Happy July 4 – Where I Diss Betsy Ross
A week or so ago, I wrote a piece about unsolved mysteries that haunt me.
At the time, I was referring to assassination questions that need to be answered. But I also mentioned that in a future post, I would discuss a few minor trivial mysteries that occasionally bug me.
When I was about nine years old, my school adopted this self-learning program for Reading. The curriculum included these little booklets, each with stories at various reading levels, and the students individually moved through the booklets, answered content and vocabulary questions, and advanced to the next level. I don’t think it was a bad method, as each kid could progress at his own pace. Most of the stories, though, were incredibly boring.
But one story interested me. It was a story about Betsy Ross. George Washington asked her to make the first American flag. I do not know how they knew each other, except that she was an upholsterer who resided in Philadelphia, and it appears Washington attended the same church when the new government was seated in Philly. I also read in a very erudite source (Wiki) that she was quite attractive. So it is certainly feasible that George said, “Hey Babe, how about you put down that sofa cover and check out my flag pole?”
Anyway, my 3rd grade story retold the now-famous legend that Washington wanted a six-pointed star, but Betsy wanted a five-pointed star. Washington said that a five-pointed star would be too difficult to reproduce en masse, and Betsy said, “Nonsense, GW, I can make a five-pointed star by folding the material and making just one cut.” And she did, and hence the American flag has five-pointed stars.
Well, on and off over the next few years (55 years to be a little more exact), I thought about a one-cut five-pointed star. I did not see how that could be possible.
It was my little mystery.
Of course, when I decided to write about this puzzle, I figured I would ask all you smart people to figure it out for me. But then I did something dumb, and ruined my story.
I You-tubed. (I know google is now a verb, and you-tubing is certainly about to be one.) And it took me 37 seconds to find multiple sources to cut a five pointed star with one cut.
Here’s the one I like best. (There is a simpler one, but this one refers to Betsy.)
So 55 years later, mystery solved. As simple as that. It is really quite a let-down, to tell you the truth.
I tried it. I failed several times, and swore more than several times, but it works. Here’s my star, which came out a bit chubby, but it’s definitely a star.
But a couple of points:
- As this nice lady in the video points out, there is a lot of waste.
- It might have been a bit complicated for Ms. Ross (actually Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole) to get each star perfect and identical .
- What is so hard about using a six-pointed star, like a Star of David? Just 2 equilateral triangles, with one turned upside down over the other. Very little waste. And you could then make a template for a simple triangle and cut multiple stars at one time.
Conclusion: Betsy Ross was a little show-off.
Conclusion #2: The Internet ruins everything.
PS – I wrote this piece before Mr. Trump used a Star Of David in a derogatory tweet. And Mrs. Ross certainly could have used that star before it had any negative connotation at all.