12 June 2017

Loving And The Dandy Horse

Today is the 50th anniversary of one of the most important (in my opinion, anyway) legal decisions in the history of the US.  On this date in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that laws against interracial marriage ("miscegenation") were unconstitutional.

Earlier this year, I saw "Loving", a film inspired by the case.  I'm surprised the film isn't better-known.  For one thing, few cases or films ever had a more apt name.  Mildred Jeter was a black woman who married her childhood sweetheart, Richard Loving, nearly a decade before the Supreme Court decision.  Because their home state, Virginia, had "miscegenation" laws on its books, they went to Washington DC to get married.  Then they returned home, where their union was illegal. So, acting on what is said to be an anonymous tip, police officers of  Old Dominion dragged them from their bedroom just five weeks after they married.

They pleaded guilty, and the judge allowed them to flee to Washington DC.  But the Lovings were country people; city life did not suit them.  After five years in the nation's capital, one of their children was struck by a car.  

That was the "last straw" for Mildred.  She wasn't looking to "make history" ; she simply wanted to go back to Virginia and live in peace with her husband and kids.  She appealed to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, who referred them to the American Civil Liberties Union, whose lawyers took the case to the nation's highest court.

A few of my students saw the film, which sparked discussions in class.  They were astonished to learn that the entire story unfolded during my lifetime:  The Lovings, in fact, married one week after I was born!  My students--save perhaps for those who come from cultures in which marriages are arranged--simply can't imagine not being allowed to have relations with whomever their hearts dictate.

Anyway, I know none of this has anything to do with cycling, so I will tell you about something that does:  On this date 200 years ago, Karl von Drais took his "dandy horse"--what is now commonly called the "Draisenne" or "Draisine"--for its first relatively long ride.  That is seen as the day when the potential of his creation--commonly acknowledged as the first true ancestor of the modern bicycle--was first recognized, much as the Wright Brothers' flight over Kitty Hawk showed the possibility of flight.

Of course, much of the "buzz" today concerns electric bicycles.  So, perhaps it was inevitable that to commemorate this bicentennial, someone would come up with--you guessed it--an electric Draisenne.  

And what is it called?  The Draisine 200.0, of course!

What would Karl think of it?


  1. An electric Draisenne??? ridiculous! What absurdity will they come up with next? Maybe an electric toothbrush or an electric bread knife... Hmmm..


  2. Leo--How about an electric hairbrush?