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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


The New York Times
December 6, 1922

Thanksgiving came a week too early.  If it fell tomorrow we could give thanks for Mayor Hylan's solution of the traffic problem.  His Honor was crossing Ann Street at Park Row when a motor came around the corner.  One of its mud-guards—and all prudent persons wear mud-guards in the neighborhood of the City Hall—narrowly escaped hitting the Mayoral trousers.  Horrified at his sacrilege, the driver hastened on his way; but the Mayor started in pursuit.  He caught the motor as easily as a commuter catches his train.  While windows in the Woolworth Building rattled with the echoing cheers of the crowd, his Honor asked how fast the driver was going.  The answer was "Eight miles an hour."

The Mayor knew better.  Just as surely as he knew that Superintendent Ettinger's remarks about the schools were "bunk," he knew that the driver's estimate of his speed was bunk.  The profane may think that a vehicle which could be overtaken within a block by a fat gentleman who had just finished lunch couldn't have been traveling at any record-breaking speed; but his Honor knows what he knows.  The scoundrel's name and number were taken down, the Mayor adjusted his cravat, the crowd cheered and the incident was closed; unless or until the driver is in due course arraigned for speeding, arguing, making false statements, or misusing his mud-guard.

Haroun Al Raschid used to prowl around Bagdad in disguise to see what was going on.  And in course of time the wise men about town became extremely careful not to engage in argument with elderly gentlemen in humble attire; for they never knew when an encounter of this sort might be abruptly terminated by the appearance of Mesrour the executioner.  Our Caliph, too, is abroad; and Heaven help the driver whose mud-guard interferes with him.

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