It has been said by someone that we have reached the end of new frontiers, and from now on we can develop only that which we have inside those limits. If that were so, America to a large degree would cease to be the land of opportunity. To this theory I do not subscribe; I maintain that in our country there are still new frontiers and unlimited opportunities for persons with a vision and a will to work who are ready to take advantage of opportunities as they may present themselves. America has opened its doors to countless immigrants who through our industrial and educational facilities have been enabled to make progress in a better life and existence for themselves and families than they possibly could have reached in the country of their origin.

    To illustrate my point I think I shall tell you a little story (a true story incidentally):

On June 13, 1902 the S. S. Commonwealth of the Dominion Lines docked at Boston, and a young man from faraway Sweden went ashore, first seeing in reality the American shores which previously he had visited only in his dreams. After passing through certain formalities at the Port of Boston, he (together with other immigrants) was loaded into a horse-drawn sort of "Black Maria" and taken to the railroad terminal and put on a train for an inland city, which was his destination according to his ticket and passport. At 11:00 PM, he was "shooed" off the train into a gloomy old railroad station together with a companion who had come with him on the long journey. There was no reception committee, and the two friends had no place to go. Suddenly they heard a voice speaking in their Swedish language, "Who are you looking for, fellows?" The answer was that they were not looking for anyone in particular; they did not know where to go; could he advise them where they could get some place to sleep? The man who had spoken to them was dressed in a sort of uniform (cap and denim overalls), and it appeared that he was employed by the railroad. He told them that they had better come home with him and sleep overnight. They were taken care of in splendid fashion by this stranger-friend and his family and stayed there for three or four days. Through the efforts of this newly-made acquaintance they made contact with other people who had come over on the same boat and who were living with friends, so that arrangements were made for a more permanent location, and later for obtaining work of some sort.

The young man had left his childhood home in Sweden a few weeks previous to his arrival at Boston and had told his mother that within five years he would be back to visit with her again, not expecting at that time that he would never again see his mother and father, and it would be many long years before he would again see the old two room cabin where he had spent his early boyhood years. 

But in 1929 the boy came back to the little red cabin to see the old familiar places, to visit the graves of his good parents and to dream and live again in memory his boyhood. He could see in memory the time when he began traveling to school--walking the distance of more than four miles each day.  He could remember the time when, as a 12 year old, he was sent out to help support the family by watching the cattle in the fields from morning till night all summer. He recalled the time when he was fourteen when he left home to do a man's work and never again came back to the old family home except for short visits.  He also remembered how he worked as a riveter's helper at the age of fifteen or sixteen, working long, long hours, and how at eighteen he worked in a brick factory carrying fifty raw bricks on a wheel barrow to the ovens. He thought of the time when he was working in the road building gang--hard, laborious work--running the wheelbarrow "with the best of them".  He was thinking of the time he served for a season in the Swedish Army under the compulsory training system--and finally how he left home to travel to the land of his dreams, and waving goodbye to his mother, never to see her again.

The arrival in this country posed problems--coming in as he did with a capital of $30 which had been borrowed from a friend and which had to be repaid. A few days after arrival he set out to seek work, wandering around the city with a boy he had met who could speak a little English. They stumbled into a blacksmith's shop and looked at the men working there on heavy ironwork. A big gruff fellow who seemed to be in charge met up with them and said, "What are you looking for?" As no answer was forthcoming, the man spoke in the Swedish language, again asking what they were looking for. It finally ended up with the young man's accepting a job as a blacksmith's helper. He remained with the blacksmith for a period of three weeks.

In the fall of that same year he entered evening school for the purpose of learning the English language. Meanwhile a job had been obtained for him by a man who had dedicated his life to assisting immigrants.  This work was in a factory producing coffee machinery for South American countries.  He worked here for almost two years, at the end of which period he had charge of a department building these machines. This advancement had been gained because of his ability to read blue prints; he had learned this in the old country as a boy.

In the fall and winter of that second year the business depression set in and many people were walking the streets in search of work. During the entire winter the young man was out of work and finally landed in a factory making valentines (of all things) and drew the fabulous salary of 8.00 per week. This temporary job lasted six months, and again he had time on his hands to watch the street parade going by. This free time was, however, not spent in idleness but in reading a great deal, for by this time he had acquired a pretty fair control in speaking, reading and writing the English language.

            He had been taking his meals at a boarding house in the downtown district, and one day he found himself entirely out of funds and unable to pay the weekly amount for his board.  He then decided to quit the boarding house and leave the city to go west, so he arranged to borrow enough money for the fare, The owner of the boarding house tried to talk him into staying and said he could stay as long as he cared to, and when he got back to work to could repay whatever and whenever he could. The husband of the boarding house lady who worked in a shoe factory came in and heard the discussion and said to the young man, "Go over with me to the factory and see what is going on there."  After showing him around the factory, the older man said, "Do you think you could do this work?" It looked fairly simple, and the young fellow tried it.  When he was working at the machine, the owner of the factory came into the room and bellowed: "Who let you in here? What are you doing here?"  The man who had invited him into the factory told the manufacturer a little of the story, and the boss offered the young man a job lasting shoes. This was a new experience, and naturally it took some time to get used to it; but after about a year's work in the shoe factory, he found them turning over to him the best shoes made in the factory, as he had by that time apparently become the best laster in the room.  Then another shoe factory in the same town sent an emissary looking for his services and, over the protests of the first factory owners, he left to go to a better position in a new factory. This was in 1905.

