Courses emphasized topics as the theory, and problems as illustrations
utilizing the theory. Our calculus textbook had a mysterious phrase on one page
saying "thus it is evident that __ = __.'' Considering this an author's trick,
the school "obligingly'' passed out three pages of complicated explanatory math
as a topic. It practically had to be memorized and was one of the toughest, most
dreaded topics, and appeared often in final exams. Incidentally, we did our class
work, including exams, on wall blackboards.
Well, I hated to memorize anything mathematical and couldn't believe
that the author was such a trickster! The night before the final exam, again intrigued
with this, I spent the entire time working on discovering an easy solution to
the author's statement instead of preparing for the exam. I finally got
an extremely short solution, justifying my faith. I was obviously lucky
I drew this topic on my exam next morning! I raced through it filling but a few
lines of one blackboard, and I called the professor over to look at my exam.
He asked me if I needed help because I "evidently'' couldn't do the
topic and thus had failed. I told him instead that I was finished and pointed
to my sparsely filled blackboard. He examined it for a long time, scowled, and
then proceeded to fill up four blackboards showing and explaining to me the school
answer, while I protested all the while (as my later business partner would say,
"but-butting around in my motor boat!''). When the prof finished, I asked him
what was wrong with my answer. He said, "Not a damned thing, but look at the beauty
of the math in the other answer!''
Yes, I passed. I don't know whether they still use that infamous
John Everson '35
San Anselmo, Calif.
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