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By PAUL P. HARRIS
THE STORY OF A LIFE OUT OF THE
THIS little book is an intimate story of an eventful life from the pen of the man who has lived it. The writer is often called the Father of Rotary. Rotarians have been demanding to know more about him. This demand constitutes his apologia for the preparation of this autobiographical matter. In response to this demand he has written:
"He in whose mind the germ of Rotary found origin, he in whose heart the ideals of Rotary have ever been nurtured and cherished, tenders this story, trusting that its readers may prove to be as patient with the shortcomings of the author as the public has been generous in its judgment of the movement he represents."
I esteem it a high privilege to have known Paul Harris during the past twenty years, and a still greater privilege to have had the opportunity to assist him in sending Rotary around the world. When I entered the Chicago Rotary Club I found him giving generously of his time and his thought to the success of the club and full of ideas as to the extension of Rotary to other cities of the United States. When in 1910 he became president of the united American Rotary clubs, his ideas had expanded to the extension of the movement to other countries. During the two years of his presidency, he was a driving force that inspired all of us who were associated with him.
At the end of his second term of office he suffered a serious physical breakdown from which he recovered only because of his indominable will to do so. He has constantly retained a deep interest in the movement, together with a keen desire for its successful development. This narrative is the sincere and frank story of a great man-and only a great man could tell us such a story of his life as Paul has told us in the fellowship of Rotary. What may he not have to tell us at the close of another quarter century?
|CHESLEY R. PERRY|
ON THE shore of Lake Michigan, the second largest of North America's great inland seas, sixty miles north of Chicago and twenty-five miles south of Milwaukee, lies a small city called Racine. It is known throughout the United States because it is the home of several nationally important manufacturing industries. The people of Racine, however, are not entirely devoted to manufacture; there are cultural interests of which Racine College is the center.
The second mayor of the city and one of the two most prosperous citizens was Henry Bryan, a lawyer whose father had been one of the early settlers of the western part of the State of New York, whose grandfather was born and raised in Massachusetts, and whose great grandfather had emigrated from Ireland, incidentally and for reasons unknown to the writer, emasculating the family name which had been O'Brien.
Henry Bryan organized, financed, and led a gold mining expedition to California in the feverish days of '49, and as a result of this adventure, when Henry died he had nought to leave his widow except a family. The youngest daughter, Cornelia, married George H. Harris, a merchant, the son of Howard Harris of Wallingford, Vermont.
The first child of the union of George and Cornelia was named Cecil; the second Paul, who was born April 19, 1868. They played together and also with the boys of the neighborhood, Cecil generally having the frequently intractable Paul in charge. They often strayed from home down the steep river bank to the railroad and on such occasions the task of dragging Paul up the bank called for most of the boy power of the neighborhood.
To Paul the middle of the street was the best of all playgrounds. Traffic regulation had not at the time become a necessity, so Paul made rules of his own, invariably giving boys preference over vehicles. Cecil, realizing the error of his younger brother's conclusions, sometimes found it necessary to snatch him from beneath the hoofs of passing horses, and to the shame of Paul be it said that Cecil was not infrequently severely scratched for his pains.
Of all charges which might have been made against George and Cornelia, parsimony would have stood the least chance. They were both royal spenders. The idea of a family budget would have met with prompt and emphatic disfavor. The most approved plan was to spend the money and earn it-if possible, thereafter. The system was enjoyable while it lasted and it was made to endure far longer than it otherwise would have done, through the simple expedient of a long series of checks which were endorsed by George, but signed by his thrifty and indulgent father, Howard Harris, of Wallingford, Vermont. The officers of The Manufacturers' National Bank of Racine, early learned to admire the signature of the silent partner.
But all good things must come to an end and so did the residence of the Harris family in Racine, Wisconsin.
One July evening in 1871, George Harris took the two boys to Milwaukee, where they embarked on the "Oneida," a steamship bound for Buffalo. They were on their way to the home of the father's parents. Cornelia remained in Racine, took temporary lodgings, and planned to care for the baby, Nina May, who in later years became the wife of the late Lucien Abbott of Denver.
Cornelia bore the burdens which adverse circumstances threw upon her with courage and with nobility of purpose worthy of her fine lineage.
As long as life lasts there will remain in the minds of the two boys the hallowed memories of the first night in Wallingford. Grandfather met the little group as they alighted from the eleven o'clock train from Rutland. There were no other passengers to alight, the station master had long since gone to bed, and darkness enveloped all except a little circle in the center of which was a lantern and grandfather.
It was a solemn occasion and the solemnity was emphasized by the stillness and darkness of that first night in the peaceful valley nestling between two parallel ranges of the Green Mountains. Paul's little fist was held in the biggest, firmest, warmest hand he had ever felt -that of his grandfather. The light of the swinging lantern formed fantastic figures on a white fence as the group marched up the silent street of the little village.
Then came another scene which was everlastingly etched on the sensitive film of memory. She who was to mother the younger of the two boys stood in the doorway holding a kerosene lamp and peering out into the night. She was a wee bit of a dark-eyed woman weighing precisely eighty-nine pounds and she looked incongruous when she stood beside grandfather, blue-eyed towering in the lantern light.
She greeted her son and her son's children affectionately though anxiously. Will a story be written of the homecoming of sons who have been vanquished in life's battle?
Motherhood is at its best when the tender chords of sympathy have been touched.
Grandmother knew that milk was good for tired, hungry little boys and in the center of the dining-room table she had placed a huge pan of it and alongside the milk-pan was another dish, the contents of which the boys could not see, but which proved to be blueberries fresh from the mountainside. On each of the three plates stood a yellow bowl; one seemed formidable, the other two looked friendly and benignant to the eyes of the two little boys. Still another treat awaited them, their first introduction to grandmother's home-made bread. It is astonishing just how much vacant space there is inside of hungry boys, a fact of which grandmother was well aware., but which was made known that night to two kindhearted yellow bowls I
The boys slept on the fattest bed they had ever seen and father explained that it had been stuffed especially for them with fresh clean straw. After prayers had been said, the boys were placed on top and all that Paul can remember before grandmother awoke him, with a kiss, to the blessedness of a good home in the mountains, was a hazy dispute between himself and the bed as to which had been stuffed with bread, milk and blueberries, and which with straw.
Seventeen miles over the east mountain in another peaceful valley another little boy was sleeping that night, making blood and bone to use in service as chief executive of a great nation. His name was Calvin Coolidge.
The day broke clear and bright and there was nothing to indicate that then and there in that peaceful home was to be waged a conflict, but it had to come. Paul was three years of age and never until then had been known to lower his colors to an enemy unless perchance the "enemy" happened to be his father or his mother.
On the morning in question another personality began to present itself, helpful to be sure and a genius on bread and milk and blueberries, but imperative and commanding--his grandmother. Paul's idea of the way to help a boy to dress was to say nothing and to attend to business, and yet this miniature old lady, almost a stranger, repeatedly issued orders. It was-"Paul, put your foot up here so I can lace your shoes"--"Do this and do that"--until he felt very much in the spirit of him of whom the poet said: "Burned Marmion's swarthy cheek like fire, and shook his very frame in ire." When he at last felt that the business had passed the point of human endurance, he looked his grandmother straight in the eye and threw down his ultimatum, "I am not going to mind you. You are not my Mamma." There was a note of asperity in the voice of grandmother as she said, "We shall see."
Straightway she went to father and bringing him to the scene of trouble said: "This little boy says he won't mind me, Papa; that I am not his Mamma. How is that?"
Father said: "Young man, mind every word your grandmother says to you and it will be well for you to remember what I am now telling you because anytime you happen to forget, you and I will have to make a little journey to the woodshed."
Paul's perception was reasonably keen. He understood his father, particularly when his father spoke in that way. The game was up and he knew it. What did he do? He did what any sensible citizen of his size would have done under similar circumstances. He beat a hasty retreat without especial regard to its order, and later in the day--I relate this even at the hazard of Paul's being thought a shameless sycophant-after having climbed into her lap, he drew his grandmother's face to his then he deliberately kissed the enemy.
I relate this commonplace incident at considerable length because it reveals a characteristic which continued in his later life, a characteristic the influence of which was felt even by the great organization which he was later to found. He has never permitted himself to nurse grievances or cherish bitterness toward his enemies of whom, in the course of events, he has not had many.
Days of interesting discoveries followed: the beloved Lake Michigan was wanting, but there was a wonderful yard with its apple, pear, and butternut trees; the old cow and her youngest daughter; the chickens, the orchard with its ample garden and bit of hay land and in the distance were the splendid mountains. The garden didn't look very promising. Once a boy visitor from the West looking at it as it was proudly pointed out, exclaimed: "Oh, I know what that is, it is a stone pile." But somehow things grew. The writer wishes to assure all readers that the time-honored story to the effect that it is always necessary to sharpen the noses of Vermont sheep in order that they may be able to get down between the rocks for nourishment, is a gross exaggeration. The writer will admit that an enterprising landowner in Rutland County built a stone wall six feet high and twelve feet wide around his entire property, the stone having been taken from the land enclosed. It was a beautiful piece of masonry and will last throughout time. Two teams driven upon it could pass each other with a wide margin to spare.
When the boys arrived in Wallingford they looked like nice little gentlemen, with their neat suits and well-fitted shoes, but grandmother had ideas of her own about bringing up boys. One garment after another was replaced by apparel made by the good old seamstress, Margaret McConnell. Grandmother's conception of a suitable summer outfit for a boy was a broad brimmed straw hat and a waist to which trousers were buttoned, and eventually that constituted the six days-of-the-week costumes of the two youngsters from the West. Oh, but those were comfortable clothes.
PAUL P. HARRIS, Age 3½
CECIL B. HARRIS, Age 5½
There was one thing wrong with those summer days in Wallingford; they were not half long enough. While the swallows were still circling around the old church tower, and play was on at its most furious pace, the summons was sure to come: "Boys! the hot water and soap is ready in the mop pail. Wash your feet, it's bedtime." But there was always the sustaining thought of the morrow with the breakfast of crisp fried potatoes, buckwheat cakes and maple syrup, after the morning souse of hands and face in clear, cold running water from the spring.
On Saturday night, grandmother gave the boys a vigorous scrubbing in the old family washtub and on, Sunday morning promptly entered them in Lottie Townsend's Sabbath School class.
In the fall the boys were taken in hand by Miss Sherman of the primary department of the village school. The first day was memorable because at recess time the older boys formed a circle around the unfortunate Paul and dancing in glee shouted, "Oh, see the little girl boy." The humiliation was greater than he could bear. That evening grandmother tearfully clipped off the offending curls.
Neither father nor Cecil were destined to remain long in Wallingford. Family fortunes, or misfortunes perhaps, soon took them on their way. After several temporary residences in various communities the family settled in Fair Haven, where three other children were born to George and Cornelia. Guy Howard who died in 1889 at eleven years of age, Claude Harold who died in the service of his country in the Phillipines and the youngest of the family, Reginald Clayton, who is a member of the faculty of the University of the State of Wyoming, and of the Rotary Club of Laramie.
In the year of 1917, Reginald sold his business and left his wife and young family to enlist in the World War. To his dismay, he was rejected because of physical disability. Learning, however, that his infirmity could be cured by a surgical operation, he underwent such operation and after lying two weeks in the hospital, again presented himself for enlistment and was accepted.
The separation of Cecil and Paul was a tragedy. Excepting only a period of a year or two and also excepting vacation visits back and forth, they never were. united during boyhood days again. However., to Paul, at least, there was one compensation, he fell heir to the love and devotion of self-sacrificing grandparents in a well-regulated home, where the high ideals characteristic of New England's early days prevailed. There was never any foolishness talked in that home. Morning, noon, and night the conversation was of the better things. Religious and political liberty was the order of the day. Echoes of the words of Brooks, Phillips and Garrison were still heard. The philosophies of Emerson and Holmes, the nature studies of Thoreau, and the word pictures of Longfellow, Whittier and Bryant had served to soften the rigors of Puritan thought. Prosecutions for witchcraft had assumed their rightful position as the most stupid blunders in American history and the last scar of the "Scarlet Letter" had long since vanished.
