during the next five years in 33 other countries invaded by
Axis armies or coming within their orbit of influence, resulting
eventually in at least the temporary loss of a total of 484 clubs,
Middle Asia Regional Conference held at Penang, Straits Settlement.
Rotary extended to Anglo-Egyptian
Sudan and Cyprus.
Middle Asia office of the Rotary Secretariat moved to Bombay. The loss
of clubs and members in Axis and Axis-dominated
so far more than offset by admission of clubs in other countries and
normal-to-noteworthy increases in already existing clubs throughout the
First club started in French
West Africa and on Island of Guam.
Active' Membership established for members of long service desiring to
relinquish their classifications to younger men, but still to retain
their own club membership.
Rotary Charter No. 5,000 issued to Rockmart,
1940'WORLD WAR 11'1945
Rotary clubs in Great Britain gird themselves for war service as war
conflagration spreads throughout Europe and invasion of England becomes
At the thirty-first
annual convention at Havana,
delegates representing Rotary in 32 countries, authorize a contribution
of $50,000 from surplus funds for direct war relief through Red Cross;
also establishment of Rotary Relief Fund to help alleviate suffering of
Rotarians and their families due to the war.
Also approved by delegates was statement of policy
Rotary Amid World Conflict' containing
this significant sentence:
Rotary is based on the ideal of service and where freedom, justice,
truth, sanctity of the pledged word, and respect for human rights do not
exist, Rotary cannot live nor its ideals prevail.'
1941 As a
result of Relief Fund contributions, long ribbons of food parcels begin
to thread their way monthly to Rotarians in European prisoner-of-war
continue to be disbanded in Axis dominated countries, but organization
of clubs in other countries continue to offset losses.
Inauguration of The Americas Speak' program of weekly radio
broadcasts presented by Rotary clubs of the Americas as their
contribution to a better understanding amongst nations of Western
result of repeated and devastating air raids, clubs in Britain organize
many mobile canteen units and promote numerous other civilian relief
measures, including bomb shelters ' but still continue to meet under
distressing conditions, managing to intensify their war service.
neutral Switzerland, clubs begin organizing relief measures for Belgian
and French refugees, especially women and children.
seven out of eighteen clubs courageously carry on,' contributing
heavily to war relief, entertaining British (and later, American)
fliers, maintaining refugee camps, frequently bombed out of meeting
place, all this in spite of unprecedented inflation upping cost of
living 6,000 to 7,000 per cent!
the United States of America, clubs are promoting volunteer assistance
to over-burdened draft boards, sponsoring increased-food production
drives to give greater effectiveness to lend-lease, giving effective aid
in organizing civilian defense measures.
to study the requirements for a post-war peaceful world is established;
Rotary clubs everywhere join in the research work.
service, already initiated and under way, is enlarged and intensified,
while Joint Declaration by the United Nations (Jan. 1st) inspires clubs
everywhere to all-out efforts in prosecution of the war:
service includes: Cooperation in war rationing measures; salvaging and
fund-raising campaigns; raising and equipping of air-combat units,
including cadet corps; organized entertainments for wounded service men;
providing and equipping of recreation rooms' for service men;
increased- food production campaigns; and numerous activities for
raising civilian and military morale.
In a semi-dark, malodorous tunnel of Corregidor,
shortly before its fall (May 6th), seven Rotarians met, remnant of the Rotary
Club of Manila. Among them, its
president, Hugo Miller, who had escaped Manila in a small boat a short
time previous to the meeting, and Carlos P. Romulo, past president of
Manila Rotary and former Rotary International vice-president and
director. Everywhere around the small group were wounded men writhing in
agony and pain. With the butt of an army pistol, President Miller rapped
for order, called for the first item of business, which was: to confer
honorary membership on General Douglas MacArthur.
series of The Americas Speak' radio programs broadcast over radio
network by clubs in the Americas, and beamed short wave to other parts
of the world.
Chesley R. Perry,
long-time secretary of Rotary International (since 1910) retires, and is
succeeded by Rotarian
Philip Lovejoy, for twelve years
the first assistant secretary.
S. A. War Production Board presents to Rotary International a citation
in recognition of meritorious salvage work by clubs of the United
of intensified war service, clubs continue to give consideration to
of '˜Work Pile' idea gives great stimulus to community surveys and
cataloging of post-war work to assure work for demobilized service men
and war workers.
For the first time since 1939, Rotary is extended
to another country'the Dominican
a club was organized in the capital city of Trujillo.
Finland, Sweden, France, Switzerland Rotary clubs engage in service to
victims of war.
Rotary continues to lose clubs in occupied countries of Far East and in
occupied France, such losses continue to be
gains in other areas. Figures for the close of the calendar year showed:
5,238 clubs; 214,500 members, of which 214 clubs and 7,500 members were
Work Pile' idea, for gauging and stimulating post-war work not only
gains wide-spread application by Rotary clubs, but the idea spreads to
clubs in the U. S. A., during March, set aside one meeting for a
China Day' program, directing attention to China and her long-suffering
but brave people.
