My mother died in May, 1896. I continued to live with my sister. Finished the seventh grade that June, but entered preparatory school that fall. In November, 1897, my brother-in-law moved to Iowa, and I made the mistake of deciding to go with him. While living in Wisconsin, I had become acquainted with a fine lot of boys. One of them organized a small military company; I was elected quarter-master and, later, lieutenant. I now know that that was because we were considered ‘rich,’ Also in Wisconsin I overcame some of my extreme bashfulness in regard to girls, derived from babyhood experiences. In fact, one reason I decided to leave Wisconsin was the fear that the friendship with one girl might become too serious; I was beginning to shun responsibility.
In Iowa I entered the high school and completed the tenth grade the next June (1898). My elder brother was my official guardian and he wanted me to make a change. As a result, in September, 1898, I had my first experience of being away alone by entering a famous academy. There I earned the reputation of being a ‘grind,’ and graduated second in my class in June, 1901. While there I went out for football, and made the third team and even played once on the second. My poor eyesight hindered me somewhat, but still more the fact that I was not eager to fall down on the ball on the hard ground when it did not seem to me necessary. I was quite ready to get hurt, if there was any reason for it. That, too, was a mistake on my part.
That September I entered Harvard University. My father had left some insurance, and mother left some of it to me for a college education. She expected, as did my sisters and brothers, that I would become a minister. By the end of my Freshman year I had decided that I could not do so, but from that time I was unable to decide what I did want to do or could do. Consequently I did not get the good out of a college education that I might have. Moreover, though I stood fairly well in most of my classes, I did not always understand the subjects as well as the professors thought I did. As soon as it became possible to elect subjects, I dropped Latin, Greek, and German, and specialized in history, economics, etc. I graduated ‘Cum Laude,’ But that was really a failure, considering what I might have done.
But I did well enough to receive recommendation for a $500 fellowship that enabled me to return for another year. I did work which caused me to be recommended for an A.M. degree. But I felt that I had so little in comparison with others, that I was actually ashamed to receive it. Socially, however, that extra year was a very delightful one for me.
During two summers as an undergraduate, I worked at Nantasket Beach selling tickets in the bathing pavilion for $50 a month, besides room and board. I made good, much to the surprise of the superintendent.