After fleeing Hitlers Germany in the late 1930s, Albert Einstein found refuge in America. He purchased a quaint, old two-story house on a tree-lined street within walking distance of Princeton University. There the worlds foremost mathematician entertained some of the most distinguished scientific and political personalities of the age. He discussed with his noted guests the issues which intrigued his celebrated mindfrom physics to religion to human rights. Many of the great ideas which have shaped our modern world were conceived behind the green shutters of that modest little house.
But Einstein had another frequent visitor in his home. She was not a physicist or a world leader. She was a ten-year-old girl named Emmy.
Emmy heard that a very kind man who knew a lot about mathematics had moved into her neighborhood. Since Emmy was having some difficulty with her fifth-grade arithmetic, she decided to visit the man down the block and see if he would help her with her problems. Einstein was very willing and he explained everything to her so that she could easily understand it. He also told her she was welcome to come and knock on his front door whenever she encountered a problem that was too difficult.
A few weeks later, Emmys mother learned from one of her neighbors that Emmy was often seen entering the house of the world-famous physicist. When she asked Emmy about it, the girl admitted it was so. “Why, Emmy!” the mother exclaimed. “Professor Einstein is a very important man! His time is very valuable! He cant be bothered with the problems of a little schoolgirl.”
Then Emmys mother rushed over to Einsteins house and knocked on the door. When Einstein answered the door, she was so flustered at the sight of the famous lined face, the kindly eyes, and the familiar mane of unruly white hair, that she could only stammer incoherently.
After a few moments, understanding dawned on Einsteins face. “Ah! I think I understand. Youre Emmys mother, arent you?”
“Yes,” she said, sighing in embarrassment, “and Im so sorry shes been coming over here and bothering you”
“Bothering me! Ach, no!” he laughed. “Why, when a child finds such joy in learning, then it is my joy to help her learn! Please dont stop Emmy from coming to me with her school problems. She is welcome in this house anytime.”