Grandfather was a man of few words. He had enjoyed limited educational advantages only, but valued education beyond all else. On hot summer afternoons, he frequently took his grandson with him to the barn and seriously pronounced words from the ancient spelling book. Even though he revolted against it at times, Paul's subconscious mind was deeply impressed and later in life he chose the vocation which to his grandfather had been an ideal, the practice of law. If there has been anything of merit in any achievement of his, it is all attributable to the training received in that New England home. Words are not sufficient to express his appreciation of the benefits he derived from the devoted ministrations of those two good New England people.
One day after Cecil had gone, Paul met a boy of his own age who had the reddest hair anyone had ever seen; hair couldn't be any redder than Fay's--his name was Fay Stafford; it was the red of a fiery flame and to him it was a source of considerable humiliation. If there ever was a boy who deserved the friendship of another boy, that boy was Fay and the friendship of another boy is what he got, the friendship of Paul. Before Paul could speak the name of his boy friend plainly, he used to call at his house and ask his mother if "Pay" could come out and play.
Fay suffered a great hardship; his folks compelled him to wear shoes even during the long hot summer days when going barefooted was such an exquisite pleasure; but the two raced the fields and hills together.
They knew, no single-blessedness; they shared each others joys and sorrows. Paul's life would have lost half its zest had he been deprived of the companionship of his redheaded friend.
One day years later, Fay told a neighbor that it seemed at times to him that he was losing his mind. He became mentally unbalanced within two days thereafter and was taken to the insane asylum at Brattleboro, where after spending several hopeless years he died. He was buried in the granite hills of old Vermont, and thus ended Paul's first friendship.
Of life's charms what is comparable with friendship? One may possess the wealth of a Croesus and yet, if friendless, how empty it an is.
The red-headed Vermont boy was the first of a long list of friends who have enriched and sweetened Paul's life. He feels deeply indebted to them for the happiness they have brought him. They have indeed made life worth living and if there is any message which of all others he would send ringing down the aisles of time, it is the message of friendliness, the message of which mankind stands most in need.
The foundation upon which Rotary has been built is friendship; on no less firm, foundation could it have stood. Perhaps when future generations think of Rotary and of the power of friendship, they will give passing thought to the red-headed boy of the granite hills.
If the writer had been blessed in having a boy of his own, he would have turned him. loose in the mountains of Vermont to strengthen his limbs in surmounting their heights, to gain inspiration from the exquisite scenery of ever-changing colors, and to cool himself on hot summer days in the clear, cold, sparkling waters of mountain lakes.
The mountains were a lure to Paul all the year round. His happiness was complete when, in company with other boys, he was climbing mountain peaks. But it was not often possible to have the companionship of other boys on his mountain expeditions. When not engaged in school or work, they, as a rule, had other and to them, more agreeable ways of spending their time. Most of Paul's mountain expeditions were therefore enjoyed alone. Among other famous Green Mountain peaks which he ascended was Killington; he reached the summit on two occasions. Mountain climbing was not an exhilarating sport, merely. As such, it might not have met with the approval of grandfather and grandmother who believed that every shining hour should be turned to useful purpose. Paul was not averse to the economic viewpoint and he therefore planned his mountain trips as far as possible so as to make them pay.
In the summer time, he picked more wild strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries than any other boy in the village, excepting only those who picked for hire.
He was frequently well on his way by the break of day and high up the Mountainside when the early morning train, looking in the distance like a tiny worm, crawled down the Otter Creek valley.
Grandmother's pantry shelves were always laden with the mountain berries preserved for winter use. And although she took little interest in the trout-fishing expeditions at first, she became reconciled after Paul had become fairly adept in the art of luring the wily trout from beneath logs and rocks in the cold swift running waters. Grandmother was wont to select the best of them, request her one and only household assistant to roll them in Indian meal and fry them in rich butter. She would then place them upon a platter, cover them with a dainty napkin and send Paul to deliver them to the sick folks of the village.
The long days alone in the fastnesses of the mountains afforded excellent opportunity to dream of days to come.
The tramping habit having been once acquired, grew, and the walks became more and more extended. Paul frequently walked to Rutland and return, making a round trip of eighteen miles. On special occasions he walked to Fair Haven, twenty-five miles distant.
The winter sports in the mountains were even more fascinating than those of summer time. Skating on the surface of mountain lakes and the nearby creek; dare-devil slides down the mountain sides; all were joyous beyond expression.
During the holiday times the old house rang with laughter, brothers and sister and cousins many. Pandemonium reigned.
It was difficult to wait even for breakfast. There is no sweeter music to Vermont boys and girls than the ring, of skates. On frosty mornings after a snowfall there was also other music to be heard, the hoarse baying of hounds as, in pursuit of fox and rabbit, they ranged over the mountain side.
But it was not all fun. There was of course school; it had to be endured. Paul put up with it in poor grace but he tempered its sorrows with his own special brand of mischief.
The village folks soon became so conscious of his weakness that whenever anything untoward happened they instantly concluded that Paul Harris was at the bottom of it. Some of the good folks of Wallingford were wont to speak of him as "that Paul Harris" with special emphasis on the "that."
The writer is glad, however, to be able to say that among the last words which Mr. Will Shaw, principal of the high school, spoke before he passed to the beyond was a glowing tribute to this fun-loving boy. It meant much coming from him, for he must have been sorely tried at times.
Paul's dominating characteristic was his love of fun and companionship.
Grandfather and grandmother were very punctual in their habits. Their motto was, "Early to bed and early to rise." Paul was supposed to be in bed at nine o'clock and in fact he always was. It did not, however, necessarily follow that be was in bed at ten o'clock. Quite frequently he was not.
His bedroom adjoined that of his grandparents and when sounds familiar to his listening ear told him that they were asleep, he would rise and cautiously creep to the kitchen, raise a window and thence pass out to join his boy companions.
Paul took the second year of Ms preparatory work in the Rutland high school, living at the home of his uncle, Dr. George Fox. The following fall be entered Black River Academy at Ludlow where he found himself for the first time entirely free from parental restraint.
He so loved his liberty that he celebrated it in a series of pranks which resulted in his expulsion. He returned to Wallingford with a considerable feeling of shame and with contrite heart. His excess of spirits resulted in another loss of which he was not at the time apprised. Had he but remained at Black River Academy a little longer, he would have been a schoolmate of the quiet youth from the other side of the mountain, heretofore referred to, Calvin Coolidge.
In course of time Paul expiated his offence, was forgiven by his indulgent grandparents and enrolled in Vermont Academy, a military institution at Saxtons River, where lie rendered a good account of himself.
In the fall of 1885, he matriculated as a Freshman in the University of Vermont at Burlington and there also he demeaned himself in an exemplary manner during the first year and a part of the second. . In his Sophomore year, however, his love of fun got the best of him with the result that he and three other members of the class were ignominiously expelled. The fact that he and two of the other three were innocent of the offence with which they had been charged was of little solace. Who the guilty ones were was a matter of common knowledge among the boys, but, of course, no self-respecting sophomore could turn informer.
Years later, the University, under the presidency of Dr. Guy Bailey, conferred degrees upon the four expelled men, certainly a very magnanimous proceeding for which all of the parties most concerned were deeply grateful.
Many happy memories of life in Burlington remain. The University is located on the heights overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain with the Adirondacks in the west and the Green Mountains in the east.
The winter sports, coasting, ice-yachting, tobogganing, skating, and snow-shoeing were found at their best.
After his expulsion, Paul continued his studies under a private tutor, took his examinations in Princeton in the spring of 1887 and entered that institution the following fall.
He was presented to Dr. McCosh, then entering upon the last year of his presidency, by Professor Huss. The venerable educator was sitting in the great living-room of his residence as Professor Huss and his charge entered. Paul was deeply impressed with-his- patriarchal and scholarly appearance.. . On Paul's being introduced, Dr. McCosh, in his characteristic broad Scotch inquired: "And did you come here to have a good time?" To which the new student was sufficiently self-possessed to answer, "No, Dr. McCosh, I came here to study." The answer being apparently satisfactory, the doctor arose, partially straightening his tall spare figure which had become greatly bent as the result of years of application to books, extended his hand in welcome and said: "Ah!, that's right, my. boy."
Dr. McCosh was succeeded as president of Princeton in October, 1888, by Dr. Francis L. Patton, who remained president for fourteen years, resigning his post to Woodrow Wilson in 1902. Dr. Patton is the only one of the trio of famous men now living. Paul and his wife had the pleasure of taking tea with the distinguished Doctor and Mrs. Patton recently in Bermuda. Dr. Patton, now eighty-four years of age, is spending his remaining years in literary pursuits in his splendid ancestral home.
One day during the month of March, of the year 1888, while at Princton, Paul received a telegram informing him of his grandfather's serious illness, and though he took the first train in haste to reach the bedside of his benefactor, his arrival was too late. Howard Harris was no more.
Grandfather had lived eighty-six honorable self-sacrificing years.
There has always been some sense of satisfaction to Paul in the thought that in that trying hour, though her son, daughter, and many grandchildren were present, grandmother chose to lean particularly on him. It was his arm which supported her at the grave side where she looked for the last time on him who had been her constant companion for more than sixty years.
After the funeral and while the two branches of the family were all assembled, Paul was called upon to read his grandfather's will. It was a marvel of simplicity, high-mindedness and wisdom. Many of the village folks had predicted that, after a life interest to grandmother, Paul would be remembered equally with the two direct heirs, but their predictions were not realized. After specific legacies for the education of the grandchildren including Paul, the residuary estate was divided into two equal parts, the one going direct to the daughter, Pamelia, the wife of Doctor George H. Fox, of Rutland, and the other placed in trust for the benefit of George, the father of Cecil and Paul. The will was in no sense of the word a disappointment to Paul. Though conscious of the fact that the soberminded village people had preordained him to failure, and though his confidence in himself had been considerably shaken by their conclusions, he nevertheless felt within him the desire to fight life's battle single-handed, come weal or woe.
Grandfather's death was the first great event in the slow but certain break up of this splendid New England home. None could have been more conscious of the seriousness of the tragedy which was being enacted than Paul. He visited the places hallowed by sacred memories and he tried to make his gratitude and love known to his grandmother. Together they walked during the hush of summer mornings, following the paths which grandfather's footsteps had made through orchard and garden. Grandmother was very quiet at times during those summer-morning walks and Paul knew she was living again the events of sixty years of conjugal bliss and domestic tranquility.
In the fall of 1888, after finishing his year at Princeton, Paul went into the office of the Sheldon Marble Company, quarriers of Vermont marble in West Rutland, for a year's business training. The former Princeton student was given the high and honorable position of office boy at the prodigious wage of one dollar per day. All he had to do was to get up at five a.m., breakfast, walk a mile to the office, attend to all of the stoves, sweep and dust and get the office in readiness for the coming of the officials and office men and then do his day's work with the others.
Why Captain Morse, the manager, ever consented to give Paul with his known propensity for mischief employment, has always been a mystery. Cecil had been working for the company in the capacity of traveling salesman and that fact undoubtedly helped, but the captain knew Paul personally as the latter had served in his company in the Kingsley Guard and it was the opinion of the wise that the captain was taking desperate chances.
