My Road to Rotary by Paul Harris

* Chapters from Paul's ending Rotary years
Chapter 37 - We Thank You, Mr. Chesterton

Mr. Gilbert Chesterton, the English writer and critic, once spoke of the present period as, "this Rotarian age," contrasting it with the Victorian Age, which he, manifestly, preferred. After we have enjoyed a good laugh at the cleverly turned phrase, we Rotarians may perhaps be excused for rejoining, "Many thousands of folks throughout the world believe that Rotary is making its imprint upon the times.

While Rotary is not a secret order, while it has no ceremonies or rites, the concept of Rotary in the minds of those who are not members is naturally vague. In a general way, folks think well and speak well of Rotary. Many who are not members themselves number among their relatives or friends those who are Rotarians and from them they have learned of the movement, its purposes and accomplishments.

Rotary is probably best known by its good works of which there are many. Boys clubs, bands and camps beyond number have been organized by Rotary Clubs and by Rotarians individually. Rotarians are the mainsprings of almost every kind of worthy endeavor. In some cities, every man on the school board is a Rotarian. Under the devoted leadership of Rotarian Edgar Allen of Elyria, Ohio, in two score of the states of America societies for the benefit of crippled children were organized and new laws passed for the care, cure and education of crippled children. The work was also carried to Europe and two overseas conventions, participated in largely by Rotarians, were held in the interest of handicapped children. Thousands of little sufferers were beneficiaries of this humanitarian work.

At Rotary Club meetings members become personally acquainted with educators, Boy Scout executives, Salvation Army and Y.M.C.A. officers, and representatives of all active welfare agencies, to the advantage of such agencies and to the advantage of the Rotarians themselves. Rotary is in fact a school for adult education in the affairs of social life.

Nearly all universities, colleges and high schools are represented by members of their faculties in local Rotary Clubs. Through such contacts business men are kept in touch with schools of higher education and the work they are doing. The ramifications of Rotary are beyond imagination. Nearly every phase of modern life is influenced and the outlook of members is broadened, and through it all there is the benign influence of fellowship which sweetens life. These are a few of the many reasons why Rotarians value their membership.

Good works are not all there is in Rotary; good works are expressions only of something beneath. Some of the most powerful forces in the world are invisible. Electricity has never been seen by mortal man and yet it can and does turn the wheels of industry. Gravity cannot be seen and yet the mighty cataract of Niagara exists by virtue of the law of gravity. Even the air we breathe is invisible and yet it sustains life. The power of Rotary is invisible and yet it performs miracles. The gates of empires have been lifted from their hinges by the power of ideas. Beneath the good works of Rotary there is an invisible power; it is the power of goodwill and by virtue of the power of goodwill Rotary exists. Friendship is an evangelizing force. Thousands of men have been born anew in the spirit of Rotary, into old-fashioned friendliness and neighborliness such as I knew in my New England home.

In the Rotary plan business is an important part of life but it is not the all of life. He whose vision extends no further than his field of business is to be pitied; it matters not what his success in that business may have been. Rotary aims to be practical; its philosophy is a wholesome philosophy; it hopes to enrich life.

Rotary is neither a religion nor a substitute for religion. It is the working out of religious impulses in modern life and especially in business and international relations. In my lifetime business practices have undergone particularly marked changes and here the influence of Rotary has been strongly felt.

The membership by vocational classifications gives the movement the opportunity to project its ethical ideals far beyond the limits of its membership, out into the rank and file of every trade, profession or occupation by which society is served. Each Rotarian is a connecting link between the idealism of Rotary and his trade or profession. To others in his vocation he bears peculiar responsibilities of securing their cooperation in the development of highest standards for the vocation. Hundreds of trade or bnsiness associations have been organized by Rotarians that they might better fulfill their responsibilities.

In its efforts to promote understanding between nations Rotary makes use of the same measures that demonstrated their effectiveness in Rotary's earliest days-mutual interest and friendly intercourse. Through business and social intercourse nations become intelligible to one another. Strange customs which in the beginning are irritating eventually become interesting and frequently are copied, contributing to the enrichment of life.

