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Humor or a Painful History Lesson?

Consider this actual question from a County Superintendent's Exam (Tennessee) in the late 1800's....

A man has 1 1/4 miles to go; after he has gone:

1/2 + 2/5 x 1 1/4 - 1/7
3/4 x 1 7/9 2/3

of a mile, how far has he yet to go?


Note: It actually works out nicely!