January 13th, 2007

Obnoxious and Disliked

Benjamin Franklin Should Have Been a Texan

Mark and I went to see the Benjamin Franklin exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science yesterday, because it's leaving town in about a week. It was a pretty neat exhibit, containing, among other things, a Colonial-era printing press with video demo, a lot of Franklin's writing, interactive video set-ups, and a lot of his books and furniture.

What proved to me that Ben should have been a Texan is the fact that he invented foot-operated fan chairs.

You sit in this chair that has a foot pedal on the right and a tall pole at the back, along with a doo-hickey that moves up and down to provide motion. Over the sitter's head is a thin slat of wood that moves back and forth when the foot pedal is operated, causing a mild breeze against the top of your head.

I don't know why these weren't sold en masse in the South. Franklin could have made a fortune with them.

The other thing that proves to me that he should have been a Texan is that, when people were shipping convicts and other undesirables over to the colonies, Franklin suggested that we should send some rattlesnakes back. *snicker*

My favorite parts of the exhibit were the personal things--like Franklin's chagrin at his wife deciding it was time for him to start eating his breakfast with a silver spoon out of a china bowl, instead of eating with a pewter spoon out of a wooden bowl. This was apparently the first of several hundred pounds' worth of china purchases.

Then there was the bit about Franklin and John Adams sharing sleeping quarters when they were ambassadors to France. They had to sleep in the same bed, and Franklin liked to leave the bedroom window open, while Adams liked it shut, so he could stay warm. Adams complained to Franklin about the open window one night, reporting that Franklin began a long lecture on his Theory of Colds--during which Adams fell asleep!
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