07 May 2009

100 Plus Years of Automobiles

As I was running about like a chicken with my head cut off yesterday doing some errands, I wondered.......Are we really better off in America do to the invention of the Automobile? That is a very complicated question. I would say the answer is both yes and no.

We are better off because with the invention of the automobile. It allowed those in the crowded cities to move further out, thus the building of suburbs, and yet still work in the city. Travel by horse meant that if you were more than 15 miles from a major city, railroad or waterway that business was difficult to do. You were isolated from the rest of the world. Before the car you either lived and worked in the not so pleasant conditions of crowded cities or you were isolated on the farm where you lived and worked. Cars bridged the gap and allowed for a happy medium. Families could now live in homes that gave them a little yard for the kids to play while the parent(s) worked in the city, and the farmer could then easily move his goods by truck and errands were more convenient.

But I realized yesterday as I'm driving around that all of this comes with a down side. Crowded freeways, pollution, greater demands, drunk drivers, greater risk to life and limb, road rage and more. I've had the privilege to be with out a vehicle for months now. My husband drives the one vehicle we have running and I go to work with my parents. But this week I had a lot to take care of and borrowed my parents spare vehicle. It was when running those errands the last two days that I realized I had enjoyed not having a vehicle. It was much easier to say "No I can't. I have no wheels." On the other hand though I'd be lying if I said I don't enjoy driving. I'm one of those car gals. I like a big pick up truck. I like power. I like driving a standard even. There is nothing like the open road and a good car stereo to make me smile. But I don't enjoy the errands and demands put on me when I do have a car. Looking back that's something our ancestors didn't have to worry about. They didn't have the convenience of a car so they most likely grouped their errands into one day a week that they went into town. The rest of the time they had all their chores on the farm to tend to, but at least they didn't have the interruptions of jumping in the car to run a quick errand.

A hundred years ago when cars were being invented I'm sure they had no clue as to the long term effect of the waist product engine put in the air. It was an era of invention and they weren't concerned about the environment then. But we are living with it today. Many of us deal with asthma as a result of an environment where the air is no longer clean like it was one hundred years ago. Only time will tell if the environment will continue to deteriorate or if we will some day get a handle on it and come up with alternative fuels that are cleaner to use.

Then don't get me started on the frustrations of driving with idiots on the road. You've got the ultimate idiots who think it's okay to drink and drive, or the young teenagers who are having fun and don't really have the maturity to realize the risks they take to themselves and to others when they drive stupidly. There are also those who are always in a hurry, weaving in and out of traffic and asking for trouble. Of course I'm the kind of gal who likes to have fun with people like that. I don't drive slow on the freeway. I'm usually in the fast lane, but I don't weave in and out to get one more car ahead. I go with the flow and I follow safely, unless I'm not paying attention. But when I see an idiot like that in my rear view mirror I like to get beside another car and stay with them so the idiot behind us can't get around.

Of course we have one of America's favorite sports as a result of the invention of the car, NASCAR! Now I don't watch NASCAR. I just don't have the time. But I do like a little speed safely on the open road. You just can't have that kind of fun in a horse and buggy.

So I'll ask you do you think the invention of the automobile improved America for the better or worse?

Note: Click on photos for website of history behind each.

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