A Lesson for Living

"Everything happens for the best," my mother said whenever I faced disappointment. "If you carry on, one day something good will happen. And you'll realize that it wouldn't have happened if not for that previous disappointment."

Mother was right, as I discovered after graduating from college in 1932. I had decided to try for a job in radio, then work my way up to sports announcer. I hitchhiked to Chicago and knocked on the door of every station - and got turned down every time.

In one studio, a kind lady told me that big stations couldn't risk hiring an inexperienced person. "Go out in the sticks and find a small station that'll give you a chance," she said.

I thumbed home to Dixon, Illinois. While there was no radio-announcing jobs in Dixon, my father said Montgomery Ward had opened a store and wanted a local athlete to manage its sports department. Since Dixon was where I had played high school football, I applied. The job sounded just right for me. But I wasn't hired.

My disappointment must have shown. "Everything happens for the best," Mom reminded me. Dad offered me the car to job hunt. I tried WOC Radio in Davenport, Iowa. The program director, a wonderful Scotsman named Peter MacArthur, told me they had already hired an announcer.

As I left his office, my frustration boiled over. I asked aloud, "How can a fellow get to be a sports announcer if he can't get a job in a radio station?"

I was waiting for the elevator when I heard MacArthur calling, "What was that you said about sports? Do you know anything about football?" Then he stood me before a microphone and asked me to broadcast an imaginary game.

On my way home, as I have many times since, I thought of my mother's words: "If you carry on, one day something good will happen. Something wouldn't have happened if not for that previous disappointment."

I often wonder what direction my life might have taken if I'd gotten the job at Montgomery Ward.



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