Here and There at Tufts
Patrick Byrne has spent forty-six of his eighty years in working faithfully for the College. His first years of service were in the days of Thomas A. Goddard and Richard Frothingham, when it was not uncommon for him to cash a check from the treasurer to pay off the men at work on the grounds, or take an order by word of mouth to a Boston store and bring back provisions for the boarding house, then in the present Library building. In the basement of this building Mary Byrne was born, oldest child of the six granted to Patrick, and the first child, he thinks, born upon College Hill. Another child, a son, graduated from Tufts in 1894, and during 1905 and 1906 was city engineer of Medford.
Patrick is a familiar figure upon College Hill. He it is who keeps the edges of the lawn trimmed in summer and the footpaths shovelled in winter. Rising at five, he is at College work at seven, and steadily pursues his task for eight hours or more, in warm weather and cold, with two weeks holidays in the year. In the early days the lawns had to be graded. Professor Bray superintended this work, and Patrick lowered the trees from the old
|to the new level. He lowered all the larger trees between the Chapel and East Hall on the one side, and between the Chapel and Miner Hall on the other, without losing a single tree.|
"Have you any message for the boys ? " he was asked.
After a pause he replied with a smile: " The boys used to be pretty mischievous. Before they had electric cars they used to steal the horses and wagon out of the barn and take a ride sometimes as far as Newton. I was tempted to take the nuts off the wagon, but I never did it for fear of breaking somebody's arm, though I have taken off the wheels. One night the boys tied my calf to the bell-frame, on top of Ballou. But I said nothing to anybody--just led the creature down again. I've never had any trouble with the boys, and they have always treated me with respect. We have a good class of students now."
"Have you anything to say to the students that a man eighty years old might say to young men ?"
" Tell them to be trustworthy, and they will come out all right."
In this advice Patrick gives the guiding principle of his own life. His trustworthiness has been recognized by all who have had relations with him. A good many years ago, when he was recovering from two months of illness,- almost the only illness he has ever suffered - Professor Shipman came down to his house with a hundred dollars in gold, contributed by Patrick's friends, for fear he might be in need of something.
He lives, as he has lived for many years, in his house on Stearns Avenue, contented with his lot, and enjoying life, a useful and respected member of the human family.