PICKLE AT PENN STATE
It was indeed a very different Frank Buchman who arrived back in America - altogether calmer and happier, thought his friend John Woodcock.1 He was, still, however, without a job and had very little idea what to do next. The Woodcocks knew that the post of YMCA Secretary at Pennsylvania State College was vacant, and Mrs Woodcock suggested he apply for it. Whether he did is not clear, but one way or another word got to John R. Mott's office at YMCA headquarters that Buchman might he available, and Mott's assistant, H. P. Anderson, wrote to the Chairman of the College 'Y' Committee, Professor J. M. Willard, recommending Buchman as a 'man of breadth and great personal attractiveness'.2 The Dulls' nephew, Vance McCormick, then Chairman of the State Democratic Committee, was a College trustee and may also have intervened. The faculty members who had interviewed Buchman were soon urging him to come. 'We accepted your terms with the hope and expectation of prompt acceptance,' wrote the Professor of Romance Languages, Irving L. Foster.3 But Buchman, now thirty, hesitated for over two months before accepting and, even then, only agreed to a six-month engagement, starting in January 1909, on a trial basis. The salary was $100 a month.
Buchman's hesitation was not altogether surprising. The YMCAs dominated the religious life of most American college campuses in the years before the 1914-18 war but, even so, 'Penn State' was scarcely an alluring prospect. Founded as an agricultural college where farmers' sons could acquire a liberal arts education as well as the rudiments of farming, Penn State had 1,400 students and was known neither for its intellectual excellence nor its sporting prowess. It was, moreover, remote and provincial, situated in the centre of the state, where a small town without social outlets, actually called State College, had grown up around it- 'out in the boondocks with a vengeance', as one local historian put it.4
In recent months, too, State College had earned itself an unenviable reputation. The YMCA Secretary would be in charge of the religious work in the college, and Mott had, according to Buchman, told him that he thought it 'the most godless university in the country'. Moreover, a student strike - a rare phenomenon in those days - had only just been settled. Class scraps often resulted in serious injuries, and one recent 'flag scrap' had lasted for ninety hours. 'Hazing' - the custom of subjecting new students to harassment - was often brutal, and, although saloons were forbidden by state law, the supply of alcohol on the campus was plentiful, much of it peddled by a local hostler and college janitor called Gilliland. On the night Buchman arrived, there were a score of liquor parties in progress. Gilliland did a particularly brisk trade before and after college football matches. 'There were times when we sent six hundred to a game, and they would all be drunk,' said Buchman of his first year. Few games were won. Buchman soon found that you did not have to be a student to get an unpleasant reception. He had not been in his room for two hours before two hefty young men arrived with the idea of roughing him up. Fortunately a friend had sent him a large box of chocolates, so he hastily suggested they continue their talk over these. That saved the day.
Perhaps Buchman was still nervous when he was introduced to the student assembly. In any event, he could hardly have begun more ineptly. 'Greetings, students of State College,' he declared in a high-pitched voice, and was duly greeted with howls of merriment and derision. At that moment, the YMCA committee may have felt relieved that they had only hired him for six months.
They need not have worried. Buchman attacked his new job with the pent-up energy of a man just back from an eight-month holiday who was determined not to fail and who, furthermore, had a deep experience to share. Soon, his mother was complaining that he only sent her postcards instead of the usual letters.5 He was working eighteen to twenty hours a day, had stepped up the YMCA's level of activity with a new programme of classes and meetings, and seemed to be everywhere at once. 'He was robust, always neatly dressed, rosy-cheeked and sparkling and distinguished-looking in his beaver hat,' recalled the college chaplain, Robert Reed. 'He seemed to be going among people constantly. Every day you would see him walking on the campus with one of the fellows, chatting and laughing. He had a keen sense of humour and his chuckle and spontaneous laughter were very contagious.'6
The ridicule, however, continued. During his first year, Buchman reckoned, he was probably the most unpopular man on campus. Some of the students reacted sharply both to his earnestness and to what they felt were his puritanical attitudes, and he was nicknamed 'Pure John', a jibe derived from a contemporary cartoon figure. He became accustomed to seeing 'Pure John - 99 per cent pure' scrawled on vacant sign-boards; he was guyed in the college revue, caricatured in the college magazine.
