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- Biographical Notes
"Journal of a Modern 'Convinced' Friend"
"Journal of a Modern 'Convinced' Friend"
Autobiography including childhood, Quaker education, and conscientious objection.
Philadelphia (PA), Camden (NJ), Camp Meade (MD), Fort Leavenworth (KS), Fort Alcatraz (CA)
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Swarthmore College Peace Collection
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Journal of a Modern "Convinced" Friend
Birth and early childhood I was born on the 16th and 20th of June 1893, in Clare Street, (now South Fairhill), Philadelphia (the Quaker City), Pennsylvania. An old midwife, Mrs. Finkelstein, who could hardly talk English and had learned how to read and write a little English, wrote me down in City Hall Vital Statistics as being born June 16, but my mother was sure (and she a remarkable memory), that the date was June 20. June 20 was always celebrated, and still is, and it is only because I discovered when I needed my birth certificate for Social Security that the "official" date was June 16. So I have two birthdays, one "official" for legal purposes and one given me by my mother at birth. I was born on the longest day of the year at about 10.00 p.m. and I was a big baby, weighing in at ten pounds, and nobody bothered to measure my length. But I am now a strapping six-footer, plus 3/4 of an inch by official measurement. Of course. an old practically illiterate midwife could hardly be expected to have carefully taken care of all the details attending a modern birth.
The first thing I remember was that I discovered that I possessed a remarkable memory. But just before that event, as I learned later, I had caught scarlet fever when I was six months old from my older brother, Joe, who was six years old. This scarlet fever left me with three pinholes in my left tympanum, which was to give me ear trouble for the rest of my life, and still does at the age of 84. But the event that hinges on a remarkable memory, probably inherited from my mother, was on this wise: My parents were invited to the wedding of Abraham Jamison and Celia Brown: Celia was a sister of my mother's sister-in-law, Mary Brown Tauber, who was the wife of my uncle, Abram Tauber, my mother's older brother.
At the tender age of two and a half years, i was taken to this wedding. I fell asleep and was left in a darkened room with the gaslight turned down. I slept on the sofa and was suddenly awake and discovering myself alone in the dark, whereas I had been in a lighted room full of guests. The guests had left me alone, and gone upstairs to partake of the wedding feast but my mother, apparently uneasy about my being alone, came downstairs from the meal because I had apparently let out a loud, frightened yell, which I remembered the rest of my life. In later years, mother could not credit her senses when I related the whole incident to her when I was in my teens.
A thing that impressed me was the dark outside privy full og big spiders. Then, at the age of six I was taken by my brother Joe to be vaccinated to prepare me for first grade in school. This was 1899, and the Spanish-American War era. All the ballyhoo about "Remember the Maine" and children singing in the streets, "Spain, Spain, Spain, you ought to be ashamed, for doing such a naughty thing as blowing up the Maine; There'll be a hot time in the old town tonight. "Dad had a little candy and tobacco store and it was not paying its way so with the aid of Uncle Abraham he bought a grocery shop in South Camden, in a section known as Centerville, midway between Kaighnsville and Sweet Potato Hill. The northern district of Kaighnsville was inhabited by a group of Poles and Negroes, and Sweet Potato Hill, which was lily white was peopled by a group of Scandinavians. Centerville was integrated with mostly Negro in the Eastern end and lily white in the Western end. There was a Negro school, the Charles K. Sumner, and a lily white school, the Charles K. Evered Primary School, which went to the Fourth Grade. Children at the Evered School came from Centerville and Sweet Potato Hill. Negroes graduating from the Sumner School, were sent to the school in Kaighnsville, the Mt. Vernon School, and Whites from
Evered School were sent to the John W. Mickle lily white school, the students of which were largely Roman Catholic, and a mixtures of Poles, German and Irish, with a small group of Jewish children.
Before coming to Camden, we had lived in Breintnell Place, a small court with a hydrant to supply all the tenants. These small courts were prevalent in philadelphia from its beginning to the late 1900's. Slum dwellings for the very poor people, for which we qualified. I had been entered in the Horace Binney School near Sixth and Lombard, but soon had to be transferred to the Evered School in Camden, there by losing a year, going back from the Second Grade in Philadelphia to the First Grade in Camden. It was fun to get acquainted with all the big ferry boats running between Market, Chestnut, South, Vine and Shackamaxon Streets, to the ferry houses in Camden, on Federal, Vine Streets and Kaighn Avenue, and the ferry also that ran from South St. in Philadelphia to Gloucester, N.J. for a five cent ride. All the other ferries were three cents fro a single ride, or 2.5cents a ride, if bought in strips of ten. I had frequent trips to Philadelphia to get things for father's grocery store, as soon as I was old enough to travel alone and run errands. My defective hearing, resulting from the oral discharge in my left tympanum, was to be cause of lack of comprehension in my early school days and kept me back in school without in doubt.