Friendship thrives in the atmosphere of Rotary where formalities and artificialities are laid aside; where men regardless of rank or station meet on a common plane. It is customary though not compulsory in American Rotary clubs and those of many other countries as well, to use the first name in greeting fellow members. It comes naturally to some, while others acquire the habit gradually. Few fail to adjust themselves to the custom.

It is told that when a prominent Australian citizen, who was also an active Rotarian, had been honored by his King with the very high rank of Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George, thus making him Sir George Fowldes, KCMG, and was thereupon asked by his fellow Rotarians how they should now address him, he replied: "Keep Calling Me George."

When an individual, a sect, a clique or a nation hates and despises another individual, sect, clique or nation, he or they simply do not know the objects of their hatred. Ignorance is at the bottom of it. Ignorance is a menace to peace. The higher the general average of intelligence, all things else being equal, the less the disposition to be meddlesome, critical, and overbearing. Individuals and nations owe it to themselves and the world to become informed.

Rotary's program of promoting better understanding between different racial groups and between devotees to different religious faiths, so simply and yet so auspiciously begun in the year 1905, has met with greater success thus far than the negotiations of diplomats. It has been the way of Rotary to focus thought upon matters in which members are in agreement, rather than upon matters in which they are in disagreement. Rotary has satisfactorily demonstrated the fact that friendship can easily hurdle national and religious boundary lines.

Insularity induces the superiority complex, and the superiority complex is responsible for much trouble. Permanent superiority has never been realized by any nation in history. After the rise comes the fall. The nation that is supreme above all others during one age, will be eclipsed by another in the next age. The very strength of a nation eventually proves to be its weakness. After maturity comes old age; after ripeness comes decay. It is nature's law and can not be repealed or overruled.

He who makes the eagle scream, the lion roar, the bear growl, is not doing his country a service; he is probably not even trying to; he is in all probability trying to do himself a service; actually he is doing his country a dis-service. There is, however, a species of homo sapiens even more pitiable; it is those who, when traveling abroad, rise superior to the country to which they owe allegiance and expose its weaknesses to sympathetic and admiring throngs.

The writer is an American and has no apologies to make for that fact. He grants all others the privilege of proclaiming allegiance to the countries to which they owe it. No one ever rises in the writer's esteem through disloyalty to his country, wheresoever it may be. One ought to love his country so well that he will resolve never to create enemies for it, nor subject his fellow countrymen to ridicule through proclaiming the land of his allegiance as "God's own country.' One may manifest his own ignorance in that matter, but insult is a poor means of winning friendship. The best way to win the esteem of others is by observing the simple rules of decency. If they won't accomplish the desired result, nothing will.

Can a club of fifty or a hundred members influence the character of a small city? It has been clearly proven that Rotary clubs do influence the characters of the cities in which they are established. The influence naturally is most noticeable in the smaller communities. Many a dejected, spiritless town of the Main Street variety has been revived and invigorated. Existence can become drab indeed in small towns where there is no public spirit and where homefolks are given to bickering and gossip. If the spirit is what it should be, life should be at its best in the smaller communities.

Rotarians of small town clubs have frequently, with deep feeling, stated that the advent of Rotary has wrought wondrous changes, that contentions and petty jealousies have given way to civic consciousness and enthusiastic cooperation.

Dr. Charles E. Barker, formerly physical director for Mr. Win. Howard Taft while he was president of the United States, is responsible for the statement that the complexion of the small towns in America has been entirely changed by Rotary and the other organizations which have followed its lead. As Dr. Barker had visited thousands of them, he knows whereof he speaks. Cooperation is the keynote of happy community life.

The influence of Rotary has frequently been brought to bear upon intercity relationships through intercity meetings. Such meetings between the representative business men of neighboring cities have on many occasions resulted in the suppression of bitter rivalries and in the promotion of the cooperative spirit. Intercity meetings have for many years been a feature of Rotary in cities both large and small.

Frequently intercity meetings are attended by representatives of the clubs of twenty-five or thirty neighboring cities; district conferences have brought representatives of as many as one hundred different cities together, and international conventions have brought representatives of more than half a hundred nations together. Rotarians, while travelling in their own country or abroad, attend Rotary club meetings whenever possible. By consulting their international directory they can ascertain when and where the weekly meetings are to be held. Meetings in the larger cities are sure to be attended by many visiting Rotarians and special attention is given them.

