AN AMERICAN IDYLL
THE LIFE OF CARLETON H. PARKER
CORNELIA STRATTON PARKER
THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY PRESS
The poem on the opposite page is here reprinted with the express permission of Messrs. Charles Scribner's Sons, publishers of Robert Louis Stevenson's Works.
_Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember, How of human days he lived the better part. April came to bloom, and never dim December Breathed its killing chill upon the head or heart.
Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a being Trod the flowery April blithely for a while, Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing, Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased to smile.
Came and stayed and went, and now when all is finished, You alone have crossed the melancholy stream, Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished, Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.
All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason, Shame, dishonor, death, to him were but a name. Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing season And ere the day of sorrow departed as he came._
_Written for our three children.
Dedicated to all those kindred souls, friends of Carl Parker whether they knew him or not, who are making the fight, without bitterness but with all the understanding, patience, and enthusiasm they possess, for a saner, kindlier, and more joyous world.
And to those especially who love greatly along the way._
It was a year ago to-day that Carl Parker died—March 17, 1918. His fortieth birthday would have come on March 31. His friends, his students, were free to pay their tribute to him, both in the press and in letters which I treasure. I alone of all,—I who knew him best and loved him most,—had no way to give some outlet to my soul; could see no chance to pay my tribute.
One and another have written of what was and will be his valuable service to economic thought and progress; of the effects of his mediation of labor disputes, in the Northwest and throughout the nation; and of his inestimable qualities as friend, comrade, and teacher.
"He gave as a Federal mediator,"—so runs one estimate of him,—"all his unparalleled knowledge and understanding of labor and its point of view. That knowledge, that understanding he gained, not by academic investigation, but by working in mines and woods, in shops and on farms. He had the trust and confidence of both sides in disputes between labor and capital; his services were called in whenever trouble was brewing. . . . Thanks to him, strikes were averted; war-work of the most vital importance, threatened by misunderstandings and smouldering discontent, went on."
But almost every one who has written for publication has told of but one side of him, and there were such countless sides. Would it then be so out of place if I, his wife, could write of all of him, even to the manner of husband he was?
I have hesitated for some months to do this. He had not yet made so truly national a name, perhaps, as to warrant any assumption that such a work would be acceptable. Many of his close friends have asked me to do just this, however; for they realize, as I do so strongly, that his life was so big, so full, so potential, that, even as the story of a man, it would be worth the reading.
And, at the risk of sharing intimacies that should be kept in one's heart only, I long to have the world know something of the life we led together.
An old friend wrote: "Dear, splendid Carl, the very embodiment of life, energized and joyful to a degree I have never known. And the thought of the separation of you two makes me turn cold. . . . The world can never be the same to me with Carl out of it. I loved his high spirit, his helpfulness, his humor, his adoration of you. Knowing you and Carl, and seeing your life together, has been one of the most perfect things in my life."
An Eastern professor, who had visited at our home from time to time wrote: "You have lost one of the finest husbands I have ever known. Ever since I have known the Parker family, I have considered their home life as ideal. I had hoped that the too few hours I spent in your home might be multiplied many times in coming years. . . . I have never known a man more in love with a woman than Carl was with you."
So I write of him for these reasons: because I must, to ease my own pent-up feelings; because his life was so well worth writing about; because so many friends have sent word to me: "Some day, when you have the time, I hope you will sit down and write me about Carl"—the newer friends asking especially about his earlier years, the older friends wishing to know of his later interests, and especially of the last months, and of—what I have written to no one as yet—his death. I can answer them all this way.
And, lastly, there is the most intimate reason of all. I want our children to know about their father—not just his academic worth, his public career, but the life he led from day to day. If I live till they are old enough to understand, I, of course, can tell them. If not, how are they to know? And so, in the last instance, this is a document for them.
C.S.P. March 17, 1919
AN AMERICAN IDYLL
Such hosts of memories come tumbling in on me. More than fifteen years ago, on September 3, 1903, I met Carl Parker. He had just returned to college, two weeks late for the beginning of his Senior year. There was much concern among his friends, for he had gone on a two months' hunting-trip into the wilds of Idaho, and had planned to return in time for college. I met him his first afternoon in Berkeley. He was on the top of a step-ladder, helping put up an awning for our sorority dance that evening, uttering his proverbial joyous banter to any one who came along, be it the man with the cakes, the sedate house-mother, fellow awning-hangers, or the girls busying about.
Thus he was introduced to me—a Freshman of two weeks. He called down gayly, "How do you do, young lady?" Within a week we were fast friends, I looking up to him as a Freshman would to a Senior, and a Senior seven years older than herself at that. Within a month I remember deciding that, if ever I became engaged, I would tell Carl Parker before I told any one else on earth!
After about two months, he called one evening with his pictures of Idaho. Such a treat as my mountain-loving soul did have! I still have the map he drew that night, with the trails and camping-places marked. And I said, innocence itself, "I'm going to Idaho on my honeymoon!" And he said, "I'm not going to marry till I find a girl who wants to go to Idaho on her honeymoon!" Then we both laughed.
But the deciding event in his eyes was when we planned our first long walk in the Berkeley hills for a certain Saturday, November 22, and that morning it rained. One of the tenets I was brought up on by my father was that bad weather was never an excuse for postponing anything; so I took it for granted that we would start on our walk as planned.
Carl telephoned anon and said, "Of course the walk is off."
"But why?" I asked.
"The rain!" he answered.
"As if that makes any difference!"
At which he gasped a little and said all right, he'd be around in a minute; which he was, in his Idaho outfit, the lunch he had suggested being entirely responsible for bulging one pocket. Off we started in the rain, and such a day as we had! We climbed Grizzly Peak,—only we did not know it for the fog and rain,—and just over the summit, in the shelter of a very drippy oak tree, we sat down for lunch. A fairly sanctified expression came over Carl's face as he drew forth a rather damp and frayed-looking paper-bag—as a king might look who uncovered the chest of his most precious court jewels before a courtier deemed worthy of that honor. And before my puzzled and somewhat doubtful eyes he spread his treasure—jerked bear-meat, nothing but jerked bear-meat. I never had seen jerked anything, let alone tasted it. I was used to the conventional picnic sandwiches done up in waxed paper, plus a stuffed egg, fruit, and cake. I was ready for a lunch after the conservative pattern, and here I gazed upon a mess of most unappetizing-looking, wrinkled, shrunken, jerked bear-meat, the rain dropping down on it through the oak tree.
I would have gasped if I had not caught the look of awe and reverence on Carl's face as he gazed eagerly, and with what respect, on his offering. I merely took a hunk of what was supplied, set my teeth into it, and pulled. It was salty, very; it looked queer, tasted queer, was queer. Yet that lunch! We walked farther, sat now and then under other drippy trees, and at last decided that we must slide home, by that time soaked to the skin, and I minus the heel to one shoe.
I had just got myself out of the bath and into dry clothes when the telephone rang. It was Carl. Could he come over to the house and spend the rest of the afternoon? It was then about four-thirty. He came, and from then on things were decidedly—different.
How I should love to go into the details of that Freshman year of mine! I am happier right now writing about it than I have been in six months. I shall not go into detail—only to say that the night of the Junior Prom of my Freshman year Carl Parker asked me to marry him, and two days later, up again in our hills, I said that I would. To think of that now—to think of waiting two whole days to decide whether I would marry Carl Parker or not!! And for fourteen years from the day I met him, there was never one small moment of misunderstanding, one day that was not happiness—except when we were parted. Perhaps there are people who would consider it stupid, boresome, to live in such peace as that. All I can answer is that it was not stupid, it was not boresome—oh, how far from it! In fact, in those early days we took our vow that the one thing we would never do was to let the world get commonplace for us; that the time should never come when we would not be eager for the start of each new day. The Kipling poem we loved the most, for it was the spirit of both of us, was "The Long Trail." You know the last of it:—
The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass, And the Deuce knows what we may do— But we're back once more on the old trail, our own trail, the out trail, We're down, hull down, on the Long Trail—the trail that is always new!
After we decided to get married, and that as soon as ever we could,—I being a Freshman at the ripe and mature age of, as mentioned, just eighteen years, he a Senior, with no particular prospects, not even sure as yet what field he would go into,—we began discussing what we might do and where we might go. Our main idea was to get as far away from everybody as we could, and live the very fullest life we could, and at last we decided on Persia. Why Persia? I cannot recall the steps now that brought us to that conclusion. But I know that first Christmas I sent Carl my picture in a frilled high-school graduation frock and a silk Persian flag tucked behind it, and that flag remained always the symbol for us that we would never let our lives get stale, never lose the love of adventure, never "settle down," intellectually at any rate.
Can you see my father's face that sunny March day,—Charter Day it was,—when we told him we were engaged? (My father being the conventional, traditional sort who had never let me have a real "caller" even, lest I become interested in boys and think of matrimony too young!) Carl Parker was the first male person who was ever allowed at my home in the evening. He came seldom, since I was living in Berkeley most of the time, and anyway, we much preferred prowling all over our end of creation, servant-girl-and-policeman fashion. Also, when I married, according to father it was to be some one, preferably an attorney of parts, about to become a judge, with a large bank account. Instead, at eighteen, I and this almost-unknown-to-him Senior stood before him and said, "We are going to be married," or words to that general effect. And—here is where I want you to think of the expression on my conservative father's face.
