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Title: Take It From Dad
Author: Livermore, George G.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Take It From Dad" ***

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  New York
  _All rights reserved._

  COPYRIGHT, 1920,

  Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1920.


     LYNN, MASS.

     _September 25, 19--_


Your letter asking me if I think you are a failure at school, and
wanting to know whether I can give you a job in the factory, came this

"Yes," to the first, and, "I can but I won't" to the second. I didn't
send you to Exeter to have you leave in a week; and as for the factory,
I guess it can stagger along a couple of years more without you,
although I sure do appreciate your wanting to work. It's so different
from anything else you have ever wanted, and as Lew Dockstader once
said, "Variety is the spice of vaudeville."

Sure, Exeter is a rotten place in the fall, when it rains eight days a
week, and there's nothing except soggy leaves and mud everywhere, and a
continuously weeping sky that's about as cheerful as the Germans at the
peace table. You don't know any one well enough yet to say three words
to, and your teachers seem to be playing a continual run of luck, by
always calling on you for the part of the lesson you haven't learned.

Sure it's rotten; not Exeter, but what's the matter with you. It begins
with an "h" and ends with a "k," but like other diseases, lockjaw
excepted, and you'll never have that anyway, it's just as well to catch
it young and get it over with.

Then, too, I guess you're beginning to realize that the leader of the
Lynn High School Glee Club and left end of the football team isn't so
big a frog, after all, when he gets into a puddle with five hundred
other boys, most of whom never heard of Lynn.

Your learning this young is a blessing which you don't appreciate now.
I had to wait until I took that trip to Binghamton with the Masons.
I'd thought till then I was some pumpkins of a shoemaker grinding out
eight thousand pairs a day, eleven with two shifts, but when I moseyed
through Welt & Toplift's and saw them make fifty thousand pairs without
batting an eye, I realized I had been looking at myself through the
wrong end of the telescope.

Say, Ted, did I ever tell you about the time your grandfather and
grandmother went to the Philadelphia Exposition and left me at Uncle

You never saw Uncle Nate; but I don't know as you need feel peeved
about it. Anyway, Uncle Nate had whiskers like a Bolshevik, and
catarrh. He was a powerful conscientious man, except in a horse dicker,
when he shed his religion like a snake does his skin.

Uncle Nate lived over at Epping Four Corners, six miles from our farm,
and owing to his judgment of horse flesh he was about as popular there
as General Pershing would be at a Red meeting.

I landed at Uncle Nate's at noon, and by six o'clock he had asked me
four times if I was a good boy, and I could tell by the look in his eye
that he'd ask me that a dozen times more before I went to bed.


Along about seven it began to grow dark and I began to miss my mother.
Uncle Nate sat in a rocking chair in the dining room with his feet on
the stove, chewing fine cut and reading a farm journal, and I sat in a
small chair with my feet on the floor, reading the "Pruno Almanac" and
chewing my fingers.

He said nothing, and I said the same. After a while I got so blame
lonesome I stole out on the back steps and stood there wishing I was
dead or in jail, or something equally pleasant.

Gosh all hemlock! I was homesick. Then I remembered Sandy, our
hired man, was still at the farm. I pointed my nose toward home and
skedaddled and, believe me, I went some until I hit the woods just
below the intervale, where the wind was soughing through those tall
pines like invisible fingers plucking on Old Nick's harp. It sure was
the lonesomest place I had ever been in; but the thought of Uncle Nate
drove me on until I came to where the old Shaker graveyard runs down
close to the road.

I'd forgotten the graveyard until just as I got up to it a white,
shapeless figure jumped into the road and ran toward me, waving its

Old Von Kluck did a turning movement before Paris; but he had nothing
on me. I turned and, believe me, son, I went back to Uncle Nate's so
fast I almost met myself coming away. I slid into the house like a dog
that's just come from killing sheep and found the old gentleman asleep
in his chair.

When he awoke he said I'd been a good boy not to disturb his nap, and
he gave me a nickel, which surprised me so I almost refused it.

After that we were great pals, and I actually hated to leave him when
the folks got home.

Cheer up, Ted, you'll like the school better before long, and try
learning all your lessons instead of only part; you can fool a lot of
teachers that way.

One thing more, don't write any doleful letters to your Ma just now.
I'm planning a surprise trip with her to the White Mountains for our
twenty-first wedding anniversary, and if you go butting in on her good
time I'll tan you good. No, I won't, I'll stop your allowance for a
month. That'll hurt worse.

     Your affectionate father,


P. S.--I forgot to tell you the ghost I met by the graveyard was a
half-wit who had escaped from Danvers in his nightshirt. They caught
him the next morning, in a tree on the common, where he sat singing
songs, thinking he was a canary.


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _September 30, 19--_


So your roommate is a ham, is he? Well, if he is, you're in luck. Ham
is selling for fifty cents a pound in Lynn and is going up.

Time was when ham was looked down upon as the poor man's meat, but now,
when there are no poor except professional men and shoe manufacturers,
his pigship has come into his own.

Seriously, Ted, I didn't care much for your last letter, it left a
taste in my mouth like castor oil. I've got a pretty good idea of the
appearance and general make-up of that "ham" of yours, and I'm laying
myself a little bit of a lunch at the Touraine next time I'm in Boston,
against reading one of your Ma's new books on the Ethical Beliefs of
the Brahmins I'm right.

Comes from a small town in Kansas. Never been fifty miles away from
home before, and would have taken the next train back after the frigid
reception you gave him if he had had the price, and the old folks out
there weren't betting on him to make good. Wears half-mast pants,
draped with fringe at the bottom, and the sleeves of his coat seem to
be racing each other to his elbows, and for general awkwardness he'd
make a St. Bernard puppy look as graceful as Irene Castle.

You're at an age now, Ted, when you know so much more than you ever
will again, it would be presumptuous for me to offer any advice.

Advice is the most beautiful exponent known of the law of supply and
demand. No one wants it, that's why so much of it is always being
passed around free. A man will give you a dollar's worth of advice when
he'd let you starve for a nickel. But while I think of it, I want to
tell you of something that happened at the Academy the year your Uncle
Ted was there. That fall there blew into school a rawboned youth from
the depths of Aroostook, Maine. He tucked his jean trousers in high
cowhide boots, wore red flannel underwear, and spent most of his time
stumbling over some one else's feet when he couldn't trip over his own.
The school was full, and the only vacant place was the other half of
Ted's room, so the faculty planted him there. Ted made him about as
welcome as a wood pussy at a lawn party, for at the time he was badly
bitten by the society bug and thought a backwoodsman roommate would
queer him with the club he wanted to make. For a week Ted was as nasty
to his new roomie as possible, hoping he'd get sick of his company and
seek other quarters. Apparently Aroostook never noticed a thing. Just
went on in his awkward way, and the nastier Ted got, the more quiet he

On the night of the president's reception Ted hurried back to his
room to dress, filled with pride and prunes. Pride because of a
brand-new dress suit he had bought with an unexpected check dad had
absent-mindedly sent him, and prunes because supper at the place he
boarded consisted mostly of that rare fruit. When Ted opened the door
his roommate was greasing his cowhide boots, and wearing an air of
general expectancy.

Ted brushed by him into the bedroom, and changed into his dress suit,
his mind delightfully full of his lovely raiment and the queen of the
town belles he had persuaded to accompany him.

At last, hair slicked and clothes immaculate, he rushed out into the
study where his roomie stood, evidently waiting for him.

"Guess I'll walk along with you, Ted, if you don't mind?" Aroostook
said. "I cal'late this reception thing is a right smart way to get to
know folks."

"In those clothes?" Ted asked with biting sarcasm, delightfully
oblivious of the fact that he was wearing evening clothes for the
first time. Ted says he hates to remember the look that came into his
roommate's eyes at his remark. The sort of a look a friendly pup has
when he wags himself to your feet only to receive a kick instead of the
expected pat.

His roommate did not reply, and furious at himself for having spoken
as he did, and also afraid of the guying he might have to stand for
his roommate's appearance, Ted walked silently down the stairs beside
him. At the door he shot another venomous arrow by hurrying off in an
opposite direction, exclaiming, "Well, you can't go with me anyhow! I'd
stay home if I were you. I don't think you'll enjoy yourself."

Basking under the smiles of his fair lady, Ted walked by her side
to the reception, pouring into her ears the story of his ridiculous
roommate, and she, as heartless a young miss as ever lived, made Ted
promise to introduce her so she and her friends might enjoy him at
close quarters.

After a few dances Ted spied his victim leaning awkwardly against a
pillar in the gym, and looking about as much at ease as a boy who's
been eating green apples.

Ted introduced his partner, and in five minutes his roommate was
surrounded by a bevy of town beauties. Boys are cruel as young savages,
but for sheer, downright, wanton cruelty give me the thoughtless girl
of seventeen. That precious crew let him try to dance with them, mocked
and guyed him when he stumbled over their feet or stepped on their
dresses, and poked so much fun at him that at last he left the hall,
his face flaming, and his eyes wet with tears of mortification.

Little beast that Ted was, he took upon himself great credit for his
humiliation and acted like a perfect cad for the rest of the evening,
starting delighted giggles whenever possible by brilliant remarks about
his backwoodsman.

Later, as Ted and his fair companion were walking down Main Street on
the way to her home, they met a little rat-eyed "townie" by the name of
Dick Cooke whom Ted had thrashed a week before, for trying to steal his
coat from a locker in the gym. He made an insulting remark to the girl
and started to run. Seeing, as Ted believed, a cheap chance to play the
hero, he piled after him. He only went a few feet, then turned and from
out of the shadows of one of those old houses, four of his cronies lit
into Ted.

Ted went down with a crash, his head hitting the sidewalk so hard he
saw stars. Then he heard a shout, "Stick it out, Ted, I'm coming!"
There was a rush of heavy feet and spat, spat, spat, came the sound of
bare fists landing where they were aimed.

When Ted struggled to his feet his gawky roommate was standing beside
him, and the "townies" were tearing down the street as though Old Nick
himself were after them.

Ted didn't make a long speech of apology for his meanness to his
roommate. It's only in stories a boy does that, but, believe me, he
treated him differently.

And, would you believe it, in less than two months Aroostook was wading
through the Andover line as if it were so much knitting yarn, and at
mid-year Ted was taken into the Plata Dates on the sole recommendation
of being his roommate.

A fellow by the name of Burns once said, "Rank is but the guinea's
stamp"; now, I don't know much about guineas, but what I do know is
that the grain on a side of sole leather don't tell the whole story.
It's the sound, clean, close-knit fibers underneath that make it figure

Son, there's going to be a place at our Sunday dinner table for that
"ham" of yours. Bring him home. I've a notion it's sweet pickle he
needs to be cured in, not sour.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _October, 2, 19--_


You could; but I wouldn't. If you go to the principal and tell him a
senior sold you the wall paper in your room, he'd get your money back
for you; and you'd get interest with it, not the six per cent kind
either; but a guying from the whole school, and probably the nickname
of "Wally", that would stick to you closer for the rest of your life
than that paper stuck to your wall.

You seemed surprised that any one who talked so nicely and seemed
such a likeable, jovial sort of good fellow, would flim-flam you like
that. Let me tell you right here, that the easy talkers and jolly good
fellows, are the ones you want to watch in business sharper than an old
maid watches her neighbors.

The short worded man I'll listen to, for he condenses all he has to
say, and is usually worth hearing. But when one of your slick word
wrestlers gets by the outer guard, and begins filling my office with
clouds of rosy talk of how I'll soon have John D. shining my shoes if
I'll only buy goods of him, I slip my wallet into my hip pocket and
lean back on it, while I make signs to Mike to clear a path to the door.

Honestly, Ted, I'm glad you bought that wall paper. The male human is
so constituted that he has got to make at least one fool investment
during his life and it's just as well to get it out of your system
early. If I were you, I'd write that six dollars down in my expense
book as spent in a worthy cause, for it may save you from some day
buying stock in the Panama Canal, or a controlling interest in the
Brooklyn Bridge.

Speaking of fool buys, naturally reminds me of the time your Ma and
I were boarding with your Aunt Maria over in Saugus. We'd just been
married, and I was spending my days bossing the sole leather room in
Clough & Spinney's, and my nights in trying to figure how the fellow
who said two can live as cheaply as one got his answer.

Your Aunt Maria was a good woman, but so tight she squeaked, and when
she let go of a dollar the eagle usually left his tail feathers behind.

Aunt Maria, in my estimation, was the most unlikely prospect in the
whole of Massachusetts, for a book agent, but one day a slick specimen
representing, "The Heroines of English Literature," blew into her
parlor, and when he left he had fifty dollars, in cash mind you, of her
money, and an order for a set of twenty volumes.

The next day, when she had somewhat recovered from the effects of her
severe gassing; and had begun to think of that fifty, lost forever, her
mouth looked as though she had been eating green persimmons, and she
was about as amicable as a former heavy weight champion just after he
has lost his title.

For a month we had so many baked bean suppers, your Ma and I began to
wonder if she had bought the world's supply, and took to accepting
invitations from people we didn't like.

Now Aunt Maria in spite of her closeness, was some punkins in Saugus
society. She was president of the Sewing Circle, and a strenuous leader
in the Eastern Star, and one Saturday afternoon about six weeks after
she had invested in, "The Heroines of English Literature," the Sewing
Circle was holding a meeting in her parlor, while I was in the dining
room trying to figure out a trip to the Isle of Shoals for your Ma and

After they had got through shooting to pieces the reputation of the
absent members, and had guzzled their tea, one of the bunch spied
"The Heroines" on a little side table where Aunt Maria had installed
them upon their arrival. Out of sheer curiosity, the crowd fell upon
them with cackles of delight, and to make themselves solid with their
president, praised the books to the sky.

Aunt Maria saw a great light; and before her guests left she had sold
them enough sets so that the commissions from the publishers more
than made up her fifty dollars, and as a special favor to her dearest
friend she delivered her own set to her then and there. For a time,
after that, "The Heroines" were the most popular reading matter that
ever hit Saugus. Popular with the women, I mean, for the men figured
Aunt Maria's epidemic of literature cost them a good many new suits of
clothes, and the village watch dogs almost went on a strike, because
there were so many collectors coming around after partial payments it
was hard for a dog to tell whether they were tramps or new members of
his family.


Which all goes to prove that even a poor buy may sometimes be turned
into a good account. Now you can draw some, Ted, or at least your
teacher said you could, when he pried a hundred dollars out of me for
pictures to decorate the high school.

I told him you could overdraw your allowance all right, but he insisted
you had true technique, whatever that is, so I loosened up.

Why not try a little freehand stuff on your newly acquired wall paper!
You might start a fad like Aunt Maria did, that would stamp you as one
of the school weisenheimers, and by the way if the boy who sold you the
wall paper isn't going to college tell him I'd like to see him some
day. I'll need a cub salesman in the Middle West, next summer, and I
don't like to see so much natural ability going to waste.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _October 15, 19--_


There have been farmers and doctors and lawyers and preachers in the
Soule family, and, in the old days, I believe we boasted of a pirate
and a highwayman or two, but no artists, and I'd rather you didn't
break the record.

Am glad though the faculty didn't fire you, for carrying out that fool
suggestion of mine of decorating the other boy's wall paper. Fifteen
rooms is going some Ted, and the $30.00 you received will come in real
handy to pay for new school books, won't it?

After you've been tried here in the factory, to prove whether you
can ever be made into a shoe manufacturer, and we decide you can't;
I have no objection to your joining the grave diggers union, or
driving a garbage cart, but as for your being an artist, you haven't a
chance. Your Ma says I am prejudiced against artists because they are
temperamental, but so far as I can see the accent must all be on the
first part of the word for I never knew one who had brains enough to
make a living.

You remember Percy Benson, son of old man Benson who lived on Ocean
Street, don't you? Well, Percy was a promising youngster until he
began to draw the cover designs of the high school Clarion, although I
told his father when he was born that the name Percy was too much of a
handicap for any kid to carry successfully. The old man allowed he'd
never heard of a shoe manufacturer with that name but said, "The boy's
Ma got it out of a book she'd been reading and that settled it." and
knowing Mrs. Benson I guess he was right.


As I was saying, Percy did real well until he started drawing covers
for the high school paper. After these had been accepted he swelled
up like a pouter pigeon and nothing would do but he must go abroad to
study. His father kicked like a steer; but in the end Percy and his
mother prevailed, and Lynn lost sight of him for a few years.

For a time, I used to ask the old man how Percy was getting along with
his painting, but as he always changed the subject to the leather
market, I soon quit. One day after Percy had been gone about three
years, I came home early and found your Ma holding a tea fight in the

After balancing a cup on my knees without spilling more than half of
its contents, and getting myself so smeared with the frosting of the
cake I was supposed to eat that I'd have given ten dollars for a shower
bath, the conversation lulled, and remembering your Ma had told me I
never talked enough in society, I asked Mrs. Benson how Percy was doing.

Ted it tickled her most to pieces, and she opened up a barrage of
technique, color, fore-shortening, and high lights, winding up with the
astonishing fact that one of Percy's pictures had been hung in a saloon.

I was gasping for breath like a marathon runner at the end of the
twenty-third mile, but your Ma was all smiles so I thought I must be
making a hit.

That's where I went wrong, and while you're about it Ted just paste
this in your hat for future reference. When you begin to be pleased
with yourself you're in as much danger as a fat boy running tiddelies
on early November ice.

As saloon was the only word in the Benson cannonade that I understood,
I replied when the bombardment was over.

"Glad to hear it, I'm sure. If the French brewers are paying him for
pictures to hang in their saloons, he should be able to paint some
snappy clothing ads for American manufacturers before long."

Mrs. Benson choked, gasped, strangled, and grew so red in the face I
thought she was going to have apoplexy. Then she bounded out of her
chair with one word, "insulting," and made for the door with your Ma
one jump behind, imploring her to stay.

When your Ma returned, I learned saloon was the French word for picture
gallery, and that my society stock had gone down like an aviator in a
nose dive.

About a year later Old Man Benson busted trying to flood the retailers
with bronze kid boots, and it was a real honest-to-goodness failure.
The old man was wiped out and Percy came home from Paris.

