Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Animals Driving Cars: A Chronological Pictorial, Part 1

What follows is a brief pictorial of various animals driving automobiles through the years. Please understand this is only an overview. For proper research on the subject, see my latest book, "Animals Driving Cars: A Complete Chronological Pictorial from the 1890s to Today."

Originally, only the rich owned cars therefore only rich dogs were able to drive. This photograph from 1918 Chicago  shows Delbert Griffin Wickman (aka "Delly") driving his owner, Mrs. Olga Rodin Wickman, to the market. Delly later went on to start Greyhound Bus Lines in 1926.

Chimpanzees were incorporated into the military, beginning with World War I. Mainly used for ceremonial events and on-base transportation, some of these brave simians saw true frontline action as jeep messengers and ambulance drivers. Here, 1st Sgt. Aldus "Race Car" Rogers drives two unidentified Army officers in a homecoming parade in Springfield, Illinios.

After the two great wars, dogs returned to the forefront as animal drivers. Rural area farmers, mainly in the central United States, used their animal companions to make the long drives into town for them, allowing the agriculturist to spend more time working their land. In this picture, Blackeyes Milford, takes his owner's 1951 Ford F-series on the 90 mile trek to Dodge City, Kansas, for supplies.

Monkey drivers came back into vogue in the late 1950s, especially in urban traffic areas. After the Korean War, many chimpanzees had branched into other transportation fields such as long-distance truck driving and piloting commercial flights. Therefore baboons were used as drivers for those wealthy enough to afford one. Here, a monkey driver takes a young woman to a day at Yellowstone National Park. Because of the position of the woman's arm and the blanket below the baboon, the veracity of this picture is in question. Some scholars believe the simian in this picture is actually a puppet - with the woman's right arm controlling the monkey, a common practice in the early-60s by those who could not afford an actual baboon driver.   

Chimpanzees were seen on the road more often in the late 1960s, as baboons - prone to fits of road rage -  became less popular among the middle class. Unfortunately, these road rage attitudes were adopted by the chimp driving set also. Here, photographer John Welsby missed a prime opportunity to capture history on film. "A woman in a station wagon had cut this chimpanzee off in traffic," explains Welsby. "The monkey, obviously furious, beating the steering wheel and flinging feces out the window, followed her to the next stop. I knew I had the chance to get a special picture - he was going to flip her off. Unfortunately, I snapped the picture too early and couldn't reset in time to record the event." Welsby believes he mis-timed the shot because the chimpanzee stared at the woman for a longer than expected time - for dramatic effect - before slowly raising his middle finger. In any case, Welsby is credited as the first photographer to almost capture simian road rage in action.

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