Inspiration In A Life Well Lived

Inspiration In A Life Well Lived

J Walter Christie pioneered the use of front wheel drive in the development of his race cars. Who remembers Mr. Christie today?

He never complained and refused to see himself as disabled. He perfected the electric razor, developed a balancing mechanism for steam turbines, and transformed the Perfect Circle corporation into the largest manufacturer of piston rings in the world. Perhaps his most transformative contribution was the invention of cruise control. His was a life well lived. But the inspiration comes from knowing that Ralph Teetor was blind. He had been injured as a child, and as a result one year later he lost his sight.

Charles Richard Patterson created a profitable but small business empire in Greenfield, Ohio. His success becomes all the more amazing when one considers that he was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation in 1833. Historians are unsure how he came to live in Greenfield, a hotbed of abolitionist activity before the Civil War. There is a possibility that his freedom had been purchased, but a number of African Americans in town had escaped slavery.

He apprenticed in a blacksmith shop that also was engaged in carriage and wagon making. In 1873, he formed a business partnership J.P. Lowe, another carriage maker in town, J.P. Lowe. In 1893 he bought out his partner and purchased the shop where he had begun his career,  and formed C.R. Patterson & Sons. By 1900 his carriage and wagon manufacturing and repair company was employing an integrated workforce of nearly fifty men. His sales catalog listed twenty-five models including doctor buggies, freight wagons, surreys, and closed carriages.

With Patterson’s death in 1910, his son Frederick took the helm of the company. He was college-educated and was the first African American athlete to play football at Ohio State University. He was also the vice president of the National Negro Business League that had been founded by Booker T. Washington. He also charted a new course for the company with diversification that included repair and services for automobiles.  The first ad for auto repair services appeared in the local paper in 1913. The repainting of bodies and the reupholstering of interiors was the initial service offered. Then mechanics were hired and the company became a full service auto repair facility.

Resultant of the endeavors success, in 1915 C.R. Patterson & Sons began manufacturing automobiles. Advertisement announced the availability of the Patterson-Greenfield automobile at a factory sales price of $685. “Our car is made with three distinct purposes in mind. First — It is not intended for a large car. It is designed to take the place originally held by the family surrey. It is a 5-passenger vehicle, ample and luxurious. Second — It is intended to meet the requirements of that class of users, who, though perfectly able to spend twice the amount, yet feel that a machine should not engross a disproportionate share of expenditure, and especially it should not do so to the exclusion of proper provisions for home and home comfort, and the travel of varied other pleasurable and beneficial entertainment. It is a sensibly priced car. Third — It is intended to carry with it (and it does so to perfection) every conceivable convenience and every luxury known to car manufacture. There is absolutely nothing shoddy about it. Nothing skimp and stingy.”

The company continued producing and manufacturing horse drawn vehicles, but the focus was increasingly shifted toward the manufacture of automobiles even though sales were less than anemic. Orders began to come in, and C.R. Patterson & Sons officially entered the ranks of American auto manufacturers. Over the years the company diversified offerings to include coupes and sedans, and in 1918, a stylish “Red Devil” speedster. The vehicles were powered by a 30-horsepower four cylinder engine supplied by Continental in Muskegon, Michigan. They also featured a full floating rear axle, cantilever springs, electric starting and lighting, and a split windshield that opened for ventilation. Information is scant but apparently owners were very satisfied with the quality and durability of the cars.

Small independent manufacturers, even those that offered a quality product, were challenged to compete with larger companies that continued to develop improved means of mass production. The problems were magnified with severe post WWI economic recession. As the profit margin on each Patterson-Greenfield automobile was low, the company was poorly positioned to weather the storm. In late 1919 the C.R. Patterson & Sons company halted auto production. They reorganized to focus entirely on the repair of vehicles. Then in the early 1920s, the company diversified again and began building truck and bus bodies to be fitted on chassis made by other manufacturers. Then in 1930, in the dawning of the Great Depression, sales evaporated. Still, the company survived until 1939.