One morning I was over at the Benson's factory along with a bunch of
other creditors. The meeting had hardly got under way, when Percy
entered in a cloud of cigarette smoke, and with a breath that made me
think the French knew what they were about when they called the place
at which he had been studying Booze Arts.

No one there had much love for Percy, but we all realized his father
was too old to start again and that it was up to Percy to go to work,
for from his general appearance it did not look as though the artist
business was paying any dividends. So as gently as I could, I suggested
he paint the inside of my factory at $25 per. I was pretty sure it was
more than he was worth, but I felt sorry for the old man. Did he take
it? He did not. He gave me one scornful glance and strode out of the
room with the air of an insulted king. Did he go to work? Not much! He
married a waitress at the Dairy Lunch who ought to have known better,
and to-day she is working in the stitching room at Fair Bros. while
Percy spends his days coloring photographs for about ten a week, and
his nights preaching revolution at radical meetings.

Forget the artist stuff Ted, and take a second helping of the education
they pass around so liberally at Exeter. It can't hurt you any, and who
knows but it may do you some good. And by the way if you can spare the
time from your studies (and I guess you can if you try real hard) why
not play a little football?

Your Ma says she's afraid you'll have your brains knocked out, but I
tell her not to worry over the impossible.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _October 21, 19--_


As I was walking down Market Street to the factory the other afternoon,
I overheard two of your old schoolmates refer to me as the father of
the Exeter end.

I'm glad you're on the team, and for the next year or two I don't mind
being the father of a star end, provided you keep it firmly fixed in
your head that it's just as important to keep old Julius Cæsar from
slipping around you for twenty-five yards, as it is to keep the Andover
quarter from running back kicks.

After you go to work, if anyone refers to me as the father of an end,
I'll feel like turning the factory over to the labor unions, because if
there is anything that disgusts a live business man it's to see a young
fellow in business trying to live on a former athletic reputation. Just
you remember, son, that the letter on your sweater fades quickly; but
the letters on a degree last through life.

I didn't care much for that part of your last letter where you said
you were afraid you were not good enough to hold down a regular job
on the team, and I want to go on record right now that if that's the
way you feel about it you're dead right. No man ever succeeded without
confidence in himself, and it don't hurt any to let others know you
have it.

I don't mean boasting. I despise above all else a person who is in
love. That is, with himself, but as yet I have never heard of a
scientific organization of bushel raisers, so it won't do you a bit of
harm to let a little of your light shine forth now and then.

And, Ted, go out on the field every day with the idea that you're
better than the average as a football player, and when you get a kick
in the ribs or have your wind knocked out, come up with a grin and go
back at 'em harder than before.

Play to win, Ted, but play clean. Your coach doesn't tolerate dirty
football, and I don't tolerate dirty business. Play nothing except
football on the football field, do nothing except study in your class
rooms, and when you go to work, work in business hours. If you stick to
that prescription you'll come out with a pretty fair batting average at
the end of your life.

You say that if you play in the Andover game you'll be up against an
opponent who will out-weigh you fifteen pounds. Don't let that worry
you. No less a person than the great Lanky Bob said, "The bigger they
are the 'arder they fall." All through your life you will be running
up against men who are bigger than you physically, mentally, and in a
business way, so it's just as well to get used to the fact while you're

Your dreading your bigger opponent reminds me of something that
happened to me when I was about your age.

In those days the Annual Cattle and Poultry Show held at Epping was
quite the event of our social season, and the one thing all the people
looked forward to, for months.

This particular year I had been saving my money a nickle here and a
dime there, for your grandfather was determined none of his children
should grow up to be spendthrifts, and would turn over in his grave if
he knew the allowance I give you.

You needn't tell your Ma this, but in those days I was sweet on Alice
Hopkins who was the belle of the town, and after much careful planning
and skillful maneuvering had wrung an ironclad promise from her to let
me escort her to the show, and I was pretty sure she would keep it,
for somehow she got wind of the fact that I had all of $10 to spend
which was considerably more than any of her other swains had managed to
accumulate. My father loaned me his best buggy for the occasion, and I
spent the entire afternoon before the great day washing and polishing
it, and grooming our bay mare until she shone; and believe me, I was
some punkins in my own estimation when I drove up to Alice's house the
next morning and she rustled in beside me in a new pink dress.

As we rolled along the river road, the mist rising white from the
marshes, the brilliant splashes of color on the sumac and maples, the
autumn tang of the crisp September air, and Alice looking prettier each
minute at my side, all made my thoughts turn toward a rosy future in
which she and I would ride on and on. I was oblivious of the fact that
my entire capital consisted of a spavined colt and the ten dollars in
my pocket, and that I had about as much chance of gaining my parents'
consent to marry, as a German has of being unanimously elected the
first president of the League of Nations.

Alice, I found after I had hitched the horse to the rail in the maple
grove inside the fair grounds, had no such vague ideas. She had the
curiosity of a savage, the digestion of an ostrich, and the greed of
a miser. At her prompting we drank pink lemonade, ate frankfurters at
every booth, and saw all the side shows, from the bearded lady and the
blue monkey to the wild man from Borneo and the marvel who could write
with his toes. At times I protested feebly, as my supply of dollars
dwindled, but Alice would pout prettily and guide me gently by the
elbow to the ticket seller, and then almost before I knew it another
quarter had been squandered.

At noon, I remembered the nice box of luncheon my mother had put up for
us and which I left under the buggy seat, but Alice tossed her head
and marched smack into the dining tent where a sloppy greasy meal was
served at a dollar a plate.

I followed meekly, groaning inwardly, for all I had left was three
dollars, but trying to console myself with the reflection that after
all the candy and popcorn, and frankfurters, and pink lemonade, and
with a regular country dinner besides, Alice couldn't eat much in the
afternoon and my wallet would get a rest while we watched the races.

On our way over to the track, after dinner, I noticed a group of men
and boys clustered about a placard which read, "Wrestling Tournament
For Boys Under Eighteen." Now I was the champion wrestler of the
village for I was big and strong for my age and quick as a cat, and
when we drew near and I saw a prize of $10 was offered to the winner,
I felt that there was a chance to retrieve my fallen fortunes and get
the necessary wherewithal to feed Alice throughout the afternoon if her
inclinations still ran in that direction.

The judges entered me in the second group, the winner of which was to
wrestle the winner of the first group for the championship. The second
group was composed of boys all of whom I had defeated, and all of whom
promptly withdrew when I entered. Two contestants remained in the first
group, a great hulking farm boy, Caleb Henry, whom I had beaten the
only time we had ever met, but only after a severe struggle on my part,
and a little undersized shrimp of a fellow who looked half scared to
death and whom I was sure I could lick with one arm.


Hoping that by some miracle the little chap might win, for I had no
hankering for a severe struggle with Caleb, I escorted Alice over to a
seat beside the track and was overjoyed on my return to find my hopes
had been fulfilled.

As I threw off my coat and advanced with overflowing confidence toward
the little unknown, he looked smaller and more insignificant than ever,
and my head was so filled with the thoughts of the heaps of ice cream
I could buy for Alice with the $10 prize money that I grappled my
antagonist carelessly, and the next minute was giving a very creditable
imitation of a pinwheel as I flew through the air lighting on the
back of my neck, the little fellow sitting on my chest and pinning my
shoulders to the grass.

I spat out a mouthful of dirt and struggled to my feet. One of the legs
of my Sunday pants was ripped clear to the knee, and one shirt sleeve
was torn off. Again we grappled, and again I was thrown as quickly as

Sore with defeat, I pulled on my coat and limped away with the jeers of
the crowd echoing in my ears. Alice was not where I had left her, and
after a half an hour's search I found her in a booth eating ice cream
with Jim Davis, a hated rival who promptly informed me she had promised
to ride home with him.

Rats, you know, Ted, leave a ship under certain conditions. Yes, I got
a licking from my father when I reached home for spoiling my Sunday
suit. A corker it was, too, with a hickory branch.

Oh! I forgot to say the little fellow who threw me so hard was the
Champion Lightweight of New England.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _October 26, 19--_


If you imagine I've been wringing tears out of my handkerchief, and
wearing crepe on my hat since I got your last letter, you're as
mistaken as the Kaiser was when he started out to lick the world.

To tell the truth, Ted, I had to wipe a number eleven smile off my face
when I reached the part about the seniors making you moan like new mown

From the way you have been strutting around Lynn the past few months,
I rather expected there was something coming to you, so I wasn't
surprised to learn you'd collected it, for things are so arranged in
this world that people usually get what is due them, whether it's a
million dollars or Charlestown.

Some persons claim hazing is brutal. Maybe some kinds are; but your
handwriting seems pretty firm in your last letter, especially in the
part where you ask for an extra $10, so I guess you have not suffered
any great damage. Personally, I have always maintained that hazing, if
not carried too far, is the greatest little head reducer on the market,
and it doesn't cost a dollar a bottle, war tax extra, either.

Perhaps it is not in keeping with the lordly dignity of your advanced
years, to furnish entertainment for your schoolmates by fighting five
rounds with your shadow, or asking your girl to go to a dance over an
imaginary telephone. You should remember, however, that your turn will
come with the new boys next fall, and you've got a long time ahead in
which to think up original stunts.

Every time hazing is mentioned it reminds me of Sammy Smead and the
Brothers of Mystery. I can't remember ever having told you about the
Brothers, or Sammy either, for that matter, and as I have a few minutes
before starting for the 10:30 to Boston, here goes!

Sammy was the son of old Isaac Smead, sole owner of the Eureka Wooden
Ware factory in Epping. As old Isaac could smell a dollar farther
than a buzzard can a dead cow, and as he had in early life developed
a habit of collecting farm mortgages, which in those days were about
as easy to pay off as the national debt of Germany, he waxed sleek and
prospered mightily, until at the time about which I write, he was not
only Epping's wealthiest resident, but also a selectman, pillar in the
Second Church, president of the bank, and general grand high mogul of

Sammy was the old man's only child, and knew it. He wore velvet pants:
and patent leather shoes in the summer when all the other boys were
barefooted; but his most heinous crime as I remembered it, was the
round white starched collar he used to wear over the collar of his

Sammy's mother did what she could to spoil him. At that she didn't have
to put in any overtime, for he was about as willing a subject, as could
possibly have been found.

Those were the days, when any quantity of fraternal societies were
coming into existence, and as Epping was a town where not more than
five persons ever agreed on any one subject, it was a mighty good
territory for new lodges.

Naturally, with all the men joining the Amalgamated Brotherhood of
Clodhoppers, and the order of Husbandmen, and the women scrambling
over each other in a bargain counter rush to be charter members of the
Sisters of Ceres, we boys thought we had something coming to us in the
way of a secret society, so we gathered in Fatty Ferguson's barn one
afternoon, and banded ourselves into the Brothers of Mystery. Fatty
Ferguson being the proud possessor of a discarded uniform once worn by
a member of the Epping Cornet Band, was elected Grand Exalted Ruler,
and I was made Keeper of the Sacred Seal, although my chance of doing
business, depended on our improbable capture of such an animal, which
we planned to keep in Fred Allen's duck pond.

The editor of the Epping Bugle printed some red silk badges for us to
pin on our coats, and the Brothers were ready. At first, we attracted
considerable attention at school by our badges, elaborate handclasps,
and whispered passwords whenever two of the Brothers chanced to meet.
As all the boys in our neighbourhood were members, with the exception
of Sammy Smead, the novelty soon passed.

Now Sammy had everything we boys had, and a good many things we hadn't,
but like everyone else in the world, he wanted what he hadn't which at
that particular time, was a full-fledged membership in the Brothers.

Sammy, needless to say, had not been excluded from our select circle
by chance, and it is doubtful if he would ever have become a member,
if his mother, who was High Priestess of the Sisters of Ceres, had not
found out that her darling had been left out in the cold.

She straightway called upon my mother, who having designs on an office
on the Executive Board of the Sisters, passed the word along to me that
if I wanted a new sled for Christmas, it would be well to see that
Sammy was made a Brother.

Sammy being about as popular with the Brothers as sulphur and molasses,
I was howled down when I proposed his name at a meeting, until I had a
happy thought, that as all the Brothers were charter members, we had
had no initiations.

The idea of initiating Sammy, instantly became tremendously popular,
and he was duly informed that he had been elected a member, and was
told to report at our barn at three o'clock the next afternoon.


Did Sammy show up? He did, velvet pants, patent leather shoes, white
collar and all. Only a circus could have kept him away.

We blindfolded him, and put him through a course of sprouts in the
barn, including making him ride a pig bareback around the floor, and
walk the plank which was a beam above the hay mow, and to which he hung
like a cat, squalling and whimpering, until Skinny Mason stepped on his
fingers and made him let go.

Having exhausted the resources of the barn, we marched him out into the
yard planning to hang him by the heels from a tree, when to our delight
we discovered a two-wheeled iron barrel of tar, which the workman who
had been mending our driveway, had left uncovered when he knocked off
for the day.

Instinctively, we marched Sammy up to the tar barrel, and I liberally
daubed his hateful and, wonderful to relate, still clean collar with
its contents, taking more pains to get it on his collar, than to keep
it off his clothes. It was hard work, for the tar was lukewarm and
naturally heavy; but I was making a pretty good job of it, when I heard
Fred Allen yell, "Look Out!"


I turned just in time, and saw charging full tilt across the yard my
old billy goat. The Brothers scattered in all directions, but Sammy who
was blindfolded and did not sense his danger, stood patiently waiting
his fate. Billy struck him squarely amidships, and Sammy leaving his
feet, described a beautiful curve in the air, and landed head first in
the tar barrel, just as his mother, who had been visiting my mother,
stepped out on the porch to see how her darling was enjoying himself
with his little playmates.

I only mentioned Sammy, to show you that you got off easy. The next
time you are called upon to perform, do whatever is asked willingly.
There's no fun in making a person do what he wants to do, and if you
show no great indignation at doing a few tricks, you'll soon be let
alone. Don't try to be funny, if you succeed you will have to give
encores, and I take it that is not what you are after.

     Your affectionate father,


P. S. I did not get a sled; but I did saw three cords of wood, stove

     LYNN, MASS.,
     _October 30, 19--_


Somehow the price of cut soles is worrying me more, just now, than the
fact that you have not been elected to one of the school clubs.

I realize that your not making one of the school clubs yet, is a
terrible tragedy in your young life; but I feel as though you are going
to survive, and perhaps you will be elected to one after all. I've
found it a pretty good rule, not to figure a shipment of shoes a total
loss even when the jobber writes that he's returning them, and if I
were you I wouldn't borrow trouble until it's necessary. Trouble is the
easiest thing in the world to borrow, and about the hardest to discount
at the bank.

Maybe it's just as well you are having your touch of society chills and
fever young, for it may save you from making a bigger fool of yourself
later on. No one minds a young fool much, but an old one is about as
sad an object as a Louisville distiller attending a Supreme Court
decision on the prohibition law.

Society is all right, some of it; but just because you eat dessert at
the end of your dinner, is no reason why you should make a meal of it.
A little society, like the colic, goes a long way, and you want to
remember that a man, like a piece of sole leather, usually figures out
to what he is.

Burns, not Frankie the lightweight, but Bobbie who used to edit the
Edinborough Daily Blade, back in the days when freshmen wore whiskers
and plug hats, hit the nail on the head when he said, "A man's a man,
for a' that."

I'll never forget when Aunt Carrie caught the society fever, nor will
she. It was a couple of years before I was married, and it didn't make
me want to postpone having a home of my own, although it did influence
me to choose a girl who was society proof.

After your Grandmother Soule died, Carrie ran our old house and was
doing a pretty good job of it, until Algernon Smiley came to Epping as
principal of the grammar school. Algernon wore spectacles, a lisp, and
long hair, and he could spout more poetry than a gusher well can oil.
At that, he was a harmless sort of insect, if the girls of the town
hadn't taken him seriously.

Algernon was a graduate of Harvard, and the only thing I ever had
against that university. It didn't take him long to discover there was
no real society in Epping, and not being at all backward about coming
forward when he had anything to say, Carrie and her girl friends soon
had the same idea. Now Epping had staggered along over two hundred
years without the help of society, and was doing quite well thank you,
with its church sociables, bean suppers, and candy pulls, until Algy
butted in.

Everything we did was all wrong. "There was no culture," and having the
hearty backing of all the girls he set out to culturate us. His first
offense was a series of lectures, but after the young men had listened
to him rave about the art of Early Egyptian Dancing, and the history
of Nothing before Something, they unanimously had previous engagements
when Algy sprang a lecture.


Next Algernon started a Browning Club, which consisted, so near as
I could judge, in his reading a poem, and then everyone in the club
expressing a different opinion as to what the poem meant. It may be
good business for a poet to write a poem no one can understand, but
believe me when I buy a rhyme for a street car ad it's got to be one
every woman will recognize as advertising "The Princess Shoe."

To get back to Algy, after a while the attendance at the Browning clubs
began to get mighty poor, and he had to think up a new scheme to keep
the town from getting decultured. Somehow, the little cuss had scraped
an acquaintance with some pretty solid men on the Harvard faculty, and
he managed to drag several of them up to Epping to deliver lectures,
with the result that the culture business began to show a healthy
growth. Epping was not stupid, it had been bored.

Now while Algy had been trying to culturate Epping, he'd worn
considerable horsehair off the sofa in Farmer Boggs' parlor, sitting
up nights with his daughter Ruby. Ruby was a nice cow-like girl, who
hadn't much to say and proved it when she talked, and as Algy was never
so happy as when he was doing all the talking, he got along with her
fine. Then, too, Pa Boggs owned free and clear the best farm in the
township, and had $15,000 salted away in Boston and Maine stock, and
Algy, for all his culture, wasn't overlooking any bets like those.

Where Algy went wrong, was in patronizing people he thought didn't know
as much as he. Whenever old man Boggs juggled beans with his knife,
Algy would smile upon him so condescendingly the old man would almost
bust with rage; and when Mrs. Boggs said "hain't" he would raise his
eyes as though calling upon heaven to forgive her; but what blew the
lid off came at a Browning Club meeting that Carrie had insisted upon
having at our house.

