Why in the Finger Lakes?

In my last blog I talked about Glenn Curtiss, father of modern aviation. It seems all too easy for us today to get side-tracked; we forget about our New Year’s resolutions, the goals that we have set for ourselves, and above all, our dreams of what we really want to accomplish in life.

Sarah of Hammondsport sent me a note agreeing with me that there is scant evidence in Hammondsport, NY of Glenn Curtiss (other than the Glenn Curtiss Museum). She told me that the Museum’s Executive Director, Trafford Doherty, had undertaken and completed a project to layout a series of markers in the village which depict some of Glenn Curtiss’s accomplishments and that a map of their location could be obtained at the museum.

When you think about it, Glenn Curtiss had nothing going for him that we today associate with success: his Dad died when he was four, his sister came down with meningitis when he was 6, his mother moved the family to Rochester when he was 8, he dropped out of school after the 8th grade to go work and help support the family, and he didn’t have a college education.

Glenn Curtiss was given the gift of necessity; he had to go work and help support his family. He was given the gift of mechanical genius which he discovered when he was working at Kodak. But above all, he loved speed! I can picture him peddling his bicycle as he delivered messages for Western Union, wondering how he could do it faster. “If only I had a motor on that bicycle”, he must of thought. And so he installed a one cylinder motor on a bicycle to make him go faster. But, if a one cylinder motorbike is good, why not 8 cylinders? And if an air cooled 8 cylinders motor can make a motorcycle go 136 mph, why can’t it power a dirigible or an airplane? Well, you get the picture.

My thanks to Sarah for her e-mail. It gave me just the encouragement that I needed as it reminded me that there are folks who do read my blog. And so I am planning on doing a whole series of blogs this year on “Why in the Finger Lakes?” And each time my answer will be, “Why Not?”

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. carl harris

    My father sylvester harris worked for glenn in that bicycle shop around 1904 and got a ride on one of his motorcycles all the way to bath they got up to 35 mph and dad was scared to death . I just finshed a book about glenns life he sure was a inventer of motive power

    1. jrBupp

      Thank you Carl for your comment. All three of my Brothers used the same 1 speed bicycle when we were growing up. I used to dream about having a Whizzer motorbike but we couldn’t afford one. My transportation was limited to 10-15 miles per hour max speed. But Glenn’s record run of 136 mph in 1907 (my father’s birth date) really blows my mind.

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