The Large Object Theory of History

Pushcart vendors fight back with pea shooters after a campaign of violence by large truck drivers in New York City.

The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill

From the Wikipedia entry on the children’s book The Pushcart War:

Traffic in New York City has become intolerable. The leaders of the three biggest trucking companies, known as “The Three,” hold a secret meeting where they plan to take over the streets for themselves by eliminating other traffic, starting with the pushcarts.The character Professor Cumberly says, “The truck drivers had gotten together and figured out that in crowded traffic conditions, the only way to get where you wanted to go was to be so big that you didn’t have to get out of the way of anybody.” This is known as the Large Object Theory of History.

Faced with truck-related “accidents,” damaged carts, and injured fellows, the pushcart peddlers respond with the pea-shooter campaign. The aim is to flatten truck tires using pea shooters with pins in the peas so that everyone can see that the trucks are the cause of the traffic problems. One peddler, Frank the Flower, is arrested and falsely confesses that he shot all 18,991 of the trucks. After his arrest, the peddlers give up the Pea-Shooter Campaign. But soon, inspired by Frank’s arrest, children join in the sabotage of truck tires.

The book appears to be out of print but maybe you can find used copies on Amazon. The Wikipedia article contains the gist of the story.

Author Jean Merrill passed away last year. This school teacher remembers Merrill and her most famous book with a post highlighting children’s video projects based on the story.

H/T Erik, who read this as a child.

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