My father took a dim view of my collumn-writing, since the adviser for the school yearbook had asked me to be assistant editor and I had turned him down, claiming schoolwork didn't leave sufficient time, not mentioning that the job sounded sophomoric now. When summer arrived and school was out my father suggested that we have a talk. The world beyond home, he explained, might be likened to a race in which the prizes would go to those who broke from the blocks quickest, who ran fastest, who tried hardest, In short, to the go-getters. If I were to win, the time to start running was drawing near. My father asked how I would like to work part-time in a law office running errands. It was plain he had already made a deal.
The lawyer in whose office I was to work was a man who wore a suit even in summer, handled cases that involved corporations and had a daughter—known at school as Alice the Goon.
Only after lengthy discussion bordering on argument did I succeed in postponing my start in the race of life. My mother helped, arguing that she needed me at home to take care of the lawn.
As summer wore on, a sense of defeat set in. I wouldn't have admitted it, but my interest in writing boxing columns was dwindling. There was a sameness about it, there wasn't any pay and I was beginning to wonder as I became better acquainted with the subject if professional boxing was as exciting as it had seemed. Perhaps it was only the heat, which often rose over 100� and scarcely dropped at night, or the afternoon wind that made a lonely sound in the cotton-woods, or the approach of school bringing the day closer when I would have to make up my mind whether I was going to be a lawyer.
Early in the summer I had sent an article on how to punch the light bag to a Washington syndicate. I had seen the syndicate's advertisement in a writer's magazine at the library. On the Saturday before school started I found in the mail, along with several magazines, a bulging envelope. Inside I found my article. My spirits fell. There was another sheet of paper in the envelope. I unfolded it apprehensively. The editor wrote they had found my article interesting and would be happy to consider it again if I cared to add a few paragraphs on where punching bags might be purchased, how much one might cost and how a boy might go about setting one up.
My first thought was that with additional words the article would bring more money. As I excitedly reread the letter, other thoughts occurred. If the syndicate bought the article on how to punch a punching bag, maybe they would buy an article on how to box or one on how to wrestle. Maybe they, or someone else, would buy an article on how to build a track field, as my older brother had done in the orchard across the street. Suddenly the mountains rising in the distant heat haze did not look so formidable, and the wind that rustled the leaves of the cottonwoods did not sound lonely.
The problem of my career was settled. I had lots of articles to write—and I have had lots of time to write them.