INDEPENDENT THINKING

Counted among the many challenges we humans face is the ability to free the mind from the confines of conformity to unleash some independent thinking. If we design a motor vehicle it must have two or four wheels. Why? Why not three or six?
If we design a home it must be rectangular with square rooms. Why? Why not a dome or a cave or a converted grain silo or a …?

A four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering Jeep
prototype built by Checker.

I suppose it was my fascination for independent thinking that led to me becoming enamored with the infancy of the American auto industry and the free thinkers that roamed unfettered during this age of giants. Ralph Teetor, a blind inventor created cruise control – in the 1930s. John Walter Christie designed and raced front-wheel drive, V4 powered cars – in 1903. Milton Reeves built the ungainly, and exceedingly odd and impractical eight-wheeled Octauto in 1910.
To date, my contributions to the pantheon of free thinkers has been rather limited. With my books and photography I have encouraged more than a few adventuresome souls to take to the road less traveled.
Perhaps, through this blog and on line rantings in various public forums such as Facebook, I may have influenced one or two to break the chains and banish television from their home. I might have also been influential in the decision made by a few daring young motorists to rediscover old technologies, as well as the fun of driving, by purchasing a Studebaker Lark, AMC Rambler, or similar contraption.
If so, I am both pleased and humbled. It is not often we can make far reaching contributions to the advancement of society.
For me independent, unorthodox, unconventional thinking is as natural as rain. My ma summed it up when she told folks I was born ninety and never seemed to age.
Over the years I have found this trait to be both a blessing and a curse. I have also found it to be an almost endless source of fun, excitement, and entertainment. 

Jericho, Texas

The manifestations of my free thinking eccentricity have taken on many forms over the years. At the tender age of 18, when everyone I knew was seeking the GTO, Barracuda, Mustang, Charger, Cougar, or Challenger, my mode of transport was a 1964 Rambler American station wagon and a battered old 1942 Chevy pick up truck.
I suppose some things never change. Most folks are looking for the shiniest, the fastest, and the newest for their Route 66 adventure. Meanwhile I am in search of something a bit more sedate like a Model A Ford, Hudson Hornet, or Studebaker Scotsman. 
When everyone applauded the opening of I-40 between Seligman and Kingman, I applauded the emptiness of Route 66 that enabled me to amble along at 45 miles per hour in my 1946 GMC. Of course I was not the visionary that Michael Wallis was and never gave much thought at that time to the fact that there may be others who gleefully would abandon the interstate for the empty two lane. 
Most authors dream of having their latest book debut in a blaze of glory manifested as a towering pyramid of books in a shop along New York’s Fifth Avenue. I am kicking off the Route 66 encyclopedia at Cuba Fest in Cuba Missouri.
When the winds of winter whip the snow, or sand, into a frenzy, tropical beaches often come to mind. Unless of course you happen to be me and then thoughts would turn to someplace like Amboy Crater in the Mojave Desert.
If your new to the idea of independent thinking (eccentricity for those who prefer correct terminology) my suggestion is simple. Come on in, the water is fine. 
And if you have been charting this course for most of the past half century or so, congratulations. I am quite sure that at some point in time, in some forgotten place, our paths will cross and we can compare notes about the joys of a life lived in the shadows of the herd. 

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