No. 1175



The famous English essayist and poet Joseph Addison (1672-1719) once said of education: “Education is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. …Without it, what is man? A splendid slave, and a reasoning savage.” Obviously things have changed a lot since Joseph Addison was around, but getting a good education today is a must if a person has any real hope of being a success.
In a general sense, the more education a person has, the more money he or she earns. There is also the sense of worth and fulfillment that only comes to the person who has a quality education. A few weeks ago I decided to reread a book that is one of my favorites titled, “The Thread That Runs So True” by Jesse Stuart, a rural Kentucky mountain school teacher. In his book he tells about a man by the name of Burt Eastham, 50 years of age, who could not even write his own name. But the sad part is what Burt’s lack of education was costing him every day of his life in terms of dollars and cents.
The reason I wanted to share this with you is because the story involves some economic principles that are just as true today as they were many years ago back in the hills of Kentucky. It was during Jesse Stuart’s first teaching job at the Lonesome Valley School when a man by the name of Burt Eastham passed his school each day with a wagon load of coal on his way to sell it. One day Jesse asked him, “How many bushels do you have on this wagon?” Burt replied, “Twenty-five bushels.” And the conversation proceeded like this, “You weigh your coal,” I asked. “Nope,” he said. “Then how do you know how many bushels you have?” “Guess at it,” he said.
“I believe you have more than 25 bushels on your wagon. You got any way of finding out? Do you know the length, width and depth of your wagon bed?” “Nope!” Then Jesse said to Don Conway, one of his students who was standing there listening to the conversation, “Go fetch the yardstick from my desk.” Don did the measuring and Jesse put the figures on paper. Jesse said, “According to my figures you have 39 and a fraction of bushels. Since the coal is stacked a little higher on your bed, I wouldn’t be surprised if you have over 40 bushes on your wagon.” “What, I have been selling this wagon bed of coal at 25 bushels for the past seven years. How do I find out how much I really have?” “Have it weighed down in the Valley, they have scales there.”
Burt Eastham, greatly excited, climbed onto his coal wagon and drove down the road. That afternoon just before it was time to dismiss school there was a knock on the wall beside our open school house door. There stood Burt, his face beaming. His face was so dirty with coal dust that his not-too-white teeth looked white as dogwood blossoms in April. His smile was so broad he was showing nearly all his teeth. “Thank you a hundred times, young man,” were his first words. “I don’t know how I can ever repay you. I had 43 bushels of coal on my wagon. Here,” he exclaimed showing him the weigh bill. “Something told me to stop here and take a look at you,” Burt Eastham said. “I am glad I stopped. I’ve been swindled for seven years.” End of story.
Now, my friend, if that won’t get you to stop and realize the importance and value of education, I don’t know what would. And this is just one small example to demonstrate the importance of it. If you have children or grandchildren, and can influence them, just make sure they know the value, in dollars and cents, of education.
(Editor’s Note: THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY – Begin your day on a positive note – 365 days for $12. This will benefit the Bookcase for Every Child project. Go to to subscribe.)