The United States of America.
The self-storage industry got its start in this country more than fifty years ago, but I’ve often spent late nights with old friends drinking fine whiskey, smoking fine cigars, and contemplating how our world might be different with a few conveniently placed historical storage units. And now, dear reader, I share these nuggets with you.
No need to thank me.
In 1585, a group of Englishmen from, well, England, decided to brave the Atlantic to found a new colony at Roanoke Island. To make a long story short, along the way, one of their ships hit a shoal (whatever that is, amiright?) and ruined most of the food supply.
Pay no heed, though. These brave (and clearly stupid) Englishmen pushed on ahead. Who needs food, anyway?
To make this already shortened story from getting any longer, here’s the cliffsnotes of the rest: after 1587, no one ever heard from the colonists again. They had vanished completely. No sign they had ever been there. Today, nearly four thousand years later (approximately), I’m left wondering: if they had had the foresight to rent a POD, fill it with porridge or curds and whey or Slim Jims or whatever they ate in those days, and send it ahead of them, would they have disappeared into thin air? I think not. And if they had made it, we’d all be speaking English today. Let that sink in for a minute.
That’s enough sinking in.
During the American Revolution (which the Roanoke settlers did not participate in for reasons that have yet to be fully explained), a Virginian dandy with wooden teeth and wearing tights was put in charge of the American army. His name was George Washington.
Anyhow, during the winter of 1777-8, ol’ George had his army holed up at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. It ended up being one of the worst winters in memory in Pennsylvania. And if you’ve ever spent a winter near Philadelphia, you know that’s saying something. And this is before Benjamin Franklin invented fire by flying his kite in a lightning storm in order to prove that he wasn’t as smart as everyone thought.
Regardless, more than 2500 brave and undersupplied Americans died that winter, and many more deserted. And that’s with one s, not two, so it’s not the good kind. How much do you think Washington would have paid to have a local Uncle Bob’s filled with sweaters, bratwursts, and charcoal briquets that they could raid?
Yeah, a bunch, I bet. Like more than ten bucks. Like, a lot more.
This, perhaps ironically, is a case when a storage unit actually WAS available and… well… sit back, children, and I’ll spin you a tale.
The year was 1863. The location, again, was Pennsylvania. Because, where else would it be? Right. Nowhere. So, as a reminder, we’re in Pennsylvania and it’s 1863. Ok, back to it.
General Lee (not a car) was leading the Confederate Army north to try to cause enough damage to eliminate support for the Civil War in the North. He had his eye on a Union supply depot with clothing and shoes, which were much needed for his men. At the same time, General Meade (also not a car) saw an opportunity. Again in the interest of time, the cliffsnotes: Lee took his eye off the prize and ran headfirst into the incredibly obvious and stupid trap that Meade had set for him. Then, he did it for a second day. And a third day.
Nearly 50,000 dead and the end of Lee’s ambition to win the war in 1863. And Lincoln could only muster a couple of hundred words on it. No wonder he never amounted to much.
If Lee had simply avoided a three day long brain fart, those 50,000 soldiers might still be alive today. But instead, he decided to skip the storage unit and head to good ol’ Gettysburg. That’s right: Lee’s brain fart killed 50,000 men. That’s a serious fart.
Now, you might be surprised that I just used the word “boner” in an intellectual, academic historical journal such as this. Men, please help the ladies who fainted return to their seats. There is nothing untoward occurring in this corner of the ol’ internet.
Unless you consider stupid baserunning to be untoward. If so, protect the women and children because it’s about to get crazy untoward up in here.
The date was September 23, 1908. New York Giants starting 1st baseman Fred Tenney woke up with a case of lumbago (I already did the Google search: it’s lower back pain). In his place, a 19-year-old named Fred Merkle started for first game against the feared Chicago Cubs (the Giants always kept at least two Freds on the roster, just in case). The Cubs and the Giants were tied in first and blah blah blah. Let’s get to the boner, amiright?!
It was the 9th inning and there were men on first and third, with Merkle on first. Al Bridwell drove the ball into center field, sending McCormick home from third to score the winning run. The game was over. Fans started to swarm on to the field, because they had to walk across the field to leave the stadium (just like today) and Merkle turned around to go back to the dugout without ever touching second. He was called out and the run didn’t count. The game was tied. The Giants lost the game to the Cubs, and ended up the season one game behind them.
How could storage have helped? I’m pretty sure that Merkel would have loved a place to hide his with his boner.
Let me try that again.
I’m pretty sure that Merkel would have loved a place to hide away after committing his boner. That’ll have to work.
Clearly, self-storage has had an important role to play in American history. Its absence has caused famines and embarrassed boners, and its presence has led to fatal brain farts. Self-storage: how could it have helped your favorite historical figure?