SCRAPBOOK BEFORE 1929: William Goodell Frost. “Educational Rally at Big Stone Gap”

Scrapbook: Magazine and Newspaper Clippings Before 1929

SCRAPBOOK BEFORE 1929: William Goodell Frost. “Educational Rally at Big Stone Gap”

“The Ladder of Success,”
[Speech for the] Educational Rally at Big Stone Gap [Virginia], n.d.
by William Goodell Frost




(Citizen Reprint No. 10.)
Speech by President Frost, “The Ladder of Success.”

(Special Correspondence to the Citizen)

The interest in education is start­ing up in almost every valley thru the great mountain region. The Virginia and Carolina mountains are waking from slumber. Through Tennessee and Eastern Kentucky parents are making larger plans than ever for their children. Tha family that does not have at least, one child in school will surely be left behind!

In response to invitations of many citizens, President Frost has been making a few speeches in the moun­tains this summer. On Thursday night your correspondent was pres­ent at the educational rally at Big Stone Gap.

This gap is one of the bright spots on the map, a meeting place for people from five states.

The meeting was held in the new High School Auditorium and ….. [pages missing]




Our Mountains Can Be It
in the world a man says “I was born in Switzerland/’ and people expect him to show good character and good education. In any part of the world a man says, “I came from Scotland,” and people at once trust him and ex­pect him to be a capable, intelligent, God fearing man.

Our own mountain region has not yet made itself altogether understood, but it is on the way to a great reputa­tion. We, who are the active men and women and the young people of today, will live to see the mountain ends of these eight southern states, this great inland mountain region which we call Appalachian America; we shall live to see it as famous for its well trained children as any other mountain country in America or in the world.

I came here not to teach you any great lesson but just to get acquaint­ed. And we shall get acquainted by talking over together the things we believe in. Coming from a great reli­gious school, you will expect me to speak about education and religion; but I shall not speak of these things directly but rather of the influence of religion and education in making men and women. How do religion and edu­cation help us in the great purpose of our lives? What do we mean when


A Figure Helps Remember we say we believe in education, or we believe in religion?
“The Ladder of Success ” Now, if I am only to come to Big Stone Gap once in twenty years, I must speak my speech in such a fashion that it can be remembered. I would rather have what I say today rem­embered by the boys and girls than to have it approved even by the wise fathers, mothers, ministers and public men who may honor us by their at­tendance today. Let me speak then to the young, and make sure of their attention by putting what I have to say in the shape of a figure. I will build here by the help of these boys and girls what we will call the Ladder of Success.

A Ladder Helps us Climb I think every person in the room has seen a ladder. What is the ladder for? It is something to help us climb. It enables us to mount from the ground toward the sky. It is a ma­chine for getting people higher. Not an elevator that lifts them, but a stairway which they can climb.

Which Will You Be?

Now there is no one here so young that he has not noticed that there are different kinds of people in the world —some people whom he admires and


Lifters and Leanersother people whom he pities. Which do you propose to be, boys and gins, – people who will be pitied, or people who will be admired?
Here is a man who does things. He can pick a good horse and train it. He can plow a straight furrow, set a straight post, raise a big crop. His house is comfortable, his stock is well cared for, his family is well clothed. He takes care of everything and everybody that belongs to him and has a surplus of money in the bank to give to the church, neighbors and every good cause and public improvement. He is a successful man.

Beside him may be another who is always in trouble and difficulties. He forgets to shut the gate and the pigs get into the garden. He makes promises and does not keep them. His children are untrained, his horse is lame, his wife is sick, his debts are unpaid, his hands are idle half the year. He is an unsuccessful man.

Now boys which kind of a man do you intend to be?

And here are two women. One of them has never learned how to do many useful things. Her front room may be reasonably comfortable, but her kitchen is dirty and full of disorder. There is a button gone from the back of her dress and the place is


Smilers and Cryers fastened with a pin. Her voice is sharp and mournful. She is all the time wringing her hands and talking of her troubles. She is an unsuccessful woman.
But in the next valley lives her sister, perhaps, who has always taken an interest in the great business of house­keeping. She has saved up all the rules for dressmaking, fruit canning, and the care of the sick. Her kitchen is the cleanest and brightest room in her house. Her children are all proud to help her. The house work is properly finished at an early hour and she has time for her garden, her flowers, her music and her books. Peo­ple who are in trouble send for her. She can give good advice and she can show them how things ought to be done. Her very face is like a May morning. She is a successful woman.

