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#1897: Willa Cather to James D. Cather, July 12 [1934]

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Dear Brother1;

I write this note in the Bank Vault where I am finishing up business affairs just before starting for Canada3.

One thing I want to tell you, dear boy. If you wrote me tomorrow that you had struck a big paying well, I would be glad on your account but I would not think one bit more of you.

To me, luck and 2success are very different things. To hold a job and bring up your family is to be successful in these times. Roscoe4 has not done more than that, and I feel that he is successful. Gold-and-ore-and stockmarket-success is Luck. It's picturesque and dramatic and sometimes it is fun. But 3to me the only real success is prosperity that comes from working very hard or skillfully—usually skill and persistence go together.

I'm not preaching, I write this only because you say if you had a success you'd be glad to tell me of it.

Dear boy, in these times to hold a job, keep your health, and bring up your children 4constitutes success. If your children are any good at all (and they seemed to me lovely lovely children when I saw them last) they would not think a bit more of you if you struck a gusher tomorrow—nor would I.

In California5 pure Luck is worshipped like a God god—don't be fooled by such a transparent sham, and tell Helen Louise6 and 5 and Charles Edwin7 that if they once begin to judge people by their clothes and cars and luck instead of by just themselves and how kind or useful or helpful they are in the world - - - - - - - why then I won't love them anymore! That threat is half in play; and yet, in a way, I mean it.

God bless you all8, and my dearest love to my brother Jim

from Willie