Famous Games

In the country of Greece, there is special valley where two small rivers come together. The name of the valley is Olympia. There are groves of trees on the slopes and here and there a small farm. It’s pretty valley but you might wonder what’s so special about it.

If you walked along one of its rocky pathways, you might think that things had never been much different here. But if you sat down on a stone to rest, you might notice that the stone was not an ordinary one but a chunk of a big pillar that had been broken off. You would see that it was pitted and chipped and covered with moss and so must be very old.

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If you got up and looked around through the trees, you might see rows of ancient broken pillars still standing there. You could guess that at one time-very,very long ago-they had held up a roof. It was the roof of a stadium that sheltered people who watched the world’s first Olympic Games. Let’s follow a young man named Philip whose hometown Athens chose him to run in one of the first Olympic Games.

Philip walked more than 100 miles from Athens to Olympia. Athletes came to Olympia from all parts of Greece. Some of the young men were runners and jumpers. Some were boxers. Some were wrestlers. Some threw the javelin, a kind of spear. Others threw the discus, a heavy plate made of stone or metal. Some raced in chariots-two wheeled wagons pulled by great war-horses. The winners of the contests would be called the best in the whole country of Greece.

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Philip and the other athletes practiced with their trainers in the big gymnasiums at Olympia for months before the festivities and contests began. Tents of many colors housed the thousands of visitors. There were booths where they could buy food-olives, goat, cheese, sweet honey cakes and refreshing drinks. They could also buy clothing, jewelry, vases, cooking pots or even horses. Acrobats, jugglers and magicians performed tricks for the holiday crowd. There were sword-swallowers and fire eaters.

Ad he waited with the other runners for the signal that would start the race, Philip felt his heart pound with excitement. The Olympic Games were very important to the Greek people. Everyone had a holiday so that whoever wanted to could go to see the games. Armies stopped fighting so that the soldiers could go to watch. More than anything else in the world, Philip wanted to win this race-for himself, for his beloved city of Athens, and for the god Zeus.

When the race started the crowd grew silent. Philip could feel his bare feet pounding into the ground of the track as he passed one…then another…and then another of the runners. At last there was only one runner ahead of him. But this runner stayed ahead! Philip tried to remember everything his trainer had taught him…and slowly …slowly…he came closer to the head runner.

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But the race was nearly over. Could he pass this runner in time? At the finish line they were almost side by side. Wild cheers and shouting filled the air. Then Philip’s friends and well-wishers ran onto the field. They picked Philip up and carried him high over their heads. Then Philip knew he had won!

Philip received his winner’s prize in front of a great statue showing Zeus, the most important Greek god, sitting on a throne made of ivory and rare dark wood called ebony. The statue was as high as a house. It was decorated with gold and silver and Zeus’s eye were sparkling jewels. The winner’s prize was only a simple little crown made from an olive branch. But the crown was supposed to be a gift from Zeus himself. Those who received it were believed to be favored by the god for the rest of their lives.

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Oil Pipelines

Up comes the thick black oil from the oil wells.out pours the gasoline into your family’s car. Gasoline is just one of the things made from oil in a factory called a refinery. But how does the oil from the oil well to the refinery? Often through long pipelines under the ground. The pipelines go under streets and farms under mountains and deserts and jungles, under frozen lands in the far north and even under lakes and rivers.

What makes the thick oil from the oil wells keep moving through the pipes, on and on, uphill and downhill? Pumping stations keep the oil moving. They are built along the pipelines. They do the same thing for the flow of oil that you do when you play kick-the-can. You kick the can. It spins away..then slows down. So you kick it again. A pumping station “kicks” the oil along.

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It works this way: As the oil in a pipe comes to a pumping station, it goes through a machine. This machine has a wheel-like part in it. At the end of the spokes of the wheel are little cups. The cups on the turning wheel scoop up the oil and push it through the pipe. Here and there along the pipelines some of the oil is turned off into smaller pipes that take it to huge storage tanks. From the tanks the oil goes into a factory, or refinery, where it is heated until it is very hot.

The hot oil can be separated into many different things. At the bottom of a tall steer tower, the heavy parts of the oil settle down. Some of this oil is later used in asphalt for road building and some is made into machine oils and waxes. Higher in the tower, heating oil, kerosine and gasoline are separated out. And at the very top of the high tower, the lightest parts of the oil-cooking gas and other kinds of gases-are collected. From the refineries, underground pipelines carry oil to all parts of the country. It is stored in big, round storage tanks in tank farms.