Algy imported a noted Professor to give a talk on Prehistoric Fish, and
when the great man had finished, we all stood around, the girls telling
him how much they enjoyed it, and the men wishing he would go, so they
could retire to the kitchen and shirt sleeves. Poor Ruby, during a lull
in the general conversation, started the old chestnut about Ben Perkins
the light keeper at Kittery falling down the light house stairs, ending
with, "and you know he had a basket of eggs in one hand, a pitcher of
milk in the other, and when he reached the bottom they had turned into
an omelette. Ain't spinal stairs awful?"

At the word "spinal" the Professor snickered, and Algy who was always
nasty when Ruby made a break, said, "I'm surprised at your ignorance
Ruby: you mean spiral."

Ruby began to cry, and everyone looked uncomfortable. I was hopping
mad. I guess maybe it was the tight patent leather shoes I had on.
Anyway I'd seen about enough of Algy.

"Shut up, you Goat," I snapped at him. "Haven't you brains enough to
know she meant the back stairs!"

Algy claimed he was insulted.

I allowed it wasn't possible.

Then he said he was a fool to have tried to culturize Epping.

I said I reckoned his allowing he was a fool, made it unanimous, and
invited him out in the yard to settle things, although I never could
have hit him, if he had accepted my invitation.

In two weeks Algy left town, and the next fall Ruby married Will Hayes
over at George's Mills, and has been happy ever since.

Ted, I wouldn't think too much about those clubs. There's no use
worrying about what people think of you; probably they don't. You've
only been at Exeter a few weeks, so if I were you I wouldn't jump into
the river yet. Now I'll admit it will please me if you are elected to a
club, but if you aren't, I'm not going to go around with my head bowed
in shame, and neither are you, for ten years from now, no one will be
greatly interested whether you belonged to the Belta Pelts or the Plata
Dates, and above all things don't toady. Eating dirt never got anyone
anything. Look at Russia.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _November 6, 19--_


I'm glad you've been elected to the Plata Dates, if for no other reason
than because now that you have stopped worrying whether you would be,
you will have time to worry about your studies. Don't you fool yourself
that because E stood for excellent at the high school, I don't know
that it stands for Execrable at Exeter. Now you are on the football
team, it's better to have an E on your sweater, than on your report.

I thought when you were elected to the Plata Dates, you would be
bubbling over with joy, but your letters are about as cheerful as a
hearse. The teachers are picking on you, the football coach doesn't
recognize your ability, and even the seniors so far ignore your
presence, by failing to remove their hats and step into the gutter when
you come along.

Whatever you do, don't get sorry for yourself. There's nothing in the
world more silly than a person who is sorry for himself, and the ones
who are, are always the ones who have no cause to be. Now I don't
believe for a minute that the teachers at Exeter have picked you alone,
out of five hundred boys, to jump on; they're too busy, and I guess
your coach's main idea is to get a team together that can lick Andover,
so it might be well, if you are finding people hard to please, to ask
yourself if it's their fault.

If you go into your classrooms with only part of your lessons learned,
you aren't going to fool your teachers very long, and if you go on to
the football field with an air that the coach can't show you anything
he's not likely to try. Half knowledge, is the most dangerous thing in
the world. I never saw a successful shoe manufacturer who only had half
knowledge of making shoes, and I guess Walter Camp isn't putting anyone
on his All American, who only knows how to play his position half way.

You might as well make up your mind, Ted, to learn Virgil, from the
"Arma virumque cano" thing to Finis. And it's just as well to let the
coach think he can show you something about football: he only played
three years on the Harvard 'Varsity, and even if you do know more than
he, it will make him feel good.

Being sorry for yourself is a bad habit. I had it once for a whole
year, and believe me it was the worst year I ever put in, and I'm
counting the panic of 1907 too.

I'd been super. over at Clough & Spinney's in Georgetown for three
years, and had the little shop running like a high-grade watch, when
Henry Larney of Larney Bros. in Salem died and left the whole show to
his son Claude. "But in trust" nevertheless, as the wills say, and it's
a mighty good thing he did for Claude spent most of his time and all
his money at Sheepshead Bay and Saratoga Springs, and couldn't tell a
last from a foxing.

Old Josiah Lane was trustee, and having about as much respect for
Claude's ability as a shoemaker as I have for the Bolsheviki as
business men, he looked around for someone to run the factory and
lighted on me.

When I got over being dizzy at the thought of running a five thousand
pair factory, I grabbed the job, because I was afraid I'd refuse it if
I stopped to consider the responsibility. That's a pretty good plan for
you to follow, Ted. Don't let a big job scare you, just lay right into
it, and if you keep both feet on the floor and don't rely too much on
the bridge to make fancy shots, pretty soon the job begins to shrink,
and you begin to grow, and before long you fit.

I had every possible kind of trouble with the factory: a strike that
tied us up flat for eight weeks in the middle of the summer, to a fire
in the storehouse that destroyed five thousand cases of shoes and every
blamed time I was in the midst of a mess, old Josiah Lane would blow
in, and blow up. It seemed like the old cuss was always hovering around
like a buzzard over a herd of sick cattle, and when he lighted on me
I felt as though he went away with chunks of my hide in his skinny

I was the worst shoemaker in the world, couldn't handle help, was
a rotten financial man, had no head for details, and was so poor a
buyer, it was a wonder some of the leather companies didn't run me for
governor. As for production, he could make more shoes with a kit of
cobbler's tools, than I could turn out with the help of the S. M. Co.

That old bird used to sit in the office chewing fine cut, and drawling
out sarcastic remarks, until I could have knocked him cold; but even
then I realized that a man who made shoes from pegs to welts, knew
something, and I needed all the knowledge I could get.

After every bawling out, old Josiah used to creak to his feet,
remarking, "I'll give ye another trial though I'm foolish to do it,"
while I stood by trembling with rage, wishing I wasn't married so I
could bust his ugly old head open with a die.

Gosh! I used to get mad for the things that happened weren't my fault.
First, I thought how foolish I'd been to leave my soft job at Clough &
Spinney's, then, I began to get mad at the factory, myself, and all the
daily troubles that were forever piling in on me, and I determined I'd
lick that job if it killed me.

I gave more time to listening to old Josiah at my periodical dressing
downs, and less time to hating him, and I lived in that old ark of a
factory, until I knew every nail in every beam in its dirty ceiling,
and could run any machine in it in the dark.

Along in the late fall, the monthly balance sheets began to look less
like the treasury statements of the Dominican Republic, but they
weren't so promising that there was any danger of J. P. Morgan coming
to me for advice on how to make money, and on the 15th of December I
wrote out my resignation, and handed it to old Josiah. The old man
never even read it. Just tore it up, threw it under the desk, and sat
chewing his fine cut, until I thought I'd jump out the window if he
didn't say something.

"Want to git through do ye?" he drawled at last.

"I don't want to, I am," I snapped back.

Old Josiah reached in his pocket and handed me a paper. I opened it
and nearly fainted. It was a three year contract calling for an annual
$1000 increase in salary.

When I hit the earth again, I looked at the old man sitting there
wagging his jaws and grinning, but somehow his smile had lost its
sarcasm, and he seemed less like one of these gargoyle things that
the foreigners hang on the outside of their churches, and more like a
shrewd kindly old Yankee shoemaker.

Ted, I learned something that year besides how to run a big shoe
factory. I learned that a rip snorting bawling out doesn't necessarily
mean your superior thinks you a lightweight: if he couldn't see
ability, he wouldn't take the trouble to cuss you. So when your
teachers, or the coach, land on you don't think of "Harry Carey", (that
isn't right but it's the nearest I can come to Jap for suicide) but if
they land on you twice for the same mistake, pick out a nice deep spot
in the jungle. If you don't the ivory hunters will get you.

Cheer up Ted crepe is expensive, and when you get blue be glad of the
things you haven't got. I will be in Exeter Saturday afternoon. Look
for me on the 1:30.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _November 20, 19--_


I didn't say anything about it when you were home last Sunday, for you
were so happy basking in the glory of that thirty-five yard drop-kick
that won the Andover game I hadn't the heart to cast any gloom, but
honestly Ted, as a deacon in the First Church I don't enjoy walking to
service with a son who looks like a combination of an Italian sunset
and a rummage sale of Batik draperies.

It's perfectly true that clothes don't make the man, but they help to,
and because Joseph wore a coat of many colors and was chosen to rule a
nation, is no reason for a young fellow to get himself up like an Irish
Comedian at Keith's and expect to do likewise.

Customs have changed a little in the last few thousand years, and
although it may still be true that a South Sea Islander may rule the
tribe by virtue of being the proud possessor of a plug hat and a red
flannel petticoat, it doesn't follow that a passionate pink tie with
purple dots, and pea green silk socks with bright yellow clocks, will
help you to sell a bill of goods to a hard-headed buyer in Kenosha,

I don't want to rub it in too hard, for I realize that in boys there's
an age for loud clothes, the same as there is in puppies for distemper,
and that if given the right treatment they usually survive and are none
the worse for their experience.

I won't hire a salesman who wears sporty clothes and carts around a lot
of jewelry, for when one of my men is calling on the trade he is not
exhibiting the latest styles in haberdashery, but the latest samples
of the "Heart of the Hide" line, for I've learned that a buyer whose
attention is distracted from the goods in question is a buyer lost.

All this reminds me of an experience I had when I was in my first and
only year at Epping Academy. The Academy was really a high school
although I believe my father did pay $10 a year for my tuition, and the
teachers were called professors.

Well anyhow, at that time my one ambition in life was to own a real
tailor-made suit, vivid color and design preferred.

Now buying my clothes had always been a simple matter, for when I
needed a new suit which in my father's estimation was about once in two
years, my mother and I drove over to the "Golden Bee Emporium: Boots
& Shoes, Fancy Goods & Notions" at Bristol Centre, where, after much
testing for wool between thumb and finger, and with the aid of lighted
matches, and in direct opposition to my earnest request for brighter
colors, I was always fitted out in a dark gray, or blue, or brown,
ready made, and three sizes too large so I could grow into it.

One afternoon on my way home from school, I stopped in at the Mansion
House, to see if I could persuade Cy Clark, the clerk, to go fishing
on the following Saturday. As I entered the door an array of tailors'
samples, on a table by a front window, caught my eye. All thoughts of
Cy promptly left my mind as I let my eyes feast longingly upon their
checks and plaids and stripes.

The salesman, seeing that his wares had me running in a circle, assured
me that the Prince of Wales had a morning suit exactly like one of his
particularly violent black and white checks and that Governor Harrison
had just ordered three green and red plaids.

The salesman informed me that $25 was the regular price but as a
special favor I could buy at $20. Now I had $18 at home which I had
earned that summer picking berries and doing chores, and finally
protesting so violently I was sure he was going to weep, the drummer
gave in and I raced home, broke open my china orange bank, and was back
at the hotel having my measurements taken inside of ten minutes, for I
was mortally afraid some one else would snap up the prize in my absence.

For the next three weeks I hung around the express office so much that
old Hi Monroe threatened to lick me if I didn't keep away and not
pester him.

Finally my suit came.

To tell the truth, I was somewhat startled, when I opened the box, for
although the sample was pretty noticeable, the effect of the cloth made
up in a suit was wonderful. From a background of stripes and checks of
different colors, little knobs of brilliant purple, yellow, red, blue,
and green broke out like measles on a boy's face, and I felt that maybe
after all I had been a little hasty in my choice.

But when I tried the suit on, and gazed at myself in the mirror, my
confidence returned, and I felt I had the one suit in town that would
make people sit up and take notice. I was right.

I entered the dining room that evening just as my father was raising
his saucer of tea to his lips.

"Good heavens!" he cried, spilling the tea in seven different

"Why William, what have you got on?" my mother asked.

My brother Ted answered for her, "A rug."

Do you know Ted, blamed if that suit didn't look like a rug, an
oriental one made in Connecticut, and your Uncle called the turn,
although I never forgave him for it. That's why I named you after him.

At first, my father vowed no son of his was going to wear play actor's
clothes around the village, but when he heard I had paid $18 for the
suit, he changed his mind and said he wouldn't buy me another until it
was worn out.

Your Uncle Ted made a lot of cheap remarks about rugs, which I put down
to jealousy, and general soreheadedness, because I had made him pay
me the day before, a dollar he owed me for six months. Even Grandma
Haskins vowed it looked more like a crazy quilt than a suit of clothes,
and I was feeling pretty blue until my mother made them lay off.


Next morning, I started for school, full of pride in my new clothes for
I was sure my folks didn't know a nobby suit when they saw it, although
there were knobs enough on that one for a blind man to see.

Ted had sneaked out ahead of me though, and when I reached the school
yard I was greeted with cries of "Rug," and "Good morning, your Royal
Highness," and "How's Governor Harrison this morning?" Ted had told
them all.

On the way home, I met old Jed Bigelow in the square driving a green
horse. Just as the horse got along side of me he shied, and then ran
away throwing Jed into the ditch and ripping a wheel off his buggy.
I always thought it was a piece of paper that did the trick, but Jed
swore it was the suit and threatened to send the constable after me.

How I hated that suit. At the end of two days I would never have worn
it again but my father hid my other clothes and would only let me wear
them to church on Sundays. Then I did my best to spoil it by wrestling
and playing football in it, but the cloth was about an inch thick, it
wouldn't tear and mud came off it like cheap blacking comes off a pair
of shoes.

Finally, at the end of the month, my mother came to my rescue and sent
it to the poor in Boston and I want to state right here that it's
probably still being worn somewhere in the slums of that city, for it
never would wear out. It was the only indestructible suit ever made.

Of course I know that as end on the football team you have a certain
position to uphold, and I want you always to look well dressed; but I
do wish you would try to choose clothes that I can't hear before you
turn the corner, and by the way Ted, everything's going up except your
marks. Now the football season's over perhaps you'll have more time to
study. I'd try if I were you, it can't hurt you any.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _December 1, 19--_


I can't say I was totally unprepared for the news, when your report
came yesterday, for I met Professor Todd at the club a week ago and
much against his will he had to admit, that when he asked you in your
oral English exam., who wrote "The Merchant of Venice," you weren't sure
whether it was Irvin Cobb or Robert W. Chambers.

Naturally, I expected a disaster when the fall marks came, but I was
not prepared for a massacre. I had hoped for a sprinkling of C's with
maybe a couple of B's thrown in careless like for extra poundage; but
that flock of D's and E's got under my hide. It's all very well, for
you to say that you can't see how it's going to help you make shoes
to know how many steps A must take to walk around three sides of a
square field two hundred feet to a side, if he wears number eight shoes
and stops two minutes when half way round to watch a dog fight; but
let me tell you one thing, son, any training that will teach you to
think quickly, and get the right answer before the other fellow stops
scratching his head, is valuable. And to-day, in the shoe business, the
man who can trim all the corners and figure his product to fractions,
is the man who buys the limousines, while the fellow who runs on the
good old hit or miss plan is settling with the leather companies for
about fifteen cents on the dollar, and his wife is wondering whether
she can make money by giving music lessons.

Probation is a good deal like the "flu": easy to get, and liable to be
pretty serious if you don't treat it with the respect it deserves.

It isn't as if you were a fool. No son of your Ma's let alone mine
could be, and your Grandfather Soule could have made a living selling
snowballs to the Eskimos. It's pure kid laziness, and shiftlessness,
mixed in with a little too much football, and not enough curiosity to
see what's printed on the pages of your school books.

Now you're on probation, there's only one thing to do, and that's
what the fellow did who sat down by mistake on the red hot stove, and
the quicker you do it the more comfortable it's going to be for all
concerned including yourself.

So far as I've been able to see, there's no real conspiracy among the
teachers at Exeter to prevent your filling your pockets with all the
education you can carry away, and if I were you I'd be real liberal
in helping myself. Education is a pretty handy thing to have around,
and it stays by you all your life. Just because I've succeeded without
much, is no sign you can, and anyway you'll feel a lot more comfortable
later on when the conversation turns to history, and you know the
Dauphin was the French Prince of Wales, and not a fish, as I always
thought, until I looked the word up in the Encyclopedia.

Now I want you to sail into that Math., just as you hit the Andover
quarter when he tried your end, and drop old J. Cæsar with a thud
before he can get started. I know J. C. was a pretty tough bird, and
how he ever found time to write all those books between scraps, I never
could quite understand, unless he only fought an eight hour day, but
it's your job to get him and get him hard.

One thing, Ted, that's going to save you heaps of trouble if you can
only get it firmly fixed in that head of yours, is that you can't get
anywhere or anything without WORK.

Just because you're the old man's son, isn't going to land you in a
private office when you start in with William Soule. There's only one
place in this factory a young fellow can start, whether he's a member
of the Soule family or the son of a laborer, and that's bucking a truck
in the shipping room at twelve per, where he'll get his hands full of
splinters from the cases, and a dressing down from Mike that'll curl
his hair whenever he makes a fool mistake.

There's no short cut to achievement, and work is what'll land you on
the top of the heap quicker than anything else, although I've seen a
lot of lightweights who spent enough time working hard to avoid work,
to succeed with half their energy if spent in the right direction.

That reminds me of a fellow named Clarence I hired some years ago to
make himself generally useful around the office. He said he was looking
for work and he told the truth all right. He wanted to find out where
it was, so he could keep away from it.

I let him stay a couple of months because I rather enjoyed watching
his methods. In the morning, he would spend the first two hours
scheming how to get the other clerks to do his work for him, and in the
afternoon he was so blame busy seeing they had done it, he had little
time to do anything else. I had seen people who hated work, but I had
never seen anyone before who avoided it as though it were the plague.

The last straw came one afternoon when old Cyrus White of Black &
White, the big St. Louis jobbers, walked out of my private office just
after giving me an order for three thousand cases and tripped in a cord
that fool work avoider Clarence had rigged up, so he could raise or
lower the window shade without leaving his desk.

Now old Cy weighs about two twenty and Clarence who had looped one end
of the string around his wrist weighed about ninety-eight pounds with
a straw hat on, so when Cy went down with a crash that shook the whole
factory, he just naturally yanked Clarence right out of his chair,
and the two of them became so tangled up in the cord, they lay like a
couple of trussed fowls while the water cooler which had also capsized
gurgled spring water down old Cy's neck.


