1911: No cars in heaven

“Scorcher” was once reserved for speed demon cyclists on city streets, but apparently could refer to drivers, too, after introduction of the automobile as shown in this short story published in 1911.

The author, Lowell Otus Reese, moved from Linden, Indiana to California in 1894. He went to work for the Los Angeles Times in 1900 and wrote continuously for newspapers and magazines until his death in Oakland in 1948 at age 82.


“When the Scorcher Died” By LOWELL OTUS REESE

From CARICATURE: The Wit & Humor of a Nation in Picture, Song & Story; Illustrated by America’s Greatest Artists, 14th Edition. 1911, Leslie Judge Company, New York, NY.

THE SCORCHER gave a terrifying ” Honk, honk!” and prepared to drive through the Jasper Gates; but just then the barrier fell, and he barely saved himself from smashing into it by throwing on the safety clutch.

“Here!” he demanded. “What’s this?”

“You can’t take that thing in here,” said St. Peter firmly.

“I’d like to know why!” fumed the scorcher. “Down on earth I’ve been used to getting everything I want. I won’t stand for it ”

“There’s nothing doing, bo!” said St. Peter. “We’re a peaceful set of citizens up here, and there’s an anti-automobile ordinance tacked on to our city charter. If you come in here you must leave that snort-wagon outside.”

The scorcher was true to his creed. “If I can’t have my machine in Heaven,” he said indignantly, “I won’t go in there!”

“Very well,” said St. Peter indifferently. “Then there’s only one thing for you to do — take your machine and go to Hell.”

He gave the scorcher a road map, showing the way down. Thanking him with the courtesy which characterizes automobilists in general, the scorcher turned down the Broad Way.

“At least,” he thought, “they ought to have a corking cinder path down there.” And at the thought he threw over the High and was soon lost in a cloud of stardust.

Charon scratched his head and looked doubtful as the scorcher whizzed to a standstill upon the Ferry. But the silent old ferryman said nothing and rowed on across.

“Where’s the Speedway?” demanded the scorcher as they approached the landing.

Charon stroked his beard and spat into the water. “Ask the Boss,” he said, pointing toward the red-hot gates.

The scorcher knocked. The Devil appeared, peeped through the wicket, and gave a yell of terror.

“Throw that machine into the Styx!” he said. “You can’t bring it in here !”

The poor scorcher looked utterly dejected. “And I thought it would make such a hit in this place!” he said.

“You made hits enough on earth!” said the Devil cuttingly. “Of course I know it would be a star addition to my list of tortures, but even the Devil has a little compassion. Honestly, I wouldn’t have the heart to spring that thing on my subjects. Besides, Hell is getting an awful reputation as a smelly place, and I’ve simply got to draw the line somewhere.”

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