He also seems to have irritated some of the faculty. 'Buchman', one professor is reported to have said later, 'oozed the oil of unctuous piety from every pore. I would not be interested in seeing him again if it were at the cost of having to shake hands with him.'7
The results of his vigour and friendliness, nevertheless, were impressive. Within two months of his arrival, Buchman was writing to his cousin and adopted brother Dan, 'We had 1,100 men at the meeting last night……Entire fraternities are signing up to study the Bible.'8 Within two years, membership of the 'Y' had more than doubled from 491 to 1,040. Within three years, it had more than seventy-five per cent of the student body on its books, compared with thirty-five per cent when Buchman arrived.9
Furthermore, he seemed to have a particular gift for attracting outstanding students. 'Before the end of that first year', wrote Lloyd Douglas, author of The Robe, who was then Director of Religious Education at Illinois State College and who visited Penn State several times, 'it was discovered that the men about the campus who were doing the real things, leaders in scholastic standing, athletics, oratory ... were spending whole evenings in Buchman's quarters …. It seemed easy for Buchman to collect about him the picked men of the campus. Of course, it was not easy, but Buchman had a Napoleonic gift of making people want to do hard things.'10
Buchman himself, however, was far from satisfied with the results of his work. The numbers were impressive, but were men just being influenced a little or were they experiencing the kind of change he himself had undergone in Keswick? Many were making initial decisions to let Christ into their lives. But how deep did these decisions go? The alcohol consumption, it had to be faced, had hardly decreased, and the general tone of the college had not greatly altered. Would the quality of the decisions being made reshape men's careers, and affect their communities in later life? Or would it just be the sorry tale of some reawakenings, where greater religious observance went along with a decline in morality in the community at large? He later described his dilemma: 'I was working eighteen hours a day and I was so busy that I had two telephones in my bedroom. People kept coming to me, but the changes in their lives were not revolutionary enough to be permanent.'
At this point he consulted a visitor to the college - almost certainly the F. B. Meyer he had sought in Keswick - about his inner questionings. 'You need to make personal, man-to-man interviews central, rather than the organising of meetings,' said Meyer.
'Since that time', remarked Buchman later, 'I no longer thought in terms of numbers but in terms of people.'
Meyer also asked, 'Do you let the Holy Spirit guide you in all you are doing?' Buchman replied that he did indeed pray and read the Bible in the morning, and sometimes received inspirations then and at other times in the day.
'But', persisted Meyer, 'do you give God enough uninterrupted time really to tell you what to do?'
Buchman thought this over and decided to give at least an hour each day in the early morning to listening to God, a period which he came to refer to as a 'quiet time'. He chose from five to six o'clock before the phones were likely to ring. The very first morning, he received an unusual thought, the nickname of a student, "Tutz, Tutz, Tutz' - and the first person he met when he went out on to the campus was that same Tutz.
'Tutz', Buchman later recalled, 'regularly got tight on trips with the Dramatic Club, but would always kneel down at night to say his prayers. I first felt like funking him, but the insistent urge came that this was the time to speak to him. I asked whether he would like to speak to a friend of mine who knew how to put before people the great truths of life. He readily assented, feeling it lots more important than a lecture. This friend was an athlete, who had recently graduated from one of the large state universities of the West. Tutz came back to me after the interview and told me that he had decided to give his life unreservedly to Christ. I said to him, "Well, what are you going to do about it?"
'He said, "Do about it?"
'I said, "Are you not going to tell your friends about this new experience of yours?"
"Why, they would all laugh at me!" he said.
'I said, "That's your game in the Dramatic Club, the more curtain calls you get, the better you like it."
'Tutz had imagination, so when all his club-mates were sitting about waiting for lunch, he walked in and said to the group, "I suppose you'll laugh when I tell you what I did this morning." They were all agog, as they thought Tutz had pulled the leg of a professor or heard some new funny story. He announced simply and unemotionally, "I have decided to change my life." Not a fellow cracked a smile ... I met him seven years afterwards, when he said that vital meeting was the means of changing his whole life's direction.'
