HOW TO BEGIN
From: How To Write Special Feature Articles
(Category: PART I
IMPORTANCE OF THE BEGINNING. The value of a good beginning for a news
story, a special feature article, or a short story results from the way
in which most persons read newspapers and magazines. In glancing through
current publications, the average reader is attracted chiefly by
headlines or titles, illustrations, and authors' names. If any one of
these interests him, he pauses a moment or two over the beginning "to
see what it is all about." The first paragraphs usually determine
whether or not he goes any further. A single copy of a newspaper or
magazine offers so much reading matter that the casual reader, if
disappointed in the introduction to one article or short story, has
plenty of others to choose from. But if the opening sentences hold his
attention, he reads on. "Well begun is half done" is a saying that
applies with peculiar fitness to special feature articles.
STRUCTURE OF THE BEGINNING. To accomplish its purpose an introduction
must be both a unit in itself and an integral part of the article. The
beginning, whether a single paragraph in form, or a single paragraph in
essence, although actually broken up into two or more short paragraphs,
should produce on the mind of the reader a unified impression. The
conversation, the incident, the example, or the summary of which it
consists, should be complete in itself. Unless, on the other hand, the
introduction is an organic part of the article, it fails of its purpose.
The beginning must present some vital phase of the subject; it should
not be merely something attractive attached to the article to catch the
reader's notice. In his effort to make the beginning attractive, an
inexperienced writer is inclined to linger over it until it becomes
disproportionately long. Its length, however, should be proportionate to
the importance of that phase of the subject which it presents. As a
vital part of the article, the introduction must be so skillfully
connected with what follows that a reader is not conscious of the
transition. Close coherence between the beginning and the body of the
article is essential.
The four faults, therefore, to be guarded against in writing the
beginning are: (1) the inclusion of diverse details not carefully
coordinated to produce a single unified impression; (2) the development
of the introduction to a disproportionate length; (3) failure to make
the beginning a vital part of the article itself; (4) lack of close
connection or of skillful transition between the introduction and the
body of the article.
TYPES OF BEGINNINGS. Because of the importance of the introduction, the
writer should familiarize himself with the different kinds of
beginnings, and should study them from the point of view of their
suitability for various types of articles. The seven distinct types of
beginnings are: (1) summary; (2) narrative; (3) description; (4)
striking statement; (5) quotation; (6) question; (7) direct address.
Combinations of two or more of these methods are not infrequent.
Summary Beginnings. The general adoption by newspapers of the summary
beginning, or "lead," for news stories has accustomed the average reader
to finding most of the essential facts of a piece of news grouped
together in the first paragraph. The lead, by telling the reader the
nature of the event, the persons and things concerned, the time, the
place, the cause, and the result, answers his questions, What? Who?
When? Where? Why? How? Not only are the important facts summarized in
such a beginning, but the most striking detail is usually "played up" in
the first group of words of the initial sentence where it catches the
eye at once. Thus the reader is given both the main facts and the most
significant feature of the subject. Unquestionably this news story lead,
when skillfully worked out, has distinct advantages alike for the news
report and for the special article.
(_Kansas City Star_)
A FRESH AIR PALACE READY
A palace of sunshine, a glass house of fresh air, will be the
Christmas offering of Kansas City to the fight against tuberculosis,
the "Great White Plague." Ten miles from the business district of
the city, overlooking a horizon miles away over valley and hill,
stands the finest tuberculosis hospital in the United States. The
newly completed institution, although not the largest hospital of
the kind, is the best equipped and finest appointed. It is symbolic
of sunshine and pure air, the cure for the disease.
(_New York World_)
STOPPING THE COST OF LIVING LEAKS
BY MARIE COOLIDGE RASK
After ten weeks' instruction in domestic economy at a New York high
school, a girl of thirteen has been the means of reducing the
expenditure in a family of seven to the extent of five dollars a
The girl is Anna Scheiring, American born, of Austrian ancestry,
living with her parents and brothers and sisters in a five-room
apartment at No. 769 East One Hundred and Fifty-eighth Street, where
her father, Joseph Scheiring is superintendent of the building.
The same economic practices applied by little Anna Scheiring are at
the present time being worked out in two thousand other New York
homes whose daughters are pupils in the Washington Irving High
THE FIGHT FOR CLEAN MILK
BY CONSTANCE D. LEUPP
Two million quarts of milk are shipped into New York every day. One
hundred thousand of those who drink it are babies. The milk comes
from forty-four thousand dairy farms scattered through New York, New
Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and even
A large proportion of the two million quarts travels thirty-six
hours before it lands on the front doorstep of the consumer. The
situation in New York is duplicated in a less acute degree in every
city in the United States.
NARRATIVE BEGINNINGS. To begin a special feature article in the
narrative form is to give it a story-like character that at once arouses
interest. It is impossible in many instances to know from the
introduction whether what follows is to be a short story or a special
article. An element of suspense may even be injected into the narrative
introduction to stimulate the reader's curiosity, and descriptive
touches may be added to heighten the vividness.
If the whole article is in narrative form, as is the case in a personal
experience or confession story, the introduction is only the first part
of a continuous story, and as such gives the necessary information about
the person involved.