Fairly early in the conversation he found breath to say, "And what, may I ask, are your prospects?"
"None, just at present."
"And where, may I ask, are you planning to begin this married career you seem to contemplate?"
Can you see my father? "Persia?"
"And what, for goodness' sake, are you two going to do in Persia?"
"We don't know just yet, of course, but we'll find something."
I can see my father's point of view now, though I am not sure but that I shall prefer a son-in-law for our daughter who would contemplate absolute uncertainty in Persia in preference to an assured legal profession in Oakland, California. It was two years before my father became at all sympathetic, and that condition was far from enthusiastic. So it was a great joy to me to have him say, a few months before his death, "You know, Cornelia, I want you to understand that if I had had the world to pick from I'd have chosen Carl Parker for your husband. Your marriage is a constant source of satisfaction to me."
I saw Carl Parker lose his temper once, and once only. It was that first year that we knew each other. Because there was such a difference between his age and mine, the girls in my sorority house refused to believe there could be anything serious about our going together so much, and took great pains to assure me in private that of course Carl meant nothing by his attentions,—to which I agreed volubly,—and they scolded him in private because it would spoil a Freshman to have a Senior so attentive. We always compared notes later, and were much amused.
But words were one thing, actions another. Since there could be nothing serious in our relationship, naturally there was no reason why we should be left alone. If there was to be a rally or a concert, the Senior sitting at the head of the dinner-table would ask, "How many are going to-night with a man?" Hands. "How many of the girls are going together?" Hands. Then, to me, "Are you going with Carl?" A faint "Yes." "Then we'll all go along with you." Carl stood it twice—twice he beheld this cavalcade bear away in our wake; then he gritted his teeth and announced, "Never again!"
The next college occasion was a rally at the Greek Theatre. Again it was announced at the table that all the unescorted ones would accompany Carl and me. I foresaw trouble. When I came downstairs later, with my hat and coat on, there stood Carl, surrounded by about six girls, all hastily buttoning their gloves, his sister, who knew no more of the truth about Carl and me than the others, being one of them. Never had I seen such a look on Carl's face, and I never did again. His feet were spread apart, his jaw was set, and he was glaring. When he saw me he said, "Come on!" and we dashed for the door.
Sister Helen flew after us. "But Carl—the other girls!"
Carl stuck his head around the corner of the front door, called defiantly, "Damn the other girls!" banged the door to, and we fled. Never again were we molested.
Carl finished his Senior year, and a full year it was for him. He was editor of the "Pelican," the University funny paper, and of the "University of California Magazine," the most serious publication on the campus outside the technical journals; he made every "honor" organization there was to make (except the Phi Beta Kappa); he and a fellow student wrote the successful Senior Extravaganza; he was a reader in economics, and graduated with honors. And he saw me every single day.
I feel like digressing here a moment, to assail that old principle—which my father, along with countless others, held so strongly—that a fellow who is really worth while ought to know by his Junior year in college just what his life-work is to be. A few with an early developed special aptitude do, but very few. Carl entered college in August, 1896, in Engineering; but after a term found that it had no further appeal for him. "But a fellow ought to stick to a thing, whether he likes it or not!" If one must be dogmatic, then I say, "A fellow should never work at anything he does not like." One of the things in our case which brought such constant criticism from relatives and friends was that we changed around so much. Thank God we did! It took Carl Parker until he was over thirty before he found just the work he loved the most and in which his soul was content—university work. And he was thirty-seven before he found just the phase of economic study that fired him to his full enthusiasm—his loved field of the application of psychology to economics. And some one would have had him stick to engineering because he started in engineering!
He hurt his knee broad-jumping in his Freshman year at college, and finally had to leave, going to Phoenix, Arizona, and then back to the Parker ranch at Vacaville for the better part of a year. The family was away during that time, and Carl ran the place alone. He returned to college in August, 1898, this time taking up mining. After a year's study in mining he wanted the practical side. In the summer of 1899 he worked underground in the Hidden Treasure Mine, Placer county, California. In 1900 he left college again, going to the gold and copper mines of Rossland, British Columbia. From August, 1900, to May, 1901, he worked in four different mines. It was with considerable feeling of pride that he always added, "I got to be machine man before I quit."
It was at that time that he became a member of the Western Federation of Miners—an historical fact which inimical capitalists later endeavored to make use of from time to time to do him harm. How I loved to listen by the hour to the stories of those grilling days—up at four in the pitch-dark and snow, to crawl to his job, with the blessing of a dear old Scotch landlady and a "pastie"! He would tell our sons of tamping in the sticks of dynamite, till their eyes bulged. The hundreds of times these last six months I've wished I had in writing the stories of those days—of all his days, from early Vacaville times on! Sometimes it would be an old Vacaville crony who would appear, and stories would fly of those boy times—of the exploits up Putah Creek with Pee Wee Allen; of the prayer-meeting when Carl bet he could out-pray the minister's son, and won; of the tediously thought-out assaults upon an ancient hired man on the place, that would fill a book and delight the heart of Tom Sawyer himself; and how his mother used to sigh and add to it all, "If only he had ever come home on time to his meals!" (And he has one son just like him. Carl's brothers tell me: "Just give up trying to get Jim home on time. Mamma tried every scheme a human could devise to make Carl prompt for his meals, but nothing ever had the slightest effect. Half an hour past dinner-time he'd still be five miles from home.")
One article that recently appeared in a New York paper began:—
"They say of him that when he was a small boy he displayed the same tendencies that later on made him great in his chosen field. His family possessed a distinct tendency toward conformity and respectability, but Carl was a companion of every 'alley-bum' in Vacaville. His respectable friends never won him away from his insatiable interest in the under-dog. They now know it makes valid his claim to achievement."
After the British Columbia mining days, he took what money he had saved, and left for Idaho, where he was to meet his chum, Hal Bradley, for his first Idaho trip—a dream of theirs for years. The Idaho stories he could tell—oh, why can I not remember them word for word? I have seen him hold a roomful of students in Berlin absolutely spellbound over those adventures—with a bit of Parker coloring, to be sure, which no one ever objected to. I have seen him with a group of staid faculty folk sitting breathless at his Clearwater yarns; and how he loved to tell those tales! Three and a half months he and Hal were in—hunting, fishing, jerking meat, trailing after lost horses, having his dreams of Idaho come true. (If our sons fail to have those dreams!)
When Hal returned to college, the Wanderlust was still too strong in Carl; so he stopped off in Spokane, Washington, penniless, to try pot-luck. There were more tales to delight a gathering. In Spokane he took a hand at reporting, claiming to be a person of large experience, since only those of large experience were desired by the editor of the "Spokesman Review." He was given sport, society, and the tenderloin to cover, at nine dollars a week. As he never could go anywhere without making folks love him, it was not long before he had his cronies among the "sports," kind souls "in society" who took him in, and at least one strong, loyal friend,—who called him "Bub," and gave him much excellent advice that he often used to refer to,—who was the owner of the biggest gambling-joint in town. (Spokane was wide open in those days, and "some town.")
It was the society friends who seem to have saved his life, for nine dollars did not go far, even then. I have heard his hostesses tell of the meal he could consume. "But I'd been saving for it all day, with just ten cents in my pocket." I met a pal of those days who used to save Carl considerable of his nine dollars by "smooching" his wash into his own home laundry.
About then Carl's older brother, Boyd, who was somewhat fastidious, ran into him in Spokane. He tells how Carl insisted he should spend the night at his room instead of going to a hotel.
"Is it far from here?"
So they started out with Boyd's suitcase, and walked and walked through the "darndest part of town you ever saw." Finally, after crossing untold railroad tracks and ducking around sheds and through alleys, they came to a rooming-house that was "a holy fright." "It's all right inside," Carl explained.
When they reached his room, there was one not over-broad bed in the corner, and a red head showing, snoring contentedly.
"Who's that?" the brother asked.
"Oh, a fellow I picked up somewhere."
"Where am I to sleep?"
"Right in here—the bed's plenty big enough for three!"
And Boyd says, though it was 2 A.M. and miles from anywhere, he lit out of there as fast as he could move; and he adds, "I don't believe he even knew that red-headed boy's name!"
The reporting went rather lamely it seemed, however. The editor said that it read amateurish, and he felt he would have to make a change. Carl made for some files where all the daily papers were kept, and read and re-read the yellowest of the yellow. As luck would have it, that very night a big fire broke out in a crowded apartment house. It was not in Carl's "beat," but he decided to cover it anyhow. Along with the firemen, he managed to get upon the roof; he jumped here, he flew there, demolishing the only suit of clothes he owned. But what an account he handed in! The editor discarded entirely the story of the reporter sent to cover the fire, ran in Carl's, word for word, and raised him to twelve dollars a week.
But just as the crown of reportorial success was lighting on his brow, his mother made it plain to him that she preferred to have him return to college. He bought a ticket to Vacaville,—it was just about Christmas time,—purchased a loaf of bread and a can of sardines, and with thirty cents in his pocket, the extent of his worldly wealth, he left for California, traveling in a day coach all the way. I remember his story of how, about the end of the second day of bread and sardines, he cold-bloodedly and with aforethought cultivated a man opposite him, who looked as if he could afford to eat; and how the man "came through" and asked Carl if he would have dinner with him in the diner. To hear him tell what and how much he ordered, and of the expression and depression of the paying host! It tided him over until he reached home, anyhow—never mind the host.
