The late Leon Auerbach, the long time professor of Mathematics at
Gallaudet University, was an avid Deaf Historian, forever researching into
deaf publications for overlooked historical nuggets.
There was one – probably one of his favorite tales. Sometime in the
early 19th century before the coast to coast railroad network was
established, a teacher at a school for the deaf on the Eastern Coast
wanted to attend a convention of teachers of the deaf. The problem is it
was on the West Coast – and the only way to reach there, short of a
cross country stagecoach trip, was to take the boat.
Because there was no Panama Canal, the boat had to go around the Cape
Horn in order to get to the West Coast. Thanks to bad weather delays, the
boat arrived late and the teacher missed the convention, thus wasting his