When it comes to American originality, you really have to hand it to Annie Taylor.
It was on this exact day in 1901 that Taylor, hoping to gain fame and help fund her retirement, decided to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
I suspect that if anyone were to attempt this today (spoiler alert: it’s not legal), the vehicle would be far more suitable than Taylor’s, which history recorded as a slightly larger than average oak barrel lined with a mattress.
In case you don’t know the ending, Taylor did survive her plunge over the falls, though she reportedly never managed to make much money from her story.
(She also almost immediately regretted the experience, reportedly noting upon emerging from the barrel that she “would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.”)
If Taylor had sold her story for a princely sum and spent the rest of her days swanning around a palatial estate, history might look more kindly on her accomplishment. But regardless of Taylor’s permanent place in history’s “Lovable Looney” category, I personally think she deserves a bit more respect. Therefore, I would like to propose the creation of an annual prize, named in Taylor’s honor, that will be presented to a man or woman of any age who attempts to do something remarkable but does not quite get the results they were seeking.
Mind you, this would not be for the scientist who attempts to find a cure for one terrible disease and instead accidently cures a completely different, yet equally terrible one.
No, this one if for the own-goal scorers, and the accidental foot-in-mouthers.
It is for the one who tries to walk across the country to raise money for a cause but accidently takes too many left turns and just ends up back at their own driveway, or the person who spends years inventing and perfecting an amazing new time-saving device, only to realize that the thing has not only been invented already, but can be purchased on Amazon with one click and free shipping.
I don’t want to suggest that failing is somehow succeeding, or that everyone deserves a trophy regardless of how their efforts pan out.
But if you are crazy enough to attempt something spectacular and instead fall short of your goal ... well, let’s just say I think Annie would be proud of you for trying.