Sunday, February 11, 2018

New York to Paris, The Great Auto Race of 1908

Thomas Flyer following trolley tracks somewhere in U.S.
  February 12th, 1908 is a date that will live on in automotive history.  Six automobiles from France, Italy, Germany, and the United States left New York City to begin a race around the world from N.Y. to Paris! 250,000 people cheered them on.
   The race was sponsored by the New York Times and Le Matin, a Paris newspaper. It was described as “the most fantastic, grueling, strenuous test ever devised for man and machine.” Held at a time when horses still shared the road with these less than reliable machines and many towns around the country and the world had never even seen an automobile yet!
  The audacity of a race of this magnitude, 22,000 miles, seemed incredible, especially when the average life of an auto in 1908 was about 10,000 miles, not to mention the idea of doing this in mid-winter!  Roads were very primitive, or non-existent, mostly dirt except around cities or large towns.  Where there were no roads they just went overland or on RR tracks. Cars were just expensive cantankerous toys for the wealthy then. The Thomas Flyer of the E.R. Thomas Motor Car Co. of Buffalo cost $4,000, or equivalent to $85,000 in todays money. If you wanted reliable transportation to get somewhere, you were better off with a horse. Predictions were that none of the cars would make it past Chicago.
Drivers being interviewed at the starting line in NY
    The original route was to take them to the West Coast, a ship to Alaska then drive across the frozen Bering Strait to Russia.  However Alaska turned out to be impossible to negotiate due to the lack of any roads.   The torturous New York to Paris Race route eventually became:  New York City to Albany, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Valdez, Japan, Vladivostok, Omsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin and Paris. 
  The Thomas Flyer Team covered three continents and over 22,000 miles in 169 days.  The 1908 Race was ultimately won by the American Buffalo made Thomas Flyer driven by George Schuster Sr. of Buffalo, NY. The feat has never been equaled. They still hold the world record over 110 years later! 

For the complete story watch the three videos below.

1908 - The Great Race from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.

Cars waiting at the starting line in New York City

Thomas Flyer at the starting line in New York City

Following the trolley tracks somewhere in rural America

When roads weren't available or drivable the RR tracks were the next best thing

Digging the Thomas Flyer out with shovels

The going was not great on most parts of the route to Paris

Approaching the Rocky Mountains in Colorado

Native Americans posing with the Thomas Flyer out West

Thomas Flyer in Cheyenne Wyoming

Getting out of the mud in Siberia

The Thomas Flyer entering Berlin on July 27, the last city before the finish line in Paris

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

God Bless America! - The Misplaced Protests

Buffalo History Gazette Commentary

   With so many athletes disrespecting the Flag at sporting events, do they even know why?  The Flag symbolizes the United States of America one of the most free countries in the world.  That Flag gave them the right and opportunity to follow their dream and play a sport that has given them the immense wealth to do something good in the world. What is their gripe with that? If you're protesting what happened in Charlottesville, social injustice in general, fine, but that isn't the Flags fault or America's.
  Protest the relatively few people who participated in that or  other  confrontations and condemn THEM, not the Flag.  Better yet, if you're going to get down on your knees during the National Anthem then do so in PRAYER for those on both sides, so they might cleanse their hearts and see the senselessness of their actions. Then you would be kneeling for something. (See Tebow) PRAY for this country to be strong again in it's ideals. Unifying this country begins with you.  Remember, you are not slaves. That may have been part of our history 200 years ago when the original Anthem was written, but Americans don't own slaves anymore. Get over that. 

