Sybil's "WONDERFUL WORLD OF TOMORROW" #108....The Walky-Wagon!!

Sybil's "WONDERFUL WORLD of TOMORROW!"..... Wonder #108 : Hello Friends! (...and I use that term loosely!) Did you know that scientists and engineers are working around the clock to improve YOUR lives in the future. One of the most important aspects of our lives is getting from one place to another...even when you really have no place to go! But why shouldn't milling about uselessly still be stylish? ...and reasonably comfortable! Our story concerns Dr. Lyman Palmer who lost both his feet in a freakish roller skating accident at Reilly's Really-Wheeley Roller Rink in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was 6 at the time. He was fitted with a pair of multi-directional casters by his car-mechanic father, but spent the next several years immersed in envy, revenge, and the secret drinking of Ovaltine frappes spiked with Southern Comfort. By the time he was 18, despite his handicap and heartache, he had completed three doctorates at M.I.T., and was the choreographer for the cheerleading squad. He was a complete loner though, never dating, and after graduation he focused completely on the technology of transportation. Although intrigued by the new advances in ocean travel and flight, he decided his own destiny lay in moving people through the burgeoning urban landscape of modern cities! It was too dull, too expected to hop into a four-wheeled car, too banal to hail a taxi, to "pedestrian" to drive a truck! ... NO! Lyman envisioned a new and yet "retro" elegance in commuting. He combined his research on robotics, metallurgy, industrial cantilevering, and all the ballroom dancing instructional films he secretly watched in the privacy of his closet, and constructed his "Walky-Wagon".... With his connections and educational pedigree, he easily got appointments with the top automobile makers of the time. Ford passed though, as did Packard, Nash, Chevrolet, Dodge, and Cord.... finally, in great frustration, he turned his back on the Americans and submitted his designs to Italy's luxurious Isotta Fraschini. They immediately optioned the project, acquired the patents, began the design and construction particulars, did the prototypes and fine tuning, and released the first editions of the "La Passeggiata". Unfortunately, the stock market crash devastated the company...the ensuing Depression, the rise of Fascist Italy, and the Second World War finished the "La Passeggiata" almost before its first step... only three were made; one was purchased by the Raja of Ramanjani, plated in 18kt gold and set with Burmese rubies and emeralds. The second one was sent over to Chithulu Caca-Pooti, the shadowy South American tin magnate who claimed to be a direct descendant of the last Incan emperors. He purchased it to "walk" him up the paths at Machu Picchu. Tragically, some loose gravel resulted in his vehicle "tripping" near the Temple of the Smiling Leopard and plummeting to its doom...with him in it. The last "La Passeggiata" was purchased by Howard Hughes who wanted to see if it could be made for the American public either in pine...or out of old newspapers and papier-mâché. The first twenty of his versions either burst into flames... or trampled themselves to pieces. He finally turned over his "La Passeggiata" to the Smithsonian with the proviso that it be demonstrated only once every decade, that it be kept under a plastic sofa zip-cover from Staten Island, and that it be named "Skippy". All of his requirements were implemented. The care and respect shown to this last "La Passeggiata" was the only consolation to Lyman Palmer. Driven to distraction as a child by the loss of his feet and filled with envy of all of the children around him, he had spent his life in bitterness and futile over-compensation. All his achievements academically and in the world of science and technology were empty to him. He withdrew into isolation to a hillside villa on Santorini. Shortly before his death in 1958, he revealed in his memoirs that his dream had always been to be a tap-dancer. It was discovered in 1989 during a cleaning of the Smithsonian "La Passeggiata" that it had metal taps attached to all of its feet....

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