Buchman now began to brood on how to 'bring the whole college, as a community, Godwards', which it seemed to him should be the logical development from real changes in individuals. Three names came forcibly into his mind - Gilliland, the bootlegging hostler, who was commonly known as Bill Pickle, Blair Buck, 'a Virginian graduate student with every grace and charm', and the college Dean, Alva Agee, 'popular, easy of access, hospitable, a man's man and an agnostic'.
Buchman knew that Blair Buck was not a man to be rushed, 'a type of person', as he observed later, 'with whom you used intelligent restraint and a nonchalant reserve'. 'I didn't ever talk to him about the things that meant most to me ... We talked about everything else under the sun.' They also went riding - a passion with Buchman since boyhood - in the green hills around the town.* Buchman's intentions were to make friends with Buck, and to involve him in the conversion of Bill Pickle.
(* Buchman owned a horse called Mary during the early years at Penn State. When upkeep became too expensive, he sold her and gave the proceeds to a poor student. '1 have just had the good news that it has helped him and his brother through college. They have built quite an extensive laundry service round Mary’ he wrote Woodcock on 7 November.)
Bill Pickle was the illegitimate son of a colonel, and had served in the Civil War as a drummer boy. He sported a 'furious walrus moustache', 'looked like a roaring pirate' and had often been heard to declare that he would like to stick a knife in Buchman's ribs. Buchman was rather nervous about him, and was alarmed when one day Buck pointed him out as they walked through town together, because he knew he must make a move towards him or lose Buck's respect. 'I've got a big nose,' Buchman related later, 'so when I walked up to Bill, I put my hand on his biceps so that if he did haul off, he wouldn't haul so hard. The thought flashed into my mind, "Give him your deepest message." "Bill," I said, "we've been praying for you." To my surprise all the fight went out of him. He pointed to a church tower.
'"See that church over there?" he said. "I was there when the cornerstone was laid. There's a penny of mine under it."'
The conversation ended in an invitation for Buchman and Buck to visit Bill, his wife and their twelve children in their unpainted house on what everyone called 'Pickle Hill'. Buchman found that they shared a love of horses, and they became friends. After some months he talked Bill into going to a student conference in Toronto. Bill said he would go if Buchman gave him his cherished beaver hat - a price Buchman promptly, if sadly, paid.
In Toronto, Bill decided to become a Christian, and, as he found writing difficult, asked Buchman to write out his letter of apology to his wife for the way he had treated her in the past. Thereafter, despite efforts by some of the students to lure him back, Bill stopped both bootlegging and drinking, which brought a marked decline in the overall campus consumption.
Dean Agee, who had paid Bill's fare to Toronto as a kind of 'dare', was much impressed by the difference in him, and Buck henceforth began to drop the words 'If there is a God ….'and to speak of One who 'had answered their prayer'. But there was a long way to go. One day, however, he told Buchman, 'There are lots of things I don't understand about the Bible and prayer and helping others.' 'Let's spend the summer vacation together,' replied Buchman, and during a couple of months, first on Mackinac Island in Michigan and then in Montana, where Buck's grandfather used to be Governor, and through the West, the younger man found the change he was seeking.11 Over the seven years at Penn State the hallmark of Buchman's work was his ability to bring such change into the lives of the most unlikely people. These included, besides those mentioned, Dick Harlow, who became football coach at Harvard; Henry Armstrong, one of the originators of the nickname 'Pure John'; Pete Weigal, who had stuffed his ears with cotton wool when forced to attend a meeting as horn-player in the college band, but became interested after the cotton wool fell out during an especially lively serenade; the football captain, Larry Vorhis; an athlete, Pete Johnson; and 'Pop' Golden, the tough football coach, whose dissipated life had affected generations of students. With most the alteration was lasting: Harlow introduced Buchman when he spoke at Colgate University some years later; Weigal succeeded Buchman as YMCA Secretary when he left Penn State; Blair Buck became a pioneer of black education in the South at Hampton Institute in Virginia and was closely in touch with Buchman all his life; Dean and Mrs Agee corresponded with him for many years; Armstrong invited Buchman to his home in 1931; and Mrs Pete Johnson came to Buchman's eightieth birthday party in 1958, her husband's factory having sent a gift of tiles to the American centre of Buchman's work. 'Pop' Golden's influence became, in Buchman's opinion, more important than that of a dozen preachers and, for whatever reason, the football team won 26 games and lost only two in the four years after his change.
