“’At this moment Al turned and saw little Jimmy on the main track, throwing pebbles over his head in the sunshine, all unconscious of danger. Dashing his papers and cap on the platform he plunged to the rescue.
“’The train baggage man was the only eyewitness. He told me that when he saw Al jump toward Jimmy he thought sure both boys would be crushed. Seizing Jimmy in his arms just as the box car was about to strike them, young Edison threw himself off the track. There wasn’t a tenth of a second to lose. By this instinctive act he saved his own life, for if he had thrown the little chap first and then himself, he would have been crushed under the wheels.
“’As it was, the front wheel struck the heel of the newsboy’s boot and he and Jimmy fell, face downward on the sharp, fresh-gravel ballast so hard that they were both bleeding and the baggage man thought sure the wheel had gone over them. To his surprise their injuries proved to be only skin deep.
“’I was in the ticket office when I heard the shriek and ran out in time to see the train hands carrying the two boys to the platform. My first thought was: ’How can I, a poor man, reward the dear lad for risking his life to save my child’s?’ Then it came to me, ’I can teach him telegraphy.’ When I offered to do this, he smiled and said, ’I’d like to learn,’ and learn he did. I never saw any one pick it up so fast. It was a sort of second nature with him. After the conductor treated him so badly, throwing off his apparatus, boxing his ears and making him hard of hearing, Al seemed to lose his interest in his business as train boy.
“’Some days Al would stop at my station at half past nine in the morning and stay all day while the train went on to Detroit and returned to Mt. Clemens in the evening. The train baggage man who saw Al rescue Jimmy would get the papers in Detroit and bring them up to Mt. Clemens for him. During these long hours the Edison boy made rapid progress in learning. And every day he made the most of the half hour or more of practice he had while the train stopped at Mt. Clemens each way.
“’At the end of a couple of weeks I missed him for several days. Next time he dropped off he showed me a set of telegraph instruments he had made in a gunshop in Detroit, where the stationer who had sold him goods had told the owner of the machine shop the story of the printing press.’
“The first place young Edison worked after he was graduated from the Mt. Clemens private school of telegraphy was in Port Huron, his home town. Here he had too many boy friends to let him keep on the job as a youthful telegrapher should. Besides, he had a laboratory in his home and found it too fascinating to take enough sleep. Between too much side work and mischief, young Edison sometimes found himself in trouble. Some of his escapades he has described to his friend and assistant, William H. Meadowcroft.
“’About every night we could hear the soldiers stationed at Fort Gratiot. One would call out: “Corporal of Guard Number One!” This was repeated from one sentry to another till it reached the barracks and “No. 1” came out to see what was wanted. The Dutch boy (who used to help me with the papers) and I thought we would try our hand in military matters.