The rags-to-riches story of a legend

Dear reader, I hope you will permit an old man a chance to talk for a moment. I recently celebrated my 150th birthday – quite a feat I think, and I feel that it is a time to reflect on my life. Who am I to talk? you might ask. Well let me tell you about myself.

I was born on a swampy piece of land that was not well-known to any person. My father had died several months ago, although some reports indicate that he merely ran away to seek his fortunes in a richer town up the road.

Childbirth was too much for my mother, who died only 10 minutes after the arrival of her child. The midwife on hand could see that my mother was fading fast and quickly asked her what name the child should have. My mother was feverish and did not understand the question so she responded with another. “The Child?” she asked and then promptly died.

This proved to be an unlucky event for me, because the midwife, who was very loyal to all of her patients, put my mother’s full response on my birth certificate.

As you can no doubt infer, dear reader, this unfortunate act caused me no end of problems in school. Other children were merciless with their taunts. “Why don’t you get a real first name!” they would yell, and another would shout, “Didn’t your parents care enough to give you one before they died?” Even one teacher was heard to remark, “It’s not like it’s the only child here after all.”

On many days, I could be found running home to the orphanage crying because of the other children’s taunts. This fed a burning desire in my heart to succeed far beyond my bullies. It was my only desire to be more respected, richer and more famous than those bastards – one of whom even referred to himself as a prince, despite our forceful repudiation of a monarchy!

I had to start out small; the only position I could find open to a person of my background and schooling was that of a common teacher. I languished at my post, teaching ignorant little wretches how to add and subtract, and I cursed them and my station every night as I cried myself to sleep.

Eventually, I saved up enough money to get some more education to become a chemist at a nearby chemical-producing company, and I bought a house.

I worked very hard on that swampy plot of land and eventually drained most of it to provide enough land to build my estate.

My richer peers scoffed at my attempts to build up a sizeable estate, but I persisted. Nothing would stop me from being better than them!

I’ll admit that some of my first attempts at grandiose buildings lacked a certain aesthetic value. In fact, some of the local people were so incensed at some of my new additions that they passed a law prohibiting me from building above a certain height.

“Pish posh,” I said to them.

I am the type not to let my failures weigh me down. As soon as I realized that some of my estate’s buildings were what is often termed “eyesores,” I resolved to build some more.

I knew that I could find the respect I deserved once I figured out what kind of buildings people respected. Then I remembered my old classics teacher, and the answer came to me: columns!

Now my estate can boast a 10-column-per-square-mile ratio, which is more than most of my richer peers, I might add!

Even after my genius decision regarding columns, I still had not achieved the recognition I knew I deserved.

I continued to build more, and if a few of my older buildings fell into disrepair or were condemned (as were the stables I had built to commemorate our nation’s centennial), I had other concerns that captured my attention.

Let me also point out, dear reader, lest you think I am a man who cannot control my expenses, that in all of this construction I always used the cheapest materials and laborers available. Some buildings took a little longer than I had originally planned, but that is the price of greatness!

To cap off my rise to prominence I designed a coat of arms for myself, but in a fit of cleverness that astounded even me, I erased one of the sides to the traditional shield design. Ha ha, that’ll show my supposed “betters” who’s more in touch with the modern arts movements!

Now, I sit gladly on my estate and watch the continued construction of new buildings, which is sure to continue any day now, and think of how glad I am.

Other people finally noticed me!