From Helen Blanc-Francard on 13th August 2015
This post card was up for sale on eBay this week - a misty view of Clarence's recently built villa closed up for the winter with the surrounding slopes freshly cleared of vegetation. Amusingly it was sent exactly one hundred and seven years ago, on 13th August 1908.
One can imagine that Clarence would have been in residence the day the sender of the card travelled up to Casterino to escape the stifling summer heat of the coast.
On the same day, in newspaper offices in England, France and America two items of sensational news were coming in that would change people's lives for ever - but few may have realised it at the time!
Four days earlier, at a horse race track near Le Mans in France, the Wright Brothers had flown their new Model A flying machine for the first time in public to prove to sceptical european aviators that they had indeed conquered the skies. Their fragile aircraft had taken flight with Wilbur at the controls and was airborn for only one minute and 45 seconds but Wilbur's ability to effortlessly make banking turns and fly a circle amazed and stunned onlookers, among them Louis Bleriot. By the 12th August the French public were flocking to the field by the thousands as Wilbur flew a series of technically challenging flights, including figure-of-eights, demonstrating his skills as a pilot and the capability of his flying machine, which far surpassed those of all other pioneering aircraft and pilots of the day. The brothers instantly became world-famous.
Over the ocean in Detroit, another ambition was being realized as the first production model of Henry Ford's Model T automobile rolled off the line on August 12th, 1908. Its maker had announced "I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces". He also famously remarked that the Model T was available in any colour you wanted – as long as it was black.