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The Jimmyjohn Boss and Other Stories

Sharon's Choice
Under Providence, a man may achieve the making of many things--ships, books,
fortunes, himself even, quite often enough to encourage others; but let him
beware of creating a town. Towns mostly happen. No real-estate operator
decided that Rome should be. Sharon was an intended town; a one man's piece
of deliberate manufacture; his whim, his pet, his monument, his device for
immortally continuing above ground. He planned its avenues, gave it his middle
name, fed it with his railroad. But he had reckoned without the inhabitants (to say
nothing of nature), and one day they displeased him. Whenever you wish, you
can see Sharon and what it has come to as I saw it when, as a visitor without
local prejudices, they asked me to serve with the telegraph-operator and the
ticket-agent and the hotel-manager on the literary committee of judges at the
school festival. There would be a stage, and flags, and elocution, and parents
assembled, and afterwards ice-cream with strawberries from El Paso.
"Have you ever awarded prizes for school speaking?" inquired the telegraph-
operator, Stuart.
"Yes," I told him. "At Concord in New Hampshire."
"Ever have a chat afterwards with a mother whose girl did not get the prize?"
"It was boys," I replied. "And parents had no say in it."
"It's boys and girls in Sharon," said he. "Parents have no say in it here, either. But
that don't seem to occur to them at the moment. We'll all stick together, of
"I think I had best resign." said I. "You would find me no hand at pacifying a
"There are fathers also," said Stuart. "But individual parents are small trouble
compared with a big split in public opinion. We've missed that so far, though."
"Then why have judges? Why not a popular vote?" I inquired.
"Don't go back on us," said Stuart. "We are so few here. And you know education
can't be democratic or where will good taste find itself? Eastman knows that
much, at least." And Stuart explained that Eastman was the head of the school
and chairman of our committee. "He is from Massachusetts, and his taste is
good, but he is total abstinence. Won't allow any literature with the least smell of
a drink in it, not even in the singing-class. Would not have 'Here's a health to
King Charles' inside the door. Narrowing, that; as many of the finest classics
speak of wine freely. Eastman is useful, but a crank. Now take 'Lochinvar.' We