I’m reading a biography of Henry A. Wallace, American Dreamer by John C. Culver and John Hyde ©2000, and it mentions a famous friend he made at the age of four:
(George Washington) Carver, the son of slaves, wandered through the Midwest for years after the Civil War before becoming Iowa State’s first black student in 1891. There his gentle manner, enormous dedication, and religious devotion won him wide acceptance with students and faculty alike. Among Carver’s friends was Harry Wallace. First as a student and then as a professor, Wallace spent hours with Carver and regularly invited him to his home for dinner. There Carver met young Henry, the boy who loved plants.
Carver “took a fancy to me and took me with him on botanizing expeditions and pointed out to me the flowers and the parts of the flowers– the stamens and the pistil,” H. A. Wallace recalled. “I remember him claiming to my father that I had greatly surprised him by recognizing the pistil and stamen of redtop, a kind of grass– grass Agrostis alba to be precise. I also remember rather questioning his accuracy in believing that I recognized these parts, but anyhow he boasted about me, and the mere fact of his boasting, I think, incited me to learn more than if I had really done what he said I had done.”
More important, Carver had a sense that all living things possessed something divine, that God could speak from the parts of a flower or a blade of grass. Their walks continued for about a year, after which Wallace left Ames, but Young Henry had permanently absorbed the philosophy of his gentle friend.
I have read many lists in my life of all the wonderful things George Washington Carver could do with peanuts, but this is the first time I’ve really wanted to get to know him.