Rotary has given special study to reconciliation of conflicting interests and has accomplished wonders in this direction through the simple expedient of bringing opponents and rivals together in the atmosphere of good-fellowship. Where fires of animosity burn or smolder is Rotary's opportunity. Has the farming element in a community lost faith in the business men? Then the business men will be hosts to the farmers; there will be songs and entertainment, and there will be straight-to-the-point talks from which both sides will gain much information and better understanding will surely result.

Rotary has an appreciable influence even in the larger cities. To one accustomed to life in large cities, the fellowship influence of Rotary is discernible in the churches, chambers of commerce, social clubs, lodges, golf clubs, craft associations, school systems and, in fact, wherever men congregate.

The activities of Rotary cover a wide range of public and private service. Members may make selection of their activities according to their special tastes and aptitudes. There are comparatively few all-round Rotarians who throw themselves into all of the recognized activities. An all-round Rotarian is an exceptionally desirable citizen, one who would be an asset to any community in which he might be located. From such, most of the leaders are chosen.

An all-round Rotarian is interested in what are usually known as Rotary's Four Objects:

1st-Club Service: That is, in matters pertaining to the administration of affairs in his club.

2nd-Vocational Service: That is, in matters pertaining to the ethical conduct of his business or profession.

3rd-Community Service: That is, in matters pertaining to the welfare of the community in which he lives.

4th-International Service: That is, the promotion of international good-will and understanding.

Many Rotarians, especially those of Brazil, contend that there is in reality only one object, and that is the promotion of the service concept as the most suitable motivating influence in life. What we now term objects, they consider ways and means of accomplishing the one and only object. Ches Perry thinks of service as Rotary's super highway and of the four principal activities as the four lanes constituting it.

Entire agreement is too much to expect. Presumably no two of the two hundred and fifty thousand Rotarians are in entire accord as to the way in which Rotary can make the most of itself. That men do not think alike is no more remarkable than that they do not look alike. Shades of thought are far more variant than shades of color and as difficult to change. One's belief is dependent upon so many influences-temperament, heredity, environment, experience,-and leaders must temper their judgment with patience and kindly forbearance. No dogmatic Rotary can be serviceable.

The thought that the minimum possible benefit from Rotary contacts is something well worthwhile is a source of satisfaction to those who serve the movement. No one can attend Rotary club meetings with the necessary regularity without finding his life enriched by the friendly contacts, and his mental and moral outlook improved by the cultural programs presented.

The advance of Rotary to its present position constitutes a romance of organization development. Seventy nations have, to varying extent, experienced its benefits. The splendid progress thus far made is the result of the efforts of Rotarians of a limited number of nations where Rotary has been longest established. With the other nations, the propulsion has had its origin outside their borders. What will be the measure of accomplishments when Rotary becomes as well entrenched in all nations as it is today in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada.

Rotary and the numerous other organizations which have risen in its wake are considered by students of social movements as among the most remarkable developments of the period; the period facetiously referred to by Mr. Chesterton as "this Rotarian age."

In course of time, I paid a second visit to my valley coming as the guest of Rotarians of the states of Vermont and New Hampshire. The outpouring was so great that it soon became manifest that no public building in Wallingford would hold them. Not to be outdone, the American Fork and Hoe Company came to the rescue.

On the day of the meeting scores of the employees assembled, dismantled a portion of the plant, moving heavy machinery into other parts of the building, brought more than four hundred seats in, and at night-fall the miracle had been performed; Wallingford had an assembly hall capable of accommodating its unprecedented assemblage.

From over the hills and mountains of the States, Rotarians came to do their respective parts to welcome the Rotary Club of Wallingford which came into existence that evening.

After the speeches of welcome and fellowship and the presentation of the charter to the new club, the assemblage melted away; happy friends were on their way again over hills and mountains to their homes, and the big fork and hoe plant was being retransformed into an agricultural implement factory; the bell rang as usual the next morning and the men went to work.

Such doings had never been heard of in our valley, and, dreamer though I admittedly am, I never would have dreamed of such an outpouring of men from our own and other valleys in response to a common ideal.

