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Title: Finding Youth : $b A human experience
Author: Andrews, Nelson
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 "Finding Youth : $b A human experience" ***

  Transcriber’s Note
  Italic text displayed as: _italic_



  _A Human Experience_



  [Illustration: Decoration]



  Copyright 1921, 1922
  Santa Barbara

_The reader of these pages need scarcely be told that there is truth
in them, and a deeper truth in the lesson that they teach. For this
chronicle, in its essentials, might have been written of many a life
other than his whose simple story is here set down._



This story is told because others need to know it. They need to know
it now, when all the world is making a blind struggle to find youth-a
new creative spirit.

It is the experience of just a common, everyday man-myself. But
thousands of others have gone through my same experience. They are
not finding the help, though, that I found. It is because I found
this help-found something that man has always been seeking-that I
feel impelled to tell my story.

My name is Harvey Allen. I was born in New York City and had
lived there all my life. When the Big Thing happened, I was sixty
years old. My wife and I had two sons, both married. We had six

We had lived in the same Harlem apartment for twenty years-with
front windows looking out on the street, side air-shafts, and a rear
view of clotheslines and fire-escapes. I never see a clothesline now
that I don’t think of that day in October.

The neighborhood had changed since our coming. The Ghetto had
expanded and taken us in. The color-line was drawn just a block away,
in the next street. But the place was home, and we had stuck there.

One of our sons, Walter, lived in Yonkers. The younger son, George,
lived over in Brooklyn. We didn’t see either of them often. They both
worked hard to support their families. Evenings and Sundays they
had their different family interests; and their wives had their own
relatives to visit.

My wife, however, made frequent trips to their homes. She helped our
daughters-in-law by doing most of the sewing for the grandchildren.
But she always returned in time to have my dinner ready at night,
when I got home tired from my day’s work. She has never neglected
me. Our youthful love affair was a good deal romantic, and we have
always been real pals. She is a descendant of one of the old New York
families of the best American pioneer blood.

Sometimes of an evening we went to a picture-show. But we had dropped
into the habit of spending most of our evenings at home. Occasionally
some old friend would call; or Miss Marsh, who had a small room in
the apartment across the hall, would drop in for a few minutes. But I
usually read aloud, and my wife sewed. We both have always been great

I have never lost my youthful satisfaction in just being with my
wife. I liked to look and see her seated there by the table, her
white head bent above her sewing, and the rays from the droplight
falling across her hands. Her slight figure always carried an air
about it; and her hands were shapely and delicate, in spite of all
the hard work she had done. Her hair still kept its girlish curl, and
she wore it in a loose Grecian knot at the back of her head. She
wore her cheap clothes, too, with the distinction of a New Yorker.

Whenever she felt my gaze, she would lift her eyes and smile at me
across the table. I waited for this smile. A certain light in her
soft brown eyes has never failed to fascinate me.

Whenever Miss Marsh dropped in, I would let my wife entertain her. I
would smoke my pipe and read to myself. Miss Marsh got on my nerves.
She was from the South; had seen better days, but was now clerking
in a dry-goods store on One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Street. She was
a thin, little old maid, who tried to be girlish. She laughed and
gushed a good deal, and dyed her hair and painted her face. But my
wife, who is kind to everyone, always defended her.

“Poor little thing! If she didn’t try to keep up her spirits and look
as young as possible, she’d lose her position in the store. And she
does say some sharp, bright things. She leads a lonely life. And I
don’t believe she has enough to eat.”

I can tell these things now about Miss Marsh; for later she and I
came to understand each other better.

I worked in a downtown printing-plant. It was an old established
concern, and I had worked there for years. I had been foreman in one
of the departments until they put in a younger man. When the old
proprietor died, and his son stepped into the father’s shoes, a good
many changes were made. The son was a modern efficiency man.

It cut pretty deeply into my pride to be shifted around from one
job to another-each a little inferior to the former and commanding
less pay-and then being always finally misplaced by a younger man.
But I swallowed it all and stayed on. I knew that jobs were not
lying around loose for men of my years. My long experience mended
a good many blunders made by the younger chaps in the plant. They
acknowledged it, too, whenever I jokingly told them. But at the same
time they smiled indulgence of “old Pop,” as they all called me.

I took this title goodnaturedly, but something in me always shrank
from it a little. It was from the patronage of youth that I shrank-a
patronage just tinged with contempt for my years. But I shrank more
from their pity the day that I finally got my discharge. And they did
pity me, for they all liked me. I know that my sense of humor made me
popular with them.

The discharge came unexpectedly, though I had been fearing and
dreading it for a long time. This fear and dread had begun to look
out of my eyes. I caught it sometimes in the mirror, and felt a pride
of resentment against it, as something that hurt my self-respect.
But what hurt me worse was the knowledge that my wife saw it, too. I
shrank sensitively from any depreciation of myself in her feelings.
My masculine pride wanted to keep her always impressed with my

She never said anything; but at times I could feel her anxiously
watching me. There was a sympathetic encouragement in her smile, and
in the press of her hand on my arm after she had kissed me good-bye
when I was starting to work in the morning. I always met this smile
with one of whimsical reassurance. But we both had the feeling of
bluffing some menacing calamity. And when I walked away, my shoulders
drooped under this cringing new self-consciousness, and my feet
shuffled heavily. I had always walked upright and with a spring. I
realized these changes in myself and resented them. But somehow I
didn’t seem to have the power to throw them off.

The boss who discharged me hated to do it, and was as kind about
it as he possibly could be. He assured me that it was not because
I wasn’t doing my work well. Then, realizing that this was an
unnecessary thing to say, he cleared his throat, embarrassed.
They all knew there was no part of a printer’s work that I didn’t
understand and couldn’t do. But the new management’s policy was for
young men. My only fault was accumulated years.