School days in Camden A vivid event in my memory was the case of Ralph Hall, a very light-skinned Negro, practically white, apparently an octoroon, who had trouble in the Summer School and enrolled in the Evered School, but he was soon discovered by people who knew him and he was expelled and sent back to the Summer School, from the lily white Evered School.
In my innocence and absence of discrimination, I was unable to figure out why Ralph Hall could not go to the same school I attended, or why people of different colors could not live together at school as they did in their own neighborhoods. I played with them in an integrated neighborhood, and even had close contact in football and fist fights that boys indulge in. All New Jersey schools at that time were strictly Jim Crow upto the High School grades. So I was happy to welcome to my school when he reached the 9th grade, Lloyd Thomas, a black of my acquaintance and practically a neighbor. Lloyd was initiated into High School by the old-fashioned system of hazing freshman, with a bag of white flour dumped over his woolly head, while I rowed along the sidewalk with two matchsticks for oars. I had never drawn any color line and the word "nigger" was not being used by whites in our neighborhood, although I marveled that the Negroes freely used that word with each other., but let one White call any black "nigger", and there would be trouble.
From the C.K. Evered School, I went to the John W. Mickle Gramma School, about a half farther from my home. Here the students were largely Roman Catholics, all white, mostly Italian, Irish and Germans, once removed. There were a very few Polish and Dutchland some English extraction. A scattering of Jews, who were discriminiated against at all times, but able to make the non-Jews or gentiles very jealous because the "sheenies" or"kikes" or "Christ-killers" and enjoyed very little social advantages. I was the best speller in the school and in 1909, when graduated to the Camden High School, I won the $5 gold piece for the inheriting a dislike for Jews, was very sour-faced because of having to give his precious goldpiece to the likes of me.
Meanwhile, the world was opening out to me and I was amazed by its
wonders. Here I had come from a city slum neighborhood, living in a court, to a world of grass, farms, flowers, and trees, strange animals and birds. Truly, this was "All things bright and beautiful" and despite my unreligious upbringing., I was at that tender age beginning to appreciate God's handiwork. None of my playmates went to any religious school, whether synagogue, church, or mission school., that I knew of except a little store front next door to us where we listened to a Mr.Cheney, in a little integrated one room store, attempt to interpret the word of God to us, while we listened for want of something else to do or enjoy a new expereince. It was the beautiful effulgence of Nature around me, driving me toward a better understanding of life, in spite of all the sordid happenstances that came up in such a neighborhood.
The boys of Kaighnsville and Sweet Potato Hill were not too friendly and there were sporadic stonefights, called "yay yays", where we fought each other, and, I, naturally, fighting beside my black playmates against the Kaighnvillers Poles or Sweet Potato Hill Scandinavians, who all seemed to enjoy stoning the Blacks from Centerville. We were between two fires and, because I was white, I could go where my black comrades feared to tread, as the belligerent Kaighnsvillers did not seem to bother one who had a white skin....To Camden High School, then, in 1909, I went and had to pass twice daily through the Polish vicinity, where I was little known, but where My uncle Abram, had a grocery, to which I frequently went when my father needed something quickly from his store. At the High School, I found myself in a world of boys. Girls were segregated at their end of the school, except for music, study hall, and auditorium, where we assembled each morning, but in music and auditorium, girls were all seated on the right side. Teachers were of both sexes, as my math and Mechanical Drawing teachers were women, both of whom had taught my brother Joe in 1902.
Whether because of color, discrimination or I.Q., Lloyd Thomas could not make the grade was a dropout in one year. I never knew what happened to him, because of my application to studies and getting acquainted with new people, boys from Kaighnsville and Sweet Potato Hill, while Lloyd must have found boys of his own color to associate with. I became acquainted with some Jewish boys, but my failure to observe the Jewish religion was noticed, as it seemed I was the only one out of step. In my particular section, one boy was Jewish and in the girls' section there was two. My associates were an American boy and an upperclassman who had dropped down into our class for an extra year of languages, in preparation for going to college for some special work he wished to take up for his life work. But he never drew any color line or discriminated. I thought he cultivated me because he was so bright and in another class where he needed to have friends. So there were four so-called Jews in my class, two of whom were of the religious type and two of the non-religious type. This contact with these classmates had little meaning for me as I had never been taught any Hebrew, and, naturally, had never been Bar Mitzvah, which every 13-year-old Jewish boy had to undergo, if they were to be "Jews".
