Young Hero Dies Saving Child
by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present a new story from Jeff Provine's
excellent blog This
Day in Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
On August 4th 1862,
in a great tragedy, brave teenager Thomas Alva Edison died as he was
struck by a runaway boxcar in Mount Clemens, MI. He dove to push
three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie out of the way, sacrificing his own life
for another. The tearfully grateful father of MacKenzie praised the fallen
boy and wished there could have been something he could do to repay him,
but the teenager's reward would only be seen in Heaven.
“Al”, as the youngster was nicknamed, had not shown much promise. His
teachers found him distracted, even “addled.” After being homeschooled by
his mother, he had troubles with ill health, ear infections, and scarlet
fever. Al worked on the railroads as a salesboy with candy, newspapers,
and vegetables, where he also ran into trouble when a homemade chemistry
set caught fire. Punished by the conductor with a box on the ears, that
may have been one of many causes for his hearing loss. He was a curious,
hardworking lad, and what more could he have given in his lifetime than
his life itself for another?
Even with the loss of heroes, as was seen in so many losses with the
ongoing Civil War, life continues and society progresses. For example,
African American Lewis Latimer improved the carbon filament for light
bulbs with the US Electric Company, allowing for the impressive electric
light that conquered the night. In England, motion pictures and
phonographs allowed for reproduction of video and sound, though recording
techniques were troublesome in development until after the turn of the
century. Paris, however, would stand as the center of technological
innovation attracting immigrants such as Nikola Tesla until the 1930s,
when the center would seem to shift toward German developments.
As Europe fell in destruction in World War II, the United States finally
came to shine as a land of invention. Pouring resources into technology to
balance the Soviet Union (who had already been to the Moon in 1968 while
Americans were still perfecting orbital launches), the microprocessor
would stand as the greatest invention of the end of the millennium in
1988, perhaps giving future generations access to privatized “personal”
computers one day.
says in reality, Al saved young Jimmie MacKenzie as well as himself. Mr.
MacKenzie, a station agent, was so thankful that he trained Edison in
telegraphy, which gave him good income and allowed him to develop his first
patents in devices such as the stock ticker, vote recorder, and quadruplex
telegraph. While perhaps not as “revolutionary” as many believe (he worked
mainly improving existing ideas, as most invention goes), Edison forever
changed the world landscape and economy. His laboratory at Menlo Park, NJ,
became a magnet for geniuses that created developments putting America
forward on the world stage as a center of technology.
Jeff Provine, Guest Historian of
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