Many moons ago, I was fresh out of college and bartending my way through life – as one does from time to time. An aspiring writer with a job history of fixing airplanes and mixing martinis, my dream career of working in publishing felt far out of reach. One fortuitous day I served drinks to a couple of gentlemen, and somehow my interest in becoming a writer came up. At the end of the evening, the older gent invited me to his book signing at my alma mater. Feeling quite impressed to be in the presence of a published author, I accepted the invitation and thanked him profusely. The next morning I made a trip to the book store to do some research and purchase a book to have my new acquaintance sign.
The man was Albert Goldbarth, a prolific writer with more than 20 published works. I chose one of his many poetry collections, To Be Read in 500 Years, and he kindly autographed it with the message “Hoping they’re reading you in 500 years.” This was possibly the most unfathomable, yet inspiring, thing I’d seen scrawled on the inside cover of a book. The message introduced a thought that had not yet occurred to me: Every one of us is history in the making.
Gas Engine Magazine has been publishing a series by Will Cummings on the engineering pioneer F.M. Underwood. His life’s work, his resume, his successes and failures are being shared with generations of humans whose grandparents may not have been alive when he filed his first patent in the 1890s. His legacy is printed on glossy, color pages using digital technology, unfathomable to Mr. Underwood.
While Mr. Underwood was tinkering in his shop, endlessly searching for new ways to turn compression and combustion into power, do you think he ever imagined that he would one day be part of the rich history of the gas engine? Do you think he ever considered that one day, 125 plus years down the road, his photo would be on a magical internet page or on thousands of coffee tables around the world? Do you think he did it all to make history? I’m going to go out on a limb and say his motivation had nothing to do with fame and glory and everything to do with his passion and determination.
I have readers tell me often that they have every issue of Gas Engine Magazine from the first day they began subscribing to it. I recently saw such a collection at a flea market. Consider this when you contribute to these pages, either by writing a letter to Flywheel Forum, or by submitting a piece about a restoration project; someday 10, 20 or 50-plus years from now, a gas engine enthusiast may flip through the dusty pages of their family’s collection and learn about your accomplishments. (Maybe a robot will read it to them, I have no way to predict the future, unfortunately).
Leonardo da Vinci said,
“It had long come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
Until next issue, go get busy making history!