Narrative beginnings that consist of concrete examples and specific
instances are popular for expository articles. Sometimes several
instances are related in the introduction before the writer proceeds to
generalize from them. The advantage of this inductive method of
explanation grows out of the fact that, after a general idea has been
illustrated by an example or two, most persons can grasp it with much
less effort and with much greater interest than when such
exemplification follows the generalization.
Other narrative introductions consist of an anecdote, an incident, or an
important event connected with the subject of the article.
Since conversation is an excellent means of enlivening a narrative,
dialogue is often used in the introduction to special articles, whether
for relating an incident, giving a specific instance, or beginning a
personal experience story.
BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
BY EMMETT J. SCOTT AND LYMAN BEECHER STOWE
It came about that in the year 1880, in Macon County, Alabama, a
certain ex-Confederate colonel conceived the idea that if he could
secure the Negro vote he could beat his rival and win the seat he
coveted in the State Legislature. Accordingly the colonel went to
the leading Negro in the town of Tuskegee and asked him what he
could do to secure the Negro vote, for Negroes then voted in Alabama
without restriction. This man, Lewis Adams by name, himself an
ex-slave, promptly replied that what his race most wanted was
education, and what they most needed was industrial education, and
that if he (the colonel) would agree to work for the passage of a
bill appropriating money for the maintenance of an industrial school
for Negroes, he, Adams, would help to get for him the Negro vote and
the election. This bargain between an ex-slaveholder and an ex-slave
was made and faithfully observed on both sides, with the result that
the following year the Legislature of Alabama appropriated $2,000 a
year for the establishment of a normal and industrial school for
Negroes in the town of Tuskegee. On the recommendation of General
Armstrong, of Hampton Institute, a young colored man, Booker T.
Washington, a recent graduate of and teacher at the Institute, was
called from there to take charge of this landless, buildingless,
teacherless, and studentless institution of learning.
MILLIONAIRES MADE BY WAR
BY HOMER CROY
A tall, gaunt, barefooted Missouri hill-billy stood beside his
rattly, dish-wheeled wagon waiting to see the mighty proprietor of
the saw mill who guessed only too well that the hill-billy had
something he wanted to swap for lumber.
"What can I do for you?"
The hillman shifted his weight uneasily. "I 'low I got somethun of
powerful lot of interest to yuh." Reaching over the side of the
wagon he placed his rough hand tenderly on a black lump. "I guess
yuh know what it is."
The saw mill proprietor glanced at it depreciatingly and turned
toward the mill.
"It's lead, pardner, pure lead, and I know where it come from. I
could take you right to the spot--ef I wanted to."
The mill proprietor hooked a row of fingers under the rough stone
and tried to lift it. But he could not budge it. "It does seem to
have lead in it. What was you calc'lating askin' for showin' me
where you found it?"
The farmer from the foothills cut his eyes down to crafty slits. "I
was 'lowing just tother day as how a house pattern would come in
handy. Ef you'll saw me out one I'll take you to the spot." And so
the deal was consummated, the hill-billy gleefully driving away,
joyous over having got a fine house pattern worth $40 for merely
showing a fellow where you could pick up a few hunks of lead.
That was forty-five years ago and it was thus that the great Joplin
lead and zinc district was made known to the world.
FRANK A. SCOTT, CHAIRMAN OF THE WAR INDUSTRIES BOARD
BY THEODORE TILLER
One day in the year 1885 a twelve-year-old boy, who had to leave
school and make his own way in the world on account of his father's
death, applied for a job in a railroad freight-office in Cleveland,
"I'm afraid you won't do," said the chief. "We need a boy, but
you're not tall enough to reach the letter-press."
"Well, couldn't I stand on a box?" suggested the young seeker of
That day a box was added to the equipment of the freight-office and
the name of Frank A. Scott to the payroll.
(_New York Times_)
NEW YORKER INVENTS NEW EXPLOSIVE AND GIVES IT TO THE UNITED STATES
Nine young men recently rowed to the middle of the Hudson River with
a wooden box to which wires were attached, lying in the bottom of
the boat. They sank the box in deep water very cautiously, and then
rowed slowly back to land, holding one end of the wire. Presently a
column of water 40 feet through and 300 feet high shot into the air,
followed by a deafening detonation, which tore dead branches from
The nine young men were congratulating one man of the group on the
explosion when an irate farmer ran up, yelling that every window in
his farmhouse, nearly a mile away, had been shattered. The party of
young men didn't apologize then; they gathered about the one who was
being congratulated and recongratulated him.
The farmer did not know until later that the force which broke his
windows and sent the huge column of water into the air was the War
Department's newest, safest, and most powerful explosive; that the
young men composed the dynamite squad of the Engineer Corps of the
New York National Guard; and that the man they were congratulating
was Lieut. Harold Chase Woodward, the inventor of the explosive.
WHY THE EMPLOYEES RUN OUR BUSINESS
A BUSINESS OF THE WORKERS, BY THE WORKERS, AND FOR THE WORKERS--HOW
BY EDWARD A. FILENE
"I know I am right. Leave it to any fair-minded person to decide."
"Good enough," I replied; "you name one, I will name another, and
let them select a third."
She agreed; we selected the umpires and they decided against the
It had come about in this way. The store rule had been that cashiers
paid for shortages in their accounts as--in our view--a penalty for
carelessness; we did not care about the money. This girl had been
short in an account; the amount had been deducted from her pay, and,
not being afraid to speak out, she complained:
"If I am over in my accounts, it is a mistake; but if I am short, am
I a thief? Why should I pay back the money? Why can't a mistake be
made in either direction?"
