Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Character, by Albert N. Parlin

The founder of my junior high, Albert Norton Parlin, wrote a brief treatise on the subject of character, and every student had to memorize it. Recently, the Parlin School became a grammar school for that section of the city, but in my day, every single public school student eventually attended the only junior high in town, the Parlin School. Thus, there are generations and generations of people in Everett who learned this little essay, and I still know it by heart. In fact, it is engraved on the three-story wall of the school that faces the main street in my hometown.
I would have all young persons taught to respect themselves, their citizenship, the rights of others and all sacred things; to be healthy, industrious, persevering, provident, courteous, just and honest, neat in person and in habit, clean in thought and in speech, modest in manner, cheerful in spirit and Masters of themselves; faithful to every trust, loyal to every duty, magnanimous in judgment, generous in service and sympathetic toward the needy and unfortunate:  
 for these are the most important things in life and this is not only the way of wisdom, happiness and true success, but the way to make the most of themselves and to be of the greatest service to the world.
I've been thinking a lot about what constitutes character recently, about what a person of character looks like and how a person of character acts, and how does one develop character over time,and there is no way that I could ponder these things and not give a nod to Character, by Albert N. Parlin.


Anonymous said...

I am a 1990 graduate of the Naval Academy and I am doing a series of short leadership sessions for a Boy Scout troop and needed one final session to wrap up the year before we broke for the summer. Much of these sessions revolved around comparing the Scout Oath and Law with the characteristics of a good leader. I grabbed a small hand book that was issued to me as a freshman, or Plebe, at the academy, called Reef Points. This hand book is kind of a Cliffs Notes of the Navy, naval and academy traditions, naval history, and leadership. All of Reef Points is required reading and much of it is required memorization for the Plebes. On Page 28, underneath the “Qualifications of the Naval Officer” by John Paul Jones, was Character by Albert Norton Parlin. The name did not ring a bell, and it was perfect for use in my final session, so I wanted to find out more about the author. I did a quick internet search expecting to find some obscure military figure and came up with… not much. Some links to the school, Everett, and your post. I was disappointed by the lack of information on this man. This elegant essay of a little more than a hundred words reflects the wisdom of Mr. Parlin and a deep understanding of the topic. These words which are so easily spoken and written are so incredibly difficult to follow. They represent the bar and it is set high. You may never clear it. But one thing I learned from my parents, and reinforced by my teachers, coaches and finally senior officers, you never lower the bar. It is hard, and it is frustrating and some days you just want to throw in the towel and just be a dirt bag. But just remember if you try, even a little bit, to be the person of character from Mr. Parlin’s essay, you can’t help but be a better person. And in the end that’s the point. Good luck on your introspective on character. I can’t think of a better place to start than with this essay.

Pat McGrath '90

Anonymous said...

WOW. I thought of this today and googled it, and your blog came up! I was at the Parlin for 1991/92 & 1992/93 school years. Centre School, Parlin, then EHS '97.

Thanks for posting! said...

A Graduate of 1955 (whew) My 5 year older brother also a grad comes from California to Florida to visit and inevitably if the conversation comes to our childhood (my older sister too) He recites "Character" by Albert N Parlin I can join in a little but he knows it all. I hope you are still instilling in the students this motto. They will ponder on it when they get older and like me, go looking for Everett Jr High and High School
Mim Horwood Hart

Anonymous said...

I myself attended the Parlin and I am very proud of it's faculty, structure, and knowledge that it provides.