In 1904 he had taken a position as a salesman in one of the city's largest shoe stores as an extra for Saturdays--this Saturday job he kept up for several years.  In those days the stores were open late Saturday nights--it was a long workday.

Early in 1906 he became a family man, marrying a girl who had also come from Sweden some years previous, and the ambition to go West had finally lost its appeal.

During the following year the shoemaker stuck to his last, and at the end of the year in summing up his riches, he found that he had earned the magnificent sum of $12.07 per week.  This did not seem to be so promising, and finally our man decided to embark on some business of his own.   Again on borrowed money he set out to buy a horse and a wagon and began to pick up customers in a teas coffees butter and egg business.

            In 1907 a visitor came to the family, a cute little baby girl.  The tea and coffee business seemed to progress fairly.  During three uneventful years the business was carried on, and at the end of that period it was fair to say that he had the best looking outfit of that sort of business in his city. But in 1909 bad luck struck the enterprise.   An epidemic of typhoid struck the city and some neighboring towns, and our tea and coffee merchant was one of the victims. For almost six months he was incapacitated by this sickness.  His good wife in the meantime had to try to care for the horse and business the best she could. Naturally after such a period the little business had suffered, and in the fall of 1909 it was decided to sell the equipment and close up shop.

            Another little girl visitor had arrived by that time; the family now consisted of four members.  During the time the business had been carried on, he had made the acquaintance of a man who was a police officer in the city, and who had repeatedly urged him to take the examination for the Police Department. Finally, and before he had become Ill with typhoid, he had entered and taken such an examination.  In the fall of 1909 he was informed that he had successfully passed the examination and was eligible for appointment to the Police Department.

            It should have been mentioned before this that in 1907 he had become a citizen of the United States by naturalization.

            Late in the autumn of 1909 he had taken a position as salesman in a large centrally located store handling silverware and fine china, but this job was terminated by his appointment to the Police Department of his city on January 10, 1910. The machinist, shoemaker, salesman and teaist had become a police officer.

            After his appointment--in 1913--another little visitor came to the family, another girl; the family now consisted of five members.

            The police work, stretching over a period of seven years, had many interesting experiences that could be recounted, but probably nothing more unusual than what has happened to most police officers with the exception of an incident, which happened in April 1917.  The policeman was standing on a crossing doing traffic duty when an excited little man came up saying, "Someone down to our house trying to shoot my daughter."

            The policeman immediately left his post to go with the old man. Coming to a five-story brick block, the old man said, "He is on the back piazza."

            The policeman ran up the to the fourth floor landing.  A shot barked out, and he felt a sting in his right arm.  The arm seemed to be useless, but he still went on up the next flight of stairs.  As he neared the top, another shot rang out and hit the right arm again.  Still a few more steps.  He got at the sharpshooter, and then fainted.  When he regained consciousness, he saw two soldiers taking charge of the man he had been after, and one soldier bending over him trying to stop the flow of blood.  (The soldiers happened to be passing and were alerted when they heard the shots ring out). The officer's right arm had been shattered near the shoulder by the first bullet, and the artery cut in two places.  He was taken to the hospital and was critically ill for several weeks.

            Before this accident happened the policeman, at the age of 33, had begun the study of law at a law school in Boston. As he had not had a high school education, he was required to take necessary courses in toe preparatory school before completing his law school course. Through the generosity of the Chief of the Police Department and the Captain in charge of his station he had been allowed to arrange his work so as to be on duty from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily; he then took a train to Boston at 5:00 PM, attended classes and came back home about mid-night each day. At the time of the shooting referred to he had three years of study completed--one year of the four-year course remaining. The accident seemed to be the end of the road so far as the law study was concerned. One day when he was in the hospital a huge basket full of large American Beauty Roses was carried into his room with a note from his classmates in law school; this appeared to our man as a funeral bouquet to his ambitions.  But he had some good friends who said, "Never give up."  One of his classmates in law school had taken notes in shorthand of every lecture that was given, transcribed them  and forwarded them daily to the hospital.  Although a thorough study could not be made of cases, it was possible to keep up in a fair way with the work of the class to the end of the season.  At the time the class was taking the third year examinations our policeman was on his back in the hospital and of course unable to participate in the examination.