All his mining experience, plus the dark side of life, as contrasted with society as he saw them both in Spokane, turned his interest to the field of economics. And when he entered college the next spring, it was to "major" in that subject.
May and June, 1903, he worked underground in the coal-mines of Nanaimo. In July he met Nay Moran in Idaho for his second Idaho camping-trip; and it was on his return from this outing that I met him, and ate his jerked meat and loved him, and never stopped doing that for one second.
There were three boys in the Parker family, and one girl. Each of the other brothers had been encouraged to see the world, and in his turn Carl planned fourteen months in Europe, his serious objective being, on his return, to act as Extension Secretary to Professor Stephens of the University of California, who was preparing to organize Extension work for the first time in California. Carl was to study the English Extension system and also prepare for some Extension lecturing.
By that time, we had come a bit to our senses, and I had realized that since there was no money anyhow to marry on, and since I was so young, I had better stay on and graduate from college. Carl could have his trip to Europe and get an option, perhaps, on a tent in Persia. A friend was telling me recently of running into Carl on the street just before he left for Europe and asking him what he was planning to do for the future. Carl answered with a twinkle, "I don't know but what there's room for an energetic up-and-coming young man in Asia Minor."
I stopped writing here to read through Carl's European letters, and laid aside about seven I wanted to quote from: the accounts of three dinners at Sidney and Beatrice Webb's in London—what knowing them always meant to him! They, perhaps, have forgotten him; but meeting the Webbs and Graham Wallas and that English group could be nothing but red-letter events to a young economic enthusiast one year out of college, studying Trade-Unionism in the London School of Economics.
Then there was his South-African trip. He was sent there by a London firm, to expert a mine near Johannesburg. Although he cabled five times, said firm sent no money. The bitter disgust and anguish of those weeks—neither of us ever had much patience under such circumstances. But he experted his mine, and found it absolutely worthless; explored the veldt on a second-hand bicycle, cooked little meals of bacon and mush wherever he found himself, and wrote to me. Meanwhile he learned much, studied the coolie question, investigated mine-workings, was entertained by his old college mates—mining experts themselves—in Johannesburg. There was the letter telling of the bull fight at Zanzibar, or Delagoa Bay, or some seafaring port thereabouts, that broke his heart, it was such a disappointment—"it made a Kappa tea look gory by comparison." And the letter that regretfully admitted that perhaps, after all, Persia would not just do to settle down in. About that time he wanted California with a fearful want, and was all done with foreign parts, and declared that any place just big enough for two suited him—it did not need to be as far away as Persia after all. At last he borrowed money to get back to Europe, claiming that "he had learned his lesson and learned it hard." And finally he came home as fast as ever he could reach Berkeley—did not stop even to telegraph.
I had planned for months a dress I knew he would love to have me greet him in. It was hanging ready in the closet. As it was, I had started to retire—in the same room with a Freshman whom I was supposed to be "rushing" hard—when I heard a soft whistle—our whistle—under my window. My heart stopped beating. I just grabbed a raincoat and threw it over me, my hair down in a braid, and in the middle of a sentence to the astounded Freshman I dashed out.
My father had said, "If neither of you changes your mind while Carl is away, I have no objection to your becoming engaged." In about ten minutes after his return we were formally engaged, on a bench up in the Deaf and Dumb Asylum grounds—our favorite trysting-place. It would have been foolish to waste a new dress on that night. I was clad in cloth of gold for all Carl knew or cared, or could see in the dark, for that matter. The deserted Freshman was sound asleep when I got back—and joined another sorority.
Thereafter, for a time, Carl went into University Extension, lecturing on Trade-Unionism and South Africa. It did not please him altogether, and finally my father, a lawyer himself, persuaded him to go into law. Carl Parker in law! How we used to shudder at it afterwards; but it was just one more broadening experience that he got out of life.
Then came the San Francisco earthquake. That was the end of my Junior year, and we felt we had to be married when I finished college—nothing else mattered quite as much as that. So when an offer came out of a clear sky from Halsey and Company, for Carl to be a bond-salesman on a salary that assured matrimony within a year, though in no affluence, and the bottom all out of the law business and no enthusiasm for it anyway, we held a consultation and decided for bonds and marriage. What a bond-salesman Carl made! Those who knew him knew what has been referred to as "the magic of his personality," and could understand how he was having the whole of a small country town asking him to dinner on his second visit.
I somehow got through my Senior year; but how the days dragged! For all I could think of was Carl, Carl, Carl, and getting married. Yet no one—no one on this earth—ever had the fun out of their engaged days that we did, when we were together. Carl used to say that the accumulated expenses of courting me for almost four years came to $10.25. He just guessed at $10.25, though any cheap figure would have done. We just did not care about doing things that happened to cost money. We never did care in our lives, and never would have cared, no matter what our income might be. Undoubtedly that was the main reason we were so blissful on such a small salary in University work—we could never think, at the time, of anything much we were doing without. I remember that the happiest Christmas we almost ever had was over in the country, when we spent under two dollars for all of us. We were absolutely down to bed-rock that year anyway. (It was just after we paid off our European debt.) Carl gave me a book, "The Pastor's Wife," and we gloated over it together all Christmas afternoon! We gave each of the boys a ten-cent cap-pistol and five cents' worth of caps—they were in their Paradise. I mended three shirts of Carl's that had been in my basket so long they were really like new to him,—he'd forgotten he owned them!—laundered them, and hung the trio, tied in tissue paper and red ribbon, on the tree. That was a Christmas!
He used to claim, too, that, as I got so excited over five cents' worth of gum-drops, there was no use investing in a dollar's worth of French mixed candy—especially if one hadn't the dollar. We always loved tramping more than anything else, and just prowling around the streets arm-in-arm, ending perhaps with an ice-cream soda. Not over-costly, any of it. I have kept some little reminder of almost every spree we took in our four engaged years—it is a book of sheer joy from cover to cover. Except always, always the need of saying good-bye: it got so that it seemed almost impossible to say it.
And then came the day when it did not have to be said each time—that day of days, September 7, 1907, when we were married. Idaho for our honeymoon had to be abandoned, as three weeks was the longest vacation period we could wring from a soulless bond-house. But not even Idaho could have brought us more joy than our seventy-five-mile trip up the Rogue River in Southern Oregon. We hired an old buckboard and two ancient, almost immobile, so-called horses,—they needed scant attention,—and with provisions, gun, rods, and sleeping-bags, we started forth. The woods were in their autumn glory, the fish were biting, corn was ripe along the roadside, and apples—Rogue River apples—made red blotches under every tree. "Help yourselves!" the farmers would sing out, or would not sing out. It was all one to us.
I found that, along with his every other accomplishment, I had married an expert camp cook. He found that he had married a person who could not even boil rice. The first night out on our trip, Carl said, "You start the rice while I tend to the horses." He knew I could not cook—I had planned to take a course in Domestic Science on graduation; however, he preferred to marry me earlier, inexperienced, than later, experienced. But evidently he thought even a low-grade moron could boil rice. The bride of his heart did not know that rice swelled when it boiled. We were hungry, we would want lots of rice, so I put lots in. By the time Carl came back I had partly cooked rice in every utensil we owned, including the coffee-pot and the wash-basin. And still he loved me!
That honeymoon! Lazy horses poking unprodded along an almost deserted mountain road; glimpses of the river lined with autumn reds and yellows; camp made toward evening in any spot that looked appealing—and all spots looked appealing; two fish-rods out; consultation as to flies; leave-taking for half an hour's parting, while one went up the river to try his luck, one down. Joyous reunion, with much luck or little luck, but always enough for supper: trout rolled in cornmeal and fried, corn on the cob just garnered from a willing or unwilling farmer that afternoon, corn-bread,—the most luscious corn-bread in the world, baked camper-style by the man of the party,—and red, red apples, eaten by two people who had waited four years for just that. Evenings in a sandy nook by the river's edge, watching the stars come out above the water. Adventures, such as losing Chocolada, the brown seventy-eight-year-old horse, and finding her up to her neck in a deep stream running through a grassy meadow with perpendicular banks on either side. We walked miles till we found a farmer. With the aid of himself and his tools, plus a stout rope and a tree, in an afternoon's time we dug and pulled and hauled and yanked Chocolada up and out onto dry land, more nearly dead than ever by that time. The ancient senile had just fallen in while drinking.
We made a permanent camp for one week seventy-five miles up the river, in a spot so deserted that we had to cut the road through to reach it. There we laundered our change of overalls and odds and ends, using the largest cooking utensil for boiling what was boiled, and all the food tasted of Ivory soap for two days; but we did not mind even that. And then, after three weeks, back to skirts and collars and civilization, and a continued honeymoon from Medford, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, doing all the country banks en route. In Portland we had to be separated for one whole day—it seemed nothing short of harrowing.
Then came Seattle and house-hunting. We had a hundred dollars a month to live on, and every apartment we looked at rented for from sixty dollars up. Finally, in despair, we took two wee rooms, a wee-er kitchen, and bath, for forty dollars. It was just before the panic in 1907, and rents were exorbitant. And from having seventy-five dollars spending money a month before I was married, I jumped to keeping two of us on sixty dollars, which was what was left after the rent was paid. I am not rationalizing when I say I am glad that we did not have a cent more. It was a real sporting event to make both ends meet! And we did it, and saved a dollar or so, just to show we could. Any and every thing we commandeered to help maintain our solvency. Seattle was quite given to food fairs in those days, and we kept a weather eye out for such. We would eat no lunch, make for the Food Show about three, nibble at samples all afternoon, and come home well-fed about eight, having bought enough necessities here and there to keep our consciences from hurting.