All this time a wider impact was being felt in the college. 'In five years the permanent secretary at Penn State has entirely changed the tone of that one-time tough college,' wrote Maxwell Chaplin, the YMCA Secretary at Princeton, to a friend in 1914 after attending one of Buchman's annual 'Y Week' campaigns.
Lloyd Douglas took part in the same campaign. 'It was', he wrote afterwards, 'the most remarkable event of its kind I ever witnessed.
'There wasn't an idle moment for any man who had been summoned to the campaign as an associate. One night, Buchman decided we would pair off and visit the fraternity houses and put to each group the proposition of definite Christian decision. It was an impossible job and everybody realised the futility of it but Buchman. Well, there were great doings that night. One after another, prominent fraternity men ... stood up before their fellows and confessed that they had been living poor, low-grade lives and from henceforth meant to make good. The faculty was back of it all heart and soul.'12
The campaign was not restricted to the campus. Buchman divided the town into ten sections, and made each the responsibility of a team of helpers whose job it was to invite everyone to the meetings. It was to be, he said, an 'everyman-out campaign'.
On the first day, all the stores and the town's solitary cinema closed to encourage people to attend. The college band played in the town before the meeting began and then marched to the hall. There were mass meetings addressed by well-known speakers on topics like 'The Secrets of a Victorious Life'. The town was 'running over with notables' according to one professor and, for that week, 'the college lived and talked and argued nothing but religion'.13
The following year, Buchman brought in 150 outside helpers from most of the major East Coast colleges. Each was given a student 'secretary', whose job was to see that their time was used to the full: frequently they conducted interviews until midnight and beyond. Some, like Professor Henry Wright of Yale, relished the intensity of the campaign. 'I spoke pretty nearly steadily for three days,' he wrote to a friend; 'it was a glorious work.'14 Others found the pace decidedly testing. 'It took me a week to get over that strenuous day at State College,' one visitor wrote to Buchman. 'I wouldn't have missed it for a hundred dollars, nor repeat it for five hundred. You ought to confine your invitations strictly to Pennsylvania Dutchmen who are as steel-framed as you.'15
'Sooner or later', noted Fred Lewis Pattee, the Professor of English, 'there appeared on the campus every college religious leader in the nation to study Buchman's methods.'16 His methods were not only studied, but applied. Thus the Yale University publication, The Week, on 3 March 1915, traced the genesis of a religious awakening in Yale to this same campaign. 'It really began at the Pennsylvania State College last year under Frank N. D. Buchman', the article stated, and concluded, 'This new evangelism of the second decade of the twentieth century is transforming our colleges.'
Thereafter, there were campaigns on the Penn State pattern at Yale, Illinois State, Williams, Cornell and other colleges, as well as student conventions in Rochester and Kansas City; Estes Park, Colorado; Eaglesmere, Pennsylvania; Silver Bay, New York; and Northfield, Massachusetts. To most of them Buchman was able to take teams of men whom he had trained. It was an old dream coming true. 'When I came to State College, I had the whole general line for our Eastern colleges in mind,' he wrote to an associate in China three years later. 'If you had asked me how that would have worked out, I could not have told you. Bill Pickle, the grandson of the Governor, the coach of the football team, and all the other fruit that came could not be planned in advance. When, however, other colleges saw that there was sustained change in Penn State, they asked that these same principles be carried back to their institutions, but we must remember this was a programme of seven years. It had to grow naturally. Any plans "stuck" in to Penn State would have died a natural death.17
For Buchman, in fact, the 'Y Week' was merely the high point in a year of intense activity. His summer holiday seems to have been conducted with the same vigour. Mrs Buchman had been complaining constantly of the lack of letters from her son; but now they were to spend the vacation as a family, and in June, Buchman, his parents and Dan sailed on the President Lincoln. They returned three months later, having been in England, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Italy. His father, by now two years retired, was 72 and already a semi-invalid.