President's Award' established, to be presented by the president of
Rotary International to the club in each district for outstanding
achievements in the four principal avenues of Rotary service.
Streamlined' thirty-fifth annual
convention held in Chicago attendance restricted, because of
transportation regulations, to officers of Rotary International.
First club started in French
India, at Pondicherry, one of 169
new clubs admitted to membership during the calendar year.
Sweden, more than 32,000 Finnish children are being cared for in Swedish
homes, Rotary clubs assuming a prominent part in this great humanitarian
clubs throughout the world staged programs on the Monetary and Financial
Conference at Bretton Woods and the subsequent Dumbarton Oaks conference
on post-war peace and security.
1945'DAWN OF A NEW AGE'?
March, the Rotary Club of Guam (American sovereignty proclaimed the
preceding July 27th) was readmitted to membership in Rotary
International, first club to be reorganized in formerly Axis-held
countries and regions.
Commissions for the Organization of Rotary Clubs in Europe and for the
Organization of Rotary Clubs in the Far East intensify their efforts: By
the close of 1945 recorded sixty-six clubs readmitted from four European
countries: France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Norway'also included were
Guam, in the Mariana Islands, and Manila and Dagupan, in the
Thirty-sixth annual convention (second streamlined meeting) convenes in
request of UNRRA authorities Rotary clubs (U.S.A.) asked to
spearhead' local representative committees for a nation-wide
used-clothing drive in April. Goal: 150,000,000 pounds. Destination:
Suffering peoples of war-devastated areas throughout the world. Result:
Goal exceeded by more than
pounds! First shipment: May 28 via S.S. Gripsholm for Greece,
Forty-nine Rotarians served as delegates,
advisers, or consultants at the San
Francisco conference of fifty United Nations,
called together to consider the pattern for post-war peace and security
designed at the Dumbarton Oaks meeting. In thirty-three of the fifty
nations represented, Rotary clubs were functioning; in seven of the
other nations, clubs had been functioning until Axis occupation.
clubs throughout world observe week of November 11th as United
Nations Charter Week' in concerted effort to spread understanding of
the new U. N. Charter.
booklet, From Here On!', first published by Rotary International,
containing full text of the new United Nations Charter, with
interpretative comments and discussion questions, for distribution to
all English-speaking clubs. First distribution and subsequent demand
required three printings, totaling 100,000 copies. (An edition in
Spanish subsequently published for Rotarians in Ibero-America.)
clubs throughout Canada, called upon to aid in spear-heading'
local committees for a dominion-wide used clothing drive (October 1 to
20), sponsored by Canadian Allied Relief on behalf of UNRRA, made
magnificent response. Original estimate of a possible collection of
5,000,000 pounds, far exceeded, the actual collection amounting to over
Rotary approached the mid-year point, the organization of new clubs and
the admission of new members promised to reach record-breaking
meantime additional clubs disbanded in Axis-dominated countries returned
to the Rotary fold: Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Rangoon, Athens, and
Prague and five other clubs in Czechoslovakia.
at the United Nations General Assembly sessions in London (Jan. 20th to
Feb. 14th) were three observers on be half of Rotary International, thus
maintaining continuity of contact with the United Nations Organization.
present at the opening of the second session of the Security Council
(March 25th) in New York City, were three Rotary International
The 37th annual convention convenes
in Atlantic City, N. J., U.S.A. with 46 countries represented; passed
legislation making it possible for a member qualified for senior active
member ship in his own club to be elected to the same kind of member
ship in another club in event he should move to another community.
Taking office on July 1st, President
Richard C. Hedke called
upon Rotarians everywhere to give special emphasis to Rotary's
unusual opportunities in the rich fields of vocational and international
funds in the amount of $10,000 allocated for relief of war-affected
Translations of Rotary literature into Hindi and Urdu (languages of
Coincident with the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in
October, Rotary clubs in hundreds of cities observe United Nations
World-wide plan of Rotary
Foundation Fellowships announced
comprising awards for one year's advanced study in another country
(other than country of student's residence). Purpose: To give practical
aid to potential leaders with qualifications which will equip them to
make outstanding contributions to the advancement of international
understanding, goodwill, and peace.'
the Rotary fiscal year (July 1, 1946-June 30, 1947) 418 new clubs were
established in 44 countries. Of these 418 clubs, 70 were re-established
clubs in Europe and Asia.
Additional clubs that had been disbanded in Axis-dominated countries are
readmitted to membership: in Luxembourg, Malayan Union, Greece, Burma,
Hong Kong, Siam, Nether lands Indies, and Trieste.