Much of the time Carl had to be on the road selling bonds, and we almost grieved our hearts out over that. In fact, we got desperate, and when Carl was offered an assistant cashiership in a bank in Ellensburg, Washington, we were just about to accept it, when the panic came, and it was all for retrenchment in banks. Then we planned farming, planned it with determination. It was too awful, those good-byes. Each got worse and harder than the last. We had divine days in between, to be sure, when we'd prowl out into the woods around the city, with a picnic lunch, or bummel along the waterfront, ending at a counter we knew, which produced, or the man behind it produced, delectable and cheap clubhouse sandwiches.
The bond business, and business conditions generally in the Northwest, got worse and worse. In March, after six months of Seattle, we were called back to the San Francisco office. Business results were better, Carl's salary was raised considerably, but there were still separations.
On July 3, the Marvelous Son was born, and never was there such a father. Even the trained nurse, hardened to new fathers by years of experience, admitted that she never had seen any one take parenthood quite so hard. Four times in the night he crept in to see if the baby was surely breathing. We were in a very quiet neighborhood, yet the next day, being Fourth of July, now and then a pop would be heard. At each report of a cap-pistol a block away, Carl would dash out and vehemently protest to a group of scornful youngsters that they would wake our son. As if a one-day-old baby would seriously consider waking if a giant fire-cracker went off under his bed!
Those were magic days. Three of us in the family instead of two—and separations harder than ever. Once in all the ten and a half years we were married I saw Carl Parker downright discouraged over his own affairs, and that was the day I met him down town in Oakland and he announced that he just could not stand the bond business any longer. He had come to dislike it heartily as a business; and then, leaving the boy and me was not worth the whole financial world put together. Since his European experience,—meeting the Webbs and their kind,—he had had a hankering for University work, but he felt that the money return was so small he simply could not contemplate raising a family on it. But now we were desperate. We longed for a life that would give us the maximum chance to be together. Cold-bloodedly we decided that University work would give us that opportunity, and the long vacations would give us our mountains.
The work itself made its strong appeal, too. Professor Henry Morse Stephens and Professor Miller of the University of California had long urged Carl to go into teaching; and at last we decided that, even if it meant living on husks and skimmed milk all our days, at least we would be eating what there was to eat together, three meals a day every day. We cashed in our savings, we drew on everything there was to draw on, and on February 1, 1909, the three of us embarked for Harvard—with fifty-six dollars and seventy-five cents excess-baggage to pay at the depot, such young ignoramuses we were.
That trip East was worth any future hardship we might have reaped. Our seven-months-old baby was one of the young saints of the world—not once in the five days did he peep. We'd pin him securely in the lower berth of our compartment for his nap, and back we would fly to the corner of the rear platform of the observation car, and gloat, just gloat, over how we had come into the inheritance of all creation. We owned the world. And I, who had never been farther from my California home town than Seattle, who never had seen real snow, except that Christmas when we spent four days at the Scenic Hot Springs in the Cascades, and skied and sledded and spilled around like six-year-olds! But stretches and stretches of snow! And then, just traveling, and together!
And to be in Boston! We took a room with a bath in the Copley Square Hotel. The first evening we arrived, Nandy (Carleton, Jr.) rolled off the bed; so when we went gallivanting about Boston, shopping for the new home, we left him in the bath-tub where he could not fall out. We padded it well with pillows, there was a big window letting in plenty of fresh air, and we instructed the chambermaid to peep at him now and then. And there we would leave him, well-nourished and asleep. (By the time that story had been passed around by enough people in the home town, it developed that one day the baby—just seven months old, remember—got up and turned on the water, and was found by the chambermaid sinking for the third time.)
Something happened to the draft from the home bank, which should have reached Boston almost at the same time we did. We gazed into the family pocket-book one fine morning, to find it, to all intents and purposes, empty. Hurried meeting of the finance committee. By unanimous consent of all present, we decided—as many another mortal in a strange town has decided—on the pawnshop. I wonder if my dear grandmother will read this—she probably will. Carl first submitted his gold watch—the baby had dropped it once, and it had shrunk thereby in the eyes of the pawnshop man, though not in ours. The only other valuable we had along with us was my grandmother's wedding present to me, which had been my grandfather's wedding present to her—a glorious old-fashioned breast-pin. We were allowed fifty dollars on it, which saved the day. What will my grandmother say when she knows that her bridal gift resided for some days in a Boston pawnshop?
We moved out to Cambridge in due time, and settled at Bromley Court, on the very edge of the Yard. We thrilled to all of it—we drank in every ounce of dignity and tradition the place afforded, and our wild Western souls exulted. We knew no one when we reached Boston, but our first Sunday we were invited to dinner in Cambridge by two people who were, ever after, our cordial, faithful friends—Mr. and Mrs. John Graham Brooks. They made us feel at once that Cambridge was not the socially icy place it is painted in song and story. Then I remember the afternoon that I had a week's wash strung on an improvised line back and forth from one end of our apartment to the other. Just as I hung the last damp garment, the bell rang, and there stood an immaculate gentleman in a cutaway and silk hat, who had come to call—an old friend of my mother's. He ducked under wet clothes, and we set two chairs where we could see each other, and yet nothing was dripping down either of our necks; and there we conversed, and he ended by inviting us both to dinner—on Marlborough Street, at that! He must have loved my mother very dearly to have sought further acquaintance with folk who hung the family wash in the hall and the living-room and dining-room. His house on Marlborough Street! We boldly and excitedly figured up on the way home, that they spent on the one meal they fed us more than it cost us to live for two weeks—they honestly did.
Then there was the dear "Jello" lady at the market. I wish she would somehow happen to read this, so as to know that we have never forgotten her. Every Saturday the three of us went to the market, and there was the Jello lady with her samples. The helpings she dished for us each time! She brought the man to whom she was engaged to call on us just before we left. I wonder if they got married, and where they are, and if she still remembers us. She used to say she just waited for Saturdays and our coming. Then there was dear Granny Jones, who kept a boarding-house half a block away. I do not remember how we came to know her, but some good angel saw to it. She used to send around little bowls of luscious dessert, and half a pie, or some hot muffins. Then I was always grateful also—for it made such a good story, and it was true—to the New England wife of a fellow graduate student who remarked, when I told her we had one baby and another on the way, "How interesting—just like the slums!"
We did our own work, of course, and we lived on next to nothing. I wonder now how we kept so well that year. Of course, we fed the baby everything he should have,—according to Holt in those days,—and we ate the mutton left from his broth and the beef after the juice had been squeezed out of it for him, and bought storage eggs ourselves, and queer butter out of a barrel, and were absolutely, absolutely blissful. Perhaps we should have spent more on food and less on baseball. I am glad we did not. Almost every Saturday afternoon that first semester we fared forth early, Nandy in his go-cart, to get a seat in the front row of the baseball grandstand. I remember one Saturday we were late, front seats all taken. We had to pack baby and go-cart more than half-way up to the top. There we barricaded him, still in the go-cart, in the middle of the aisle. Along about the seventh inning, the game waxed particularly exciting—we were beside ourselves with enthusiasm. Fellow onlookers seemed even more excited—they called out things—they seemed to be calling in our direction. Fine parents we were—there was Nandy, go-cart and all, bumpety-bumping down the grandstand steps.
I remember again the Stadium on the day of the big track meet. Every time the official announcer would put the megaphone to his mouth, to call out winners and time to a hushed and eager throng, Nandy, not yet a year old, would begin to squeal at the top of his lungs for joy. Nobody could hear a word the official said. We were as distressed as any one—we, too, had pencils poised to jot down records.
Carl studied very hard. The first few weeks, until we got used to the new wonder of things, he used to run home from college whenever he had a spare minute, just to be sure he was that near. At that time he was rather preparing to go into Transportation as his main economic subject. But by the end of the year he knew Labor would be his love. (His first published economic article was a short one that appeared in the "Quarterly Journal of Economics" for May, 1910, on "The Decline of Trade-Union Membership.") We had a tragic summer.
Carl felt that he must take his Master's degree, but he had no foreign language. Three terrible, wicked, unforgivable professors assured him that, if he could be in Germany six weeks during summer vacation, he could get enough German to pass the examination for the A.M. We believed them, and he went; though of all the partings we ever had, that was the very worst. Almost at the last he just could not go; but we were so sure that it would solve the whole A.M. problem. He went third class on a German steamer, since we had money for nothing better. The food did distress even his unfinicky soul. After a particularly sad offering of salt herring, uncooked, on a particularly rough day, he wrote, "I find I am not a good Hamburger German. The latter eat all things in all weather."
Oh, the misery of that summer! We never talked about it much. He went to Freiburg, to a German cobbler's family, but later changed, as the cobbler's son looked upon him as a dispensation of Providence, sent to practise his English upon. His heart was breaking, and mine was breaking, and he was working at German (and languages came fearfully hard for him) morning, afternoon, and night, with two lessons a day, his only diversion being a daily walk up a hill, with a cake of soap and a towel, to a secluded waterfall he discovered. He wrote a letter and a postcard a day to the babe and me. I have just re-read all of them, and my heart aches afresh for the homesickness that summer meant to both of us.
