LC Van Savage
We're great inventors, aren't we? If the human brain decides it has a need, it invents the gizmo to satisfy that need. I always wanted to be an inventor. Of gadgets. Small ones. Every day stuff. Things to make the average Joe or Jo's life easier. I think if I hadn't met my good husband "Mongo" I'd have tried for it, although when I was growing up, it was sternly frowned upon if young ladies aspired to be inventors. And furthermore, even if we'd had forward- thinking parents, where did one go to be an inventor? Nowhere.
Inventoring is a lonely pursuit and is usually pursued in garages. I know of no centers or laboratories devoted to the encouragement of inventors. Maybe there are such places available today, but there weren't when I was young and yearning to invent everything, unless one wanted to apprentice with Alva Edison and I don't think I'm that old. Besides, in the books I've read about him and in all the pictures I've seen of him in his Menlo Park laboratory in Edison, New Jersey there's never any mention of females, and in photos he's only surrounded by Bunsen burners and intense, serious looking men. If there were women there to work on his inventions, they were pretty well hidden and probably had to get coffee and sweep up, too. Such were the times.
Inventions have always changed the world in small and large ways. The cotton gin, the wheel, the horse---OK, that animal wasn't exactly an invention. But the first time one of our ancestors looked out over the plains at herds of wild horses grazing contentedly and realized that the beasts had big, broad backs and could run really fast, and then put his butt on the back of one of them, he learned quickly that his entire world was forever changed. He and his pals could now go anywhere and not get shinsplints, and they happily discovered that running down the evening's dinner of Buffalo bourguignon on the back of a speeding horse was infinitely more successful than the old fashioned method of creeping about on their bellies with a spear, camouflaged in itchy and viciously stinking buffalo skins so they could sneak up on the animals, hoping their aim was good that day. So the horse, while really invented by evolution and not by us, changed the world. They got us up, out, and about and because of them, we were quite soon rocketing off to the moon.
What's your favorite invention? Has your world changed because of a specific one? Was it recent? Or one of the older more established inventions, like the lightbulb or the vibrating bed? I remember asking my college roommate back in the fifties what she thought the world's most important invention was, and without an instant's hesitation, she said, "the beer can opener."
Personally, I'm much enamoured with the invention of fishing line, all strengths, (never for fishing), sturdy cup hooks and Velcro. I use these things all over our home, throughout my car and outside everywhere. Examples? OK sure. Heavy fishing line and a heavy white cup hook keeps our fireplace screen from crashing down on our grandchildren. Velcro keeps a big normal clock with hands and numbers held upright on my dashboard because I can't read that stupid digital one on my control panel. Fishing line keeps my burgeoning old plants from tipping off their shelves, leaving a big ball of dirt splatted on my carpet. If by some evilness someone could spirit the fishing line, Velcro and cup hooks out of our home, it would simply collapse.
Want to know what the world's greatest invention really is? It's always in use, impossible to live without. It's everywhere and one of the entire universe's most vitally important devices. It's cheap, and life as we know it would disintegrate without it. You're right! Obviously, it's the safety pin.