Parade-goers lined the streets of Flint, Michigan, on the first Labor Day of the new century to witness the debut of a new automobile, the first ever made in that city. It was not created by General Motors as practically every car to follow was. This car was designed and built by Charles Wisner, a county judge by day and an automotive visionary by weekends.
Wisner’s Buzz-Wagon, as his unusual vehicle was lovingly called, was the first of three he designed and built. None ever went into mass production. That was left for the Chevrolets and Buicks that would arrive later. The Chevrolets and Buicks would offer a smoother ride with a lot less noise, and in an unusual departure from the Buzz-Wagon, they would have brakes. The Buzz-Wagon, it seemed, required a sturdy immovable object such as a lamppost or a large building for it to bump into in order to stop.
Fortunately at the Flint Labor Day parade, the immovable object was unnecessary. Much to the amusement of several thousand spectators, the Buzz-Wagon stalled and had to be pushed out of the parade.
September 3, 1632
The Elizabethan era was a time of fertile travel, abounding in discoveries that required very little exaggeration to carry them into the realm of the marvelous. And, unlike today, folks would clamor to see anything that was strange, fantastic, beyond belief. This taste for the wonderful was catered to by adventurers returning from voyages with tales of bizarre creatures, monsters even.
Sure, many of the “monsters” would not seem at all unusual today – a shark or an octopus in the possession of a fast-talking charlatan could easily separate country folk from their money. In fact inland people who had never experienced the sea were thought capable of believing just about anything.
Narrations by sixteenth century authors each attempted to outdo each other describing the oddities taken from the sea. One account from September 3, 1632, described a creature that, although a fish, bore a striking resemblance to a bishop. And there were drawings to prove its existence. The author pointed out that this was meant to assure us that bishops were not confined to land alone, but that the sea also has the advantage of their blessed presence. This particular sea-bishop was taken before the king and after a conversation expressed his wish to be returned to his own element. The king so ordered and the sea-bishop was cast back into the sea.
No sooner had the creature disappeared than another author in the best tradition of oneupsmanship (and perhaps a bow to evolution) showed us that any sea that possessed a sea-bishop must certainly have a sea-monk!