A Timeless Letter from a Grandfather to His Grandson

Fort Walton Beach Entrepreneur J.H. Beal Describes Life Lessons Learned

Camp Walton, Okaloosa County, Florida

October 16, 1929

Mr. Wm. Hartley Starkey,

New Concord, Ohio

Dear Grandson,

I had hoped to see you again this summer or fall before your departure for college, but was unable to arrange my affairs so as to visit Cincinnati during September.

I trust that you are doing well in your college work. A great deal depends on getting started off properly, and unless you are careful your attention will be unconsciously diverted from your real work. The thought to be kept foremost in your mind at all times is that you are in college for the purpose of pursuing certain studies and not for the purpose of enjoying yourself at various sports. The following of sports can be done after you have completed your college career and will not then require the payment of tuition or extra living expenses.

The greatest single factor in success is the power of self-control, which can be acquired only by compelling yourself to do what you know you ought to do rather than what you would most like to do. 

Do not have any hobbies outside of your studies. If you find a branch particularly difficult or find yourself falling back in it, make that particular branch your hobby, and you will later be surprised to discover that studies which at first seemed dry and uninteresting become fascinating when vigorously pursued. 

Indulge in frequent reviews. The average student is inclined to dismiss a subject from his mind as soon as he has passed it in recitation; the student who rises above the average is the one who reviews constantly. 

When I was in college I made it a practice to review at the end of each week the subjects passed over during the week and fortified this by a review at the end of each month. These quick reviews took very little time and kept my mind fresh on the main outlines of every subject. As far as I can recall I was either at the head of every class I was ever in or tied with somebody else for first place. 

If you make a passing grade in all of your subjects this year I will give you a hundred dollars at the end of this year, to be applied on your next year’s college expenses. If you do not make a passing grade in all subjects I will not give you anything. 

What little wealth I possess was acquired by hard work and self-denial, and I do not wish to expend it except in behalf of those who are equally diligent and equally ready to exercise self-denial.

With kinder regards, I remain,

Your affectionate grandfather, 

J.H. Beal

Categories: History, Opinion