Now, girls, which kind of a woman do you propose to be?

And let me say to the boys and girls here that no one of you will be suc­cessful unless you plan and try to be. You must think now what kind of a man or woman you desire to be and then you must work at it, and aim at it, and pray for it, and if you do, God and good people will be on your side and you will be a successful man or woman.


Religion and EducationNow let us build this ladder of success. The first side piece shall be religion, and the other side piece shall be education. And between these two side pieces we shall put the steps or rungs of the ladder, one after another.
What are we building, young people? (From the audience, “A ladder.’)

What do we call it? (The Ladder of Success.)

What is the first side piece? (Religion. )

What is the other side piece? (Education.)

Now I shall not say much about religion and education, because you have heard a great deal about them, but I want to put them in their right places in this ladder. Education and religion ought to help a man climb, and our study tonight will be in climbing which means success.

The First Step in this Ladder of Success Is Work.

Work is the foundation of every­thing good. Work is the lot of man. It is the appointment of God. We all have to work. And now let me examine you and see if you are properly headed for success. Do you enjoy work? Some of you shake your heads and some of you nod; but we all have to work. Now if I could give you a


How to Enjoy Work rule which would make it certain that you would always enjoy your work, it would be a good thing. Listen and I will give you that rule. The way to enjoy work is to try to do it well.
Two boys go out to plow. One boy is careless in his plowing. His fur­rows are crooked, his harness is bad­ly adjusted. He is all the time listen­ing for the dinner bell and watching for sunset. His horses work badly, the plow slips out of the furrow and the handles hit him in the ribs. He is an unhappy plowman, and unhappy because he is not trying to do his job well.

But the other boy says, “I am going to do the best piece of plowing that was ever done on the farm. I am go­ing to make this field so smooth that we can cut the grain with a reaper.” He adjusts the harness right for each horse, he adjusts the plow so that it will cut a furrow deep enough and not too deep, and just wide enough and not too wide. He fixes his eyes on some land-mark on the other side of the field and plows straight toward it —as straight as a string. If the plow hits some stone or root and fails to turn the furrow, he steadies it and pushes the furrow over with his foot. He has a hatchet with him to cut out the roots, and he throws the stones out


Making an Apron of the field. That way of plowing is pleasant work. I have done it and know what I am talking about. That boy sings and whistles all the day and comes home at night entirely happy. He enjoys his work because he is doing it well.
Two girls are set to sewing. One girl whimpers at her task. She wants to go picnicing [sic]and visiting instead of sewing. She makes some stitches long, some short; she makes the hem wide and then narrow; she drops tears on the cloth and pricks her fingers; she is unhappy because she is not try­ing to do her work well.

The other girl says I will make an apron for grandma. She picks out a pretty pattern; she has her mother to show her just how to turn the hem, and just how long to make the stitches. All the time she is sewing, she is thinking of old grandma and the pleasure it will be to give ner that apron. When the work is done, she is reluctant to stop; she calls her mother and asks, “Can’t I put a frill on this apron?” She works another hour or two and still is unwilling to finish the pleasant task. The next day she asks her mother how to put a pocket on that apron. So she lingers over her work, and sings while she toils, and is happy over her work be-


Candy or Mouth-harp?

-cause she is doing it well.

2nd Step—Careful Use of Money

Now for the second round in our ladder. The first is work. The second is the careful use of money. We are not all of us earning money all the time, but we are all of us consuming food and wearing out clothing and in one way or another spending money every day we live. Now I am going to ask you to make the rules for the wise use of money. Each bit of money represents some­body’s hard work. You have worked, or else your father, or whoever has given you the money has worked. And we want to spend that money in such a way as to do the greatest possi­ble good.

Let us suppose that this little boy receives 25 cents as a present, arid there are two things he may spend it for. He can buy a pound of candy or he can buy a mouth harp. Tell me, my boy, which would you buy?

The boy says he would buy the candy. Well, my boy, I think you would make a mistake. The candy would taste very good. We all like things that are sweet; but there is one bad thing about candy. How long does it last? In a very short time that candy would be gone and you


A Song-book or a Hen?would have nothing to show for it. You could remember how good it tasted, but you could never taste it again.
On the other hand, if you should spend this 25 cents for a mouth harp you could enjoy that today, next week and next year. And you could lend it to all the scholars in school and it would still be a pleasure and a joy. (You couldn’t lend them your candy;. I think the boys and girls here would agree with me that there is ten times as much enjoyment in the mouth harp as there is in the candy. So we can make a rule for the wise spending of money. Spend money for things that last.

