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St. Nicholas in March

Author Rita Smith
Air Date 3/29/2000

St. Nicholas in March Transcript

Here’s Rita Smith with a Rediscovery.

St. Nicholas, the premier magazine for boys and girls, began publication November 1873 and was issued monthly until March 1940. Each issue, awaited anxiously by thousands of American children, carried a variety of nonfiction articles, serialized fiction, short stories, poems, and letters to the editor. Occassionally, in one of my “Lost and Found” segments of “Recess,” I am going to share something from the issue of St. Nicholas that was mailed to America’s children 100 years ago that month.

The March 1900 issue opens with an article entitled, “The Automobile: Its Present and Its Future,” written by Charles Barnard. Barnard first pays his respects to the now sure-to-be-obsolete horse, that “grand, strong, swift, and patient creature” which served mankind so long and so well, in war and peace, for work and pleasure. “But, oh, how this new machine improves on that loyal creature: No reins to handle; no whip; no big creature with a will of its own to be guided, urged, and controlled; and nothing to obstruct the clear view in front, nothing to obstruct the rush of pure air as the carriage flies swiftly over the asphalt. Eight, ten, twelve miles an hour. Above all, we have not to think for or care for the horse [who] ..stop[s] of his own sweet will if he wishes to, or if he feels hungry or tired, or if he wants to go home. He may be sick or lame, and that would destroy all the pleasure of the ride, because we could not be so cruel as to make him suffer for our pleasure. Now we forget all that, for the whirring motor that is making us fly along the road will never grow tired, never suffer, never try to go one way when we want to go another, [and]÷there is no horse living that could carry us a hundred miles in five hours.(1)

Mr. Barnard believes the automobile is here to stay because it is both practical and useful and because it gives us two entirely new pleasures: the pleasure of guiding and controlling a splendid piece of scientific machinery, and the pleasure of traveling without a horse.

“We may imagine,” he writes, “the child of the twentieth century saying: “Good-bye Mr. Horse! We thank you for all you have done for us. Go back to your farm and live in peace and comfort. Do the work you can do, and please don’t feel offended if now we prefer to go riding without you.”(2)

(1)Barnard, Charles, “The Automobile: Its Present and Its Future” in St.Nicholas Magazine, March 1900, p. 283-385.
(2)Ibid, p. 389.

Barnard, Charles, “The Automobile: Its Present and Its Future,” in St. Nicholas Magazine, March 1990, vol. 27, no. 5. [New York]: The Century Company.


Posted in Literature