Saturday, August 2, 2014

Beware of Scorchers!

No scorching.
This letter to the New York Sun was just too good to let pass. It appears right below Henry Foreman’s remarks on Esperanto and takes us back to a time when cars were a rarity and blinding speeds were much slower than they are today.

A Great Revolution Against the Automobile Coming Unless They Reform.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE SUN—Sir: I enjoy automobiling at a sane speed, as to thousands of other people, and I have never had an accident.[1] Therefore I have a right to sound the warning[2] that unless scorchers stop their devilish work laws excluding automobiles from the highways will be inevitable. Those who do not use automobiles hate them, and they outvote us 100 to 1. They comprise farmers, horsemen and the masses of pedestrians.

If the scorchers do not reform such a revolution will take place against the tyrant automobile that the American Revolution, caused by such a trivial thing as a tea tax in Boston Harbor, will be thrown into the shade. We are right now up against a proposition to elect a Legislature and Governor on the sole issue of “safety of highways and exclusion of automobiles.”[3] Societies are now secretly being formed in New Jersey for this purpose. I know, for I have been asked to join one.[4] The other day I was going quietly twelve miles an hour in my automobile[5] when an enormous touring car[6] running on the wrong side of the road sixty miles an hour narrowly missed hitting me head on. I would have been knocked into kingdom come with my guests, and the scorcher and his friends would probably have been ditched and some them perhaps killed. Let us beware of what is coming unless scorching is stopped.

         EATONTOWN, N. J., July 31.           C. D. L.
“Scorcher”? I know one’s own words always seem to make more sense, and in this case “speeder” really does. Going sixty miles and hour in a zone set for only… Did they have speed limits in 1907? We don’t know if C.D.L. was traveling so slowly as to be a hazard to other drivers or what. Or at least I don’t know.

Remember the next time you push that speedometer past 60: you’re a scorcher!

  1. Just caused a few, right?  ↩
  2. This furthers my opinion that the letter columns of early twentieth-century newspapers were the Internet comment threads of their day.  ↩
  3. It’s sort of funny to think of highways existing before cars. Try driving your horse and carriage on a highway today.  ↩
  4. Which they never would have done if they knew you were going to blab about to to the papers.  ↩
  5. We hate people like this, don’t we.  ↩
  6. Yes, even in 1907, drivers of luxury cars were assholes.  ↩

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