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THE HORRORS OF TRAVEL
(Harpers Weekly Sept. 23, 1865)
“All aboard” a train
Riding into another train
Or over a cliff because someone
Or something broke a rail!
Whether intentionally or innocently
It is equally horrible for you and the conductor.
That’s it, that’s all, your life is over!
So long, so short
Now no difference.
Think of playing an accordion so blithe
Aboard a side-wheeler, enjoying the cruise.
The steamer blows up – in two.
You, the squeezebox, the purser go three ways.
There is no help – no big sand pail
No caustic for a ship breaking up
Or glue for its passengers and crew.
In spite of all the jolly talk
About comfort and progress,
Or gainful commerce taught
About investments in transshipments,
“Where Rail Meets Sail”
Was once also a horrific thought,
Immigrants jostled in schooners in a storm,
Tourists steaming aboard a Blue Funnel
Travelers riding west on a Mountain Goat
Most expected that those machines were well wrought
With handiwork fit tight and crews well taught
But still climbing up the riders’ throats
Were the old horrors of travel.
Boarding a train or schooner
You don’t have to any longer.
But there are modern ways
To find perdition sooner.
Take your own motorcar
Or ride a motorbike
Into a slippery night.
It is sometimes difficult for an associate editor to decide on what page to put a story. Instead, we give this wrecked Oakland three chances for broader meaning. It is clearly a WRECK, but it is also an Unintended Effect, and not knowing on whose lawn we have found it, this embarrassment is also somehow confidential, although exposed. Ron Edge contributed this scene, but Ron, for now, is not able to place it, except to note that it comes from a collection of Seattle-based negatives, which are big glass ones. Perhaps some reader can figure the location and make it all less confidential. It seems to me most likely that it is somewhere on the first ridge east of downtown, which is First Hill and Capitol Hill. It is also Ron who calls this unintended wreck an Oakland. He explains that because the original is from a large glass negative he could read the name in a detail of the wheel.
With WRECK we add another numbered feature to this blog, and we do it for several reasons. First, people like them. Next, WRECK will remind all of us to be careful. Really we give this advice especially to those we love, and not to everyone. We will be honest about this. If everyone were careful there would be fewer auto wrecks to choose from for these object lessons in safety. And if everyone were very careful, there would be no driving at all, and so no wrecks and also no feature. We would need to return to runaway horses. So we are prepared to encourage those we neither know nor love to go ahead and keep on driving. In spite of how hard it is to face our own meanness in this, we know that our position on this will make no difference. People need to get places fast. And with WRECK we need wrecks for those who like to look at them, which is just about everybody. Like the Romans watching gladiators, driving is a blood sport, although it does not seem fair to have passengers involved, even ones we neither know nor care for. (Consequently, we will avoid showing bodies.) WRECK will be this blog’s embrace of journalist sensation, when we can find them. In this line, please share your wrecks with us, and we will show them in all their mangled spectacle and twisted art. Yes, we might have included practically any wreck as another example of an “Unintended Effect” – the name for another of our newer features – but we chose to give WRECK its own place. Be sure sure to CLICK TWICE not just once to see the spectacle in great detail.