Stuff happens

Time flies. After over a year of regular, thrice-weekly blog entries, it’s been a month since I’ve posted anything new here. So let’s catch up a bit…

Bad driving: not just a modern invention

If you recall, our previous post began with “I’m still preoccupied with non-Clark House matters, and new posts continue to be delayed.” The reason for the delay? Two words: bad driving.

Unidentified artist, A Crack Team at a Smashing Gait, hand-colored lithograph, 1869, Smithsonian American Art Museum, transfer from the National Museum of American History, Division of Graphic Arts, Smithsonian Institution, Public domain, CC0 license. Click to open larger image in a new window.

As in this 1869 lithograph, our family “carriage” was cut off by an inattentive and/or distracted driver. No one was grievously hurt, but some things will take an unknown amount of time to resolve, and our family transport was a total wreck.

With that as background, can we pause and give a tip of the hat to modern automotive safety regulations and engineers? Even at slower, horse-powered, speeds I’m sure those 1869 carriage drivers would have appreciated seat belts and a reinforced roll-bar, at the very least. In 2021—thanks to mandatory crumple zones, seat belts, and airbags—our driver was able to exit a high-speed wreck, admittedly worse for the experience, but on her own two feet.

A new ride…

Of course, you can’t get by in present-day suburban America without wheels, so we had to go shopping for a new ride. You may have heard—correctly—that this is a terrible time to purchase a new or used car. New cars need lots of computer chips to function, and there is an international chip shortage. So new vehicles are in short supply. That means a lot of folks are trying to buy used—excuse me, “pre-owned”—cars. And higher demand for used cars has made prices rise way above their book value.

So it took a while, but we found an okay deal on a used, well cared for, family car.

Unknown photographer, [The Ohio Star Buggy], daguerreotype with applied color, [circa 1840-1860], Smithsonian American Art Museum, museum purchase from the Charles Isaacs Collection made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, public domain, CC0. Click to open larger image in new window.

Our new family carriage is not as big as this “Ohio Star” buggy-plus-horse combo, and lacks the stylish paneling and drawers on the sides. But our little SUV does have heat, A/C, and a backup camera. And—unlike the buggy—you don’t have to clean up the “exhaust” from the engine every day.

Accidents, then and now

Accidents are a part of life, then and now (even though a lot of them could be avoided if people just paid more attention). Rev. Woodworth’s book records many accidents and near misses in the lives of his family and their Mequon neighbors, involving—among other things—horses, oxen, wagons, sledges, firearms, tree-felling, lightning strikes and bad weather of various kinds. Other Clark-era sources record assorted other disasters, including the tornado of 1857, train wrecks and shipwrecks of all sorts.

I was thinking of including some of those incidents as part of a larger “accidents happen” post. But with the holidays fast approaching, I decided that most of the examples were too grim for this festive season. Maybe another time.

Back soon-ish with fresh research and documents

So Clark House Historian posts will probably be spotty for the remainder of the month. I’ve got a holiday favorite or two to re-post this week, and I hope to write a least a few new posts before the New Year.

Stay tuned, be well, and enjoy the season. See you soon.

5 thoughts on “Stuff happens

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