It was only a few years later that I learned from the writings of a famous rabbi, that if you did not follow the Jewish religion you were not a Jew; that there was no such thing as a Jewish "race", because Jews were white, black, and yellow, so race was out of the question. I soon learned to despise a religion that had such crazy dietetic rules, as to require four complete sets of dishes, one for meat, one for milk, and the same for Passover. Besides they had the most outlandish rules for Sabbath behavior and religious holidays, such as fasting two or three times a year, and a Yom Kippur going without food or drink of any kind for twenty-four hours, sundown to sundown. This kind of religion was
not for the likes of me. I was too fond of food to ever go more than a few hours without something to eat, so I had no truck with Judaism. I heard of atheists who called themselves Jews, but they had no right to do it. Thus I balked at regimentation early in my life.
At about the age of sixteen, I was introduced to Socialism. My father had been one of sorts, and my name of William Marx helped to identify me with the father of Socialism and Communism. At the class exercises, the day before Commencement from High School, in 1913, I was facetiously given seventeen and one-third cents, in copper cents, and for many years I guarded that piece of chiseled copper, my one-third cent, which represented part of my share of the country's wealth, if everything was "divided up" equally among the people of the world, or some such drivel to ridicule or deride the Socialists.
In the summer of 1911-1912, I was introduced to employment. I got a job for the summer in a shoe factory, where Ladies' shoes were manufactured. And I learned the ways of factory girls that year. In the Summer of 1913, after graduation from the Commercial Course, I got a job as stenographer and typist, and traveled every day on the ferry across the Delaware to Philadelphia, where my place of employment was. But it lasted for one year, as the first World War broke out in 1914, and I lost my job when the bottom of the cotton market dropped out and my job in the office of a cotton yarn mill, went glimmering. from Necronsett Mills, Incorporated, I went from job to job because of the great depression. I worked for Irwin and Leighton, building contractors; Frank Schoble and Company, hat manufacturers; Enterprise Hardware Company, manufacturers of meat and coffee grinders; U.S. Engineer Office in Wilmington, Delaware; and Logan Coal Company, coal to Pennsylvania Railroad Company, from which I was drafted in 1917.
All my school life was comparatively complacent as I never got into much trouble with the powers that be-- principals, teachers, janitors,=-- or what-have-you? by playing hookey, or vandalizing, or any other thing-- I was one of the "goo" boys that could be depended upon to do what was right. Troublemakers, dissidents, and intransigents were plentiful in our schools. Miss Agnes West, principal of the John W. Mickle School immediately preceding Mr.Oliver B.Kern, who gave out gold pieces, had a Day Book for offenders and every once in a while there would sound forth the message from her office, "Send for the Day Book," which meant that somebody was in trouble and being booked for punishment. Only once in my school career at Mickle was I booked. In Camden High school, all of a group of miscellaneous classes, decided on circus day to play hookey from school for the afternoon session. We were led by the cheerleaders of the school and all went to see the show. We were all duly punished by Miss Clara S. Burrough, principal, who gave us each a big square root to work out and and report back to her the next day. It was the worst punishment I ever had to undergo in High School.
One thing that happened during my years in school was he "bad" acting of President Theodore Roosevelt sending a detachment of Marines to help Panama and "steal" the Canal from Columbia. It was a sensation at the time and attracted the attention of youngsters of the tender age of ten, to wonder what kind of man this was who talked about a "big" stick, broke up the strike of the anthracite coal miners, and later after leaving office, went to Africa to kill and hunt big game, such as elephants and lions, to bring back trophies. It was Roosevelt too that was a "big navy" man and sent an American Fleet around the world for no good reason at all, except to impress foreign countries with United States power. This was very distasteful to me and my thoughts were already being molded along the lines of decency and peace all over the world.
To this day, it strikes me as exceedingly strange, that born and bred in an around the Quaker City of Philadelphia, and its environs, all Quaker territory. I had never knowingly met or even seen a Quaker. More than likely, some of my teachers were Quakers, but I never knew because such matters as religious belief of teachers were never raised. Religious views of pupils, such as who were Jews or Catholics or what not, might come up at times, but never the belief of any teachers. Here, i lived in Camden for 14 years, within a stone's throw of a Friends meeting House a few blocks from Camden High School, where I must have often passed the Camden (Newton) Friends Meeting House and never even knew I was near one, and I do not suppose it would have mattered any if I did know, as I did not know the belief of Friends and that they were Christians, if still in existence, who believed in peace. I had studied American history and knew about Penn and no more. What English History I learned, did not deal much wit George Fox or Quakers, who apparently made very little impression on English life, or so I supposed.