Hardly had the world stepped from the old year
into the new, than Rotarians everywhere were shocked to hear of the passing
of Founder Paul P. Harris in Chicago (January
27) at the age of 79. He had lived to see his idea take root, grow
and blossom into a great organization with more than 6,000 clubs in more
than seventy-five countries, with 300,000 members embracing men of many
political and religious beliefs' all within his lifetime.
step taken by the Board of Directors of Rotary International to comply
with mandate of the 1938 convention to issue call to clubs throughout
world to raise two million dollars for the Rotary Foundation. The
response was immediate and gratifying. The Foundation Campaign was on
taken to readmit clubs from Italy and duplicate charters are issued by
Rotary International; old District 46 (Italy) is reconstituted. Thus
Italy becomes first of former Axis countries to be readmitted to the
Rotary family of nations.
International named by Economic and Social Council as one of official
consultative non-governmental agencies to cooperate with the United
Nations in the development of pub-
opinion and the dissemination of information, as provided for by Article
71 of the U.N. Charter.
The 38th annual convention convenes in
San Francisco, Calif.,
U.S.A., with 55 countries and geographical regions represented. A total
number of 14,678 Rotarians and guests were in attendance'by far the
largest attendance at any Rotary convention.
Rotary Foundation Fellowship plan, 21 Fellow ships are awarded for the
coming scholastic year.
total of 804 Rotary clubs throughout Ibero America is reached with the
signing of the charter of the new club at Patos, Brazil.
Rotary enters another new
geographical region with
a club in Macao (Eastern Asia).
Contributions to the Rotary Foundation bring the total amount received
to June 23 to $1,775,000 of the $2,000,000 set as the goal.
Rotary Foundation Fellowship plan, 40 fellow ships are awarded for the
scholastic year 1948-49, to students from 12 different countries, who
will study at 26 institutions of higher learning in 11 countries other
than their own.
The first international convention to be held in
the Southern Hemisphere convenes in Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil, with 7,511 paid
registrations, plus 594 guests sixteen years of age and under; the total
attendance representing 37 countries and geographical regions. Angus
S. Mitchell, ofMelbourne,
president of R. I. The convention is addressed by the president of
Brazil. Principal language spoken'Portuguese.
European Advisory Committee, in existence before the war, is reactivated
under the name of European, North African and Eastern
Mediterranean Advisory Committee.'
Committee on rewriting the constitutional documents of R. I. completes
its work and reports to the Board of Directors of R. I.
mandate of San Francisco convention (1947) three plans for selecting the
nominee for president of R. I. are submitted to Rotary clubs for study.
A committee is appointed to select the plan to be presented to the 1949
is My Business,' an attractively bound book of 140 pages, is published
for distribution to the individual Rotarian. This book explains in
practical and forceful terms what vocational service means'a definite
step toward a better under standing of this most important phase of
on U.N. by Rotary International,' first published, each month
presenting a balanced picture of current developments
United Nations, for distribution to Rotary clubs throughout the world.
Translated into Spanish for clubs in Ibero-America.
of 23 June, 1948:
Total number of Rotary
Of the 484 clubs whose
charters were cancelled as the result of the war, 278 have been
readmitted to membership in R.I.
(From July 1, 1947 to June
23, 1948'323 clubs were established in 85 countries. Of these 323 clubs,
28 were re-established clubs in Europe and Asia.)
to Rotary" was published and copyright by A. Kroch and Son, Chicago.
Adolph Kroch owned a book store in Chicago. Paul Harris must have known
Adolph since he signed a
copy of the book as a
member of "Chicago #1."
an Austrian immigrant, opened a small German language bookstore in
Chicago in 1907. Later, during World War I, he began selling
English-language books, an endeavor that proved so successful he
eventually abandoned the German volumes. By
the mid-1930s, A. Kroch & Co. owned and operated three
bookstores in the city. (see a related story about Adolph's son below)
See story about Paul's check
to Kroch Book Store for
$4.25 in 1943 and other Harris signatures
ITHACA, N.Y. -- Carl A.
Kroch, a legendary bookseller who was a foremost benefactor of Cornell
University, died March 6 of natural causes at his home in Chicago. He
A 1935 graduate of
Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences, Kroch served as a presidential
councillor. In 1982 he endowed the position of Carl A. Kroch University
Librarian, one of the first such endowed positions in the nation. In
1991 he provided the principal gift of $10 million for the construction
of the $25 million Carl A. Kroch Library, which houses Cornell Library's
renowned Asia Collections and Rare and Manuscript Collections.
Named a "hero of American culture" by the Library of Congress in 1986,
Kroch shaped modern bookselling perhaps more than any other individual
in the United States. In a career that spanned more than 50 years, he
transformed his family's Chicago bookstores into Kroch's &Brentano's --
at one time the largest privately owned bookstore chain in the United
States. He also pioneered many of the concepts in book display and store
design that are common throughout the industry.
Kroch was born into the world of books. His father, Adolph,
an Austrian immigrant, opened a small German language bookstore in
Chicago in 1907. Later, during World War I, he began selling
English-language books, an endeavor that proved so successful he
eventually abandoned the German volumes. By
the mid-1930s, A. Kroch & Co. owned and operated three
bookstores in the city.
See Paul's check
to Kroch Book Store for
$4.25 in 1943