Friday, November 13, 2009

Laborare est Orare

I wanted to share an article I recently read from our archives about William H. Miner from the "Bell Telephone News" April, 1921:

Work is Worship

"Laborare est orare,"
Sang a monk of olden time,
Sang it at the early matins,
Sang it at the vesper chime.
"Work is worship," toil is holy,
Let this thought our zeal inspire.
Every deed done well and nobly,
Burns with sacrificial fire.

"Laborare est orare,"
Watch-word of the olden time,
Let us take it for our motto,
Serving in this later time.
"Work is worship," God, my brothers,
Takes our toil as homage sweet,
And accepts as signs of worship,
Well worn hands and weary feet.

~ Thomas Handford

The poem reproduced here hangs in the office of William H. Miner, who has for eleven years been a director in the Illinois Bell Telephone Company.

When told that we intended to print the poem in The Bell Telephone News, Mr. Miner asked us to say that anyone who would take the thought expressed in these verses as the motive power of his life, would make himself a good citizen and solve the secret of true happiness.

You want to know more about Mr. Miner? We thought so, and we asked him to tell us, but he just smiled - he is a big man with a whole souled smile - and said, "Tell them I am just a farmer."

But what a farmer!

Many years ago he went into the field of invention and planted some good ideas which grew into a fine crop of appliances for increasing the security of and efficiency in railway operation and which are in use on almost all freight cars. The harvest was golden and plenteous.

Then he bought the farm on which he was born (This is not quite accurate - his father was born on the Chazy farm, but William was born in Wisconsin.) and the next one to that and then the next, and so on until he had more than 11,000 acres.

Then he proceeded to smash all records agriculturally. Not satisfied to make two blades of grass grow where one grew before, he put the minimum at six blades. His was the tallest and finest stand of corn; of wheat; of barley.

He bewildered the vegetable world by growing peas as big as onions and onions as big as melons.

Then he sowed a line of boulders across a valley and they grew into a great dam which caught the cool and glistening waters from a thousand springs in the hills, for the use of all of the people for miles about.

Then he broke into another field where children lived and where there were briers and weeds and poison ivy, and he ploughed them out and he made to grow a great schoolhouse next to the corn and wheat and barley.

Now every autumn there is a rich harvest of hundreds of the coming fathers, mother, citizens, statesmen, merchants, farmers, etc. - red-cheeked, bright-eyed youngsters, made sure and strong for the tasks and burdens that they must soon take on, by the helping hand of this great-hearted farmer.

Bountiful Lord - send us a few more farmers like this one!

This "Bell Telephone News" article was written before William and Alice Miner built Physicians' Hospital in Plattsburgh and The Alice T. Miner Museum in Chazy... I would love to read the farming analogies this author would have come up with to describe those two wonderful contributions to the North Country!

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