- from Thomas Edison
Named Thomas after a great uncle and Alva after a family friend, Thomas Alva Edison was called Al when he was a child. He was called other things, too. There’s a famous story that one teacher called him “addled” (confused). The teacher didn’t understand that young Al Edison learned by asking questions, not by answering them.
Early in life, Edison showed the inquisitive mind—and the experimental bent—of a scientist. Sometimes the results were funny, but sometimes they nearly caused disasters. Though the accuracy of many stories about his childhood has been questioned, there may be an element of truth in some of them. It is said, for example, that when just a young boy, Edison asked why geese sat on eggs. Upon hearing that mother geese sat on eggs to keep them warm until they hatched, Al disappeared for several hours. His older sister finally found him sitting on goose eggs, very disappointed that none had hatched. Other experiments had more alarming results. At the age of six, intrigued with fire, Al started a small blaze in his father’s barn. Wind fanned the flames, and the barn soon burned down. Al escaped the flames, but probably not his father’s anger!