Transcribed by Gary Jenkins
May 15, 1947
* CALíS COLUMN *
Cal's Early Years*
††††††††††† Numerous requests for a continuation of this "Colyum" have been received and so here goes again.† In a former issue of the paper we told of the fearful blunders we made in the long ago because of our bashfulness, and how that even now we blush to think of how silly we acted now and then because of this "infirmity."† However, some things can be said in favor of bashfulness.† It has prevented many a youth from going astray under temptation.† It has prevented a lot of the bold, brazen dispositions so common today among many of the young generation.† It has kept many in the background until they were old enough " to have some sense."† It has kept a lot of boys at home, who might have gotten into trouble away from the homestead.
††††††††††† We admit that a bad case of bashfulness is not enjoyable to one affected thereby.† In fact we know of no malady that hurts any worse, nor one that brings a youth to feel like kicking himself so much as his bashful blunders.† As a sixteen-year-old boy we read the "Blunders of a Bashful Man" and it made a profound impression on our youthful mind.† John Flutter was the "goat" of the story and his trials were many, almost constant and always bitter.† We read the tale about 40 years ago and soon decided that we were doomed to be another John Flutter.† John once went to a quilting upon a special invitation.† There were many women and girls present and sooon John lost his brave front that he had mustered to attend the quilting.† When he went in and saw so many of the opposite sex, he was so embarrassed that he sat down in the first chair he could reach, not looking to see what was in the chair.† One of the women had left some sewing in the chair and John went down into the chair like the fellow who "turned all holds loose and fell."† He soon discovered that there was a needle in the chair and that he was sitting on the needle, but he was too bashful to arise and remove the needle.† So he tried to carry on a conversation with the hostess.† In his bashfulness and misery, he finally blurted out the question, "How is your mother?" which was rather out of order since the mother of the hostess had been dead for 40 years.† Every little while he let out a loud "Oh" as the needle sank deeper, to the great fun of those who had discovered the nature of his trouble.† John finally managed to arise and extract the needle and then went to the table.† There the hostess said, "John, will you have tea or coffee?"† He said, "Yessum."† "But which?" inquired the hostess.† He finally overcame his bashfulness enough to tell her that he would like to have coffee.† At the same meal, he managed to get the boniest piece of chicken in the dish and sought to use his knife to remove the meat.† The result was that the piece of chicken "flew" from under the fork and landed in the dish of preserves.† John managed to live through the meal, but that cured him from going to any more quiltings.
††††††††††† John made more blunders than any one else we ever heard of, even more than Cal did in his early life.† But we still think that reading that book was a mistake, for it made us feel that we were bound to be another John Flutter and we did not miss it very much.†
††††††††††† Perhaps a few of our own experiences will be of interest to the reader.† Long, long ago in our early teens, we took a fancy to a little black-eyed girl in school.† We imagined she had the same sort of attitude toward the writer.† Our little romance was beginning to bud with a lot of vigor and promise.† In the midst of our first love affair, the teacher caught the youthful John Flutter making some signs across the school house toward that little girl.† He said with a sternness that has remained with us for more than 40 years:† "I think I will have to put Calvin with the girls."† This was said publicly and before the entire school.† Shame, disgrace, and mortification filled our poor soul and we somehow felt that we wanted to die.† Never had we been so badly let down in our life.† On our way home we told our younger brother and sister that if either of them told our father what the teacher said, there would be trouble and sorrow for the tattler beyond measure.† Long afterward we paid the price for our folly.† The brother and sister "blackmailed" their "sparking" brother† by holding the threat of telling the stern father just what had happened.† Many a thing did the writer do that he did not want to do just because of the threat,†† "We will tell the people what Mr. Goad said if you don't do what we want done."† And we always came across.
