The Horse Is Gone
There is something uncanny about these newfangled vehicles. They are all
unutterably ugly and never a one of them has been provided with a good
or even an endurable name. The French, who are usually orthodox in their
etymology if in nothing else, have evolved “automobile,” which being half
Greek and half Latin is so near to indecent that we print it with hesitation;
while speakers of English have been fatally attracted by the irrelevant word
“horseless.” Other nations have been equally unfortunate and it really looks
as if the dispossessed or to be dispossessed animals are to get revenge on
an ungrateful humanity by stumping us to find a respectable name for our
noisy and odorous machine.
—1899 editorial in the New York Times
Henry Ford, following a national craze, bought a bicycle in 1893. Here was a new kind of personal mobility, one that did not involve the mess, cost, and time-consuming responsibilities of hitching up ol' Dobbin.
Henry had never been fond of horses, anyway, not since that day when a spooked colt had dragged the then nine-year-old boy, his foot caught in the stirrup, around the Ford farm. Moreover, like many inhabitants of America's rapidly growing urban centers, Henry was personally affronted by the ubiquitous horse manure and urine. One city dweller complained that streets were “literally carpeted with a warm, brown matting of comminuted horse dropping, smelling to heaven and