This I Believe

Farley, Cal


  • Cal Farley describes the beliefs that led him to found Boys Ranch: that a boy given a good home with proper meals and clothes will turn into a productive citizen rather than ending up in jail or reform school.
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And now, This I Believe. A series of living philosophies presented in the hope they may help to strengthen and enrich your life. Here is Edward R. Murrow.
This I Believe. Cal Farley is the founder and president of America’s first Boy’s Ranch in Amarillo Texas. For more than twenty-five years he was a successful businessman but after eight years of operating both his business and the Boy’s Ranch he sold his seven department stores and devoted his fortune and his time to giving unwanted boys a home on his three-thousand acre place. These are some of the ideas and experiences which have guided Cal Farley’s life.
For me to speak of my belief except by telling about Boy’s Ranch would be impossible. It would not be honest, even if I could. The ranch and what it stands for is my life, and in these things, I believe.
Recently I stood beside a little, dirty-faced, eleven-year-old boy in the courtroom of a small, west Texas town while the judge explained to the boy the reason for the courts placing him in the state reform school for one year.
“Tommy,” said the judge, “you have repeatedly disobeyed my orders. You have been brought before this court no less than nine times for stealing money off the teacher’s desk, twice for taking bicycles. And now you’re here again for taking a neighbor boy’s shoes.
And while the court realizes you’ve never had a father to teach you right from wrong, and your mother has not always had work so that she could properly feed and clothe you and your younger brother, still the law of the land under which you and I live, son, says that you shall be punished when you take that which belongs to other people. This you have done. And, sheriff, I instruct you to deliver this boy to the state reform school as soon as it can be arranged.”
This I believe: that if little Tommy were given a decent place to live, wholesome food three times a day, and clothes at least as good as the other children of the town wore, that he would make America a good substantial citizen, rather than spending his boyhood in a reformatory in preparation to spending his adult life in the penitentiary, from which they never come back cured.
I believed in this boy, and I felt that if given a shirt tail to hang on to, that he would come through. The judge and I held a discussion, and he finally agreed to let me take him to Boy’s Ranch, providing that in case Tommy didn’t come through, he would have to complete his sentence of one year in the reform school.
Seven years later, after finishing high school at Boy’s Ranch, Tommy walked into the judge’s office and asked the court to take his name off of the records. “Tommy,” said the judge, “I went back through the books the other day and I couldn’t find a thing against you. Guess I must have forgotten to make a note of it.”
I believe that ninety-five percent of the boys charged with delinquency today would—if given a chance—make good, decent, dependable citizens, if they could be placed with an organization that really had a sincere interest in the boys’ problems. All the boys that we are asked to take at Boy’s Ranch are from broken homes, abandoned by their father in most cases, and many never knew who he was. Is it any wonder that boys steal? Was it any wonder that Tommy borrowed the neighbor boy’s shoes and some of the money left on the teacher’s desk? He wanted candy, shows, clothing, like all the other youngsters of his community. And he went about it in the only way that was available to him.
When he came to the ranch, he soon fell right into the program with the other boys. He was no problem, nor was he any problem to the rancher in southern Colorado when he went to work for him. The rancher promised him a small herd of cattle for his own if he could stay two years. This he did. And today, Tommy owns twenty head of fine cattle, has a good job, has a very fine wife. And now little Tommy junior comes along and cements the whole deal. This I believe: that simply because a boy’s father isn’t a thoroughbred, it doesn’t keep him from being a champion.
That was Cal Farley of Amarillo, Texas; a philanthropist, businessman and the foster father of over eight-hundred boys.