In 1914, we left Camden forever, returning to Philadelphia. The store was sold at the insistence of my three sisters, who had grown up to womanhood, and were fearful of blacks and did not relish associating with them, as might be necessary to wait on customers at times in the store. There were a few "low-class" whites in our neighborhood, who fraternized and lived as husband or wife with the Negroes, and this to my dainty women folks was unthinkable. There were some beautiful mulattos, quadroons or octoroons among my neighbors, and one of them had attracted sexually a nearby Jewish grocer, who was as "low-class" as they were. One close neighbor was an almost white prostitute who was usually referred to (not in her presence) as the "whore."
Again back to 1914, living now in Philadelphia, within a stone's throw of Friends Meetings at Fairhill, where Lucretia Mott attended; 17th and Giard Avenue, where I first attended a Friends Meeting in a Meeting House; and 15th and Race Streets (Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia) where I was destined to become a member of the Meeting. Little did I dream in 1914 that I would ever become associated with that group of people, when I think of what happened so soon thereafter, shaping my future life that God uses his wonders to perform, but fact is stranger than fiction. I had little notion of being someday part of a "religious" bunch. I had read Thomas Paine and The Truth Seeker, a publication devoted to atheism and free thought, and was convinced that by following them I was on the right trail, -- the Trail of Life, in a long plodding effort to find myself, who I was or am, get in touch with God.
But I had become assoicted with the Young Peoples' Socialist League, the Socialist Party, the Revoluntionary Laborers' Club, "hot" Socialists and on the verge of Communism or Bolshevism. The Great War for Democracy, World War One, had broken out in 1917 by Woodrow Wilson hoodwinking the American people, (Is it possible to fool ALL the people, some of the time?) that we could be too proud to fight, and then declaring war because of the sinking of the Lusitania, a ship carrying ammunition, and warned by the Germans that it would be sunk. But Wilson was determined to have his way,not the way fo peace or democracy
Peace people, pro-Germans, and all the anti-war elements seemed to be or actually were at odds/or loggerheads with the pro-war parties-- we were the snakes in the grass, the Copperheads, or traitors-- Thesodore (the Great) Roosevelt himself was at war against us and accusing us of trying to Chinafy America, China at that time being probably the least war-like and most peaceful country in the world and Roosevelt being one of the world's leading Jingoes and chauvinists, tried to make us marks. All of the various substituting jobs I had during this period of 1913 "depression" had given me a great deal of experience in so many different kinds of jobs that I was fair to becoming a pretty well-educated person in terms of employment and in terms of meeting all kinds of people and all kinds of conditions. In addition to the jobs for which I was paid, there were the jobs I had in the military service, up trash in the company streets, and sewage disposal(the stinkingest job of all.) All of these things were preparing me for something, ( I know not what) that God would let me know later what I was fit for, or being fitted for, I began to truly feel that "Man proposes, God disposes" and the future would be revealed to me, if I lived through this Great War for Democracy.
So the military conscription of 1917 was another link in the chain of circumstance to which I was brought--the militarists would leave no stone unturned to break down the peace people and conscientious objectors. My years in prison, beginning with 35 days in Moyamensing Prison; then Camp Meade with its various detention barracks; military stockade; Fort Jay; Fort Leavenworth and finally Alcatraz, known as the "hell-hole of the Pacific", from which I was turned loose with a dishonorable discharge in 1919, with the rating of "Character Bad" and no "marksmanship" on my record. Here I learned about the people of the world I lived in:
dope friends, liquor law violators, thieves, murders, homosexuals, men who had committed all kinds of crimes and misdemeanors-- these were to be my prison companions for about August, 1917 to November, 1919. But there is "balm in Gilead" for it was under these circumstances that I became acquainted with Quakers, and found a new kind of mankind and a new kind of religious belief which made them act the way they did. First came Harold Evans, acting for the Civil Liberties Bureau to counsel me, how to be an objector y and what to do before I got to Camp Meade; then came William B. Harvey, also of the 4th and Arch Sts. "Orthodox" group; Samuel M. Bunting, of the 15th and Rave Streets group; all of the monthly meetings of Friends of Philadelphia; then a certain Mr.Bunting of Baltimore, who came once a week to teach us French, in case we got to France for the American Friends Service Committee. I got into the French class, but had no intention of going to France; I simply adored foreign languages, and this little course of "French in a Week" was just up "my alley" because I learned new words.