But there is a better rule than this. Let us suppose that this little girl has a birthday and her grandfather gives her 25 cents to spend, and for that 25 cents she might buy a song book or she might buy a hen. Which would it be, little girl? (Answer: I would buy the song book because it would last.) That is a pretty good answer, but it is not the best answer. We are going to find a rule better than the other one, a rule better than to spend money for the things that last. The song book would make you happy today, and tomorrow, and next week and next year. You could lend


Rules for Spending Money it to all the children in school and it would be full of happiness still. But there is one thing in which the song book is less valuable than the hen. The song book can’t lay eggs!
You see that the song book would not help you buy the hen, but the hen would help you to buy the song book, and then you would have both.

So here we have the other rule for spending money: Spend money for things that will bring money again.

Should We Spend for Education?

Now let us apply these two rules to education. Is it wise to spend money on education? Let us try the test of the first rule. Is education something that will last? Certainly, it is if it is the right kind of educa­tion. You spend money for a fine dress, and it is worn out. You spend money for an excursion and it is soon over and past. But you spend money for knowledge—you spend money for yourself to get some new information or some new skill and that knowledge and that training will be yours forever. It is something that can’t be lost. It is something that can’t be stolen. Education is a good investment according to our first rule that we should spend money for things that should last.


The Compass or the Pegs?And how about the other rule? Is education something that will bring money again? Many educated people are not great money makers because they do not live to make money. But it is easy to see that education does help a man to earn money.
I saw two men surveying land. One of them carried the book and a com­pass, and the other man carried the chain and pegs. The man who car­ried the book and the compass was an educated man. He had studied arithmetic and geometry and the higher mathematics and his pay was six dollars per day. The other man traveled just as far each day. He carried the chain and pegs, but he had not done any studying and his pay was one dollar and fifty cents!

I was told once the story of a man whose factory stopped. Something was wrong with the machinery and when the machinery stopped, the workmen had to stop and everybody was in trouble. The factory owner came out of his office and inquired if there was nobody there who could start that machinery. There were plenty of men who were strong enough but no one who was learned enough. “Who in this town can do it?” he asked. “Well, there is a young college graduate across the river, who under-


$50 for Knowing How!stands machinery.” “Send for him/’ said the mill owner. “Send my car­riage, and whip the horses.” Pretty soon the young college graduate ap­peared. He asked a few questions, tapped on the pipes with his hammer, called for a wrench, unscrewed a part of the pipe, blowed through it and put it back. “Now turn on the steam.” They turned on the steam and the machinery began to go, and the hundred idle men began to work, and the young man stepped into the office for his pay. “How much do you charge” said the mill owner. “Fifty dollars and fifty cents,” said the young man. “Well,” said the mill owner, “that is a good deal of money, but what you have done is worth it all. I am glad to pay you fifty dol­lars and fifty cents, but I should like to know how you figure just that way.” “Oh” said the young man, “that is easily explained. I charge you fifty cents for doing the work and fifty dollars for knowing how.”
Now young people, let us review a little.

What are we building here tonight?
A ladder, the Ladder of Success.

What is the first side piece?

What is the other side piece?


Kinds of Pleasure

What is the first rung of the ladder?

What is the rule for enjoying work?
Trying to do it well.

What is the second rung of the ladder?
The careful use of money

What is the first rule for using money?
Spend for things that last.

What is the second rule for using money?
Spend money for things that will bring money again.

3d Step—Higher Pleasures

Now the third round in the ladder is the enjoyment of higher pleasures. There are a great many different ways of having a good time. Some kinds of a good time are pleasant at the time but harmful afterwards. Other good times are harmless but not high. And above these are what we call the higher pleasures.

I love to see children play tag in the school house yard. It is innocent, it is harmless, it is beautiful. So you see kittens play on the floor. So you see lambs play in the pasture. But, by and by, the bell rings, the children come into the school house, the teach­er says we will sing a song, and you have a pleasure which is something


Pleasures Above the Mouth

the kittens and lambs could not share. Singing is one of the higher pleasures.
These high pleasures are mostly things we have to learn to enjoy. We enjoy singing but we do not enjoy learning how to sing. In learning to sing we have to repeat a great many exercises, we have to correct a great many mistakes, but when the thing is learned it is a great joy. So you enjoy swimming, but we first must learn how to swim, so we enjoy read­ing but we must first learn how to read.

