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MY OWN STORY
THE CALL PUBLISHING CO.,
glgen 1-26-00 repl
By JOHN D. BARRY
66 Y OWN STORY” could hardly have been a simpler or a
more appropriate title for the series of reminiscences by
Fremont Older, following as it did so many stories about other people that he had helped to inspire. Those stories prepared the way for this swift narrative, scene after scene almost bewildering in variety and interest. Whatever else life may have been for Older it has never been dull. The excitement and the glow are reflected in every chapter.
Writing about oneself is pretty difficult business. There are so , many pitfalls. Few could hope to escape them all. Older wrote as if he thought very little about them one way or the other. He was concerned mainly with the story as something to be told concisely, directly and frankly. There were times when another writer would have spared himself and he spared himself not at all. Each scene he described as he saw it and felt it and he let it go at that. There are not many who would have dared to speak so freely. And yet it was this freedom that did most to make his work valuabble. He wrote out of a full mind, like one that found expression easy.
Long before "My Own Story” was begun some of us had tried again and again to persuade Older to write his memories. But he never showed much interest. When he withdrew from the Bulletin, however, he felt that he had made a break in his career. He had reached a point where he was tempted to look back. His quarter of a century spent in building up the paper was full of dramatic incidents. They were associated with an important period in the history of San Francisco. They involved the earthquake, the fire, the political corruption that led to the graft prosecution, the emancipation of California from forces that had so long preyed on her political and social life, the imprisonment of Ruef. For Older all the incidents had a deeper meaning than was revealed on the outside. They helped to open his eyes. They trained his understanding. They widened his sympathies. They gave him his social vision.
Any self-revelation worth being published at all has two phases, the one that presents the outer circumstances and the one that gives the inner reactions. Many autobiographies are insignificant because they have one of these two phases only. In “My Own Story” both phases are remarkable. The surface narrative alone is absorbingly interesting. It offers us intimate glimpses into public characters and public events associated with San Francisco during the past twentyfive years. Every figure presented is lifelike. Every incident rings true. The conversations are to the last degree realistic. The refer