This arbitration--although it had caused a decision against
us--seemed such a satisfactory way of ending disputes that we
continued the practice in an informal way. Out of it grew the
present arbitration board, which is the corner-stone of the relation
between our store and the employees, because it affords the
machinery for getting what employees are above all else interested
in--a square deal.
DESCRIPTIVE BEGINNINGS. Just as description of characters or of scene
and setting is one method of beginning short stories and novels, so also
it constitutes a form of introduction for an article. In both cases the
aim is to create immediate interest by vivid portrayal of definite
persons and places. The concrete word picture, like the concrete
instance in a narrative beginning, makes a quick and strong appeal. An
element of suspense or mystery may be introduced into the description,
if a person, a place, or an object is described without being identified
by name until the end of the portrayal.
The possibilities of description are not limited to sights alone;
sounds, odors and other sense impressions, as well as emotions, may be
described. Frequently several different impressions are combined. To
stir the reader's feelings by a strong emotional description is
obviously a good method of beginning.
A descriptive beginning, to be clear to the rapid reader, should be
suggestive rather than detailed. The average person can easily visualize
a picture that is sketched in a few suggestive words, whereas he is
likely to be confused by a mass of details. Picture-making words and
those imitative of sounds, as well as figures of speech, may be used to
advantage in descriptive beginnings. For the description of feelings,
words with a rich emotional connotation are important.
OUR HIGHEST COURT
BY HORACE TOWNER
"The Honorable the Supreme Court of the United States!"
Nearly every week-day during the winter months, exactly at noon,
these warning words, intoned in a resonant and solemn voice, may be
heard by the visitor who chances to pass the doors of the Supreme
Court Chamber in the Capitol of the United States. The visitor sees
that others are entering those august portals, and so he, too, makes
bold to step softly inside.
If he has not waited too long, he finds himself within the chamber
in time to see nine justices of our highest court, clad in long,
black robes, file slowly into the room from an antechamber at the
Every one within the room has arisen, and all stand respectfully at
attention while the justices take their places. Then the voice of
the court crier is heard again:
"_Oyez, oyez, oyez_! All persons having business with the Supreme
Court of the United States are admonished to draw near and give
their attention, for the court is now sitting."
Then, after a slight pause:
"God save the United States and this honorable court!"
The justices seat themselves; the attorneys at the bar and visitors
do likewise. The Supreme Court of the United States, generally held
to be the most powerful tribunal on earth, is in session.
JAMES WHITCOMB BROUGHER, A PREACHER TO THE PROCESSION
BY PETER CLARK MACFARLANE
Imagine the Hippodrome--the largest playhouse of New York and of the
New World! Imagine it filled with people from foot-lights to the
last row in the topmost gallery--orchestra, dress circle, and
balconies--a huge uprising, semicircular bowl, lined with human
beings. Imagine it thus, and then strip the stage; take away the
Indians and the soldiers, the elephants and the camels; take away
the careening stage coaches and the thundering hoofs of horses, and
all the strange conglomeration of dramatic activities with which
these inventive stage managers are accustomed to panoply their
productions. Instead of all this, people the stage with a chorus
choir in white smocks, and in front of the choir put a lean,
upstanding, shock-headed preacher; but leave the audience--a regular
Hippodrome audience on the biggest Saturday night. Imagine all of
this, I say, and what you have is not the Hippodrome, not the
greatest play in the New World, nor any playhouse at all, but the
Temple Baptist Church of Los Angeles, California, with James
Whitcomb Brougher, D.D., in the pulpit.
THE LITTLE RED SCHOOLHOUSE A "FAKE"
What the Country Schoolhouse Really Is, and Why
BY EDNA M. HILL
The schoolhouse squats dour and silent in its acre of weeds. A
little to the rear stand two wretched outbuildings. Upon its gray
clapboarded sides, window blinds hang loose and window sashes sag
away from their frames. Groaning upon one hinge the vestibule door
turns away from lopsided steps, while a broken drain pipe sways
perilously from the east corner of the roof.
Within and beyond the vestibule is the schoolroom, a monotony of
grimy walls and smoky ceiling. Cross lights from the six windows
shine upon rows of desks of varying sizes and in varying stages of
destruction. A kitchen table faces the door. Squarely in the middle
of the rough pine floor stands a jacketed stove. A much torn
dictionary and a dented water pail stand side by side on the shelf
below the one blackboard.
And this is the "little red schoolhouse" to which I looked forward
so eagerly during the summer--nothing but a tumbledown shack set in
the heart of a prosperous farming district.
(_New York Tribune_)
THE ONE WOMAN OFFICIAL AT PLATTSBURG
BY ELENE FOSTER
The tramp, tramp of feet on a hard road; long lines of khaki figures
moving over the browning grass of the parade ground; rows of faces,
keen and alert, with that look in the eyes that one sees in LePage's
Jeanne d'Arc; the click, click of bullets from the distant rifle
range blended with a chorus of deep voices near at hand singing
"Over There"; a clear, blue sky, crisp autumn air and the sparkling
waters of Lake Champlain--that's Plattsburg.
