A Glad New Year to you, dear friends!
Don't you feel renewed, like the eagle, as you wipe all the old mistakes off the slate and start anew? January, as you know, is named for the Roman god, Janus, who had two faces to wash - one that looked back, and one that looked forward. Let us be two-faced just this once, and look back, using that amazing quality of the mind - Memory. I would not care to recount the mistakes of the past year nor reveal the growing tendency to be critical of other people's mistakes. Rather would I take the theme from my very first column, written ten years ago, come July. Or rather, my first manuscript. I wrote, "We can learn so much from each other." The poor linotype operator could not decipher my erratic penmanship; it came out, "We can have so much fun from each other." The seeds of hope for a "Mailbag" column fell on stony ground - except for a few fine, fertile exceptions. But let's try it again. You will know that a mind that receives and does not give out is like a stagnant pool. Who wants to be a pool? Now, don't say, under your breath, "Florence Taylor thinks she is a river; she goes on and on forever." If you have a bright gem of thought - or constructive criticism - pass it along. I am old and tough enough now to take the "slings and arrows of misfortune," and to believe, more than ever, the motto on one of the walls of the late A.J.W. Robinson's home, Whitehall, "Every knock is a boost; every knocker a booster." We learn much from books. But we learn more in character-building, more about the fine art of living from the people with whom we associate. Just like the tender arbutus, that pushes upward through the black mulch, or the hardy cactus that forces its way through sun-baked clay, we all tend to push upward - to reach toward the sunlight of a better world - every climbing toward the Kingdom of God. And so, intuitively, we seize upon the nutriments within our reach. We feed our very souls upon the good we find in others.
In our nomadic experiences the last two years I could tell you much of the help we have received from close association with noble souls and object lessons we have learned from people enslaved by liquor, the greatest curse of our nation. Rather would I mention a few of the fine, brave people that you know and have known. They may not be on your "10 best" list, but they had or have something to give that I need in my growth. At the top of MY list must always be Aunt Caroline Gilkerson, my mother's brother's wife, widowed at 45, who taught her six children and all those under her influence to hate sin, but love the sinner; who, at the age of 54, had the courage and compassion to take in two orphan girls, and keep one of them until her own death at 70; who lived "in the fear of the Lord" and always tried to do His will.
There was dear Mother Lytle - Malinda Elrick Lytle - who worshipped in the same dear Conemaugh U.P. Church who taught her children to love the Lord and to love His church; whose compassion was truly Christ-like; whose loyalty to the under-dog was magnificent; whose hospitality was like a cheerful fire that you transferred to the hearthstone of your heart for cold and friendless days.
There were Saltsburg's two grand men of the medical world, who lived up to the highest ethics of their profession, and helped mold the character of Saltsburg - Dr. W.B. Ansley and Dr. Elmer E. Onstott. There was handsome A.J.W. Robinson, who was a dirt farmer who kept all the dirt on the outside of his person, who dressed for dinner each evening - ever the gallant courtier to his beloved "Eva". And she, in turn, managed to keep a ten-room house immaculate, with never a strand of her curly red-gray hair out of place, nor a dress that showed soil. They were a grand couple. I learned from them that truly refined couples never say harsh or tactless words to each other.
Now the column grows lengthy, and I must continue my list next time. Let me close with a brief New Year's resolution - that I hope to keep. Resolved:
To get each BY-WAYS out on time;
To keep in touch with things sublime. -
To give God thanks for the gifts that are mine;
To be bigger and better in the year '49.
Florence B. Taylor
Next - 1/13/49 - Honoring Former Saltsburg People
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