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Sometimes pipelines start leaking where two pipes are connected. Then the oil company sends workers to dig up the ground and fix the pipe. One interesting way that oil leaks are found is by having airplanes fly over the long lines. If men in the planes see an oil stain, they know they probably have found a leak. To keep the inside of the pipelines free from dirt, workers put special scrapers into the pipes. These scrapers are called pigs because of the funny scraping, squeaking noise they make as the oil pushes them through the pipes.

When oil was first moved from place to place, it was carried in big wooden barrels on boats, carts and trains. This wasn’t very safe and it was wasteful because the wooden barrels broke easily. Then for a long time, oil was carried in metal tank cars on railroads. But now most oil and gasoline come in the great underground spider web of pipelines. A gasoline truck fills up at a storage tank and takes the gasoline to a filling station, where the automobile tanks are filled up. With a tank full of gasoline, away you go!

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Odysseus and the Cyclops

Long, long ago there was a great war between the Greeks and the Trojans. At last it was won by the Greeks. The wisest of the Greeks was Odysseus king of the island of Ithaca. He and his men sailed for home in their black ships, happy in the thought of seeing their wives and children again. But it seemed as if the whole world tried to keep them from reaching home. Storm winds blew. Men and monsters barred their way. Witches cast evil spells over them. Even some of the gods worked home, then everybody wanted to hear about his adventures especially the adventure with the terrible giant, the Cyclops.

Here’s how it began. On their way home, Odysseus and his men stopped at an island where giants lived. Carrying food and a big bottle of sweet wine, Odysseus and 12 of his men went ashore. They went inside a dark cave belonging to one of the Cyclops. Inside the cave they looked around and waited for the giant to return. For Odysseus was not only wise but also curious. He wanted to know strange people and find out strange things even if he risked his life doing it.

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At twilight, the Cyclops- a huge, scary giant with only one round eye in his head-returned to his cave with his flocks of sheep. He drove the sheep into the cave. Then he picked up a stone 20 men could not have lifted and with it he closed the mouth of the cave. Inside were Odysseus and his men unable to escape! The cyclops laughing, grabbed two of the men, ate them and fell fast asleep. Odysseus first thought,” shall I kill the sleeping giant with my sword?” But there was the huge rock, too heavy to roll aside. How would he and his men get out?

In the morning the Cyclops ate two more men for breakfast. Then after replacing the stone at the cave door, he went off with his sheep. While he was gone the sly Odysseus worked out a plan. In the cave lay a great branch of an olive tree. He and his men smoothed it, sharpened it to a point and hardened it in the fire. When the Cyclops came home that night with his flocks of sheep, he again blocked the mouth of the cave. Then he ate two more men.

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“Now,” whispered Odysseus to his men,” our time has come.” He offered the Cyclops some of the wine he had with them. The Cyclops drank it and said,” What wonderful wine! Tell me you name, and I will make you a gift.” And Odysseus answered,” My name is Nobody. That’s what people call me. Just Nobody. And now give me the gift you promised me. Said the Cyclops,” Your gift, Nobody is that I shall eat you last.” And drunk with wine, he fell fast asleep. Then Odysseus and his men took the great sharp branch they had ready and all working together drove into the sleeping giant’s one eye blinding him. In pain and rage the giant groped about for Odysseus and his men. But they hid in the cave’s corner.

The Cyclops cried out for help. The other giant gathered outside at the mouth of the cave.
“Who is harming you?” they shouted.
“Nobody,” screamed the Cyclops.
“Nobody?” answered the other giant.’ Well, if nobody is harming you, you don’t need any help from us.” And off they went.

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Odysseus and his men knew that they had to get out of the cave or the blind giant finally would catch them. So Odysseus worked out a plan. He knew that in the morning the sheep would be allowed to leave the cave. In the early morning he lashed together three sheep and under the middle sheep one of his men clung to the fleece. He did the same with three more sheep and three more until all the men were hidden. Odysseus himself clung to the fleece of the belly of the biggest sheep of all.

As the sheep filed out through the mouth of the cave, the Cyclops ran his hands over their backs to make sure the men were not clinging to them. But he did not think of feeling under the bellies of the sheep. And so all the men were left escaped and ran to their ship. Then Odysseus who was not only wise and curious but a great talker, shouted,” Well, Cyclops we have tricked you. Now you will never eat us!

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The furious blind Cyclops broke off a great chunk of rock and threw it toward the voice. It almost wrecked the ship, but Odysseus and his men escaped, with Odysseus yelling at the blinded giant as they drew away from the shore. “Cyclops,” he shouted, ” when people ask you who put out your eye, tell them it was Odysseus king of Ithaca. Farewell, Cyclops! ” And Odysseus sailed away to his next adventure.