No one excepting myself ever will fully know the many obstacles I had to overcome in the early part of my career, but the love of the cornet kept me plugging away in spite of all the barriers that constantly seemed to buck and block me at every turn. But Ed's cornet (a beautiful, silver-plated instrument which I kept in almost as perfect a condition as when new) seemed to inspire me with an added impetus to work, and as I became stronger and better able to practice, my patience and perseverance were regarded by eventually winning; I even astonished myself by the progress made within only a few weeks. Moreover, the pride in playing on such a "swell" instrument seemed to give me new aspirations and high ambitions. Following my full recovery, I returned to school for the balance of that term, and after its close I started out to find work and earn money to buy a cornet of my own, though Ed repeatedly told me that I might use his instrument continually as he had taken up the violin for good. Through the influenc of one of the deacons in the church where my father was organist, I secured a position in the office of a wholesale drug establishment at four dollars a week. This seemed a munificent amount of money which, if judiciously saved, would enable me to buy an instrument within six months, but I worked hard to earn it. My new position was supposed to be that of an assistant bookkeeper, yet all that I did for some weeks through every day, was to address thousands of advertising circulars and make out shipping invoices.
In the meantime, and through the influence of some of the managers he had met and made friends with at the Opera House my brother Ed had fallen into a fine berth as orchestra leader of a road show with the Baker and Farron Company (old-timers among my readers will recall the firm). And so it was that, about the time when I went to work as a bookkeeper, Ed, a full-fledged leader, was busy selecting men for his orchestra; some of them had to double, playing brass in the day-parade band and strings in the orcestra at night. By the first of July all the men had been selected, and Ed found himself the director of a first-class band and orchestra that consisted wholly of experienced Toronto musicians. My brother Ernest was a member of the organization, doubling on trombone and violin.
Ed's contract called for a summer engagement in Buffalo before starting out on the road, but on the very day when, with his players, he was to leave for that city, one of the men, Johnny Anderson (a cornet player who rated as one of the best in Toronto), claimed he could not leave town for the summer and backed out. This placed Ed in a pretty pickle, which rather upset him, for the "turn-down" came on Saturday and he was scheduled to open in Buffalo on the following day (Sunday). I, of course, knew nothin of the trouble in which my brother found himself, and not having to beat the office on that day (Saturday) my entire interest was centered in sailing, a summer pastime to which I was particularly partial.
I went down, got out the boat for a sail on the bay, and congratulating myself on having a perfect day with a spanking sailing breeze, was about to put off, when, like a wild man, who should come rushing and tearing down to the boat but Ed. He seemed about ready to burst or fall in an apoplectic fit from pent-up excitement as he announced the looming fiasco, and wound up by telling me that I simply must go to Buffalo as his cornet player.
Even though Ed could not find another cornetist in town willing to leave town and travel for the season, I was greatly elated in thinking that he considered me good enough to fill the position.
Well, that ended all sailing for me on that day! Even if my parents should consent that I might leave home and go with Ed, which seemed doubtful, there were preparations to be made and time was short. I told Ed for one thing that it would be necessary for me to give notice to my employers, but he promised to take care of that, saying he would telegraph them I was unavoidably called to Buffalo. I did not like the arrangement, however, and insisted upon their having a more personal notification. I was only ffteen years old, and in my boyish mind it was a great temptation to forget everything and go with Ed, but on second thought I decided it was better to play fair with the firm, and within a few hours they were notified.
To this day I cannot quite comprehend how it was that, at my age, father and mother allowed me to drop everything so summarily and start out with Ed, even taking into consideration the points he so strongly stressed that if I failed him his engagement in Buffalo could not be opened on time, that in consequence his contract might become void, and that as a result he might find himself out of an engagement for the entire season. My parents did consent, however, and as a boy of fifteen I started out with my bother Ed to fill my first engagement as