The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
Reviewed by David Bruce Smith
Twelve decades ago, Wilbur and Orville Wright operated a bicycle repair shop in Dayton, Ohio. It was the perfect occupation for them. And, according to David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers, “Bicycles had become the sensation of the time, a craze everywhere…Everybody was riding…men, women, all ages and from all walks of life. Bicycling clubs sprouted on college campuses and in countless cities and towns, including Dayton.”
Wilbur and Orville were seduced by motion. The advancement in transportation propelled public mobility; roads were opened, previously neglected pathways were patched up, and Dayton was on the ascent in population, professional possibilities, and prosperity.
The duo had an inventory of typical two wheelers and a cache of homemade models: the Van Cleve — available in a variety of colors — was named for their great-great grandmother, and the less costly St. Clair was designed to honor an early governor of the Ohio territories. That prescient diversification punched up long-term profitability, and expedited the employment of Charlie Taylor, a wizard mechanic who maintained the Wright Cycle Company during the brothers’ future absences and their ramp-up to fame.
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