From a Father to his Son.
by Clyde Arthur Russell
Editor’s Note: This is a letter from Clyde A. Russell to his son, who was away from home at the time. In It is offered here for its insights into the life and heart of Clyde A. Russell. It was found among the effects of Clyde’s wife, Mary Bannister, after her passing. It was in typed form, apparently typed by her, with her own title added at the very top of the page: "From a Father to his son," indicating feelings that at least the first page of the letter would be of broad value to her posterity. – Editor, Clyde B. Russell.
The weeks keep on rolling along and it comes time to write again to a very wonderful son. If we wrote each time thoughts of you come to us you would have time for no work – just reading letters all day.
I reached my 63rd milestone on the 19th of this month. It seems a long time, yet I remember almost every detail and event in that time from the 4th year on. Many events were impressed indelibly by their connection to the necessities of extreme poverty. Missing days in school because I didn’t have two good stockings or shoes; staying home from parties because my only pants were torn; picking coal out of the snow along the railway tracks etc.
We were able to get fun out of many of these trials, as when the whole family would go up in the hills to haul firewood on some home-made wheel barrows.
Sometimes I would have to do this chore alone, then it was a pretty lonesome job, hunting through the brush for hunks of wood with the hot sun beating down and the monotonous sound of crickets in my ears, while the lizards and snakes moved under foot.
Sometimes I herded a small band of sheep for a butcher, and I was worried when I got them into the hills for fear I would lose one of the unpredictable rascals, and I was worried when I brought them in at night because I couldn’t make them drink.
Of course, there were many picnics and trips into the hills for pure pleasure, to gather berries and flowers and to eat hard boiled eggs by the dozen at Easter time. This called for large doses of castor oil all around the next day, but we never regretted the feast.
I felt quite important when I could earn fifty cents a day for a few weeks in the summer by helping the produce peddlers who came up from the valley towns with covered wagons loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables. Of course these small earnings went into the common fund at home. As a matter of fact all of my earnings, with the exception of a few dollars a month for dances and clothes, went into the family fund until I left home at 22 years to go east to school, and followed this by starting my own home.
Well son, I don’t know why I have written all this stuff, unless it is to prove to you that I do remember.
You will no doubt be attending your own church and Sunday School today and we are go glad you are close enough to a branch to have this participation. We continue to pray that you will be given strength to retain your ideals and principles; that no temptation or boredom will ever be strong enough to cause you to lower, in any degree, even for a moment, your moral standards to the level of those whom you have to mix with and get along with.
We hope you passed your Algebra test, but if you didn’t don’t let it get you down. Try again with a teacher and carry on. You are setting forth on a difficult career and nothing short of determined and intelligent and maybe even a prodigious effort will see you through. But if you persist without turning aside you will have the satisfaction of mastering a profession that will see you through all of your working years.
It is too bad that it has to be, but a young man in this day, starting in a trade or profession must look forward to a few years of hard work and not much play, for the sake of comfort and security later.
To this end he should learn each step of the way thoroughly as he goes along. He should insist on this, not taking anything for granted. He should not try to skip ahead by missing an important link in the process and should insist on doing it, not just watching someone do it. This is a lesson I learned too late for my own good.
(subsequent pages of this letter may be missing – Ed.)