The Quaker boys at Camp Meade were most "orthodox" consisting of J. Howard Branson, Harold Lane, Joshua L. Baily, Samuel Mason and Wray B. Hoffman (who was an attender but later joined the Friends at Media, Pennsylvania). These people had a Quaker service or meeting in a barbaracks in a room at Camp Meade, with William B. Harvey in attendance and doing the speaking. This was my very first introduction to a Quaker Meeting and I little dreamed then what a profound influence it was to have on my life; I felt that I had truly entered a congregation of God's people, but I was still repelled by the word "orthodox" attached to them. I did not feel that I could conscientiously and whole-heartedly join such a group. It was then I discovered another group of Quakers, called "Hicksites", consisting of Henry Stabler, (one of the most famous non-resistant in America); Wilford P.C. Hagaman and Grantham, the last
apparently not wishing to go to France with the American Friends Service Comittee unit, or just plain fooled by Woodrow Wilson's pronunciamento to the American conscientious objectors that they could put on a uniform and accept noncombatant service, without being made to bear arms, working in the Engineers Corps, the Quartermasters' Corps, or the Hospital Corps. At any rate, Grantham soon left us for different surroundings.
Henry Stabler gave me a book to read and I went through it word for word. It was a large book of "Quaker Discipline" and I was very much pleased to read that they favoring refraining from any spirituous liquor (except for culinary purposes); gambling in any form, and other harmful things of a like nature, which I do not now recall. Probably it condemned tobacco and cigarettes and the use of drugs. Learning that the Hicksites were "un-orthodox" and entertained latitudinarian views, I thought even at that early date that these people were "my" people, so I stepped upon another milestones in my progress on the trail of life. This was also my first introduction to the word "Discipline" as used by Quakers, and I was never to regret having affiliated with this Group.
From the Stockade in Camp Meade where I received a general court martial for !disloyalty! and "disobedience of orders", I had been sent to Governor's Island, Fort Jay, New York, the Eastern branch of the U.S Disciplinary Barracks, but never knowingly met any Quakers Hagaman was in the Stockade with me, but we had little contact. I do not know what they had him there for, but he was shortly released to return to his barracks with the other objectors. A comrade from the Revolutionary Laborer's Club had advised me to go "over the hill" from Camp Meade; become a deserter or Absent Without Official Leave, but I was never one to run away from duty. And duty kept me in Camp Meade. They could kill me if they wished to but they could not kill Spirit,
At the Castle William experience in Fort Jay, Governor's Island, New York after nine weeks of meeting newcomers, new friends and comrades, I learned that this was only a receiving station and that Fort Leavenworth U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (U.S.D.B.) was my next point of departure. Here we went through the endless processing to which prisoners were subjected. There was a blood test, close cutting of hair, pictures taken for the Rogues' Gallery, questionnaires to fill out, assignment to cells and roommates, bathing facilities to fill out, assignment to cells and roommates, bathing facilities, mess hall arrangements, and all the hundred and one little details in prison routine. We had to assigned to jobs, fitted into our places so to speak, and fitted with new prison uniforms and new numbers. We had long since, in Fort Jay, learned that we were no longer names; we were numbers, and mine changed from 5022 to 14414. When I tought that so many men, more than fourteen thousand to us, had been processed in that sinkhole of inquity, it nearly staggered my imagination.
At Fort Leavenworth, I came in contact with more Quakers. There was a little fellow from Indiana, a Quaker of the pastoral group, known as the F.Y.M. because a group of Yearly Meetings assembled every five years for a conference. Another Quaker was Arthur Dunham, who became one of the "sincere" objectors and was released in the great group of 113 "sincere" objectors turned loose by the Presidental Board of Inquiry consisting of Judge Julian Mack, Dean Stone of Columbia University, and Major Stoddard, representing the Army. This Board examined only such prisoners as they pleased to, and many of us, non-religious or political objectors, never got to meet the P.I.B. I was about to meet them when I was hustled away to the Stockade to face a G.C.M. (General Court Martial); purposely, I thought, to frustrate me. But since I had not expected much from the Presidential Board of Inquiry, I was not disappointed or frustrated. I did not want to go to France or
take a Farm Furlough, or take on a uniform and did noncombatant service. I would not compromise myself; I wanted freedom and no compulsory military service. That was long and short of it.
And before I left Fort Leavenworth for Alcatraz, the number of men to be processed at Fort Leavenworth U.S.D.B. was over 16,000. i could see the new numbers growing daily on the uniforms of new prisoners. And there were too, the famous two prison strikes that resulted in a group of so-called ringleaders being "shanghaied' to Alcatraz, which was only the beginning of a group of political objectors being sent on to join us at Alcatraz. It was at Alcatraz that I began meeting more Quakers. A group of them from the Bay area, Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco, began to visit the C.O.'s imprisoned at Alcatraz. One of the Friends, Maragetet Stanislawsky, gave me copies of the Friends Intelligencer, which I read word for word. her three teen age children, James, Dan and Bonnie, always accompanied her on these visits. Anna Coggins was another visitor. She married vane Dart, a Quaker, and one of our most steadfast absolutists in the prison. Andrew and Hannah R. Erskine were two more of the Quaker visitors I met. So I was getting more and more involved with Quakers and their beliefs. So far as I knew, Vane Dart was the only Quaker at Alcatraz. I was sorry never to meet him, but he was completely isolated from the other prisoners and walked the beach an hour each afternoon for exercise, but was not accessible to me. I thought it would be great to meet and talk with him. but it was not permitted by the powers that be.