“You’ve done your share of work, anyhow, Pop,” he said; “now it’s up
to your two boys to take care of you. You worked hard for ’em, and
fitted ’em with the best kind of training to make their own way.”

That’s the conventional balm always put on this kind of hurt. Guess
I smiled a little ironically. My two boys were having a pretty hard
struggle to take care of the responsibilities they already had.
George had had a good deal of sickness in his family, and Walter was
supporting his wife’s parents. I had been letting them both have

It wouldn’t have been quite so hard if they had waited until Saturday
night to discharge me. But they didn’t. It was Tuesday morning. And
they were going to give me a full week’s pay because of my long
service. They meant to be kind, of course, in their way-trying to
let me down easy. But the offer of the full week’s pay added to my
humiliation and stirred in me a lot of bitterness. My head went hot
for a minute and the blood drummed in my ears. But I managed to speak
quietly, and smiled when I said,-

“I only want what’s owing me. I’ve always worked for all I got.”

In going over this scene so many times since, I know that I felt
something deeper than just my own bitter resentment. I had a vague
sort of feeling that it was up to me to stand for the justice due to
other men of my years, in my same fix. These fraternal bonds are in
our blood.

The boss tried to expostulate. I stood firm. And they finally made
out my time. I took what was due me, and the boss and I shook hands.
I could feel him watching me until I got out of the office. I knew
the kind of look that was in his face, but I didn’t turn around to


Leaving the plant that day was the hardest thing I have ever done. My
first impulse was to get my coat and hat and just slip away. But my
pride would not let me do that. So I braced and went back to the room
where I had been working. I told some of the fellows with whom I was
the best acquainted that I had been fired; and shook hands with them
in farewell.

There was a pretty tight feeling in my throat. But they helped me to
try and carry the thing off as something of a joke. I could see the
pity, though, in their eyes.

It was raining-a cold, drizzling, late-October rain. But I did not
notice it. I took the same old route I had taken for years, to the
Sixth Avenue Elevated station.

I did not remember, however, until I started up the station steps,
that it was forenoon and not my usual time for going home. Then I
halted and moved back again to the sidewalk, and stood there in the
rain. I understood later why I had done this. I had been suddenly
jerked out of a deep rut of habit, and was dazed at finding myself in
new conditions. Then, too, I was weighted, groggy, with the aching
depression that I was done for, out of the game-old.

I dreaded to go home and tell my wife. If I had been a drinking man,
I should have gone off on a drunk.

People jostled by me on their way up the stairs to the Elevated.
Dripping umbrellas swished against me. My overcoat was wet, and the
rain trickled from my hat-brim. But I stood there lost, dead-like one
just sent out of life.

Then my gaze was suddenly caught by an old chap who sold newspapers
in this district. I often bought my evening paper from him. He was
a little old fellow, with watery eyes, a stubby beard, and straight
gray hair that grew a little long. He had one incongruous feature,
though-good teeth that were kept clean. I had always noticed them.
My vague interest in him had tabulated him a boozer. But to-day I
watched him with a new and curious fascination.

He had halted in a doorway, and stood there, hunched up, with his
newspapers under his arm. He still wore a summer’s stained and
battered straw hat, and a dirty bandana handkerchief was tied about
his neck. He was wet and pinched with the cold. He had turned up
the collar of his old coat, and stood with one hand in his trousers
pocket, as with the effort to coax a little warmth. For the minute,
he had forgotten everything but his own discomfort. The hopeless
misery of the man looked out of his watery eyes.

A dull sympathy of understanding stirred in me. The next instant I
resented this feeling. I resented it because it put me in this old
chap’s class. Then the man’s necessity to live pushed him on again to
work. He started in my direction, calling out his papers in a cracked
and wheezy voice.

I bought a paper from him and started across the street. I had the
feeling of hurrying away from something that was clutching at me-as
a man, using his last spurt of strength to swim for his own life,
tries to keep away from the reach of another who is drowning. But I
couldn’t get away from this old fellow. The picture of him filled my
inner vision. The feeling of him pulsed through my blood. We truly
_were_ in the same class-both old, and both on the edge of life
making our struggle.

It was noon. I went into a Child’s restaurant and bought a cup of
coffee. That brought me back nearer to normal. I decided to look for
another job. Having secured that, I could face my wife with more of

All that afternoon I went from one printing-office to another. But
they all turned me down. Of course, my rain-soaked appearance did not
inspire much confidence. Had I waited, and gone the rounds looking a
little less down-and-out, I might have met with success. But later
experience has made me feel that it would have made small difference.

After each refusal I grew a few years older. I tried to make my sense
of humor work a little. But it wouldn’t. That and every other part
of my being was caught in the grip of a shrinking fear. By the time
I turned into the doorway of my own Harlem apartment house I was a
shuffling old man.

The halls of the house, as usual, were filled with the odors of
Kosher cooking. I dragged up the one flight of stairs and fumbled the
key into the lock of my own door. Downstairs the front door opened
and closed. Someone had come in. A quick panic seized me that it
might be Miss Marsh. I hurried into my own apartment to escape her. I
was feeling now a new shrinking from Miss Marsh.

My wife was not at home. I remembered that she had said at breakfast
that she was going over to Brooklyn to see the two grandchildren who
had been sick. She might have been held up in the subway. But I was
home more than an hour earlier than my usual time.

My first feeling was one of relief, not to find her there. It gave
me the chance to change my wet clothing before she came. The rooms
smelled of the newly generated steam hissing up in the pipes. The
heat felt good. I took off my wet clothes and hung them on two chairs
by the front-room radiator.

