Good morning, esteemed readers! Thanks for starting your day with us here at The County Line. We’re proud to be a part of your morning routine.
We are already 20-percent of the way through another work week, which means it’s that time once again: Happy Adair Drug Tuesday! This business has been a great support to us, so we hope you let them know it’s appreciated. You can find these fine folks at 510 Burkesville Street in Columbia, or reach them by phone at (270) 384-9999.
Regular readers of these morning posts know that Adair Drug is not the day’s only cause for celebration, however. It’s The County Line’s mission to call attention to the most obscure, unknown, and underappreciated pseudo holidays we can find, and we’ve got one today that is worthy of sharing the Adair Drug spotlight.
This is not a silly one—which I have proven a sucker for over and over again—but a day honoring a real person, someone who should be much more famous than she is. If this woman were a fictional character, her achievements would be scoffed at as over-the-top, ridiculous, and unbelievable. Somehow, she’s mostly been forgotten by history, to the point that I only learned about her incredible life a couple days ago.
Happy Harriet Quimby Day.
“Who?” I can hear you asking on the other side of that screen. Here’s a brief, cliff notes version of Harriet Quimby’s incredible, movie-biopic-worthy life:
Around the turn of the 20th century, Quimby established herself as a renowned journalist. At a time when writing the news was still seen as “man’s work,” she was good enough to find employment everywhere she went, from San Francisco to New York City. She found great success as a theater critic, and continued this work even as her ambitions expanded into other, completely unrelated fields.
1911, less than a decade after the airplane was invented, Quimby became the first American woman to be issued a pilot’s license. It’s almost hard to grasp how novel the concept of a woman pilot was at the time. If this feat had been her life’s only accomplishment, it would still have been enough for Quimby to be considered a trailblazer in the women’s liberation movement. However, she was just getting started.
Just a year after making history by earning her license, Quimby outdid herself, becoming the first woman to fly across the English Channel. A bona fide celebrity by this point, thousands of people would come out to see her fly in aviation shows all over the globe. Quimby became a champion of women’s rights and strongly advocated for more females to enter the flying profession.
Oh yeah, she also went to Hollywood. In the era of silent films, Quimby wrote seven screenplays that were developed into movies. Her writing was apparently as in-demand as her piloting skills, because D.W. Griffith, probably the most famous filmmaker of the day, directed all seven.
Quimby accomplished all this before she turned 40. Just a few weeks after the history-making English Channel flight, Quimby died in a plane crash, presumed to have been caused by a mechanical malfunction. She was 37 years old, and had accomplished more in the previous few years than most people could hope to in a lifetime.
For whatever reason, Quimby has been overlooked for more than a century. Even during her remarkable life, she was always, somehow, inexplicably ignored. Her famed flight over the English Channel barely made the news at all, overshadowed by the Titanic, which sank the previous day. This is how it always was for Harriet Quimby.
Perhaps then it is tragically fitting that this incredible person has experienced the same fate in death as she did in life—barely recognized at all. Despite reaching the highest of peaks in three wildly different professions, few know about her exploits. Thankfully, you and I are now part of that small, exclusive club.
Now that you and I are in on this secret story of an American icon, let’s seize the day as Quimby would, and try to do something groundbreaking in her honor.
Hopefully we’re all sufficiently motivated now, inspired by a hero no one younger than 100 has ever heard of, so let’s move on. Here’s the intern with today’s weather report:
At 6:30 a.m., it’s 72 degrees and raining at company headquarters in Russell Springs. Conditions are nearly identical in Jamestown and Columbia. Expect a high in the upper 80s today with likely thunderstorms in the afternoon.
That’s all for now. Check back throughout the day as we’ve got more fresh content headed your way, always from local voices.
This post is brought to you as part of Adair Drug Tuesday.