Teacher’s Guide to The King’s Letter, the Captain’s Flag, and other stories

This section contains background information, Lexile measures and quiz answers for the booklet The King’s Letter, the Captain’s Flag and other stories.

We printed this booklet on non-glossy paper. The intention was for students to write in their booklets and keep them.

Regarding the quizzes: we tried hard to come up with thoughtful questions. Please note that there may be multiple right answers.

The clerk and his glorious flag (page 2-5)

Lexile measure: 800


1. His father told him not to come home until he was captain of his own ship.

2. The ladies of Salem, Massachusetts gave him the flag.

3. With this question, we are asking students to draw some conclusions. People who supported the Confederacy probably cried because it showed that their side was already losing the war. People who supported the Union probably cried for joy at seeing the American flag replacing the U.S. flag.

Strange but true stories about Shiloh (p. 6-10)

Lexile measure: 880


1. The obvious conclusion that can be drawn is that many of the Confederate soldiers who were attacking were hungry!

2. This is a difficult question that requires students to draw conclusions. The short answer is that, in a battle, it can be very difficult to know who fired a single bullet that killed someone. In the middle of a battle, it can be hard to know from what direction firing is coming. Also, General Johnston was on a horse. It might depend upon which direction the horse was facing when he was shot, and none of the people who were present knew exactly when he was shot. So it really is impossible to know for sure.

3. General Harvey probably drowned.

4. As the story points out, both armies moved on, and some bodies were buried in mass graves, and some may have been left behind in unmarked graves.

The loyal tailor people forget (p. 11-15)

Lexile measure: 760


1. William Driver and Andrew Johnson both lived in Tennessee during the war, and they were both Unionists. A third thing: They both loved the American flag (Johnson is buried with one and Driver gave it its nickname!)

2. He was a tailor.

3. Lincoln probably chose Johnson because he was a loyal U.S. Senator from a Southern state. The president probably thought such a man as Johnson would be useful in dealing with the defeated South after the war.

4. The man who had intended to kill Johnson that night decided not to do it.

NOTE: For more on Andrew Johnson, click here for a virtual tour of the Andrew Johnson Historic Site.

Nine facts about Tennessee geography that might surprise (p. 16-21)

Lexile measure: 880


1. The Mississippi River used to be the western boundary of Tennessee, but the river has moved over the years. Today the western boundary of Tennessee is where the river USED used to be.

2. Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri

3. Many people associate Knoxville with the University of Tennessee and the song “Rocky Top.” Since “Rocky Top” is about a mountain, many people seem to think that Knoxville has a higher elevation than it really does.

4. It is usually cooler in Crossville than it is in Nashville because Crossville is on top of the Cumberland Plateau and has a higher elevation than Nashville.

The groundhog and the mountain goat (p. 22-26)

Lexile measure: 900


1. The railroad made it possible for companies to mine coal, bring the coal down off the mountain via railroad and take it to the customer by railroad. Without the railroad it would have been too difficult and expensive to do all this.

2. Because they discovered that the coal in the area in which Kennedy had discovered coal was not as plentiful as had been hoped

3. Iron, coal and limestone

Constance and her companions (p. 27-31)

Lexile measure: 740


1. They covered the streets with cleaning solution, set off explosives, and burned all the sheets, clothes and mattresses of anyone who died from the fever.

2.  4 days

3. Students may need some help understanding this. Medical science has advanced quite a bit since 1878. Most Americans are immunized against the types of diseases that caused epidemics in the old days.

4. Answers will vary. Some examples of people who regularly put their lives at risk are police officers, firemen and members of the military.

NOTE: Tell your students that the wonderful grave of Constance and her companions had been neglected and forgotten until the gravesight was recently restored by a volunteer. What a wonderful thing to do!

The brave woman and the lawsuit that didn’t matter (p. 32-37)

Lexile measure: 840


1. Based on the testimony, it does not appear that anyone came to her defense. But there were people who helped the conductor carry her out of the coach.

2. This is a very interesting question. Based on the testimony, Ida Wells was bothered by both the racial segregation AND the fact that she was expected to sit near people who were smoking.

