May God have pity on the thousands of children who live in houses, but are homeless.
In this new interest in his fellows, all figures do not stand out in equal proportion against the child’s horizon. Some loom very high, and in the inner chamber of the soul, incense is burning at their shrine. Out of the earlier interest in people, and desire to imitate their actions, there begins to emerge the great passion of hero worship with all its power in shaping ideals and determining character. If it be true, indeed, that life grows like what it gazes fixedly upon, then nurture has here an important work.
The hero of any period must inevitably embody that which the life most admires at the time, hence physical strength and skill, courage and daring will be prominent factors in a boy’s hero in this period. This hero may be, perchance, the physical director of the Y.M.C.A., the champion baseball or football player, an explorer or adventurer, a desperado, or—happy case—a father who has not forgotten how to swim and fish and hunt and play ball. A boy always longs to place his father on the throne of his heart, if he is given a chance, but the fathers who covet that place enough to pay the price for it are too few.
A hard working mechanic said to a friend, “I made up my mind I would rather have a backache when my boys were little than a heartache later on,” and so no day’s task was so heavy, up toil so exhausting that when he came home at night his two boys could not claim him. The cramped muscles would unlimber behind the bat, the tired limbs would forget their weariness in the jaunt that had been planned with father, and during the hours of freedom the three were chums in sports, in interests, in confidence. They say there is no more beautiful sight in that town today than two stalwart, manly fellows arm in arm with the father, who counts it the joy and pride of his life to have mounted the hero’s throne in the hearts of his sons.