Finding my place in history, maybe, sort of
Have you ever wondered who you might have been in a past life?
But not to worry. One of my readers recently did it for me, writing:
"I finally figured out who you remind me of. Benjamin Franklin.
In fact, not only do you look quite a bit like him, but your writing is surprisingly similar. While discussing this idea over dinner with my father, we decided that you must be the reincarnation of that jolly revolutionary."
I was Ben Franklin? Should I feel insulted or flattered?
On the one hand, when the Founding Fathers were suggesting birds to represent the United States, Franklin pushed for the turkey. Still, even though he was never president of the United States, he managed to get his face on the $100 bill, the largest U.S. bill still being printed.
Take that, George and Abe!
Franklin, of course, led an illustrious life. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals (lined and no-line), a carriage odometer, those little plastic packs for ketchup, the Franklin stove and rubber dog poop.
Franklin was a noted author, printer, politician, scientist, big game hunter, musician, mime, rodeo clown, statesman, diplomat, break dancer and just a heck of a nice guy.
But who was Franklin? Better yet, if my reader is correct, who was I?
As Franklin, I was born in 1706 on Jan. 17. (Hmmm. That's just 11 days off my current birthday.) My father, Josiah, was heavily into babies -- making them, not having them -- since he fathered 17 kids. He left the job of actually giving birth to his two wives.
His first wife, Anne, had seven children until she fled to enter the federal witness protection program.
Josiah's second wife, Abiah (a biblical name meaning "fertile as a hamster"), had the remaining 10, including me.
Even back then I liked journalism, and by age 16 I was writing for my brother's newspaper, Ye Olde Weekly Global News, with headlines like "British Army to Recruit Space Aliens."
Later in life, I became a printer, publishing things such as "Poor Richard's Almanack" (so I'm a bad speller), which often consisted of a bunch of stupid one-liners, much like this column.
Some journalism styles never change.
The British powers-that-be didn't like my writing because I frequently poked fun at them. In fact, I still do. I can't help it. I mean, where does she get those hats?
In late 1724, I traveled to London, but quickly returned after I discovered that the Brits eat foods called bubble and squeak, clapshot and toad in the hole.
By the 1730s, I had helped create Philadelphia's first lending library, which soon closed after someone failed to return our book.
I also helped start the city's first fire company, a police patrol and the American Philosophical Society, which soon disbanded because it was just so darned boring.
Later, I organized the Pennsylvania militia, a paramilitary group equipped with rapid-fire assault muskets capable of firing three rounds per minute, and large capacity powder horns.
In 1753, the British named me postmaster of the American colonies. This lasted until 1774 when they fired me after asking that I design a postage stamp bearing the likeness of a famous Englishman.
I chose Benny Hill.
Eventually, I would become America's first postmaster general, establishing the post office in such a way that it is still, 200 years later, the world's most efficient way to send and receive fourth-class junk mail.
Next week, my later life.