Dan kept a diary. Four days out to sea, on 25 June, he notes: 'Cousin Frank held a service in the dining saloon. Good attendance.' On 6 July, in London, Buchman's attention seems to have wandered from the care of his family: 'Spent whole day in British Museum, got no dinner. Cousin Frank went to Eastbourne to see some lady-in-waiting to Queen of Greece.' 15 July, Antwerp: 'Met Edith Randall from Quincy, Mass. F. went to movies with E.R.' This was a year after her letter to Buchman reminiscing about their Swiss mountain climb in 1903. The next day, 'F. to Cathedral with E.R.' Again, his family seem to have been left to fend for themselves. Edith Randall also appears for dinner a week later, in Cologne, then vanishes for good. On 1 August, in Bad Homburg, Buchman is learning to play golf, and on the 12th all the family are at the English Church, at the invitation of the British chaplain, to see the Kaiser unveil a memorial to Edward VII of England.
At Bad Homburg, Buchman consulted a Dr Schafer who diagnosed a 'floating kidney' linked with colitis. Schafer prescribed a rich diet. 'A quiet mind at night and a rest of several hours during daytime will contribute to your well-being, and take Falstaff as an ideal - every pound you will put on will increase your health,' he wrote. 'Baths will be the hours when you may think of poetry and romances, and every drop of water will stimulate the heart and nervous systems. Begin with a hot bath of fifteen minutes duration and pour cold water down your back - where the floating kidney is a solid rock... ,'18 How much of the good doctor's advice Buchman took is doubtful - although he was never averse to a rich diet - but in later life he spoke of Schafer as the man who had 'anchored my floating kidney'.
Back home again, Buchman paid a four-day visit to his old college, Muhlenberg, and asked the YMCA President there, Paul Krauss, to make arrangements for another 'everyman campaign'. The preparations apparently did not fully match his expectations because, when he got back to Penn State, he wrote Krauss a letter 'so you can gain some idea how largely we plan here'.
He had, he said, arrived back at State College late on Saturday. There followed a thumb-nail sketch of his programme. 'Got in touch at once with Flagg, one of our athletics managers, who was seriously hurt in the Gymnasium during the week. Went to our entertainment course. Had interviews with four men. Got to bed a little after twelve. Had more than two hundred at my Freshman Bible Class on Sunday morning. Had interviews both before and after the meeting. Took dinner with the Gilliland family …. Came back to meet the Hugh McAllister Beaver Club.*
(* This was a boys' club which he had started in the town. In a letter to Mrs Andrew Carnegie, who had sent 100 dollars to the Club and to whom he sent, on their behalf, a trailing arbutus in a tin, he wrote: 'They are the sons of the working people, and up until two years ago they were rather shiftless. I organised them into the Hugh McAllister Beaver Club, and started a baseball team, and in the fall a football team. They are holding together nicely, and instead of the Saturday night carousing, they have just lately organised themselves into a town YMCA.' (Buchman to Mrs Carnegie, 29 April 1912. Buchman first met Andrew Carnegie on 8 May 1907 at Princeton.)
'Had appointment with our Athletics Director, who was leading our meeting in the evening. Students' communion at two o'clock. Meeting with student representative. Called on football coach and several athletes. Didn't have a chance to eat supper. Taught a Fraternity Bible Class, came back in time for a meeting of a thousand students ... It lasted for an hour and thirty-five minutes. Coach Reed and "Pop" Golden, our athletic director, Professors Agee and Torrey spoke. It was a splendid meeting and the aim of it was to prepare the men for the Pittsburgh game. Had a meeting for conference and prayer afterwards. Arranged to help financially the man who was hurt in the Gymnasium. Went out to talk over some plans with our Chaplain. Got to bed at twelve. Am leaving for Pittsburgh to be gone until Saturday. I neglected to tell you that we had a special meeting for the Freshmen of the entire class and had a talk on the evils of drink and the problems of social purity.
'I know', concluded Buchman, 'that you men will push the work at Muhlenberg.'19' This letter is a good illustration of how, all his life, Buchman unconsciously expected his colleagues to work at the same pace as he did, and often to use the same approach.
