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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 19, 2006


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(15):1847. doi:10.1001/jama.295.15.1847-b

Chicago, Illinois.

Being naturally fond of machinery, I took the automobile fever early, but managed by prudence to hold it in check for about four years. At length I purchased a small second-hand steamer that I kept about three months. I ran it altogether about 400 or 500 miles, and finally sold it at a total expense of about $300. Later, I bought a new strong gasoline machine, which I think is one of the best on the market. The first year my bills for gasoline and repairs were only $600, although the repairs were mostly made by my son at no cost for labor. The next year I thought I would take a short country run, so started out one fine June day with my son as chauffeur and my brother and daughter as guests. For the first 60 miles I thought I was having the finest time in my life. Trouble came thick and fast for the next 20 miles; then I sent my daughter on by train; the rest of us stayed over night and the next day we limped into the town of our destination, 100 miles from the city, eighteen hours behind time. The next day being Sunday, we visited with our friends and the following morning my daughter and myself came home by railroad, leaving my brother and son to make repairs and to come with the machine. They were finally towed into the city five days later. My repair bill, as my son did all the work, was only $50, but I had to send the machine to the shop immediately. There they tinkered with it about two months, on four different occasions, pronouncing it all right; but on taking it out it would balk absolutely within from 5 to 15 miles on fine boulevards. The total mileage for these few weeks was about 100, cost $200. I then sent the machine to the factory, where it was put in good order, and it has since that time run beautifully whenever the wheels and tires would permit. In the meantime, I had bought another new car, which was a fine piece of machinery, but my troubles have not lessened materially. I have kept an accurate account and the expense of maintenance, including chauffeur and depreciation, has not been far from 75 cents a mile; but we have never had any very bad luck, have never hurt anyone else, never been sued for damages, only arrested once and never caused an actual runaway. My man had his leg and arm badly hurt by kick-backs, which cost considerable time, but as I was a physician the doctor's bills were small. My son had his arm broken in the same way, and this kept him home from college for six weeks, but we think we have a great deal to be thankful for. I am still optimistic. I own two machines now, though just at present neither of them is in commission, but I anticipate a great deal of pleasure in the future.