††††††††††† After we began teaching school and had attained to the ripe old age of 20 years, we experienced another event that "knocked us for a loop," due largely to bashfulness.† It was the noon hour and the 67 girls and boys in the school were all on the playground.† A young woman came riding by the school and called the teacher to the road.† The children flocked to the road to see what it was all about.† The young woman, who was a stranger to the teacher, said without any preliminaries or any beating about the bush:† "Can I be your sweetheart?"† Never before had we been so ruthlessly treated.† Never had such a question been hurled at us.† Never had we been caught with surroundings so favorable for a complete knockout.† With almost all his students within hearing distance and part of them nearly grown, he would have gladly faced the firing squad rather than to have been so completely put on the spot.† Finally he began to stammer and managed to say between grunts and groans, "I don't know."† Having flattened the teacher with her question, she quickly informed him that she was in a contest of some sort and needed a dollar to help win some sort of prize, every dollar counting so many votes.† It is needless to say that we "shelled out."† If she had asked for $50 and we had had that much, we would have been too bashful to deny her request.† How those boys and girls of that school did laugh at the teacher's red face, his confusion of tongue, and his stammering answer.†
††††††††††† Never will the writer forget the first time he "went with a girl."† He was taking a teacher's examination in a neighboring county and had met a little girl who wanted to be a teacher also.† He walked with her from the school building to the girl's boarding house.† On arriving at the boarding house, he saw that the porch was filled with men and women, boys and girls.† He looked around for some way to escape walking up to that crowd and found none.† He thought once he would leave the girl on the sidewalk and go on down the street, but decided that would not do.† At last in desperation he decided to walk right up into the crowd or die.† He did not die, but he would have almost preferred to pass on.† This was the first and last time he ever went with this girl and we feel quite certain her comment was:† "That is the greenest fellow I ever saw."
††††††††††† When we were 16 years of age, we went to Bowling Green to school.† It was the first time we had ever been as far as 25 miles from home.† We had never worn a collar but once before.† So that morning we put on a collar for the second time in life and stopped at our hometown to have our first haircut by a barber.† In getting that haircut, our collar, which was made then separate from the shirt, became soiled and another had to be bought.† So we bought a collar without any regard to fit and put it on and wore it to Bowling Green and it was so large that we could easily get our chin into the collar even though it enclosed the neck of a 132-pound hillbilly youth.† We feel sure that greenhorn was one of the greenest that ever went to Bowling Green.† We had never been introduce to anybody up to that time.† So when we began to meet people and be introduced to strangers, we did not know what to say.† We finally got so self-conscious that we fled from every possible introduction and would gladly have gone a mile to miss such a "knockdown," as introductions were then jokingly called.† Never will we forget our first four-in-hand necktie.† We wore a ready-tied tie to Bowling Green and and it was the second tie we ever had on.† We noted that the other boys were wearing four-in-hand ties.† So we went into a dry goods store and bought a tie.† We took it to our boarding house and while the other boarders were eating, we began our efforts to tie that four-in-hand so that it would at least not fall off our neck.† We finally managed to get the tie so it had some resemblence to the ties worn by others.† Then we breathed a sigh of relief, felt that we had made a milestone along the pathway of life, and that we would finally get to "be somebody."† Oh the pride of that first time to be able to "be like others."
††††††††††† Some things about those days are pathetic to the writer.† He had two suits of clothing just as cheap as could be bought.† One of them cost $8 and the other $4.† We did not have as much as 25 cents per week for spending money.† We did not need a razor for we had no beard, not even a fuzzy lip.† We knew but few in school and had no time to waste.† Our father was an extremely poor man who had spent almost every dollar he had in the world to pay our tuition and for our books, together with a monthly board bill.† Moreover he had eight other children at home.† So we did just about our utmost in school.† In spite of bashfulness, we did know the things we had read and were blest with a good memory and this is not said boastingly.† We soon were able to lead the 500 students in school in arithmatic, spelling, and rapid calculation and some other respects.† And we say these things without any desire to boast or appear as a braggart.† We gave no thought scarcely to our personal appearance except to try to be clean.† We did not have a haircut from October 6th, the day we left home, until December 19th, when we came home for the holidays.† Being born in the midst of poverty, and having lived like that all our 16 years, we did not now the wild ways of the world and we are glad we did not.† Having never had good, we did not know just how poorly we were dressed.† But we did need education and this was our opportunity and we used it for that purpose almost to the limit of our ability.† Few today would dress so shabily as we did, few would be willing to get by on less than 25 cents per week for spending money, few would have been willing to put in all the long, hard hours, days, weeks, and months required to obtain the rudiments of an education.† But we are glad in some ways that we have had to travel the hard road.† Without it we might have been a worse man, we might have sought to live of somebody else's labors, we might never have known the glorious feeling of having reached some goal in spite of poverty, hardships, and difficulties and other hindrances.† Truly the road is hard, long, and often bitter.† But the reward for laboring faithfully, for never swerving from the pathway that leads to the proper goal, for finally attaining to some measure of one's aims and ideals is sweet, consoling, and enduring.††
*Subtitle supplied by the Transcriber.