You're right, I lost that three thousand case order, and it was ten
years before I could sell old Cy another bill of goods, and to make
matters worse, I had to pay Clarence $200 damages, for in his rage Cy
nearly bit off one of his ears. Ever since, when I find anyone on my
pay roll who is working to avoid work, he gets a swift trip to the

Now I'm not going to stop your allowance because you're on probation,
I've more heart for the suffering Exeter shopkeepers than to do that.
Neither am I going to forbid your going to the Christmas house party:
those would be kid punishments and you're no longer a kid, although
you've been acting like one for some time.

I'm simply putting it up to you as a man to get off probation by New
Year's, and I want you to remember that as a 'varsity' end you've got
to set a good example to the "preps." Think it over.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _December 10, 19--_


I always thought J. Cæsar, Esq., and one Virgil wrote Latin, but when I
was in your room last Saturday afternoon I saw you had copies of their
books in English.

Now I'll admit that an English translation is the only way I could ever
read those old timers. Latin is as much a mystery to me as the income
tax; but one reason I am sending you to Exeter, is so you can play
those fellows on their home grounds with a fair chance of winning.

I always thought you were a pretty good sport Ted, and I have always
tried to teach you the game, and to play it square. I still think
you're a good sport, and the only reason you are using those "trots" is
because you haven't stopped to consider how unfair it is to J. Cæsar &

I have a sneaking sort of liking for those old birds. J. Cæsar was the
world's first heavyweight champion, and in his palmy days could have
made Jack Dempsey step around some, and as for Virgil he could make
words do tricks even better than I. W. W. meaning I. Woodrow Wilson. So
it was a sort of shock to me to see you giving them a raw deal.

When you get right down to cases, son, your lessons are one of the
few things that can't beat you if you study 'em, so it's pretty small
punkins to try to rig the game against 'em. A shoemaker can buy his
leather right, and figure his costs correctly on an order, but the
buyer may get cold feet and refuse them, or the unions may call a
strike, or one of about a hundred other things may happen to knock the
profits higher than one of Babe Ruth's home runs.

With lessons it's different. Study them and they can't beat you. You
wouldn't expect much glory if the Andover team you beat had been
made up of one legged men. What about the handicap you're making the
All-Romans play under when you tackle them with a couple of "trots" in
your fists.

There's another reason I don't want you using "trots", and it's because
it's liable to get you into the habit of doing things the easiest
way. Now anyone is a boob if he doesn't do a thing the easiest way
provided it's the right way; but he's more of a boob if he does a thing
the easiest way only because it's the easiest way. And using English
translations on your Latin is like paying number one prices for a block
of poor damaged leather: it may be easier to get the leather, but when
it's made into shoes and you begin to hunt for the profit you find it's
gone A. W. O. L.

I don't remember ever having told you about Freddy Bean, but speaking
of doing things the easiest way reminds me of him, so while I have the
time I'll tell you.

Freddy's Pa ran a little store in Epping just across from the railroad
station, where according to its sign he sold Books, Magazines,
Newspapers & Stationery, and as he owned his own house and had a
thrifty wife he managed to make a living although Epping was not a
literary community. Pa Bean was an inoffensive little fellow who always
wore a white tie with his everyday clothes, and loved to work out the
piano rebuses in the newspapers in the evenings. He had advanced ideas
on politics, was a single taxer, and to-day would be classed as a
radical. Then we used to call him Half-Baked.

Freddy was a good average boy and likeable enough except for his one
bad habit of wanting to do everything the easiest way, and believe me
he carried it to extremes.

He used to sleep in his clothes because it was easier than dressing
in the morning, but his Ma walloped that out of him. Then he had the
bright idea of putting a sign with the price marked on it on most of
the articles in his Pa's shop and going to the ball game, when the old
gentleman went over to Bristol Centre Saturday afternoons on business.
This worked all right at first for the Epping folks were honest, but
one Saturday some strangers carried off about $100 worth of goods and
Freddy got his from his father and got it good.

I could tell you a lot about the messes Freddy got into trying to do
things the easiest way, but the super. is hanging around with a lot of
inventory sheets so I'll have to cut this short with Freddy's prize
performance. One summer morning Freddy's Pa and Ma went away for the
day, but before they started Half Baked led Freddy out into the yard,
shoved an axe into his unwilling hands and ordered him to cut down an
oak that stood close to one side of the house, and was growing so big
it was shutting out a lot of sunlight.

Now there wasn't a boy in Epping at that time who hadn't had
considerable experience in chopping wood, unless it was Sammy Smead and
he never counted anyway except on the afternoon we initiated him into
the Brothers of Mystery, and there wasn't one of us who didn't hate it;
but Freddy loathed it more than anything else, principally I guess,
because there wasn't any easy way out. If you had to cut wood you had
to cut it, and that's all there was to it.

Along about two that afternoon, a crowd of us boys bound for the
swimming hole happened by Freddy's house, and found him pretty limp and
blistery. He'd only hacked about half through the tree, but I think his
mental anguish was worse than his physical exhaustion, because scheme
as he might he had hit on no easy way to fell that oak, and the job
looked as though it would last till sundown.

Freddy was a good diplomat, and he tried all the Tom Sawyer stuff on us
he carried, but not a chance. There was not one of us who would chop
wood when he didn't positively have to, and it looked as though Freddy
was going to chop until the job was finished, when Dick Harris said
something about blowing it up with some gunpowder his father had stored
in a keg in his corn crib.

There was not one of us who would have helped Freddy cut down the tree,
neither was there one of us who would refuse to help him blow it up,
and Freddy, because he saw an easy way out, was the most enthusiastic
of all.

We did it. First we dug a hole about four feet deep at the foot of
the tree and buried the keg of powder after boring a hole in the top
for a fuse. We packed the dirt down tight all around the keg leaving
just enough loose to run the fuse through. Then Freddy as master of
ceremonies lighted the fuse and we stepped back to wait results.

We didn't wait long. There was a roar and we found ourselves on the
grass in the midst of what resembled a volcano on the war path. Dirt,
stones, grass, sticks, and heaven knows what else were milling around
us in clouds, and out of the corner of one eye I saw Ma Bean's geranium
bed sail gaily across the street and drape itself over Mrs. Harry
Brown's front gate. Glass was falling around us like shrapnel, for
every window in the Bean's house shivered itself out onto the lawn.
The tree--well, Sir, it fell on the house, knocked off a chimney and
broke down the piazza roof, and the next day Half Baked had to hire
Jed Snow's team of oxen to pull it clear before they could even start
cutting it up.


I've a very vivid recollection of what my father gave me, and I rather
think Freddy's was the same only more so, in fact none of the crowd
slid bases for some time, and Half Baked made Freddy cut six cords of
wood during the next month.

I don't know what has become of Freddy, but I have never seen his name
in the headlines, so I guess he's still hunting for easy ways to do
things, but you can bet he's left gunpowder out of his schemes for the
last forty years.

Now Ted you just mail me those "trots." I'll enjoy them, and you give
those old timers a fair show from now on. It's not sporting Ted to pull
a "pony" on them, for they can't win any way if you don't want them to.
Play the game.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _January 27, 19--_


That notice from Professor Todd stating that you had been taken off
probation was the most welcome bit of news I've had in a long time, and
the enclosed check is my way of saying thank you.

I knew if you once stopped fooling and got right down to cases, that
none of those old best sellers like J. C. or Virgil could hold you for
downs, and as for Quadratic Equations, your instructor writes me that
if you'll take 'em seriously you can make 'em eat out of your hand.

Now you're again on speaking terms with your lessons, you can keep
their friendship by visiting with them a couple of hours a day, and
when they once learn you mean business they'll follow you around like a
hungry cat follows the milk man.

There's nothing succeeds like success, whether it's getting respectable
marks in your studies, or selling shoes, and if you don't believe it
ask Charlie Dean.

Probably you've always thought of Charlie as my star salesman and
you're right, but it wasn't many years ago Charlie couldn't have sold
five dollar gold pieces for a quarter, even if he gave a patent corn
cutter away with each as a premium.

Charlie came to work for me right out of the high school, and as he was
always willing to do a little more than his share around the office, I
decided to give him a try on the road, where he'd have a chance to make
real money. So when a younger salesman left me one New Year's, I put
Charlie through a course of sprouts in the factory to be sure he knew
how the "Heart of the Hide" line was made, gave him a couple of trunks
full of new samples, and shipped him out to the middle west.

Charlie was gone three months and he didn't sell enough goods to pay
the express on his samples, but realizing a cub salesman's first trip
is always his hardest, I swallowed my tongue and sent him out again.

I couldn't understand it. Charlie was no loafer, and I felt sure he
was working hard each day, but he had no more success in persuading
buyers to stock "The Heart of the Hide" line than old King Canute had
in bossing the sea around. If he had done fairly well, I'd thought he
was just green and would develop, but when he had been out six months
and his sales record sheet was as white as a field of new fallen snow,
I decided too much was enough, and wired him to return to the factory,
for Fair Bros. were getting more solid in that territory every day, and
I simply had to have distribution there.

When Charlie arrived in Lynn, I was going to fire him, for I never
believed in putting a man back in the office who has been on the road.
He's too liable to be down on the house, and afflict all the other
clerks with the same poison; but Charlie pleaded so hard to stay, I
finally gave him back his old job, and, as he showed no signs of being
a trouble maker, I paid him no further attention.

The next winter, I had a hunch that women's fall styles would run
heavy on calfskin, so I loaded up with a hundred thousand pairs of
heavyweight cut soles and patted myself on the back that I had put one
over on the trade. A few weeks later, the buyers made so loud a noise
about Vici Kid a deaf mute could have heard 'em.

There I was, caught flatfooted with a hundred thousand pairs of soles
stored in the basement, and the market on them dropping every day so
fast I got dizzy when I tried to figure out how much I stood to lose.

I tried to take a loss and turn them back to the manufacturer. Nothing
doing, nor would any other cut sole house take them except at a price
that would have come near to busting me. Next I tried the manufacturers
of women's shoes, not a chance. Then as the soles ran pretty heavy I
tried boys' makers, again nothing doing.

I was getting desperate, for I had a lot of money tied up in those
soles, and so far as I could see I was liable to own 'em for some time
unless the sheriff took 'em.

One morning, I happened to think of Al Lippincott. You know his factory
in Dover, the red one you can see from the station? Al makes a line of
boys' and youths', but he is the hardest buyer in the whole trade, a
regular rip tearing snorter who begins to yell the minute a salesman
steps into his office, and keeps it up until the salesman either wants
to lick him or to beat it.

I got Al on the long distance, and finally, after his usual outburst
that nearly melted the wire, he allowed he was going to be in Lynn that
afternoon and would drop in.

I went home feeling somewhat better, but while I was eating lunch the
telephone rang, and I learned your Ma had been badly smashed up in an
automobile accident, and had been taken to the Salem Hospital.

I never thought of Al again until I was going to bed that night, and
then I was so worried about your Ma I didn't care much whether he'd
called or not.

The next morning, when I rolled back the top of my desk, I found an
order for the whole hundred thousand pairs of cut soles made out in
Charlie Dean's handwriting and billed to Al Lippincott at two cents a
pair more than I had paid for 'em.

I never asked Charlie how he made the sale, and he never told me, but
when he asked for another chance on the road he got it, and knowing
he'd sold the toughest man in the United States he made good from the

I only mention Charlie because when you were on probation you were in
the same kind of fix he was before he sold Al Lippincott. Now you know
you can lick those studies of yours. I want you to crowd 'em so hard
the teachers will mark down at least a B for you when you get up to

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _February 10, 19--_


This trouble you seem to be having with your eyes, is causing your
Ma a great deal of worry. She has visions of a blind son tapping his
way through life with a cane and I expect in a few days, she'll have
reached the dog on a leash stage. I'd be more worried, if I hadn't
happened to remember that the mid-years are only two weeks off, and
that eye trouble is one of the best known alibis.

Your suggestion of coming home early Sunday, so you can give your
eyes a rest, I agree to most heartily. We'll go into Boston and have
an oculist examine you. Then if you need glasses, I'll see that you
get them, and if you don't, you're out of luck if you're trying to
establish an alibi for flunking your exams.

Eyesight is a mighty curious thing. Some folks get so nearsighted
they'll step over a ten dollar bill to pick up a nickel, and others
can see a dollar a pair profit in a shipment of shoes the ordinary
manufacturer would be glad to sell at cost. It takes pretty good
eyesight to be a successful shoe manufacturer nowadays, for it's the
ability to see profits where they don't exist, and then handle your
output so that you make two little profits grow where only one grew
before, that buys new tires for the car, and sends sons to "prep"

Somehow, your reports don't make me feel you've strained your eyes
studying. If you had, you wouldn't have made the break you did in your
oral English exam. when according to Professor Todd you stated that
Ben Johnson was president of the American League. Then, too, I haven't
had an excess electric light bill from the school, so it's hard for me
to believe your eyesight has been ruined by your burning the midnight

I remember a clerk I once had in the office, who had a terrible time
with his eyes, especially, when he was about due for a bawling out
for some fool mistake. He once made out a lot of shoe tags with the
specifications calling for eight iron soles on comfort slippers, and
when I was about to claw his hide for such a blunder, he claimed his
desk was so far from a window he couldn't half see. I remembered that
a lot of folks can read real well by electric light, and there was a
hundred candle power bulb right over him; but I gave him the benefit of
the doubt and moved him over beside a window.

Two weeks later, he made a mistake in a bill that cost me several
hundred dollars, and then it was the bright light that dazzled him. I
was suspicious, but he pleaded so hard for a day off, to rest his poor
eyes in a darkened room, I told him to go ahead, and the next noon as
I was driving home along the boulevard I spotted him fishing from some
rocks, in a glare that would have made an Arab see green.

I meant to fire him, but I was so busy I forgot it, and for a month he
went along without making a noticeable mistake. Then he came to me one
day for a raise. I told him that his eyesight was so poor, that if the
cashier put any extra money in his envelope he'd never even see it, and
that he'd better strain his eyes a little looking for another job, as
I couldn't have the responsibility on my shoulders of his going blind
while working for me.

The old man wasn't born yesterday, Ted, and having had considerable
experience with eyesight alibis he's a bit gun shy.

Perhaps one reason I'm a little suspicious of this eye trouble of
yours, is that I have a very vivid recollection of your Uncle Ted the
first year he was at boarding school. Ted started out like a whirlwind
that fall, all A's and B's in his studies, until along in November he
began to get more interested in wrestling with a flute he was trying to
learn to play, than with his lessons, so that in December his marks had
a striking resemblance to those of the present-day Germany.

In January, he developed serious eye trouble. He wrote home that his
eyes were so bad he couldn't study, and was sure to fail at mid-year.
Whether my father believed the first part of his wail I never knew,
but I'm sure he did the second. Anyway he collared Ted one Saturday
afternoon, and drove him over to the oculist at Bristol Centre taking
me along as ballast.

Ted put up some pretty good arguments against going, claiming a
terrible headache and a violent pain in his stomach. My father made him
though, and when we finally reached the oculist, Ted really did look
sick enough to have had not only eye trouble, but about all the other
known diseases, as well.

Doctor Boggs, who was a queer little scrap of a man, as quick tempered
as gunpowder, plumped Ted down in a chair, and began to peer at his
eyes through a magnifying glass. The more he looked, the more nervous
Ted became. Finally, the doctor asked him if his eyes felt any better,
and Ted allowed they did.

Then the doctor put a lot of charts up about twenty feet away, and
asked Ted to read the letters on them, which he did so quickly the
doctor couldn't change the charts fast enough. I grinned, for by then
I was sure Ted was faking. Ted also realized that for a boy whose eyes
had been causing him so much trouble, he'd been giving a remarkable
exhibition so when Doctor Boggs began trying different glasses on him,
Ted protested that he couldn't see a thing with any of them.

The doctor was very patient, trying on pair after pair, Ted groaning
louder with each new one. At last, the old fellow stopped for a few
minutes and rummaged around in a desk drawer where he kept a lot of his
eyeglasses. Suddenly, he turned to Ted clapped a new pair on his nose,
and stood back smiling sweetly at him.

"There my boy," he said, as sweet as honey. "Those are much better,
aren't they!"

I took a look at Ted and almost choked. Then I realized what was coming
to him, so I tried to pass him the high sign. It was too late.

"Those are the only ones I've been able to see through, doctor," Ted
chirped innocently.

The next instant, the doctor with one word "Fraud!" grabbed Ted by an
ear and marched him to the door, while father followed looking about as
pleasant as a thunder storm.

You've probably guessed the reason why already. There was no glass
in the last frames. After we got home, father and Ted retired to the
woodshed and I heard the most heartrending sounds. When Ted returned
to school his marks began to improve at once, and they kept on getting
better and better until the end of the year, and since that day Ted has
never had on a pair of glasses. It was one of the quickest and most
complete cures of eye trouble ever recorded, and it also proved that
old Doctor Boggs knew his job.

Faking is mighty poor business Ted, whether it's trying to establish an
alibi for flunking your school exams, or making army shoes with paper
soles for the government. The first is apt to get you into the habit
of shirking your work, and the second is mighty likely to land you in
jail. Some business men, not many, by faking the quality of their goods
shoot up like a sky rocket, but when the time for repeat orders comes
along, they come down like the stick, and if there's anything any more
useless than the spent stick of a sky rocket, it's a man who tries to
ease his way through life on alibis.

Do your best and stand by it. If it is your best, you have no cause
to be ashamed no matter how it turns out, and remember that a man who
never made a mistake never made anything.

My boy, if there really is something the matter with your eyes, we
can't have them attended to any too quickly, and if there isn't I
somehow feel a little frankness now, on my part, may effect almost as
rapid a cure as your Uncle Ted's and without any painful ending.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _February 20, 19--_


My boy, I owe you an apology for doubting you had eye trouble. It was
hard for me to believe you were faking; but the circumstantial evidence
against you was pretty strong. I should have known better, though, for
you have always played fair with me so I ask your pardon.