Came October 1919, and a blue seal document, an "immediate release" for General prisoner #11438, William M. Kantor, accompanied by a beautiful yellow discharge, "Dishonorable" with character "Bad" and "No Marksmanship" and I was never more proud of this yellow discharge, for which I had undergone imprisonment for more than two years. one of our C.O.'s, non-Quaker,
Harold Studley Gray, wrote a book about it, called "Character Bad", and he showed how deeply wounded he was by being called a bad character because he had refused to serve in the Army and take human life.
Now I was out of the detested service and back in Philadelphia again, with all my old cronies greeting me with jubilation and joy. What was now to transpire? Events soon shaped their course. My dad moved away from Kensington, where I had built up a "bad" reputation; into a new neighborhood, and as luck would have it, within a few minutes walk of Griard Avenue Friends House, where I walked in one Sunday (or First Day) morning to a Meeting for Worship, the first I had ever attended in a Friends Meeting House. I did not know any of the congregation, what they believed, whether they were Orthodox or hicksite, or anything about them, but I soon found out that they were my beloved Hicksites. I soon applied for membership and learned to my dismay that some of these people were of the pro-war group, and two overseers, George Mitchell and William Ingram, who was a "me, too" character, both reported me unfavorably, With my consent, my application was "tabled", and it was three years later that it came up again, with my new overseers, William S. Hallowell and Joseph Linden Heacook were my overseas, and they reported me favorably, so that I was "minuted" for membership in 1923 in the Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia, 15th and Face Streets, as Girard Avenue was an "indulged"meeting and could not received membership applications. Race Street and Green Street were that the parent groups, and it was to Race Street in central Philadelphia that I became attached. All this in spite of warning by Samuel M. Bunting and Lewis Fussell that I was joining a pro-war group and should have affiliated with the Arch Street Group of Orthodox Friend, with M.Albert Linton and others for company. But I preserved in my belief that Race Street needed a conscientious objector as Arch Street had several and only Wilford P.C Hagaman and I were to
represent the "peace" party in a Quaker Meeting, of all places.
Meanwhile, I had continued my affiliation with the Yipsels, and Revolutionary Laborers' Group for a short time longer, but things were shaping up to make me more and more firmly cemented to the Society of Friends, which I had voluntarily adopted. I began to attend all kinds of meetings and conferences and getting more and more acclimated to the Society of Friends and Young Friends Movement, where I was taken on pilgrimages to her meetings and getting to be more and more at home with my Quaker Friends, and dropping more and more away from the Yipsels and Socialist groups. This came about gradually till 1923, when I was admitted into the Monthly Meeting of Friends of Philadelphia. My first Conference had been Friends General Conference at Cape May, N.J, for a Young Friends gathering. Then visiting various meetings in the neighborhood of Philadelphia until 1923 came the Young Friends Conference (Eastern) where I met Friends from England as well as over the East.
In 1925, came another conference of Eastern Young Friends at George School, Pennsylvania. At Oskaloosa, in 1927, came a second dramatic confrontation with Gladys Marie Scott, who was selling books for the Five Years Meeting Friends if Richmond, Indiana. I had barely met her at the George School Conference, but at Oskaloosa, I had a talk with her and purchased of Quaker History. I had also had a conference of Young Friends of North Carolina Yearly Meeting at Guilford College in 1926 to help me on the road to becoming a real Quaker. And in 1930, the girl who wouldn't marry me if was the last man on earth, became my wife, Gladys Marie Scott. We were married in July, 1930, just after I had finished teaching in Summer School, and, naturally, honeymooned at a Quaker resort, Buck Hill Falls, Pa. Gladys was not the kind that spoke in Meeting, the exact opposite of her spouse, who had taught for several years and knew his Bible and was an experienced speaker, due to the training at Socialist
meetings and in my classrooms, guiding the teenage minds into the field of commercial life. I had acquired a sound commercial education because of my four year Commercial Course in Camden High School, and the additional year of Teacher Training at Taylor School, in Philadelphia, from which I was graduated in 1923. Here, too, I had had opportunity to get more Quaker feeling by teaching as a substitute for two weeks in Woodstown High School, New Jersey, and a period of January, 1923 to June, 1925, at Bristol High School, Pennsylvania. At Bristol, I went to the Bristol Friends Meeting a few times and got to know the Bristol Friends, staying over night with a couple of maiden ladies of ancient vintage, who delighted to entertain visitors.
