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FRECKLE-FACED Berry Wellersdieck, of Rockville Outre,
N. Y., was discovered by Photographer Claud W. Huston. A
junior in high school, 16-year-old Berry is a star at swim
ming and field hockey, her favorite sports. But her first
love is her piano. After college — social work, she hopes
THE CRIMINAL AND THE GENIUS
Continued from preceding page
with the Harding regime as a source of in
come — his book, “The Strange Death of
President Harding,” became a best seller,
deceived the gullible into believing Mrs.
Harding poisoned her husband. In Atlanta,
he cooked up a scheme to swindle the
National Civic Federation out of $200,000.
Bade to Atlanta
His final exploit was his most flamboy
ant. When the search was on for the Lind
bergh baby, Means promised Mrs. Evalyn
Walsh McLean front-page publicity as the
ransomer of the kidnaped child, whom he
claimed to have located. When that scheme
was exposed. Means went back to Atlanta.
He died behind prison bars.
The parallel to the tragedy of the fortui
tous criminal Means, is the story of Dr.
Clayton Halsey Sharp, my roommate at
Hamilton College a half century ago.
I must pause here to poiflt out that two
leading neurologists, recently consulted
about these cases, agreed that characters
have been changed for the worse by brain
injuries. They are skeptical that they could
be improved by an injury. I can only say
there were many of us, including professors
and at least one doctor, who were convinced
that' that did happen to Dr. Sharp.
“Jake" Sharp was a plodding student
who, in his freshman year, showed no
aptitude or interest in studies.
In his sophomore year, he marched in a
political parade in Utica. An unidentified
tough ran out from the sidewalk, clubbed
Jake down, fracturing his skull, and es
caped. When he came out of the hospital,
Jake, like Means, was outwardly restored to
normal health. But deep in the recesses of
the injured brain, some strange metamor
phosis had taken place. On his return to
classes, he manifested an amazing mathe
matical aptitude. Christian Henry Freder
ick Peters, noted astronomer and one of the
first mathematicians of his day, made a pro
tege of Sharp, who graduated with honors.
From that time his advance was steady.
Within 20 years he was an important physi
cist, holding valuable patents on several
electrical devices. Another 20 years and
he was an international figure as physi
cist and electrical engineer.
He represented the United States on
many foreign commissions, was an honorary
member of scientific societies in several
European countries, was president of two
international commissions and, two years
before his death, had been elected president
of the National Society of Electrical Engi
neers. The rowdy’s club had changed the
direction and purpose of his life, as the film
of ice had changed that of Gaston B. Means.
Watching a malefactor on his way to be
hanged, a 16th-century churchman uttered
these memorable words: “There, but for the
grace of God, go I.”
He may well have had in mind the thin
line which divides the upright and honored
citizen from the condemned criminal. It is
a daunting thought, how precariously hu
man fate hangs upon the accident of a
moment. An indiscernible brain-pressure
and plain, normal, commonplace Smith or
Jones or Robinson becomes, on the one
hand, an enemy to society like Means, or a
contributor to humanity’s progress like
Clayton Halsey Sharp. The End