Now, there are some people who never learn to enjoy these higher pleasures. I heard Henry Ward Beecher say once that a man’s pleas­ures are divided by a line that passes through his upper lip. Below that line is the pleasure of chewing and drinking. But suppose a man should be paralyzed up to his nose; could he still be happy? I think he could. There would be the nose for the odor of sweet flowers, and there would be the ear for music and conversation, there would be the eyes to look out on God’s world of beauty, there would be the brain, the dome of thought. All these higher pleasures are the things that make man the image of God.


Pleasure of Being Drunk!
The Fourth Rung is Temperance

The fourth rung in the ladder of success is called temperance. Tem­perance means avoiding harmful pleasures. There are many things which contain real pleasure, but which bring after the pleasure pain and evil, which outweigh it all.

The great example of harmful pleasure is liquor drinking, I pre­sume a great many of the boys and girls here have seen a man intoxicat­ed. He staggers and makes a fool of himself. He falls down and lies in the gutter; but all this time he is inwardly happy. He is having a fine time. He imagines he is rich and good, and that everybody admires him. And these delusions are so sweet and pleasant that he will get more liquor and drink again. That is an example of pleasure that costs more than it is worth. If we are to climb the ladder, we must put in the rung of temperance—the power to let harmful pleasures alone.

Take the matter of tobacco. I am not here to say anything against the old men and the old women who may be using tobacco. They got into the habit years ago. But I am talking to the boys and girls who have not yet begun. I am very sure those


$12,000 for Smoke and Spit ? who do use tobacco, would advise you not to begin.
Does Tobacco Pay?

To begin with, just consider whe­ther it is a wise use of money. It is not a pleasure that will last, and it is not a use of money that will bring money again. Any man who uses to­bacco, unless he begs it from his neighbor, will spend on the average as much as ten cents a day. That is seventy cents a week; three dollars and five cents a month; thirty-six dol­lars and fifty cents a year. ‘Let him spend this money for a harmful pleasure from the time he is 18 till the time he is 70, and it means $12,683 —think of it $12,683 wasted in smoke and spittle!

But it is more than a waste, it is a harm. There is some question about the effect of tobacco on a man fully developed. Some doctors think that some men between the ages of thirty and fifty may use tobacco moderately without any harm. But all doctors agree that for a man under thirty years to use tobacco, it is a stunting of his growth.

AM Athletes Avoid Tobacco

Every man who goes into a prize fight or a boat race or an athletic contest has to give up tobacco. Now


Every Life is a Prize Fight!

isn’t life as important as a boat race? Doesn’t a wise and ambitious young man wish to be always at his best, as though he were training for a prize fight or a race?
Then we must learn it is an awful thing to be the slave of a habit. This slavery often takes hold on strong men. General Grant was a strong man, but his tobacco got the better of him, and he died ten years before he needed to, because of this awful habit. President McKinley was a strong man, but couldn’t use tobacco without using too much. It affected his heart, and so when he was shot at Buffalo, the doctor said if he had not been broken down by his tobacco habit he might have recovered. But he had a “tobacco heart” and so this wound which needn’t have killed him proved fatal.

I shall not stop now to talk about liquor and gambling and other harm­ful pleasures, dangerous pleasures* If you are learning to enjoy the higher pleasures, these things will not tempt you.

Let us review once more.

What are we building? The Ladder of Success.

What are the side pieces? Religion and Education.

What are the first four rounds?


Why the Indians Failed

Work, Careful use of money, Enjoy­ment of the higher pleasures, Tem­perance.

The Top Round—Perseverance

We will put in one more round, and this is an important one. We do not want to climb to the top, and then stumble on the top round! The top round- of our ladder of success is called perseverance.

Some years ago I was speaking to the Indians in northern Michigan. I would say a few words and my inter­preter would repeat it in the Indian language. After a little he stopped and said the Indian language had no word for perseverance. Then I knew why the Indians had been swept off their lands. How could they continue in possession of this great country if they had no word for perseverance?

Perseverance means stick at it, never give up, always at it, never des­pair, early and late, thorough and complete, standing by till the end, find a way or make it.

It is not enough to desire to be suc­cessful. We must determine to be successful, we must be ready to pay the price, be ready to stick through, and make sure of the very largest success we can possibly grasp.

