Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Days of Adversity, Second Letter to the Censor

The Fredonia Censor
Fredonia, New York
Wednesday, April 15, 1925       
Page eleven

Adversities of Life

No. 2

    I concluded my last letter under the above title with the return of the Griswold family from abroad and my return home again. Later Mr. Griswold purchased an interest in the Laona grist mill, and I became a boy helper in that institution, but made no particular headway in the business.
    I was advised by some of the old citizens of the town to learn a trade, but was undecided as to what trade to learn. Then came an old cooper from Edinboro, Pa., with a wagon load of flour barrels. His name was Turner. Yes, he wanted a boy to learn that trade soon, but was not quite ready.
    After Mr. Turner’s departure for home, I remained as a sort of helper in the mill, but finally decided to go to Edinboro, and learn to make barrels and tubs. “Pa” Griswold paid my railroad fare to Erie and bade me an affectionate good-by, giving me a small sum of money.
    Arriving in Erie, I found means to get to Mr. Turner’s house, about thirty miles away. He was glad to see me, but informed  me that he had already employed an apprentice and that I was a little too late. I remained with Mr. Turner a couple of days and then started to walk back to Erie. On my way I met a young man named Shattuck and told him that I was looking for work, but had little or no money. He said he knew of no employment for a youth of my years, but he opened his pocketbook and gave me $3.00 in cash, and wished me good luck.
    His wishes did not materialize, but in my wanderings about Erie, I entered a gunsmith shop conducted by a man named Drake. He said he wanted a boy to learn the trade, but was not yet quite ready, but took me to his home for a few days as a preliminary to learning apprenticeship. I did odd jobs for awhile, but he finally gave me a big job at sawing wood at his house. After sawing up several cords of wood, I concluded that, as “Pa” Griswold had already taught me that business, I did not need further apprenticeship, and I quit Mr. Drake’s and was on the street again without a home. After near midnight I went to Brown’s hotel and asked for a bed and something to eat, which was granted.
    Then a bookseller named Gunnison gave me a few books to peddle at a small percent profit, which netted me about 25c per day, but I managed to diet on that income by stealing a lodging in barns and outhouses until I applied for work on a newspaper called “The Observer” and started to learn the printing business under Durlin & Sloan, and worked as a “devil” there for about two years, and then quit and followed Horace Greeley’s advice and went west. Well, my orphan boy trials were over, but I became at times a sort of “tramp printer” and prosperity smiled again.
    My adventures were still full of hardships and adversities, but their relation will not interest Fredonia Censor readers.

Oscar Langford                        Colorado Springs, Colorado

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