I reached Boston late that night and got out at the South Station. I knew no one in Boston except Miss Bennet. She lived in Somerville, and I immediately started out for Somerville. Miss Bennet and her family did all they could to make me comfortable and help me to get myself established in some way. I had only six dollars and their hospitality was of utmost importance to me.
My first application for a job in Boston was made in accordance with an idea of my own. Every boy in the Western states knew the Pope Manufacturing Company, which produced bicycles. When I published my first work "History of Western College Journalism" the Pope Company had given me an advertisement, and that seemed to be a "connection" of some kind. So I decided to go to the offices of the Pope Manufacturing Company to ask for a job. I walked into the general office and said that I wanted the president of the company.
"Colonel Pope?" asked the clerk.
I answered, "Yes, Colonel Pope."
I was taken to Colonel Pope, who was then an alert energetic man of thirty-nine. I told Colonel Pope, by way of introduction, that he had once given me an advertisement for a little book I had published, that I had been a College editor and out of a job. What I wanted was work and I wanted it badly.
He said he was sorry, but they were laying of hands. I still hung on. It seemed to me that everything would be all up with me', if I had to go out of that room without a job. I asked him if there wasn't anything at all that I could do. My earnestness made him look at me sharply.
"Willing to wash windows and scrub floors?" he asked.
I told him that I was, and he turned to one of his clerks.
"Has Wilmot got anybody yet to help him in the downtown' rink?" he asked.
The clerk said he thought not.
"Very well", said Colonel Pope. "You can go to the rink and help Wilmot out for tomorrow."
The next day I went to the bicycle rink and found that what Wilmot wanted was a man to teach beginners to ride. I had never been on a bicycle in my life nor even very close to one, but in a couple of hours I had learnt to ride a bicycle myself and was teaching other people.
Next day Mr. Wilmot paid me a dollar. He didn't say anything about my coming back the next morning, but I came and went to work, very much afraid that I would be told I wasn't needed. After that Mr. Wilmot did not exactly engage me, but he forgot to discharge me, and I came back every day and went to work. At the end of the week Colonel Pope sent for me and placed me in charge of the uptown' rink.
Colonel Pope was a man who watched his workmen. I hadn't been mistaken when I felt that a young man would have a chance with him. He often used to say that "water would find its level", and he kept an eye on us. One day he called me into his office and asked me if I could edit a magazine.
"Yes, sir," I replied quickly. I remember it flashed through my mind that I could do anything I was put at '96 that if I were required to run an ocean steamer I could somehow manage to do it. I could learn to do it as I went along'. I answered as quickly as I could get the words out of my mouth, afraid that Colonel Pope would change his mind before I could get them out.
This is how I got my first job. And I have never doubted ever since that one of the reasons why I got it was that I had been "willing to wash windows and scrub floors". I had been ready for anything.