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Necessity: Invention’s Mother by Nicole Montague

Necessity is the mother of invention is commonly misattributed to Plato.  But even from ancient Egypt, for people of color necessity bore creativity which led to inventions that have been so far reaching…

You see, I woke up that February morning and thought about all the things I had to do.  I found myself feeling overwhelmed, unaccomplished, and getting ready to become acquainted with good old negativity and complaining. 

I sighed and dragged myself to the bathroom.  Noticing that the room was cool, I adjusted the temp with the thermostat control invented by Frederick M. Jones.  I looked in the mirror and remembered my experience at the salon last evening.  That shampoo headrest invented by C. O Bailiff was sure nuff comfortable (beats hanging my head over the sink), and I must get that Madam C. J. Walker straightening comb and Lydia O. Newman hairbrush on my next visit to the beauty salon. 

I was still quite groggy and was so thankful for the S. R. Scratton curtain rod, and the William S. Grant curtain rod support, they saved me from a folly.  I sat on the T. Elkins chamber commode and had a conversation with my Lord; asking for His guidance and protection as I walked through His day but found that I was still perplexed by the thought of the tasks on the way.

I left for the kitchen and thought it best to start a load of laundry before I cleared the mess.  I placed the previous load in the clothes dryer invented by G. T. Sampson and used the O. Dorsey door stop to ensure there was no block.  So much for neatness, this slight adjustment caused the Sarah Boone ironing board to become exposed.

I turned for the kitchen, only to find my reward for thinking that the younger occupants were listening, to the instructions given prior to retreating to bed – CLEANUP!  Of course not, there was a pile of misplaced items including the A. P. Ashbourne biscuit cutter, the ice cream scooper invented by A. L. Cralle, the Willie Johnson eggbeater, the John W. Reed rolling pin, and the T. A. Carrington stove was covered in flattened dough.  I reached for the Lawrence P. Ray dustpan as I tried to devise a plan.  Where do I start?

I filled the kettle, to begin preparation of the vittles (food).  The George Washington Carver peanut butter was smeared in the unwashed James Robinson lunch pail left from the previous fare (meal).  From the J. Standard refrigerator, I got the lemon and using the J. Thomas White lemon squeezer I prepped the cup.  Improved Sugar Making by Norbet Rillieux polished my hot tea awakening.

Approaching the table, I saw the Brody & Surgwar folding chairs were left out of place and was so thankful for the O. A. Fisher furniture casters, as they were returned to their holding space.  Then I got the Benjamin Banneker almanac to review my purchase plan for planters. There was a spill in the space, so I got the Thomas W. Stewart mop to ensure it was safe.

In checking the TV room, there I found the brood, and enjoyed the humor sparked by the view of those resting on L. C. Bailey folding beds.  Returning to the room, I was grateful for the illumination from the Lewis Latimer electric lampbulb and got dressed for the journey ahead.

I reached for my F. J. Loudin key chain and secured the W. A. Martin lock on the garage door.  Ignition engaged; warnings were displayed which prompted a check for obstruction at the tail.  There I found evidence of play, as the W. H. Richardson baby buggy, the G. Cook auto fishing devise, the L. R. Johnson bicycle frame, the Robert F. Flemming, Jr. guitar, the sack with the T. Grant golf tees, the A. C. Richard insect-destroyer gun, the Michael C. Harvey lanterns, the L. A. Burr lawnmower, the M A. Cherry tricycle, the Joseph Hunger-Dickenson record player arm, and the W. D. Davis ridding saddles were all out of place.  Results of the jam session ensued by the currently sleeping brood.

At the 4th Garret Morgan traffic light, I encountered the Charles B. Brooks street sweeper.  Further along, I saw the men installing the J. W. Winters fire escape ladder, while wearing their P. Johnson eye protectors.

One mile later, as I approached the tracks, I observed a train whose Granville T. Woods auto cut-off switch was recently engaged and the engineers could have used the same Granville T. Woods phone transmitter to communicate that they needed to check the Elijah McCoy lubricating cups, and the Frederick M. Jones motor.  After sitting for a while, I switched on another invention of the same Frederick M. Jones, the air conditioning unit, and engaging the Richard Spikes automatic gear shift, maneuvered my way out of the sitting traffic.  Using a detour, I navigated my way to the office, but was sure to call ahead on my Henry T. Sampson cellular phone.

Upon arrival, I used the Alexander Miles elevator to get to the 5th floor.  Once in my office, I used the J. L. Love pencil sharpener and smiled while I lifted the painted J. Ricks horseshoe (a reminder of a hobby) I used as a paperweight and reviewed the stack of invoices.  Some were cleared for payment using the Walter B. Purvis hand stamp.  Some were sent for review, including one for purchase of Charles Drew blood plasma bags, another for Garrett Morgan gas masks, and another for Imothep stethoscopes.  Tracking forms were completed using my W. B. Purvis fountain pen, and requests were prepared using a Burridge & Marshman typewriter.

At the end of the workday, I left for the car dealership to have my Edmond Berger spark plugs checked.  I later returned home but first stopped to check the Paul L. Downing mailbox prior to entering the abode.

Upon reflection of the day, which began with such apprehension, I realized that not only does God provide, but that he has been for centuries.  He allowed our forerunners to utilize their creativity often borne out of necessity to invent things that would make our lives seem leisurely.  Imagine the removal of any number of the inventions mentioned and think of how chaotic and time consuming so many of our days would be rendered.  If they had decided to cave under all the pressures they endured, we would possibly be annihilated for sure.

People of color have been inventors primarily out of necessity.  Let us be grateful while recognizing our strength and impact as a people, but more importantly, let us ask ourselves, “What am I leaving for the benefit of the generations proceeding?”

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