In the beginning, he told Paul that it was the job of the office boy not only to do what he was told to do but to find things to do when not told. The timely adjuration was sufficient. Paul knew that Captain Morse took him into the employ of the company with full knowledge of his character and qualities and he knew that the Sheldons had been fully advised. He knew that he had been given employment which many other more serious-minded young men would have been eager to obtain and he resolved that he would never betray the trust reposed in him; that he would fill the duties of that humble office as they had never been filled before. Within six months, he was drawing the highest wage that had ever been paid for the service he was called upon to render and before the year was closed, he was filling a more important position.
The writer hopes that the readers of this chronicle of events will not mistake his purpose in relating the following:
During the year of Paul's employment by the Sheldon Marble Company, Mr. W. K. Sheldon chanced to meet Matthew Henry Buckham, the president of the State University at the State Legislature, whereupon President Buckham. asked Mr. Sheldon, a graduate of the University, if he did not know that Paul Harris had been expelled. Mr. Sheldon replied, "Yes, President Buckham, I know all about it and it might interest you to learn that Paul is one of the most promising young men we have ever had in our office." As the company then employed six hundred men, the tribute to Paul's success in carrying out his resolution to justify the confidence of his employers was noteworthy. Mr. Sheldon never passes through Chicago, without calling on his former employee nor without making reference to the incident. Matthew Henry Buckham was a great scholar, a worthy and upright president of the State University but lacked the ability of Mr. Sheldon and Captain Morse to bring out the worthy qualities of young men. Is it not also noteworthy that these business men whose minds were full of important affairs thought it worth while to make such an experiment? Paul thought so and for that reason, he felt an overwhelming sense of loyalty.
There is always one great day in the life of every youth, one day greater than any other. Paul's great day was at the same time the most sorrowful.
Grandmother had taken residence in the excellent home of her daughter in Rutland, where she had every service which loving hands could provide. It had been planned that Paul was to take up the study of law in Iowa and he and grandmother had been spending the few, remaining days in the blessed old home.
Grandmother and Paul spent the morning of the great day together while she revealed to him her hopes and ambitions for his future. She held up wonderfully, though she broke down at last. "Never mind, Grandma, I shall see you again soon," said the boy. She shook her aged head tearfully. One more of life's tasks had been completed. It had been left to her to make the final decision and she had made it without the slightest regard to her own feelings. Paul was to go to Iowa to study law.
As he walked to the railway station, his thoughts went back to the night of his arrival eighteen years before.
The future seemed full of uncertainties as he took the train for the West and of nothing was he more uncertain than of himself. Would his future justify the devotion and sacrifices of the two New England people.
He spent a week in Chicago with a college friend, Robert M. Johnson, who had become a newspaper reporter and who showed him where the Haymarket riot and the Cronin murder had taken place. He also showed him where George V. Hankins was then openly running his notorious gambling den. These sights created a profound impression upon the mind of Paul. He had seen a considerable bit of New York and Philadelphia while in college at Princeton, but the unrest of the western city possessed for him a weird fascination. Chicago seemed to him a human maelstrom where social battles were to be fought. The sights which attracted him also repelled him.
During the first year in Iowa, Paul read law in the office of St. John, Stevenson and Whisenand in Des Moines; but he spent the summer months at Lake Okaboja where he fished and enjoyed out-door life in general, reading law when there were no more urgent demands upon his time.
In the fall, he entered the law department of the State University in Iowa City and graduated in June of the year, 1891. In the Iowa University he encountered conditions quite different from any he had met before. The students were older than those in the University of Vermont and at Princeton. Most of them came from Iowa farms and many had taught school as a means of raising the money necessary to the completion of their education. They were earnest men who had for the most part, passed their play period.
The atmosphere was wholesome and groups of law students frequently spent their evenings in their rooms conducting quizzes and discussing the theory and practice of law.
During the course of the year, Paul won the friendship of Will Mullin, a young man of brilliant mind. Will was two or three years Paul's senior and while clerking during a period of years in his brother's book store in Cedar Rapids, he had acquired a fine knowledge of literature. He became Paul's literary guide and his influence was probably not diminished by the fact that he was more or less of a bon vivant.
As Paul now looks back at his experiences in the various educational institutions, he is prone to question himself as to what, if anything, he got out of them; what, if anything was there to justify his grandfather's sacrifices and hopes? Was it worth while?
Was it Dr. McCosh or Dr. Patton who once said that it is better to go to college and loaf than not to go at all? Whoever it was, he was probably right. One cannot fail to pick up some values where they are to be found in such abundance.
The best thing that Paul got from his experiences in educational institutions came from his contacts with other students. In scholastics, he cannot lay claim to have gotten much except, perhaps, a love of good books.
On the whole, he is certain that the great lure to him of educational institutions was the opportunity they gave him to study the ways of men. He was ever an experimenter. Was there some place to which men flocked? If so, what was the attraction? What were the underlying motives which influenced the lives of men? Why did men conduct themselves as they did? Why were some good and others bad? Why did some make sacrifices? Did they pay? If so, how? Why were others wasteful of their physical, mental, and moral resources? What did they get out of it? Was there wisdom in grandfather's precepts--or was he simply out of date, a well-meaning, but deluded old fogey? What was life? The mists of thirty-five years have obscured many of the occurrences and thoughts of student days and within that period of time many friends and schoolmates have passed to the beyond. How quickly some of them passed. With what expedition and with what thoroughness they "mined the mine of youth to the last vein of the ore."
During his life in Iowa, Paul received many splendid letters from his grandmother but one sad day he received a telegram stating that she had peacefully passed on. On an autumn afternoon when the sugar maples on the mountain sides were in their most radiant colors, they laid her at rest beside her husband in the quiet cemetery in Wallingford. She had lived her entire life of seventy-eight years in the peaceful valley and only on very rare occasions had she ever left it.
Paul had not begun to see enough of the world to satisfy him and he made the resolve to devote the next five years to the study of life from as many different angles and in as many different cities as possible. He was aflame with desire to broaden his horizon. He longed to see the scenes of the exploits of his maternal grandfather in the golden west; the life of the plains; langorous Florida; and the land of his dreams, the tight little isles across the seas. He also resolved that on the termination of the five-year period he would settle in Chicago and practice law.
His friend, Robert Johnson, was at that time doing newspaper work in San Francisco. Paul visited the Yellowstone National Park en route West, spent a week in the mountains of Northern Idaho hunting and fishing for trout. While in the mountains he had the good fortune of bringing down a black bear. There was no rational excuse for spending any of his few remaining dollars in such pursuits, but he was realizing one of his objectives--he was experiencing life.
During the latter part of July, 1891, he arrived in San Francisco, his money spent. He was on his own at last.
SAN FRANCISCO had occupied a position in Paul's mind, second in interest only to Chicago of all Western cities.
Paul has his college friend, Robert Johnson, to thank for his introduction to newspaper work. Robert was unusually capable and ever ready to lend a helping hand. Through his influence and guidance Paul obtained a position on the Chronicle reportorial staff. Robert was at the time covering the hotels for the Examiner. The newspaper business was very slow in San Francisco and the city was full of capable Eastern newspaper men who had drifted to the coast, moved principally by the spirit of adventure. The Chronicle, then owned by M. H. De Young, had a long list of reporters working without fixed salary. They were paid by the column for material considered of sufficient news value for publication and three dollars for every assignment covered. The men who had been longest with the paper were given first call on assignments and there were seldom enough to go around. This meant hard times for the recent arrivals unless they were capable of picking up their own stuff and that was not easy even for experienced newspaper men in a strange city. There were at the time reporters of extraordinary ability who could get their column or more on their first day in a strange city. Robert Johnson was one. The writer has known him to accomplish this feat in several cities including New York, and when that city was full of the best newspaper men thoroughly acquainted with the metropolis.
Paul fared better than some of the more experienced men but times were hard and there was little indication of improvement. While discussing prospects with a number of other reporters one night in the Palace Hotel, he chanced to hear one of them, Harry C. Pulliam, formerly of Louisville, Kentucky, who also was occupying a position near the tail end of the Chronicle staff, say that he had come west for the purpose of seeing California.
This was the same Harry Pulliam who later became president of the National Baseball League.
Harry was a fine fellow and his words were sweet music in the ears of Paul, who had been looking for a chum; he therefore proposed that they work their way through the state together. The suggestion was immediately accepted and within three days the two were working at manual labor on a fruit ranch in Vaca Valley. After making a "stake" at that place, they gave up their jobs with the purpose of treating themselves to a three-hundred-mile tramp through the mountains of California, including the Yosemite Valley. Paul was taken ill of malaria in Stockton but recovered his strength during the first day's tramp in the mountains. He was in his element again.
The camping outfits consisted of woolen blankets, provisions, a coffee-pot, frying-pan, and some standard literature.
From the Calaveras big trees, a hike was begun across the trailless mountain ranges. They hoped to see the Hetch Hetchy and Kings River Canyon en route to the Yosemite. As might have been expected, the amateur woodsmen lost their way in crossing the divides which separated the valleys of the various branches of the Tuolumne, Merced, and Stanislau rivers. For some days they wandered, but fortunately came to human habitation soon after their supplies had run out. They arrived at the Yosemite eventually but failed in their attempt to locate the other famous valleys.
Their next engagement was in the raisin packing industry in Fresno. From there they went to Los Angeles where, after failure to secure a newspaper job Paul became a teacher in the Los Angeles Business College, incidentally one of the first institutions to have representation in the Rotary Club of Los Angeles when that club was organized in 1908.
After completing a nine-months' stay in the State of California, Paul returned as far east as Denver, where he demonstrated his versatility by play-acting in a stock company in the Old Fifteenth Street--sometimes called the Peoples'-theater. This adventure attracted more publicity than any other; in fact, far more than he desired. He received letters from old friends who apparently thought that he had gone wrong; and as he walked the streets of Denver, newsboys shouted at him the name of the part which he happened to be playing. As a matter of fact, Paul had no more intention of remaining on the stage than he had of remaining for any length of time at any of the other occupations by which he sustained himself during the, to him, eventful five years.
He had heard the expression "Pike's Peak or bust" and was, very naturally, desirous of seeing what there was to it. He took a train to Manatee, climbed to the half way house, spent the night, resumed his climb to the peak in the early morning hours and ran all the way down to catch the eleven o'clock train for Denver, having convinced himself that the stride which he had developed in the Green Mountains, tried out in the Sierra Nevadas, would also work in the Rockies.
He soon managed to get a position on the reportorial staff of the Rocky Mountain News, where he remained until he was fortunate enough to be permitted to taste the life of a cowboy on a ranch near Platteville, Colorado.
He remained at this occupation for some months, riding the range alone frequently for days at a time searching for stray cattle. Returning to Denver., he obtained employment on The Republican where he met some of his old San Francisco friends drifting back eastward.
Florida was another land of romance which appealed to the young traveler and his next jump was to Jacksonville, to which city he traveled on a pass. His first position in the southern city was that of night clerk at the St. James, the best tourist hotel in Jacksonville at that time.
Paul found the hotel business prosaic and he soon left to take a position as traveling salesman for George W. Clark who dealt in marble and granite of which Paul had gained a slight knowledge while working for the Sheldon Marble Company. George Clark was destined to have a marked influence on the life
The new position gave Paul an excellent opportunity to learn something of the old South--Kentucky, Tennessee, northern Georgia, and Virginia. On arrival at Norfolk, Virginia, he again resigned and took the boat for Philadelphia with the intention of finding a way to cross the ocean. From the period when Tom Brown of Rugby had first won his admiration, down through the days when the pen folk of Dickens, Thackeray and Scott had held him captive, Paul had longed for a sight of the British Isles. His longing was not half hearted; it was vigorous and determined; he was willing to endure any hardship, to pay any obtainable price. While in Philadelphia, he read much in the newspapers concerning the World's Fair in Chicago with the result that his interest in that city was greatly augmented. He resolved to visit the Fair on his return to America.