When I had finished dressing, my wife had not yet come. I filled the
teakettle and put it on the gas-range in the kitchen. Then I turned
on the light in the dining-room, and sat down by the table to read
the want advertisements in the evening paper.

But my thoughts were not on the advertisements: they were seething
with other things. Here, in the seclusion and comfort of my own home,
they began to work more clearly. I finally threw the newspaper on
the table, rose, dropped into the old rocker by the window, and let
myself think. I have always been something of a philosopher; and I
faced my situation now with more of that spirit.

I, Harvey Allen, was sound and well, with fair intelligence, and a
thorough knowledge of my work, gained by long experience. I had never
been a drinking man, but had worked steadily, and had always been
reliable. Yet, because I was sixty years of age, I was being thrown
on the dump-heap. My father had lived to be eighty-four. In all
probability I should live to be as old. That would mean twenty-four
years on the dump-heap. Twenty-four years!-over a fourth of my
existence. It was not good social business. Something was wrong. We
don’t allow that waste with a horse or cow.

I had worked steadily for wages ever since I was seventeen years old.
Most folks would say that I ought to have laid up enough to take care
of myself and wife during our old age. Perhaps I ought. But I hadn’t.
My present bank-account was about a hundred dollars.

During the twenty years in which we had lived in this little dark
New York apartment I had paid between ten and eleven thousand dollars
in rent. Then there had been the expense of educating our two boys.
It had been a big expense. For both my wife and I had wanted them
to have the best. We had given them both technical educations at
Cornell. Of course, they themselves had helped some. Then they had
married young. Babies had come fast. I had had to help tide them over
some financial rocks. And of late years my wages had been steadily

Perhaps I had not been as provident as I should. But we had never
spent money very wildly. I sent a look around the apartment.
Everything we had was old. No new thing had been bought in the home
for years. The only real extravagance had been the piano. But that
had seemed almost a necessity to my wife, who loved music, and tried
to keep up a little in her playing. And I had paid my debts; had
always taken pride in never owing any man a cent. In fact, nothing
had ever worried me more than indebtedness. But now-I cringed.

The boss had said that it was up to my two boys to take care of me.
Why should it be? They had their children to care for and educate,
just as I had had mine. Their first duty was that of fathers.
Besides, even though they could, I didn’t want them to take care of
me. All I asked was the opportunity to work and take care of myself
and my wife, who was dependent upon me.

Then my gaze turned out of the window. It was still raining. The
woman in the apartment up above had left some washing hanging on the
line-some suits of men’s underwear. The lights from the back windows
shone upon them. They flopped about weakly in the drizzling storm.
Somehow they brought back to my mind the picture of the old chap
standing that morning in the downtown doorway, his newspapers tucked
under his arm, a helpless victim of the storm. It stirred, too, a
vague, uneasy sense of affinity in me.

The clock struck. I roused from my thoughts and began to feel a
little anxious about my wife. It was most unusual for her to be as
late as this. I decided to telephone over to George’s and learn if
she had started. I was just taking down the receiver, when I heard
her key scrape in the lock. I went quickly and opened the door for
her. She came in breathless from having hurried. I followed her into
the dining-room, and saw that she was looking white and anxious.
George was sick. Had pneumonia. He had been sitting up nights with
his sick children, was all worn out, and had taken cold. George, who
is the younger, has always been the less robust of our two boys.

“I should have gone over and relieved him of the care of the
children,” my wife said, with the pain of self-censure in her face.
“But I’m going back now to take care of him. I’ve come home to get
some things that I need.”

“Why didn’t you telephone,” I reprimanded, “and have me bring over
what you wanted, instead of making this long trip in the rain?”

But she had thought that I wouldn’t know where to find the things.
And she wanted to see, too, that I was fixed all right, as she might
be gone for several days.

“You must have something to eat,” I said, “then I’ll go back with

I carried her wet umbrella into the kitchen, and she went into the
bedroom to gather up her things.

I decided not to add to her worry by telling her now about my day’s
experience. But she herself made the discovery. I have never been
able to conceal anything from her for long. She went into the front
room, and saw my wet clothes hanging on the chair by the radiator.
Then she came out to the kitchen, where I was making a clumsy effort
to brew her a cup of tea.

“How did you happen to get so wet to-day?” she asked.

The question took me unawares, and I hesitated before making the
excuse that I had had no umbrella. She did not speak again, but
stood there watching me. My hands trembled so that I spilled the hot
water when I tried to pour it into the teapot.

Finally, I turned and met her gaze. Then there was no need of further
words between us. When her eyes looked into mine, she seemed to know
the whole story as fully as if I had told it to her. I could never
describe the look that came into her face. It was something like the
mother-look that I had seen there when she was nursing one of her
babies. But it was intensified. She moved toward me, put her arms
around my neck, and gazed up into my face.

“Don’t worry, Harve; you’ll find something else soon.”

I think it was the fine instinct of the thoroughbred in my wife that
made her now call me “Harve.” It had been a long time since she had
called me that. We had grown to be to each other just “Dad” and
“Mother.” But the “Harve” brought with it a certain reassurance of
youth-an encouragement to the personality that was mine irrespective
of my fatherhood; to the _me_ who had been her lover, husband, pal.
It sent a thrill through me that braced my spine. I put my arms
around her, drew her to me, and laid my face down against hers.

Since then I have learned that the lover always is young.

From this time on my wife and I fell back into the old habit of
calling each other “Harve” and “Mattie.”

During the days that followed I missed her more than I could ever
tell. But we were both a good deal worried about George, who was
pretty sick. I went over to Brooklyn each evening, to see how he was,
and to do what things I could to help. The days I put in looking for
work. George’s sickness, which was going to be a big expense, added
to my feeling that I must find an immediate job.