Buchman frequently invited to the campus what he called 'contagious' outside speakers like the evangelist Billy Sunday, the pioneer social worker Jane Addams and - despite opposition from some of his colleagues - Melinda Scott, a pioneer of the Catholic workers' movement who had taken up the cause of women workers in sweat-shops.
In 1912 he decided to set up a home on the campus where he could offer good food and a warm welcome. 'My plan', he wrote, 'would be to gather the men who do not have the advantage of friends, the lonely, the homesick, the discouraged, the tempted.'20
He invited Mary Hemphill, whom he had placed with various friends since the days of the hospice and whose son, David, he was putting through college, to come back to him as housekeeper and cook. 'The master of a great art,' Buchman described her later, 'a noble soul, a ready wit, a self-effacing team-mate …. The cooking of a good meal was her greatest delight.' Buchman also asked the college for extra facilities. 'I want to arrange for the extra room you wish,' replied the college President, Edwin Sparks. 'An organisation which can bring about an opening of college such as we have seen thus far is worthy of an entire dormitory if it wishes it.'21 Buchman duly took an apartment on College Avenue and, with the help of Mary's omelettes and oyster stews, used it to entertain a steady stream of visitors.
Particularly in view of the generosity of his table, it was a mystery to other members of the faculty how he managed to pay his bills, despite the fact that his salary finally rose to $3,000 a year with another $250 for expenses. The President's wife, Mrs Sparks, recalled the time when, travelling back to Penn State, Buchman got to within thirty miles of the campus but, with only twenty-six cents in his pocket, had not enough to pay for the bus fare. Then 'he just happened to meet Mr Sparks and, of course, Mr Sparks invited him to ride home in his car and gave him dinner on the way.'
Buchman was also, added Mrs Sparks, 'very generous with what he had, giving away his overcoat or anything if he thought someone else needed it worse than he did'. He frequently made loans to students with little expectation of ever seeing the money again. Yet, by some mysterious and rather irritating alchemy, he always seemed to have enough. Somewhat to Mrs Sparks' chagrin, he was also able to borrow large sums of money from the bank without security of any kind; whereas she, the President's wife, could not. 'There were times I would get so provoked with Buchman that I'd vow not to do another thing for him, although I always did,' she wrote later, and added that he impressed her 'as having the most faith in God of anyone I ever knew'.22
President Sparks always backed Buchman in his work. But even he was given on occasion the same kind of treatment as his students. The draft of a letter to Sparks which Buchman wrote while he was on a tour of the Far East suggests that he was no respecter of persons. It begins: 'Dear President Sparks, I am talking to you as I talk to the men. I have repeatedly tried to bring you to a realisation of your spiritual needs but I have evidently not made myself clear.
'My chief concern is for your own soul. You show every symptom of not being a happy man. Your smile seems forced. You do not seem to find the real joy in your religious life. Your interest is commendable and far exceeds that of others I know, but it does not ring true...'23
Not surprisingly, perhaps, if the tone of this letter was typical, Buchman had plenty of critics at Penn State. Some members of the faculty accused him of self-advertisement: his annual reports, which were quoted in evidence, seldom erred on the side of understatement. In 1914, for example, he wrote, 'Prominent people are keen to know about God's wonder-working in our midst.… Penn State as a result of this year has become a world factor, and is making her influence felt in many centres.' The North American Student magazine, he went on, with evident satisfaction, had given extensive notice of Penn State's campaigns in two issues, while a campaign led by Mott at Columbia had only merited a few lines.24Buchman may well have believed that what had happened at Penn State was entirely the work of God - indeed he often said, 'I hadn't any part in all this except that I let God use me' - but he certainly sounded at times as if he was blowing his own trumpet, if only on behalf of the Almighty.
Some of the faculty also charged him with name-dropping. He was, declared one, 'always talking about important men and women he knew', an instance being a telegram explaining a postponed return 'which ended in a long list of the famous he was meeting'.25 This could well have been after an occasion where the Andrew Carnegies invited him to meet various of their friends, including the heads of Yale, Cornell and other major educational institutions, when his work at Penn State was a matter of frequent remark.
