I don’t know of any family relationship that exists in my family or in Bob’s family, but I have always had an interest in Benjamin Franklin anyway. I have done a lot of hiking in my life, and sometimes, like it or not, bad weather comes in before we were done with our hike. I think anyone who has hiked much knows that one of your worst enemies on a hike…other than mountain lions, bears, or snakes…is lightning. Personally, when I start to hear thunder, I figure it’s time to head for shelter, but when you are four or five miles from your car, in the middle of a bunch of trees, heading for shelter isn’t always an easy task.
Ben Franklin, on the other hand saw lightning as a challenge to be explored. I think he had to have known the dangers of such an adventure, because he was a scientist after all. That didn’t really matter to him much, or if it did, he did not show it. Ben Franklin became interested in electricity in the mid-1740s. Not much was known about the subject, but he would spend the next decade conducting experiments using electricity. It was Ben who coined terms still in use today. You now them…battery, conductor, and electrician. He also invented the lightning rod, which is now used to protect buildings and ships. All of these things came from his many experiments. Ben Franklin was an amazing man, publisher, and writer, but it is really not in his writings that I find myself intrigued, but rather his electrical experiments. On this day, June 10, 1752, Ben flew his now infamous kite during a thunderstorm to collect a charge in a Leyden jar, when the kite was struck by lightning. He wanted to demonstrate the electrical nature of lightning.
Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706. People might think that Benjamin Franklin was a highly educated man, but in reality, his formal education ended at age ten. Then he went to work for his brother, James as a printer, but after a dispute in 1723, he left Boston and moved to Philadelphia and found work as a printer. He moved to London for a short time and worked there as a printer, and then returned to Philadelphia. He became a successful businessman whose publishing ventures included the Pennsylvania Gazette and Poor Richard’s Almanack, a collection of homespun proverbs advocating hard work and honesty in order to get ahead. Eventually, Benjamin Franklin became an overachiever…or at least in the eyes of many people. I think he was just interested in a lot of things.
Of course, we all know about Benjamin Franklin’s career as a statesman, which spanned for decades, his years as a legislator, and his diplomatic years in England and France. He is the only politician to have signed all four documents fundamental to the creation of the US: the Declaration of Independence (1776), the Treaty of Alliance with France (1778), the Treaty of Paris (1783), which established peace with Great Britain, and the U.S. Constitution (1787). Yes, he was an all around amazing man, but I will always love the idea of his lightning experiments the best.
Bob and I were having dinner at Shifters, the drive in fast food restaurant, where you might remember that the A & W Drive-In used to be, here in Casper. Shifters is decorated in a nostalgic gas station motif, and part of the decor was a display of old toy cars. It reminded me of my first car…or rather, the car I had to share with my sisters. There is just something wrong with having to share your car with your sisters. Nevertheless, that was the way it was, and since none of us had a driver’s license, we didn’t have much chance of getting our own car in the near future.
Lots of kids have cars these days that are battery operate, and require only the ability to steer to make the whole thing work, but our car was different than that. I suppose it was like a cross between a car and a bicycle, except that the pedals were fairly level to each other, for obvious reasons. Even with the pedals set so you could operate the car, you had to be careful, or you might whack your knees on the underside of the hood. I guess that is one of the hazards of being the engine. The car was just barely more modern than the one Fred Flintstone drove, and then only is it’s weight and the more modern use of the legs. I guess I should be thankful for that part, because that whole running down the road with no shoes on…not, exactly my cup of tea. My feet are too tender.
You wouldn’t have found one of us driving our car down the highway, like you have seen of the battery operated models of today, because that was just too far away for a little kid to peddle, but it could take an ambitious kid down the street to the corner, and then back…mostly because we knew that if we went further, we would face the wrath of Mom, and you simply didn’t want to go there, because if Mom’s spankings didn’t do the trick, Dad would fix your wagon when he got home. Needless to say, we didn’t stray outside our limits. And since we didn’t stray too far, we were allowed to have a really good time with our little car.
After looking at the cars mounted on the wall at Shifters, I felt maybe just a little twinge of jealousy. Our car was a dull gold color…very plain, and these had obviously received a little bit fancier paint job, and they were built for one…a little bit sportier. While, our car was a two seater, and you would be taking your sister along…if you knew what was good for you. I might have chosen the Barbie Doll type car, had it been available, but then, what good was going for a drive, if you had no one to talk to. No…I guess my first car was just what I would have chosen…looking back now, anyway.