Home page button
Newsletter button
Aubrey Hearn kept three journals during the years 1925, '26, and '27. Aubrey graduated from high school at 16 and from Howard College at 19. The journal years coincide with two and a half years while he was a student at Howard and a year and a half while he taught math at Etowah County High School in Attalla, Alabama. Mostly, these journals detail the superficial aspects of a very busy life–classes attended, jobs performed, trips home; there are few philosophical reflections. Still, they give us an insight into the life of an industrious, energetic young man. I want to share a few observations gleaned from the journals.

Aubrey's Diaries

Mary Alice Heard

Work experience. Aubrey worked his way through college. He boarded with his Uncle Oscar and Aunt Lizzie, who were living in Birmingham, having returned from missionary work in China. Despite a full load of classes, he frequently scrapped for money. At the beginning and ending of the semester he and some friends hauled trunks to and from the train station. They rented a truck and would haul as many trunks as it would hold, sometimes making several trips a day. This was hard manual labor. During the school year Aubrey sold Christmas cards, and it seems he was always taking orders. During warm weather he also rented a booth at the East Lake fairgrounds, where he sold candy. When he was at home in Albertville, he spent time setting type at the local newspaper, a job he had held before going off to college. This was a tedious and monotonous process, apparently done completely by hand. One summer he worked at the newspaper daily, earning the grand salary of $15 a week. Other odd jobs that I noticed were picking cotton for his family and distributing telephone books in Birmingham with Papa Hearn (his dad) and Kermit, and Fred (two of his brothers). He also agreed to sell insurance for Massachusetts Mutual Life, though I can't tell whether or not he had any success. He also mentions (after he began teaching school) buying a pig as an investment.

Life at Howard College. During his college years Aubrey participated in at least two debates, one at Union University and one at Mississippi College, both of which he lost. He ran for vice president of the student body (with his roommate, Allen Conner, as his campaign manager) and was defeated. Although he sometimes went to class unprepared, he enjoyed learning. As you can imagine, he was an avid reader.

Church Life. Despite a very busy schedule, Aubrey attended church every Sunday, both morning and evening. He was very active in the BYPU (Baptist Young People's Union) at each church he attended, often helping to organize groups and teach training courses. In fact, during the summer of 1927 he traveled with other paid workers to teach BYPU work to juniors and intermediates at churches across the state of Alabama.

Home Life. Aubrey loved to come back home to Albertville. Mama Hearn always fixed big meals and was willing to spoil her oldest son (by fixing him a special snack, for instance, if he had worked late at the newspaper office). The presence of his younger brothers and sisters meant that there was usually someone with whom to play caroms. Although these were tight times financially for Mama and Papa, the family was closely knit.

Social Life. There were occasional dates and parties; tennis, which he played frequently; games of "Rook" and "Flinch"; and occasional movies. He loved to attend football games. During no time in these journal years did Aubrey own a car. Trips to college were arranged with friends who owned cars or were made by train or bus. Roads were poor, and there were occasional flat tires or other breakdowns. Though these were simpler days in some respects, getting around required much ingenuity.

For some months after Aubrey graduated he saw quite a lot of a young woman he called M.J. (I think she was Mildred Johnston, whom he mentions much earlier.) Toward the end of the journals, there was much exchange of letters and gifts with Florence Conner, who, as you know, was the sister of his college roommate. After a visit to Shorter College to see Florence, his comment was: "I had such a delightful time at Shorter. F. is a jewell."

First Real Job. Teaching did not come naturally to Aubrey. He stayed at Etowah County High for three years, teaching algebra, geometry, and English. He mentions occasional discipline problems and a dissatisfaction with his teaching abilities. Students were often poorly prepared, and he was disappointed when they failed their tests. During these days he coached a play production (but didn't say how the play was received), sponsored the Hi-Y club, and was the villain in a faculty stunt. It was during these years that he decided to take piano! Possibly he was boarding at a house that had a piano. Whatever the reason, for a while he practiced almost every day.

At the front of the first journal, Aubrey mentions this purpose for keeping it: "One purpose of my diary is, if I succeed in keeping the resolutions on the opposite page, that posterity may not be unaware of the fact that I lived, or at least began, the year A.D. 1925." That's a noble goal, and I see it fulfilled today.

Aubrey Hearn's New Year's Resolutions, 1925

Someone says New Year's Resolutions are bosh. But why? They at least make a fellow take an inventory of himself:

  1. To strive in all things and at all times, to be a better, more useful, more unselfish Christian college student.
  2. To set my ideals and ambitions higher and work harder to attain them.
  3. To be more grateful to those who so love me.
  4. To not only develop myself better spiritually, mentally, morally, physically, and socially but to help others do the same.
  5. To utilize every spare moment doing something worthwhile.
  6. To study harder in college so that I might make my college life more beneficial in later years.
  7. To strive to always be a true Christian gentleman, and, with the realization, or better realization, that every gentleman has an influence, to make mine count for the good.