NEW ENGLAND MILL SLAVES
BY MARY ALDEN HOPKINS
In the pale light of an early winter morning, while a flat, white
moon awaited the dawn and wind-driven clouds flung faint scudding
shadows across the snow, two little girls, cloaked, shawled, hooded
out of all recognition, plodded heavily along a Vermont mountain
road. Each carried a dangling dinner pail.
The road was lonely. Once they passed a farmhouse, asleep save for a
yellow light in a chamber. Somewhere a cock crowed. A dog barked in
the faint distance.
Where the road ascended the mountain--a narrow cut between dark,
pointed firs and swaying white-limbed birches--the way was slushy
with melting snow. The littler girl, half dozing along the
accustomed way, slipped and slid into puddles.
At the top of the mountain the two children shrank back into their
mufflers, before the sweep of the wet, chill wind; but the mill was
in sight--beyond the slope of bleak pastures outlined with stone
walls--sunk deep in the valley beside a rapid mountain stream, a dim
bulk already glimmering with points of light. Toward this the two
little workwomen slopped along on squashy feet.
They were spinners. One was fifteen. She had worked three years.
The other was fourteen. She had worked two years. The terse record
of the National Child Labor Committee lies before me, unsentimental,
bare of comment:
"They both get up at four fifteen A.M. and after breakfast start for
the mill, arriving there in time not to be late, at six. Their home
is two and one-half miles from the mill. Each earns three dollars a
week--So they cannot afford to ride. The road is rough, and it is
over the mountains."
HOW TO SING THE NATIONAL SONGS
To Interpret the Text Successfully the Singer Must Memorize,
Visualize, Rhythmize, and Emphasize
BY JOHN G. ARCHER
The weary eye of the toastmaster looks apologetically down long rows
of tables as he says with a sorry-but-it-must-be-done air, "We will
now sing 'The Star Spangled Banner'"; the orchestra starts, the
diners reach frantically for their menus and each, according to his
musical inheritance and patriotic fervor, plunges into the unknown
with a resolute determination to be in on the death of the sad rite.
Some are wrecked among the dizzy altitudes, others persevere through
uncharted shoals, all make some kind of a noisy noise, and lo, it is
accomplished; and intense relief sits enthroned on every dewy brow.
In the crowded church, the minister announces the "Battle Hymn of
the Republic," and the organist, armed with plenary powers, crashes
into the giddy old tune, dragging the congregation resistingly along
at a hurdy gurdy pace till all semblance of text or meaning is
Happy are they when the refrain, "Glory, Glory, Hallelujah,"
provides a temporary respite from the shredded syllables and
scrambled periods, and one may light, as it were, and catch up with
himself and the organist.
At the close of an outdoor public meeting the chairman, with fatuous
ineptitude, shouts that everybody will sing three verses of
"America." Granting that the tune is pitched comfortably, the first
verse marches with vigor and certitude, but not for long; dismay
soon smites the crowd in sections as the individual consciousness
backs and fills amid half learned lines.
The trick of catching hopefully at a neighbor's phrase usually
serves to defeat itself, as it unmasks the ignorance of said
neighbor, and the tune ends in a sort of polyglot mouthing which is
not at all flattering to the denizens of an enlightened community.
These glimpses are not a whit over-drawn, and it is safe to say that
they mirror practically every corner of our land to-day. Why is it,
then, that the people make such a sorry exhibition of themselves
when they attempt to sing the patriotic songs of our country? Is it
the tunes or the words or we ourselves?
BEGINNING WITH A STRIKING STATEMENT. When the thought expressed in the
first sentence of an article is sufficiently unusual, or is presented in
a sufficiently striking form, it at once commands attention. By
stimulating interest and curiosity, it leads the average person to read
on until he is satisfied.
A striking statement of this sort may serve as the first sentence of one
of the other types of beginning, such as the narrative or the
descriptive introduction, the quotation, the question, or the direct
address. But it may also be used entirely alone.
Since great size is impressive, a statement of the magnitude of
something is usually striking. Numerical figures are often used in the
opening sentences to produce the impression of enormous size. If these
figures are so large that the mind cannot grasp them, it is well, by
means of comparisons, to translate them into terms of the reader's own
experience. There is always danger of overwhelming and confusing a
person with statistics that in the mass mean little or nothing to him.
To declare in the first sentence that something is the first or the only
one of its kind immediately arrests attention, because of the universal
interest in the unique.
An unusual prediction is another form of striking statement. To be told
at the beginning of an article of some remarkable thing that the future
holds in store for him or for his descendants, fascinates the average
person as much as does the fortune-teller's prophecy. There is danger of
exaggeration, however, in making predictions. When writers magnify the
importance of their subject by assuring us that what they are explaining
will "revolutionize" our ideas and practices, we are inclined to
discount these exaggerated and trite forms of prophecy.
A striking figure of speech--an unusual metaphor, for example--may often
be used in the beginning of an article to arouse curiosity. As the
comparison in a metaphor is implied rather than expressed, the points of
likeness may not immediately be evident to the reader and thus the
figurative statement piques his curiosity. A comparison in the form of a
simile, or in that of a parable or allegory, may serve as a striking
A paradox, as a self-contradictory statement, arrests the attention in
the initial sentence of an article. Although not always easy to frame,
and hence not so often employed as it might be, a paradoxical expression
is an excellent device for a writer to keep in mind when some phase of
his theme lends itself to such a striking beginning.
Besides these readily classified forms of unusual statements, any novel,
extraordinary expression that is not too bizarre may be employed. The
chief danger to guard against is that of making sensational,
exaggerated, or false statements, merely to catch the reader's notice.
STRIKING STATEMENT BEGINNINGS
FIRE WRITES A HEART'S RECORD
BY H.G. HUNTING
A human heart, writing its own record with an actual finger of
flame, is the startling spectacle that has recently been witnessed
by scientists. It sounds fanciful, doesn't it? But it is literally a
fact that the automatic recording of the heart's action by means of
tracings from the point of a tiny blaze appears to have been made a
practicable method of determining the condition of the heart, more
reliable than any other test that can be applied.
TAKING HOSPITALS TO THE EMERGENCY By F.W. COBURN
Taking the hospital to the emergency instead of the emergency to the
hospital is the underlying idea of the Bay State's newest medical
unit--one which was installed in three hours on the top of Corey
Hill, and which in much less than half that time may tomorrow or the
next day be en route post haste for Peru, Plymouth, or
(_Kansas City Star_)
MUST YOUR HOME BURN?
Autumn is the season of burning homes.
Furnaces and stoves will soon be lighted. They have been unused all
summer and rubbish may have been piled near them or the flues may
have rusted and slipped out of place unobserved in the long period
of disuse. Persons start their fires in a sudden cold snap. They
don't take time to investigate. Then the fire department has work to
(_New York Times_)
ONLY PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN WITH POOR EYES
There was opened down Hester Street way last week the only public
school in the world for children with defective eyes. Bad eyesight
has been urged for years as a cause of backwardness and
incorrigibility in school children. Now the public school
authorities plan, for the first time, not only to teach children
whose eyes are defective, but to cure them as well.
(5) (_The Outlook_)
DISEASED TEETH AND BAD HEALTH BY MATTHIAS NICOLL, JR.
The complete disappearance of teeth from the human mouth is the
condition towards which the most highly cultivated classes of
humanity are drifting. We have already gone far on a course that
leads to the coming of a toothless age in future generations. Only
by immediate adoption of the most active and widespread measures of
prevention can the human tooth be saved from the fate that has
befallen the leg of the whale.
THE SPAN OF LIFE
BY WALTER E. WEYL
You who begin this sentence may not live to read its close. There is
a chance, one in three or four billions, that you will die in a
second, by the tick of the watch. The chair upon which you sit may
collapse, the car in which you ride may collide, your heart may
suddenly cease. Or you may survive the sentence and the article, and
live twenty, fifty, eighty years longer.
No one knows the span of your life, and yet the insurance man is
willing to bet upon it. What is life insurance but the bet of an
unknown number of yearly premiums against the payment of the
policy? * * * * The length of your individual life is a guess, but the
insurance company bets on a sure thing, on the average death rate.
BY GREGORY MASON
Every third man you meet in Detroit was born in a foreign country.
And three out of every four persons there were either born abroad or
born here of foreign-born parents. In short, in Detroit, only every
fourth person you meet was born in this country of American parents.
Such is the make-up of the town which has been called "the most
American city in the United States."
(_Kansas City Star_)
A KANSAS TOWN FEELS ITS OWN PULSE
Lawrence, Kas., was not ill. Most of its citizens did not even think
it was ailing, but there were some anxious souls who wondered if the
rosy exterior were not the mockery of an internal fever. They called
in physicians, and after seven months spent in making their
diagnosis, they have prescribed for Lawrence, and the town is
alarmed to the point of taking their medicine.
That is the medical way of saying that Lawrence has just completed
the most thorough municipal survey ever undertaken by a town of its
size, and in so doing has found out that it is afflicted with a lot
of ills that all cities are heir to. Lawrence, however, with Kansas
progressiveness, proposes to cure these ills.
Prof. F.W. Blackmar, head of the department of sociology at the
University of Kansas, and incidentally a sort of city doctor, was
the first "physician" consulted. He called his assistant, Prof. B.W.
Burgess, and Rev. William A. Powell in consultation, and about one
hundred and fifty club women were taken into the case. Then they got
busy. That was April 1. This month they completed the examination,
set up an exhibit to illustrate what they had to report, and read
(_Popular Science Monthly_)
BREAKING THE CHAIN THAT BINDS US TO EARTH
BY CHARLES NEVERS HOLMES
Man is chained to this Earth, his planet home. His chain is
invisible, but the ball is always to be seen--the Earth itself. The
chain itself is apparently without weight, while the chain's ball
weighs about 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons!
(_Associated Sunday Magazine_)
IN TUNE WHEN OUT OF TUNE
BY JOHN WARREN
How many persons who own pianos and play them can explain why a
piano cannot be said to be in tune unless it is actually out of
(_Railroad Man's Magazine_)
MAKING STEEL RAILS
BY CHARLES FREDERICK CARTER
To make steel rails, take 2 pounds of iron ore, 1 pound of coke, ½
pound of limestone, and 4½ pounds of air for each pound of iron to
be produced. Mix and melt, cast in molds, and roll to shape while
hot. Serve cold.
Rail-making certainly does seem to be easy when stated in its
simplest terms; it also seems attractive from a business standpoint.
WHAT ELECTRICITY MEANS TO YOU
ONE CENT'S WORTH OF ELECTRICITY AT TEN CENTS PER KILOWATT-HOUR WILL
Sixteen candle-power Mazda lamp for five hours
Six pound flatiron 15 minutes
Radiant toaster long enough to produce ten slices of toast
Sewing machine for two hours
Fan 12 inches in diameter for two hours
Percolator long enough to make five cups of coffee
Heating pad from two to four hours
Domestic buffer for 1¼ hours
Chafing dish 12 minutes
Radiant grill for 10 minutes
Curling iron once a day for two weeks
Luminous 500 watt radiator for 12 minutes
Hardly as old as a grown man, the electrical industry--including
railways, telephones and telegraphs--has already invested
$8,125,000,000 in the business of America. Its utility companies
alone pay Uncle Sam $200,000,000 every year for taxes--seven out of
every ten use it in some form every day. It is unmistakably the most
vital factor to-day in America's prosperity. Its resources are
boundless. As Secretary of the Interior Lane expresses it, there is
enough hydro-electric energy running to waste to equal the daily
labor of 1,800,000,000 men or 30 times our adult population.
BEGINNING WITH A QUOTATION. Words enclosed in quotation marks or set
off in some distinctive form such as verse, an advertisement, a letter,
a menu, or a sign, immediately catch the eye at the beginning of an
article. Every conceivable source may be drawn on for quotations,
provided, of course, that what is quoted has close connection with the
subject. If the quotation expresses an extraordinary idea, it possesses
an additional source of interest.
Verse quotations may be taken from a well-known poem, a popular song, a
nursery rhyme, or even doggerel verse. Sometimes a whole poem or song
prefaces an article. When the verse is printed in smaller type than the
article, it need not be enclosed in quotation marks. In his typewritten
manuscript a writer may indicate this difference in size of type by
single-spacing the lines of the quotation.
Prose quotations may be taken from a speech or an interview, or from
printed material such as a book, report, or bulletin. The more
significant the quoted statement, the more effective will be the
introduction. When the quotation consists of several sentences or of one
long sentence, it may comprise the first paragraph, to be followed in
the second paragraph by the necessary explanation.
Popular sayings, slogans, or current phrases are not always enclosed in
quotation marks, but are often set off in a separate paragraph as a
striking form of beginning.
The most conspicuous quotation beginnings are reproductions of newspaper
clippings, advertisements, price lists, menus, telegrams, invitations,
or parts of legal documents. These are not infrequently reproduced as
nearly as possible in the original form and may be enclosed in a frame,
(_New York Evening Post_)
"DIGNIFIED AND STATELY"
BEING AN ACCOUNT OF SOME HIGH AND LOW JINKS PRACTICED ABOUT THIS
TIME ON COLLEGE CLASS DAYS
BY EVA ELISE VOM BAUR
_Our sorrows are forgotten,
And our cares are flown away,
While we go marching through Princeton_.
Singing these words, 'round and 'round the campus they marched,
drums beating time which no one observed, band clashing with band,
in tune with nothing but the dominant note--the joy of reunion. A
motley lot of men they are--sailors and traction engineers,
Pierrots, soldiers, and even vestal virgins--for the June
Commencement is college carnival time.
Then hundreds upon thousands of men, East, West, North and South,
drop their work and their worries, and leaving families and
creditors at home, slip away to their respective alma maters, "just
to be boys again" for a day and a night or two.
THE PARTY OF THE THIRD PART
BY WALTER E. WEYL
"The quarrel," opined Sir Lucius O'Trigger, "is a very pretty
quarrel as it stands; we should only spoil it by trying to explain
Something like this was once the attitude of the swaggering youth of
Britain and Ireland, who quarreled "genteelly" and fought out their
bloody duels "in peace and quietness." Something like this, also,
after the jump of a century, was the attitude of employers and
trade-unions all over the world toward industrial disputes. Words
were wasted breath; the time to strike or to lock out your employees
was when you were ready and your opponent was not. If you won, so
much the better; if you lost--at any rate, it was your own business.
Outsiders were not presumed to interfere. "Faith!" exclaimed Sir
Lucius, "that same interruption in affairs of this nature shows very
RIDING ON BUBBLES
BY WALDEMAR KAEMPFFERT
"And the Prince sped away with his princess in a magic chariot, the
wheels of which were four bubbles of air."
Suppose you had read that in an Andersen or a Grimm fairy tale in
the days when you firmly believed that Cinderella went to a ball in
a state coach which had once been a pumpkin; you would have accepted
the magic chariot and its four bubbles of air without question.
What a pity it is that we have lost the credulity and the wonder of
childhood! We have our automobiles--over two and a half million of
them--but they have ceased to be magic chariots to us. And as for
their tires, they are mere "shoes" and "tubes"--anything but the
bubbles of air that they are.
In the whole mechanism of modern transportation there is nothing so
paradoxical, nothing so daring in conception as these same bubbles
of air which we call tires.
GERALDINE FARRAR'S ADVICE TO ASPIRING SINGERS
INTERVIEW BY JOHN CORBIN
"When did I first decide to be an opera singer?" Miss Farrar smiled.
"Let me see. At least as early as the age of eight. This is how I
remember. At school I used to get good marks in most of my studies,
but in arithmetic my mark was about sixty. That made me unhappy. But
once when I was eight, I distinctly remember, I reflected that it
didn't really matter because I was going to be an opera singer. How
long before that I had decided on my career I can't say."
HOW TO START A CAFETERIA
BY AGNES ATHOL
"If John could only get a satisfactory lunch for a reasonable amount
of money!" sighs the wife of John in every sizable city in the
United States, where work and home are far apart.
"He hates sandwiches, anyway, and has no suitable place to eat them;
and somehow he doesn't feel that he does good work on a cold box
lunch. But those clattery quick-lunch places which are all he has
time for, or can afford, don't have appetizing cooking or
surroundings, and all my forethought and planning over our good home
meals may be counteracted by his miserable lunch. I believe half the
explanation of the 'tired business man' lies in the kind of lunches
Twenty-five cents a day is probably the outside limit of what the
great majority of men spend on their luncheons. Some cannot spend
over fifteen. What a man needs and so seldom gets for that sum is
good, wholesome, appetizing food, quickly served. He wants to eat in
a place which is quiet and not too bare and ugly. He wants to buy
real food and not table decorations. He is willing to dispense with
elaborate service and its accompanying tip, if he can get more food
of better quality.
The cafeteria lunch-room provides a solution for the mid-day lunch
problem and, when wisely located and well run, the answer to many a
competent woman or girl who is asking: "What shall I do to earn a
(_Newspaper Enterprise Association_)
AMERICANIZATION OF AMERICA IS PLANNED
BY E.C. RODGERS
Washington, D.C.--America Americanized!
That's the goal of the naturalization bureau of the United States
department of labor, as expressed by Raymond P. Crist, deputy
commissioner, in charge of the Americanization program.
(_Tractor and Gas Engine Review_)
FIRE INSURANCE THAT DOESN'T INSURE
BY A.B. BROWN
"This entire policy, unless otherwise provided by agreement endorsed
hereon, or added hereto, shall be void if the interest of the
insured be other than unconditional and sole ownership."
If any farmer anywhere in the United States will look up the fire
insurance policy on his farm building, and will read it carefully,
in nine cases out of ten, he will find tucked away somewhere therein
a clause exactly like the one quoted above, or practically in the
BEGINNING WITH A QUESTION. Every question is like a riddle; we are never
satisfied until we know the answer. So a question put to us at the
beginning of an article piques our curiosity, and we are not content
until we find out how the writer answers it.
Instead of a single question, several may be asked in succession. These
questions may deal with different phases of the subject or may repeat
the first question in other words. It is frequently desirable to break
up a long question into a number of short ones to enable the rapid
reader to grasp the idea more easily. Greater prominence may be gained
for each question by giving it a separate paragraph.
Rhetorical questions, although the equivalent of affirmative or negative
statements, nevertheless retain enough of their interrogative effect to
be used advantageously for the beginning of an article.
That the appeal may be brought home to each reader personally, the
pronoun "you," or "yours," is often embodied in the question, and
sometimes readers are addressed by some designation such as "Mr. Average
Reader," "Mrs. Voter," "you, high school boys and girls."
The indirect question naturally lacks the force of the direct one, but
it may be employed when a less striking form of beginning is desired.
The direct question, "Do you know why the sky is blue?" loses much of
its force when changed into the indirect form, "Few people know why the
sky is blue"; still it possesses enough of the riddle element to
stimulate thought. Several indirect questions may be included in the
initial sentence of an article.
(_Kansas City Star_)
TRACING THE DROUTH TO ITS LAIR
What becomes of the rainfall in the plains states? This region is
the veritable bread basket of our country; but in spite of the fact
that we have an average rainfall of about thirty-six inches, lack of
moisture, more frequently than any other condition, becomes a
limiting factor in crop production. Measured in terms of wheat
production, a 36-inch rainfall, if properly distributed through the
growing season and utilized only by the crop growing land, is
sufficient for the production of ninety bushels of wheat an acre.
The question as to what becomes of the rainfall, therefore, is of
considerable interest in this great agricultural center of North
America, where we do well if we average twenty-five bushels to the
(_New York Evening Sun_)
WE WASTE ONE-QUARTER OF OUR FOOD
If a family of five using twenty-five bushels of potatoes a year at
$2 a bushel, lose 20 per cent on a bushel by paring, how much has
the family thrown into the garbage can during the year? Answer, $10.
Applying this conservative estimate of dietitians to other foods,
the average family might save at least $100 a year on its table.
(_New York Times)_
FARM WIZARD ACHIEVES AGRICULTURAL WONDERS
BY ROBERT G. SKERRETT
Can a farm be operated like a factory? Can fickle nature be offset
and crops be brought to maturity upon schedule time?
These are questions that a farmer near Bridgeton, N.J., has answered
in the most practical manner imaginable.
(_San Francisco Call_)
DOES IT PAY THE STATE TO EDUCATE PRETTY GIRLS FOR TEACHERS?
BY KATHERINE ATKINSON
Does it pay the state to educate its teachers?
Do normal school and university graduates continue teaching long
enough to make adequate return for the money invested in their
(_Newspaper Feature Service_)
HOW HUNGER IS NOW MEASURED AND PHOTOGRAPHED
Just what hunger is, why all living creatures suffer this feeling
and what the difference is between hunger and appetite have always
been three questions that puzzled scientists. Not until Dr. A.J.
Carlson devised a method of ascertaining exactly the nature of
hunger by measuring and comparing the degrees of this sensation,
have investigators along this line of scientific research been able
to reach any definite conclusion.
GROW OLD ALONG WITH ME
BY CHARLES HENRY LERRIGO
Are you interested in adding fifteen years to your life?
Perhaps you are one of those sound strong persons absolutely assured
of perfect health.
Very well. Two thousand young persons, mostly men, average age
thirty, employees of commercial houses and banks in New York City,
were given a medical examination in a recent period of six months;
1,898 of them were positive of getting a perfect bill of health.
Here are the findings:
Sixty-three were absolutely sound.
The remaining 1,937 all suffered from some defect, great or small,
which was capable of improvement.
SIMPLE ACCOUNTS FOR FARM BUSINESS
BY MORTON O. COOPER
Is your farm making money or losing it? What department is showing a
profit? What one is piling up a loss? Do you know? Not one farmer in
ten does know and it is all because not one in ten has any accounts
apart from his bankbook so he can tell at the end of the year
whether he has kept the farm or the farm has kept him.
AN ENFORCED VACATION
BY A CITY DWELLER
Have you, my amiable male reader, felt secretly annoyed when your
friends--probably your wife and certainly your physician--have
suggested that you cut your daily diet of Havanas in two, feeling
that your intimate acquaintance with yourself constituted you a
better judge of such matters than they? Have you felt that your
physician's advice to spend at least three-quarters of an hour at
lunch was good advice for somebody else, but that you had neither
time nor inclination for it? Have you felt that you would _like_ to
take a month's vacation, but with so many "irons in the fire" things
would go to smash if you did? Do you know what it is to lie awake at
night and plan your campaign for the following day? Then _you_ are
getting ready for an enforced vacation.
TAKING THE STARCH OUT OF THE MARCH
BY GERALD MYGATT
Don't most of us--that is, those of us who are unfamiliar with army
life and with things military in general--don't most of us picture
marching troops as swinging down a road in perfect step, left arms
moving in unison, rifles held smartly at the right shoulder, head
and eyes straight to the front (with never so much as a forehead
wrinkled to dislodge a mosquito or a fly), and with the band of the
fife-and-drum corps playing gaily at the head of the column? Of
course we do. Because that's the way we see them on parade.
A march is a far different thing. A march is simply the means of
getting so many men from one place to another in the quickest time
and in the best possible condition. And it may astonish one to be
told that marching is the principal occupation of troops in the
field--that it is one of the hardest things for troops to learn to
do properly, and that it is one of the chief causes of loss.
ADDRESSING THE READER DIRECTLY. A direct personal appeal makes a good
opening for an article. The writer seems to be talking to each reader
individually instead of merely writing for thousands. This form of
address may seem to hark back to the days of the "gentle reader," but
its appeal is perennial. To the pronoun "you" may be added the
designation of the particular class of readers addressed, such as "You,
mothers," or "You, Mr. Salaried Man." The imperative verb is perhaps the
strongest form of direct address. There is danger of overdoing the
"do-this-and-don't-do-that" style, particularly in articles of practical
guidance, but that need not deter a writer from using the imperative
DIRECT ADDRESS BEGINNINGS
(_New York Times_)
SMALL CHANCE FOR DRAFT DODGERS IF DOCTORS KNOW THEIR BUSINESS
A word with you, Mr. Would-Be-Slacker. If you 're thinking of trying
to dodge the selective draft by pretending physical disability when
you get before the local exemption board, here's a bit of advice:
Don't. Since you are Mr. Would-Be-Slacker there is no use preaching
patriotism to you. But here is something that will influence you: If
you try to dodge the draft and are caught, there is a heavy penalty,
both fine and imprisonment; and you're almost sure to get caught.
THE GENERAL MANAGER OF COWBELL "HOLLER"
BY BRUCE BARTON
You would never in the world find Cowbell "Holler" alone, so I will
tell you how to get there. You come over the Big Hill pike until you
reach West Pinnacle. It was from the peak of West Pinnacle that
Daniel Boone first looked out over the blue grass region of
Kentucky. You follow the pike around the base of the Pinnacle, and
there you are, right in the heart of Cowbell "Holler," and only two
pastures and a creek away from Miss Adelia Fox's rural social
settlement--the first of its kind, so far as I know, in America.
THE ROAD TO RETAIL SUCCESS
BY BENJAMIN H. JEFFERSON
You all know the retail druggist who has worked fifteen or sixteen
hours a day all his life, and now, as an old man, is forced to
discharge his only clerk. You all know the grocer who has changed
from one store to another and another, and who finally turns up as a
collector for your milkman. You all know the hard working milliner
and, perhaps, have followed her career until she was lost to sight
amid sickness and distress. You all have friends among stationers
and newsdealers. You have seen them labor day in and day out, from
early morning until late at night; and have observed with sorrow the
small fruits of their many years of toil.
Why did they fail?
(_Illustrated Sunday Magazine_)
THE MAN WHO PUT THE "PEP" IN PRINTING
Look at your watch.
How long is a second? Gone as you look at the tiny hand, isn't it?
Yet within that one second it is possible to print, cut, fold and
stack sixteen and two-thirds newspapers!
Watch the second hand make one revolution--a minute. Within that
minute it is possible to print, cut, fold and stack in neat piles
one thousand big newspapers! To do that is putting "pep" in
printing, and Henry A. Wise Wood is the man who did it.
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