- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2003

A pickup for Mama

“Shortly after introducing the Model T in 1908, Henry Ford noticed that farmers were ripping out the trunks of their vehicles and rigging flatbeds to the back to haul hay. So the company started doing this in the factory and saving farmers the trouble. Competitors quickly copied the idea.

“The origin of the term ‘pickup’ is mysterious, but it was in general use by the middle of the 1920s. Off the farm, these were adopted as service vehicles at gas stations and as industrial-fleet vehicles for the military, mining concerns, delivery companies and the like. …

“Of the classic work trucks, Max Berryhill, curator of the Tupelo Automobile Museum, remembers Chevrolet’s 1967 C-10 most fondly. …

“Slowly, however, a new understanding sank in among American car makers. ‘Somebody, somewhere, got smart and started making pickups so Mama would drive it,’ Berryhill says. ‘As soon as folks weren’t afraid to go to church in a truck, that’s when they really started selling them. And money was no object.’ …

“As the pickup became domesticated and popularized, however, it suffered an identity crisis. The bed — once the vehicle’s reason for being — created a predicament. … How many suburban couples ever have the occasion to haul hay or dirt?”

—Manny Howard, writing on “The Pickup, a Love Story,” Sept. 28 in the New York Times

Judicial mystery

“When the Supreme Court renders an important decision, the reasons it gives are often more important than the choice it has made. Nowhere is this clearer than in the recent case of Lawrence v. Texas that struck down that state’s anti-sodomy law. …

“The majority repeated in 2003 a view it had first expressed in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, where it emphasized its commitment to Roe v. Wade in these words: ‘At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of life.’ …

“At stake is whether the Court’s majority is now inclined to support the libertarian view that no state has the authority to restrict conduct affecting only one’s self and one’s consenting partner. If so, this would mean that there would be no state law against prostitution, bestiality, heroin consumption, physician-assisted suicide, or gay marriage because all of these behaviors involve private, intimate actions that harm no human outside.”

—James Q. Wilson, writing in a symposium, “Has the Supreme Court Gone Too Far?” in the October issue of Commentary

A fan first

“Having performed a gig outside London on a Thursday in June 1972, I shot home to sleep, then caught an early-morning flight [to New York] — getting me to Madison Square Garden about 10 minutes after Elvis hit the stage. I had the humiliating experience of walking down the center aisle to my very good RCA-provided seat while Elvis performed ‘Proud Mary.’ As I was in full Ziggy regalia by this time — brilliant red hair and kabuki platform shoes — I’m sure many of the audience presumed Mary had just arrived.

“Elvis was fantastically fit-looking, and his voice was in great shape. I was a little brought down as his show lasted only about 45 minutes. But there he was. At the end, I rushed off to the airport to get the next plane back to the UK, as I myself was working on Saturday night.”

—David Bowie, writing on “Rock This Town,” in the Sept. 29 issue of New York

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