It happened that Walter was not at home just at this time. He is an
electrical engineer, and his company had sent him out in the state
to do some work.

I trailed around to printing-offices, little and big. As yet I had
made no attempt to find work outside of my own trade, in which I had
had a lifetime of training. But nothing offered. A good many printers
happened to be looking for jobs at this same time; and the younger
man was always given the preference. I had two or three promises
from bosses-men whom I had known. But these promises all turned out

Then, one night, I was going home after having traveled the rounds
all day in Harlem. I was tired and pretty well discouraged. After
having paid my next month’s rent and some other small bills, and
taken money over to Brooklyn to help out with the expenses of
George’s sickness, I had only about ten dollars left in the bank.

By this time I had come to understand that I must look for some kind
of work aside from a printing-office. So this day I had made the try
for a job in several stores, and other places. But with no success.
They had no jobs for men of my years. If I had been a cook, I might
have got a place in a Third Avenue restaurant. There seemed to be
more demands for cooks than for any other kind of labor.

As I walked along now, I saw a “Janitor Wanted” sign on the area
railing of an apartment house. I halted and looked at it. After
having lived all my life in New York apartments, I knew what a
janitor’s job was like. It would mean taking my wife to live in
a dark garbage-smelling basement. But I had come to a state of
desperation-of almost panic. I hesitated, then swallowed my pride,
braced myself, and went down the area-steps to the basement. This
janitor’s job might tide over until I could find something else.

The wiry little Yiddish superintendent of the building was there,
just inside the basement door, talking to two other applicants-a big
negro and an Italian. When I arrived, the superintendent turned to

“How about this janitor’s job?” I asked; and my manner might have
shown a little something of patronage.

He looked me over critically. The negro and Italian watched
anxiously. Then the superintendent gave a Jew shrug, shook his head,
and dismissed me with a belittling smile.

“I vant a man dat could lif’ de garbage cans und big tings. You vas
too old.”

The last drop of gall was added to the bitterness of my humiliation.
I was too old to be the janitor of even a third-rate Harlem apartment
house. As I stumbled back up the area-steps, I heard him hire the
big negro for the job. Every atom of me tingled so with humiliation
that I forgot to take a street car, but walked the rest of the long
distance home. By the time I reached there, I was trembling and
pretty well all in.


And then came the happening which led to the final big experience of
my life.

I had halted in the lower hall, to rest a minute before climbing
the stairs to my own apartment. I stood with my foot on the lower
step, leaning heavily against the banisters. The outside door opened
and Miss Marsh came in. I was too tired to try and escape her. She
stopped beside me and asked anxiously:-

“What’s the matter, Mr. Allen?”

“Nothing. Just a little tired,” I answered, and started on up the

She followed. In the hall above I stopped at the door of my
apartment, and she moved on toward hers. Then she turned suddenly,
and came back to me.

“I sure would like to do something for you if I could, Mr. Allen,”
she said, in her Southern way of speaking.

I turned and looked at her. In her face was an expression different
from any that I had ever seen there-more sincere and earnest.
It commanded a respect that I had never felt for her. I mumbled
something or other in the way of thanks, to which she paid no
attention, but went on to say:-

“I know it must be mighty hard to have to look for a new job after
you have worked for so many years in the same place.”

I cringed, and I think I must have scowled. For I was wondering how
she had found out that I was looking for another job. I thought that
I had kept the fact pretty carefully concealed. But I guess the most
of us are ostriches, stretching our heads down in the sands of our
own secret conceits. While I stood there, wondering, she kept on
talking. The next thing that I caught was:-

“Don’t reckon you’ll want to take any advice from me, but you can’t
afford to let yourself grow old like this, Mr. Allen. Nobody wants us
if we’re old.”

I tried to laugh. It was a sickly attempt. What she had said hit me
in so many sore spots that I squirmed to get away. But inside my own
apartment, the thing that she had said repeated itself in my thoughts.

“You can’t afford to let yourself grow old.”

I smiled satirically. How folks can fool themselves. That little old
maid, with her dyed hair and painted face, thinking that she was
hiding the fact of her age!

But still the thing kept repeating itself-“You mustn’t let yourself
grow old.”

“_Let! Let! Let!_”

That word finally got to hammering itself in my tired brain. I tried
to get away from it, but I couldn’t. There was something accusing
about it, like the gesture of a pointed finger. It seemed to put the
blame of all my failure up to me-some wrong understanding in myself.

_And then came my first experience with the Voice!_

I call it the Voice, for I don’t know what else to call it. But I
know that some Power outside a man’s own being can speak to him in
the time of his need; when his ego is weakened by the discouragement
of defeat. When he listens, he learns and is helped. For this Voice
teaches _Life_! Our schools and churches have taught us systems and

I had pulled up a chair to the kitchen table, on which I had set out
a scrambled sort of supper. I was going over to Brooklyn as soon as I
had finished eating. The “_Let! Let! Let!_” was still pounding away
in my thoughts. Finally I halted in my supper, set down my coffee-cup
and asked:-

“Have I let myself grow old?”

And the Voice replied quickly:-

“Yes. You should be now right in your prime, knowing how to use and
enjoy life. If you are thrown on the dump-heap, it is because you
have put your own self there.”

You may laugh. You may say that I was tired and a little woozy in
the head. But I _know_ the Voice did speak. It spoke to my inner
consciousness, but the thoughts were not my own. I even winced from
some of the things it said.

It makes no difference whether or not you believe in the Voice, you
must be impressed by the results of its teachings as applied in my
own life. For I followed its teachings and learned the Great Lesson.

