This week as the old adage goes “things come around full circle,” and they did! The Neighbors for Historic Eaton were formed way back in 1995 for our Bicentennial and the piece of literature that I tried to use as a stimulus was a simple short essay written in the late 1800’s by a man named Elbert Hubbard called “A Message to Garcia”.
The message was a simple one, …one man can do a job well and make a huge difference.
Everyone thought that trying to get a museum and historical society and Bicentennial together was basically impossible…yet it I felt it could be done if everyone did their one job.
The reality is that this is a thought that I have used over the years continually, and especially during the Madison County Fair…I did not ask people to do a hundred jobs..just one, and do it well.
To those who don’t remember…A Message to Garcia was a short magazine filler article by Hubbard that reflected a true story of the Spanish American War. The message was from our then President McKinley to Calixco Garcia who was a Cuban revolutionist and a leader in the Cuban insurrection against Spain, a man in change of rebels in the Cuban Hills. McKinley sent the battleship Maine..which was later sunk..(Remember the Maine”), to remind Spain of the United States investment in Cuba. McKinley needed the help of the rebels to force the Spanish out of Cuba….. from the essay..
“Rowan was sent for and given a letter (by McKinley) to be delivered to Garcia. How the “fellow by the name of Rowan” took the letter, sealed it up in an oilskin pouch, strapped it over his heart, in four days landed by night off the coast of Cuba from an open boat, disappeared into the jungle, and in three weeks came out on the other side of the Island, having traversed a hostile country on foot, and delivered his letter to Garcia—are things I have no special desire now to tell in detail. The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia; Rowan took the letter and did not ask, “Where is he at?” By the Eternal! there is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and the statue placed in every college of the land. It is not book-learning young men need, nor instruction about this and that, but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies: do the thing—“Carry a message to Garcia.”
This 1,500 word essay took the world by storm and today it is used by people as inspirational words, motivational works and anything else that fits. It is basically like the Shaker saying “Do everything as if you have 100 years to live and yet you will die tomorrow.”
When we started the “Neighbors” I told everyone including influential people we were trying to recruit for help with our projects..which included getting a small business for Eaton. the story of Roycrofters and the success of that small business in a little place called East Aurora, NY.
The question always came back..”Well then if it was successful, what happened?” I reply, “Elbert Hubbard went down on the Lusitannia!”
So this week Bob brought me copies of Elbert Hubbard’s book set called “Little Journeys” and I grabbed them and brought them to the museum where they will be on display…the reason..the books are filled with Hubbard’s short stories of famous people who have been a success and who have made a difference in this world with their art, literature, intellectualism and yes ….in their singular purpose of doing the job at hand to the best of their ability - like Rowan did in bringing “the message to Garcia”.
This is a trailer for a PBS series on Hubbard and the Arts and Crafts movement.