That letter from the oculist, in Portsmouth, saying you needed glasses
was a relief and a disappointment. A relief, to know you weren't trying
to slip one over, and a disappointment to learn you must wear glasses.
Don't let wearing glasses disturb you. You won't need them when you are
playing football, and if you only wear them when you read your nose
won't be disfigured by the strain.

It's funny how a young fellow like you, who has the time and the
education to appreciate them, don't seem to care about reading good
books, while an old rough and ready like your dad, can't have enough of
them. When I was your age, I was too busy trying to help support the
family, to find time to read much besides the Epping Bugle, whereas,
you seem to be too busy figuring out how to have a good time, to care
what the biggest men of the world thought about things.

You've wanted to know why I am always buying so many books, and
although I never realized it before, I guess it's because I couldn't
have them when I was young.

Yes, on that house party at Manchester, Ted, go ahead and have a good
time and while I remember it here's a check that may come in handy for
a few extras. If I were you, I'd take all the extras in the way of
clothes you can cram into a suit case.

Forewarned is forearmed you know, and it's just as well when going to
a house party, or to a fight, to carry all the heavy artillery you
muster, for you never can be sure you won't need it.

I've been to only one house party, and I don't expect I shall ever go
to another; but if I do even if it's only for a week end, I'm going
to take every rag of clothing I own from oilskins to dress suit, not
forgetting rubber boots and pumps, especially the pumps.

I believe a person is supposed to have a good time at a house party,
but my only offense was about as enjoyable as the time I had typhoid.

Perhaps you remember the summer your Ma and I went to Pittsfield for
two weeks, and left you with your Aunt Sarah over at Marblehead.

Well anyway we did, and I haven't thought much of Pittsfield since.
We got there on a Friday, and the next morning I went down town for
something and ran slap into Jack Hamilton.

Jack and I were boys together in Epping, and used to do considerable
business trading rabbits and whatever live stock we happened to own.

Jack left Epping when he was seventeen, went to work for a stock
broker in Boston, and made barrels of money, incidently marrying a
Philadelphia girl who had callouses on her thumbs from cutting coupons.

Jack has always been my broker and handled all my finances, but for a
good many years we hadn't seen much of each other socially, so when he
suggested your Ma and I go out that afternoon to his cottage in Lenox,
and stay over Sunday, I was glad to accept, thinking we'd have a chance
to talk over old times. I went back to the hotel and told your Ma, and
then promptly forgot all about it, for there was an old fellow living
in Pittsfield who'd just invented an extension last that looked good to

I spent most of the afternoon in the old inventor's shop and when I
returned to the hotel along about five, I found a high-wheeled cart
outside which Jack had sent over to get us, and your Ma having duck
fits for fear I wouldn't show up.

She said she'd put everything in my suit case I'd need, so I only
slicked up a bit and we were off.

It was a mighty pretty ride over to Lenox, but when we turned in at the
gate to Jack's cottage, I thought our driver had made a mistake, for
the place looked bigger than the Boston Public Library, and about as
homelike as a New York apartment house.

A frozen-faced individual in brass-buttoned red vest and a waiter's
uniform met us at the front door, and when I told him I was William
Soule of Lynn he led the way into the hall and disappeared.

We hung around for some time. Then a maid came along and showed us
to our rooms. It was a mighty nice room I had, with pink silk wall
coverings and gray wicker furniture, and with a tiled bath off it, that
gleamed like a Pullman porter's smile. I looked the bed over carefully,
decided it was comfortable, and then thought I'd go out in the yard
and walk around. As I stepped on to the piazza, a haughty-faced woman
disentangled herself from a group of ladies who were playing cards, and
came towards me murmuring, Mr. Soule?

I pleaded guilty, and she extended two cold fingers, that had about as
much cordiality in them as a dead smelt, and said she was pleased to
meet me. From her tone, I judged she wasn't going to lead any cheers
over the fact, so I bowed politely and marched on out to the stables
in front of which I saw a boy exercising a mighty likely-looking colt.
Jack had some fine horses, and a wonderful herd of Jerseys. His head
groom was a real human sort of chap, who knew more about cattle than
any man I ever met, and we were having a real good visit together when
a gong like a fire alarm started somewhere in the house.

I made the piazza in three jumps, tore through the hall and up the
stairs determined to get your Ma out before the house burned down,
for what I'd seen of the Lenox Fire Department, sitting in his shirt
sleeves before the door of the hose house as we drove over from
Pittsfield, hadn't inspired me with any great amount of confidence in
his ability to put out anything bigger than a bonfire.

As I rushed into the upper hall, I thought it funny I didn't smell
smoke, so when I ran smack into a maid I grabbed her and asked her
where the fire was.

"Fire!" she squealed.

"Yes," I answered, "wasn't that a fire gong?"

Ted, you should have seen her face. I thought she'd choke. She did her
best to keep it straight, and not laugh, but it was some struggle.

At last she managed to stammer, that the gong wasn't for fire at all,
but to let the guests know it was time to dress for dinner.

I felt as big as a man on Broadway looks from the tower of the
Woolworth building, so I slipped her a dollar and ducked for my room.

There I sat down to get my breath, hoping that girl wouldn't tell on
me, and wishing I was back in Lynn, for I saw rough weather ahead
unless I kept my eyes open and my mouth shut.

I shaved, and started to climb into my regimentals. Your Ma had put in
shirts, studs, collars, tie, vest, coat, silk socks, pants, and every
last article of necessary trappings except pumps, and pumps were about
as necessary to me then as a little leather is to a pair of shoes.

I had a horrible sort of feeling as though my stomach was slowly
revolving around inside of me, and my legs felt as if they were trying
to go two ways at once, for I had worn a pair of tan shoes over from
Pittsfield, and I knew from the glimpse I'd caught of Mrs. Hamilton's
friends, that if I didn't wear my dress suit I'd rank lower than the
deuce in that game.

Just how to wear that dress suit I couldn't quite figure out. It had to
be done, that was certain, but as raw as I was on society stuff, I knew
tan shoes and full dress would not get by. Then I remembered the bell
in the wall beside the bed. In two jumps I had a thumb on it squeezing
for dear life, for I thought if one of the servants answered, I could
get word out to my friend the head groom to lend me a pair of black
shoes. What size didn't matter, I'd have made any size fit.

Then I heard someone running along the hall outside, and yanked open
the door in the face of the same maid I'd asked about the gong.

I slammed the door shut and looked at my watch. It was seven o'clock,
and I figured half an hour at the most, was all the time I had to get
a pair of black shoes, and from the way I was located, a pair of black
shoes seemed as easy to get as money from the government on a war


Jack wasn't home, and anyway he wore shoes about three sizes smaller
than mine, and as for his wife she was out of the question.

I'd about decided to go to bed and play sick, when I happened to glance
out of the window and saw a girl about fifteen riding a horse around
the circular drive in front of the house.

She was a real friendly-looking kid, and grinned up at me as she
passed, so the next time she came around I leaned out and beckoned to
her. She rode up under my window, and I told her the fix I was in.

"What size?" she asked without any hesitation.

"Anything from nine up," I replied.

"Gimme some money," she said.

I dropped her a ten spot. She caught it and was off, tearing down the
drive like a jockey, and twenty minutes later she shoved a pair of
pumps through my door she'd bought in Pittsfield, and I sailed down to
dinner a trifle late, but as dignified as a London alderman.

Now Ted you've had considerable more experience with society than I've
had, and probably you won't make any break at that house party, but if
I were you after you get your suit case packed, I'd go through it a
second time to see if anything's missing. Carefulness is a mighty handy
habit to have around the house, whether it's a man's ability to look
far enough ahead not to borrow on his insurance policy, or his wife's
skill in keeping down the bills.

I've had clerks in the office who'd do a job in jig time and leave
behind enough mistakes to make the Bolsheviki envious, and when it
comes time to sweeten salaries they are always surprised and hurt,
because they are passed by for the fellows who haven't such fancy
windups, but do have better control.

Speed is a tremendous asset to-day, and when it's combined with control
it's almost unbeatable. For example, Walter Johnson. Still, I've seen
old Cicotte mow down the Red Sox with only two hits when he hadn't
enough speed to break a window, and you'll find that a young fellow who
can do a job in half a day, and get it right, is a better man to have
on your pay roll than a chap who can do the same work in half an hour,
and then spend a day correcting his mistakes.

Have a good time, and perhaps when you get back to school your eyes
will feel better so you can make a creditable showing at your mid-years.

     Your affectionate father,


P. S. The girl who bought me the pumps is Jack Hamilton's daughter.
She's married and has three children so don't get excited.

     LYNN, MASS.,
     _February 28, 19--_


I did considerable wondering while you were home last week, why it was
your clothes carried a reek that seemed a cross between a tannery vat
and a grease extractor.

Your Ma says "stink" is vulgar. Maybe it is, but it's good plain
English, and it describes that poison gas you seemed to be carrying
around with you, better than any such ladylike word as smell.

I wasn't wise until you stopped at the corner on the way to the station
and lighted one. I was looking out the window at the time, and it made
me plumb disgusted to see you swagger off polluting the air with a

Now I never believed in raising a boy on "Don't." When you say "Don't"
do a thing, the average person at once wants to do the very thing you
tell him not to do, although before you had forbidden it, you probably
could not have hired him to do it. "Don'ts" were what got the Germans
in bad.

When I was in Berlin in '99 attending the International Shoe
Manufacturers' Congress, there were "Verboten" signs on pretty nearly
everything. "Verboten" is German for "Keep off the Grass," or something
like that, anyway it means "Don't," and every time I saw one of those
blamed signs, I immediately wanted to do what was forbidden.

One evening Al Lippincott and I strayed away from the bunch, and
wandered into a sort of open air garden. There was a theatre, with a
vaudeville show that the Watch and Ward Society at home would have
closed up the first night. But the music was fine, so we picked out a
table and ordered a light lunch of pickled pigs feet and sauerkraut,
and were attending strictly to business when the manager, followed by
two German army officers, walked up, and informed us we'd have to give
up our seats. Seems they had some fool rule about civilians having to
clear out if army officers wanted their table.

Now Al has always had dyspepsia, and the pickled pigs feet and
sauerkraut had not done his stomach any good, and I had been
"verbotened" almost to death ever since I had been in Berlin so we told
them to run away and play, and turned our backs.

The next instant someone grabbed Al by the coat collar and gave him a

"Do you not understand pig dog it is verboten?" a voice said.

Al wrenched free, and saw it was the younger of the two officers who
had given him the shaking. He was a pasty faced, pimperly, fair-haired
young man, with a monocle in one eye, and a waist that looked like it
was made that way by corsets, and he had a 45 calibre sword dangling by
his side that was bigger than any the Crusaders ever carried.

If he hadn't said "verboten," Al might have given him a good bawling
out and let it go at that, but "verboten" to us by that time was like
waving a red flag in front of a he cow, so Al gave him a good shove.
The officer tripped over his sword and sat down ker-splash in a plate
of hot soup an old lady was eating at the next table.

Waiters came running from all directions, but Al and I grabbed up a
couple of chairs and they danced around in a circle not daring to
close, while the soup spiller and his friend sputtered with rage.

"I am disgraced," yelled the one Al capsized.

"I want to fight. I would kill you, but you are not titled. I'm

"You're a disgrace, all right," Al interrupted, "but if you want
a fight, I guess we can help you out. I'm the Earl of Dover," he
continued kicking a waiter in the shin who had come too near for
safety, "and my friend here is the Duke of Lynn, so if you know some
nice quiet place where we can settle this without gloves, lead on,
we're with you."

At the mention of our titles the officers quieted down, and whispered
together, then the older one bowed stiffly to me and said, "My friend
accepts your friend's challenge. Follow us if you please."

They stalked out. Al and I followed. We turned into a side street, and
finally came into a quiet square with a watering trough in the centre.

"We will not be interrupted here," said the older officer.

"Fine," Al replied, peeling off his coat, while the soup spiller did
the same.

"Here is a sword," said the older officer handing Al his.

"What's that for?" Al asked.

"To fight with," the officer replied.

"I fight with my fists," Al shouted.

"Fighting with the fists is verboten," the officer replied.

"Get out of my way" Al yelled, and, shoving him aside, he grabbed the
younger, sat down on the edge of the watering trough, spread him across
his lap, and gave him with his own sword a good spanking, while the
older one danced around yelling like a wild man.

Ted, you never heard such a yowling and hollering as those two set up.
It would have raised the dead, and it did raise about twenty police,
who grabbed us just as Al was ducking the younger one in the watering
trough for the second time.

Well sir, they carted Al and me off to jail, and dumped us into a cell,
where there was a straw mattress on the floor. Al had hay fever, and,
believe me, we spent a pretty miserable night.

In the morning, we learned the young officer Al spanked was Prince
Pigestecher, a fourteenth cousin of an aunt of the Kaiser's. We were
in bad. It took the American Embassy three weeks working night shifts
to get us out of jail, and then we greased our way with a five hundred
dollar fine each, and that's why I made nurses' shoes at cost for the
British Government when the war started.

I only mentioned this experience of Al's, to show the danger of too
many "Don'ts," and it's one reason why I am not going to say, "Don't
smoke cigarettes." I want you to think it over carefully, and see if in
your own mind you think a boy not yet eighteen is doing a fine, manly
thing to go around with a scent on his breath like Moon Island at low
tide. Is he setting a good example to the younger boys, who look up to
him because he's a 'varsity end, and one of the big men of the school?

Ask your trainer if cigarettes will improve your wind. I have read a
lot of truck written by men with a string of letters after their names,
who try to prove that cigarettes do not hurt a man, but I never yet
have read anything that proved to my satisfaction that they did anyone
any real good.

Remember Ted that no matter how seriously you take yourself, you are
not a man. I want you to grow up a clean, manly, two-fisted shoemaker,
not a chicken-breasted, weasel-eyed manufacturer of cigarette ashes.
Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and a few others who were not bush
leaguers managed to do pretty well without smoking cigarettes, and they
are good examples for a young American to imitate. Think it over, my

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _March 12, 19--_


The most welcome letter I found waiting for me on my return from
St. Louis was the report of your mid-years. Ted, you did real well
considering all the handicaps you were working under, and I'm more than
pleased to see that the old Soule fighting spirit has been passed along
to you.

We Soules have always prided ourselves on being able to do our best
work when things looked blackest. That back to the wall, "Don't give
up the ship," determination has pulled us through some mighty rough
places, whether hauling trawls on the Grand Banks, or fighting our way
up from the ranks in business.

You are just beginning to realize you have the same amount of grit
engrained in your hide, and it's a mighty comforting thought to wear
under your shirt, for the man who won't be licked seldom is, and the
quality of never knowing when you are beaten has made more impossible
things possible, than any other one thing in the world.

I remember how when my father died and left me my mother, two young
sisters, and a big mortgage to support. I was mad clear through. Not at
the idea of having to support my folks, I was glad enough to do that,
for no boy ever had better; but because I couldn't finish my schooling.
I determined I'd work like blazes to cheat Fate for the nasty wallop
it had handed me, and work like blazes I did. After all I think it was
good for me. A boy who has to make his own way usually does, if he has
the right stuff in him, and that's why I don't intend you shall step
from school into a private office here in the factory.

It's so much more gratifying when the time comes to look back, to know
that what you have, you alone have made possible, and not to have
to give the credit to some one else. And that's why, when you go to
work, I'm going to see to it that you learn shoemaking from tanning
to selling, so that when your time comes to look back you can say to
yourself, "My father left me a ten thousand pair factory, but I've
boosted it to twenty-five."

There was one thing though in your recent letter I don't quite get,
and that's the necessity for your spending so much of your time in
Portsmouth. Now I know Portsmouth is a nice New England town, filled
with quaint old colonial houses, and enough historical incidents
to make a three volume series, but I never knew you to be wildly
interested in such things, and since I got that bill of $24.25 from
the Rockingham for dinners, I'm suspecting you don't go there to study

One evening last fall, on the way home from Ogunquit, the car broke
down in Portsmouth, and while it was being repaired, I took in one of
the movies. The show was quite good and I enjoyed it, until I came out
when it was over, and found a crowd of Exeter boys hanging around the
entrance speaking to any good looking young girl who was alone.

Then there was a general pairing off, and strolling up and down the
main streets, looking in the shop windows, and much loud talking,
giggling, and laughter, while the young townies stood on the corners
making cheap remarks. Some of your schoolmates took their lady friends
into the little lunch rooms with which Portsmouth is so plentifully
supplied, and bought them suppers of ham and eggs, and ice cream, while
a few with more money went to the Rockingham.

I moseyed around the town quite a bit watching these schoolmates of
yours, and was thoroughly disgusted. Not that I saw anything really
wrong. I didn't. Every one of the boys had taken the cars for Exeter by
eleven, but there was such a general kissing and dumbfoolishness I'd
like to have spanked the lot.

Perhaps it's heaps of satisfaction to a young fellow, one of the big
men of the school, to hike for Portsmouth with a few dollars of his
dad's burning holes in his pocket, cut the prettiest shop or factory
girl out of a crowd, and carry her off for supper, spending his week's
allowance in one evening, but I can't see it.

Now don't think I'm down on factory girls. I'm not. I've employed
heaps of them, and with mighty few exceptions they've been respectable
hard-working girls, who could hold their head up anywhere, and although
as a rule they would scratch a fellow's eyes out who tried to get fresh
with them, they don't mind paying for what they consider a good time
with a few kisses.

Now I'm not a snob, and if I ever see any signs of your becoming one,
I'll whale it out of you in jig time, for I hate a too-proud-to-speak
individual, as much as I hate a crooked leather salesman. But I'd
rather you spent your evenings in Exeter, on the piazza of those
Eaton girls to whom you introduced me, than parading the streets of
Portsmouth with a factory girl hanging on your arm.

I remember my first lesson in chivalry, and before the super. comes
in to tell me there's an embargo on freight out of Lynn, I'll pass it

I was in the grammar school, and about ten years old. One day at
recess, a little girl named Sally Perkins had a bag of peppermint candy
and was treating the other girls, when Butcher Burch, a great hulking
boy of twelve, snatched the bag out of Sal's hand and began to gobble
it as fast as he could.