New Englanders are not easily moved to changes in their life habits, but when after due deliberation they accept an innovation they seldom retrace their steps. As the automobile has leveled the mountains of New England, so also have great steamships bridged the seas to advance understanding and goodwill sponsored by Rotary. When Rotary International has held conventions in Edinburgh, Ostend, Vienna and Nice, it has required an entire fleet of trans-Atlantic liners to transport North American Rotarians and their families to the various ports of debarkation. No one can see just what part the airplane is to play in Rotary but it is safe to predict that it will eventually facilitate and accelerate the advancement of understanding and goodwill between nations.

When Rotary holds its convention ten years hence, the skies will be full of planes from all the cities throughout the world. Nothing but good can come of such meetings of men united in the common ideal of service. Rotary is an integrating force in a world \where forces of disintegration are all too prevalent; Rotary is a microcosm of a world at peace, a model which nations will do well to follow.

Along the path blazed by Rotary a score of other "service club" organizations have followed gathering into their membership hundreds of thousands of like-minded men of altruistic impulses. There are also several similar organizations of business and professional women.

There is still room for more Rotary and other similar clubs and for internationally minded organizations of other types and character; it matters little under what banner they meet so long as they foster international understanding and good-will.

The influence of Rotary on public opinion in the sixty countries where our over five thousand clubs of today are located has been more helpful than is known by many. To be sure our membership is small as compared with the world's population but the character of Rotarians in general and the positions they occupy justifies, I think, the statement I have made.

To begin with, Rotarians are members of the law making bodies of most countries. In our own United States Congress there are many Rotarians who are members of the lower house and several in the Senate. Two of the members of President Truman's cabinet are Rotarians, one a past president of Rotary International.

The newspapers in the United States and in other countries are widely represented in Rotary, the owners themselves generally holding the membership.

Educators by the tens of thousands have been drawn to Rotary thereby making certain that millions of youth of this period and of succeeding generations will partake of its blessings.

Rotarians have shown amazing loyalty to their clubs. Several members have maintained unbroken attendance records at meetings for more than thirty years; even entire clubs have had unbroken attendance records for more than one hundred consecutive meetings. To some men their Rotary membership is almost the most precious thing in life.

Why this affection for Rotary? It is the love of man for his fellow man. When stripped of all formalities and creeds, fellowship flourishes. Rotary draws no lines of politics or religion; Mohamedans, Budhists, Christians and Jews, break bread together in happy fellowship. Rotary is as popular in caste ridden India as in other countries. There is no proselyting in Rotary. Members are entitled to their own opinions on questions of controversial nature. The platform is broad enough to include all sorts and conditions of men just so they be friendly, tolerant of the views of others and unselfish.

Friendship was the foundation rock on which Rotary was built and tolerance is the element which holds it together. There is enough atomic energy in every Rotary club to blow it into a thousand bits were it not for the spirit of tolerance; just such tolerance as marked the life of my grandfather from which my own faith sprang.

In fact this is Rotary's day. For the first time in the life of the movement, the Great Powers of the earth are definitely interested in the promotion of international understanding and goodwill. This is the very essence of Rotary. God grant that the Great Powers be patient with each other's shortcomings, and ever remember that this is a predatory world in which we have so long lived. As we emerge from the jungle age we can not, in good conscience, point the finger of scorn at each other. The spirit of tolerance which has made it possible for Rotary to form a world wide fellowship of business and professional men will make all things possible.

My lady Jean and I feel that we have been singularly blest in the opportunity which Rotary has afforded us to win the friendship of thousands of men of many nations and thus assure ourselves of the fact that the concept of "Peace on Earth; good-will to all men," is not an idle dream but that peace is sure to come. It is a privilege to live in the year of the Lord 1945 and to witness the great awakeniuig; and once again we thank you, Mr. Gilbert Chesterton, for coining the phrase: 'This is the Rotarian Age."

Chapter 40 - Resting and Visiting

The call of the country in time of sickness and mental disturbance has never been told in words more appealing to me than those of David Grayson in his books, "Friendly Road," "Adventures in Contentment," etc. They have an especial appeal to me because I know what it means to be suddenly stricken from the roll of workers and compelled to rest. I shall never forget my longing for the country in my distress and how old Mother Nature took me to her breast and eventually, with the aid of my faithful wife, nursed me back to health.

