In the bivouac of life,

Be not like dumb driven cattle,

Be a hero in the strife.”

At nineteen, my younger brother having grown out of the country school and into workdom, I went to seek my fortunes in the beckoning West. 267

Four years of “bumping against the world” served only to increase my desire for knowledge. But the thought of entering school at twenty-three with little boys and girls embarrassed me, till happily my attention was called to St. Paul’s College at St. Paul Park, Minnesota, about forty miles from where I was then employed, where, I was told, other men of similar ages and circumstances had found suitable environment. I got into correspondence with the president of the institution, told him I wanted to go to school, but didn’t have much money. Anxiously I waited for an answer to that letter. It came. I could fire a boiler in one of the heating plants and help take care of the campus. This would pay my board and room rent. Other odd jobs, he suggested, would help out in tuition and incidentals.

School began on Tuesday; so Monday found me speeding for college, with ninety dollars to begin a college career. Never did a man approach a college with less of self-confidence than I. The cows, as I crossed the fields to the college with a number of students-to-be, seemed to look at me with hungry eyes; for why should I not suppose that even the cows around a great institution of learning were sufficiently educated to know a green freshman.

I soon acquired the combination of the heating plant, so that I could roast or freeze the dormitory inmates at will. (Some say it was mostly the latter.) However, things passed along very successfully, 268 save an occasional dilemma announced by shrieks of terror-stricken girls in rooms where spirting radiators demanded immediate presence of the janitor. At times I was offered odd jobs by professors and neighbors, not the least in importance of which was the milking of the president’s cow night and morning, the same cow whose wistful gaze I had so loftily interpreted on that first day, an opinion which I was soon forced to surrender, for I found that she had made poor use of her opportunities to acquire culture, unless it were physical culture or athletics, for occasionally, and without warning, she chose to dismount me from the milking stool and stick her foot in the milk pail in a very uncivil manner. These employments, with an occasional opportunity to help in the college laundry, added very materially in making my first year in college.

My first vacation was spent in a partially successful attempt at selling books in Saskatchewan, Canada. The latter part of the summer was spent threshing in western Minnesota.

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I returned to school about five weeks late that fall with scarcely as much money as on the previous year. The president had written to me that he would employ some boys in the kitchen and dining-room that year and offered me one of the places, a proposal which I promptly accepted. This work brought about the same pecuniary returns as the firing had, and left some time as before for odd jobs.

The second summer was spent in my home vicinity 269 in northern Michigan after what seemed a necessary absence of nearly three years. But September soon came again. My summer’s work had not netted so much as the previous summer’s earnings, but experience and familiarity with conditions at the school added faith for another venture.

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I had resolved to try rooming out and boarding myself. A room was offered me by an aged widow and her daughter who taught in the public school. In payment for the room I was to tend the furnace. The work was a pleasure, the home was an exceedingly pleasant one in every respect, and I was made welcome in all parts of the house; and, save in one respect, I was contented in my situation. This one thing was in boarding myself. Though I believe that, too, would have succeeded had I had a room-mate to share the domestic duties. My hostess in her kind, motherly thoughtfulness saw my discontentment and suggested that I add a few more of the domestic duties to mine and take one meal each day with them. This I consented to do, though I felt, and still feel, that the service rendered was insufficient to pay for what I received. I intend some time to clear my conscience by, at least partly, making up the deficiency.

During this year I found almost regular employment in the college laundry on Saturdays, which, with the other earnings mentioned, carried me through my third year.

During these three years I had made use of every 270 opportunity to broaden my intellect and develop my small talents. The Literary Society, the Y. M. C. A., the Temperance Society and the Epworth League, aside from class work, offered splendid opportunity for practice in composition and public speaking.

Commencement had come again. Another graduating class went out from our dear old college halls to enrich the world.

Again the question of earning the funds for school faced a few of us, who were fortunate enough to have to “paddle our own canoe.”

After working a few days in the vicinity of the college, a fellow student, of similar circumstances, and I went into North Dakota, where we spent about two months working on a farm. A minister in the town near which we were employed, hearing that we were students, invited us to his home where he consulted us concerning doing some substitute work in filling a number of Sunday charges which happened to be vacant at that time. Though quite inexperienced in pulpit work, upon being urged, we consented to do our best. There was something at once humorous and long-to-be-remembered in this situation, as, on account of scant room in the farm house we were obliged to take our suite in the barn hay loft, which we heartily christened “our first parsonage.” And who will deny that the cackling of chickens, the bawling of calves, the whinnying of horses and the grunting of pigs in an adjoining building, together with the other barnyard dialects, was 271 an inspiring atmosphere for spiritual reflection? This work, aside from the practice and added self-confidence (for, modestly, we did have a degree of success surprising to ourselves), added considerably to our funds.

School days approached again, but owing to an unprofitable move on my part, my acquired capital did not inspire me with confidence to return to school. But through the kindly interest of a friend I was offered, in loan, an amount sufficient to make it possible for me to return. Not many weeks passed before I again secured the work of firing one of the college heating plants. This year the work of firing was facilitated by an apparatus which I invented and constructed, by which the drafts were opened at any desired time in the morning by means of an alarm clock, the boilers having been coaled up before retiring. The machine worked perfectly and added an hour to my sleep in the morning, thus lightening my labor and increasing my rest.

Still the time required for all the work mentioned, together with the added responsibilities of the senior year, constituted a load not easily carried, but when accomplished, gave all the more pleasure.