I was furious, for little Sally was a nice pleasant girl who never
stuck her tongue out at me, and I should like to have whaled the
Butcher, but he had soundly thrashed me on several occasions, and I
knew he would repeat if I made any protest.


I stood hesitating. Sally was crying her head off, and the Butcher was
cramming the candy into his ugly mouth as fast as he could, when along
came my father.

"What's the trouble?" he asked.

I told him, suggesting he make the Butcher return the candy.

"That's your job," he replied.

"But he can lick me," I stammered, remembering former disastrous
battles I had fought with the bully.

"That makes no difference," replied my father. "It's just as well for
you to learn now, that whenever you see a girl or a woman insulted,
it's the business of every decent man or boy to come to her rescue. I
give you your choice of fighting that boy now, or taking a licking from
me when you come home."

I took a good look at my father and saw he meant every word he said,
and then because I hated the Butcher for what he had done to Sally, I
lowered my head and sailed in, fists flying like a windmill.

Luckily, one of my first blows hit the Butcher full on the mouth and he
let out a howl--and candy. He must have had half a pound in his mouth
when I hit him. Knowing that my only chance was to bewilder him with
my attack, I let fly everything I knew, and for a couple of minutes I
had the best of it. Then his weight and strength began to tell, and he
hammered me about as he pleased, finally landing a swing on my jaw that
knocked me off my feet.

When I came to, I found my head resting on my father's knee, while
Sally was mopping away at my bloody nose with her little, and not too
clean, handkerchief, clutching in her other hand the remnants of her
bag of candy. Young as I was I'll never forget the look of pride on my
father's face, when later he handed me over to my mother for repairs,
saying, "Patch him up, Mother, he's been fighting to protect a girl."

Ted, my boy, I want you to grow up with a reverent respect for all
women, for the worst woman who ever lived, you may be sure, had some
good qualities, and the best of them are far too good for any man.
Besides you owe it to your Ma, for no sweeter, better woman than she
ever breathed, and although there may be no real harm in the girls
you meet in Portsmouth, the sort who let a fellow pick them up on the
street and kiss them good night, are not the kind who are going to
increase your respect for women, so my advice to you is, cut it out.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _March 20, 19--_


You didn't have to write me that those boys you brought home with you
on last Sunday were wonders. They told me so themselves.

Seriously Ted, they didn't make much of a hit with me. I don't mind a
young fellow holding up his head. It's a sign of spirit the same as it
is in a horse. No man who wears his chin on his vest gets far in life,
and no one but a tin horn who's trying to throw a bluff he can ride,
wants a horse that hangs its head between its knees; but neither have I
much use for the young chap who's nose is forever pointing skyward as
though he were marching along the edge of a tanning vat on a hot summer

Spirit's all right now that we have prohibition, but superiority of
manner isn't. If you really are a man's superior he knows it, and if
you aren't and try to act as if you are, he's liable to laugh at you;
and by superior I mean superior in brains or ability to accomplish
worth while things.

Now one of your friends thought he'd impress me by saying that he
was descended from the Earl of Hampton, and he didn't like it a bit
when I told him I wouldn't hold that up against him, and that for all
I knew the Earl might have been perfectly respectable. He also said
his ancestors came over on the Mayflower, and wanted to know if any
of my family had crossed on the same ship, and I'll bet he thought I
was impossible when I told him it was more likely to have been the
Cauliflower, for the Soules were always fond of New England boiled

The other was money superior. From what he said, I learned that his dad
had made a mint out of raincoat contracts during the war, and has ever
since been setting up autos for the family like the lumber jacks used
to set up drinks for the crowd in Pat Healey's saloon on pay night.

Money's a mighty useful article to have around these days, and it's
nothing against a man if he has plenty of it, nor is it to his
discredit if he hasn't--and ancestors don't do a fellow any harm if he
keeps remembering they're dead and can't help him earn a living.

Money will buy many things worth having, but not the things most worth
while. For a poor man with a reputation for keeping his word is a
better citizen any day than a millionaire who's a liar, and I'd much
rather have a young man on my pay roll, whose family came over in the
steerage and hasn't a grudge against work, than a fellow who can trace
his ancestry back to the peerage and is trying to get by on dead men's

Now don't think I'm down on millionaires. I'm not; some of the biggest
men in this country are also the richest. But when you and I took that
trip to Washington, the men whose statues we saw in the Hall of Fame,
were not honored by their states for the money they had made, but for
what they had done, and I didn't notice any inscription reading, "John
Jenkins Stuart, Great-grandson of the Second Assistant Royal Bartender."

It's usually a poor plan to criticise a person's friends, but I'm going
to do that very thing in regard to yours, for I've had considerable
more experience than you, and I know how dangerous the wrong kind of
friends are. The right kind of friends never did anyone any harm, and
the wrong kind never did anyone any good, and take it from me, son, the
two boys you brought home over the week end are not the right kind.

Unless I'm much mistaken, one will try to get by on his ancestors'
reputation, and the other on his father's money, and neither will be
classed among the three hundred hitters when the great Umpire calls
them out.

You don't have to be ashamed of your ancestors, or my money, and it did
me a world of good to overhear you say to young Raincoats that I might
not have made a million out of the war, but there wasn't a leather
company in the country which wouldn't sell me any amount of stock I
cared to order. That's the sort of a reputation I've always tried to
deserve. It's the aim of every decent American business man, but just
the same it's fine to feel my only kid's as proud of it as I am.

Now I've met several of your schoolmates I'd sooner tie up to than the
boys you exhibited. That roommate of yours for instance. He's pretty
green yet, and his taste in neckties is awful, although it's improving,
but I'll bet that ten years from now you'll be more proud of what he's
accomplished, than he will of what you've done, unless you scratch
considerable dirt in the meantime. That other boy, the dark-haired one
from Virginia, he'll get on too; he's worth while, cultivate him.

When I was a little older than you, I once made a mistake in a friend
that had mighty serious results, and I don't want you running the same

It was when I was working in the Epping National Bank, that a pretty
slick fellow by the name of J. Peters Wellford blew into town, hired
two rooms at the Mansion House, and the best rig Sol Higgins had in
his livery stable, and settled down to live the life of a gentleman of

Now every man in Epping worked, except George Banes the town half wit,
and Jim Spencer the town drunk, and a person who labored neither with
his hands nor brains was considered not quite respectable.

J. Peters, however, didn't get drunk, and he had a wit that was sharper
than a new-honed razor, and, as he wasn't curious, paid his bills, and
seemed to mind his business and no one else's, besides having faultless
manners and a pocket full of ready money, the younger folks after a
short period of probation welcomed him with open arms.

He never made much of a hit with the old people, and as I look back I
can see it was their intuition gained by hard experience that warned
them that J. Peters was not all he seemed, although at the time I put
it down to pure envy.

From the first, J. Peters who was at least fifteen years older, took a
great fancy to me.

He was forever hanging round the bank, inviting me to dinner at the
Mansion House, driving me about the country and going fishing with me
on Saturday afternoons.

J. Peters was extremely well read, seemed to have traveled everywhere,
and knew men intimately whose names in the financial world were all
majestic. I thought J. Peters a whale of a chap and tried in every
possible way to imitate him, even to copying so far as I was able his
slow drawling way of speaking.

My father couldn't see J. Peters with a spy glass, but neither could
he prove anything to his discredit, and as I was then at the beautiful
age of eighteen when one knows so much more than he ever does again, my
father's warnings flowed out of my ears like water from a sieve.

One day, six months after J. Peters had arrived in Epping, he proposed
that I accompany him on a week end trip to Boston which I was crazy to
do, but had to refuse on account of my finances being at low tide.

J. Peters wouldn't take no for an answer, however, and finally
persuaded me to go as his guest.

We were to take the noon train on a Friday; but when Thursday night
came he called to me from the piazza of the Mansion House as I was on
my way home from work, and told me that something had come up which
would prevent his going until Saturday.

He pushed a roll of bills into my hands telling me to go as we had
planned, engage rooms at the American House, buy theatre tickets for
Saturday evening, and wait for him as he would follow on the Saturday
noon train.

His story sounded plausible enough so I followed his directions, and
had a gorgeous time until six o'clock Saturday evening came and with
it no J. Peters. I waited for him in the lobby of the hotel until
midnight, and then went to bed feeling he must have missed his train
but would show up the next day.

He didn't though, and I spent Sunday roaming around the city seeing the
sights, returning to the hotel for supper. Just as I was pushing my way
through the front door someone grabbed me, then I felt something cold
and steely clasped around my wrists, and looking up saw Hen Winters,
the sheriff of Epping County, scowling down at me.

When I recovered enough from my fright to understand what it all meant,
I learned that I was wanted for stealing $20,000 in Cash from the
Epping National Bank, and that explanations were out of order.

The bank had been robbed. J. Peters and I were missing, and the mere
fact that all the money Hen found in my pockets after a painstaking
search amounted to $9.75 didn't get me anywhere, for my intimacy with
J. Peters was known to everyone in town.

Back I went to Epping handcuffed to Hen, and the fact that we reached
home late when no one was at the station to see us, was all that kept
my folks from dying of shame.

My father stood my bail, and in a few days the detectives put matters
straight by discovering that on the night I left for Boston, J. Peters
alone had robbed the bank and made good his escape to Canada, but,
believe me, Ted, until that mess was cleaned up I felt about as joyful
as a leather merchant who's carrying a big stock in a falling market.

Now I don't believe for a minute, that either of those boys you brought
home with you over Sunday, will turn out to be a J. Peters. It takes
brains to be a successful bank robber, and in my estimation neither
has enough of that commodity to head the lowest class in a school for
feeble minded. But I do think they have enough nonsense in their heads
to get you into a peck of trouble if you continue to run with them, so
if I were you I'd cut them out.

At the best those boys may be harmless. There are a lot of things that
don't do a man any particular harm, but life is only a short stretch,
so why clutter it up with a lot of harmless things, when every young
American has the opportunity to enrich it with what is really worth

The friends you make during the next few years will be your friends
through life, and if I were you I'd select them as carefully as you do
your neckties for they will wear much longer.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _March 28, 19--_


Don't think that the old man has set up as a sort of a composite
wiseacre, who believes he knows more than Solomon, Socrates & Company.
A man can't knock around the shoe trade for thirty odd years without
picking up a pretty general line of useful knowledge, and if he has a
son, it's kind of up to him to see that the boy gets the benefit of
what his dad learned in the School of Hard Knocks. That's why I have
tried to give you some hints in my letters in regard to certain things
I would not do. Betting is one of them.

When I read your last letter in which you said you cleaned up twenty
bucks on the Indoor Games, I realized that although you were not yet
slithering down the greased toboggan slide to perdition, it wouldn't
do any harm to hand out a little advice you can use as a sort of sand
paper seat to your pants, to keep you from exceeding the speed limit.

Speaking of sand paper, reminds me of something that happened one year
on the train coming home from the Shoe and Leather Fair at St. Louis,
and as I have a few minutes before Miss Sweeney brings in the figures
on that last shipment of the Company's leather, I'll pass it on to you
for what it's worth.

I was in the observation car, trying to write a few letters amid the
chatter of a group of red hot sports, who I judged from their remarks,
were on the way home from playing the races at New Orleans. One young
fellow, in a sunset suit, was particularly noisy. Every few minutes,
he would draw a huge wad of bills out of his pocket and waving them
under his friends' noses would boast of what he was going to do to Wall
Street when he hit little old New York.

Now I have considerable respect for Wall Street's ability to take
care of itself, and somehow I couldn't picture all the old bulls and
bears putting up the shutters and hiking for the tall grass, when that
particular youth who had a chin like a fish's, landed in their midst.

The train stopped at a small town, and an old man who looked like the
greenest rube in captivity came into the car. He sat down opposite
the bunch of sports and pulling a country newspaper out of his pocket
buried himself in its pages.

From where I sat, I could see the sporting fraternity sizing him up and
presently the young loudmouth crossed over and sat down beside him.

"Nice country around here Uncle," young freshy began.

"Shore is," the old farmer answered. "So durned fine I hate tew leave
it. I bean here nigh on forty years, and I hain't left Bington more'n
twict. I sold the old farm a short spell back, and I'm going to Chicago
now to live with a granddarter."


"Have a cigar?" asked the young sport.

"Don't keer if I do," replied the farmer biting off the end, and taking
one of the safety matches from a holder on the wall of the car he tried
to strike it on the sole of his boot.

Now at that time safety matches had not been used to any great extent,
still I didn't suppose it was possible there was anyone who did not
know what they were, although I knew that in some of those small
mountain towns away from the railroad, the people were said to be a
hundred years behind the times. When the old man tried to scratch
another, and then a third, I was convinced he'd never heard of or seen
a safety match, and I wondered what he'd do next.

"Powerful pore matches, these be," he said with a grunt, as he reached
for a fourth and attempted to light it on the leg of his trousers.

A crafty, cunning look, spread over the young sport's weak face. "You
can't light those matches that way," he said.

"I'll bet I kin," the old man replied doggedly, making his fifth
unsuccessful attempt.

"What will you bet?" the young fellow asked, quickly, an evil light
gleaming in his fishy eyes.

"Wal I never yet seen a match I couldn't light on my pants. I'll bet
you a quarter."

The young man fished out his wad of bills. "I'm no tin horn," he
replied, with a sneer. "But if you want to lose your money, I'll bet
you $100 you can't light one of those matches on your trousers."

"Land sakes!" cried the old farmer. "A hundred dollars?"

"That's what I said," replied the young fellow, grinning at his pals.
"This gentleman will hold the money," he continued, peeling off a
hundred dollar bill from his roll and thrusting it into my hands.

I had just about decided to spoil the game with a little history on
safety matches, when the old farmer who had been fishing around in his
wallet, darted a shrewd glance at me, then deliberately winked.

Finally, he counted out $100 in small bills, which he handed over to
me, grabbed a safety match from the container, rubbed it on the leg of
his trousers, and when to my astonishment, it burst into flame, calmly
lighted his cigar and held out his hand for the $200 which I passed
over to him.

Later, in the pullman, as the old fellow was mooching by my chair, he
raised his coat enough to show me the side of a safety match box sewed
to the leg of his trousers.

Now the only trouble with betting, Ted, is that it's wrong. It's wrong
for several reasons. First, because it's trying to get something for
nothing; second, because a man always loses when he can't afford it;
third, because gambling of any kind will sooner or later get a young
fellow into the kind of company he don't want to introduce to his
folks; fourth, because if a fellow sticks to gambling all his life he's
pretty sure to die in the neighborhood of the poorhouse; and fifth, no
matter how slick a gambler you become, you will always meet a slicker
one, who will trim you to a fare-thee-well.

It's fine to back your teams to the limit, and I'd think you a pretty
poor sort of a stick if you didn't yell your head off at a game, but do
you think it helps to steady a players nerve in a pinch, to know that
if he doesn't deliver, his schoolmates will have to live on snow balls
or some other light refreshment for a couple of months.

No Ted, old scout, betting is not only wrong, it's foolish.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _April 6, 19--_


I agree with you, you do need a new hat. One about two sizes larger
than you have been wearing, I should judge from the line of talk you
turned loose when you were home last Sunday.

Now it's all right for a fellow to think well of himself. He'll never
get far if he doesn't, but it's just as well to be careful how you sing
your own praises, for some day your audience may consist of persons who
know the folks who live next door to you.

You've done pretty well so far in making a decent showing in your
mid-years under a big handicap, playing on the football team, and
making the glee club, besides being elected to the Plata Dates and the
student council, but you want to remember that even a vegetarian can't
live long on his laurels and keep up the good work, for you haven't
completed your school course by a good bit.

Sunday, you gave a pretty fair exhibition of enlargement of the cranium
commonly known as swelled head. That's one of the most dangerous of all
known diseases, and one you can't cure any too quickly. It's all right
to be pleased with yourself for accomplishing something worth while,
but it's all wrong to keep on being pleased with yourself unless you
keep on accomplishing things worth while.

Whenever you can look at yourself in the mirror and be satisfied, you
should consult a conscience oculist, for as sure as shooting there's
something wrong with your inner sight.

But worst of all, is to let people know you're satisfied with yourself,
and it's just as well to remember that the word I is the most
superfluous in the English language.

Hot air may be a necessity in the Balloon corps, but the private
offices in the factory are steam heated, and the men who sit in them
are not there because they talk about themselves, but because they
think for the firm.

The reason I'm handing you a pretty stiff dose in this letter, is
principally because you need it. I've seen a lot of promising young
fellows start out with a rush, and then after they have made a moderate
success, become so satisfied with themselves that they stick in a small
job, when they have the ability to go much higher if they could stand

There is always an over production of beginners but the supply of
completers is never equal to the demand, and I want you to remember
that the 31st of December is just as good a day on which to do business
as January first.

It's all very nice to be considered the biggest man in your class, but
you aren't going to be long if you go around telling people how big you
are. Keep from making liars of the friends who praise you, and remember
that persons who try to show off their greatness usually end by showing
it up.

A horse who rushes the field for the first quarter doesn't always
finish in the lead. No one deserves much credit for starting out with
a big splash. It's the fellow who's doing business at the finish who
really counts.

You've been a little too successful so far this year in everything
except your studies, and your success has settled in your head.

Now don't think I'm not glad you are popular with your schoolmates: I
am, but I'd much rather you weren't quite so popular with yourself. I
don't want to rub it in Ted, but I do want you to realize that it's a
blamed sight easier to reduce a swelled head when it's young than after
it begins to get bald.

I had my little experience when I was super. at Clough & Spinney's in
Georgetown so I'll pass it along to you for what its worth.

I'd started in as a boy in the shipping room, been promoted to shipping
clerk, then I'd worked as a laster, going from that to the sole leather
room. I'd married and been promoted to foreman, and having saved some
money I'd bought a little house which was nearly paid for when I was
made super.

I was about as happy a young fellow as you could find in all the New
England shoe trade, for I'd been progressing steadily ever since I'd
started work and it looked like a rosy future ahead.

