Let's begin our "diary" with Labor Day - the day dedicated to Labor. I am beginning to have a new respect for labor, and for those mortals who earn their bread by the sweat of their individual brows. Those who rise early in the morning and keep to a steady program of productive labor belong to the cosmic scheme - the stars in their courses - the good old Earth rotating and revolving steadily, utterly dependable - bring day and night, seedtime and harvest. These get-rich-quick schemers and the flash-in-the-pan type are like the meteors; not content to stay with the sun, they break away, creating a sensation in the midnight sky - only to burn themselves out, thus plunging into oblivion. It's the steady workers that make the moral and economic world go 'round. Since my family wouldn't let me wash on Labor Day, I concentrated on a book, "Writing As a Career," by Thomas H. Uzzell. Not that I need another career - for motherhood is a full-time job. But if I'm going to write a column every other week, it might as well be a good one. An old motto that came out of Pennsylvania, "Whatever is worth doing, is worth doing well." Well, I learned in this book that the only way to write is by writing - by plugging away. This "inspirational" business is all stuff and nonsense. Mary Roberts Rinehart assures us that the "average writer goes to his desk as inspired as a dish of boiled turnips." And even that great writer, James Whitcomb Riley, on being asked if it was true that he received fifty cents for every word he wrote, replies, "Yes, madame, and some days I can't think of a damn word." The exquisite little verse, written by a Cleveland poet, and copied in my first By-Ways column, still rings true:
Tuesday. - School days, school days; dear old golden rule days." Just sentimental twaddle, as far as our boys are concerned. Last year, school had hardly started, when Charley came home and punned, "I'm 'bored' of education." When I get around to it, I must ask Marjorie Lemon and these other brand-new school-teachers if they know why a school room is like a Model T Ford. (Because the crank is up in front, and the nuts in the back). The battle is on - about what the properly dressed school boy should wear. Charlie has a perfectly good knicker suit. "But, Mom, nobody in eighth grade wears knickers - only a couple sissies." It's an awful strain - keeping up with modern youth.
Wednesday. - Our sick friend, Betty, is very, very ill. Isn't it strange how we cling to life - even when the end is inevitable? Betty still refuses to give up, and keeps making plans. Can that be indicative that we go right on in the next world where we leave off here?
Thursday. - Two boys are getting plain jittery over the baseball situation. The Indians are losing - day after day - and their first place in the American league is seriously threatened. At any rate, our Bob Feller made the Saltsburg Press. I'll be so glad when this baseball season is over. The strain is too great.
Saturday. - I went out into the by-ways today, and had some interesting experiences. In a large office building downtown I laid a dollar bill on a candy counter, telling the clerk I wanted some change, to make a telephone call. I picked out a package of gum, to justify the accommodation. The clerk asked me what I laid on the counter; I looked at him - and found, to my consternation, that he is totally blind. And what a gay spirit! Young, full of talent - so much like Alec Templeton in his attitude toward life. It was a stimulating and inspiring experience, talking with him. He has "intestinal fortitude" because his father (who raised him alone) never spoiled him, nor allowed him any self-pity. On another street I heard the strains of a violin. Beautiful music - that made you halt in your tracks, and listen. No tin-pan alley playing - but the music of the masters, and played as they would have it played. There, at the entrance to a vacant store, stood the youthful musician, in old clothes, and with whitewash-smeared windows for a setting. But he carried us out of that drab environment. We felt that he belonged on Mt. Olympus - or whatever the god of music plays. His name is Jean Dix, and he is paying for his $1500 violin in this way. He not only has talent, but courage and resourcefulness. And, don't forget it, he makes money. I counted roughly nine or ten dimes in a fifteen minute period. He wants to be a composer. May his fondest dreams come true. Interruptions - oh, so many - and I must close.
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 10/3/40 - One Mother to Another