He got back two days before our wedding anniversary—days like those first few after our reunion are not given to many mortals. I would say no one had ever tasted such joy. The baby gurgled about, and was kissed within an inch of his life. The Jello lady sent around a dessert of sixteen different colors, more or less, big enough for a family of eight, as her welcome home.
About six weeks later we called our beloved Dr. J—— from a banquet he had long looked forward to, in order to officiate at the birth of our second, known as Thomas-Elizabeth up to October 17, but from about ten-thirty that night as James Stratton Parker. We named him after my grandfather, for the simple reason that we liked the name Jim. How we chuckled when my father's congratulatory telegram came, in which he claimed pleasure at having the boy named after his father, but cautioned us never to allow him to be nicknamed. I remember the boresome youth who used to call, week in week out,—always just before a meal,—and we were so hard up, and got so that we resented feeding such an impossible person so many times. He dropped in at noon Friday the 17th, for lunch. A few days later Carl met him on the street and announced rapturously the arrival of the new son. The impossible person hemmed and stammered: "Why—er—when did it arrive?" Carl, all beams, replied, "The very evening of the day you were at our house for lunch!" We never laid eyes on that man again! We were almost four months longer in Cambridge, but never did he step foot inside our apartment. I wish some one could have psycho-analyzed him, but it's too late now. He died about a year after we left Cambridge. I always felt that he never got over the shock of having escaped Jim's arrival by such a narrow margin.
And right here I must tell of Dr. J——. He was recommended as the best doctor in Cambridge, but very expensive. "We may have to economize in everything on earth," said Carl, "but we'll never economize on doctors." So we had Dr. J——, had him for all the minor upsets that families need doctors for; had him when Jim was born; had him through a queer fever Nandy developed that lasted some time; had him through a bad case of grippe I got (this was at Christmastime, and Carl took care of both babies, did all the cooking, even to the Christmas turkey I was well enough to eat by then, got up every two hours for three nights to change an ice-pack I had to have—that's the kind of man he was!); had him vaccinate both children; and then, just before we left Cambridge, we sat and held his bill, afraid to open the envelope. At length we gathered our courage, and gazed upon charges of sixty-five dollars for everything, with a wonderful note which said that, if we would be inconvenienced in paying that, he would not mind at all if he got nothing.
Such excitement! We had expected two hundred dollars at the least! We tore out and bought ten cents' worth of doughnuts, to celebrate. When we exclaimed to him over his goodness,—of course we paid the sixty-five dollars,—all he said was: "Do you think a doctor is blind? And does a man go steerage to Europe if he has a lot of money in the bank?" Bless that doctor's heart! Bless all doctors' hearts! We went through our married life in the days of our financial slimness, with kindness shown us by every doctor we ever had. I remember our Heidelberg German doctor sent us a bill for a year of a dollar and a half. And even in our more prosperous days, at Carl's last illness, with that good Seattle doctor calling day and night, and caring for me after Carl's death, he refused to send any bill for anything. And a little later, when I paid a long overdue bill to our blessed Oakland doctor for a tonsil operation, he sent the check back torn in two. Bless doctors!
When we left for Harvard, we had an idea that perhaps one year of graduate work would be sufficient. Naturally, about two months was enough to show us that one year would get us nowhere. Could we finance an added year at, perhaps, Wisconsin? And then, in November, Professor Miller of Berkeley called to talk things over with Carl. Anon he remarked, more or less casually, "The thing for you to do is to have a year's study in Germany," and proceeded to enlarge on that idea. We sat dumb, and the minute the door was closed after him, we flopped. "What was the man thinking of—to suggest a year in Germany, when we have no money and two babies, one not a year and a half, and one six weeks old!" Preposterous!
That was Saturday afternoon. By Monday morning we had decided we would go! Thereupon we wrote West to finance the plan, and got beautifully sat upon for our "notions." If we needed money, we had better give up this whole fool University idea and get a decent man-sized job. And then we wrote my father,—or, rather, I wrote him without telling Carl till after the letter was mailed,—and bless his heart! he replied with a fat God-bless-you-my-children registered letter, with check enclosed, agreeing to my stipulation that it should be a six-per-cent business affair. Suppose we could not have raised that money—suppose our lives had been minus that German experience! Bless fathers! They may scold and fuss at romance, and have "good sensible ideas of their own" on such matters, but—bless fathers!
We finished our year at Harvard, giving up the A.M. idea for the present. Carl got A's in every subject and was asked to take a teaching fellowship under Ripley; but it was Europe for us. We set forth February 22, 1909, in a big snowstorm, with two babies, and one thousand six hundred and seventy-six bundles, bags, and presents. Jim was in one of those fur-bags that babies use in the East. Everything we were about to forget the last minute got shoved into that bag with Jim, and it surely began to look as if we had brought a young and very lumpy mastodon into the world!
We went by boat from Boston to New York, and sailed on the Pennsylvania February 24. People wrote us in those days: "You two brave people—think of starting to Europe with two babies!" Brave was the last word to use. Had we worried or had fears over anything, and yet fared forth, we should perhaps have been brave. As it was, I can feel again the sensation of leaving New York, gazing back on the city buildings and bridges bathed in sunshine after the storm. Exultant joy was in our hearts, that was all. Not one worry, not one concern, not one small drop of homesickness. We were to see Europe together, year before we had dreamed it possible. It just seemed too glorious to be true. "Brave"? Far from it. Simply eager, glowing, filled to the brim with a determination to drain every day to the full.
I discovered that, while my husband had married a female who could not cook rice (though she learned), I had taken unto myself a spouse who curled up green half a day out on the ocean, and stayed that way for about six days. He tried so desperately to help with the babies, but it always made matters worse. If I had turned green, too—But babies and I prospered without interruption, though some ants did try to eat Jim's scalp off one night—"sugar ants" the doctor called them. "They knew their business," our dad remarked. We were three days late getting into Hamburg—fourteen days on the ocean, all told. And then to be in Hamburg in Germany—in Europe! I remember our first meal in the queer little cheap hotel we rooted out. "Eier" was the only word on the bill of fare we could make out, so Carl brushed up his German and ordered four for us, fried. And the waiter brought four each. He probably declared for years that all Americans always eat four fried eggs each and every night for supper.
We headed for Leipzig at once, and there Carl unearthed the Pension Schroeter on Sophien Platz. There we had two rooms and all the food we could eat,—far too much for us to eat, and oh! so delicious,—for fifty-five dollars a month for the entire family, although Jim hardly ranked as yet, economically speaking, as part of the consuming public. We drained Leipzig to the dregs—a good German idiom. Carl worked at his German steadily, almost frantically, with a lesson every day along with all his university work—a seven o'clock lecture by Buecher every morning being the cheery start for the day, and we blocks and blocks from the University. I think of Carl through those days with extra pride, though it is hard to decide that I was ever prouder of him at one time than another. But he strained and labored without ceasing at such an uninspiring job. All his hard study that broken-hearted summer at Freiburg had given him no single word of an economic vocabulary. In Leipzig he listened hour by hour to the lectures of his German professors, sometimes not understanding an important word for several days, yet exerting every intellectual muscle to get some light in his darkness. Then, for, hours each day and almost every evening, it was grammar, grammar, grammar, till he wondered at times if all life meant an understanding of the subjunctive. Then, little by little, rays of hope. "I caught five words in ——'s lecture to-day!" Then it was ten, then twenty. Never a lecture of any day did he miss.
We stole moments for joy along the way. First, of course, there was the opera—grand opera at twenty-five cents a seat. How Wagner bored us at first—except the parts here and there that we had known all our lives. Neither of us had had any musical education to speak of; each of us got great joy out of what we considered "good" music, but which was evidently low-brow. And Wagner at first was too much for us. That night in Leipzig we heard the "Walkuere!"—utterly aghast and rather impatient at so much non-understandable noise. Then we would drop down to "Carmen," "La Boheme," Hoffman's "Erzaeblung," and think, "This is life!" Each night that we spared for a spree we sought out some beer-hall—as unfrequented a one as possible, to get all the local color we could.
Once Carl decided that, as long as we had come so far, I must get a glimpse of real European night-life—it might startle me a bit, but would do no harm. So, after due deliberation, he led me to the Cafe Bauer, the reputed wild and questionable resort of Leipzig night-life, though the pension glanced ceiling-wards and sighed and shook their heads. I do not know just what I did expect to see, but I know that what I saw was countless stolid family parties—on all sides grandmas and grandpas and sons and daughters, and the babies in high chairs beating the tables with spoons. It was quite the most moral atmosphere we ever found ourselves in. That is what you get for deliberately setting out to see the wickedness of the world!
From Leipzig we went to Berlin. We did not want to go to Berlin—Jena was the spot we had in mind. Just as a few months at Harvard showed us that one year there would be but a mere start, so one semester in Germany showed us that one year there would get us nowhere. We must stay longer,—from one to two years longer,—but how, alas, how finance it? That eternal question! We finally decided that, if we took the next semester or so in Berlin, Carl could earn money enough coaching to keep us going without having to borrow more. So to Berlin we went. We accomplished our financial purpose, but at too great a cost.
