Give a word of thanks, or whatever other word you may wish, to dear old Karl Benz.
Because on this day in 1886, Karl patented the first successful gasoline driven automobile.
It is worth noting that the oldest auto maker is still around after all these years when other marques famous and celebrated have disappeared. When was the last time you saw a Packard, Pierce Arrow or Peerless on the road, and soon, Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles will be every bit as rare as DeSotos and Duesenbergs. If not as pricey.
Well, what Karl began the world has adopted with such enthusiasm that we can scarcely find a place where the roads are not crowded with traffic. Even yesterday as I drove to Webster and back, I found that the byways were as busy as the highways. Since it was a leisurely drive ( or supposed to be) my roof was open (like Karl Benz's first car) and I was drifting along enjoying the warm January weather and blue skies. I spied bald eagles, great blue herons, ibis and red shouldered hawks along the way. Somewhere around Zellwood I took that shortcut turning to go toward Howey-in-the-Hills and as I got up to warp 55 mph (something Karl Benz never dreamed of in 1886) I could feel the busy world being left behind me. For just a moment. Then, in my rear view mirror, a car appeared. And grew large by the moment. And suddenly was on my rear bumper.
Now people who tailgate may not know this, but THE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU CAN SEE YOU. And this woman looked like nothing so much as the hood ornament on a Mac Truck. If you look up "Pugnacious" in the dictionary you will find her illustrated there. She was not interested in the blue skies, the green grass, the feathered friends--oh no. All she and her big blah Buick (it was that dreadful shade of metallic beige that looks like used sandpaper) were in a hurry and I was one of many obstacles that she would have pushed into the ditch if she could. I suppose she was late for work, since it was by that time 8:57 and there was no place of business in sight for miles. I was glad at the T she turned left (blasting her horn at me as she went was, I thought an unnecessary way to say fare-thee-well).
At that moment, even though I am fond of cars and enjoy traveling in them, I must say that I thought, just for a split second, of Karl Benz...
...and sincerely wished he hadn't.