The Day household existed under the eccentric domination of Clarence Day, Sr., a Wall Street businessman who was convinced that he was always right. His son stood in awe of him. The boy’s greatest treat was to be taken to his father’s office on Saturday mornings. With Father dressed formally in silk hat and tailed coat, they rode downtown on the elevated train, and the boy gaped curiously into the windows of flophouses and wished that he could enjoy the luxury and freedom of being a tramp. He did not reveal that ambition to his father. Once he ventured to suggest that he would like to be a cowboy, but Father retorted that cowboys were shiftless people.
Father’s office seemed very mysterious to the boy, and he enjoyed the privilege of filling inkwells and running errands. Later, there would be luncheon at Delmonico’s. Father and his favorite waiter always chatted in French about the menu, and Father enjoyed himself greatly. The boy, however, did not think highly of the food. There was too little of it, scarcely enough to satisfy his appetite. Seeing the starved look on his face, Father would order a large chocolate eclair for him.
One of Father’s chief worries was the fear of becoming fat. The members of his club recommended long walks, but Father was already taking long walks. Then they suggested horseback riding. Accordingly, Father became a member of the Riding Club on East Fifty-eighth Street. Apart from stabling conveniences, the club had a park for riding, really only a little ring. It was tame enough for Father, however, who liked things to be orderly and suitably arranged for his use. In a very short time, he felt as if the park belonged to him, and if the leaves were not raked or if papers were lying around, he would take the neglect as a personal affront.
The first horse Father bought was an independent, rebellious creature. There was little love lost between them. The climax came one morning when the horse refused to obey. It reared and reared until Father gave up in disgust and went back to the club. Since the rest of the family wanted a horse of their own, Father gave them that one. He bought another for himself.
Having never been sick, Father became very annoyed whenever anybody else was ill; and he had no sympathy whatever for people whose illnesses he considered to be simply imaginary. Whenever he was unlucky enough to catch a cold, his method of treating it was to blow his nose loudly or to sneeze. Whenever he had a headache, he would not eat. After he had starved out his illness, he would eat again and triumphantly light up a cigar.
Father’s laws were regarded as edicts not to be challenged. Accordingly, young Clarence was amazed when anyone did not respond to...
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