3. Virginius Kimbrough said that it had not been the first dispute about seating that he had seen.

The man who changed the world with his camera (p. 38-43)

Lexile measure: 860

There are no questions at the end of this section. I do want to encourage teachers to go on line and look at more of the amazing photographs of Lewis Wickes Hine.

From Piggly Wiggly to sole owner of his name (p. 44-49)

Lexile measure: 890


1. Piggly Wiggly stores were self serve. Each product was clearly marked with its price. It had one-way aisles. It had check out stands. It spent lots of money on advertising. It did not extend credit to the customer. (That’s six, not four!)

2. This is not actually explained in the text, but students should be able to figure it out (I think). Saunders obviously wanted customers to be able to easily find exactly what they wanted, even if they were in a Piggly Wiggly store they had never been in before.

The once-muddy Dixie Highway (p. 50-55)

Lexile measure: 810


1. Answers may vary. The Dixie Highway and the Cumberland Gap were both routes that people used to cross obstacles. Both were difficult to create. Both became the subject of many stories.

2. The Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River

3. This is not discussed in the text, but students should be able to understand that the answer is… because the nation’s manpower and resources were all devoted to fighting the war.

4. This is not really discussed in the text either. But students will probably understand that the Dixie Highway was two lanes, that it had many stops along the way, and that it had a lower speed limit than the four-lane interstates of today.

Arrival of the mud-covered radio announcer (p. 56-61)

Lexile measure: 890


1. Based on the newspaper article, it would seem that everyone expected George Hay to play music such as classical and jazz.

2. This is not fully explained in the text, but students should be able to figure it out (I think). As far as hillbilly music is concerned, the name “Possum Hunters” seems more appropriate than the “Castalian Springs Barn Dance Orchestra.”

3. Clear channel stations could be heard a lot farther away than other stations, especially at night. Even if the Grand Ole Opry was one of several “Barn Dances” being broadcast at the time, it may have reached the most people.

Morris, Buddy and the Seeing Eye (p. 62-67)

Lexile measure: 800


1. Germany

2. Since they had never seen a blind man being led by a dog before, Morris Frank’s arrival in New York would seem interesting and newsworthy.

3. Buddy jumped in front of Morris and refused to let him step into the hole where the elevator was supposed to be.

The ride that changed Cornelia’s life (p. 68-71)

Lexile measure: 740


1. About 6 months

2. Dec. 7, 1941, was the day that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor.

3. Because in those days the U.S. military didn’t accept female pilots

4. This issue isn’t really discussed in the text. Hopefully students are aware of the fact that opportunities for women have come a long way since World War II. If not, this is a good time to tell them!

5. Cornelia Fort is the first female pilot in American history to die on active duty.

An honor for which several Tennesseans gave their lives

Lexile measure: 860

Note: Wanting as much room as possible for photos, I did not include a quiz in this section.

From polio to fastest woman in the world

Lexile measure: 830


1. They were different in that Fort was white and Rudolph was black; Fort’s family was rich and Rudolph’s was poor; Fort was from Nashville and Rudolph was from Clarksville; and Fort would have been born about 20 years before Rudolph.

2. They were alike in that they were both brave. They were both trailblazers; and they were both stubborn and ignored what some people might have said about them.

3. It was the first integrated event in Clarksville history. (By the way… isn’t it strange that Wilma Rudolph got to meet President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson as shown on page 80, but then had to fight for an integrated parade?)

Please take this opportunity to point out that two presidents appear in the photograph on page 80.

The king, the president and the badge (p. 82-87)

Lexile measure: 810


1. Presley gave the $500 to a soldier that he met on the plane.

2. This is not discussed in the text. But students probably understand by now why the Secret Service doesn’t let people show up at the White House and present a handgun to the President of the United States.

3. This is not discussed in the text. However, the letter was very complimentary, and Nixon was probably flattered that Elvis Presley looked up to him and wanted to meet with him. So maybe the president decided that he could make time for Elvis.

4. There are two reasons, one of them obvious and one not so obvious. For one thing the photo is such a wonderful contrast, between Elvis in his outfit and Nixon in his coat and tie. So that is obvious. But what is not so obvious is that this is one of the few images of Presley that anyone can use for free, since it was taken by the president’s photographer. Most of the other photos of Presley are copyright protected.