Friday, December 28, 2018

The Wright Brothers #1

The Wright Brothers is a book by David McCullough. It's widely known that the Wright brothers had a bicycle shop, which they opened in 1893, before venturing into flying.

The following is an amusing historical note about bicycles.

"Bicycles had become the sensation of the time, a craze everywhere. (These were no longer the "high wheelers" of the 1870s and '80s, but the so-called "safety bicycles," with two wheels the same size.) The bicycle was proclaimed a boon to all mankind, a thing of beauty, good for the spirits, good for health and vitality, indeed one's whole outlook on life. Doctors enthusiastically approved. One Philadelphia physician, writing in The American Journal of Obstetrics and Diseases of Women and Children, concluded from his observations that "for physical exercise for both men and women, the bicycle is one of the greatest inventions of the nineteenth century."
     Voices were raised in protest. Bicycles were proclaimed morally hazardous. Until now children and youth were unable to stray very far from home on foot. Now, one magazine warned, fifteen minutes could put them miles away. Because of bicycles, it was said, young people were not spending the time they should with books, and more seriously that suburban and country tours on bicycles were "not infrequently accompanied by seductions."
     Such concerns had little effect. Everybody was riding bicycles, men, women, all ages and from all walks of life. Bicycle clubs sprouted on college campuses and in countless cities and towns, including Dayton" (p. 22).

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