Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Days of Adversity, First of Seven Letters to the Censor

Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 1, 1925
Page Thirteen



Oscar Langford Reviews Early Days in Chautauqua County

Dear Censor:
    I have written about the pleasant experience of boyhood days in Chautauqua County and now I venture to say something about the unpleasant ones. Some time in the fifties, when about 15 years old, the Griswold family of Laona broke up housekeeping and I was left to take care of myself. It seems that orphans did not receive the kind attention then that they do now. If they did I was unusually unfortunate. Homeless and a sort of boy tramp I looked for any kind of work that might provide food and clothes, and finally found a home with the family of Jud Cushing, who lived in the eastern suburbs of Fredonia.

    While Mr. Cushing took a few days trip to Buffalo, Mrs. Cushing scolded me for some trivial offense, and I made some saucy reply, and angrily left the place. Then I was again homeless, but a neighbor named Cassell took me in for a couple of days. When Mr. Cushing returned he sent for me, and I had no sooner entered his house than he began to abuse me for insulting his wife, and proceeded to turn me out of doors. It was late in the fall and the weather was quite cold. Mr. Cushing had bought me a suit of clothes recently, as I merely worked for my board, but he turned me out in a ragged condition, and gave me nothing but the vest and one dollar in money.

    The Johnson House, a Fredonia Hotel, kindly gave me lodging and breakfast for fifty cents, and the stage driver gave me a ride to Jamestown for the rest of the money. I arrived there some time in the evening, homeless and penniless, went to a hotel and told the proprietor I was dead broke. He gave me lodging and breakfast, and in looking for work struck a job of moving from a druggist named Hazeltine, and he gave me 25 cents. I got along some way for a day or two, spending my time in a fruitless search for a home. At last a harness maker named Sherman, whose house I visited, employed me to take care of horse and cow for my board and clothes. The family was a very pious one, and treated me very nicely for a few days, when some of the school boys provoked me into a fist fight, and I left the school and the Sherman family and got a ride back to Fredonia with a farmer named Laribee.

    During my boyhood wanderings about the village, I stole into barns and covered stage coaches for shelter, and begged for what little food I got. Once I got so hungry that I went into a potato field, dug potatoes out of the hill and ate them raw. Afterwards the Griswold family returned from their trip, and I sung “Home, Sweet, Sweet Home” for a season. But circumstances were against me, and in a few years I became a homeless tramp once again, until I struck the printing firm of Durlin & Sloan in Erie, Pa., and served an apprenticeship at the printing trade. Mr. Durlin was a relative of the McKinstry family, publishers of the Fredonia Censor, and knew my brother James when he was a compositor on your paper.

    The hardships I endured as a “tramp printer” for years afterward would fill a volume but those of my early boyhood were the worst. But now, they are all seemingly ended, and the union printers home is a kindly and beautiful resort since I became an octogenarian. The world is surely growing better than it was in 1853. “God’s in his heaven” and everything is all right on earth.

Oscar Langford
Union Printers’ Home
Colorado Springs Colorado

Oscar also added this article about his room mate Jason E. Haynes

    A remarkable career has been that of Jason E. Haynes, 70 years of age, a resident here since 1918. Learning printing in northwestern Missouri, he was familiar with the Burlington (Iowa) Hawkeye in the days of Bob Burdette and Frank Hatton, and wrestled with the manuscript of Gen. J. S. (Ret) Clarkson on the Des Moines Register. At the age of 30 years he lost his right arm and was otherwise badly crippled in a railroad accident, but successfully followed the profession of an editor and printer until entering the home.

        Promising Year of 1925

        Did you turn a new leaf over,
            And start well in the new year?
        The future looks bright , as you will discover,
            It’s good to know that we live here.
        Life is short and time is fleeting
            As it can be truly said;
        So to you a good, bright greeting,
            Try to live long and work ahead.
        Think of something good tomorrow---
            Do your very best today;
        Think right and steer clear of sorrow-
            Smile, thus clearing the right of way.
        Life is now yours, and so brightly-
            You are here to live and thrive;
        Think intelligently and think rightly,
            And you may win in 1925.

        Union Printers Home--Jason E. Haynes

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