DVD shows how tough car travel used to be
By Paul Birkhead
Rowan Public Library
Did you hit the road this summer? My family and I took several trips to see family, so we put a lot of miles on the old minivan. Like the millions of other Americans we joined on the highway, we didnít give much thought to how smooth and worry-free our trips were, thanks to the interstate highway system.
The interstate highway system began in the 1950s and continues to provide a network of roads that make it relatively painless to drive just about anywhere in the continental United States. If you stop by Rowan Public Library, check out these materials that show just how much travelling by car has progressed through the years.
Just a century ago, traveling across the United States required major planning and a commitment to spend several months doing it. I know thatís hard to imagine, but if you need help, watch ěHoratioís Drive,î a DVD at Rowan Public Library. ěHoratioís Driveî is a PBS documentary directed by the legendary Ken Burns.
The story features the remarkable journey of Horatio Nelson Jackson, a retired doctor from Vermont, who makes a wager that he can drive a car from San Francisco to New York City in 90 days. Piece of cake, right? Well, the year is 1903 and no one has completed a journey cross country in a car yet. What follows is an exciting tale of Horatio and his companions, auto mechanic Sewall Crocker and a pit bull named Bud. The journey is filled with perils and numerous setbacks. Partway through the trip, others join the race to reach New York City first. Will Horatio win the race or can he even complete it?
After watching Horatioís struggle on the bad roads crossing America, I was really grateful that we now enjoy a network of smooth interstate highways. Just how those highways came to be is a fascinating story in itself.
If youíre interested in learning more about it, I recommend Earl Swiftís book, ěThe Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways.î This book sheds some light on some of the characters that helped design and build the interstate system and actually debunks some previously-held myths.
If the subject of automobiles or travelling interests you, or you enjoy learning about the history of America, hop in your car and make the quick trip over to Rowan Public Library. Just remember to drive safely.
Childrenís Storytime: Weekly Storytime runs through Nov. 18. For more information call 704-216-8234.
Headquarters ó Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds); Wednesdays, 11 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23-month-olds); Thursdays, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds) and 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-years-old).
Southó Mondays, 4 p.m., Noodlehead (4- to 8-years-old); Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23-month-olds), 1:30 p.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds); Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds).
East ó Mondays, 10:30 a.m., Baby Time (6- to 23 month-olds); Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m., Toddler Time (18- to 35-month-olds); Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m., Preschool Time (3- to 5-year-olds)
Teen program: All 5:30-7 p.m. Headquarters, Tuesday; East, Sept. 26; South Sept. 27. Free monthly programs for middle and high school students. Do you like silly game show competitions? Use everyday items to complete challenges that are harder than they appear or keep silent as a team member tries to complete a challenge. For more information call 704-216-8234.
American Girl Club ó Headquarters, Sept. 24, 11 a.m., a book discussion group about the life and times of the American Girls characters. This yearís discussion will be about Addy.
Book Bites Club special event: Headquarters only ó Sept. 27, 6:30 p.m., movie ěThe Secret Garden.î This is a book discussion group for both adults and children. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. For more information please call 704-216-8229.
Displays: Headquarters, DAR; South, Rowan Doll Club by Jim Beaudoin; East, clowns by Elizabeth Ellenburg.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.