On a never-to-be-forgotten day, I was standing at the speaker's table at a great meeting, having just finished an address, when my lights went out. The last that I remember was of falling across the table and of being surrounded by folks. Heart attack, they called it. The specialist said it all when he said that I had overdrawn my account; that I was bankrupt and must liquidate my account with nature.

I dreamed and longed for the country and as soon as I could be moved from the hospital, I was taken to the Michigan northland, with its hills and lakes, laughing brooks and singing birds and foliage of various colors. It is a long story of ups and downs, of the comings and goings of doctors and nurses, and it required one and one-half years for me to climb up out of the black hole I had dug for myself. In the course of time, however, I found rest and recovery. Then followed ten active years; I had learned how to rest.

At times I have found respite. Through that process I have been able to live well beyond my three score and ten years. Seventy-five percent of my law class in the University of Iowa now sleep beneath the sod. Of the living twenty-five percent, probably none began life with less promise of health and strength, and probably none has been subjected to greater strain. Truly I have much to thank the country for.

Let the strings of your fiddle down, Mr. City Man, lest your "E" string or some other string, snap; one cannot maintain concert pitch all of the time.

"There should be periods in the life of every busy man when he does nothing-just nothing at all." -Dr. Crawford McCullough.

"The best and most helpful feature in any people is undoubtedly the instinct that leads them to the country and to take root there. The city rapidly uses men up, families run out, man becomes sophisticated and feeble. A fresh stream of humanity is always setting from the country into the city; a stream, not so fresh, flows back again into the country, a stream for the most part of jaded and frail humanity. It is arterial blood when it flows in and venous blood when it comes back. A nation always begins to rot first in its great cities, is indeed, perhaps, always rotting there and is saved only by the antiseptic virtues of fresh supplies of country blood." -John Burroughs

"Hope and the future for me are not in lawns and cultivated fields; not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps." -Henry David Thoreau.

"A white man bathing beside a Tahitian, is like a plant bleached by the gardener's art, compared with a fine, dark green one, growing vigorously in the open hills." -Darwin.

I have lived the greater part of my life in a great city where my activities have been and still are based. I recognize the important part that great cities play in the advancement of civilization and I most naturally love the city folks with whom I have lived and in whose companionship I have tried to play my part in the life of the great city. Strong and courageous men are stemming the tide of outlawry and our big cities are becoming more livable each year. Crime and corruption of great American cities is given much publicity and folks sometimes get the impression that the majority of our residents are indifferent. Of course this is not so; the vast majority are law-abiding citizens and education, art and culture grow by leaps and bounds while schools, universities, churches, libraries, parks, and playgrounds appear as if by magic.

I certainly would not advise either men or women to shirk the responsibilities of city life and flee to the country just for the purpose of living lives of ease. There has been far too much shirking of responsibility by the so-called "better element," and that is the reason why gangsters, racketeers, kidnappers and other offenders gather in large cities where the apprehension of lawbreakers is more difficult.

There are times for work and times for rest and it is for each person to decide where his path of duty lies. Taken by and large, I think the highest purposes of the largest number would be best served if the population was more spread out. To the man in the moon or to any unprejudiced observer, it must seem an anomalous condition that human beings are spread so thickly in some parts and so thinly in others; it is reasonable to suppose that, to such an unprejudiced observer, a re-distribution of the inhabitants of this planet would be in order.

If it were the Creator's intention for men to live in masses, for what purpose did he create millions of acres of mountains and valleys where air and water is unpolluted by the works of men? Folks tangle themselves up in great cities somewhat as angleworms tangle themselves in the bottom of tin cans and bait boxes, and, when there is nothing else to devour, men, like angleworms, all too frequently devour each other.

The country has been my refuge at all times; when I could not afford it as a luxury, I put it on the necessity list and as such managed to get it. Years fall from my shoulders when I ramble along the countryside.

For some years I consistently spent my week ends during the winter months in the weird but fascinating dune lands bordering on Lake Michigan in northwestern Indiana. When the dunes get a grip on one, they never loosen their hold. "Dune-bugs" build shacks among the hills of sand and most of them command beautiful views of the great lake.