In Berlin we found a small furnished apartment on the ground floor of a Gartenhaus in Charlottenburg—Mommsen Strasse it was. At once Carl started out to find coaching; and how he found it always seemed to me an illustration of the way he could succeed at anything anywhere. We knew no one in Berlin. First he went to the minister of the American church; he in turn gave him names of Americans who might want coaching, and then Carl looked up those people. In about two months he had all the coaching he could possibly handle, and we could have stayed indefinitely in Berlin in comfort, for Carl was making over one hundred dollars a month, and that in his spare time.
But the agony of those months: to be in Germany and yet get so little Germany out of it! We had splendid letters of introduction to German people, from German friends we had made in Leipzig, but we could not find a chance even to present them. Carl coached three youngsters in the three R's; he was preparing two of the age just above, for college; he had one American youth, who had ambitions to burst out monthly in the "Saturday Evening Post" stories; there was a class of five middle-aged women, who wanted Shakespeare, and got it; two classes in Current Events; one group of Christian Scientists, who put in a modest demand for the history of the world. I remember Carl had led them up to Pepin the Short when we left Berlin. He contracted everything and anything except one group who desired a course of lectures in Pragmatism. I do not think he had ever heard of the term then, but he took one look at the lay of the land and said—not so! In his last years, when he became such a worshiper at the shrine of William James and John Dewey, we often used to laugh at his Berlin profanity over the very idea of ever getting a word of such "bunk" into his head.
But think of the strain it all meant—lessons and lessons every day, on every subject under heaven, and in every spare minute continued grinding at his German, and, of course, every day numerous hours at the University, and so little time for sprees together. We assumed in our prosperity the luxury of a maid—the unparalleled Anna Bederke aus Rothenburg, Kreis Bumps (?), Posen, at four dollars a month, who for a year and a half was the amusement and desperation of ourselves and our friends. Dear, crooked-nosed, one-good-eye Anna! She adored the ground we walked on. Our German friends told us we had ruined her forever—she would never be fit for the discipline of a German household again. Since war was first declared we have lost all track of Anna. Was her Poland home in the devastated country? Did she marry a soldier, and is she too, perhaps, a widow? Faithful Anna, do not think for one minute you will ever be forgotten by the Parkers.
With Anna to leave the young with now and then, I was able to get in two sprees a week with Carl. Every Wednesday and Saturday noon I met him at the University and we had lunch together. Usually on Wednesdays we ate at the Cafe Rheingold, the spot I think of with most affection as I look back on Berlin.
We used to eat in the "Shell Room"—an individual chicken-and-rice pie (as much chicken as rice), a vegetable, and a glass of beer each, for thirty-five cents for both. Saturdays we hunted for different smaller out-of-the-way restaurants. Wednesday nights "Uncle K." of the University of Wisconsin always came to supper, bringing a thirty-five-cent rebate his landlady allowed him when he ate out; and we had chicken every Wednesday night, which cost—a fat one—never more than fifty cents. (It was Uncle K. who wrote, "The world is so different with Carl gone!") Once we rented bicycles and rode all through the Tiergarten, Carl and I, with the expected stiffness and soreness next day.
Then there was Christmas in Berlin. Three friends traveled up from Rome to be with us, two students came from Leipzig, and four from Berlin—eleven for dinner, and four chairs all told. It was a regular "La Boheme" festival—one guest appearing with a bottle of wine under his arm, another with a jar of caviare sent him from Russia. We had a gay week of it after Christmas, when the whole eleven of us went on some Dutch-treat spree every night, before going back to our studies.
Then came those last grueling months in Berlin, when Carl had a breakdown, and I got sick nursing him and had to go to a German hospital; and while I was there Jim was threatened with pneumonia and Nandy got tonsillitis. In the midst of it all the lease expired on our Wohnung, and Carl and Anna had to move the family out. We decided that we had had all we wanted of coaching in Berlin,—we came to that conclusion before any of the breakdowns,—threw our pride to the winds, borrowed more money from my good father, and as soon as the family was well enough to travel, we made for our ever-to-be-adored Heidelberg.
Here I sit back, and words fail me. I see that year as a kaleidoscope of one joyful day after another, each rushing by and leaving the memory that we both always had, of the most perfect year that was ever given to mortals on earth. I remember our eighth wedding anniversary in Berkeley. We had been going night after night until we were tired of going anywhere,—engagements seemed to have heaped up,—so we decided that the very happiest way we could celebrate that most-to-be-celebrated of all dates was just to stay at home, plug the telephone, pull down the blinds, and have an evening by ourselves. Then we got out everything that we kept as mementos of our European days, and went over them—all the postcards, memory-books, theatre and opera programmes, etc., and, lastly, read my diary—I had kept a record of every day in Europe. When we came to that year in Heidelberg, we just could not believe our own eyes. How had we ever managed to pack a year so full, and live to tell the tale? I wish I could write a story of just that year. We swore an oath in Berlin that we would make Heidelberg mean Germany to us—no English-speaking, no Americans. As far as it lay in our power, we lived up to it. Carl and I spoke only German to each other and to the children, and we shunned our fellow countrymen as if they had had the plague. And Carl, in the characteristic way he had, set out to fill our lives with all the real German life we could get into them, not waiting for that life to come of itself—which it might never have done.
One afternoon, on his way home from the University, he discovered in a back alley the Weiser Boch, a little restaurant and beer-hall so full of local color that it "hollered." No, it did not holler: it was too real for that. It was sombre and carved up—it whispered. Carl made immediate friends, in the way he had, with the portly Frau and Herr who ran the Weiser Boch: they desired to meet me, they desired to see the Kinder, and would not the Herr Student like to have the Weiser Boch lady mention his name to some of the German students who dropped in? Carl left his card, and wondered if anything would come of it.
The very next afternoon,—such a glowing account of the Amerikaner the Weiser Boch lady must have given,—a real truly German student, in his corps cap and ribbons, called at our home—the stiffest, most decorous heel-clicking German student I ever was to see. His embarrassment was great when he discovered that Carl was out, and I seemed to take it quite for granted that he was to sit down for a moment and visit with me. He fell over everything. But we visited, and I was able to gather that his corps wished Herr Student Par-r-r-ker to have beer with them the following evening. Then he bowed himself backwards and out, and fled.
I could scarce wait for Carl to get home—it was too good to be true. And that was but the beginning. Invitation after invitation came to Carl, first from one corps, then from another; almost every Saturday night he saw German student-life first hand somewhere, and at least one day a week he was invited to the duels in the Hirsch Gasse. Little by little we got the students to our Wohnung; then we got chummier and chummier, till we would walk up Haupt Strasse saluting here, passing a word there, invited to some student function one night, another affair another night. The students who lived in Heidelberg had us meet their families, and those who were batching in Heidelberg often had us come to their rooms. We made friendships during that year that nothing could ever mar.
It is two years now since we received the last letter from any Heidelberg chum. Are they all killed, perhaps? And when we can communicate again, after the war, think of what I must write them! Carl was a revelation to most of them—they would talk about him to me, and ask if all Americans were like him, so fresh in spirit, so clean, so sincere, so full of fun, and, with it all, doing the finest work of all of them but one in the University.
The economics students tried to think of some way of influencing Alfred Weber to give another course of lectures at the University. He was in retirement at Heidelberg, but still the adored of the students. Finally, they decided that a committee of three should represent them and make a personal appeal. Carl was one of the three chosen. The report soon flew around, how, in Weber's august presence, the Amerikaner had stood with his hands in his pockets—even sat for a few moments on the edge of Weber's desk. The two Germans, posed like ramrods, expected to see such informality shoved out bodily. Instead, when they took their leave, the Herr Professor had actually patted the Amerikaner on the shoulder, and said he guessed he would give the lectures.
Then his report in Gothein's Seminar, which went so well that I fairly burst with pride. He had worked day and night on that. I was to meet him at eight after it had been given, and we were to have a celebration. I was standing by the entrance to the University building when out came an enthused group of jabbering German students, Carl in their midst. They were patting him on the back, shaking his hands furiously; and when they saw me, they rushed to tell me of Carl's success and how Gothein had said before all that it had been the best paper presented that semester.
I find myself smiling as I write this—I was too happy that night to eat.
The Sunday trips we made up the Neckar: each morning early we would take the train and ride to where we had walked the Sunday previous; then we would tramp as far as we could,—meaning until dark,—have lunch at some untouristed inn along the road, or perhaps eat a picnic lunch of our own in some old castle ruin, and then ride home. Oh, those Sundays! I tell you no two people in all this world, since people were, have ever had one day like those Sundays. And we had them almost every week. It would have been worth going to Germany for just one of those days.
There was the gay, glad party that the Economic students gave, out in Handschusheim at the "zum Bachlenz"; first, the banquet, with a big roomful of jovial young Germans; then the play, in which Carl and I both took part. Carl appeared in a mixture of his Idaho outfit and a German peasant's costume, beating a large drum. He represented "Materialindex," and called out loudly, "Ich bitte mich nicht zu vergessen. Ich bin auch da." I was "Methode," which nobody wanted to claim; whereat I wept. I am looking at the flashlight picture of us all at this moment. Then came the dancing, and then at about four o'clock the walk home in the moonlight, by the old castle ruin in Handschusheim, singing the German student-songs.
There was Carnival season, with its masque balls and frivolity, and Faschings Dienstag, when Hauptstrasse was given over to merriment all afternoon, every one trailing up and down the middle of the street masked, and in fantastic costume, throwing confetti and tooting horns, Carl and I tooting with the rest.