The Young Friends Movement, between 1920 and 1928, was another link in the chain of circumstance that strengthened Quakerism's grip upon me. Not only the pilgrimages, but the special meetings for worship during Yearly Meetings afternoons just before the annual lecture on the afternoon of yearly Meeting First Day, honoring William Penn, our patron saint, helped to make me a better Quaker. And the fellowship between the Young Friends of Arch Street and Race Street, at the meetings in the Philadelphia Young Friends Association, under the lively leadership of W. Waldo Hayes, who turned us from Orthodox and Hicksites to "Ortho-sites" and "Hicksodoxies". Being put on the Visiting Committee of Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting and traveling all over the Quarter to speak in different meetings, as well as traveling with J. Barnard Walton to Warrington Meeting, out near York, Pennsylvania, were all factors in fashioning my views of Quakerism.
Another noteworthy, incident, happened in about 1932, when Mabel Susan Thomas, a friend of Gladys, came to visit us at our apartment just after we were married. I did not dream then that Mabel was to be my second wife, following the death of Gladys in childbirth in 1934 when was born my only child, a dear daughter, Joyce Eileen, making me a widower for three years,
It was in 1934 that Joyce was born and in 1936, I decided to take her to California to meet her grandmother Pickett, and her aunt Kate and Uncle Art, and Kate's (Cady) brothers, Carl and Howard, and Carl's wife, Judy Smith Scott. It was on this trip that I came to appreciate Mabel and ask her to write to me if I wrote to her from California. My actual first meeting with Mabel was that summer at Friends Boarding School, Barnesville, Ohio, where Mabel's parents, Gilbert and Rachel Bundy Thomas, were Superintendent and Matron at the Boarding School. We began to correspond with each other and when Mabel came to visit in Lansdowne with her uncle Earnest and Aunt Edna Gawthrop Thomas. I proposed and was accepted immediately, with the understanding that we were engaged and would be married on July 1, 1937.
So Joyce got to meet all her relatives, including her new mother-to-be, known then as Mama Mabel. The poor baby had known only a father's love, and had never had any womanly care except for hired housekeepers, Alice Winder for a year, then in rapid succession Miss McGee, who had a horse face, then Miss Schulz who came along only for the ride and left me in two months, then Mrs. Moore and her small daughter, Vesper, then for another year, a motherly old neighbor, Mrs.Lizzie Schnell, who was the best caretaker of all.
After Gladys' death, I left Upper Darby for Olney, Philadelphia, and it was in Olney that Joyce and I moved to West Philadelphia High School, where I worked. And it was in West Philadelphia High School that a tale unfolded. Some sneaks on the Faculty had discovered that I had been a C.O. and were trying to get me discharged, but John Mahoney, head of our English Department, and husband of a Barnesville Quaker, and Morris Leeds, a prominent Quaker who was head of the Board of Education came to
rescue. The conspirators who wanted to get ride of me were foiled, when they learned what powerful friends I had a court to intervene for me. I discovered four men on our Faculty were Quakers but not my kind. Henry E. Abbott had been a war veteran and was not a man of peace at all. George M. Hoffman hated Negroes, Jews, and loved Nazis, and was clerk of our Quarterly Meeting and Yearly Meeting, but I considered him a poor example of right living. William Ely Roberts drank and smoked and was a prominent member of the Yearly Meeting Education Committee. My removal to West Philadelphia to live and work were on the 'discovery" side of what some people were like who claimed to be Quakers.
My little daughter wa enrolled about 1939 as a student in the Kindergarten of West Philadelphia Friends School, and I was worked into various committees of the Monthly Meeting. I first became a member of the Best Interested Commitee, which meant visiting the sick and infirm regularly and trying to make life more cheerful and pleasant for them. Then I was appointed to the Yearly meeting Education Committee, the Quaterly Meeting Nominating Committee, the Committee or Ministry and Counsel (afterward knwn as the Committee on Ministry and Worship; the Quarterly Meeting Visiting Committee, to make regular visits to meetings throughout the Quarter and minister to them. During World War Two, I was on the committee to visit boys who were conscientious objectors in the C. P.S. (civilian public service) Camps.
