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Good Advice From Governor Bone

I’ve been reading the book:

Bone, Scott C. 1925. Alaska, its past, present, future. [Juneau, Alaska?]: Issued by the Governor’s Office.

Scott C. Bone was the 10th Governor of the Territory of Alaska. As he was leaving office in 1925, he had a small book of his articles and speeches printed. There is a lot of interesting material here, including predictions of what Alaska might be in a century and some complaints that seem oddly familar to Alaskans today. In the coming weeks, I’ll be quoting some of these passages.

Today though, I want to focus on some timeless advice Governor Bone gave to the graduating class of Douglas High School. The full commencement speech is available on page 26. It isn’t dated, but is between WWI and 1925.

The whole speech is worth reading, but I especially like his warning against getting into the wrong box:

In my school days — and my schooling ended with the high school — I once wrote an essay entitled, “Do not get into the wrong box.” based upon Sydney Smith‘s wit and philosophy. I quoted him as saying, “It is better to be the Napoleon of bootblacks or the Alexander of chimney-sweeps than a brief-less and shallow-patted attorney, who like necessity, knows no law — watching for victims in an unswept chamber where cobwebs in dusty magnificence hang, and there to eke out his existence when he might have been happy behind the plow or opulent behind the counter.” In this day and generation the humblest young man can aspire to something more worth while than boot-blacking or chimney-sweeping, but there is, nevertheless, much truth and force in that philosophy. It is essential not to get into “the wrong box,” which means a profession or a vocation into which you cannot put your whole heart and for which you are inherently unequipped.

Sound advice in the 1920s. Probably will be good advice in the 2020s. Take it to heart!

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