This first night only the glimmering light of a new understanding
came to me. But that light grew. I saw that, up to now, I had been
putting upon others all the blame for my own weaknesses-and thought
of myself as a helpless victim of an unenlightened social order. I
was slumping into a slough of self-pity. Worst of all, _I was losing
my sense of humor_. I know that this is the big calamity. As long as
a man can laugh humorously-laugh with his mind as well as with his
mouth-he has the vitality to create new brain-cells.

And, after this first talk with the Voice, _I smiled at myself!_-a
thing of big encouragement! One has caught at a strong life-saver
when he can rise above the swamping power of self-pity long enough to
laugh at his own weaknesses.

When I was putting on my overcoat, getting ready to go over to
Brooklyn, I took a critical survey of myself in the bedroom mirror.
I had been considered a pretty good-looking man-was tall and
broad-shouldered, and had been quite athletic in my day. But I could
see now that in many ways I had let myself grow old. There was no
necessity for me to be so stooped, with such a caved-in chest and
protruding abdomen. I pulled myself up and saw that I could stand
straight. And I realized at once more command of myself when I stood
right, with my chest up and my abdomen pulled in. Yes, I could stand
straight when I made the effort.

Then, in quick response to this thought, the Voice again spoke:-

“_When you make the effort!_ It is the _you_ inside that must make
the effort.”

And I finally came into this understanding.

I want to impress the fact that I did not learn at once all the
things I am now telling. This knowledge grew. But I’m going to state
some things before I go on to tell of how I found my life’s big

I gained the understanding that old age is a matter of the
_ignorance_ of Life. New laws of Nature are continually being
discovered. In the last century science discovered electricity. This
century will see the discovery of Life.

Man has both the mental and physical power to keep young, _if he will
use that power_. Instead of being a thing on the dump-heap, _man
may grow in power as he grows in years_. His body is made by food,
drink, air, and _thoughts_. Its cells are constantly rebuilding. By
understanding his own power, he can direct this rebuilding to an
increased Life-capacity.

His power to do so has been limited by his own ignorance. Once men
said that there could never be a steam-engine. Later they scoffed
at the possibility of building a flying machine. In his discovery of
new laws, man is learning that he has hindered his own growth through
his lack of understanding. A man can never _grow_ old. He may _stop_
growing, and stagnate. That is what I had done.

The first lesson that I had to learn was the difference between youth
and old age. Both are really matters of the spirit, rather than of
years. One may be aged at twenty, and a youth at eighty.

The spirit of youth has courage, is venturesome, progressive,
optimistic, _creative_. The spirit of old age is afraid, reactionary,
pessimistic, and stagnant. Youth laughs. Old age sighs. Youth is
eager to discover new paths. Old age wants to stay in the prison of
habit and travel the same old ruts.

I had been traveling in ruts. And I had worn them _deep_. For twenty
years I had _let_ myself live in the same old dark apartment, and
take the same old route to the same old printing-plant. And I had
wanted to cling to the same old ways of doing work. The time came
when I realized that I must have been something of a proposition to
the printing-plant’s young management. For I had stubbornly opposed
the new efficiency system.

Because I felt tired at night, I had _let_ my wife give up all other
associations to keep me company. I had _let_ myself lose interest in
my old friends, and I had shunned making new ones. I selfishly clung
to just my own immediate family. That meant heart-stagnation. The man
is old who has let himself lose his heart-interest in _people_.

The man who loves most, lives most. Youth loves.

I had _let_ myself drop out of touch with all the big public issues.
I felt no interest in any country but the United States, and that
meant very little to me outside of New York City. And here in New
York, where every opportunity offered, I never went to a lecture, or
to a concert. I had stopped going to see the new plays; I talked
about the superior old days of the theatre, when Daly’s was in
its prime. I didn’t even read the new books, but prided myself on
sticking to the old ones. All of which made for brain-stagnation.

_I had grown afraid of adventure._

This revelation came to me suddenly, the next day after my first
experience with the Voice. It sent a tingle of protest through
me, and I cringed with something like shame. But I halted on the
sidewalk and faced the fact squarely. Then I rebelliously pulled
myself together, quit my hunt for a job, forgot my poverty-stricken
bank-account, and went for a trip through Central Park and the
Metropolitan Museum. I had not been there for years. It all seemed
like a new world to me. It stirred my stagnant emotions and filled me
with new interests.

We are continually losing these life-building values that lie right
at our elbow. A man will travel the same old route day after day to
his business. If, once in a while, he would go even a block out of
his way, he might have the feeling of new adventure-get a new view,
or some experience to stimulate new cell-activity in his stagnating
heart and brain.

When I got home that night, I was several years younger.


Having conquered my fears and tasted adventure, I was hungry now for
more. My wife felt the change in me when I saw her that evening in
Brooklyn. In fact, she has always declared that it was the influence
which I brought into the house that night-the feeling of new vigor
and of new hope-that made George take a turn for the better and get

As usual, on my Brooklyn subway trip, I read the want advertisements
in the evening papers. An office over in a small New Jersey town was
advertising for a printer! I read it two or three times. But if I had
not taken that Central Park adventure trip, I don’t believe I should
have answered this advertisement. I had never thought of going to New
Jersey to look for a job. I felt all the self-centred New Yorker’s
prejudices against New Jersey. But I did go. I was up and on my way
early the next morning.

And that was how I happened to meet Ben Hutchins and find my life’s
big opportunity.

The first time I saw Ben Hutchins, I laughed. I knew at once that he
was a crank. He was an old-school printer, like myself. For years
he had run this little job office and published a weekly newspaper.
Afterwards, I learned that he had plenty of money-was, in fact,
rich-and that the only reason he kept on publishing his paper was
that he didn’t quite know how to get out of the habit.