After a time in Friends School at West Philadelphia, of which I was also a committee member, Joyce was enrolled in Public School in Manoa, to which we had moved in 1941, having had a house built that year, while we were on another trip to the West Coast to visit relatives. After a time at Manoa School, Joyce was enrolled at Friends Central School, where she
distinguished herself for her poetry and intelligence, having the highest Intelligence Quotient (I.Q.) in the whole school, according to a very confidential report from Mrs.Fogg, a teacher of Joyce, but it was many years before I told Joyce. From Friends Central, Joyce was unwillingly enrolled in Friends Boarding School, Barnesville, Ohio, (known as Olney) where her Mama Mabel had been a student from 1920 to 1924.
it was in 1923 at Eastern Y.F. Conference (Westtown School) that I became acquainted with the famous Negro poet, Leslie Pickney Hill, who was president of Cheyney Normal School, afterward Cheyney State College. At this same Conference, I had been imbibing Quakerly instruction from the famous Rufus M. Jones, with whom I was destined to become better acquainted with in the years to come. he was chairman of the American Friends Service Committee (A.F.S.C.) and at one particular meeting was constantly talking about what a great man General Smuts of South Africa was and using the Nazi term "Aryan"; none of this kind of talk wentover big with me as I despised generals and Hitler, both; they were my pet aversions and I reprimanded Rufus for using the "language of the stables" when he could have spoken to much better account. As chairman, he had the power to squelch me, which he did, but later privately humiliated me. I felt that I deserved a public apology. And I never forgot his trying to make my small Joyce in her arms but she spurned his advances, and I marveled much because she was such a friendly child and went to everybody, but NOT to Rufus. Was it rough red mustache that frightened her? To reject the "the greatest living Quaker" (so termed by Harry Emerson Fosdick in a book) seemed strange to me and, apparently, Fosdick did not know Rufus as well as I did. I had had frequent contacts with Rufus in various Friendly gatherings, Yearly Meeting lectures, or Friends Social Union(a group of men composed of members of two Philadelphia Yearly Meetings(Arch and Race Sts.) which continued in
existence after the two Yearly Meetings of Philadelphia were united in 1955. This group had been organized to foster friendly relations between the Orthodox and the so-called Hicksites, and after 1955 they served no further purpose except to keep a useless organization going after the reason for its being had vanished. So i became an ex-member of the Union.
A great thing happened to me about 1921 that changed my whole life. I vacationed at Buck Hill Falls, a Quaker settlement, and met a Quaker girl, Margaret Heston. It was her suggestion that made me decide to be a teacher for my life vocation, instead of a clerk, stenographer and typist. Margaret thought I was wasting my life when I could get a good position with tenure and not worry about depressions and losing positions each time the economy took a down trend. I graduated from the Taylor School, but never saw Margaret again, due to her mother's attitude.
In my contacts of various kinds with Quakerism, I learned to agree that "Christianity calls for a radical transformation of man; for the creation of a new type of person who loves his neighbor as himself; and for the building of a new social order"--the mission of the Society of Friends. I felt that I was reaching a mountain top which I could never mount, but was always struggling to attain to the new height. Contacts with Henry J. Cadbury, Clarence Pickett, Alexander Purdy, Rufus M. Jones, personally, and many others, to say nothing of the influence of Quaker histories, journals and the founding Friends, such as George Fox, James Nayler, Robert, Barclay and William Penn, among others,--all of these had contributed to my Quaker education.
My whole life has left me with exultant feeling that I have found God. Thomas Kelly, Brother Lawrence, St. Augustine, St.Francis of Assisi, George Fox's Journal, and the Valiant Sixty, had all contributed to the present state of mind that has brought peace into my life.
Two particularly uplifting experiences in my Quaker education came about in this way:
J. Barnard Walton, Executive Secretary of Friends General Conference, was giving a series of lectures on the radio station, WEVD, in New York, and he asked me to speak. I had never spoken on the radio, and felt totally inadequate, but God was with me and I came up with a talk on "The Decline of Public Conscience". popular apathy had not got ten to the low stage of the post World War II degree and these lectures were designed to meet a need-- to arouse the public conscience to a critical point of departures from its current lapse into what may be called "innocuous desuetude".
Then at the Yearly Meeting, Barnard was searching for a person to sit next to him and break meeting, to my great amazement, Barnard selected me, a virtual unknown, in Yearly meeting, and I was selected for what I considered a great honor, as there were others I could name that were particularly anxious to sit on that seat, but for some reason they were not picked out.
Again I felt that God was somehow thrusting me into the lime light. I thought of the experiences of John Woolman and Margret Fell as well as the "Valiant Sixty" who had been dispatched by George Fox to spread the Quaker message far and wide. The four Quakers who were hanged in New England, especially the resistance of Mary Dyer and her three companions. I thought, too, of the experience of Lucretia Mott; Cassandra Southwick; and the great host of heroic Quaker women who had advanced the cause of human freedom. All the Quaker martyrs, such as little James Parnell; the trial of Penn and Meade; the struggle of William Penn and Woolman's patient efforts to abolish slavery. These all entered into the making of a modern convinced friend.
Kantor, William, “"Journal of a Modern 'Convinced' Friend",” Conscientious Objection & the Great War: 1914-1920, accessed February 27, 2021, https://cosandgreatwar.swarthmore.edu/items/show/1167.
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