After he got out of the hospital in the fall of 1917, he learned that the broken bones in the arm had failed to knit.  The arm was enclosed in a brace of leather and steel, and the only remedy would be to undergo an operation, which no one in his city was willing to undertake. A year later an operation on the arm was made by a skillful surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, with a good result.

At that time, carrying the arm in a sling, our policeman made a visit to the law school and interviewed the Dean of the school.  He asked the Dean to give a special examination in subjects that he had not participated in with the rest of the class in the spring.  A deep frown on the face of the Dean was practically the answer at first.

Then the Dean said, "If you care to take a make-up examination with some of the boys that failed in the regular examination, I will permit you to enter.”

This proposal did not seem to set well with our policeman, and he informed the Dean that he had never failed in an examination and would not step into a make-up examination with those who had failed. He requested a special examination. After some conferences the Dean agreed by informing him that he would have to pay the price of setting up an examination and of a proctor to supervise. 

A day was finally set for the three examinations that would take place in the school. It was a painful and hard task to write three examinations with the arm in a sling, but they were finally completed at five o'clock in the afternoon--after a long, grueling day.  Two weeks thereafter our man received a letter from the Dean of the school together with the marks of the examinations.  There were three nice looking "A’s" and a letter stating that in view of the fact that such marks had been made In the exams the dean desired to congratulate him and   inform him that the Faculty had voted to make no charge for the examination.  So in the fall of 1917 he was still a member of the class and attended the lectures for the last year of the course, still with h1s arm in the brace and sling.



Albert T. Wall                  Maria S. Wall

In the meantime, in 1917 our police officer had developed ambitions to become a representative to the Massachusetts General Court from his district and had started a campaign for his election.  He was still a member of the police department, although unable to be on active duty due to his injury in the service.  One day he picked up a newspaper and noticed that there was a possibility of his being discharged from the Police Department or suspended by reason of having entered into politics. He paid a visit to the Chief of the department and was told that the City Law Officer had recently made a ruling that he would either have to quit the race for representative or give up his membership in the department.  After some conferences with the Chief, he handed in his resignation as a member of the department and set out in real earnest to campaign for the representative nomination, now having  no salary and a wife and three young children to support.

As usual in such cases, he saw some of the so-called "leaders" of the party and was promptly told that there  was no place for him in that category and that a man had already been selected to make a run for the position, and that this man would have their support.  He was very gently and definitely told to step out of the race or take defeat.  Instead of quitting the race, the campaign was intensified; a campaign club was formed of young men in the district who were real friends of the police officer.  They held meetings weekly (sometimes twice a week); ginger ale and homemade doughnuts were served by the policeman's wife, and the club became known as the "Ginger Club".  This little club had plenty of ginger--and to make a long story short, at the end of the campaign when the votes had been counted, our ex-police officer had rolled up a 2 to 1 vote against the man picked by the political bosses.  It might be noted, too, that wifely ambition went alongside the husband's every effort; and in this particular campaign she went from house to house throughout the district ringing doorbells, talked with the housewives and left literature with them asking for their support in her husband's campaign.

Left to Right --  Doris, Albert, Vera, Maria, Linnea

        In 1918, after taking his seat as a representative in the General Court, he graduated from law school Cum Laude and in the same year passed the Massachusetts Bar examinations and entered into practicing of law in his city.  He served five years in the Legislature in the House of Representatives, the last two years of his term being Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs.  The following year he sought election to the Senate, but was defeated.  Then he settled down to the practice of law in the city, tried many cases in court, and in general carried on the practice as ordinarily carried on by attorneys-at-law.

Three “red letter” years should be noted, 1929 the first daughter was graduated with honor from college; in 1931 the second daughter graduated from college:  and in 1935 the youngest her college degree.

In 1929, as previously stated, he visited his old childhood home.  It was in the fall of that year that the Judge of the district Court in that city died, and the first special, or assistant, to the Judge moved up to take his place.  Almost every practicing attorney at some time or another has visions of becoming a judge, and such a vision flashed into view of our ex-politician.  He became a candidate for the vacancy in the court, and on the 20th day of November he was appointed Justice of the District Court by the Governor of his state.    He served for 18 years in that capacity, resigning in 1947 to again take up the practice of law independently at which he is at the present time (1954) engaged, dividing his time to some extent between the work of the office and long weekends at his place "Beachover" on Cape Cod.

To sum up (after this little story I have presented to you) I would say that there is not needed so much any special ability, but rather a readiness to accept opportunities as they are offered—being prepared to open the door when opportunity knocks, for it may not knock a second time.  I would say that anyone with the will to work and with reasonable good fortune can gain an education in this land of ours, and by education I mean advancement in whatever field chosen.

There are, of course, hundreds of such stories more thrilling and more successful that could be told, but I have chosen this little story to illustrate that our land is the land of opportunity, because:

    the subject of my story happens to be MY DAD.      

written by Linnea Wall Parker for presentation to a ladies literary group, in about 1955.  
The pictures were discovered and added in 2005









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