Back in the 1800s most people finished their educations when they graduated from the Eighth Grade. If they were wealthy they might go on to college, but most boys entered the workforce and my grandfather was no exception.
He went to work as a shotgun guard on the wagons that carried gold bullion from the trains to the mint in San Francisco for Wells Fargo Railway Express.
Legally you had to be 16 years old to have a job that involved carrying a gun. Because he was tall my grandfather was able to pass for 16. He always said he had told the only lie of his lifetime to get that job.
That, in itself was a lie. For instance he thought it was shameful that my mother told me babies grew inside their mothers' tummies. He thought she should have said they were found in cabbage patches or brought by storks. Lying "for the protection of the innocent' was okay in his opinion.
As an employee of Wells Fargo Railway Express grandfather ate in the lunch room and often heard the detective who caught the bandit, Black Bart, tell visitors how he had done that by tracing a shirt cuff found at the scene of a hold-up by the laundry mark printed on it to the place the bad guy had his clothes washed.
Another advantage of working for that company was being able to ride the trains for free.
My grandfather's younger brother was sent to a tuberculosis sanitarium in the Sierras and nobody else in the family ever saw him again, But my grandfather took the train up to visit every few weeks until his brother died.
While on the long train rides he taught himself to play the five-stringed banjo.