His little old one-story building stood off by itself, in the
business section of this small New Jersey town. To get to it, you
had to cross a bridge and follow a narrow dirt path. The path this
morning was muddy, after a short flurry of wet snow. The paint
was worn off the building. One of the old-fashioned shutters was
loose and flapped in the November wind. On the roof was a rooster
weather-vane that looked as if it might have been crowing into the
teeth of a half-century of storms.

I opened the door and went in. It was one large room-a typical,
old-fashioned, country-newspaper office. Its assortment of junk
looked as if it might have been accumulating there since the American
Revolution. An antiquated roll-topped desk stood in the corner, by
one of the front windows. A tipsy old swivel-chair stood in front
of it. Near it, a lop-sided old waste-basket spilled its overload
of newspapers on the floor. In the centre of the room a rusty
base-burner stove glowed with a red-hot coal fire.

Ben Hutchins, in his shirt-sleeves, and wearing a printer’s dirty
apron, stood in front of one of the cases, setting type. He was a
stockily built man of about seventy, with a belligerent shock of gray
hair that stood up straight on his head.

When I entered, he waited to space out a line before recognizing my
presence. Then he turned and glowered at me over his glasses, which
hung on the tip of his bulbous nose.

“Well-?” he said, finally, after a critical sniff.

Then, as I said, I laughed-a laugh born of my feeling of new
confidence, gained from the teachings of the Voice. It caught Ben
Hutchins’s interest and made him take a liking to me from the start.
I have learned that he is very quick and very decided in his likes
and dislikes. In fact, he never does anything half-way. He is either
stubbornly for a thing or against it. No argument can ever convince
him either way. And down under all his surface peculiarities he has
a keen and most original sense of humor. It was the liking that he
conceived for me from the start which made him let me do the things
that I have done.

He gave me again the once-over; then he, too, indulged in a faint

“I’ve come for that job,” I informed him, with all my new courage of
adventure. “And I’m just the man you’re looking for.”

“Oh, are you?” and he gave another of his critical sniffs, which I
soon discovered to be habitual. “Well, come and sit down, and we’ll
see. I may not be of your opinion.”

With his composing-stick still in his hand, he led the way to the
corner where stood the ancient roll-top desk. He seated himself
heavily in the creaking swivel-chair, and I pulled up another old
chair that stood near. All this time he was studying me closely over
his glasses.

“I’ve got the reputation,” he told me, after I was seated, “of never
keeping a man very long.”

He waited to see if this was going to discourage me any. But it
didn’t, and so he went on to say:-

“But the ones that come out here for a job are generally no good. Or,
if they are, they get discouraged and don’t want to stay.”

“Well, I’m going to stay,” I said, “you can’t get rid of me. And I’m
all to the good.”

Again he met my laughing gaze, and again he grinned. Then after
studying me once more, he came to a decision. He rheumatically pulled
himself to his feet and said:-

“Well, take off your coat and go to work.”

And that ended our conference. We made no sort of bargain, said
nothing whatever about the pay I was to get, or what I was expected
to do. It was like Ben Hutchins-that snap sort of conclusion. But
once he has made up his mind, you may be sure that he will carry his
part of the bargain to the end. Of course, I had to learn this about
him. I thought then that he was just going to try me out, give me a
chance to make good if I could.

I took off my overcoat and other coat, and hung them up with my hat.
Then I found another printer’s dirty apron, and started in to work.

It may be hard to understand how a man, after having been employed
for years in one of New York’s big printing-plants, should have
finally found his life’s opportunity in that little country
junk-shop of a printing-office. But that is what I did. I could not
have done so, however, without having had the experience of the
previous few days, as well as the new lessons I was learning all the
time from the Voice.

_It was because I was finding youth that I found my opportunity._
Youth, which is courageous, venturesome, progressive, optimistic, and
_creative_! Cowardly old age, pessimistic, stagnant, and traveling in
ruts, never finds a big life-opportunity.


I had been at my new job two weeks. We had issued two editions of the
weekly paper. I had done the work of editor, reporter, compositor,
proof-reader, pressman, and mailing clerk. Every day I was growing
more and more in love with my job. I whistled again like a boy, at my
work-this, in spite of the fact that I was taking that long trip each
night and morning to and from New York. It is not work-the kind that
is made creative-but stagnation, which wearies.

New demands were stirring every part of my being into new activities.
My faculties were all alert. So were my emotions, my imaginations,
_and my sense of humor_. Values were being aroused in me that, for
lack of something to call them into use, had all my life been lying
dormant. I had never known that I could do some of the things which
I now did. I had begun to take an interest in national and world
affairs, about which I had to furnish copy. I also had begun to take
more interest in people.

For years, when making my daily trips on the Elevated, I had most
of the time kept my eyes glued to the latest criminal sensation in
the newspapers. When I was not reading a newspaper, my thoughts were
occupied with my own small interests.

The thing always of big importance was that I should beat someone
else to a seat in the car. But now I began to watch and study that
mass of humanity packed into the car with me. The mass resolved
itself into individual beings. I picked out those having the old-age
spirit from the ones who had the spirit of youth. By far the larger
number-regardless of the years they had lived-were caught in the grip
of the old-age fear, and were traveling in the old-age ruts. A good
many, like little Miss Marsh, were trying to camouflage their old age
by artificial means.

A new sympathy began to warm in my heart for mankind-so pitiably
ignorant of Life and of the ways to gain its _real_ joys. My New
Yorker’s reserve began to relax, and I let myself do little helpful
things for my fellow travelers. One night I helped an old East-Side
Jew struggling under a load of second-hand clothing. The poor old
chap’s surprised smile of appreciation brought a quick lump into my
throat; and a kindlier feeling for the whole Jewish race warmed in my
heart. I was growing tensely interested, too, in all the doings of
our little New Jersey town. Each day I was making new friends. All of
which meant a vitalizing of my heart’s stagnation.

