Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Photos courtesy of Nodaway County Historical Society
Above right: A celebrity author in the 1930s and ‘40s, Dale Carnegie inscribed this photograph with birthday greetings to “Mae.” Pictured above left is Dale Carnegie’s boyhood home near Bedison. After he became successful as the founder of America’s self-help industry, Carnegie made no secret of his distaste for life on a struggling family farm. Left: One hundred years after his birth, the U.S. Postal Department held a stamp cancellation in Maryville honoring the legacy of self-help author Dale Carnegie, who was born in Nodaway County in 1888.
Carnegie still a cipher after 125 years Continued from Page 1 In this his quasquicentennial year – the 125th anniversary of his birth – he’s again a cause célèbre because of a newly released biography by Steven Watts, a history professor at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Carnegie’s parents adhered to the Victorian values of faith, morality and plain hard work. But a childhood and adolescence of backbreaking labor while helping his family eke out a bare living on one struggling farm after another taught him that the road to success lay elsewhere than the straight furrow blazed by a Missouri mule. Recalling his youth in a letter to the Maryville Democrat-Forum in 1924, Carnegie wrote: “I have shucked corn down there by Bedison when the stalks were half blown down and covered with wet snow; I have milked and churned
and cut wood when I wanted to go fishing; I have worked in the boiling sun until a sorrel mule would have fallen weak, spent and exhausted if he had been trying to follow me …” Later he said: “I was ashamed of the fact that I had to live on the farm – I was ashamed of our poverty.” Carnegie wanted more than a life of grueling labor, and he was determined to find a way out. When his family moved to a farm near Warrensburg, he earned a teaching certificate from what is now the University of Central Missouri. In 1908 he had his first taste of success when he took a job with Armour & Co. earning $17 a week selling bacon, soap and lard throughout the Badlands of South Dakota. He went to New York City to try his hand at acting, but in 1912 began holding public speaking classes at the YMCA in Harlem. Two
years later he founded the Dale Carnegie Institute and in 1913 published his first book, Public Speaking and Influencing Men of Business. During World War I he enlisted in the U.S. Army and was stationed at Camp Upton on Long Island. After the war, he lived for a while in France and Hungary. In 1927 he married Lolita Baucaire, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1931. Then, in 1937 he published the book that changed everything: How to Win Friends and Influence People. As the Great Depression wound down, people were hungry for ways to increase their earning power, and Carnegie’s book fit the bill. Though widely embraced by readers, critics panned it as a cynical blueprint for manipulating others in order to make a fast buck. Sinclair Lewis, the Nobel Prize-
winning novelist and social critic, suggested that Carnegie’s views on the financial rewards of selling what amounted to soft soap reflected the materialistic values of George F. Babbitt, the venal and corrupt protagonist of “Babbit,” his acclaimed fictional account of greed and hypocrisy among smalltown America’s merchant class. In spite of the criticism, How to Win Friends and Influence People went on to sell more than 5 million copies and remained on national bestseller lists for more than a decade. In 1944 Carnegie married Dorothy Price Vanderpool, a woman 23 years his junior with whom he had a daughter, Donna Dale. Upon his death in 1955, Dorothy became the chairman of Carnegie’s parent company, Dale Carnegie & Associates Inc., an organization still thriving today. Carnegie once claimed that
“people who have a natural gift for diplomacy don’t write books on how to win friends and influence people. The reason I wrote the book is because I have blundered so often myself that I began to study the subject for the good of my own soul.” Whether he was a sincere practitioner of smooth salesmanship or a cynical master of manipulation is still a topic of debate. Decades after his death Carnegie remains a mystery of his own making. At his direction the marker on his grave in Belton Cemetery in Cass County, Missouri, reads simply, “Dale Carnegie, 18881955.”
Editor’s note: Research materials and documents for this story were provided with the gracious cooperation of the Nodaway County Historical Society.
Snapshots from Nodaway County’s past
Mail was tie that bound rural communities Editor’s note: Did You Know is an occasional feature written by Melissa Middleswart of the Nodaway County Historical Society and based on materials preserved in the society’s archives. Located at 110 N. Walnut St. in Maryville, the Nodaway County Historical Society Museum is currently on winter hiatus and will re-open to the public in March. By MELISSA MIDDLESWART
We all take our daily mail delivery for granted, but did you know that at one time you had to go to the post office in town to get your mail? An issue of the Maryville Tribune dated July 18, 1901, gives historical background regarding Rural Free Delivery in Nodaway County. At that time there were 28 routes with a total road length of 690 miles serving 11 towns countywide. Maryville had five routes; Burlington Junction four; Hopkins, Skidmore, Clyde and Parnell three each; Clearmont and Ravenwood two each; and Graham, Barnard and Quitman one route each. Routes averaged 25 miles, and each carrier would deliver and collect mail at an average of 114
farm homes daily — except on Sunday. The farm families served numbered 3,200, a total of 16,000 people. At that time a carrier earned $500 a year, making the combined salaries of rural carriers in Nodaway County $14,000 annually. The first rural carriers delivered by horseback and wagon, but by 1910 they were switching to Ford automobiles. Connecting farm families to surrounding towns via the U.S. Postal Department was an essential function of the federal government. Nodaway County boasted one of the most thorough and systematic rural mail networks in the state. Within three years it served two thirds of the county’s farmers, bringing mail to their homes once a day except on Sundays. Prior to that time farmers had to go to town on Saturdays to get their mail or trust an accommodating neighbor to bring it to them. The county owed its first RFD (Rural Free Delivery) routes to E.E. McJimsey, W.C. Pierce and Postmaster John G. Grems, who made sure Nodaway was served after learning that the Missouri applications period had closed
NODAWAY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
This photo shows Maryville’s rural mail carriers during the early part of the 20th century. The carriers are standing on the steps of the newly completed Maryville Post Office, constructed in 1912. The North Main building became the Maryville Public Library in the 1960s. without this congressional district being included. The photo appearing with this story shows a group of Maryville rural carriers around 1912, including William Howard Wat-
son. He’s the man in the vest. The picture was taken on the steps of the newly constructed Maryville Post Office, which became the town’s public library in the 1960s when the Post Office
moved to 507 N. Fillmore. Do you have old photos or stories about Nodaway County in days gone by. Let the Historical Society know about it by calling (660) 582-8687.
Published on Dec 31, 2013