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"I was really interested in theoretical math," she said, "—geometry and algebra, and high finance, I mean. But I couldn't do rapid calculation. I always made some simple mistake, especially with decimals and fractions. And then there were all those terrible problems about a train going 10 miles an hour, and a man walking five miles an hour!"
She has a vivid recollection of walking up and down the tennis court, and deciding that she would not take the post. Her brother pointed out the moral obligation—their mother had taught school for years to educate them. He also promised to help with the arithmetic.
LEGENDS AND LEARNING
So Miss Moore found herself pedaling her bicycle every morning to the history-haunted grounds of the Indian School. The academic day began there with reveille at 6 but, as Miss Moore did not live in the barracks, she was not required to be in her classroom until 8:30. Her classes, besides arithmetic, included typing and stenography and commercial law. This last was a special course with a textbook written only for Carlisle students, designed to teach the Indians about contracts and similar matters, to prevent their being defrauded when they got back to the reservations. It was in this course, principally, that Miss Moore came to know people like Thorpe and Welch.
At noon she pedaled home for lunch, went back for afternoon classes, returning again after dinner for the evening study hour that was terminated by taps. Then a thousand or so Indian boys and girls from as many as 90 different tribes, most of them youngsters who were a long way from the Crow or the Rosebud or the Puyallup reservation, far from desert buttes and rain forests, were locked in their quarters. Miss Moore, as always unafraid, calmly rode home in the darkness.
So Miss Moore's life went for five years while her pupils wrote a living legend in the record books of sport. She herself, in her own self-effacing way, does not associate herself with their deeds or even with the school's extraordinary purpose and achievements. "I felt myself to be an impostor there," she said. "I was soldiering; it really wasn't my work. And I did so little."
AN AWE-INSPIRING LEAP
The truth is that the Indians in that period had embarked on an almost awe-inspiring leap for greatness. There was an element of grandeur, something almost mythological, in the rise of the Carlisle Indians to national and then to world fame of that time. When the school was started, they were despised, feared, hated, exploited, fought—and while the achievement of Thorpe and his teammates could not end that altogether, they certainly worked a transformation in the attitude of the nation as a whole toward the red men. And the Indians had an incentive to save their people as poignant as any in history. Isaac Seneca, for instance, came from a New York tribe that was down to 2,700 survivors. There were only about 600 left in the Oklahoma tribe to which Jim Thorpe belonged. Their tribes were perishing, and the epic striving of the Carlisle Indians was a last great effort to reach the unattainable, like one of the old Indian legends that were printed in The Red Man, telling of a brave who is forced to strive into the further reaches of outer space, to the most distant stars, to try to save his people. Lacking a common myth for all the tribes gathered in their white man's school, they did something better than study the old myths—they created a new one of their own, the myth of the Carlisle Indians, cast in the same grand pattern of the ageless myths they had been told.
According to Warner, there were never more than 50 boys at Carlisle big enough and strong enough to play football. The entire coaching staff consisted of Warner, a bookkeeper to keep track of the immense gate receipts, and an Oneida Indian named Wallace Denny, the trainer, who was also night watchman of the school. The 1912 team, Thorpe's greatest, played 10 games in 42 days, almost every player playing the whole game, and Thorpe himself never once taking time out. This was the team that beat Army at West Point 27-6, the mysterious game that is so shrouded in controversy it is doubtful if its facts will ever become clear. The accepted story is that Thorpe took the kickoff, and went through Army for a touchdown; the Indians were called offside, and the ball brought back, and when Army kicked again Thorpe again ran for a touchdown.... Whatever really happened, the mystery and the legends are an appropriate part of the mythological quality of the Indians' performance at that time.
END OF THE SPARTAN REGIME