He soon found in the want-ad column of a Philadelphia paper a notice that cattlemen were wanted by a Baltimore house making a shipment to England on a boat of the Johnson line named the "Baltimore."
Before dawn the following day, the "Baltimore" was ploughing the seas and the young man who aspired to learn something of the practical side of life was on board, a duly enrolled cattleman.
Pen could not describe the hardships of that first voyage; the privation and suffering was unbelievable. The seas were rough and the boat had the reputation of being the worst boat of the worst line in the trans-Atlantic service. In this experience, Paul learned much of the need of human sympathy which greatly affected his own life and indirectly the life of Rotary. Without this experience, he never could have believed that human beings could sink so low. After being tossed about for fourteen days, the "Baltimore" entered the Mersey and the cattlemen were soon landed in Liverpool.
The first day on shore, the men were so exhausted that they could do nothing except sleep; but youth has wonderful, recuperative power, and Paul and a new-found friend soon had the supreme satisfaction of gazing at the wonders of a great city in a strange land. They walked in all directions about the city and into the suburbs. Paul would have been surprised indeed had some occult power then informed him that within a few years he would direct the organization of a club in Liverpool which would wield an important influence in the life of that city. The stay was all too brief. They were soon "signed on" before the mast as is the custom with returning cattlemen.
Paul was sorely disappointed in not being able to see London and he resolved to endure the hardships necessarily incident to another voyage across that he might visit the British metropolis.
The return to Baltimore was made in the "Parkmore," another boat of the same line. It was not quite so bad as the "Baltimore" but it certainly could not be said to be even fairly good. Neither vessel provided mattresses, blankets, nor eating utensils for the cattlemen. An alleged food which is known to the British seamen as "scouse" was served three times a day. It is composed mostly of potato and water, though on occasions small fragments of meat are added. "Scouse" and mouldy sea biscuit constituted the principal food. Both ships were infested with vermin and when the sea was rough, vast quantities of water washed aboard deluging the cattlemen from morning until night. Lack of food of nutritive value, vermin, and constant immersions in cold salt water made the lives of the cattlemen anything but attractive.
Paul learned from some of the old-timers that a few boats of the other lines, carrying cattle, were reasonably good. The Atlantic Transportation Company, an American line, was mentioned with particular favor. One of the old sailors had crossed on the "Michigan" of that line and he spoke highly of its appointments.
On arrival at Baltimore, Paul asked the shipper for another trip and was abruptly refused--no men were needed. Later in the day, Paul was surprised to be hailed by the same person. On Paul's approaching the shipper said: "Is your name Harris?" On being answered in the affirmative he said, "Well, young man, you can get a job with us anytime you want one; Billy Graham, the foreman, says that you are the best man who ever crossed the ocean with him."
The compliment was more gratifying to Paul than any he had ever received. It gave him much happiness to think that he had really been able to make good in such an undertaking. He had tried to be alert, watchful, and helpful under all circumstances and his efforts had been appreciated.
Another boat of the Johnson line was about to sail but Paul was not looking for an opportunity to repeat his experience with that particular line; he preferred to wait.
It was haying time and Paul resolved to go into the country to work while waiting an opportunity to sail under reasonably favorable conditions. He had never worked in a hay field but had heard much about it in Vermont and he coveted the experience. He walked to Elicott City and soon found work in a hay field in that locality. It was heavy work and called for the exercise of muscles which he had not been accustomed to use, but he did the best he could, scanning the newspapers for reports of sailings whenever he had opportunity to see them. To his delight he soon learned that the "Michigan" was about to sail. He returned at once to Baltimore, made application to the shipper and was soon in the Chesapeake. The boat's destination was Tillbury docks in the Thames about thirty miles from London. Oh, happy day!
Paul then received, a promotion. He became a sub-foreman and had charge of a gang. Living conditions were excellent, the voyage was delightful, and in due course Paul and a friend he had made in crossing were in the streets of London gazing at sights which he had longed to see. The two young Americans walked the streets from morn till night, covering great distances. They visited the Houses of Parliament, Westminister Abbey, the British Museum, Tower of London, St. Pauls, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar, the Strand, and many other places of interest.
In 1911, Paul brought about the organization of the Rotary Club of London. There are now forty Rotary clubs within the metropolitan district and it is expected that there will be more. The original club has the exclusive right to use the name Rotary Club of London. Its offices are located in the Hotel Cecil and its meetings are held there. It is the rallying point for thousands of American Rotarians visiting abroad. The best accommodation the founder of the movement could afford on his first visit to London in 1893 was a cheap boarding-house run by A. Leslie on Commercial Road in the Whitechapel district, a locality of exceptional interest to the embryonic sociologist from the other side.
Another enjoyable surprise awaited. The "Michigan" was directed to return via Swansea in South Wales to take on coal and also a cargo of queensware destined for Philadelphia. It happened that the colliers were on a strike when the "Michigan" arrived in Swansea but even that circumstance was turned to good account and the travelers visited many points of interest in Swansea and in the surrounding country.
The return voyage was pleasant and on arrival in Philadelphia, Paul immediately took the train for Chicago to visit the World's Fair. He had money enough for train fare and no more. On arrival in Chicago he looked up a college friend whom he knew to be selling tickets at the Fair grounds and became his guest.
During the course of a week he covered the principal sights and had one note-worthy experience. It occurred during a visit to the Vermont building. As he entered the building he was immediately conscious of the presence of two persons, a man and a woman. Neither seemed conscious of his presence; they were inspecting the exhibits. A glance revealed to Paul a rather disconcerting fact; they were his cousins, Ed and Mattie Fox, of Rutland.
Instantly Paul turned on his heel and left the building. The impecunious young man was in no position to reveal himself to his relatives.
The Fair having been visited, Paul looked for other worlds to conquer. One city of all other American cities which he had not yet seen was especially alluring; it was New Orleans.. differing from other American cities in so many respects. How to get there was the question.
It might be stated at this point that throughout his travels Paul stole no rides; he either paid his fare or worked his way and he always carried baggage. People have frequently expressed wonder at his ability to land almost immediately on his feet after arrival in a strange city; even men of considerable experience such as roving newspaper men have expressed amazement. Harry Pulliam,, for instance, used to call Paul the "wonder man." To those who have sometimes been out of jobs for months at a time in their own home cities, Paul's experiences would probably seem miraculous.
The fact that be could do what he did was as much a tribute to the astonishing resources of the country in which he lived as to Paul personally.
The reasons why he was successful were simple.
In the first place, he always made it a point to dress well and to appear well-groomed; in the second place, he did not limit himself to any particular class of work. He was willing to undertake any kind of work, mental or physical, by which he could earn a livelihood, and finally he always gave full measure of service. It was his aim to give the best he had in him and in case he failed to make good it was because of physical or mental limitations and not because of indifference. His manifest earnestness of purpose frequently resulted in his being transferred from work which he could not do to the advantage of his employer to other work to which he was better adapted.
To get to New Orleans was not difficult. He borrowed fifteen dollars from his college friend, invested ten of the fifteen with a ticket-broker for the return part of a round-trip ticket from Crawley, Louisiana, to Chicago via New Orleans. The ticket was cheap because it was within twenty-four hours of expiration.
On arrival in New Orleans early one morning, he sold the remaining part of the. ticket to a broker for $1.00.
The traveler was able to engage good board and room with a respectable family for four dollars per week and he immediately set siege upon the newspaper offices. Times were unusually slow, especially in the newspaper business and nothing except the privilege of space-writing was available. Before his capital was exhausted, however, Paul was fortunate enough to find opportunity to add a new chapter to his story; how interesting and extraordinary the chapter was to prove, he could not have conjectured
In a want-ad of a daily paper, he read: "Wanted--A dozen men to pick and pack oranges in a grove in Plaquemine parish."
The next day a gang of men, including Paul, crossed the Mississippi river and took the train on a narrow-gauge track for Buras, a township in the delta not far from where the Father of Waters empties into the sea. After a rough ride and a walk of a mile and a half from Buras they arrived at the grove and warehouse of S. Pizatti, the senior member of the well-known Pizatti-Oteri Steamship Company whose boats plied between New Orleans and Bluefields, Nicaragua.
The warehouse was on a high foundation, the floor being level with the top of the dike. thus permitting the trucking of oranges from the warehouse directly across the top of the dike to the wharf whence they were taken by river boat to New Orleans. The oranges in Louisiana are picked and packed while still green on account of fear of early frosts.
The gang began operations at once. Sleeping-quarters had been provided in the warehouse and Pizatti's cook prepared the meals for the laborers in Pizatti's rather substantial dwelling. The old Italian who had become wealthy importing bananas was present most of the time.
The business of picking, packing, boxing, and shipping oranges progressed satisfactorily for several days as it doubtless would have done until the crop was harvested had it not been for a very extraordinary circumstance.
On a Sunday morning, several members of the gang, including Paul, rowed across the Mississippi River to dredge for oysters in a bayou. Returning in the afternoon, they encountered a heavy wind which made the crossing difficult. The wind storm continued with such force that the men feared that the warehouse standing so high above the ground would be blown down. They therefore sought refuge in the Pizatti house where they gained admittance.
The storm continued to rage during the early part of the evening, so the workers remained in the large kitchen. Frequently the door was opened and a family dripping wet, entered. As they were foreigners, their confused and excited words were unintelligible to the men. The house filled with shouting men and crying women and children, and it soon became apparent that they had fled from their homes to take refuge in the staunch house of Pizatti. Then to the amazement of the orange pickers a rush of water came into the house gaining ingress under the doorway. The structure seemed to be afloat. At this juncture some one raised a shout which sounded above the general hubbub. Men took children in their arms and burst through the door into the night. The women followed. It was apparent to all that the one salvation was to reach the high-standing warehouse; the water was more feared than the wind.
Paul and several other orange-pickers took children in arms and plunged out into the night. Paul held in his arms a little girl eight or nine years of age. The water at first was only about knee deep, but the depth increased rapidly as the low ground near the approach to the warehouse was reached. It was necessary for Paul to constantly raise the child higher and higher in order to keep her out of the water which was not far from his armpits when his foot finally touched the plank incline leading up to the warehouse. There in the light of a lantern were fifty or more men and crying, shrieking women and children. The orange-pickers were young men and not easily upset. Moreover, they were ignorant of what had happened and of what might happen on the Mississippi river.
A man by the name of Granger from Jacksonville looked down at a frightened woman on her knees sobbing a prayer and seemingly impressed with some untoward sense of the ludicrous, began to laugh. A boxmaker from New Orleans who knew the river turned to Granger and said:
"Don't laugh. Prepare to meet your God."
But the wind which brought the water was blowing toward the river, not from it. On someone's suggestion Paul and others went to work with axes, pickaxes, and crowbars in an effort to cut the dike and let the flood through into the river. It was difficult to stand upon the dike, the wind blew so relentlessly. How the warehouse continued to withstand the storm was a mystery. Another gang tried to build a raft.
To the infinite relief of all when daylight finally broke, the storm subsided. The only dry land in sight was the top of the levee which was covered with walking, creeping, and crawling things; horses, cows, hogs, hens, birds, and no end of squirming, writhing, deadly moccasin snakes.
The only home remaining standing was Pizatti's and the place of refuge, the warehouse. Fortunately some builder had done his work honestly and well.
The waters round about were strewn with wreckage of houses and with green thorn-picked oranges, but the strangest of all sights was a three-masted schooner standing where but yesterday had been dry land.
The newspapers described the great coast storm of 1898 which swept one island clear of every human being and devastated an area of hundreds of square miles, as a tidal wave. It was said that at Bayou Cook alone, eight hundred lives were lost. In Buras township the loss of life was tremendous.
In an incredibly brief period relief boats came down the river from New Orleans and the survivors were given every possible aid.
