Harrell Beck

The Wisdom of Harrell Beck

Ewes vs. “Eee-wees”


I was talking to Harold Hutson* at breakfast over in Greensboro College a couple of years ago and he was reminiscing: in 1933 or four when he was first at Greensboro College and the depression was on, they had a dickens of a job finding places for their students to teach. They had a brilliant student who majored in music and didn’t get a job in June or July or August. Finally, in September, they got a call from a high school in Western North Carolina: “Have you got a music major?” They sent the boy and he was brilliant!  The summer of the following year the school board asked him, “Would you also teach agriculture?”  The two are closely related as you know -- and America has a distinctive way of rewarding its teachers. He said, “No” and they said, “Yes, or else,” so he did.

The first day in his course in Agriculture the lecture was about sheep -- and he knew nothing about it. So he cleared his voice and said to the students, “The sheep of the world are divided into two groups. There are rams and there are ‘eee-wees’.” One of the students wiggled a little, so the teacher shouted all the louder, “There are RAMS and there are ‘EEE-WEES!” Finally the student couldn’t contain himself and said, “Are you sure that’s right?” Around here we pronounce “ewes” as “yews.” And the teacher (who had had a number of courses in education) said, “Well, there are two schools of thought about that.”

From “Images of Hope, The Nails” Harrell F. Beck March 8, 1985

*Hutson was President of Greensboro College from 1952-1964

Ewe graphic by Diana Madaras