As I look back now, I see that it was my help that made my success
possible quite as much as my own efforts. Americans to the backbone,
everyone of them! Steady going respectable men and women some of whom
had been working in the shop when I was born, and who would have told
any agitator to mind his own business, who might have undertaken to
tell them they were working too hard.

Well, anyway, at the end of two years I had that little factory running
as slick as a greased pig, and I was wearing a self-satisfied smile in
consequence that I didn't even try to conceal, for old Hiram Spinney
had taken to calling me William, and Ezra Clough used to invite your Ma
and me to supper most every Sunday evening.

Then one day old Hiram landed a whopping big government contract, and
it was up to me to make the shoes according to specifications and on

Well sir, there was a great bustle and hurrying around the little shop,
extra hands were hired, new machinery installed, and then I started for
Boston to buy the leather.

For the first time I was doing business in a really big way, and I was
so full of the size of the order I was to place, I felt sure there
was only one leather company that could handle my business, so I
pooh-poohed several salesmen whom I met on South Street, and who having
heard of our government contract assured me they had blocks of leather
I could use to good advantage.

I bought my leather at what I considered a very good figure, had a good
lunch at the old United States, and sat around the lobby for a while
talking with the shoe and leather men I knew, letting it be pretty
generally understood that as a superintendent I was some punkins.

Then on the strength of my wonderful ability as a buyer, I went up town
and blew in about $100 on a new outfit for myself and some presents for
your Ma.

When I took the train for Georgetown that evening, I ran bang into old
Hiram Spinney and as we settled down in the same seat, he began to quiz
me about the orders I had placed.

Full of pride because I considered I had bought to the best advantage,
I started in to tell the old man what a great superintendent he had,
poking a good deal of scorn at the foolish salesmen who had tried to
interest me in their small blocks of leather, when I was out to buy a
large quantity.

Old Hiram didn't say anything until I got through praising myself,
which took some time as I was thoroughly sold on the idea.

When I'd finished, he looked at me out of the corner of his eye.

"Didn't even bother to look at those small lots of leather?" he asked.

"Nope, couldn't waste my time on 'em," I replied.

"I did," he answered, "looked pretty good to me too."

He went on telling me the prices quoted on each lot, describing the
leather so accurately I knew I had passed by some mighty good things.

Gee! Ted, I could feel myself all shrivel up like a red toy balloon
after a kid sticks a pin in it. I'd eaten a mighty good supper, but I
felt hollow inside, and I guess my face looked as though I was seasick,
for as near as I could figure I'd paid $12,000 more for my leather than
I needed to have done.

Old Hiram let me squirm until the train reached Georgetown and we had
stumbled off on to the platform.

"Thought maybe you'd like to know I bought those odd blocks," he said
as I started for home.

"You did!" I replied, for I couldn't see how we possibly could use them
along with what I'd purchased.


"What about the lot I bought?" I asked.

"I just stepped in and cancelled your order ten minutes after you'd

I was so happy I could have yelled for joy and at the same time I felt
like two bits and a nickel.

"William," said old Hiram walking up and laying a hand on my shoulder,
"you're a good boy, and you've done real well, but lately you've given
signs of being too self-satisfied. Forget your own importance for the
next ten years and then you will have reason to be proud."

He gave me a friendly little pat, and trudged off into the dark.

Old Hiram cured me. To this day I've remembered his advice, and tried
to follow it. It's still bully good dope. I'd play it for all its
worth if I were you.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _April 30, 19--_


Frankly Ted, I don't see how you ever did it. I have had some
experience with expense accounts having twenty salesmen on the road;
but no travelling man I have employed, ever had the nerve to present
such a collection of outrageous bills as was contained in your last

I'll admit, I was prepared for a few modest accounts, mostly for
extra food, for a boy your age is nearly always hungry, and of course
they starve you at the Commons, although I managed to get quite a
substantial meal there the night I had dinner with you. But as near as
I can judge the Exeter townspeople must be on the verge of starvation,
for surely you have consumed all the food supplies in all the stores in
the township.

I put you on an allowance this year, so you could learn how to handle
money, and so far the net result has been that you have given a most
perfect example of how not to do it.

A boy who can't keep pretty close to his allowance, is going to grow
into a man who can't live within his income, and neither are going to
score many touchdowns in the game of life, although they may do a whole
lot of flashy playing between the twenty yard lines. Besides, it's just
as well to remember that no one yet ever succeeded in eating his way
into Who's Who.

Perhaps some of it is hereditary, though, for I remember when your
Uncle Ted first went away to school, your grandmother gave him an
allowance and made him promise to keep account of every cent he spent.

When he came home on his first vacation, she sat down with him and
went over his accounts, on the whole much pleased, because he had kept
within what she had given him.

Every third or fourth entry was S. P. G. and being a devoutedly
religious woman she was delighted to find her boy had given so much
of his money to the Society for Propagation of the Gospel, until Ted,
being honest, had to own up that S. P. G. stood for Something, Probably

Your bills for extra feed, would make those of a stable full of
trotting horses look like the meal tickets of a flock of dyspeptic
canaries. But I don't mind those so much for I don't want to see you

What I do mind is six silk shirts at twelve per, and a dozen silk sox
at three dollars a pair. Now when you are making $15,000 a year which
you won't be for some time, if you want to pay twelve dollars for a
shirt that's your funeral, although I rather suspect that by then you
will have found out that real good shirts can be bought much cheaper.


Of course when you had bought a few shirts at twelve dollars a throw, a
dressing gown at forty, and silk pajamas at $15 came real natural.

Did I ever tell you how a necktie cost me $150? Well I will, before the
super. comes in and tells me there's a new strike in the stitching room.

I was nineteen, and had been clerking for three years in Jed Barrow's
store. Jed was so busy putting sand in the sugar, and mixing his Java
with a high grade of chicory, he didn't have much time to think of
advancing my wages, but I was careful, I had to be, and at the end of
three years I had saved $178. I never have forgotten the exact figures,
because it came so blamed hard.

There, one day, Jed suggested I take a week's vacation. I think he was
afraid I was going to ask for a raise, and did it to get me out of the
way, but as my Uncle Ezra had invited me to visit him in Boston I took
my week, without pay, and hiked to the big town.

Uncle Ezra was the aristocrat of the family. He lived in one of those
old yellow brick houses on Beacon Hill just across from the common,
the kind with the lavender glass in the downstairs windows, and if
the old man hadn't been so busy being an aristocrat, he'd have made
a first-rate radical, for he was continually writing letters to the
Transcript complaining about everything as it was.

Uncle Ezra greeted me cordially enough, until he caught sight of my
necktie which I'll admit was somewhat bewhiskered and more green than

"My boy, what an awful tie!" he exclaimed.

"Really, you must let me buy you another," and he pulled some money out
of his pocket.

Being proud, I refused, making some excuses about not having time to
buy a new one. The first chance I got, I scooted across to a fancy
haberdasher on Tremont Street, and picking out a handsome dark-blue tie
told the clerk to wrap it up. I had never paid more than a quarter for
a tie, and when he calmly told me it was two dollars I almost fainted,
but I felt I couldn't very well refuse to take it so I went to the back
of the store and put it on. Do you know Ted, when that rich silk tie
was contrasted with my blue serge that had seen considerable service as
Sunday best, I felt about as comfortable as a man in overalls wearing a
plug hat.

He who hesitates is sold. I hesitated, and the next thing I knew a
smart young salesman was selling me a new suit, then I noticed the
shoes I was wearing were patched. Well, sir, before I finished I had
a complete new outfit, and that store had $150 of my money. It didn't
worry me any until I was passing the Savings Bank at home. Then it
struck me all of a sudden that in a week I had spent what it had taken
three years of back-twisting work to save, and that the net result of
my labor I could show in money was exactly nothing.

Ever since I have spent a little less than I earned, and that is a
bully principle for you to imitate. I hate a tightwad, Ted, as much as
you do; but I hate what is commonly known as a good spender a blame
sight more. I don't want you to grow into a man who groans every time
he spends a cent, and neither do I want you to feel that money is like
the smallpox to be gotten rid of as quickly as possible.

A good spender is usually a man who believes in giving himself a good
time, and who leaves his wife to take in boarders and his children to
shift for themselves.

Now I'm going to pay your food bills, this time for I don't believe the
Exeter townspeople will get much to eat until the storekeepers collect
the money owing them, and can lay in a new stock; but you are going to
pay for those silk shirts, pajamas, and other dodads, at the rate of
three dollars a week until you've paid me back what I advance. Then
after you have paid in full, if you want to buy more on the same terms
all right.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _May 10, 19--_


If I'd had time before I left Exeter last week, you and I would have
had a heart to heart talk about some of those freak books and magazines
I found strewn all over your room.

"Equalization of the Masses," "The Worker's Share," and "The
Exploitation of the People," are heavy-sounding titles, and the
contents, I should judge from my hurried examination, would be about as
easy to digest as a bake-shop plum pudding.

Your study table also seemed to be carrying more than its share of
long-haired magazines, and although I read some of their foolishness
just to see how foolish they really were, I was afraid all the time I
was looking at them, some one would come in and catch me.

Now I've read a considerable number of fool articles in my life, but
that one on "Soviet Government for the United States," wins in a walk.
How anybody outside of Danvers could believe in such nonsense is beyond
me, especially after what has happened in Russia, but as old Jed
Bigelow used to say, "There ain't nothin' so foolish but some critter
will believe it," and Jed was right.

When you told me a few weeks ago you had joined the Radical Club, I
thought it was just a kid fad you'd taken up to have a little something
extra to do, but I didn't imagine you'd started in to support all the
crack-brained, long-haired, wild-eyed writers who are making a living
out of the good nature of this country.

Radicalism is mighty dangerous business Ted, about as safe as smoking
cigarettes in a patent leather factory, and if I really thought you
believed you were in sympathy with all that nonsense I'd whale you good.

The trouble with you is you're just beginning to think a little for
yourself. Now thinking for yourself is fine, but until you begin to
direct your thoughts in the right direction you're a good deal like
the cannon Uncle Abijah invented during the Spanish War. It was a
first-rate gun when he could control it, but it was as likely to kill
the people behind it as those at whom it was aimed, so Uncle Abijah
gave it up as a bad job after it had blown off most of his whiskers and
a couple of fingers.

These radical galoots who want to tip everything in the country upside
down from the constitution to the movies get under my hide, and if I
had my way I'd make everyone of them work at least eight hours a day
and bathe oftener than every thirty-first of February.

It makes me mad clear through, to see these snakes who leave their own
countries because the sheriff wants 'em, busy before the immigration
authorities can disinfect 'em, plotting to overthrow the government who
gives 'em the only chance they ever had.

In a republic all men are born equal, but that's all. It's nonsense to
suppose that a good for nothing loafer who makes his living by stirring
up hatred against law and order, is the equal of a decent, God-fearing,
hard-working citizen, who minds his own business, pays taxes, and tries
to raise a family of straight Americans, and if anyone tries to tell
me two such men are equal, I'll let him know mighty quick I think he's
either a liar or a blame fool.

A lot of children cut open their dolls to see what's inside, and a
lot of folks who ought to know better are monkeying around with this
radicalism business to see what's in it. I can tell you what's in it:
"Nothing!" and working to promote nothing is a fool's job.

Now you may think I'm too conservative, but I believe that when Thomas
Jefferson & Co. wrote the constitution of the United States they did
a pretty fair job, and until some one can improve on it, which hasn't
been done yet, I'm backing up the old constitution with every bit of my

Whenever I hear of anyone becoming interested in radicalism, it always
reminds me of an old fellow by the name of Charlie Gabb who lived in
Epping. Now Gabb was rightly named, for he used to hang around Sol.
Whittaker's store filling the place with hot air, until Sol. nailed
chicken wire over the top of his cracker barrels.

Gabb was against everything as it was. Nothing was right, work
included, I guess, for he was never known to do any, and was supported
by a long-suffering wife who used to earn their living by going out
working by the day. He was agin the government, and agin all law, and
claimed all wealth should be divided equally among the people. There
wasn't anything he couldn't improve on, but as he was harmless in spite
of all his talk, no one paid any serious attention to him.

Gabb went on talking for a number of years, without exciting any of the
Epping folks over much, and then the woolen mill was built, and a lot
of Poles came to town to work in it.

They were hard working, saving sort of people, but as they had only
just come over from Poland where I imagine they had a pretty rough time
with the Germans on one side and the Russians on the other, both trying
to rob them of everything they had, they were down on all governments
on general principles, and it wasn't long before old Gabb had made a
big impression on them. I don't know as they could be blamed for Gabb
could talk louder, and longer, and faster, than anyone else I ever
heard, and I'll admit that some of the stuff he had to offer sounded
pretty well, until one sat down and started to figure out what it
really meant.

Those Poles couldn't have understood much Gabb said, but it sort of
flattered them to have an American take any notice of them, so in
a short time Gabb became their leader, and used to gather them all
together twice a week, on the common, and give them a harangue that
would make your hair curl.

Then Epping got the surprise of its life, for one day the Poles quit
the woolen mill in a body, and under old Gabb's leadership hiked over
to a deserted village five miles back in the hills, where they lived a
community life sharing everything alike.

This was a splendid arrangement for Gabb, for never having had
anything, when it came time to divide up what there was, Gabb got a
little something from each family, and owning nothing himself he didn't
have anything to give away. Then, too, as chief of the tribe, he was
allotted the best house, and was altogether much better off than he had
ever been in his life.

For a time, the village prospered, for the Poles were workers, and
weren't afraid to put in a little overtime when their farms needed it,
and old Gabb whenever he drove over to Epping used to crow over the
success of his socialistic experiment.

Now Gabb had a brother who lived at Bristol Centre, who was a regular
fellow, and couldn't see the Epping member of his family with a
telescope. The Bristol Centre Gabb had worked hard all his life, and
owned one of the largest hog ranches in New England. One day, this
brother who was a bachelor died, and Charlie suddenly found himself the
owner of a farm and about two thousand hogs.


Now if Charlie Gabb really believed what he'd been preaching for years,
he'd have divided up his farm and two thousand hogs among the Poles,
who'd been more or less supporting him, but he did nothing of the kind.
He left his socialistic friends and moved over to Bristol Centre,
taking possession of his brother's farm, hogs, and all.

The Poles heard of their leader's good fortune and waited patiently for
him to divide. Nothing doing. Finally, a committee went over and asked
old Gabb when the grand division of pigs was to take place, and he
chased them off his farm with a pitchfork.

A week later, in the middle of the night, Epping was awakened by the
greatest yelling, and squeaking, and grunting, that was ever heard in
one place in the history of the world.

The Poles had raided old Gabb's hog farm, and were driving through
Epping what they considered their share of his property.

Old Gabb was trailing along behind, cursing and howling for the
sheriff, who when he heard what had happened couldn't be found,
although I remember seeing him hanging out his window in his night
shirt, laughing so hard I thought he'd bust.

Old Gabb started about a hundred lawsuits, but everyone sympathized
with the Poles, and as one pig looks about as much like another as
two peas do, Gabb couldn't swear to his property, so he lost every
case. From the time of the great pig raid until he died, Gabb was
the staunchest conservative in the country, and if anyone mentioned
socialism to him he nearly had a fit.

Now, Ted, you are going to cut out this radical business pronto, toot
sweet, and at once, and if I don't hear from you within a week that you
have resigned from that Radical Club and severed diplomatic relations
with that sort of nonsense, you'll leave Exeter so quick you won't know
what hit you, for as long as I'm head of the Soule tribe, no member of
my family is going to do anything that can in any manner be regarded
as harmful to the country that our grandfathers fought for from Bunker
Hill to Gettysburg.

I know that it is curiosity that has interested you in radicalism.
Well, try to realize that in these trying days when the whole future of
the world is at stake, every American no matter how young, has as stern
a duty to perform in upholding law and order as ever our continentals
had at Valley Forge.

Organize an American Club. Get together the biggest boys you can and
start a club to teach the young foreigners who work in the mills and
factories that America gives a square deal to all.

Show these young fellows through teaching them our American sports,
that clean playing and good sportsmanship are two of the biggest
things in life. Help teach them to build up, not tear down. You Exeter
boys are only boys, and yet as Americans there is nothing you cannot
accomplish; and God knows that to help in every possible way, the
newcomers among us, to understand our American ideals is as great a
privilege as was given to the boys who went "over there," that liberty
might not perish from the earth.

Make me proud of you my boy, not ashamed. Make me feel that when I take
down the old family Bible and turn to its fly leaf, where the history
of our family has been written for generations, that in time your name
will be worthy of a place beside those of our men who did their part in
making the United States the greatest nation the world has ever known.

Play up Ted! You're one of the country's pinch hitters, and I know you
can be depended upon to deliver.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _May 26, 19--_


You can't imagine how proud I am of this new American Club of yours,
and the school is too, if the letters I received from the principal,
and most of the professors are good indications of what they feel. The
Boston papers have taken it up, and as you have probably seen, Andover
is forming an American Club for the young foreigners in the Lawrence
mills, and yesterday when I met the Governor, he asked to be introduced
to you when he speaks in Lynn next week.

This sort of work is so much more worth while than the radical
business, I know you can't help feeling you're a better American for
having undertaken it, and you may be sure that when you are older,
you'll get a heap of satisfaction out of the thought, that there are a
lot of good Americans who might have grown up to be trouble makers, if
you and your friends hadn't helped to steer them into good citizenship.

If I were you, I'd accept the principal's offer for the use of the
vacant room in the Administration Building. Fit it up as a reading
room with a lot of the best magazines, histories of the United States,
and lives of famous Americans for the young foreigners who can read
English, and get some of the instructors to help teach the ones who
can't. Thursday I'll send you a check for $200 which I've raised among
a few friends. This will help buy the books, so in the fall when school
reopens, you'll be ready to start things with a rush.

As to where you are going to college when you finish school, I wouldn't
worry about that now if I were you. Finish school first, by then you'll
probably know where you want to go.

I've always found it a pretty good rule to follow, never to worry about
another job, until I've finished the one I'm working on. There are lots
of people who make themselves sick worrying about things that never
happen, when they might as well save their doctor's bills and enjoy

Personally, I think it doesn't make much difference where you go, as
long as you go to college to do a fair amount of work, and not just to
play football and have a good time.