These coast storms are not at all frequent, so it seems as if it must have been by interposition of Divine Providence that he who was so interested in adventure should happen to have been present at that particular time.
The writer wishes he had the power to adequately describe this storm that descended so suddenly upon the Lower Mississippi. Although years have elapsed, the suffering and horror of that night still remain in memory.
Times continued to be hard in New Orleans and moreover the avidity of the traveler's longings had somewhat slackened. But new adventure beckoned.
Paul knew that his old position in Jacksonville was still open to him and that George Clark would be glad to give him territory over which he had never traveled before. The result of such reflection was a return to the post which bad proven so satisfactory.
It will be remembered that Paul left Jacksonville early in March. He returned the first of October. In seven months' time he had visited Washington, Louisville, Norfolk, several small cities in the old South, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and sandwiched in a couple of trans-Atlantic voyages for good measure. It goes without saying that this was by far the most active part of the five-year period allotted for adventure and for observing life.
Henceforth, Paul had a second purpose to serve, that of saving up money for future needs. With his two purposes in mind he traveled for George Clark for an entire year, seldom, however, covering the same ground twice, it being understood between the chief and his salesman that the continuation of the engagement depended upon the supply of new territory. It was rather a remarkable arrangement and the profits from sales were not by any means large. When this fact was commented upon by Paul one day, George answered: "I figure that it pays me to keep you on the road even if there are no profits at all. The impression you create in the minds of the trade throughout the South does the business enough good to justify the expense."
While George Clark from preference continued to live in Jacksonville, he had an office in New York City and did business in every state in the Union. He is a remarkable example of the self-made man. He and Paul seldom talked of local territory. Their thoughts were on the beyond; the one being desirous of extending his business, the other of seeing the world.
During the year, Paul covered the Southern States, Cuba, and the Bahama Islands. His visits at the home of the Clarks in Jacksonville were truly high times. The employer and his salesman were the most intimate of chums; in fact, they so enjoyed each other's companionship that very frequently they sat up until the wee small hours of the morning discussing every manner of business question. How Mrs. Clark ever put up with such interferences to an orderly household is hard to understand, and yet most of the time there were three in the party--George, Gertrude, and Paul! The writer is glad to be able to say that the friendship between the three has never abated; that it is now just as cordial and warm as it was more than thirty years ago.
As the twelve-months' period was drawing to a close, Paul notified George of his intended departure. George answered: "Is there nowhere else you care to go?" Paul answered: "Yes, there is one more place, but I doubt your willingness to send me."
"Where is it?" inquired George.
"Europe," said Paul.
Two weeks later the wanderer was once again on high seas, under orders of his employer-chum, to visit the granite-producing regions of Scotland, and the marble-producing regions of Ireland, Belgium, and Italy for the purpose of revising arrangements for buying the products of foreign quarries.
He visited Edinburgh. Fourteen years prior thereto, there had been born to John and Annie Thomson, in that classic city, their fifth child, a girl, bonny, bright-eyed Jean. Her mother says that during the course of her very first breakfast, Jean looked up inquiringly into her mother's eyes and then settled back as if content. The confidential relationship then and there established has continued through life. Paul was at the time of his visit to Edinburgh of course oblivious to the fact that the future Mrs. Paul was one of "Jock Tamson's eight bairns"; he was in truth ignorant of the existence of such a family.
The children of John and Annie Thomson were deeply grounded in the religion of Calvin and Knox. It was a rigorous training, one which could not fail to constitute a powerful influence on after life.
MRS. PAUL P. HARRIS (Jean)
Photo by Wallinger, Chicago, Ill.
On holidays, John and Annie were wont to take their children to the sea shore; all, except the youngest, walking, though the distance covered frequently amounted to several miles.
The baby Joey rode in the "pram" which was pushed by the parents and by the children in turn. When the distances were great, Mary or another of the younger children was also given a lift in the "pram." Small wonder that the sight of rolling billows, the sniff of salt air bring tender memories to Jean; that they remind her of the sacred days of childhood spent in the companionship of father., mother, brothers and sisters. The meeting of Jean with Paul will be described later.
The writer could enjoyably consume a great deal of space in the relation of the wonderful months spent in Great Britain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany, Belgium, Holland and of the friends he made.
Mention will be made of two new friends only, Frank Watts of London, who later became a member of the London Rotary Club, and S. A. McFarland of Carrara, Italy.
Paul was a visitor in the home of the latter and was the recipient of courtesies little to be expected from comparative strangers. He was introduced to many fine English, American, and Italian people residing in the little art center located in the mountains of Northern Italy and he enjoyed many wonderful drives about the country.
How friendly Mr. and Mrs. McFarland were is shown by a little incident which occurred near the end of the visit. The McFarlands knew it to be Paul's intention to return by the shortest available route. They thought it a great mistake and urged him to continue his travels. Finally, Mr. McFarland said, "Paul, I don't want to be impertinent but is the lack of money limiting your travels?" Being thus driven to corner, Paul admitted that he was short of funds. "Well," said Mr. McFarland, "Mrs. McFarland has been insisting that I ascertain. The point is we don't want you to go back to America without first seeing Piza, Leghorn, Rome, Florence, Venice, and Vienna. We don't care where you go after that. The money will be provided and you can repay us after you get home." The proffered loan was accepted in a spirit of gratitude and it was repaid in due course.
After completing his travels Paul returned to America with a broader perspective and with increased faith in men.
Before Paul arrived again in New York he had begun to make plans for his future life in Chicago. Three and one-half years of his allotted time had passed, a great three and one half years. The realization of the need of money took him again to Jacksonville where he joined George Clark in a sub-dividing and building project then on hand.
Six very enjoyable months were spent in the undertaking and once again they came to the parting. George had offered Paul a partnership in his business and every inducement within his power but Paul was going to Chicago to practice law pursuant to his life's plan and with the wishes of his first and greatest benefactor, his grandfather, in mind.
George among other things said: "Whatever the advantages of settling in Chicago may be, I am satisfied that you will make more money if you remain with me." To which Paul answered: "I am sure you are right but I am not to Chicago for the purpose of making money; I am going for the purpose of living a life."
At times George doubted or professed to doubt Paul's ability to settle down, but he who was most concerned had no fears in that regard; his plans had been made. A few months still remained. Paul knew little of New York and desired to learn something of the great eastern metropolis before settling in Chicago. George made one more manifestation of his friendship by recalling his New York manager to Jacksonville and putting Paul in temporary charge.
On the twenty-seventh day of February, 1896, four months before the expiration of his allotted five years, Paul arrived in the city of Chicago prepared to take up his life's work.
The vision of a world-wide fellowship of business and professional men united in the ideal of service had not yet come; there were experiences of a different nature yet to be had, but a wonderful foundation had been laid; he had seen life in some of its worst as well as in some of its best conditions. It was a far cry from the peace of the idealistic home in the beautiful New England mountains to the turbulence of Whitechapel, London, or to the human maelstrom which burst its bounds on the occasion of the Haymarket riots in Chicago. Is it any wonder that a young man of impressionable mind who had found so much of good in the midst of evil, who had found so much friendliness in places which might have been barren, who had such reason for faith and confidence in business men, was receptive to the idea of a fellowship of business and professional men? Or that once having realized it he was eager to send it out over the trail he had already blazed and on around the world? Rotary was the child of his imagination and he coveted for his child every advantage which he had enjoyed.
Is there anything to learn from a life such as that herein unfolded? Is there a lesson for fathers or for young men whose experiences are yet to come?
As the writer glances back over the period of nearly a half century, he thinks he can see that many a round-about route might have been advantageously shortened; that the given amount of energy might have produced far better results.
The reader must bear in mind that circumstances deprived Paul of the beneficial influence of his natural guardian, his father. His grandfather did everything which could have been expected of him and more-and yet, he was grandfather, not father. Grandfather was sixty-five years of age and grandmother fifty-four when they began to raise their second family.
It's a long road from three to sixty-five. Grandparents are prone to be indulgent with their grandchildren and they seldom have the moral force to successfully and continually resist the impetuosity of youth.
Those who come into parenthood comparatively early are frequently more fortunate than they can appreciate. Of all the influences that go to shape life's course, none is comparable with parental influences, assuming that the parents appreciate their responsibilities. Early parenthood is far more likely to result in the priceless boon of companionship between father and son, mother and daughter, than late parenthood. The parents are young and vigorous and not too far removed from the viewpoints of their children.
Fortunate is that boy whose father is still young enough to be a hero in son's eyes; unfortunate is he whose father is so far removed in point of years that the father seems of another age.
After many long years of observation, the writer has reached the conclusion that it is almost an invariable rule that children who have the close companionship of their parents render good accounts of themselves in after life. He believes that this holds true regardless of almost every other consideration. It matters not whether they are raised in high life or low life, in poverty or affluence, city or country, with educational privileges or without them; if dad is a pal to son and if mother is the confident of daughter, all will be well.
It will be apparent to all who have read this narrative, that Paul became his own master at an unwarranted age. At the critical period when he needed a kindly but firm hand, he was racing wild and free over the hills and mountains.
Splendid educational advantages were given him but he placed little value upon them. It is natural to appreciate least the advantages most easily gained. If it had been necessary for Paul to earn by the sweat of his brow the money to pay for his education he would have understood the cost and appraised it accordingly.
As matters were, Black River Academy, Vermont Academy, the University of Vermont, Princeton and the University of Iowa were links merely in the long chain of events called life. He needed discipline but he did not receive it. The one thing he did gain was experience; he found it in college and he found it in even more abundant measure in after life. Experience is a slow but certain teacher. Frequently, after men have turned their backs on every other opportunity of gaining wisdom, they gain it through toiling over the stony, tortuous, uphill pathway of experience.
Paul eventually learned that he could get no more out of life than he was willing to put into it; but he did not need to go to college to learn that; neither was it necessary to flounder about as he did; his grandfather would have been glad to have told him all during those hot summer afternoons in the barn.
Paul did undoubtedly benefit from adversity. He learned what it meant to be cold, hungry, and sick among strangers; what it meant to depend entirely upon his own resources. He was under no temptation to appeal to his own parents in times of trouble because he had never learned to depend upon them. On the contrary, it had always remained for him to help them in their times of need.
After the hardships encountered on the plains, in the mountains and on the sea, the trials incident to getting a foothold in Chicago seemed less appalling.One thing was certain: that the five years of knock-about experiences broadened Paul's vision and gave him a better understanding of men.
Life settled down in earnest during the early spring of 1896. Wanderings were over; the days of romantic speculation had passed; nothing except the prosaic remained and yet as the train from New York pulled into Chicago, into the city which was to be his permanent home, Paul did speculate somewhat on the future. Would he be able to achieve success? What of fifteen years hence? If he should then visit his old home town, would he be considered a success or a failure?
HERE was no reason whatever for the selection of Chicago as the field of endeavor except its reputation for social unrest; rather a flimsy reason for the selection of a city in which to live. Yes, there must have been some romance left. Paul obtained a license to practice law and rented desk and room in an office; soon he rented a small suite of offices in an obscure building, subletting the other offices, at a figure which made his own office practically free. He uniformly over-estimated his prospective income and under-estimated his prospective outgo. He was frequently surprised at times to learn on how small an income a man could live and retain his standing as a lawyer in a great city. But he was one of many. One of his associates, Lewis Dalton, a graduate of an Indiana university, had learned much about hard times in Chicago and he gave Paul many valuable pointers; for instance, he introduced him to a place down a half-flight of stairs on Fifth Avenue which Lew had appropriately named "Hell's Half Kitchen." Its chief recommendation lay in the fact that it dispensed a "stack of wheats" with syrup for the modest sum of a nickel. It was an excellent place to get breakfast.
