Going for a spin in a new-fangled automobile was sometimes a real adventure, as this
account from the 1908 Campbell Citizen attests: “The scale of prices established by George
McCoy for the hire of his automobile for pleasure trips is fixed at $3 per hour. It looks now
as though some of the boys would be kept working all summer to square the account for a
little trip they took to Red Cloud Sunday.
“Everything progressed nicely for a half dozen miles or so when the machine began to slow
down as if it might be tired. With the humane intention of giving the critter a little rest,
George pulled up a bit, but when he told it to “gitapp” the blame thing balked entirely.
“After each of the boys had taken a squint at the carburetor, and had blistered their hands
‘cranking,’ a telephone call was sent in for Willie Harper, the expert, who arrived after a
couple of hours or so, and proceeded to make an examination. His diagnosis disclosed a
decidedly weak sparking action, and a very dropsical condition of the cylinder, the first being
relieved by adjusting the battery and the latter by easing the cylinder of a couple of gallons of
“Two toots! At this point George recalled an engagement at home, and tore himself away in
spite of urgent invitations to continue the journey. The party reached Red Cloud without
further mishap, the real sport being reserved for the trip home.
“During the night a little shower ‘laid the dust’ and the boys got up at 5:30 to make an early
start in order to get home in time for breakfast. About six miles out the mud began to thicken
up and on each succeeding hill it became a little worse. Finally the gasoline got low and the
force of gravity, depriving the cylinder of its supply on the up grades, the car began to stop on
“The boys got out and pushed it up a half a dozen or so and then they struck a genuine hill.
Here is where the fun reached its height. Gasoline was supplied by a farmer after a painful
delay, but when the machine was started, alas, the wheels revolved only to deluge the boys
with mud. It looked hopeless till Charley happened to remember that a threshing machine
engine under similar conditions could be started by strewing the pathway with hay. A haystack
a quarter of a mile away was levied on during the next 20 minutes and the boys were
rewarded by seeing the car move off. But when the machine reached the limits of the hay
again it stopped and began to throw mud, and it was found necessary to divide the passengers
into three shifts, one to run the machine, one to gather the hay from the rear and spread it in
front, and one to cuss. When the top of the hill was finally reached it looked as though it had
been hit by a Kansas cyclone.
This is but a sample of the adventures enjoyed, the program being continued until almost
noon when they reached town. Next time they go they have about decided to walk.