Yet a contrasting characteristic was evident. A visitor to one of the 'Y Week' campaigns, Professor Norman Richardson, remarked to the college chaplain, Robert Reed, 'I have been interested in watching this man Buchman all day. He is always in the background, pushing others into places of leadership and responsibility.'26
He was also, it seems, ready to accept criticism which he felt justly applied to him. He wrote to a friend at Union Theological Seminary in New York, 'Thanks so much for your most helpful criticism. It is just this that I need most of all... I am just like a beginner... I have just spoken at Wesleyan, and …. felt that it had not "come across".'27
Buchman was full of apparent contradictions. An ardent advertiser of his own activities, he was also surprisingly self-effacing; the product of a conservative and cautious religious tradition, he was strikingly radical in his methods; extrovert in manner, he was at heart profoundly reserved.
His work, too, was full of paradoxes. He concerned himself with the intimate details of people's lives yet encouraged them to have a global perspective: 'Think in continents,' he told students, although his own experience was so far limited to two.*
(* cf. Major Gordon Heron (Penn State 1915) to Buchman, 20 May 1932: '1 well remember how you used to tell us to "think in continents" and be a "world power"…. It seems to me you have achieved what you used to advise for us'.)
In the same way, although he was at grips with the deepest human emotions, his work bore none of the marks of extravagant revivalism. 'As I have witnessed it,' wrote Blair Buck later, '(it) is not at all of the emotional variety characteristic of Billy Sunday or Aimee Semple Macpherson.'28
Those seven years in Penn State provided Buchman with a multitude of stories which he used for the rest of his life. He was no preacher. Where others used emotion or the fear of hell-fire, Buchman used stories. These encouraged the hearer to feel that if people like Bill Pickle, Blair Buck and Dean Agee could become different, then it was possible for anyone. He was a master raconteur, and people frequently said that a story which took him an hour to tell flashed by like ten minutes. Critics attributed this method to egotism, since - particularly in the early years - they were generally stories in which he had himself featured: it was only as others began to work with him that the stories as frequently centred around the adventures of others. Buchman used them in an age before films or television, to leave vivid pictures in people's minds.
1 Woodcock, p. 2.
2 H. P. Anderson to J. M. Willard, 2 November 1908.
3 Irving L. Foster to Buchman, 21 December 1908.
4 Dr Mahlon Hellerich, when Archivist to the Lehigh Historical Association. Much of the information on Pennsylvania Dutch society used in this book has come from Dr Hellerich.
5 Mrs Buchman to Buchman, 23 February 1909.
6 Robert Reed, North American Student, April 1914.
7 Quoted by Mae Phyllis Kaplan in MA thesis at Pennsylvania State Graduate School, Department of Economics and Sociology, 1934, p. 109.
8 Buchman to Dan Buchman, 29 March 1909.
9 See President Sparks' report for 1911, when he put the YMCA membership at 1,287.
10 North American Student; first part of article by Robert Reed, second part by Lloyd C. Douglas.
11 For a fuller account of these events as related by Buchman, see Buchman, pp. 330-46.
12 North American Student.
13 Fred Lewis Pattee, Recollections (unpublished).
14 Quoted in George Stewart Jr: The Life of Henry B. Wright (Association Press, New York, 1925), p 76.
15 William T. Ellis to Buchman, 5 April 1912.
17 Buchman to Hollis Wilbur, 12 September 1918.
18 Dr Schäfer to Buchman, (undated) 1911.
19 Buchman to Paul H. Krauss, 29 November 1911.
20 Buchman to H. W. Mitchell, a director of the Intercollegiate YMCA, sent with his report of the years 1912-13.
21 Edwin Sparks to Buchman, February/March 1912.
22 Mrs Edwin Sparks to Herman Hagedorn, 28 November 1933.
23 Buchman to Sparks, draft, on Cannon Christian College paper (undated). It is not known if Buchman sent this letter. It would have been wholly in character had he done so.
24 Buchman's official report for 1914.
25 Kaplan. p. 193.
26 Martin MSS.
27 Buchman to Morgan Noyes, 19 October 1916.
28 Blair Buck to Hermann Hagedorn, 9 December 1933.