Rich Dads and Poor Dads

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/April 8, 1925

Read this extract from a letter from a real father.

He is an old “bush league” baseball player of the writer’s acquaintance, now living in Los Angeles.

“I have three fine boys now, all ball players. One boy is pitcher on his high school team, and two years ago another son was his catcher.

“My third son, who was fifteen years old, was killed one year ago in an automobile accident while at a high school track rally. The fourth son is ten years old.

“We all enjoy baseball, boxing and other sport if it is on the square. I am just a wage worker, a broom-maker by trade, but have always lived clean—don’t smoke or drink—and am bringing up the boys in the same way.

“I have played with them and am their pal, and at forty-one years of age I am one of them.”

That’s a fine man, and those boys will amount to something.

They will have a finer rearing, a better training, than the sons of millionaires, because millionaires can’t afford the time from their millions these day to play with their sons.

That’s one of the sad features of a great deal of money.

The average rich man is so busy with his affairs he loses intimate touch with his family, especially with his children.

Only too many of the boys of the rich nowadays spend their young years away from home at fashionable “prep” schools, or under the guidance of private tutors.

Their fathers rarely know what they are doing, how they are doing. Their playmates also are the sons of rich men. They are brought up in a soft, easy atmosphere.

Only too frequently they travel a speedy trail by roaring red roadsters in their ’teens to the primrose path of dalliance in their early twenties.

Their fathers are greatly astonished, greatly mortified, when they suddenly turn to the son for assistance in carrying on the business that made the millions, to find they have on their hands, not the uesful citizen, the manly man they expected, after a prodigious expenditure of money in education, travel—but a total loss.

This isn’t a lecture, it’s a statement of fact.

If there are any millionaire fathers readers of this column they will admit it.

Perhaps some of these rich men were poor men’s sons, with fathers who played with them and was their pal. That’s the finest heritage a young man can possibly have.

The memory of such a father is a legacy beyond millions.

The poor man’s house isn’t ordinarily a large house. Life therein is close intimate. The daily doings of each member of the household are of interest to the others, are recited, eagerly discussed.

That doesn’t happen in the average rich man’s house, as the rich man will tell you, with regret. The family is generally scattered far and wide, the boys away at school, mother and the girls in Florida, or White Sulphur Springs, or abroad; father at business.

In the poor man’s house the boys are always under the father’s immediate and friendly observation if he is such a father as the broom-maker, subject to his kindly coaching—and discipline.

They can turn to him at any moment for advice, instruction.

He can step out into the vacant lot and play ball with them; can go fishing or hunting with them; can teach them how to make boats, and bows and arrows, and “beanies,” how to build lean-tos, and put up tents, and make campfires, and even to cook.

Also, he teaches them how to work.

The writer says to you here that the average son of a poor man has four hundred thousand times more chance in this world than the average son of a rich man.

And if you don’t believe it, ask any rich man.

Every boy naturally craves the companionship of his father, until from lack of it he finally is weaned away from the desire.

Every boy is naturally proud to be with his father, prouder still if that father is adept in the ways of the Kingdom of Boy, if he can play with him.

Some men haven’t the faculty of companionship with the young, they feel cumbersome, awkward. To other men it is easy, natural. They are boys at heart all the days of their life, are at once and always one with the fraternity of boy.

Not every father is really acquainted with his son.

He sees him, vaguely, but he doesn’t really know him. The idea of playing with the boy probably would greatly alarm this species of father.

How well do you know your son, Mr. Father, who reads this?

As well as this broommaker, whose reward in his old age will be the tender love and regard of those boys who are not apt to forget their boyhood pal?

Think it over.

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