For a time, Lew slept nights in a livery stable on a bed which was occupied during the day by a hack driver. It was a tip top arrangement, and Lew would have made the livery stable his permanent home had he not happened to leave his office early one afternoon to dress for a party and found that the driver had borrowed his Prince Albert coat to wear while driving the hearse at a funeral. Lew contended that the driver was carrying things too far.
The year 1896 was one of great financial depression throughout the United States, and particularly in Chicago which was suffering the reaction from overbuilding during the World's Fair. Half of the stores and apartments in some parts of the city were vacant. Dishonesty and corruption were the order of the day. There was no special redlight district in Chicago at the time. The district encompassed the whole city, especially the loop, or down-town section. The statement that conditions have been worse in Chicago during the last few years than ever before has been frequently made. The authors of such statements should have seen the Chicago of 1896.
Nor were commercial conditions better than social conditions. There was an epidemic of fraud during the years immediately preceding the passage of the bankruptcy act of 1898; and extending for some years thereafter. The bankruptcy law did not affect the volume of frauds unless to increase it, but it affected the manner in which they were conducted and the way in which defrauded creditors sought redress.
There is no great loss without some small gain. The epidemic of fraud made business for lawyers. The courts worked overtime issuing attachment and replevin writs.
To the credit of the American people be it said . that: the perpetrators of commercial frauds were mostly foreigners; unfortunately they controlled many of the retail lines of trade.
Incendiarism was one of the favorite methods of reaping where there had been no sowing; but the most popular method of procedure was through making purchases to the limit of all possible credit and following up with a quick getaway during the course of the night.
There were two great auction houses in the downtown district of Chicago to which large portions of the goods obtained by fraud eventually found their way; in a great many instances, having been taken there direct. Huge moving-vans bearing no inscriptions or other marks of identification, would move at midnight into the alley in the rear of the store to be gutted and then before daylight they would proceed into another alley in the rear of an auction house within the capacious walls of which the night's booty would soon be engulfed.
Credit men of wholesale houses began to develop an uncanny sense in the detection of fraudulent intent. If a prospective buyer sought to buy goods of too high class for the demands of the trade of the locality in which they were ostensibly to be sold, if he sought to buy in unjustifiable quantities or if there were other suspicious circumstances, acceptance of the order would be refused.
Not infrequently, the circumstance of suspicion would not come to light until after the sale and delivery of the goods and in such instances, the practice was to summon a lawyer who would sue out a replevin or attachment writ on giving adequate bond.
Then if the proprietor refused to surrender the goods, they would be forcibly retaken and returned to the shelves of their former owner. Sometimes the defendant would seriously contest the suit at law and if successful, sue on the bond, but such instances were rare; the suspicions were generally justified and the malefactor was willing to call quits rather than submit his case to judge or jury, who, on account of the prevalence of this form of misdemeanor, were likely to prove to be uncomfortably wise.
Occasionally the officers of the law would meet with armed resistance when attempting to levy, but resistance was seldom successful. Plate-glass windows were frequently shattered in making entrance, doors kicked in, and barricades broken down by the men armed with legal authority.
The passage of the federal bankruptcy law rendered it unnecessary for the perpetrators of commercial frauds to terminate residence. They remained in their happy homes and defied their creditors. The spirit of "He profits most who serves best" was conspicuous in its absence and "Get while the getting is good" was the slogan of the day.
During the early years of his practice, Paul was a member of a co-partnership consisting of himself, Elroy N. Clark, a graduate of the University of Vermont and Georgetown University and Lewis S. Dalton, but the firm was dissolved on the departure of Clark, who accepted an opening in United States Senator Wilcott's firm in Denver of which he subsequently became one of the partners. Dalton lost his life in a blizzard while on an expedition into the mountains of Colorado a year or two later.
Financial and business conditions in Chicago began gradually to improve in 1900 as they did in most other parts of the country. Nearly everyone who had any license to fail had done so and the bankruptcy act had washed their sins away. Times couldn't continue to be as bad as they had been. With improving financial and business conditions came also improvement in moral conditions. The closing of wine-rooms and assignation houses operating in the downtown districts resulted in the segregation of vice in certain limited areas and even the red-light resorts were padlocked when the State's Attorney satisfied his mind that the people really wanted them closed. All of the big gambling-houses had long since vanished and there was little left to remind one of the dissolute days. Surreptitious vice and gambling of course still continued, but on a greatly diminished scale.
With the return of prosperity came also a general cleaning up of the physical conditions of the town. Streets which even in the downtown districts had been impassable at times, because of mud and water were paved and even the squalor of the Ghetto and of South Halstead Street seemed less pronounced. It was the day of "the full dinner-pail."
Paul had mingled with pretty nearly every class of society and even tried his hand at politics but he neither liked the game nor the company he found there. He had studied social conditions in the slums and had seriously contemplated taking up residence there for further study at close range. The way people lived was of great interest to him. He might easily have gone off on that tangent but the way was not open and he lacked the determination and steadfastness of purpose to create an opening. In one way and another during his stay in Chicago he had seen much of life and, in the final analysis, that was what he had most desired.
He had no love in his heart for the cobblestones of downtown Chicago and he spent Sundays and holidays when the weather permitted, on the green grass of the parks, but he frequently longed for the mountains, the sparkling lakes, singing brooks, and the intimate friendships of his boyhood days.
As Paul's income increased so did his ways of spending money. His curiosity did not abate in the least; he still desired to see life in all of its irregularities as well as regularities.
He obtained membership in the Press club, dined frequently with such celebrities as Opie Read, Bolling Johnson, Colonel Visscher, Press Woodruff, Forrest Crissey and other men of literary attainments. He also wrote quite a number of short stories for a newspaper syndicate.
His knowledge of the Bohemian life of the city was second to none. He knew every Italian, Greek, German, and Hungarian restaurant and delighted in guiding his out-of-town friends about the city.
On Sundays he frequently attended church services in Central Church during the pastorates of Newell Dwight Hillis and Frank Gunsaulus but he did not confine his attendance to Central Church. It was not at all unusual for him to attend the services of various denominations-Ethical Culture., Christian Science, Catholic, Quaker, Theosophical, Bahite, Jewish, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Congregational. He enjoyed them, every one, and for all he could see, each was striving to attain the same end.
While he loved to study life in general, he was particularly anxious to know the "ins and outs" of his own city. To facilitate his studies of different localities he made frequent changes of residence, a practical solution of the problem so long as he remained unmarried but impracticable thereafter. During his fifteen years of bachelor life he resided in thirty different parts of Chicago and neighboring suburbs. Up to the very day of his marriage he was setting new records for change of domicile. Paul claims the long-distance championship in this regard, in fact, he sampled everything from Hell's Half Kitchen up. Business considerations prevented his adopting a migratory plan of office occupancy. There was always one address at which he could be found.
Of the many lawyers, young and old, who from time to time have been associated with Paul during his thirty-two years of practice, a small minority only have made good. The majority have stumbled along and eventually fallen by the roadside. The fierce competition in the most competitive of all vocations in a large city is too much for the average of men. In such combat the mental and physical resources of all are put to the severest test; there heredity, breeding, environment, all count; not infrequently the preparation which seems to be the poorest proves to be the best; -the seemingly best to be the poorest. The severe discipline of poverty frequently provides the stamina essential to success. The upstart from the Ghetto frequently outstrips the highly educated scion of ancient American families even though the latter be backed up by powerful influence.
Paul has never occupied any position other than that of the official head of the office though this fact is not to his credit. He would have done far better and would have saved himself many hard knocks had he associated himself at the beginning with some well established firm-but he was a stranger at the time in a great city and had not the slightest conception where it was best to take hold.
Among those who have been associated with Paul during approximately one-third of a century of practice should be named Mr. Joseph J. Parker, who was a member of Paul's organization for more than ten years.
Mr. Parker was of about the age of Paul's father but the association was intimate and very advantageous to Paul. "Little Joe", as he was called in Canton, Ohio, from whence he came to Chicago late in life, had been a partner of Judge Day who subsequently was appointed justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As an indication of the high esteem in which Parker's ability was held, it might be proper to state that when Mr. McKinley went to Washington to become president of the United States, he selected Parker to try all of the cases still remaining on his calendar.
Obviously Parker could have associated himself with any Chicago law office he might have selected. He came to Paul's as a result of a friendship which arose from their having been thrown together in literary pursuits.
In this respect also the older man was of great help to the younger, as he opened up many new fields. Parker was a deep student of French and Russian literature. To his mind Balzac was the most realistic of all character delineators; Dostoevsky had the best understanding of the emotions, especially those aroused by human suffering. He refused Dickens a place in his affections.
Parker's love of general literature was not permitted to interfere with his study of the law. His mind absorbed the salient features of a case with almost uncanny celerity. His genius lay in his apparently intuitive ability to "separate the wheat from the chaff" or as he used to express it, to "dispel the fog."
To his mind most cases hinged on one point; his task it was to locate the point. The result was that he never wasted the time or the patience of the court in the presentation of false issues.
Judge Day, years before, had established a precedent which Paul was glad to follow. He always gave "Little Joe" the laboring oar in serious cases.
Mr. Parker tried many later cases before his eventual breakdown which came during the year of 1922. He had prepared at that time for the trial of an important will case but he proved unable to carry on. The old violin had played its last tune.
On an occasion during the summer of 1900, Paul was invited to dine with a lawyer friend, who lived in Rogers Park, and after dinner he and his friend took a walk, during the course of which they called on several neighborhood stores and shops of various kinds and at each visit his friend introduced him to the proprietor. Paul was deeply impressed with the events of the evening walk. His host had evidently found a good many friends among the business men in his neighborhood.
Paul's clients were business friends but they were not social friends, and he wondered if there were any reason why he could not make social friends of his business friends, at least of some of them. He conceived of a group of business men banded together socially; then he thought that there would be an especial advantage in each member having exclusive representation of his particular trade or profession. The members would be mutually helpful.
He resolved to organize such a club. Who should be asked to join? Of one thing he was certain-they must be friendly men. He thought of his client, Silvester Schiele, the coal man, and Gustavus Loehr, mining engineer, and then he thought of Harry Ruggles, a printer who had been supplying the needs of his office. All these were approachable, friendly men. Then he thought of others who did not seem to pass the test.
He talked matters over with Schiele and also with Gus. He liked them both and thought they would like each other, and on the first convenient occasion he introduced them. They did like each other. There was much in the past lives of the two men to justify the belief that they would understand each other and enjoy each other's companionship. Both had come to Chicago from small communities, Silvester from Clay City, Indiana, and Gus from Carlinville, Illinois. Both were of German parentage and each had worked his way unaided to the establishment of a profitable business in a great city.
On the night of February 23, 1905, the first meeting took place at Gus' office in the Unity Building. Silvester and Paul had dined together at an Italian restaurant on Chicago's near north side. Gus, by prearrangement, had invited a personal friend, Hiram Shorey, a merchant tailor, a native of the village of Litchfield, in the State of Maine, to whom he had previously introduced Paul. The meeting was enlivened by the relation of personal experiences, after which Paul unfolded the general purposes of his plan.
The significant occurrence of the second meeting was the introduction of Harry Ruggles, the printer. Harry was destined to play an important part in the life of the Chicago club, for through his suggestion of club singing his influence has been made felt by the entire movement.
The spirit of the early days of Rotary has frequently been described as selfish. There were certainly many indications to justify the description. The literature of the period, most of which was the work of Paul, emphasized the business advantage of membership. Prospective members were frequently appealed to directly on the basis of business gain. But even here is a distinction, subtle though it may seem. The prevailing thought was to give--not to receive. Giving was more reconcilable with the other thing that went along with it--friendship.
