“THE PASSING OF THE HORSE”
This 1904 advertisement is ironic on many levels. Professor Harold Hill himself could not have produced better double-talk than it contains: “The silent horse power of this runabout is measurable, dependable and spontaneous. The horse power generated by supplies of hay and oats is variable, uncertain and irresponsive.” Say folks—when was the last time your horse was “irresponsive”? And when was the last time you saw a vintage auto at a county fair or a car show that ran “silently”? Or “spontaneously”? Those old engines had to be started with hand cranks that, if the car backfired while you were cranking, would kick back hard enough to break your arm; so much for “ladies and children.” The ad says there is “nothing to watch but the road,” but that is the one thing the driver shown is certainly not watching. And for the final irony—it has not been the horse that has proven unsustainable but the Oldsmobile, which went out of business exactly 100 years after this ad featuring the curved-dash Model 6C. In 1904, however, many people were not only enamored of new technologies and “progress,” but they were sick of horses, so that the animal that had powered warfare, agriculture and transportation for 50 centuries—an unmatched record of proven sustainability—was replaced in less than two decades by the unsustainable, polluting, noisy but powerful gasoline engine.