Topic: Innocence of the Younger Generation: a True Story by Ivan D. Taylor

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A 2013 Memoir and Local History Competition entry.

Archived version here.

Today we drive our modern cars that all have the latest electronic gadgetry and most of the modern generation, especially those born in the last 25 years, take it all for granted. Things like starting the car with a starter button and not a key have almost disappeared.

This was brought to my attention recently when I had a young, 20ish female reporter from a local paper come to my property to do an article on the rare birth of my twin donkeys. This part of the interview was easy with notes and photos proving no problem to the reporter, despite never having actually seen a donkey before this interview.

Walking back past my workshop she noticed through the workshop window my 1909 twin cylinder veteran Riley motorcar, and asked if she could have a look at it and possibly do an article on it as well.  I agreed and took her into the workshop and proceeded to answer the usual questions as to its history and restoration etc.

After a while she pointed to the crank handle at the front of the car.

“What is that for?”

“You start the engine in the car by winding it around until it starts up.”

After a silent thoughtful pause she said, “Oh, I see. But how far can you go before you have to get out of the car and wind it up again?”

I kid you not.  She was absolutely serious and really thought that it must have had a clockwork engine. Following a simple explanation and a lifting of the bonnet to show her that it actually had an almost-normal motor car engine. 

Then she said, “So you don’t need a key to start it then?”

“No, but some cars do have a switch to turn on the ignition.”

“That’s unusual, isn’t it?”

Again my reply was no.

At this point one embarrassed reporter decided not to continue displaying her lack of engineering knowledge and to leave a much wiser person.  I offered to take her for a drive and show her how everything worked without a key to wind it up, but she said no thanks.

The story on the twin donkeys appeared, but so far nothing about the ‘clockwork, wind-up veteran Riley motorcar.”

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This page archived at Perma CC in October of 2016: https://perma.cc/T3UU-D9J4

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