The net result was that those who came into the club for the sole purpose of getting as much as they could out of it were disappointed and dropped out
It is true that some actually have realized substantial business benefits from their membership in Rotary, but that may be said of the members of almost any other club. Many have realized no business benefits whatever, and the one class is as well satisfied as the other. Viewed from a financial standpoint Rotary has been a liability to Paul, not an asset. Few would contend that the spirit of the Rotary of today is selfish. No more was it selfish in the first year of the movement. The lure of Rotary has ever been the friendships that have
been found there. By none has friendship been more highly. valued than by the first group who gathered together in the year of our Lord, 1905.
During the course of one of the early meetings, Paul suggested several possible names for the new club. Among others--Rotary. It met with general favor and was adopted forthwith. The significance of the name becomes apparent on examination of the original plan of the club, which provided for rotation in the place of meeting, in the chairmanship, and even in membership which was to be continued for one year only. The last named provision was an expedient to insure attendance, it being thought that sustained interest in attention to club duties would be assured if continued membership were made to depend upon re-election. Members were fined 50 cents for failure to attend meetings, and no excuses were given consideration. The proceeds of the fines imposed paid all expenses of running the club.
The membership grew rapidly. It was composed entirely of men who had fought their way unaided. Almost every member had come to Chicago from a farm or small village. Rotary afforded the first real opportunity to enjoy the intimate first-name acquaintance reminiscent of boyhood days far from the madding crowds. To such, Rotary was an oasis in a desert.
The club progressed consistently, and its spirit was all that could have been desired. It became manifest to Paul that his plan was destined to prove a great success, and his ambitions began to expand in proportion to his increasing confidence. A new sense of responsibility arose within him. The thought that a program suited to a small group of friends might not be suitable to an important movement dawned upon his consciousness. Rotary must go forward, and it must have something substantial to offer.
The Chicago club having gained considerable headway, Paul became candidate for the presidency at the beginning of the third year. He had thus far pushed and was ready to begin to pull. His election followed and he took office. He had three distinct ambitions--first, to advance the growth of the Chicago club; second, to extend the movement to other cities; third, to add community service to the club objectives.
Rotarians frequently, on their first meeting with Paul., congratulate him on the growth of the organization, and then say, "I guess you little thought during the early days that the movement would spread throughout the world." Not infrequently, one hears the expression "They builded better than they knew." All of which tends at least, to show that the popular impression is that the spread of Rotary was unforseen, and to a great extent accidental.
Nothing could be farther from the truth; the plan was paintakingly wrought out and earnestly put into execution.
A second club was founded in San Francisco. Others followed until in 1910 there were fourteen clubs. The decision was reached that the existing clubs should be united into an organization, which would not only assume the responsibility for further extension work, but serve as a clearing house for the exchange of helpful ideas among the clubs. A set of resolutions were adopted by each existing Rotary club, by which each agreed to be represented in a Convention called for the purpose of affecting the organization and maintenance of a national association of Rotary clubs, and pledged its moral and financial support. The call for the Convention was issued, the program developed, attendance promoted, newspaper publicity secured, and on August 15, 1910, the first convention of Rotary assembled in Chicago. The delegates were in session practically three days and two nights. On the last day Paul was elected President of the new organization and with him was elected a Board of nine Directors from as many different clubs.
During the first year of the life of the national association, most of the efforts were directed toward extension work in the United States. These were busy days with Paul and yet he could see the need of many things which he could not find time to attend to. The result was that he devoted his efforts to those needs which seemed most imperative. He was harassed with doubts as to whether his appraisal of the comparative importance of the needs was well made. At times it seemed to him that he ought to have devoted his own efforts to the formation of a more complete philosophy for the new movement, leaving extension and other considerations to care for themselves, or to be worked out later. But extension was urgent, opportunities were constantly demanding his attention.
At the second convention, held in Portland, Oregon, Paul was re-elected as President and another busy year of development and extension followed. As Paul's second term of office drew toward a close he realized that his activities were nearly over, and he was ready to retire. His health had not been good for sometime; in fact he had just strength enough to see him through. He worked feverishly to consolidate the positions occupied by the organization, not only throughout the United States, but in Canada and Great Britain and Ireland. The climax of seven long, intense years of devotion to an ideal came to Paul during the summer of 1912. It was with a sense of relief, though, it must be admitted, with some sorrow, that Paul in Duluth at the third convention yielded the creature of his imagination to the succeeding administration. He had done his bit and was ready to retire.
He was fortunate in having just become settled in his home on the wooded hill where rest and quiet were possible. There are times when country-bred men get homesick for the country. It seemed good indeed, to have a rest.
He determined to continue to follow the affairs of Rotary, study ways of improvement, write articles from time to time, and render service in as inconspicuous and unobstrusive manner as possible. The path of duty coincided with the path of his natural desires. All things considered, he still believes that his conclusions were sound. He is thoroughly satisfied that the course adopted was the best calculated to bring out the resources of the men who were to follow.
There has, however, been one reaction which has not been entirely favorable. Considerable speculation has been engendered as to who and what Paul Harris is. Why does he not attend international conventions? Has he lost faith in Rotary or is he unsympathetic with the administration? What is the matter?
Slowly but progressively came the rumor that he was physically incapacitated, and some, on meeting him, expressed surprise that he was still up and able to be around. Other Rotarians have at times even thought it probable that his retirement was part a deep laid plan to introduce the charm of mysticism into the picture as an appeal to the imagination of those mystically inclined.
One of the purposes of this story is to clear up the mystery. It is the result of a demand which has been increasingly insistent for some years. For a long time Paul entertained hopes that someone else would undertake the task. He experienced a natural reluctance about writing his own memoirs. The writer has always been appreciative of the sentiments which dictated a demand for the story of his own life, and of the inception of Rotary. To those who were familiar with the work which Paul was doing, there was no mystery. They knew of the many demands which were made upon him and how he was responding to them.
Of course, the outstanding event in the life of Paul was the birth of his charming daughter. Had she never been born, his life, though eventful and more or less colorful, would nevertheless have been simply one of many. He would have gone to his grave in course of time mourned by a few, but unsung except by the mixed quartette from the neighborhood church. Emerson has given us his immortal essay, "Compensation," whereby we learn that, in the final accounting, all things balance, for every up there is a down, for every hot a cold, for the good a bad, for sorrow a happiness, and so many a mediocre parent has been blessed by a glorious offspring. So it has been with Paul, his life has been made worth while through the birth of the child of his imagination, his glorious daughter who was christened on the evening of February 23, 1905, under the nondescript name, Rotary.
Before daughter had even attained her majority, her fame had encircled the world and the precocious minx has now enrolled one hundred and thirty odd thousand enthusiastic lovers, staid and stable citizens of forty three nations who make bold to say that there never has been another such and that she is destined to be everybody's sweetheart in course of time.
Two questions frequently asked of Paul are: "What was your original purpose in organizing Rotary," and "Did you have any idea Rotary would ever prove to be such a movement as it is."
In answering the first question, Paul might well say, as the father of a real flesh and blood child might say, that there were many thoughts and no two of them were precisely alike. The process was the evolution of an idea. A natural father may think with pride of his coming child but his affections are seldom deeply engaged until the concept becomes reality; then dimpled hands pull at his heart strings with increasing power as the days of childhood come and go.
Paul had faith in the creature of his imagination during its prenatal period and took pride in it but it cannot truthfully be claimed that it won his affections until the concept became reality.
At the moment when the thought of a club constructed on the exclusive representation plan first flashed across his mind in the year 1900, its utilitarian aspect made strong appeal to him. It could scarcely have been otherwise; he had come to Chicago a stranger to establish himself in the practice of law. The handicap of lack of acquaintance had been brought relentlessly home to him. Many young lawyers no more capable, no more persevering than he, were realizing substantial dividends upon their investment in acquaintance. It had been necessary for Paul to content himself with such crumbs as had fallen from the banquet table.
Paul had been taught that success was honorable, failure shameful; he coveted success. There being in the picture two figures only, definite needs and an indefinite concept, the former had stronger appeal. But the gestation period of Rotary was nearly five years during which needs had become less pressing and new figures had appeared. There was Silvester, Harry, Gus, Hiram, Harry and others. The utilitarian aspect of the exclusive representation plan would remain but they would no longer exist for the benefit of Paul alone; they would be shared--and then came the great day. Rotary was born, the concept became reality. To have loved success better than he loved the creature of his imagination would have been to be an unnatural father. Paul was not an unnatural father. He and hundreds of others who owe Rotary far less loyalty and devotion than he, have for a score of years sacrificed themselves unstintingly for Rotary. In Rotary they have nevertheless found their "acres of diamonds."
To the second question, Paul might well make reply that on February 23, 1905, he had no thought of a world wide Rotary; but he can in truth say that his ambitions became aroused very early. Within a year, he was bombarding his friend George Clark with requests to establish a club in Jacksonville and before two years had passed, his New York campaign had begun.
The story herein related is in fact the story of the why and the when of Rotary. There could not have been the Rotary that exists today had it not been for the friendships of boyhood, college and business days. The classifition plan was Paul's reaction to the struggle for existence in Chicago and the world wide view point was the natural consequence of his five years' wanderings in many lands.
HAVING retained his love of country rambles, Paul became a charter member of the Prairie Club of Chicago when it was organized in 1907. He credits that organization with having provided him with the opportunity to obtain both a wife and a home to his liking. In company with other members he spent his Saturday afternoons, whenever possible, hiking over the country contiguous to Chicago. He had a special fondness for the sand dunes on the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan and there he spent many days and nights renewing his strength and enjoying the outdoors.
One Saturday afternoon in mid-winter he was hiking with friends in the Beverly Hills-Morgan Park district, when he chanced to see several boys coasting down a hill. The scene reminded him so vividly of his boyhood days in Vermont that it seemed to him that he would like some day to have a home there.
A little later, while on a Saturday afternoon hike, he met Jean, heretofore referred to, as the fifth bairn of John and Annie Thomson, who three years prior thereto had come with her brothers and sisters to this country from Edinburgh, Scotland. Within three months from the date of that meeting, Jean became Mrs. Paul Harris and two years later he placed her in a home of her own on the top of the wooded hill, having christened the place "Comely Bank" in honor of the street in beautiful Edinburgh where Jean's eyes first opened to the light of day. It will be observed that Paul internationalized his family before internationalizing Rotary, thus manifesting the possession of sporting blood and of his willingness to take his own medicine. He hopes that the international character of his marriage with Jean may prove to be a good omen for Rotary.
Two women have exercised strong influences upon Paul; the one was his grandmother, the other., his wife.
Paul's Scotch lassie recognizes the fact that loyalty is owing the country of her adoption but the bag pipe still sets her toes tingling and the strains of "Annie Laurie" send the crimson blood surging to her cheeks. True to the traditions of her ancestors, she permits no cause which she deems worthy to go undefended, and she can mobilize her spiritual forces in a second's time. Alleged Scotch parsimony is conspicuous in its absence from the heart of bonnie Jean.
As an illustration of her unselfish and impulsive nature, an incident of her childhood may be related.
She had constituted herself protector as well as friend of a crippled playmate. Together they walked to school, Jean helping her over rough places. The school was considerable distance from home and the children were therefore provided with money with which to buy their noon day lunches.
On one occasion, after having loitered along the way, they discovered that they were late, too late for the crippled child. Jean asked her if she had a penny to which she answered, no. In an instant Jean thought of her own lunch money, unhesitatingly stopped a tram, bundled her charge aboard, thrust the penny into her hand and then bounded along the street waving encouragement. They arrived at school on time though the expenditure made it necessary for Jean to fast that day. The immortal Flora Macdonald could not have done more. Jean is ever so, throwing herself with perfect abandon into every breach to which love or duty calls.
