In this segment of his story, Grandpa introduces us to his future wife, Arla Peabody and explains why he felt it was so important to earn a degree.
I was also actively interested in a dramatic society which every year for a number of seasons gave amateur plays in which I was frequently given the leading role. In some of these plays an attractive young girl named Arla Peabody occasionally played parts. She also sang in the choir and the more I saw of her, the better I liked her in a mild way. She was modest and dignified but very popular with boys and girls alike. She had big brown eyes, a sweet smile, full of life in a quiet way and kind to everybody. I suppose I was starting to fall in love but had no realization of it at the time.
One of my fellow stenographers at the American Smelting Company was an ambitious, enthusiastic person named Alfred Thieme who felt we both could improve our lot if we had a college education – an idea which I had secretly entertained but pushed aside as hopeless because I had not finished high school. He was very urgent, however, wanting me to take the course with him at New York University leading to a B.C.S. (Bachelor of Commercial Science) degree. The prospect was grim – five nights a week over a period of three years. From then on I spent most of my leisure time studying to make up the necessary counts for college entrance, and in the fall of 1910 at the age of 26, I started in a very grueling three-year grind. During this time, however, I organized a glee club and was a charter member of the new Greek letter fraternity which has now grown to be national in scope. I graduated in the class of 1912 with my hard earned B.C.S. degree.
Going back now a few years, my father had been a very prominent Freemason, not only being Master of his Lodge but also the district deputy Grand Master. His friend and great admirer was the man who had helped my mother in her financial and housing problems after my father’s death. He, too, was an enthusiastic Mason and about the time I had reached the age of 21, he had been actively interested in starting a new Lodge in Mount Vernon, of which he was Master, and was strongly interested, principally because of my father, in having me be the first man admitted to the new Lodge. He hoped, of course, I would take the same interest in Masonic affairs and follow in my father’s footsteps, but the combination of church activities and later college commitments left little time for anything else.
Grandpa’s story will continue next weekend.
Tomorrow, I’ll be posting letters written in the spring of 1945. Read about the continuing love story between Dan and Paulette.