The George C. Marshall Papers


MARSHALL said in 1957: "My first very clear recollection is going out to our barn in which we kept a horse and a cow . . . climbing up the ladder, which was fastened to the side of the barn, in an effort to get to the haymow—the first time I had ever tried this. . . . And as I climbed up the ladder, being very cautious and a little frightened, I came to a windowless opening which I could look out of between the rungs of the ladder. In a sense . . . this was my first look at the world." (Marshall Interviews, pp. 19-20.)
The family's prosperity ended suddenly in 1890. Earlier that year Marshall's father had sold a large part of his coking business to the expanding Frick enterprises and had used the income to invest heavily in the Shenandoah Valley land boom. The investment was wiped out a few months later when the speculative bubble burst, plunging the family into unaccustomed financial straits. "We had to economize very bitterly," Marshall recalled, and only his mother's modest income from some Pittsburgh property saved the situation. (Ibid., p. 70.)