The Patterson family, a life well. The Patterson family, a story of inspiration.

Celebrating The Holidays In The Year of Apocalypse

Celebrating The Holidays In The Year of Apocalypse

In my short time here on planet earth I have survived a couple of hurricanes and tornados, an ill advised attempt to earn my pay on the rodeo circuit, several car accidents, an epic desert dust storm or two, a few blizzards in the north country, a couple of wild monsoon storms, appendicitis, pneumonia, a kayaking trip on the Colorado River (in a leaking kayak), a few broken bones and a couple of good wallops to the head. In a few weeks, Lord be willing and if the creek doesn’t rise, to this list of tragedies that I have survived will be added 2020, the year of the apocalypse. And that takes us to celebrating the holidays in a time of pandemic, a never ending election, two headed sharks, poisonous earth worms invading Georgia, face masks, overwhelmed food banks, unprecedented opportunity, Zoom meetings, and virtual Christmas parties.

Needless to say, the holiday season this year will be different. Travel is questionable. Family gatherings via Zoom is just downright odd. Employees at the post office, Fed Ex and UPS are being buried as people break all records with on line ordering. Walmart is, well, Walmart. Restaurants are closed, or open, maybe.

As you may have noticed I am being a bit facetious today. It is my feeble way of injecting a bit of levity into a tense situation, to try to get people to smile a bit, to make the best of a bad situation, and to find some humor in a generally humorless year. But on more serious note, for your Christmas shopping I would like to suggest that you consider thinking outside of the box this year. With that said, let me give you a few ideas.

Let’s start with One Stop 66. Consider this a virtual flea market for Route 66 businesses, artists, photographers and authors. You will find lots of interesting and unique gift ideas on this site. As a bonus you will be giving small businesses a much needed helping hand, and ensuring that authors or artists don’t become starving artists or authors. Did I mention that the owners of the website have created an array of colorful Route 66 centennial merchandise?

Next, how about handcrafted wooden bowls from a Dutch artisan? These might strain the budget a bit, especially with the cost of shipping from the Netherlands, but they are more than a mere gift. These would be heirlooms shared for generations to come.

Even though we now use our phones as calendars, as well as a device to watch videos about cats and the people of Walmart, and on occasion make calls, the old fashioned wall calendar is a gift that keeps on giving for at least twelvemonths. This is especially true if it is a fine art calendar from internationally acclaimed photographer Jim Livingston based in Amarillo, Texas. His prints depicting scenes from Route 66, the Texas Panhandle and the great Plains are on display in banks, prestigious offices and homes.

Treat yourself or the adventurer in your family with a road trip inspiring book or a series of true crime stories that reads as a novel. Both books, 100 Things To Do On Route 66 Before You Die or Murder And Mayhem on The Main Street of America: Tales From Bloody 66. Both books written by yours truly are available at a special discounted rate on the Jim Hinckley’s America website. As a bonus, I will deface them with my signature. This will not lower the value of the books. Just kidding. Murder and Mayhem was the recipient of the Independent Publisher silver medal award. Unfortunately I can only offer domestic shipping resultant of prohibitive costs for international mailings.

And of course, if you would prefer putting your holiday funds to something that provides a service there is always our crowdfunding initiative on the Patreon platform. By committing to support you would have access to exclusive content. And you would be supporting our work to develop educational programs such as the forthcoming presentation about Route 66 for the Rotary Club in El Paso, Texas. This year we have used crowdfunding to subsidize discounted advertising on the Jim Hinckley’s America travel network for struggling businesses. It has also made it possible for us to offer free promotional programs such as the coffee cup sponsor initiative on the weekly Coffee With Jim live streamed program, the free weekly travel planning newsletter that includes event promotion, and the creation of other live stream programs.

Bottom line, the folks who own Amazon and Walmart have done rather well this year. Now it’s time to lend a bit of support to the small businesses that add color, vibrancy and life to small town America. This whole year has been unusual and different. Let’s carry that into the holiday season and think about buying gifts that have character, and that are as unique as the person you are buying them for.