There are a lot of advantages in going to one of the big universities,
where you can study anything from Egyptian Hair Dressing in the fourth
century B. C., to the vibrations caused by an airplane flying at one
hundred miles an hour, and where you have the advantage of wonderful
libraries, museums, and laboratories, to help you in your work.

Then again, the small college with its solid academic course, based
principally on honest to goodness horse sense, is a pretty good place,
for not having fifty-seven varieties of courses, it's apt to rub
thoroughly into a boy's hide what it does have to offer.


When the time comes for you to go to college I'm not going to
interfere, I am going to let you make your own choice; but as that time
is nearly two years away, I'd do a little more thinking about how you
are going to pass your final exams, this year, than worrying about what
college you are going to enter a year from next fall.

You remind me of a clerk, by the name of Charlie Harris, I once had in
the factory. Charlie was a good, hard working boy, came to me right
from high school, and as he didn't seem to have a grudge against the
hands of the clock because they moved slowly, and was always willing to
do a little more than his share of the work, I became interested in him.

Charlie had one queer trick, though, he was never satisfied with
finishing the job he had on hand, but was forever worrying about the
next bit of work he might have to do, not worrying mind you, because he
had the next job coming to him. As I said before Charlie wasn't afraid
of work, but he was always afraid something was going to queer the
future job, before he could get to it, and get it finished.


One winter, when you were a little chap, my shipper got the grippe and
was out for three months. I wished his job on Charlie, and Charlie made
good although you never would have thought so from the length of his
face. Our shipments were sent out on time, well packed, and properly
routed, but Charlie was as doleful as a rejected suitor at a pretty
girl's wedding.

There wasn't a day, he didn't come in and spill gloom all over my
office, prophesying that soon every thing would go wrong. Nothing
happened though, so I used to laugh at him, and tell him to forget it.

Early in February, I was due to make a big shipment of shoes to a
jobbers' warehouse on or before March first.

Everything had gone smoothly. I'd had no labor troubles, had bought my
stock right, and stood to make a nice juicy profit, for on the first
day of February all the shoes were in cases in the shipping room, ready
to start on their journey to Chicago.


On the night of the second, it started to snow, for three days it came
down in perfect clouds burying Lynn four feet deep.

For three days traffic was completely stalled, for although the snow
was wet and sticky when the storm started, along in the afternoon of
the second day, it turned cold, with the result that the whole mass
turned into ice, and made it impossible to clear the streets.

Still I wasn't worrying any, for Jim Devlin my old truckman, I knew,
would be among the first to do business as soon as it was possible to
get through the streets, and I still had several days leeway before my
shoes must start for Chicago.

On the morning of the fifth day when pungs were beginning to get
around, Charlie gloomed into my office, and informed me that Devlin
hadn't a single team on runners, having the previous fall traded off
all his pungs for drays. Devlin had been so sure he could hire enough
pungs to take care of our big shipment, he hadn't even told us the fix
he was in, until having tried every teamster and livery stable within
miles of Lynn, he found he couldn't get a single one. Everybody wanted
pungs, and the truckmen who owned any were rushing theirs night and day
to take care of their regular customers.


I tried to borrow from everyone I knew, with no luck, for all the
shoe manufacturers had use for every pung they could get their hands
on to get their own shoes to the freight yards. Finally, I gave up in
disgust, and sat down to figure out my loss, when I happened to glance
out the window of my office, that looks out on the alley that leads to
our shipping room door.

There were about three hundred kids lined up there, each one with
a sled, and I wondered what in the world they were up to, when one
staggered around the corner of our building, dragging a sled after him,
on which was perched a shoe case with "The Princess Shoe," stencilled
in red letters across the top.

I let out a whoop, and dove for the shipping room, where I found
Charlie and his crew as busy as ants, tying cases of shoes onto the
kids sleds as fast as the boys backed them up to the shipping-room door.

Before night, every case of shoes had been delivered to the freight
yards, and Charlie's pay had been increased $10 a week, but the next
morning when I reached the factory, I found him almost weeping because
he was afraid that when the snow melted it would flood our shipping
room which in those days was level with the street.

For five years after that, I used Charlie as a sort of pinch hitter
around the factory giving him all sorts of work, but never letting him
know what his next job was to be, and as he couldn't worry about what
was coming, he more than made good.

Ted, any real college is a good college. It's all up to you, for so far
as I know, there's nothing to prevent you learning a lot in any one of
them. The thing for you to do for the next two years, is to study hard
at Exeter, then when it comes time to take your exams, you needn't be
afraid about being able to get into any college you choose.

I'll be in Exeter Saturday to have a look at your American Club, and at
his special request I'm bringing the Governor's private secretary with
me. So long old boy.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _June 8, 19--_


If the super. had come in, and told me the hands were going to strike,
unless I lowered the piecework rates, I wouldn't have been more
surprised, than I was at your last letter. It was some shock; and at
first I couldn't believe you were serious; after re-reading it I see
you are, and I guess a few hints from the old man may help relieve
the pain a bit, for it's as plain as your Aunt Sarah you're going to
suffer, no matter how your love affair turns out.

To me, the idea of your really being in love, seems as impossible as
Trotsky being elected Alderman by the Beacon Hill Ward of Boston, but
it doesn't take a specialist to diagnose the symptoms, and from the
stuff you have spilled all over the pages of your last letter, I should
say you had an acute case with a fever going on 105 degrees.

Now, I say no matter how things turn out it is going to be painful, and
at your age and vast experience of life, it can only turn out one way,
and that's a broken heart for you for about a week, and then a gradual
interest in life, until two weeks from now the outcome of the baseball
game with Andover, will be even more important to you than how to get
enough to eat between meals.

There's one thing you have done though Ted, you've played fair with the
old man, and that's entered on the credit side of your ledger, although
you may not think so when you've finished this letter. I am glad you
introduced me to the girl at the game last Saturday, and I assure you I
enjoyed every minute of her society, and would again, for she and I had
a lot in common, both of us being practical business men. But when it
comes to having her for a daughter-in-law, I can think up more reasons
for not wanting her, than a jobber can for refusing to stock a line of
shoes he feels may be out of style, before he can unload them on the

In the first place, Ted, I should judge she is slightly older than you,
about eight years is my guess, and although eight years is all right
when it's on the man's side, it's apt to be pretty awkward when your
wife is constantly referred to by strangers as your mother; likely to
make you feel foolish, and the lady peevish; and about the time you'll
be thinking of changing from tennis to golf, she'll be changing from
one piece dresses to wrappers, and wrappers never yet kept a man's eyes
from straying in other directions.

Miss Shepard is good looking, I'll admit; real attractiveness though
in spite of the soap advertisements and beauty doctors, is more than
skin deep, and you must remember that no matter how perfect a surface a
thing has, it's the quality underneath that counts.

After all there's not much difference between girls and sole leather. A
run of leather on the warehouse floor, may look like nice profits, and
when it's cut you find it didn't figure out at all as you expected; and
a girl may look like a June morning before marriage, and turn out an
equinoctial storm afterwards.

A smart shoe man, doesn't buy a block of leather without sizing up
what's under the grain, and a young man when looking around for steady
company can well do likewise. I don't want you to think I have anything
against good looks, I haven't and if you can get them with other
qualities, all right. It must be tough, to have to sit opposite a face
at breakfast, that curdles the milk in your coffee, but better that and
sizzling ham and eggs, than a rose bud for looks, and cold oatmeal.

Your lady-love didn't strike me as a young woman of means, and as for
your capital, it consists principally of some loud clothes and a fair
knowledge of football, neither being what you might call liquid assets,
when it comes to setting up housekeeping. And speaking of housekeeping,
do you think she is the kind of girl, who would enjoy getting three
squares a day, running the vacuum cleaner in between, with dish washing
and mending as side lines?

Now Hortense may be only six or eight years older than you. In wisdom
she's nearly twenty, and you had better believe she's got no fool ideas
about trying to live on three dollars a day, with sugar twenty cents
a pound. No girl who's lived all her life in an academy town is so
foolish as that, and if you think I'm going to finance you a couple of
years from now, in a home of your own, you're taking off with the wrong

I know I married when I was only twenty and was getting $18.00 a week,
but your Ma is one woman in a million, a country town girl who was
taught housekeeping from childhood, and who could make a dollar go
further than even the immortal George, when he made his famous throw
from deep center in the Potomac League. She could take my week's pay on
a Saturday night, after having set aside the rent and insurance money,
buy enough food for the next week, the clothes we needed, and still
have some left to tuck away in the savings bank. And right here, let
me tell you if you ever make another crack like you did two weeks ago,
about your Ma wearing too many rings, I'll give you the worst licking
you ever had. Perhaps she does, but she likes 'em, and when I think of
the work those fingers have done for us, she's welcome to cover 'em
with rings, if she likes, and her thumbs also for that matter.

Your Ma made me, and the right girl is the best inspirer of success a
young fellow can have, while the wrong kind, is about as much help to
a man trying to shin up the greased pole of success, as a nice thick
coating of lard on his fingers.

Probably you don't remember John White. John and I were great pals when
we were boys. Used to swim, play ball, and hunt together, fought at
least one pitched battle a week, but when any one touched either of us,
the other was on the intruder like a wildcat. We both got married about
the same time, and John who was sensible as he could be in most things,
picked out a girl who hadn't the brains of an intelligent guinea pig.

We were both working in Clough & Spinney's at the time, and three
months after John was married, he had indigestion, and was wearing
safety pins on his clothes instead of buttons.

Noon hours, he used to tell me what a lucky fellow he was to have
married Priscilla, but as the weeks went by his praises seemed to lack
the right ring, although I must say he did his best.

I often wondered how he was getting along, for in my estimation
Priscilla Brown was pretty much of a lightweight, and although a nice
enough girl, about as useful around a house, as one of those iron dogs
some folks have on their front lawns. One day, John invited us over
to Topsfield, where he lived, to supper. When we got there, I thought
your Ma would have a fit. She's as orderly as a West Point Cadet, and
there were clothes strewn all over John's parlor, and more dust on the
furniture, than there is in some of the seashore lots the fly-by-night
real estate companies sell.

We waited, and waited, and then waited some more for our supper.
Finally, we had it, everything out of a can and cold, but the prize
performance came when Priscilla started to serve jam and bread for
dessert. She put down beside me, a loaf of bread she said she had just
baked, and asked me to cut it. I tried. All I had was a knife. What I
needed was a chisel. In my efforts to hack through the crust, the loaf
slipped off the table and landed like a thousand bricks on my pet corn.
I hollered right out, and made an enemy of Priscilla for life.

After supper, while Priscilla and your Ma were doing the dishes, John
and I held a funeral in his back yard, and buried that loaf of bread
beside a stone wall at the rear of the garden. A month later, old Josh
Whipple who was near sighted, struck it while he was mending John's
wall, and before he realized it wasn't a stone, he had slapped it into
a hole in the wall with a lot of mortar. It stayed there until the next
winter, when the weather finally destroyed it.

John had brains, and ambition, and was never an enemy of work, but
to-day he is foreman of the making room in a measely little Maine
factory, when he might be running his own, and it was only Priscilla
who queered him. Whenever he'd manage to put by a little money, she
always needed a new set of furs, or a vacation, or a thousand other
things which she got. John never got his factory.

After all, I think I'm indebted to Hortense Shepard, for letting you
spend most of your allowance on her, and clutter up her front porch on
spring evenings. You might be spending your time and my money, in worse
places. I'm not going to forbid you seeing her. What I am going to do
is to ask you as man to man, if you don't think it would be fairer to
the lady in question, not to propose until you have some visible means
of support? Just think of the awful hole you'd be in, if you did, and
she called your bluff and said, "Yes."


A school widow like Hortense, isn't a bad institution after all, for
she gives a young man like you a chance to be in a love with a nice
girl, even if she is old enough to be, let's say, his aunt. I'd ease
off gradually, there, if I were you. I'm sure it won't keep her awake
nights, if you call only once a week instead of five times. For no
matter how much you may think she cares, she doesn't, any more than for
any nice young fellow, who'll give her candy and flowers, and beau her
around to the games.

After you've gone through school and college, and have been in the
factory long enough to have faint glimmers of shoemaking, it'll be time
enough to think of getting married. Now, I'd spend more time with the
queens of history and less time with those of Exeter.

Don't take it too hard my boy, and remember that when the right time
and right girl come along, the old man will be rooting tooth and nail
for you to win.

     Your affectionate father,


     LYNN, MASS.,
     _June 16, 19--_


Well son the school year is about over now and taking it all in all
you haven't done so badly. Of course that probation mess last winter
was not at all to my liking, and I could have survived the shock of
a higher average of marks for the year, still I think you have given
promises of better things to come.

When I asked you last Sunday what you intended doing this summer
vacation, thinking you had planned hanging around home most of the
time, I must say I was startled to learn the itinerary you had laid out
for yourself. It looks as though you were going to be about as busy as
the Prince of Wales was when he was visiting in New York, and he was
busier than a one-armed paper hanger with St. Vitus dance.

Now I never believed in bringing you up on the all work and no play
theory, but from the jobs you've set yourself I should judge you will
be working harder at playing this summer than you ever did at anything

Newport, Narragansett, Magnolia, Kenneybunkport, and Bar Harbor are not
exactly the places I should choose to get rested in for a coming year
of work, but you are young and maybe you can stand it. Still I don't
want you to make the mistake I did the year of the panic.

Nineteen seven was some year for me. Business was so jumpy I never
knew when I came home at night whether the next day would bring the
sheriff into the factory, or whether I might get a big order that would
float me safely over the rocks. By June, I had lost thirty pounds and
couldn't sleep nights, but the sheriff wore a disappointed look when
I met him, and I didn't have to walk on the opposite sidewalk when I
passed the Company's store in Boston.

Your Ma had been doing considerable worrying about my being overworked,
and when I had pulled things around so that I could breathe again, she
suggested a vacation. I agreed having in my mind a nice, quiet, little
village on the Maine coast, where I could lie around in the sun and
dose, or go fishing when I felt real rambunctious. Now your Ma, had
just been reading a book called, "The Invigoration of the Human Mind
and Body," by some fellow with a string of letters after his name.

Professor Wiseacre claimed that to get a thorough rest a person should
spend his vacations in doing exactly the opposite from what he did the
rest of the year, and as much as I should like to I can't quarrel with
him about that, but what I am ready to go to the mat with him for, was
his elaboration of this theory into the fact that if a person kept away
from society most of the year, his vacation should be spent in the
midst of its giddy whirl.

Your Ma was thoroughly sold on this idea, although I calculate she
didn't have to be persuaded much harder than a shoe jobber does to take
a thousand cases at present prices, when he thinks the market is going

I fell for it. Your Ma ordered a lot of sixty horse power clothes,
and we rented a big cottage at Magnolia. Now I knew Magnolia was
fashionable; but it's on the coast so I thought that once in a while I
could slip away in a dory for a few hours' fishing off Norman's Woe,
or get over to Gloucester for a chin with some of the captains of the
fleet; but I soon found out that I had about as much chance of doing
either as a rabbit has of dying of old age in the snake cage at the zoo.

The first morning, I came down in an old suit and flannel shirt, with a
cod line in my pocket, carrying a can full of clams for bait. When your
Ma saw me she waved me back like a traffic cop, and asked in a hurt
tone if I had forgotten we were going to take our meals at the hotel. I
had. I never did again. I changed into white flannels and stood around
on the hotel piazza after breakfast saying, "Fine morning, Glad to meet
you," while your Ma renewed her acquaintance with a number of ladies.
About eleven, I tried to make a break, but learned I was to escort to
the beach a crowd of females aged fifteen to seventy-five.

I sat on the beach for an hour getting my shoes full of sand, and then
it was time to convey the crowd back to the hotel for lunch. Next, we
went for an auto ride, stopping at the Grill for tea, after which it
was time to dress for dinner, and then I had to stick around at a dance
until after midnight.

I kept this up for two weeks, and the only time I escaped was one rainy
day when I managed to dodge the hotel debating society, and get in a
morning's fishing before it cleared up.

In two weeks, I was so fed up with changing my clothes, and going to
the beach, and having tea, and hanging around dances, I just longed for
the peaceful clatter of the making room, and would have done something
desperate, if I hadn't met a young doctor who was making a great
reputation advising people to do just what they wanted.

He told me I needed a complete change. I didn't put up any argument
against that, and I sort of hinted the factory would be the most
complete change I could think of; so he ordered me back to work and
charged me a tremendous fee, but it was worth it, for in two weeks
after I had returned, I felt rested.

Now I had rather hoped you and I would get a chance to pal around
together this summer, for you will be away from home quite a lot
during the next few years, and I want to be a real chum to you, Ted.
I never had any use for the father and son business where the old man
says, "Why, good morning Reginald," in a sort of a surprised tone as
though he suddenly remembers he has a son after all. I want to be a
real friend of yours, in on your good times, and ready to lend a hand
whenever it's needed. In a few years I want to change the firm name
from William Soule & Company to William Soule & Son, and I want it
to be more than a change in the firm's name. I want it to be a real

We'll be glad to have you home again Ted, even if it's only between
trips, for you've been missed this year, my boy. Your Ma and I aren't
as young as we were, and there's been many an evening when I've been
reading the paper, and she's been sewing, and neither of our minds on
what we were doing, for we were thinking of a hulking kid of ours. Some
years from now when you have a boy of your own you'll understand.

That's why, I guess, I hoped you'd be at home a lot this summer, and
that later you and I could take a fishing trip together, but I promised
you you could do anything within reason this vacation and my word has
never been broken. We'll expect you Thursday.

     Your affectionate father,


P. S. Bully for you, Ted. Your letter saying you are going to chuck all
the fancy stuff and stay home this summer just came. You couldn't have
pleased us more, and I've cabled old Indian Joe to save us two weeks in
August. You and I are going to Newfoundland after salmon. Will we have
a good time? I'll say so!


Numerous errors have been corrected and inconsistencies in spelling have
been resolved; otherwise the author's original spelling, punctuation and
hyphenation have been left intact.

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