My son George was well again, and had gone back to his work.
Mattie-my wife-had come home. I had rented a small house not far from
the printing-office, and we were getting ready to move to New Jersey.

Then, after I had been working for him two weeks, Ben Hutchins was
seized with a bad attack of lumbago, and was laid up at home for a
month. At the end of that time his daughter had persuaded him to go
to California and spend the rest of the winter.

When he reached a final decision relative to this California trip, he
sent for me to come and see him. I had been several times, during his
sickness, to the big, old-fashioned house, where he lived with his
widowed daughter. His wife was dead. When I went now we had another
of our brief talks. He was going to leave the printing-plant entirely
up to me.

“Run it as well as you can, and keep me posted how you’re coming on.”

He gave no further instructions. But by this time I had learned that
he liked to be met in his own brief way of doing business-never
wanted any fuss of words; when he felt justified in trusting a man,
he trusted him absolutely. And I knew now that he felt this trust in
me. When, on leaving, I shook hands with him, I gave him a tight grip
of appreciation, and we exchanged a look of mutual understanding.

I had already hired another printer. And Mattie, now that we had
moved over to our new home, came every day to the office and helped.
I made a number of changes in the old plant. I even put into
operation some of the modern efficiency methods which I had scorned
in the New York plant. Our job printing was growing; and we were
getting new subscribers and more advertising for the newspaper.

One day a peculiar thing happened. I had run over to New York, to get
some new parts for our old press. This errand took me down town, in
the neighborhood of the Sixth Avenue Elevated station, which had been
a part of my daily rut for so many years. The sight of it now took me
back to the day when I got my discharge. I smiled when I thought of
how helpless I had stood there in the rain. It made me realize how
far from the old rut I had traveled.

Then I thought of the old chap who had sold newspapers, and wondered
if he was still working on his beat. I looked about for him and,
sure enough, there he was, wearing the same ancient discolored straw
hat. I followed and spoke to him. I had lost all fear now of being
submerged in his old-age class. It was noon, and I asked him to go
to lunch with me. He gazed in a daze of questioning surprise, then
accepted the invitation.

I took him to a quiet little place, where we might have a table
to ourselves. During the meal I learned more about him. His name
was James Shaw, and he was alone in the world. He talked well-used
good English. I had always felt that there must be something of
intelligence back of his good clean teeth. And he, too, _was an old
printer_. Probably that was why he had drifted naturally to the
selling of newspapers. It is hard for a printer to keep away from the
smell of printer’s ink.

Well, the upshot of it was that I hired Jimmy Shaw, and took him back
with me to New Jersey. And Jimmy has made good. After he was barbered
and had put on a new suit of clothes, and had his first lessons in
Finding Youth, he was as spry and dudish as anything on Broadway.

Then, the final Big Adventure was brought about by my articles in our
weekly newspaper.

I had been running a series of articles on my Finding-Youth
revelations. Some of them were copied in other newspapers. Ben
Hutchins, out in California, read them in our own paper, which we
sent him each week. Afterwards, his daughter told me that he showed
them to the different guests in the hotel where they were stopping.

Then I wrote an article on the old-age problem. I headed it, “Why
the Dump-Heap?” Among other things, I said that one of the biggest
social wastes was the waste of the latter years of the lives of men
and women. Instead of being a waste product at eighty, a man should
be a Life masterpiece-_still creative_. But we cling-theoretically,
at least-to the savage belief that man possesses no other creative
power than the sex-function; and that, after they have passed the
age of race-propagation, men and women are of no further social use.
Savages, not knowing what else to do with their people of years, kill
them. We let them stagnate.

By this time we should have learned that Life here, and always, is a
thing creative. We are incidentally parents. We are creators always.
For if God made us in His own image, then He made us all creators. As
creators, we grow. And growth is the law of life. Stagnation is decay
and death. We must have new educational methods. We must have new
ideals-a new heaven. And this new heaven will be a place filled with
creators, instead of with stagnant resters.

Then I went on to suggest that society might organize Youthland
colonies, instead of relegating each year so many thousands of men
and women to the fate of dependence and stagnation. These colonies
might be made centres of big usefulness, of broad education and
creative growth.

I outlined my scheme of a Youthland colony. It should be a place of
individual homes, with certain coöperative community buildings-an
auditorium and recreation centre, a hotel and laundry, and other
things, to make living easier and cheaper. The members of the colony
themselves would support all these institutions. For there would be
different light industries for the ones who wished to work and earn
their own living.

There would be lectures, music, dancing, and classes in science,
sociology, politics, psychology, literature, languages, and the arts.
Everyone would be given the chance and encouraged to take up any kind
of creative work in which he might feel himself capable of qualifying.

Well, Ben Hutchins read this article, and it struck instant fire in
him. He didn’t even wait to write. Instead he telegraphed:-

“Youthland colony good scheme. California right place to start one.
Am writing my lawyer to sell printing-plant. You come out here.”

I laughed. Of course I had no idea that he really meant this. I had
believed everything that I had written about my colony, but I had
painted it with my own imagination. Then I worried. He might be
taking this way of selling his plant and letting me out. I lay awake
nights, trying to figure some scheme whereby I myself might make a
small payment and get hold of the plant.

I had a proposition all framed, when I received a letter from
Hutchins. It was-for him-a long letter, dictated to a stenographer.
In it he gave me to understand that he was in earnest about the
Youthland colony scheme. Indeed, he had already bought a tract of
land and was setting to work on the project. He wrote a lot of
instructions: informed me that, if he could not sell the newspaper to
advantage, he meant to have the plant shipped to California. It would
be a necessary adjunct to the colony. He was enthusiastic. His health
had greatly improved; he was in love with California, and both he
and his daughter wanted to stay there. But he must have something
with which to busy himself; and this colony scheme had made a big hit
with him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, that is how our California Youthland Colony came into
existence. It is another story, but I must tell you a few things
about it. It is located in a beautiful spot-where “the ocean and the
mountains meet.”