Windstorms constantly change the contour of the land, burying forests here and uncovering forests there. The flora and fauna of the Chicago dune lands is in greater variety than in any other Central Western zone. Weekends spent in the dunes in companionship with other nature lovers is an excellent conditioner for the business trials of the coming week. Why should men permit themselves to be kept indoors during the long winter months with never a breath of fresh air and never the song of a bird to gladden their hearts?

The Prairie Club of Chicago, of which I am a charter member, was established thirty-five years ago for the purpose of giving young people opportunity to enjoy grand hikes in the country. We have had as many as two thousand members, nearly all of whom came to the city from homes in the country. The Prairie Club gives folks an opportunity to renew their touch with their beloved country, and in many instances has constituted the one and only available means of doing so.

While Saturday afternoon hikes are the distinguishing feature of the Prairie Club, organized camps and other similar recreational features which contribute to the health and happiness of legions of school teachers, clerks, stenograpers, etc., are provided. The Saturday afternoon hikes are announced in the Chicago newspapers and all nature lovers are invited to join them without expense other than the necessary cost of transportation. The hikes are carefully mapped out by competent leaders who have blazed the trails and made arrangements with the railroads for as many extra coaches as may be needed.

The Prairie Club co-operates with the Rocky Mountain Club of Denver, the Sierra Mountain Club of San Francisco, the Mountaineers Club of Seattle, the Nature Lovers Club of Indianapolis and with many other clubs devoted to promoting interest in outdoor life.

Chicago has a young man from Boston to thank for its Prairie Club, His name is Alexander Wilson and his name is too little known.

No restrictions are made as to the ages of the applicants for membership. The youngest regular participant in the hikes whom I knew was a rugged little maiden three year of age, who needed no assistance except that of being lifted over fences by her parents. She could reel off a ten mile hike without unhappy consequences. She is now a mother of strong rugged children of her own.

The oldest Prairie Clubber I have known was Captain Robinson, ninety years of age, who took his camera along photographing unusual wild flowers and writing them up for a magazine.

Naturalists have eyes to see the beauties of uplands and lowlands; noses to smell the aroma of pines and balsams, and ears to hear the sweet song of the bobolink, the meadowlark and that "divine contralto," the hermit thrush,

Many who know the blessings of rural life plan to adopt it as soon as they can afford to buy or build property suitable to their tastes and in conformity with the standards they have set up; in many cases they find that their standards are so high that it is necessary to defer moving to the suburbs time and time again;

often they defer too long-thousands build, move and then die, having enjoyed their new home only a few years or perhaps only a few months.

Our home is located in an extra large block in a suburb of culture and refinement and we have enjoyed it for thirty-odd blessed years. We came none too soon. Twenty-six families reside in our block all in homes of their own. When they came to our block, husband, wife and children were living happily together, but to-day ten of those houses are owned and occupied by the widows of the men who built them and one is owned and occupied by a widower. The percentage, ten to one in favor of widows, is a sad commentary on the struggle for what men call success; it is almost as devastating as the war which sons and grandsons of my neighbors are now waging on the Eastern and Western fronts. These men came to our suburb to get rest, and in that respect they were successful, but they rest under ground.

It is quite an undertaking to move to a suburb but it is a far greater undertaking to retire. How glibly men speak of retiring. Utopia, at last! Nothing to do but to rest and luxuriate in the thought of having nothing to do! How different they find it! Retirement is a crisis. A limited number only come through. To throw the yoke off in advanced years is even a more serious undertaking than it was to put the yoke on in the days of vigorous youth. There is, however, a way out; new and engrossing interests must be found: they are frequently found in the country.

To the young and vigorous, an emotional escape from life's realities does not make a strong appeal, but life in the country need not be an escape from realities; it not infrequently proves to be an opening to larger opportunities for usefulness under more favorable conditions. Young and vigorous shoots stand transplanting very well.

The gift of country life near woods and hills
Where happy waters sing in solitudes. -John Musefield.

May I a small house and large garden have?
And a few friends and many books, both true. -Cowley.

How blessed is he who leads a country life
Unvexed with anxious cares and void of strife
Who, studying peace and shunning civil rage
Enjoyed his youth and now enjoys his age. -Dryden.

