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Last month I was left wondering how on earth I could manage to exist on the amount of money that I was able to earn from my position at John Kay & Co. Summer had passed and with it the extra income from playing with the bond on the Island. I managed to keep up my courage, however, awaiting developments.
And then the totally unexpected happened! Just when I was at my wits' end, trying to figure out how to make both ends meet, I received a telegram from the orchestra leader at English's Opera in Indianapolis, Indiana, where my parents lived, offering me a season's job in that theatre at $15 a week! Oh Joy! Perhaps I did not become mighty independent all of a sudden, going again to the firm and demanding an increase in salary with the alternative that I would leave the business! My demands were refused for a second time, so I gave notice of immediate leaving, and wired my acceptance of the theatre job, stating I would be on hand for rehearsal the following Monday.
I never shall forget the kind treatment I received from the firm when I was handed my pay envelope on the day I left the store. There was something like $8.56 due me for the month, but when I opened the envelope and found that it contained $25, I spoke to the treasurer about the mistake that had been made. He referred me to Mr. John Kay, who said that he did not want me to leave without enough money to pay my fare home, which amounted to quite a little, as the distance was some six hundred miles. This money from the firm, with what I had saved for the past six months, made it possible for me to travel home, comfortably in a sleeper and with good meals en route, returning in proper style instead of buying a second-class ticket and sitting up all night in a day coach.
After resigning again from the Queen's Own Regiment and bidding all my friends "goodbye," I left Toronto for the second time. My career as a businessman had proved a failure, so with greater determination than ever to make a success of the profession I loved, once more I started in the music life, under the firm decision to stick to it for all time and under all conditions. My business experience had taught me a good lesson.
It was mighty good to get home again, after trying to exist on almost nothing for six months, with very few comforts, no petting or anyone to look after a boy the way a mother does. I had a splendid home with everything that I wanted, and never should have left it, if my father had not wanted me to follow business instead of music as a career. However, the experience in Toronto did not hurt me a bit, as I learned to appreciate the value of money. How I worked to earn it, learning to spend carefully only for bare necessities, and allowing myself no luxuries of any kind!
After my arrival in Indianapolis, I went to work in the theatre immediately, playing viola in the orchestra the entire season for $15 a week, instead of earning $ 10 a month working at the store of John Kay & Son. Brother Ed played violin and brother Ern the trombone in the same orchestra with me, so we three boys were together once more, all interested in music, and helping each other in our daily practice.