Totally Off Topic

Real or Fake News? Catching an Electric Car, May 1893

I ran across this on the front page of the May 24, 1893 edition of the Livingston Herald.  I can’t make up my mind whether it was fake or real news.   Being on the front page makes me believe it was a true story, but knowing the entire paper only had 4 pages makes being on the front page a little less impressive.  I did learn that by 1885 electric trains pulling 8 cars were getting speeds up to 25 mph and by 1890 speeds on streetcars had reached 40 mph, so 60 mph in 1893 is feasible.  The idea of jumping, from a standstill, onto a vehicle moving at 60 mph seems truly unlikely.

You read it and let me know what you think: real or fake news?

Catching an Electric Car

Not So Easy As It Seems When It Is Going a Mile a Minute

There is one elderly gentleman in Boston who will think a long time before he again boards an electric car while it is in motion.

He was standing on Tremont street with a nervous glitter in his eye that showed that he was in a hurry to get somewhere.  Car after car whizzed by, but they did not seem to suit the old gentleman’s fancy, and his glances up the street became more frequent and more apoplectic.

At last one appeared in the distance that caused the watcher’s eyes to brighten.  It was a very handsome car, with a broad green belt and a yellow dasher.  True, it was bounding along at a rate of 60 miles an hour: but what of that?  The old gentleman was in a hurry, and then he knew how to get on easy enough.  He had seen lots of people do it.  All you had to do was to wait until the middle of the car was opposite to you, and then stretch out one hand and one foot, grasp the rail, and there you were.  Nothing could be simpler.

The electric car came bounding playfully along, and the elderly gentleman shifted his weight on to one foot so as to be ready for it.  When he was opposite to the middle of the green belt, he leaned a little forward, stretched out one hand and grasped the rail as it flew past.  Either he hadn’t ascertained correctly how the thing was done or else he was a trifle slow with the other foot.  At any rate he didn’t board the car.

There was a terrific jerk, and the old gentleman found himself streaming horizontally behind the car like a pennant on a masthead.  After he had flown for several blocks in this manner, the elderly gentleman concluded that his position was ridiculous for one of his age, and with a short mental prayer he let go the rail. Before he landed he turned five double somersaults and a very difficult handspring, besides knocking down three inoffensive passersby.

When he had been restored to consciousness, and his hat and glasses had been fished out of the snow by some kindly souls, he sent one meaning glance in the direction of the retreating car.

“Some people may call this civilization,” he said bitterly, “but I call it h—.”

And disdaining the sympathy of his rescuer he jammed his snow covered hat over his eyes and tottered feebly int he direction of the Parker House.–Boston Herald.



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