As time went on, we came to have one little group of nine students whom we were with more than any others. As each of the men took his degree, he gave a party to the rest of us to celebrate it, every one trying to outdo the other in fun. Besides these most important degree celebrations, there were less dazzling affairs, such as birthday parties, dinners, or afternoon coffee in honor of visiting German parents, or merely meeting together in our favorite cafe after a Socialist lecture or a Max Reger concert. In addition to such functions, Carl and I had our Wednesday night spree just by ourselves, when every week we met after his seminar. Our budget allowed just twelve and a half cents an evening for both of us. I put up a supper at home, and in good weather we ate down by the river or in some park. When it rained and was cold, we sat in a corner of the third-class waiting-room by the stove, watching the people coming and going in the station. Then, for dessert, we went every Wednesday to Tante's Conditorei, where, for two and a half cents apiece, we got a large slice of a special brand of the most divine cake ever baked. Then, for two and a half cents, we saw the movies—at a reduced rate because we presented a certain number of street-car transfers along with the cash, and then had to sit in the first three rows. But you see, we used to remark, we have to sit so far away at the opera, it's good to get up close at something! Those were real movies—no danger of running into a night-long Robert W. Chambers scenario. It was in the days before such developments. Then across the street was an "Automat," and there, for a cent and a quarter apiece, we could hold a glass under a little spigot, press a button, and get—refreshments. Then we walked home.
O Heidelberg—I love your every tree, every stone, every blade of grass!
But at last our year came to an end. We left the town in a bower of fruit-blossoms, as we had found it. Our dear, most faithful friends, the Kecks, gave us a farewell luncheon; and with babies, bundles, and baggage, we were off.
Heidelberg was the only spot I ever wept at leaving. I loved it then, and I love it now, as I love no other place on earth and Carl felt the same way. We were mournful, indeed, as that train pulled out.
The next two weeks were filled with vicissitudes. The idea was for Carl to settle the little family in some rural bit of Germany, while he did research work in the industrial section of Essen, and thereabouts, coming home week-ends. We stopped off first at Bonn. Carl spent several days searching up and down the Rhine and through the Moselle country for a place that would do, which meant a place we could afford that was fit and suitable for the babies. There was nothing. The report always was: pensions all expensive, and automobiles touring by at a mile a minute where the children would be playing.
On a wild impulse we moved up to Clive, on the Dutch border. After Carl went in search of a pension, it started to drizzle. The boys, baggage, and I found the only nearby place of shelter in a stone-cutter's inclosure, filled with new and ornate tombstones. What was my impecunious horror, when I heard a small crash and discovered that Jim had dislocated a loose figure of Christ (unconsciously Cubist in execution) from the top of a tombstone! Eight marks charges! the cost of sixteen Heidelberg sprees. On his return, Carl reported two pensions, one quarantined for diphtheria, one for scarlet fever. We slept over a beer-hall, with such a racket going on all night as never was; and next morning took the first train out—this time for Duesseldorf.
It is a trifle momentous, traveling with two babies around a country you know nothing about, and can find no one to enlighten you. At Duesseldorf Carl searched through the town and suburbs for a spot to settle us in, getting more and more depressed at the thought of leaving us anywhere. That Freiburg summer had seared us both deep, and each of us dreaded another separation more than either let the other know. And then, one night, after another fruitless search, Carl came home and informed me that the whole scheme was off. Instead of doing his research work, we would all go to Munich, and he would take an unexpected semester there, working with Brentano.
What rejoicings, oh, what rejoicings! As Carl remarked, it may be that "He travels fastest who travels alone"; but speed was not the only thing he was after. So the next day, babies, bundles, baggage, and parents went down the Rhine, almost through Heidelberg, to Munich, with such joy and contentment in our hearts as we could not describe. All those days of unhappy searchings Carl had been through must have sunk deep, for in his last days of fever he would tell me of a form of delirium in which he searched again, with a heart of lead, for a place to leave the babies and me.
I remember our first night in Munich. We arrived about supper-time, hunted up a cheap hotel as usual, near the station, fed the babies, and started to prepare for their retirement. This process in hotels was always effected by taking out two bureau-drawers and making a bed of each. While we were busy over this, the boys were busy over—just busy. This time they both crawled up into a large clothes-press that stood in our room, when, crash! bang!—there lay the clothes-press, front down, on the floor, boys inside it. Such a commotion—hollerings and squallings from the internals of the clothes-press, agitated scurryings from all directions of the hotel-keeper, his wife, waiters, and chambermaids. All together, we managed to stand the clothes-press once more against the wall, and to extricate two sobered young ones, the only damage being two clothes-press doors banged off their hinges.
Munich is second in my heart to Heidelberg. Carl worked hardest of all there, hardly ever going out nights; but we never got over the feeling that our being there together was a sort of gift we had made ourselves, and we were ever grateful. And then Carl did so remarkably well in the University. A report, for instance, which he read before Brentano's seminar was published by the University. Our relations' with Brentano always stood out as one of the high memories of Germany. After Carl's report in Brentano's class, that lovable idol of the German students called him to his desk and had a long talk, which ended by his asking us both to tea at his house the following day. The excitement of our pension over that! We were looked upon as the anointed of the Lord. We were really a bit overawed, ourselves. We discussed neckties, and brushed and cleaned, and smelled considerably of gasoline as we strutted forth, too proud to tell, because we were to have tea with Brentano! I can see the street their house was on, their front door; I can feel again the little catch in our breaths as we rang the bell. Then the charming warmth and color of that Italian home, the charming warmth and hospitality of that white-haired professor and his gracious, kindly wife. There were just ourselves there; and what a momentous time it was to the little Parkers! Carl was simply radiating joy, and in the way he always had when especially pleased, would give a sudden beam from ear to ear, and a wink at me when no one else was looking.
Not long after that we were invited for dinner, and again for tea, this time, according to orders, bringing the sons. They both fell into an Italian fountain in the rear garden as soon as we went in for refreshments. By my desk now is hanging a photograph we have prized as one of our great treasures. Below it is written: "Mrs. and Mr. Parker, zur freundlichen Erinnerrung—Lujio Brentano." Professor Bonn, another of Carl's professors at the University, and his wife, were kindness itself to us. Then there was Peter, dear old Peter, the Austrian student at our pension, who took us everywhere, brought us gifts, and adored the babies until he almost spoiled them.
From Munich we went direct to England. Vicissitudes again in finding a cheap and fit place that would do for children to settle in. After ever-hopeful wanderings, we finally stumbled upon Swanage in Dorset. That was a love of a place on the English Channel, where we had two rooms with the Mebers in their funny little brick house, the "Netto." Simple folk they were: Mr. Meber a retired sailor, the wife rather worn with constant roomers, one daughter a dressmaker, the other working in the "knittin" shop. Charges, six dollars a week for the family, which included cooking and serving our meals—we bought the food ourselves.
Here Carl prepared for his Ph.D. examination, and worked on his thesis until it got to the point where he needed the British Museum. Then he took a room and worked during the week in London, coming down to us week-ends. He wrote eager letters, for the time had come when he longed to get the preparatory work and examination behind him and begin teaching. We had an instructorship at the University of California waiting for us, and teaching was to begin in January. In one letter he wrote: "I now feel like landing on my exam, like a Bulgarian; I am that fierce to lay it out." We felt more than ever, in those days of work piling up behind us, that we owned the world; as Carl wrote in another letter: "We'll stick this out [this being the separation of his last trip to London, whence he was to start for Heidelberg and his examination, without another visit with us], for, Gott sei dank! the time isn't so fearful, fearful long, it isn't really, is it? Gee! I'm glad I married you. And I want more babies and more you, and then the whole gang together for about ninety-two years. But life is so fine to us and we are getting so much love and big things out of life!"
November 1 Carl left London for Heidelberg. He was to take his examination there December 5, so the month of November was a full one for him. He stayed with the dear Kecks, Mother Keck pressing and mending his clothes, hovering over him as if he were her own son. He wrote once: "To-day we had a small leg of venison which I sneaked in last night. Every time I note that I burn three quarters of a lampful of oil a day among the other things I cost them, it makes me feel like buying out a whole Conditorei."
I lived for those daily letters telling of his progress. Once he wrote: "Just saw Fleiner [Professor in Law] and he was fine, but I must get his Volkerrecht cold. It is fine reading, and is mighty good and interesting every word, and also stuff which a man ought to know. This is the last man to see. From now on, it is only to study, and I am tickled. I do really like to study." A few days later he wrote: "It is just plain sit and absorb these days. Some day I will explain how tough it is to learn an entire law subject in five days in a strange tongue."
And then, on the night of December 5, came the telegram of success to "Frau Dr. Parker." We both knew he would pass, but neither of us was prepared for the verdict of "Summa cum laude," the highest accomplishment possible. I went up and down the main street of little Swanage, announcing the tidings right and left. The community all knew that Carl was in Germany to take some kind of an examination, though it all seemed rather unexplainable. Yet they rejoiced with me,—the butcher, the baker, the candlestick-maker,—without having the least idea what they were rejoicing about. Mrs. Meber tore up and down Osborne Road to have the fun of telling the immediate neighbors, all of whom were utterly at a loss to know what it meant, the truth being that Mrs. Meber herself was in that same state. But she had somehow caught my excitement, and anything to tell was scarce in Swanage.
