Years ago an uncle who farmed told me that during his lifetime he would never see it — but I would — the end of those picturesque wooden red barns that were part of nearly every farm on country roads throughout northwest Ohio.
He explained that while nostalgia had stamped the red barn into the American landscape, the iconic structures were no longer practical. They weren’t built big enough to store today’s super-sized farm machinery, and Mother Nature was winning the battle of maintaining them against the weather.
Time has a way of stealing some things we take for granted, he said, and he was right. Those red barns are becoming more obscure.
I’m wondering if the same thing will happen to the automobile, as we know it, after talking with some car guys last week. Will the cars we grew up with and drive today become antiques in the strictest sense of the word?
Change is certainly on the way as the auto industry pushes forward with computers and GPS systems that are replacing our spouses as backseat drivers. You can buy a car today that will stop itself from crashing by assisting you in staying in the proper lane, speeding up and slowing down to match the traffic ahead, and smoothly steering itself along turns and curves at highway speeds. It will even parallel park itself.
The two local people I talked with own such vehicles and swear by them. One said he drove from Lima to Columbus and never touched his brakes until he entered the beltway. They quizzed each other about programming their vehicles on “a three or a four” — that being the amount of seconds between their car and the vehicle in front of them, with each second amounting to about a car length on the highway.
In reality, driverless cars right now are really driver-assisted vehicles. You still need to keep a hand lightly on the steering wheel and your foot close to the brake. There also are many bugs the industry needs to work out. The cars are only as good as the roads in which they drive: think potholes; think problems. The big game-changer of course will be the price point, but already that’s being addressed. Honda offers a Civic with “Honda Sensing” that starts at just over $20,000 and Chevrolet has a Malibu with a “Driver Confidence” package just over $30,000.
It makes you wonder about the evolution of changes that will follow, big and small:
•Is this the answer to the trucking industry’s problem with finding drivers?
•Since these cars are predicted to reduce auto accidents and car related deaths by as much as 90 percent, will car insurance rates fall by as much?
•Will there be a need for fewer state troopers?
•How much more high tech will an auto mechanic’s job become?
•And most importantly to teenagers, what does it mean for their driving test?
It’s hard to imagine an America where motorists won’t be putting the pedal to the metal. Then again, at one time it was hard to think you could drive down a country road without seeing a red barn.
ROSES AND THORNS: There will be no traffic jams in the rose garden from here on out.
Rose: Michael J. Dew, a 1995 graduate of Lima Central Catholic, was named last week as Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation. His first week on the job saw him meeting with President Trump about Florida’s transportation system and how it drives economic growth. He is the son of Michael and Sue Dew of Elida.
Rose: To Mike Melvin, of Lima, for all of the work he does in lining up Honor Flights to Washington for veterans.
Rose: To Rich Dackin. After 20 years with Bath schools, he was named its new superintendent.
Thorn: The old Emerson School building has turned into an eyesore as residents living nearby wait for the Lima school system to tear it down. Piles of dirt containing bricks, concrete and other debris have been dumped there from the Stadium Park project, said Third Ward Councilman Jesse Lowe. Old televisions and monitors were also piled outside.
Thorn: A suspicious package with the words “bomb” and “beware” was left near the corner of Metcalf and Wayne streets.
PARTING SHOT: “You either eat, or someone eats you. We got to start eating.” — Jeff Sprague, president and CEO of the Allen Economic Development Group on the competition with other region for projects, jobs and workers.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.