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Guts, Gumption—and Gum
Jennie Johnson Phinney
September 26, 1960
All three were needed when the author, a girl of 10, went on the Glidden Tour of 1911
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September 26, 1960

Guts, Gumption—and Gum

All three were needed when the author, a girl of 10, went on the Glidden Tour of 1911

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"But not until after the Maxwells had passed you!"

"That's right."

My father was so determined to win the Glidden Trophy, an impressive-looking silver cup of stupendous proportions, that he made what may have been man's first effort at streamlining a car against wind resistance. He had our top removed, and a tarpaulin, containing an opening for each of our heads, made to snap on the way the old-fashioned car curtains used to do before the days of closed-in bodies. Through these apertures our visor-helmeted heads protruded, and we had to accept, with or without resignation, whatever the elements held in store for us.

Many of our fellow tourists considered this a hardship for Mother and me, and the more sympathetic ones rallied around us whenever the opportunity permitted.

"Here, let me clean your goggles for you," one would say. "You won't be able to see through those things."

My own pet cavaliers were the ones who invariably popped a tempting tidbit into my eager mouth. Because it lasted longer, chewing gum was my favorite choice—that is, until the day our radiator sprang a leak and the only way to plug it was with gum. After chewing it for untold hours, along with Dad, Mother and Mr. Young, my taste for it was irretrievably satiated.

Garages and filling stations did not line the roads then as they do now, and even if they had, my father would not have considered stopping for an unnecessary repair until we were sure of reaching our day's destination within the allotted time. He would rather have had the four of us chew gum all the way to Jacksonville!

"What's a mere leak in a radiator?" he queried. "The Stevens-Duryea is the best car made today, and this is my chance to prove it. Nothing is going to keep me from turning in a perfect score!"

I admired his spirit, but there were many times when Mother and I were appalled at the extent of it. Almost daily we experienced the disturbing reaction of having to witness some unfortunate farmer and his family being spilled into a field or tossed into a roadside ditch by the frantic effort of their runaway horse to escape destruction from this newly created monster of the machine age.

A victory of sorts

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