Her militant spirit has been made manifest on occasions without number. It is ever present, in fact, waiting only the call for action. This quality of mind and heart was made painfully manifest one day to the driver of a team of horses which he was brutally belaboring with his whip in an attempt to surmount a slippery hill. He will not soon forget the dressing down he received from the excited and belligerent little girl who appeared upon the scene in unexpected manner. Jean's impetuous espousal of needy causes and her disposition to throw herself into them has been the occasion of a good deal of worry to Paul, particularly when she happens to be called to the city. His mind is never at rest until she is seated in the suburban train bound for their home in the country. He fears that her sense of duty may prompt her to disregard her own safety. Jean is essentially a home girl, a lover of good books and of the wholesome things of life.
She and Paul spend their evenings, as a rule, in "Comely Bank," reading together. When it is Paul's turn to read, Jean's busy fingers fashion garments for the fatherless babes that are born at Cook County hospital. She has made hundreds of such garments during the course of years. Had Jean been a different type, Paul's course could not have been as it was. In her way she has made material though inconspicuous contribution to the cause of Rotary.
Paul and his Scotch lassie, Jean, at "Comely Bank"
their home on the top of the wooded hill.
During the past two years Paul and Jean have visited Rotary Clubs in all parts of the United States, in Bermuda, Mexico and Cuba.
Two years ago, the board of directors of Rotary International, passed a resolution in favor of extending them an invitation to make an around the world trip in the interests of the movement. It was not practical at the time to accept but it is not improbable that the journey will be made in the not far distant future.
Considerably more than half a century has passed since the summer night when grandfather, with his swinging lantern, met his son George, with his two boys, Cecil and Paul, at the railway station in Wallingford. Paul and Jean visited the old home during the spring of 1925. Few changes had taken place. The house was as staunch as it was when grandfather built it toward eighty years ago. There was the identical window through which Paul was wont to make bid, nightly escapes to join his waiting friends.
Paul thought of the grateful shade of the apple trees and of the long green grass, so cool to bare feet on hot summer afternoons. The butternut tree and the sugar maples were still doing duty as of old. He visited the swimming-hole where he and boys who have lived their lives and passed on had set up their springboard on the rocks from which to dive down into the cold dark waters. He took his lassie to Fox Pond, now called Elfin lake, where he used to skate and he pointed out to her the mountain road with its "Thank You Marms" down which he used to coast.
They lunched at the modern True Temper Inn which now occupies the site formerly occupied by the old town tavern of stage coach days. The Rotary Club of Rutland held a meeting there shortly thereafter.
They called on Paul's Sabbath school teacher and in company with her, visited friends, the school, church and Fay's old home.
Then, of course, they visited the hillside cemetery where grandfather and grandmother rest together.
It's a wonderful world with its joys and its sorrows. Life invariably has its values if we will but find them. They are not in bank accounts nor in other possessions.
One thing which looms up big to Paul as he looks back over the period of years is the patient, self-sacrificing devotion of the two old New England people who went down life's pathway together and who were so sympathetic with and kind to a certain impetuous, mischievous, yearning, dreaming little boy.
Paul was at the bedside of his mother in Denver as she passed to her reward in the summer of 1919. More than a half century George and Cornelia had lived together. His devotion to her every want during her last illness will ever be gratefully remembered by her children. During the month of December, 1926, George went to join her in the Great Beyond.
Jean and Paul have lived fifteen years in the home on the wooded bill and its newness has long since worn off . South of them, on land formerly crowned by sturdy oak, wild crab trees and sumac, two rather imposing brick dwellings now stand. Apartment buildings are beginning to appear here and there, making old residenters feel a bit crowded in the region of the elbows, but Silvester Schiele, the first president of the Rotary Club of Chicago, and his wife live at the south end of the strip of woods, and friends are in sufficient number to maintain the neighborliness, characteristic of life in small communities. Jean's father, mother, brother and sister live only five blocks away, making it possible for Jean to lunch with the old folks while Paul is in the city earning his daily bread.
Longwood Drive has a dignity and beauty of its own; the houses sitting back on the hill top two hundred feet from the street.
Though traffic on the Drive is a bit heavy, Jean and Paul feel that they have much to be thankful for, and there is comfort in the thought that folks who work in the great pulsating city, fourteen miles to the northeast, must have homes. The best that can be wished for them is that they may find as much happiness in their newly built houses as Jean and Paul have found in theirs.
The Morgan Park Beverly Hills district embracing approximately six square miles is now the home of twenty thousand people who came there in search of quiet. Twenty thousand people, their relatives and friends can make considerable noise of their own pleasant Saturday and Sunday afternoons, as has become manifest to the early settlers whose ideal residental community is a one store town. That's what comes of living in the outskirts of an ever expanding city.
One of the greatest pleasures at 10856 Longwood Drive has been entertaining loyal and devoted Rotarians. Jean and Paul have enjoyed the companionship of many from foreign countries; as many as six nations having been represented at one time at their board. There have been a particularly large number from Great Britain because of Jean's familiarity with British customs and natural sympathy with their view point. The acme of bliss, of course, has been a cup of tea, and a scone at the fireside in company with a traveler from the bonny land of the heather, while the victrola. plays "Annie Laurie," soft and low.
The best thing in life has been the enjoyment of friendships. How ridiculous to assume that friendship can be confined by national boundary lines, religious faiths or political affiliations; friendship is not anaemic; it over-rides such considerations; it is one thing of which there can never be too much; it is the ever faithful hand maiden of happiness, and it broadens and sweetens life. Paul's fervent and oft expressed hope is that he may live until the coming of the day when he can number his personal friends in every civilized country in the world.
Paul believes that deeds are more convincing than words; he therefore tries to live the life he recommends to others; that is to say, he follows the practical Rotarian methods of doing his bit.
He has been active in many organizations including the Chicago Association of Commerce and for several years has maintained membership in the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He has for five years been a member of the committee on professional ethics of the Chicago Bar Association and is at present chairman of that committee. This office has given him splendid opportunity of carrying Rotary ideals to the members of his own profession. As there are between seven and eight thousand lawyers in the City of Chicago, it will be apparent that the field is wide.
Paul is at present senior member of the firm Harris, Reinhardt and Russell with offices in the first National Bank building, Chicago. The lawyers associated with him represent the survival of the fittest. Fred Reinhardt is a member of the board of directors of the Rotary, Club of Chicago in which capacity he has distinguished himself by his usual conscientious and faithful efforts. Fred is also a member of several other well known Chicago clubs.
Paul's partners and other members of his organization have necessarily assumed many of the responsibilities which in the ordinary course of events would have fallen upon the shoulders of Paul, thus making it possible for the senior member to interest himself in Rotary and other outside matters though the defection has not been without its pecuniary loss. The law has been said to be a jealous mistress; it certainly has been a faithful mistress to the founder of Rotary.
On the 19th of April, 1928, Paul will celebrate his sixtieth birthday; and he will at that time have been nearly a third of a century in the practice of law. How many years he still has before him is, of course, a matter of conjecture. His grandfather died at eighty-six, his father at eighty-four; his grandfather retired in his fifties, his father in his forties.
Should Paul retire at sixty? Should he attempt to chart his future or should he let matters take their course?
His personal feelings are that he should not retire and he is quite certain that he should not resign himself to the policy of permitting matters to take their course. He feels that an important-perhaps the most important-period is yet to come; that his remaining years should be his harvest time. His interest in life has not in the least abated, but it has to an extent undergone change. He prefers to retain his business interests but be would like to emancipate himself more and more from detail.
Neither Paul's father nor his grandfather were subjected to strains equal to those which Paul's unusual course has thrown upon him; his father's life was particularly sheltered, but neither father nor grandfather had so much to live for as he, so much still to do after passing middle age.
Rotary has a long way to go. One who thinks of the movement as a finished product is indeed short sighted; there is nothing in the past to justify such a view; those who have been long identified with it think of it as having made a beginning only; the grandeur of Rotary must be in the days to come, A movement which has reached forty-three nations in approximately half that number of years must be destined to surge on until it has reached every nation and when there are no more nations to conquer, it will be time for a more intensive cultivation of the territory open up. There will always be enough to do; the only ethical conception of a movement which makes for the betterment of men is the all inclusive conception. Rotary must not content itself with being anything less than a movement affecting the lives of all men; its requirements are so simple, its doctrine so universally acceptable that its sponsors are not visionary in thinking of Rotary as an all pervading influence. Naturally the founder desires to live to see its influence extended.
Cicero contended that one must round out his advancing years by interesting himself in the affairs of state. There comes a time in the lives of most men which may be termed the transitional period; a time when interest in life changes. They find themselves less concerned with matters which have formerly held their interest. It is a critical period, one which may be passed with great success or in ignominious failure. Many a life which has been useful up to the turning point becomes a blank or worse thenceforward; while on the other hand, some lives seem to blossom out as never before.
The contention of Cicero seems to Paul not to have been couched in words too strong; in fact, it seems to him that the only possible hope of contentment in the course of declining years is through the substitution of wide interests for narrow interests. The greatest game ever played is the game of life. It is better than cricket, baseball or golf, and it is, moreover, the one and only game which never plays out.
Rotary has provided many middle aged men with the incentive necessary to profitable and therefore happy lives. Paul very naturally feels that be should turn life's comers in manner which is in keeping with his doctrines.
The founder of Rotary has ever been an experimenter. Many of his experiments have failed, some have been successful and of those which have succeeded, a few have proven useful. he hopes to continue his experimentations in the laboratory of life as long as life lasts.
He would not, however, create the impression that he is so deeply engrossed in future generations that he has neither time nor disposition to think of self. There are many things besides usefulness which he covets, though in the final analysis, they all make for usefulness. They are necessary to the maintenance of the physical well being without which there can be no usefulness. Wonderful is this provision of nature whereby man may happily serve himself while serving others; thus selfishness is harnessed up with selflessness to the good of all.
The thoughts of others are as necessary to one's mental well being as food is necessary to one's physical well being. Through the constant interchange of thought, minds are invigorated, whether such interchange come through reading and writing or through conversation. He who has never learned the blessings of good books has missed the benefits of one of the greatest boons of organized society.
To one who is a lover of nature, there is joy in every beautiful landscape, refreshment in every downpour of rain. If he is a real lover of nature, he loves it in all its moods, in sunshine or in fog, heat or cold, calm or storm.
Paul's enjoyment of nature is intense. A long distance view from a hill top of a fine agricultural country is his piece de resistance, but he can fully share with Jean the enjoyment of a billowy sea. He is fond of spring with its awakening to life and with the songs of birds but not more than of October with its varigated coloring and the songs of crickets. He has a warm spot in his heart for drizzly, leafless November and another for snow clad January also. To him every season has its own special charm and nature constitutes a perpetual panorama of loveliness. From nature, he derives not only happiness but the invigoration essential to work. Charles Dickens still remains his favorite author, though David Grayson fits certain moods better than any other.
Paul has for many years been impressed with the thought that one of the chief responsibilities laid upon the shoulders of man, be he young or old, is the responsibility of conserving his moral, mental and physical resources and making the best possible use of them. It is not so much a question as to what an individual's attainments are as it is a question as to the use to which he puts them. The man of limited capacities who has turned such capacities to good account is entitled to recognition while he who has been profligate of the abundant resources with which he has been endowed, has only himself to blame.
Paul believes that the remaining years of his life, be they many or few, are a trust for which he should render good account; that his mental well being is dependent upon his physical well being and that both mental and physical depend upon the maintenance of his moral tone. He hopes to keep his moral tone wholesome and his mental and physical powers in as good condition as is possible through the observance of the laws of physical and mental hygiene and through keeping ever alive his passion for friendship. Loyally and fervently he hopes that his Scotch lassie and he may walk down the remainder of life's pathway together as did his grandfather and grandmother in the days long since gone by.
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