THE LETTER OF THE LAW
Friendship is a funny thing. It often has strange origins, develops through crisis, and then lasts a lifetime even with separation that translates into long distant support during the trials and tribulations of life.
I will refrain from the use of names to prevent embarrassment. For similar reasons I will skip a long winded story abut how we met. Suffice to say we have been friends for thirty years.
Well, I arrived home this evening after a grueling day at the office to discover that my friend in Wisconsin had mailed a most pleasant and unusual surprise, a massive 1,184 page tome entitled, Berry Automobiles, Second Edition. Published in 1916, it is a legal reference book for all things automotive.
During dinner I thumbed through the book and found myself so intrigued with it that a reminder was needed that the borscht and potatoes were getting cold. It was as though I had received a magic window that allowed me to peer into a lost world.
The first thoughts that came to mind as I leafed through the book was a reflection on how quickly automotive law had grown. After all, in 1896 the automobile (a Duryea motor wagon) was such a novelty that it garnered top billing over the albino and fat lady at the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Now, two decades later, we have a book like this!
Delightful tidbits abound on every page. “Persons using vehicles in streets in which street cars are operated must exercise reasonable care to avoid collision with the cars. However, it is not negligence as a matter of law to drive a vehicle along a street car track, even in the direction from which the cars will approach.”
“An automobilist has the right to operate his car on the public highways, and is not an insurer against the fright of horses using the same highway at the same time, and if damage is done by a horse taking fright at an automobile properly operated no liability arises…
This is going to be fun!