"> Fayette News / I’ll Show You!: Part One

I’ll Show You!: Part One

I have long been fascinated with the impetus of what causes some to achieve greatness. There are different definitions in one’s mind of what greatness actually is. I think it is up to each individual to decide on who has achieved importance or distinction in a field. But once there, what was their motivation?
I remember reading about a young man while in middle school who was told by his principal he would never amount to anything. That young man grew up to be Sam Massell, mayor of Atlanta from 1970 – 1974. First that was an awful thing to say to a young child, in my opinion, and I have never read that statement put a fire under Sam’s belly, but let’s say it did.
Here’s a true story that fascinated me. Have you been told you weren’t worthy and yet you were able to prove you were?
This young man grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. All four of his grandparents had immigrated in the 1840s to escape the Irish famine. Born into a highly sectarian society where Irish Catholics were excluded by upper-class Boston Brahmins, he had a high-achieving father who left a legacy of established political and business wealth.
He was popular, good-looking, athletic, and intelligent. He was encouraged to work hard and set his sights high. He quickly began to make a name for himself, excelling at baseball. With all these talents, he began his career at Harvard continuing his success and was included in the social stratosphere of exclusive social clubs.
Except for one: the male-only final club, the Porcellian Club, founded in 1791.
Freshmen could join a freshman club, then a “waiting club,” and when students neared the end of their studies, a “final club.” The “final clubs” were so named because they were the last social club a student would join before graduation and the Porcellian, according to a history of Harvard, is “the most final of them all.”
Past members have included James Russell Lowell, both Oliver Wendell Holmeses, Henry Cabot Lodge, President Theodore Roosevelt, among other notables.
This student, successful in high school, thought Harvard to be no different, but in reality it was. Being Porcellian Club material was not just another club where all of those outstanding traits and jovial personality like this student’s would provide good fellowship for the other club members during their college years, it was whether one came from the right family and the right school, of being drawn from the same station of life. Those that were chosen had to have the similarity of past association and experiences because they were to be partners for years to come.
Because of his prestigious friends, he thought once he was accepted he’d be set for life in distinguished brokerage houses and such. For weeks there had been avid speculation over who would be included in the elite seven final clubs. Nothing in his life’s experiences had prepared him for what about to happen.
As soon as its new members were chosen, the entire membership would march together through the streets of Boston to hand deliver those treasured invitations while all anxiously waited in their rooms for that tap on the door. For Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. it never came.
Joe had remained in his quarters as the hours slipped by. He shared his roommate’s excitement as he was selected into one of the seven clubs, but by the end of the afternoon, he was forced to acknowledge that no one was coming. Not knowing how to respond, being blackballed because he was Catholic, and his future doors being closed to him, Joseph Kennedy redirected his energies to become a successful businessman, investor, and politician known for his high-profile positions in the United States government and for his political and other achievements of his children.
He did it his way and it was all because, as its Porcellian tradition dictated, that no Harvard man who was not a member could ever step across the threshold into that other exclusive privileged world.

Lee St. John, a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, is a No.1 Amazon ranked humorous author. Look for her on Facebook, Twitter (@LeeStJohnauthor), and her blog at www.leestjohnauthor.com. Her new release, “SHE’S A KEEPER! Cockamamie Memoirs from a Hot Southern Mess” can be found on Amazon.com.




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