So the little family that fared forth from Oakland, California, that February 1, for one year at Harvard had ended thus—almost four years later a Ph.D. summa cum laude from Heidelberg. Not Persia as we had planned it nine years before—a deeper, finer life than anything we had dreamed. We asked Professor Miller, after we got back to California, why in the world he had said just "one year in Europe."
"If I had said more, I was afraid it would scare you altogether out of ever starting; and I knew if you once got over there and were made of the right stuff, you'd stay on for a Ph.D."
On December 12 Carl was to deliver one of a series of lectures in Munich for the Handelshochschule, his subject being "Die Einwanderungs und Siedelungspolitik in Amerika (Carleton Parker, Privatdocent, California-Universitaet, St. Francisco)." That very day, however, the Prince Regent died, and everything was called off. We had our glory—and got our pay. Carl was so tired from his examination, that he did not object to foregoing the delivery of a German address before an audience of four hundred. It was read two weeks later by one of the professors.
On December 15 we had our reunion and celebration of it all. Carl took the Amerika, second class, at Hamburg; the boys and I at Southampton, ushered thither from Swanage and put aboard the steamer by our faithful Onkel Keck, son of the folk with whom Carl had stayed in Heidelberg, who came all the way from London for that purpose. It was not such a brash Herr Doktor that we found, after all: the Channel had begun to tell on him, as it were, and while it was plain that he loved us, it was also plain that he did not love the water. So we gave him his six days off, and he lay anguish-eyed in a steamer-chair while I covered fifty-seven miles a day, tearing after two sons who were far more filled with Wanderlust than they had been three years before. When our dad did feel chipper again, he felt very chipper, and our last four days were perfect.
We landed in New York on Christmas Eve, in a snowstorm; paid the crushing sum of one dollar and seventy-five cents duty,—such a jovial agent as inspected our belongings I never beheld; he must already have had just the Christmas present he most wanted, whatever it was. When he heard that we had been in Heidelberg, he and several other officials began a lusty rendering of "Old Heidelberg,"—and within an hour we were speeding toward California, a case of certified milk added to our already innumerable articles of luggage. Christmas dinner we ate on the train. How those American dining-car prices floored us after three years of all we could eat for thirty-five cents!
We looked back always on our first semester's teaching in the University of California as one hectic term. We had lived our own lives, found our own joys, for four years, and here we were enveloped by old friends, by relatives, by new friends, until we knew not which way to turn. In addition, Carl was swamped by campus affairs—by students, many of whom seemed to consider him an oasis in a desert of otherwise-to-be-deplored, unhuman professors. Every student organization to which he had belonged as an undergraduate opened its arms to welcome him as a faculty member; we chaperoned student parties till we heard rag-time in our sleep. From January 1 to May 16, we had four nights alone together. You can know we were desperate. Carl used to say: "We may have to make it Persia yet."
The red-letter event of that term was when, after about two months of teaching, President Wheeler rang up one evening about seven,—one of the four evenings, as it happened, we were at home together,—and said: "I thought I should like the pleasure of telling you personally, though you will receive official notice in the morning, that you have been made an assistant professor. We expected you to make good, but we did not expect you to make good to such a degree quite so soon."
Again an occasion for a spree! We tore out hatless across the campus, nearly demolishing the head of the College of Commerce as we rounded the Library. He must know the excitement. He was pleased. He slipped his hand into his pocket saying, "I must have a hand in this celebration." And with a royal gesture, as who should say, "What matter the costs!" slipped a dime into Carl's hand. "Spend it all to-night."
Thus we were started on our assistant professorship. But always before and always after, to the students Carl was just "Doc."
I remember a story he told of how his chief stopped him one afternoon at the north gate to the university, and said he was discouraged and distressed. Carl was getting the reputation of being popular with the students, and that would never do. "I don't wish to hear more of such rumors." Just then the remnants of the internals of a Ford, hung together with picture wire and painted white, whizzed around the corner. Two slouching, hard-working "studes" caught sight of Carl, reared up the car, and called, "Hi, Doc, come on in!" Then they beheld the Head of the Department, hastily pressed some lever, and went hurrying on. To the Head it was evidence first-hand. He shook his head and went his way.
Carl was popular with the students, and it is true that he was too much so. It was not long before he discovered that he was drawing unto himself the all-too-lightly-handled "college bum," and he rebelled. Harvard and Germany had given him too high an idea of scholarship to have even a traditional university patience with the student who, in the University of California jargon, was "looking for a meal." He was petitioned by twelve students of the College of Agriculture to give a course in the Economics of Agriculture, and they guaranteed him twenty-five students. One hundred and thirty enrolled, and as Carl surveyed the assortment below him, he realized that a good half of them did not know and did not want to know a pear tree from a tractor. He stiffened his upper lip, stiffened his examinations, and cinched forty of the class. There should be some Latin saying that would just fit such a case, but I do not know it. It would start, "Exit ——," and the exit would refer to the exit of the loafer in large numbers from Carl's courses and the exit from the heart of the loafer of the absorbing love he had held for Carl. His troubles were largely over. Someone else could care for the maimed, the halt, and the blind.
It was about this time, too, that Carl got into difficulties with the intrenched powers on the campus. He had what has been referred to as "a passion for justice." Daily the injustice of campus organization grew on him; he saw democracy held high as an ideal—lip-homage only. Student affairs were run by an autocracy which had nothing to justify it except its supporters' claim of "efficiency." He had little love for that word—it is usually bought at too great a cost. That year, as usual, he had a small seminar of carefully picked students. He got them to open their eyes to conditions as they were. When they ceased to accept those conditions just because they were, they, too, felt the inequality, the farce, of a democratic institution run on such autocratic lines. After seminar hours the group would foregather at our house to plot as to ways and means. The editor of the campus daily saw their point of view—I am not sure now that he was not a member of the seminar.
A slow campaign of education followed. Intrenched powers became outraged. Fraternities that had invited Carl almost weekly to lunch, now "couldn't see him." One or two influential alumnae, who had something to gain from the established order, took up the fight. Soon we had a "warning" from one of the Regents that Carl's efforts on behalf of "democracy" were unwelcome. But within a year the entire organization of campus politics was altered, and now there probably is not a student who would not feel outraged at the suggestion of a return to the old system.
Perhaps here is where I can dwell for a moment on Carl's particular brand of democracy. I see so much of other kinds. He was what I should call an utterly unconscious democrat. He never framed in his own mind any theory of "the brotherhood of man"—he just lived it, without ever thinking of it as something that needed expression in words. I never heard him use the term. To him the Individual was everything—by that I mean that every relation he had was on a personal basis. He could not go into a shop to buy a necktie hurriedly, without passing a word with the clerk; when he paid his fare on the street car, there was a moment's conversation with the conductor; when we had ice-cream of an evening, he asked the waitress what was the best thing on in the movies. When we left Oakland for Harvard, the partially toothless maid we had sobbed that "Mr. Parker had been more like a brother to her!"
One of the phases of his death which struck home the hardest was the concern and sorrow the small tradespeople showed—the cobbler, the plumber, the drug-store clerk. You hear men say: "I often find it interesting to talk to working-people and get their view-point." Such an attitude was absolutely foreign to Carl. He talked to "working-people" because he talked to everybody as he went along his joyous way. At a track meet or football game, he was on intimate terms with every one within a conversational radius. Our wealthy friends would tell us he ruined their chauffeurs—they got so that they didn't know their places. As likely as not, he would jolt some constrained bank president by engaging him in genial conversation without an introduction; at a formal dinner he would, as a matter of course, have a word or two with the butler when he passed the cracked crab, although at times the butlers seemed somewhat pained thereby. Some of Carl's intimate friends were occasionally annoyed—"He talks to everybody." He no more could help talking to everybody than he could help—liking pumpkin-pie. He was born that way. He had one manner for every human being—President of the University, students, janitors, society women, cooks, small boys, judges. He never had any material thing to hand out,—not even cigars, for he did not smoke himself,—but, as one friend expressed it, "he radiated generosity."
Heidelberg gives one year after passing the examination to get the doctor's thesis in final form for publication. The subject of Carl's thesis was "The Labor Policy of the American Trust." His first summer vacation after our return to Berkeley, he went on to Wisconsin, chiefly to see Commons, and then to Chicago, to study the stockyards at first-hand, and the steel industry. He wrote: "Have just seen Commons, who was fine. He said: 'Send me as soon as possible the outline of your thesis and I will pass upon it according to my lights.' . . . He is very interested in one of my principal subdivisions, i.e. 'Technique and Unionism,' or 'Technique and Labor.' Believes it is a big new consideration." Again he wrote: "I have just finished working through a book on 'Immigration' by Professor Fairchild of Yale,—437 pages published three weeks ago,—lent me by Professor Ross. It is the very book I have been looking for and is superb. I can't get over how stimulating this looking in on a group of University men has been. It in itself is worth the trip. I feel sure of my field of work; that I am not going off in unfruitful directions; that I am keeping up with the wagon. I am now set on finishing my book right away—want it out within a year from December." From Chicago he wrote: "Am here with the reek of the stockyards in my nose, and just four blocks from them. Here lived, in this house, Upton Sinclair when he wrote 'The Jungle.'" And Mary McDowell, at the University Settlement where he was staying, told a friend of ours since Carl's death about how he came to the table that first night and no one paid much attention to him—just some young Westerner nosing about. But by the end of the meal he had the whole group leaning elbows on the table, listening to everything he had to say; and she added, "Every one of us loved him from then on."