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Feet First

Joe Holley

For an obituary about Gilbert Hunt, a Princeton math genius and 1930s-era tennis prodigy, I went looking for a long-ago Post column about how the D.C. native occasionally played barefoot -- and entertained the gallery by picking up objects with his toes. In the course of my foray into the wonderful Post archives, I came across a much-earlier item about feet. The headline, "Hunts Aid With Feet Off," is what called the story up. With fair warning to the squeamish, here it is:

On a cold January night in 1910, an upstate New York man named Clayton Jackson was walking along a railroad track near Utica, when a locomotive, running backward at the time, ran over him. The crew, unaware he had been hit, kept going. "Jackson regained consciousness after 15 minutes," The Post recounted, "and finding that his lower limbs had been severed removed the laces from his shoes and tied them around the stumps of his legs to check the flow of blood." The writer mentioned that "he did this with difficulty."

The unfortunate fellow's difficulties were just beginning. After tying off his stumps just below the knees, he "rolled over and over in the snow for a third of a mile to a railroad signal shanty, where he related the circumstances of the accident."

"Tonight," The Post reported, "Jackson's life hangs by a slender thread" -- if not by a shoelace.

By Joe Holley  |  June 10, 2008; 5:36 PM ET
Categories:  Joe Holley  
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