A Bittersweet Life Essay

2750 words - 11 pages

February 1885 - Carl August Sandberg; my name sounds very Swedish to American ears, I think. Before people even meet me, they can tell I’m Swedish. I am proud of my Swedish parents, but I want to be more American. I plan to change my name and have everyone call me Charlie or Charles. That sounds better and keeps people guessing. Even though I learned to speak Swedish first and English second, I can easily say “ch” the right way and I’m only seven years old. Many Swedish boys my age, and even full grown men, can’t say it right but I am one of the few who can. My father can’t say his “ch” right; it comes out more of a “sh” sound instead. Mary, Mart and I have also decided that we will spell Sandberg differently. From now on, we will write our names Sandburg (C. Sandburg, Prairie 24-25). That looks better, too.
November 1888 - Miss Goldquist is my sixth grade teacher this year and she keeps talking about how well an education will serve you. Maybe so; all I know, is that I sure do like to read and that is something that Miss Goldquist likes as well. In fact she said, “You don’t know what good friends books can be till you try them, till you try many of them.” and for sure I have been reading a lot and I think she may be right (C. Sandburg, Prairie 51). So far, I like Charles Carleton Coffin’s The Boys of ’76 the best. I feel like I’m right there in the middle of the war and the pictures are swell (C. Sandburg, Prairie 52). Mart and I take turns being Paul Revere or George Washington. Emil is too young to play soldiers with us, but mama says we have to include him, anyway. Playing around outside, sometimes I’ll walk over to the campus of Knox College. I like looking at the plaque there that quotes Lincoln and Stephen Douglas as they debated slavery when they visited Galesburg, Illinois in 1858 (Mitchell 12). There are still folks in town that were there to watch the debate and I like listening to their Lincoln stories. There’s nothing better than playing with my brothers or listening to stories.
June 1889 - I’ve got my first real and regular paying job! Sure, I’ve had odds and ends jobs before, like newspaper carrier, but this job pays cash every week; twenty-five cents and I’m only eleven years old! Just think, I now work for the real estate firm Callender & Rodine. All I have to do is sweep the floors, wash out the brass spittoons and clean up the office each morning; it takes me less than a half hour and every Friday is payday! Add that to the afternoon newspaper delivery, when I can get it, that pays a silver dollar a week, for my two mile route and I’m doing pretty good (C. Sandburg, Prairie 111-116).
August 1890 - I picked up another paper route, this one in the morning, carrying six Chicago papers for seventy-five cents a week. I pick the papers up at around seven every weekday and Sunday morning from the Fast Mail train just in from Chicago. Taking on the tending of several new gardens, cleaning brick from demolished buildings by knocking...

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