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Runaway Boy Couldn’t Learn Latin

The Sacramento Bee reported on January 19, 1916, that 15-year-old Rolla Bostwick had run away from home, which was located on San Francisco Boulevard in Sacramento’s Colonial Heights neighborhood.  

A passerby spotted Rolla on the road to Stockton, learned of the reason he left home, and then informed the police.

What was most interesting about this story was that the main reason Rolla left home was a very unusual one: he could not master Latin.  

Here’s the text of the note that Rolla left for his parents:

“Mama and Papa: I have gone away because I didn’t like to stay here and have you worry about me and I thought that since I couldn’t get a job here, I could somewhere else.  Please don’t worry about me, for I will get along till I get a good job. Please don’t worry about me or try to hunt for me. It is no use sending me to school, as I couldn’t learn Latin. (signed) Rolla.”

In response, his father, George W. Bostwick, stated, “Just a kid trick.”

That passerby said that Rolla would be home by nightfall, but that didn’t happen. On January 25th, Deputy Probation Officer Cook told a reporter that officers had lost track of Rolla and had no idea where he was.  

On February 5, another Probation Officer, Officer Wilson, said that Rolla had sent a letter to a friend in which he gave his return address as general delivery in San Francisco.  

It’s unclear what happened next, but Rolla clearly came home at some point.  He was listed in the newspaper as having performed as part of the Westminster Presbyterian Concert Orchestra on June 3.  This was followed by another concert on June 21st that was sponsored by the nearby Fruit Ridge District Parent-Teacher Association (PTA).

I guess is that he still hadn’t mastered Latin…

Inscription for 5th century Roman Consul Decius Marius Venantius Basilius in the Colosseum in Rome.
Inscription for 5th century Roman Consul Decius Marius Venantius Basilius in the Colosseum in Rome. Wikipedia image.
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