The modern and luxurious Babbitt had never seen any one ring for a servant in a private house, except during meals. Himself, in hotels, had rung for bell-boys, but in the house you didn’t hurt Matilda’s feelings; you went out in the hall and shouted for her. Nor had he, since prohibition, known any one to be casual about drinking. It was extraordinary merely to sip his toddy and not cry, “Oh, maaaaan, this hits me right where I live!” And always, with the ecstasy of youth meeting greatness, he marveled, “That little fuzzy-face there, why, he could make me or break me! If he told my banker to call my loans—! Gosh! That quarter-sized squirt! And looking like he hadn’t got a single bit of hustle to him! I wonder—Do we Boosters throw too many fits about pep?”
From this thought he shuddered away, and listened devoutly to Eathorne’s ideas on the advancement of the Sunday School, which were very clear and very bad.
Diffidently Babbitt outlined his own suggestions:
“I think if you analyze the needs of the school, in fact, going right at it as if it was a merchandizing problem, of course the one basic and fundamental need is growth. I presume we’re all agreed we won’t be satisfied till we build up the biggest darn Sunday School in the whole state, so the Chatham Road Presbyterian won’t have to take anything off anybody. Now about jazzing up the campaign for prospects: they’ve already used contesting teams, and given prizes to the kids that bring in the most members. And they made a mistake there: the prizes were a lot of folderols and doodads like poetry books and illustrated Testaments, instead of something a real live kid would want to work for, like real cash or a speedometer for his motor cycle. Course I suppose it’s all fine and dandy to illustrate the lessons with these decorated book-marks and blackboard drawings and so on, but when it comes down to real he-hustling, getting out and drumming up customers—or members, I mean, why, you got to make it worth a fellow’s while.
“Now, I want to propose two stunts: First, divide the Sunday School into four armies, depending on age. Everybody gets a military rank in his own army according to how many members he brings in, and the duffers that lie down on us and don’t bring in any, they remain privates. The pastor and superintendent rank as generals. And everybody has got to give salutes and all the rest of that junk, just like a regular army, to make ’em feel it’s worth while to get rank.
“Then, second: Course the school has its advertising committee, but, Lord, nobody ever really works good—nobody works well just for the love of it. The thing to do is to be practical and up-to-date, and hire a real paid press-agent for the Sunday School-some newspaper fellow who can give part of his time.”
“Sure, you bet!” said Chum Frink.