Let me apply this principle of per-


Don’t Stop Half Way

severance to your work in the public schools. Many of the young people who are here tonight have been in school. Perhaps you have gone thru the fifth grade, or the sixth grade, or the first year of the high school, and now you are thinking of dropping out. There is danger you will not persevere. You have climbed a little way but are not going to be sufficient­ly ambitious to go to the top.
Let me tell you it doesn’t pay to stop half way. Now that you are started in school go on and finish. There is no danger that you will learn too much or climb too high.

Every week of my life I hear of men who are sorry they did not study more when they were young. It reminds me of the story of a man in a village out west. This man was a fool. Of course there are fools in every village, but this man was a notorious fool. They called him fool, and he answered to the name.

One day the fool had an idea. Per­haps he had been to Sunday School. He thought he could make a man as God did out of clay. His idea of a man was something big, and there was plenty of clay. So he shaped upon the river bank a broad shoulder­ed, rather flat headed, clay man. He


The Unfinished Man!

enjoyed his task and begun putting on some finishing touches, sticking in a rye straw for a beard. Before he finished the last foot, noon came and he left the man while he went to dinner.
And then some mischievous boys came down to the river and rolled the clay man into the water. The fool came back and looked around for the man. “Oh!,” said the boys, “he just got up and wandered off.” The fool was very much excited. He was pleased to know that his man could walk, but was disappointed not to see him. He started out to find him on the street. Pretty soon he saw a man with yellow beard which he thought must be the man he had made. He followed him in silence, saw him take a drink, heard him swear, and concluded that he was working all right! Pretty soon the man with the yellow beard went into a livery stable; the fool followed, and a great army of boys followed the fool. Then the man began to notice how he was attended. “What in the thunder,” he roared, “are you following me for?” The fool stuttered as he answered “Wha, wha, what in the thunder did you walk off before you were finished for?”

Now that is the question that we


Will You Climb?

have to ask a great many people who walked off from school without fin­ishing anything. They always walk lame, they always feel their deficien­cies, they might have gotten more nearly finished but they had a chance to get married or to earn a little quick money, or something of that sort, and dropped out of school. They didn’t persevere. As an old mountain man in our state said, “They are soon satisfied.”
The top round of the ladder of success is perseverance, stick to it, always at it, never give up, never be satisfied as long as we see something more which we can learn, and be, and do.

And now young people I have given you this ladder of success. Will you climb it? Will you be faithful in the schools where you now are until you have learned all they can teach you? Then will you plan for at least one term at some good school away from home? And all your life long will you keep learning? How many people there are who never know what they might have been if they had only climbed to the top of this ladder of success.


Title William Goodell Frost,  “The Ladder of Success,” [Speech for the] Educational Rally at Big Stone Gap [Virginia], reprinted in Citizen [?]
Alt. Title Frost, William Goodell, “The Ladder of Success,” [Speech for the] Educational Rally at Big Stone Gap [Virginia], Citizen reprint No. 10,[Special Correspondence to the Citizen], n.d.
Creator William Goodell Frost
Subject Keyword William Goodell Frost ;  William G. Frost ; schools ; education ; Settlement Schools ; alcohol ; moonshine ; perseverance ; religion ; economics ; economic success ; civic responsibility ; poverty ; farming ; Berea College, KY ; Appalachia ; Big Stone Gap, VA ;
Subject LCSH Frost, William Goodell
Settlement Schools — Harlan County — Kentucky
Pine Mountain Settlement School — Harlan  County — Kentucky
Appalachians (People)
Big Stone Gap — VA
Description Speech given at an educational rally held at Big Stone Gap, Virginia. No date is given.
Publisher The Citizen, [?]
Date Date of article ?  ; Date digital – 2008-08-17.
Type Text ;
Format 1 short reprint of speech
Source Pine Mountain Settlement School archive ; scrapbook 1. Reproduced as a virtual document.
Language English
Relation Pine Mountain Settlement School scrapbooks ;
Coverage 1899
Rights Any display, publication or public use must credit Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.  Copyright retained by the authors of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Donor Virtual
Acquisition  N/A
Citation Frost, William Goodell, “The Ladder of Success,” [Speech for the] Educational Rally at Big Stone Gap [Virginia], Citizen reprint No. 10,[Special Correspondence to the Citizen], n.d.
Processed by HW 2008-08-17
Last updated 2008-08-17 ; 2008-10-10 hhw ; 2017-01-29 hhw