   Oliver Wendell Holmes amended the Star Spangled Banner during the Civil War by writing a 5th verse with tribute to their new found freedom. (see link below) Bigotry and hate will always exist in some form.  The flag doesn't represent social injustice. It GIVES you the freedom to protest against social injustice. You should be at the games praising the freedom that Flag represents and those that died to give you that right. Don't become part of the problem be part of the solution. Outside the stadium, go into the communities and help solve the injustices you feel are there. Make speeches, talk to groups and use your wealth to spur change that supports, but doesn't undermine the basic freedoms and human rights that we ALL presently enjoy.
   Human respect is what needs to be emphasized and that starts with each and every one of us. The American Flag and our National Anthem represents the people of America, and the very basis of our freedom. To protest the Flag is a protest against yourself, and an insult to me personally, for you and I are what makes up America and that Flag represents All Americans!  You are fighting the right battles but the wrong enemy. AMERICA is not your enemy. The divisiveness you have created is not going to solve the problems. If you truly hate this country however, then that Flag also gives you the freedom to leave any time you desire.
   President Trumps' comments were comments we needed to hear from someone who took an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States. When he sees the open hatred and disrespect on display, it is an insult to him and millions of other Americans. You say he used strong language? Not strong enough in my opinion.  He reacted as any human being would who just got slapped in the face. Anything less from him would have been disappointing. He is a strong leader that speaks his mind no holds barred. It is great to see a "real" person in office for a change, instead of a politically manipulated robot.  Very refreshing. 

   Remember this - On Sunday 52 million Americans went to church where everyone is welcomed and we all drink from the same cup. 62 million Americans volunteer in any given year, and 83% of American adults give to charity. 145 million Americans went to work today where people of every race, gender, ethnicity, religious belief, orientation, and ability, get along just fine. America is not those few hundreds who hate; it is those tens of millions who don't.  Let's keep our perspective.  

Jerry M. Malloy

The 5th Verse of The Star Spangled Banner

When our land is illum'd with Liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down, with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchain'd who our birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

 Link with Full Story and Video

School 60 Buffalo NY - 1918

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Over Niagara in a Barrel

A Womans Record

October 24, 1901
    Mrs. Anna Edson Taylor, a school teacher from Bay City, Michigan, celebrated her 43rd birthday on Thursday by going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She is the first person, man or woman, who ever went over the Great Falls and lived to tell the tale of how her purpose was achieved. Her object was notoriety (says the " Evening News " correspondent) which she believed would enable her to get a music-hall engagement and thereby raise money to pay off a mortgage which is on her ranch in Texas. The barrel was 4ft. high and 3ft. in diameter. It had been previously sent over the falls with a cat in it as a test. Both the barrel and the cat withstood the shock. 

They went over the Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side with a sheer drop of 158ft. The barrel was lined with cushions, and the woman was fastened to her place by straps. At five minutes past four o'clock she started. Twenty-three thousand spectators saw the barrel go over the Horseshoe Falls. At 4.40 p.m. the barrel was captured and pulled on to the rocks, and the cover was broken open. Mrs. Taylor immediately raised her arm and waved her hand as a demonstration that she was still living. It was necessary to saw away a portion of the barrel, which was half filled with water, to get the woman out. 

  She had a cut 3in. long on the back of her right ear; her shoulder was strained, and she suffered severely from shock. The doctors say she will be well in a few days. She said: I feel like offering a prayer that my life was spared. I feel sore about my shoulders. I am not a notoriety seeking woman, and have lived a quiet life. I was left a widow at twenty, and have devoted most of my life to others. 

   "If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat. I will never go  over the Falls again. I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces, than to make another trip over the Falls. I was swirled about like a top, and the water seemed to come in on me in bucketfuls. I held tightly to the handles and thought only of preventing my head from striking the top of the barrel. Once, for a moment, I seemed to lose my senses. I struck the rocks three times. I made the trip voluntarily, but I would not do it again for a million dollars. My husband was a good man. I don't know how I can thank you all for being so kind to me."

This famous photo is being featured this week at the Buffalo History Gazette Store in the Niagara Emporium at Eastern Hills Mall. It is a matted photo, 16x20 in a 20x24 frame. Picture is from the Buffalo History Gazette Collection from an original glass plate negative of this event, and not a copy from the internet.