austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

And Henry, he said, ``I'm inventing the Chevrolet''

Thinking back to the grand trip to Cleveland, which is another extraordinarily drawn-out tale because, well, a lot happened and it was denser in content than my usual sorts of puttering around the house, there was a bit in the history museum. In wandering about the Vatican Treasures, I naturally lagged behind my mother -- who figured we'd probably take the whole thing in in an hour -- and my aunt, and even my father. I'm a lingerer, and I like reading all the display labels and such. You knew that. But it did mean by the time I got out I had no idea where anyone was, so, I decided to try going downstairs where there was an exhibit of old cars. I figured the odds were good my father would be there, and even if he wasn't, odds are he'd come looking for me there because he'd know that I would figure it was likely he'd be there. Trust me, that makes sense. And in fact he was down there, talking with a person I imagine was a docent or at least a security guard, if the person was lucky, and they were going on about the 1922 Maxwell Corporation Touring Zeppo Four or whatnot.

They had row after row of old cars, many of them the charming old kinds from before the first World War when they hadn't quite got the whole car concept sorted out just yet. Unfortunately, I think this was a temporary place for the exhibition, as there were no labels for pretty much anything: about all I had to go on was looking at the car's corporation name, when that was visible. If I did get close enough to my father, he'd certainly start explaining things to me, although I figured it would start out with his explaining which of these old cars he'd owned when he was younger. In fact, when he did catch up with me he pointed to the orange '59 Ford Behemoth and identified it as one of the cars he used to own.

They had a classic-style Volkswagen Beetle, so I got to attempt to take pictures of that weird matting pattern in the back-back seat, and to marvel at the simple fact that not only did I used to fit in that, but a brother and I could fit in it, if we weren't fighting over who got to sit back there. Also somehow in the 1970s it was viewed as sane to let people ride in the back-back seat. Or else it was easier for a mother with three, then four, kids to let them ride than it was to argue the issue.

Trivia: The Detroit Automobile Company, Detroit's first auto manufacturer, lasted fifteen months (from 1899 to 1900) before collapsing under a loss of $86,000. Source: Henry and Edsel: The Creation of the Ford Empire, Ricahrd Bak.

Currently Reading: The Most Famous Man In America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, Debby Applegate. Now, here, I'm glad there aren't more pictures, because if there were I'd be more seriously distracted by how much Henry Ward Beecher looks like Bill Murray. Would anyone rise up to the challenge of abolishing slavery if they were urged to it by Todd DiLaMuca?


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