It was Kipling who suggested that Bok should name his Merion home Swastika. Bok asked what the author knew about the mystic sign:
There is a huge book (Ive forgotten the name, but the Smithsonian will know), he wrote back, about the Swastika (pronounced Swas-ti-ka to rhyme with cars ticker), in literature, art, religion, dogma, etc. I believe there are two sorts of Swastikas, one [figure] and one [figure]; one is bad, the other is good, but which is which I know not for sure. The Hindu trader opens his yearly account-books with a Swastika as an auspicious beginning, and all the races of the earth have used it. Its an inexhaustible subject, and some man in the Smithsonian ought to be full of it. Anyhow, the sign on the door or the hearth should protect you against fire and water and thieves.
By this time should have reached you a Swastika door-knocker, which I hope may fit in with the new house and the new name. It was made by a village-smith; and you will see that it has my initials, to which I hope you will add yours, that the story may be complete.
We are settled out here in Cape Town, eating strawberries in January and complaining of the heat, which for the last two days has been a little more than we pampered folk are used to; say 70° at night. But what a lovely land it is, and how superb are the hydrangeas! Figure to yourself four acres of em, all in bloom on the hillside near our home!
Bok had visited the Panama Canal before its completion and had talked with the men, high and low, working on it, asking them how they felt about President Roosevelts action in digging the Canal first and talking about it afterwards. He wrote the result of his talks to Colonel Roosevelt, and received this reply: