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41-10-09 It's Algebra, Uncle Fletcher

As Rush is about to embark on his algebra homework, Uncle Fletcher arrives. He's all about helping Rush do the homework but can't seem to remove his mind from his own childhood schoolwork and working out a math problem that involves a farmer and a keg of nails.
Essentially the same episode as 41-09-17 Don’t Help Dust, Uncle Fletcher – but with Rush, who is probably a lot more eager to get out of his algebra than Sade was to get out of her dusting, which makes him a lot more tolerant. And yet, while Sade eventually gives up on getting work done and heads downtown so she doesn’t have to deal with Uncle Fletcher any longer, Rush is – at least within this brief interlude – able to ignore the siren song of fat men playing handball at the YMCA and persist at his algebra in spite of Uncle Fletcher’s “help.” My favorite part of this episode is Fletcher’s speech towards the end about the man who visited every state in the union before he was thirty, where Fletcher and Rush just start rapid-fire naming states for a minute or two. They don’t name all 50, but they come awfully close at 31.

This is another episode of “Vic & Sade” that is topical in spite of being written over 70 years ago. The field of education has a propensity for jumping from one method, fad, or instructional panacea to the next, especially in the area of mathematics. Fletcher’s education probably stopped at learning basic, simple arithmetic problems, applicable to farming and other practical pursuits, by rote. Now, Rush has to know how to formulate algebraic equations, and Fletcher doesn’t want to admit that it’s something he has little familiarity with.  If Rush has kids, he might be struggling with the “New Math” in the 1960s – and now there’s the Common Core. I won’t make any statements about that, because politics don’t belong on this blog, my feelings about it are complicated, and it’s an issue that tends to rile people up. But I’m sure that anyone who has a school-aged kid around  and has tried to help them with their homework can sympathize with Fletcher’s floundering here.
SCRIPT (Transcribed by Lydia Crowe)
Fletcher's non-stop talking about this and that never seems to fluster Rush, even though he is trying to do algebra. This is the polar opposite of Sade's last encounter with Flecther - and you may think this episode is going the same direction; as a matter of fact, it seems to be set up to lead us down that very same path (ie., Rush going to the YMCA with his friends even though he says he has to do algebra). 

Paul Rhymer however, ends this in a different way than we expect, although I'm not sure it is the better way of the two.


+ A good day for Bernardine Flynn to be off work -  she was giving birth to her second son this day.

+ Uncle Fletcher refers to Fred Stembottom as "Ted" again.

+ Uncle Fletcher mentions his Uncle Curtis, who told him to "Always use the right tool."

+ One of Uncle Fletcher's "tools" is a pencil, which he mysteriously sharpens, "too sharp."

+ Uncle Fletcher mentions a Dixon man he knew that looked like Rooster Davis: Sam Hemfobble. It's never explained why but Sam picked up the nickname of "Cunningham." He visited every state in the union before age 30 and at age 21, married a woman aged 18.

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