Celebrity for the week ending
Saturday, 4 July 2009

Stella Mayhew (1874?-1934),
American vaudeville singer and comedienne,
on the adventures of automobiling, 1910

Stella Mayhew
Stella Mayhew and her Palmer-Singer automobile

(photo: unknown, USA, 1910)

'''I think that automobiling is one of the finest recreations going,'' says Stella Mayhew, ''but like everything else it has its faults, and one of the greatest of these is the fact that the driver is liable to try to make the car do impossible stunts, as I once did when I nearly persuaded mine to climb a tree one dark night just outside the city limits. My husband [Billie Taylor] and I were taking a friend of ours into town, and as the car was only a two-seated runabout I drove, our visitor sat beside me, while Bill sat on the floor at his feet.
'''We were going at a twenty mile clip when we came to a small but steel hill with a sharp turn to the right at the top. I opened the throttle and we flew up the hill, but what I didn't do was to make the turn at the top, with the result that we ran off the road and into a tree that lay dead ahead of us. Bill went up the tree like a scared kitten, our visitor - who, by the way, was an acrobatic song and dance man - doubled up when he felt himself going and did the prettiest forward somersault ahead of us imaginable, landing as he started.
'''I stayed with the body of the car, which was ripped off the chassis and landed about fifteen feet to the right in the middle of the road. Our friend saw an electric light ahead of us and calmly asked me if it were the moon, and I have always kicked myself to think that I didn't give him the old answer about being a stranger in that neck of the woods. Instead I yelled to Bill to turn off the power. He climbed down out of the tree and did it, notwithstanding the fact that I had the batteries and the gas tank over in the middle of the road with me. So I guess I was not the only one who was rattled.'''
(The New York Dramatic Mirror, New York, Saturday, 14 May 1910, p. 11a)

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© John Culme, 2009