Five years have gone by since those hours when Henry Ford sneaked through the nighttime streets of the motorless city in his prototype gasoline-powered vehicle. The future world automobile capital has only four auto dealers; the fifth will come along next year. But momentum is building for the new industry. This year will see the second annual Tri-State Sportsman's and Automobile Association show at the Light Guard Armory. There's an added inducement this year - a dog show. Not to mention the usual sporting equipment. Next year the dogs and camping gear will be dropped, and the auto will take center stage.

Henry B. Joy and his brother-in-law Truman H. Newberry begin the Packard Motor Company. Another industrialist, Charles F. Palms starts his own company. He decides to name his product the Wayne, after American military commander "Mad" Anthony Wayne. If you're in the market, a new Wayne will cost you $1200, canopy not included. Bicycle makers John and Horace Dodge begin manufacturing parts, first for stoves, then later for autos. In 1913 they begin turning out automobiles. The first Cadillacs are introduced here this year. And Detroit is still upgrading older styles of transport. The Detroit Urban Rail company introduces the funeral car onto its tracks. It's painted a solid black, with no name or number on its front or sides, but with an opening near the front just the proper size to accommodate a casket. Each city cemetery builds a connecting track for the car, so the family and other mourners can ride to the gravesite along with the deceased. Anyone who counts for anything in the city takes their final ride in the unadorned car. But even that is not good enough for Potato Patch Pingree.

Hazen S. Pingree was a successful local shoe manufacturer. When asked to run for mayor against the corrupt political machine, he at first demurred, claiming to be too busy making shoes, but flattery prevailed and he took on the bosses. His foes packed a mass political meeting with their cronies, bent on disrupting the evening, but he shouted them down, and voter backlash against the machine gave Pingree the victory. Next taking on a depressed economy, he hit upon the idea of public works as an antidote to unemployment and began a campaign to turn vacant lands into productive gardens. They became known as Pingree Patches and gave the mayor his nickname. He then served two terms as governor of Michigan, constantly fighting the battles of the ordinary man and woman. At some point someone, perhaps Pingree himself, noticed his striking resemblance to King Edward VII. He even modified his beard to heighten the resemblance. Edward VII was amused. Pingree died in London while on a world tour, of peritonitis, attended by the King's own physician. The body was shipped back to the States, and 20,000 of his civic beneficiaries walked beside the military caisson that carried Potato Patch to his rest.

For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor

© 1999 David Minor / Eagles Byte