We are now a group of five hundred, all owning our own homes. Some
of these homes are larger and more pretentious than others; for some
of our colony members have good big incomes. Others are poor. But we
are all inspired by the same ideals. The poorer ones are given the
opportunity to pay for their homes on easy monthly installments.

We have a small canning factory; and we make a fine grade of candied
California fruits. We do some rug-weaving and pottery work. We have
a dairy and poultry yards. All of these industries are coöperative
in character-owned in common. The same is true of our small inn and
laundry. They give employment to the ones who want to make their
living. But we have no drones. Every Youthlander works. He also
plays. Some devote themselves to raising small-fruits and English
walnuts on their individual land tracts. Some teach in our school.

We have all kinds of classes in our school. We have expert
instruction in diet, exercise, rest, and the things which make for
the best physical condition. It is my intention to incorporate some
of these lessons in another book-the methods which we have worked
out to our own advantage. We have almost no sickness. Our members
are a vigorous, useful, busy lot of folks. They live out-of-door
lives twelve months of the year. They are filled with all sorts of
progressive interests. _They think right thoughts._ In connection
with our physical work, we have dancing classes, also a hiking club
that makes interesting trips.

An ex-college president has charge of our educational work. A retired
manufacturer is general director of our industries. And these two
men are not using any back-number methods. Both are inspired by the
spirit of youth. They combine with the modern the best values brought
out of their long experience.

Some of our members have been encouraged to write. A number are
studying music. Mattie, my wife, is enjoying that privilege. One
woman of seventy, who never before had the time or chance to
study the piano, has displayed considerable musical ability. In a
good-sized French class, no member is under sixty. And there are two
art classes.

Ben Hutchins is the colony’s shrewd buyer. He drives his own car out
through the country, and contracts for the fruit that is put up in
our cannery. They made me the first colony president, and each year
have insisted on reëlecting me. Next year I am going to decline. I
don’t want to get into the presidential rut. Jimmy Shaw is foreman of
the job department in our printery. Jimmy has had a romance which he
has given me permission to tell some time.

My son George and his family are with us. This year we are expecting
Walter and his family for a visit. I was able also to bring Miss
Marsh out to our colony. I feel that I owe her a very big debt.

Miss Marsh has let her hair grow gray; and the color now in her
cheeks has been put there by the Californian sunshine. But she
looks years younger than when she was trying to live an artificial
youth. She is, in fact, quite radiant. For she is satisfying a
big heart-hunger. My wife always contended that she was a lonely
little creature. But even Mattie was surprised to discover that
Miss Marsh’s loneliness was due to a craving motherhood. She is
now one of the nurses who have the care of the colony’s children.
For we have about thirty children-orphans who would have been sent
to state institutions. We have adopted them, and are bringing them
up and educating them. We father and mother, uncle and aunt, and
grandfather and grandmother them. Happy little Miss Marsh is seldom
seen without one of our colony babies in her arms.


It is Christmas Eve. I have seated myself by my typewriter in my cozy
study, to write the last lines of this story. Mattie is down at the
Auditorium, helping to trim the Christmas tree for the children. I
just came up from there. Our picturesque little vine-covered bungalow
is on the hill. The Christmas tree had so many helpers that I was
not needed. Miss Marsh is joyously superintending the whole thing.
Our different members are coming and going. Each brings an armful of

I stood a while and watched their beaming, happy faces. Most of them
have known a good many Christmas Eves. One-a hearty old Pacific
sea-captain of eighty-showed me some toy ships he had whittled out
with his knife. He called my attention to all the proper nautical
detail. No builder of big ocean liners could have felt more pride
in his accomplishment. I watched him carefully place the toy ships
with the other presents underneath the Christmas tree; and the fact
was impressed upon me that he had caught the _real_ Christmas spirit.
He had _created_ something, which would carry his own creative joy
into the lives of others. And is not this-_the carrying of one’s own
creative joy into the lives of others_-the very essence of the thing
which we vaguely call “service”?

When I reached the brow of the hill on my way home from the
Auditorium, I halted and looked back at our little Youthland Colony,
lying there in the moonlight. Out beyond, the moonbeams made a
glistening pathway to it across the dusky waters of the old Pacific.
At the back, rose the dim shapes of the mountains. The sweet odor of
orange-blossoms filled the air. In this beautiful spot our little
group was trying to realize the creative life-the life of continued
growth and usefulness. Deep emotion stirred within me.

My gaze traveled out over the moonlighted ocean, and I thought
of the many peoples of the globe celebrating this Christmas Eve.
Gratitude for my own wonderful opportunity made me want to help these
others. For I knew that nations, like individuals, were suffering in
the grip of the old-age spirit-that effort of fear to strangle growth
and progress. If only mankind might learn that the value of a nation
depends upon the _usefulness_ of all of its men and women, upon the
youth-spirit, which is courageous, venturesome, and optimistic enough
to make the whole human race one great world-family.

Off in the distance the old mission bell began to ring. It was
sending out its mediæval understanding of the Christmas message,
which the Voice spoke to the Shepherds of old. But we, in our
Youthland Colony, have learned that the Voice, all down through the
years, has been trying to make man understand that he must follow
the guiding star and find the tidings of great joy in the birth of
_his own creative self_-the God Power within his own being. When a
man gains this interpretation of the Voice’s message he becomes an
influence for growth and progress in the Great Life-Adventure-


  Transcriber’s Notes

  pg 13 Added period after: printing-office to another

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Finding Youth : $b A human experience" ***