| Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans|
|by Edward Eggleston|
|Very simply told stories of warriors, statesmen, explorers, scientists, inventors, men and women of letters, and others. Featured are Marquette in Iowa, Penn and the Indians, Thomas Smith and the beginning of rice culture in South Carolina, Franklin and the ants, Putnam and the wolf, and dozens of other stories. Ages 7-9 |
THE INDIA-RUBBER MAN
MANY years ago a strange-looking man was sometimes seen in the streets
of New York. His cap was made of India rubber. So was his coat. He
wore a rubber
waistcoat. Even his cravat was of India rubber. He
wore rubber shoes in dry weather. People called this man "The
 His name was Charles Goodyear. He was very poor. He was trying to
find out how to make India rubber useful.
India rubber trees grow in South America. The juice of these trees is
something like milk or cream. By drying this juice, India rubber
The Indians in Brazil have no glass to make bottles with. A long time
ago they learned to make bottles out of rubber. More than a hundred
years ago some of these rubber bottles were brought to this country.
The people in this country had never seen India rubber before. They
thought the bottles made out of it by the Indians very
In this country, rubber was used only to rub out pencil marks. That is
why we call it rubber. People in South America learned to make a kind
of heavy shoe out of it. But these shoes were hard to make. They cost
a great deal when they were sold in this country.
Men tried to make rubber shoes in this country. They got the rubber
from Bra-zil. Rubber shoes made in this country were cheaper than
those brought from South America. But they were not good. They would
freeze till they were as hard as stones in winter. That was not the
worst of it. In summer they would melt.
 Goodyear was trying to find
out a way to make rubber better. He wanted to get it so that it would
not melt in summer. He wanted to get a rubber that would not get hard
in cold weather. The first rubber coats that were made were so hard in
cold weather, that they would stand alone, and look like a man.
Goodyear wanted to try his rubber. That is why he wore a rubber coat
and a rubber waistcoat and a rubber cravat. That is why he wore a
rubber cap and rubber shoes when it was not raining. He made paper out
of rubber, and wrote a book on it. He had a door-plate made of it. He
even carried a cane made of India rubber. It is no wonder people
called him the India-rubber man.
He was very poor. Sometimes he had to borrow money to buy rubber with.
Sometimes his friends gave him money to keep his family from starving.
Sometimes there was no wood and no coal in the house in cold weather.
But Goodyear kept on trying. He thought that he was just going to find
out. Years went by, and still he kept on trying.
One day he was mixing some rubber with sulphur. It slipped out of his
hand. It fell on the hot stove. But it did not melt. Goodyear was
happy at last.
 That night it was cold. Goodyear took the burned
piece of rubber out of doors, and nailed it to the kitchen door. When
morning came, he went and got it. It had not frozen.
He was now sure that he was on the right track. But he had to find out
how to mix and heat his rubber and sulphur. He was too poor to buy
rubber to try with. Nobody would lend him any more money. His family
had to live by the help of his friends. He had already sold almost
everything that he had. Now he had to sell his children's school-books
to get money to buy rubber with.
At last his rubber goods were made and sold. Poor men who had to stand
in the rain could now keep themselves dry. People could walk in the
wet with dry feet. A great many people are alive who would have died
if they had not been kept dry by India rubber.
You may count up, if you can, how many useful things are made of
rubber. We owe them all to one man. People laughed at Goodyear once.
But at last they praised him. To be "The India-rubber man" was
something to be proud of.
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