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Old 30.12.2010, 22:06
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Of Eggshells, Gooseberries, and Accidents of History

As the new year is about to turn, I thought I'd share this from a US-based blog that I read regularly. It is about an incident in New York City in 1931:

On December 13, 1931, there was a traffic accident in New York City. A man exited a cab on the Upper East Side and was crossing Fifth Avenue when he was hit by a car traveling around 35 miles an hour. The force of the impact threw the man to the pavement. He struck his head. Two of his ribs were cracked. A crowd formed around him; one of the witnesses hailed a taxi to take the man to the hospital. When he was admitted to Lenox Hill the doctors noted that he was bruised and battered but would make a full recovery. He had cheated death.

The patient remained in the doctors’ care for eight days. While he was there the driver who had struck him visited. The patient made it clear that the accident had been his own fault; the driver, an unemployed mechanic, had nothing to fear. The incident had occurred because the patient, an Englishman, had looked left as he crossed the street when he should have looked right. The grateful driver left the hospital carrying an autographed copy of the patient’s latest book. The New York Times wrote about the meeting the next day. The headline read, “Churchill Greets Driver Who Hit Him.”

I’ve spent the last several weeks reading all sorts of newspaper and magazine articles from December 1931. But I keep coming back to the reports of Winston Churchill’s near-fatal mishap. The contingency of the episode is what’s striking: After all, if the car had been traveling just a little bit faster, the history of the twentieth century would have been irrevocably altered. Churchill himself was shocked that he had survived the ordeal. “I do not understand,” he wrote in an article for the Daily Mail dictated from his hospital bed, “why I was not broken like an egg-shell or squashed like a gooseberry.”





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Old 31.12.2010, 07:21
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Re: Of Eggshells, Gooseberries, and Accidents of History

I was doubtful of this - smacks of urban legend. But searching the New York Times archive, it's there. December 21st 1931.
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