November 28, 1998


Charles McCartney died nearly two weeks ago. You might have caught the obituary the next day. Chances are if you did, curiosity made you read it. It's one of those things you can't resist checking out. He first achieved his odd brand of celebrity in 1930, so we'll have to go there to track him down.

It was, of course, the beginning of the Great Depression. In March President Hoover had declared that prosperity was just around the corner. It wasn't. Or, if it was, that corner was way, way, way, way down the road. Things would get much worse before reaching it.

But, hard times ahead or not, people still had to move and be moved from one place to another. Here in Rochester construction began on a bridge at Ridge Road, over the Genesee River. Another bridge, across the Hudson River, opened at Poughkeepsie. These new projects were carried out to help handle the rapidly increasing number of automobiles. As one form of transportation blossomed another began to wither. This year would see the end of trolley and interurban service in New York State in Corning, Canandaigua and Rochester.

The skies might not have always been friendly, but they were busy, with a wide variety of events throughout the year. On February 18th a cow was flown in an airplane for the first time. Because it could be done, I suppose. On April 1st Chicago Cubs baseball player Leo Hartnett broke a record of sorts by catching a baseball dropped from the Goodyear blimp, 800 feet over Los Angeles. October 7th the first glider license was awarded, to L. A. Wiggins of Akron, Ohio.

Among those traveling down on the ground were would-be actor Leonard Slye and his wife Dale Evans, moving from their native Ohio to southern California. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of New York's semi-paralyzed governor, was headed on a fact-finding mission to Puerto Rico for him, to check on working conditions in factories importing to the States. And then there was Charlie McCartney.

Whatever it was that inspired him, the recently departed McCartney, seemingly more prescient than most Americans, apparently figured that if the world was going to hell in handcarts he might as well drive his own. He outfitted himself and family with clothes made of goatskin, loaded a cart with pots and pans, and bales of hay, slapped a license plate on the rear end, hitched up a team of goats and took off to travel around the U. S., preaching the Gospel. The Goat Man was still doing it up into the 1960s, when he probably began to fit in for the first time. He was 97 when he passed away, a few weeks back.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor

© 1998 David Minor / Eagles Byte