Oh, Boy, how do you begin a story like this?
Back in May of 1939, when I had just turned fifteen, and was a high school junior, they called me a savant.
I wasn’t, just very smart and I would be finishing high school in only two years. Neither my mother, nor the school understood why I was so smart, I certainly couldn’t explain it
During a History class, Principal Stephens walked in with a gentleman and said, “Connor Williams, please come here?”
I got up and stepped forwards...
“Bring your books please, Mr. Williams,” I was told. I got a smile from a pretty girl. I think her name was Betty something.
“Come on, hurry up,” I was told and left the room with them both.
The gentleman excused the principal and took me to a school bench, motioning me to sit down.
“Connor, my name is Wilbur Evans. I work with a very secret department within the United States of America. We have a unique problem, and we are looking around the United States for the brightest young people of your generation ... Does this interest you?”
“Of course, it does. Can I tell my mother about this?”
“NO, you cannot. Nobody must know. Is that going to be a problem, Connor?”
“Boy oh boy ... I can’t tell anybody? I have a best friend and a potential girlfriend. Can I, at least, tell them?”
“This is going to be difficult enough,” he said to me. “You will still leave for school, but three blocks away, we will pick you up and get you to where you will be working. We will feed you, if you’d like, and get you home.”
“What if somebody telephones for me, or my mother needs me?”
“We will deal with that as things happen. Go back to class and we will start this tomorrow. Bring your usual things with you and we will get you started on your personal project.”
“My own personal project, can I ask what it’s about?” I remarked.
“What’s your favorite school subject, Connor?” he asked.
That was easy, and I answered, “Chemistry, Mr. Evans, I want to discover something important in my lifetime. Gee whiz, this is 1939 Sir, I’m very certain we haven’t found everything to be found, chemically speaking. Do I have a deadline or a budget to worry about?”
“No, Connor, but I am afraid that whatever you might discover will likely be turned over to other older gentlemen. We can’t tell the world that a fifteen-year-old boy discovered anything, or we all would be laughed at. You don’t want to be laughed at, do you, Connor?”
“I guess I understand that,” I answered. “It’s not important who discovers it, just that it gets discovered. Drs. Perrier and Segre together discovered Technetium just two years ago, but it was predicted back in 1871 by Mendeleev, but was called something different, but I don’t recall what.”
“That’s alright, Connor, go on to your next class, and remember ... nobody must know what you are about to do?”
“That’s all right Sir, as of this moment, I honestly don’t know anything, do I? If anyone asks me, I will just tell them ... you had needed some personal information that was nobody’s business. Most of the students here ignore me anyway, goading me into provocations and other such stuff. It will be nice to work alone, I suppose.”
“You won’t be entirely alone. You will have a personal assistant to help you do the lesser things ahead of you,” Mr. Evans said to me.
We shook hands, and I headed to my next class, which had already started. It was mathematics, my second favorite subject.
“Thank you for joining us Mr. Williams,” Miss Blankenstock said.
“I hope you didn’t start without me, ma’am? Since nobody ever raises his or her hand in this class,” I said settling down.
That made all the girls giggle as I got a kick from whatever student jock strap was behind me.
“As I said, before the interruption, who can tell me the number of prime numbers between One and One Million?”
I immediately raised my hand, but she looked around first, then she called on me.
I followed classroom protocol and stood and answered, “There are 78,498 prime numbers between One and One Million?”
“Thank you, Mr. Williams ... and how do you know that?” she asked.
“May I use the blackboard please, ma’am?”
“Go ahead,” she said.
“While Connor is doing whatever it is he is doing, who can give me the answer to this?” She went on to ask a rather simple question, for me at least, and I heard her say, “Yes, Miss Lemon, that is correct. It seems we have someone else almost as smart as Mr. Williams.”
I had finished the mathematical formula to the problem I had previously answered, showing it off. Miss Blankenstock looked at it and said, “I don’t understand this, so how do you expect anyone else to? Sit down.”
I did as Elizabeth, who was to my left said to me, “I understood it, Connor.”
The knucklehead behind me mockingly said, “I understand it, Connor,” making everyone in the class laugh. Of course, I didn’t let that stop it, so I said, “Your vocal pitch wasn’t quite high enough to match hers. You need to work on that?”
I got another kick for that from the dumbass as the rest of the day went on.