Portrait Gallery

'Way Back When

by Jeanne

Carl Sandburg Never Would Settle Down

How many times have you heard someone say. “I don't know what to do about that boy of mine; it looks like he never will settle down”? Carl Sandburg was like that. A boy who skipped from job to job, And gave his simple Swedish immigrant parents many a worried hour! He was born in 1878 in Galesburg. Ill., of people who were uneducated and kindly, simple and poor. Forced by poverty to go to work when he was thirteen, he began the seemingly endless series of jobs that gave him such true understanding of the common people.

He drove a milk wagon in Galesburg and he blacked boots in a barber shop. If you could have looked into the future and said that some day Carl Sandburg would be a great poet, they would have laughed you out of town! He became a scene shifter in a cheap theater, a truck handler in a brick yard, and then a turner's apprentice in a pottery shop. Cheap manual labor, nothing skilled about most of it! He worked as a dish-washer in mid-western hotels, a harvest hand in the Kansas wheat fields, and a carpenter's helper. He begged meals from house-to-house in exchange for blackening stoves. Hardly a promising boy!

Carl Sandburg was learning the painter's trade when the Spanish American war broke out, and he enlisted. A comrade persuaded him to go to Lombard college and he worked his way through as a bell ringer, gym janitor and college correspondent for the Galesburg Daily Mail. In college his literary ability developed and he became editor of the school publications. After graduation he supported himself as advertising manager of a department store and sales manager of a business machines firm.

He entered politics, became a reporter, and in 1917, Carl Sandburg joined the staff of the Chicago Daily News, where his work has been outstanding.

A rolling stone, a restless jack-of-all-trades has been Carl Sandburg, but from the time of his literary awakening in college, he has written steadily stories for children, a biography of Lincoln, and hundreds of poems about the mass of people.

So, if that boy of yours is restless, if he skips from place to place, be patient. Carl Sandburg gained fame by knowing many people, many jobs, many problems.

© — WNU Service