There is one little incident


connected with my stay in this school that might be worth mentioning, as it shows how I met one of the greatest difficulties which a young man just entering school at my age has to meet. As I have said, I entered this school at the age of twenty-three in the low sixth grade. Those in my classes were children about twelve and thirteen years old. You can imagine how I felt, a big awkward young man twenty-three years old in classes composed mostly of little children from ten to twelve years younger. But my embarrassment was intensified when one day a little twelve-year-old girl made fun of the way I was trying to work an example in common fractions. I felt hurt; I closed my book and quietly walked to my seat. A cousin of mine was teaching the class. She caught the look on my face and saw that it was not that of rebellion, but that I was only hurt, embarrassed, and was trying to conquer. I shall never forget the kind look she gave me, as she said, “Will, you are excused, 102 if you wish to go.” Her remark was not only a rebuke to that member of the class, but it helped me to conquer. I took my books and went to my room resolved to show this little girl that, “He laughs best who laughs last.” And I did. When I started she was almost a grade in advance of me. But I finished one year ahead of her with honors while she hardly got through a year later.

I had been working heretofore during the summer vacation months that I might be able to return to school each winter. But as I was to teach the coming winter, I spent the summer studying at the North Texas State Normal, Denton, Texas. To do this, I now for the first time borrowed money, fifty dollars, from a friend of mine, a banker, who had once struggled for his education. He had been watching me and gladly came to my help and voluntarily offered all the money I needed. With this fifty dollars I was able to take the summer normal course. At the close of it I passed an examination for a state teacher’s certificate which entitled me to teach in any of the public schools in the State.

On returning home I was given the home school where four years before I had learned to figure and write, paying for my tuition with wood. The salary was forty dollars per month and the length of session was now six months. This seemed like a big salary to one who had never before received more than twelve dollars and fifty cents per month. But it was not the salary, it was the opportunity that I 103 now saw further to pursue my studies and to instill something of the same spirit and enthusiasm in others, that now meant so much to me.

I had once hoped for no more than the mere knowledge of how to read and write and figure, which this little district school had in former days given me. But with that knowledge had come a broader vision and the ability and opportunity to pursue that vision—that of getting a high school education. And now I had reached that goal, had gone to the state normal and held from the State a recognition of the right and ability to pursue this still greater vision of giving knowledge and to others, how could I ever wish or hope for more?

But it chanced that that very summer my rainbow again moved out just ahead of me. I attended a district Baptist association. Dr. S. P. Brooks, president of Baylor University, was there and made a speech on education. Here I heard how he had once been a section hand on a railroad. And now he was the president of a university, and with a great heart was telling me and others how we needed that college and how it really needed us as instruments through which to bless the world. Oh! That was almost another world’s message to me. My vision again broadened. The rainbow of my boyhood days again appeared.

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