Pages 7 & 8
     That late summer we purchased a 1907 model Peerless automobile and later, having become enamored with the machine age, took on the dealership of the American Underslung car for central New York State. In demonstrating the advantages of the underslung frame I'd ride the side of a snow bank or skid the car in circles on an icy street which brought me the unsought reputation for carelessness from our many friends. That feature of the car saved us when returning from a drive we were forced to detour and found ourselves on a steep down grade alongside a steep gorge. The brakes failed and I instinctively steered the car against a barbed wire fence, as there was sharp turn in view, knocking down several rotted fence posts and scraping the car along the wire and coming to a stop with the front right wheel hanging over the cliff-like drop. The only damage was a dented front fender and deep scratches the entire side caused by the barbed-wire. The underslung frame had scraped along the edge of the road and aided our stopping.
     The next year Victor, Jr., arrived amid much tension at the Memorial Hospital as his mother had a difficult and painful time being in labor 36 hours. Good old Doctor Belknap gave me the sobriquet of "sticking plaster" because I haunted the corridors and waiting room refusing to leave. My pride and joy in having a son was later tempered when my mother passed away and was buried in the old Barker family plot in the White Plains Cemetary alongside my father.
     We had a close circle of friends who also had children with whom we joined in outings and vacations especially following the arrival of Charlotte Elizabeth (Betty) a year after Victor's. Those were days of much gaity, parties and good times with our friends.
     During the summer of 1915 Charlotte and I toured New England in a smart looking American Scout car through the Berkshires and along the coast and White Mountains. We stopped a few days at a resort hotel in Marblehead, Mass., a famous yachting community. One morning we rented a sail-boat and were truly enjoying ourselves when I heard what sounded like a motor approaching in the air. Soon a flying machine came directly over us at low altitude, which I later learned was a Burgess-Dunne hydroplane. That not only fascinated but sold me on flying and the obvious advantage, from a safety standpoint, of flying from the water with a "landing field" always available if one stayed within gliding distance of it. Most of the accidents those days resulted from forced landings, or too limited landing areas, when mechanical failures occured, which was often.
     That fall, at Hammondsport, N. Y., I talked with G. H. Curtiss and made arrangements to purchase a new flying boat and to receive flying lessons. Talking with Curtiss pilots, as well, I received glowing reports of financial success in making exhibition flights, carrying passengers, and instructing all of which I had no good reason to doubt, but which I later found to be gross exaggeration. No one mentioned weather interference, breakage, mechanical failures, nor need for an expensive mechanic to care for equipment.
     In early May, 1914, we loaded enough belongings for a two months stay into our American Traveler and took off with the children in a cloud of dust and with few misgivings. The American Company had gone into receivership leaving us with too many unsold cars and spare parts on which we had to accept a discouraging loss to close out the business. It was an expensive business lesson; our assets were sadly depleted; to us aviation was the rainbow following a storm.
From the collection of Victor Vernon III

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