Thursday, June 3, 1915

Not long ago our wanderings brought us to a noted woman’s college and being invited to eat dinner in the big dining hall, we found ourselves one of the two men in a vast sea of femininity. We had drifted into an embarrassing situation. In a moment of weakness we had agreed to say grace, never thinking of anything but the ordinary family blessing and of the illogical position of him who refuses to be thankful for what he has to eat. But this blessing had to be said so that it would reach all over the big hall. And that added to our unholy prominence.
At the table we had a post of honor at the right hand of one of the lady professors. Years ago we learned that in table talk that no fair subject can be ignored and some way or other the subject of mathematics was introduced and it was handled by us in a radical way.
About fifteen years ago a smart, keen educator made a speech here. He had been the head of the free school system in the State of Maine. He said in effect that arithmetic should be banished from the free school curriculum and the books burned, and after pondering on this theory for so many years, we are almost ready to subscribe to his doctrine. The study is the rock in the path of many a bright student who cannot be interested in the puzzles that fascinate others. It often leads to confusion and despair and turns students away from the road to an education. The slight amount that will be required in life by the average man or woman can be acquired, when needed, in a week or so…
What is the answer to the following: A, B and C go to market to buy cattle. B buys one third more than A, and C buys one third more than B. How many did each buy?
The way to work that sum is to call up A, B and C on the telephone and get each one’s statement and make a local for the newspapers out of it. It has news value and that is all. There is no law requiring B to buy one third more than A. Answer: A, 18; B, 24; C, 32…
Thus in a light, and irresponsible, way we disposed of the sacred science of arithmetic. After dinner we learned that the lady we had been talking to occupied the chair of mathematics in the institution.
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There is much complaint about the money that is tied up in automobiles in this county, but it will be like bread upon the waters and will return after many days. The ability to flit from place to place will raise the value of every farm in the county, and in the end the automobile will prove to be the farmer’s salvation.
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At something over two hundred feet, the drillers of the prospective oil well at Dutch Bottom on Williams River struck a flow of white water which they say looks like buttermilk. They have undoubtedly discovered the Buttermilk Spring of the deer hunters. For many years we heard of the buttermilk springs of the big woods country around the headwaters of the Gauley. On one occasion we were led to one of them up Tea Creek a short ways and saw a whitish fluid flowing from the earth, forming a weak spring.
No one should be surprised at finding any sort of a mixture in these mountains in the form of mineral waters. It is not generally known, but it is a fact, that the mountains of this section of the country give more mineral springs than any place in the world. The rock formed in the Archaean period when there was no sign of life is overlaid by the Silurian formation, of the age of the invertebrates, and that by the Devonian, of the age of fishes. Along the Appalachian range of mountains on the borders of West Virginia and Virginia, these rocks have been greatly fissured forming great faults and in these mountains mineral springs of more or less repulsiveness are of common occurrence…
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Welling Ratliff has one of the fire stations in this county. He is located on Bald Knob, one of the highest points in the Alleghenies. The place is something over 4,800 feet in Altitude. The place is treeless owing to its exposed position, and its great elevation. Many of the storms that sweep over the valley are below this watch tower. The other night the lightning played continuously around and the fire warden was able to read by the light. This is one way of reading by electric light. He found a big iron bear trap near the top of the Knob which showed signs of having been carried there by a bear. A fine spring of water issues from the mountain about a quarter of a mile for the top.
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The young man and the young woman were taking lunch together. They young man had come from a far country and wielded a hearty knife and ignored his fork in the feeding. With an air of some superiority he was discoursing on the former barbarous conditions of Pocahontas county, and his hearer was somewhat nettled. “The railroad made a big difference in this county, didn’t it?” he asked. “Yes,” said the young lady, “we see more people eating with their knives than we used to.”

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