Friday, August 20, 2010

The Eve of The Revolution

by Norman E. Hooben
It was the eve of the revolution, the Boston Tea Party was just a month away and Stephen Barret was attending school as well as farming the land and also finding time to court his future bride.  Stephen was already twenty-four years old although that didn't matter in those days.  Among the twenty to thirty young people in this one room were some his age, most between eight and fifteen, and a few as young as six*.  All had the desire to learn...can't over emphasize that desire, its sorely missed now-a-days.
Textbooks were scarce but all contained the essentials to better one's self for the times ahead.

Computers were still about three-hundred years away and about the closest thing to Google was probably the almanac.  I wonder how many people today even knows what an almanac is?  (Whoops there I go English teacher said, "Never end a sentence with a preposition." Well that's one sentence I don't believe in. [ LOL ] )
Well for those that do not know an almanac is a book or pamphlet that you can look up things such as the weather and what its going to be like for the coming spring growing season.  Or maybe you want to know when the sun will rise tomorrow morning.  Of course all this information was based on historical data that someone recorded for future best-guess scenarios.
Meanwhile back at the one room schoolhouse Stephen Barret was mulling over an arithmetic problem that needed his undivided attention if he was going to run a farm after the war that he wasn't sure was coming... Paul Revere had not yet rode through town yelling, "The British are coming! The British are coming!"
Now without using your calculator (Stephen didn't even have the word calculator in his dictionary in those days.) We are going to see if you are smarter than a fifth grader, so here's the problem (lets see who gets the correct answer...leave it in the comment section and I'll let you know who was the first to get it right.)  Are you ready? (from the historical archives here it is)
"If you buy a pasture sufficient to summer 15 oxen and 20 young creatures and give 700£ for it, how long will be before you make the money you gave, if you have 3£ per head for summering the creatures?"
When you finish your homework get ready for battle...the eve of the revolution is upon us.

* Source: The Minutemen and Their World - Robert A. Gross - 1976

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