BY-WAYS - 12/4/39 - Lacking Self-Confidence

It is almost Christmas. Of what shall I write. I often wish you would tell me the kind of story or article you like best. Being interested in people, I like to write about people. For your sake I would like to write about people that you know or are interested in. But I got strict orders last August - on my visit "home" - not to write anything of a personal nature about the folks there. I came back to my family, only to be scolded for writing about "The Hut" and such "personal" matters. I decided to write about celebrities, good plays, and worthy essays that give one something to think about. One dear - and frank - friend said, "Why write about a play that nine-tenths of your readers will not see. It is too abstract." Dell McQuiston Harmon made the best suggestion, I believe. She wrote, "Why not write a 200-word paragraph each day - of some interesting happening, or your reaction to it - these paragraphs to be separated by asterisks. So here goes. And remember that criticism is always welcome, so long as it is constructive. I write - not as a professional - but a rank amateur, who wants to learn how to write, and, above all, how to write interestingly.***

First, let me make a confession; I have to fight constantly to gain self-confidence. When one loses, in the first seven years of one's life - such vital years - every shred of the God-given ingredient of one's make-up, that quality is never wholly regained. And then it is not woven gracefully into the fabric of one's life, like a tapestry, but appears like ugly patches that a passerby is tempted to snatch away. There are countless people, too, who would not steal one grain of salt from their neighbor, but will rob that neighbor of his self-confidence, and some will stoop so low as to rob that neighbor of his good name. I tell about the self-confidence part as a note of warning to parents. Don't ever take away your child's faith in himself. It's our job, as parents, to place that self-confidence where it will generate power for good.***

Remember about the happy experiences I wanted to relate? The first was in connection with my Sunday School class of ten-year-old girls. These children come from well-to-do homes; some of them are spoiled and a bit smart-alecky. Another teacher and I had given our girls a Hallowe'en party; I was rather shocked at their selfishness and poor sportsmanship. So when, on the next Saturday night, I turned down a nice invitation, in order to prepare my lesson, I wondered (in a fleeting moment of pessimism) if they were worth it. Oh, unworthy thought! The next morning every girl - except an absentee the week before - had prepared every bit of her lesson, including quite a bit of written work. The rude whispering and wisecracks were fading out; to crown my joy, three little girls, of their own volition, lingered after class to discuss with me a spiritual problem. Three little souls, seeking the light, and looking to me for help. I was proud - and humbled. I cannot describe that revelation - of my responsibility. And now these little girls are gradually throwing away their ugly cloaks - of bravado - and false pride - and sophistication. How dear - how precious they become, as they reveal themselves, as children of God!***

That same afternoon Fritz Kreisler, the great violinist, was to appear in concert with our Cleveland orchestra. Virgil had announced, a week before, that he and I were to go - that he would call from the office, and have our seats reserved. We would get 50c seats in the balcony. Virgil - the dependable one - was so busy that week, he forgot all about it. And I, so accustomed to leaving those things to him, never questioned his foresight. When I finally checked with him - and then with the Public Hall, every 50c seat, and also every dollar one was taken. No standing room allowed. That particular afternoon my husband had some secretarial work to do; the older boy went on a hike with his Sunday School class; the younger one went to visit his grandmother; Estelle had gone to visit a chum. I was scot-free; so, through intuition - blind faith - call it what you will, I was drawn inexorably to Public Hall. Fritz Kreisler is, by far, my favorite violinist. That intangible quality in his playing - that "soul" of his music - sends the "thrill chills" up and down my spine. I must explain - quite frankly - that when a family in our circumstances is paying for two musical instruments (flute and clarinet) and private lessons for the flutist, there has to be rigid budgeting of funds. My ever-generous husband told me to go - and get a $1.50 seat. I flatly refused to do the latter; but I just hoped that Fate would be kind to me. When I reached the vast Public Hall, and saw the milling crowd - the thousands of people that felt as I did about Fritz Kreisler, my last hope faded away. But I decided to linger in a corner, and watch the eager faces. They were so interesting; one shining countenance caught my eye - and my fancy - and set me to wondering about her. At last the three long lines to the box office dwindled down to two short ones, and for some unaccountable reason I tagged onto the end of one of them, expecting - I knew not what. Suddenly a sweet voice in in my ear, "Are you alone?" I turned. There was she of the shining countenance. Again she asked me. I said, "Yes." She went on to say that she had an extra ticket - that the fourth person in their party did not show up (and the concert had already begun). Instinctively my purse flew open - to pay for the ticket that I hoped wasn't over a dollar. With a tone of finality she said, "I wouldn't think of having you pay for it. I just want you to have the use of it." You can imagine my emotions! I was to hear the great Kreisler; and this good fairy reminded me that it is still a lovely, generous world to live in.

Faithfully yours,
Florence B. Taylor
4501 Lilac Road, South Euclid, O.

P.S. - Our seats were in the very best section.

Next -12/4/1939 - People to Inspire