But I fear I am telling too much about banks and money and business. I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the waking hours of the day to making money for money’s sake. If I were forty years younger, I should like to go into business again, for the association with interesting and quick-minded men was always a great pleasure. But I have no dearth of interests to fill my days, and so long as I live I expect to go on and develop the plans which have been my inspiration for a lifetime.
During all the long period of work, which lasted from the time I was sixteen years old until I retired from active business when I was fifty-five, I must admit that I managed to get a good many vacations of one kind or another, because of the willingness of my most efficient associates to assume the burdens of the business which they were so eminently qualified to conduct.
Of detail work I feel I have done my full share. As I began my business life as a bookkeeper, I learned to have great respect for figures and facts, no matter how small they were. When there was a matter of accounting to be done in connection with any plan with which I was associated in the earlier years, I usually found that I was selected to undertake it. I had a passion for detail which afterward I was forced to strive to modify.
At Pocantico Hills, New York, where I have spent portions of my time for many years in an old house where the fine views invite the soul and where we can live simply and quietly, I have spent many delightful hours, studying the beautiful views, the trees, and fine landscape effects of that very interesting section of the Hudson River, and this happened in the days when I seemed to need every minute for the absorbing demands of business. So I fear after I got well started, I was not what might be called a diligent business man.
This phrase, “diligent in business,” reminds me of an old friend of mine in Cleveland who was devoted to his work. I talked to him, and no doubt bored him unspeakably, on my special hobby, which has always been what some people call landscape gardening, but which with me is the art of laying out roads and paths and work of that kind. This friend of thirty-five years ago plainly disapproved of a man in business wasting his time on what he looked upon as mere foolishness.
One superb spring day I suggested to him that he should spend the afternoon with me (a most unusual and reckless suggestion for a business man to make in those days) and see some beautiful paths through the woods on my place which I had been planning and had about completed. I went so far as to tell him that I would give him a real treat.
“I cannot do it, John,” he said, “I have an important matter of business on hand this afternoon.”
“That may all be,” I urged, “but it will give you no such pleasure as you’ll get when you see those paths—the big tree on each side and ——”