"After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love and soon have found that none of these finally satisfies or permanently wears-what remains- Nature remains to bring out from their torpid recesses the affinities of man or woman with the open air-the sun by day and the stars of the heavens by night." -Walt Whitman.

Nothing can he more serviceable in extending one's acquaintance among the best people than membership in a Rotary club but if there is no available Rotary club, welcome an invitation to membership in a Kiwanis club, Lions club or in any of the recognized service clubs.

I hope it will not be considered presumptuous for me to express the opinion that there can be no better introduction to the life of a community than one that comes through the local Rotary club. If there happens to be no Rotary club in the community, there will surely be one not far distant and a few miles ride in the country does not amount to much if one has a motor car. Membership in any Rotary club gives one guest privileges in Rotary clubs throughout the world. Many Rotarians visit Rotary clubs whenever they chance to be traveling and this is a great boon to travelers in foreign lands. Enthusiastic Rotarians frequently plan to visit club meetings in neighboring towns thereby extending their acquaintance through their part of the state.

Chapter 42 - The End of the Journey

So here we are at the end of our journey and Jean and I are sitting at our fireside drinking a cup of tea. One who marries a Scottish lady must acquire the habit of sitting at the fireside and drinking black tea and indeed it is a delightful break in the cares and duties of the day. If the tea is good and the fire burns merrily, one enjoys recreation and rest. It's a good way to end the day.

The tea cozy at my lady's right hand keeps the tea hot for a long time and there is nothing my lady enjoys better than filling one's cup. Many cups of tea has she served to visiting friends from Britain and other countries and how sociable and friendly a custom it is. The bellows sends the sparks flying up the chimney when applied by my lady's vigorous hands and she will tolerate no assistance either in building her fire or keeping up the music of the snapping embers.

Queen of the fireside and the teatable at "Comely Bank" is my lady Jean and the thought often comes to me that her steadfast devotion to duty was not excelled even by grandmother. I am indeed a fortunate man; of that I am sure and this is the very place and this is the very hour for reverie even though lady Jean maintains that my reveries far too frequently are preludes to cat naps and my cat naps preludes to slumber outright.

At our fireside scores of friends from all corners of the globe have delighted us by their presence. They have come as the result of my planting a sapling in 1905. The first Rotary Club was that sapling. It has grown into a mighty tree in whose shade it is delightful to dwell.

Tonight my thoughts most naturally drift back to grandfather, grandmother, the boy I once knew, and to My Valley. There is sweet music in the mountains; the rhythmic fall of the woodsman's axe; the mooing of the cows in the pasture; the cackle of hens in the barnyard advertising their wares; a rooster's strident proclamation of daybreak; the chorus of catbirds, orioles, robins, field sparrows and wrens; the mournful cooing of a dove in the distance telling its sad story of unrequited love; and far down in the valley, the liquid tones of a meadow lark calling to its mate, while in the slough alongside the railroad track ridiculously pompous and lovesick bullfrogs swell themselves into prodigious proportions and give voice to their springtime roundelays.

In the late Summer, locusts and untold thousands of tiny insects, all join in a mighty hum to make themselves collectively heard.

In the early autumn, crickets and katydids sit up all night announcing that the leaves of the maple trees are already beginning to show color; that the pageant will soon be on and that some night in the not too distant future, when the eyes of the home folks are closed in sleep, mystic winter will creep silently into the valley and gently lay upon all the great outdoors its crystal white blanket of snow to keep things warm until the spring-time resurrection comes.

No one knows how long such thoughts might have continued had not a voice broken in, "Why, I declare! I believe you have been asleep, Paul; wake up and drink another cup of tea; the fire is burning low and we must soon be in bed." So goeth life at "Comely Bank."

God grant that my vision of the faults of men and of nations be dimmed and my vision of their virtues be brightened. - Paul P. Harris.

Purchase The Road to Rotary from R. I.

To Top

To top

Copyright 2003 Rotary eClub NY1 * Updated in 2004 & 2005
Design & Maintenance of this site by TechnoTouch e-Strategists

To Top
To top


Site Map

Site Map Links FAQ's Membership Rotary D7150 Rotary About Us Make Up Sigh-In Home