Why I Drive A Plug-In Car, Or
How To Be A Real Pain In The Gas
Special Guest
Professor Robert Siegel
Southern Maine Community College

Thursday, October 27, 2016  |  11:30 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
The Woodlands Country Club, Falmouth, ME
39 Woods Rd, Falmouth, ME 04105




OOn a wintry day in Boston’s Louisberg Square sometime around 1927, my father-to-be was nearly deleted from his family’s gene pool by an elderly lady at the helm of an automobile that was decidedly different from the common putt-putt cars of the era. It was a Baker Electric—perhaps a vintage “Victoria” model - and was truly a stealth vehicle, operating nearly silently (except for an imperious foot-operated bell that probably - and providentially - saved my dad’s life), emitting no noxious fumes, and so innocuous-seeming to as to “invite curious wildlife to peer into the windows as it passed” (at least, that’s what the ads claimed). It could be recharged from the electric power mains at an owner’s home and at various well-advertised stations throughout the city, could progress at a stately 24 mph, and could run for nearly 100 miles on a full charge. It also could accelerate and stop quickly – which made it ideal for negotiating Boston’s notorious traffic, and was easy to park.  It was mechanically simple, easy to maintain, and it didn’t frighten horses (of which Boston still had quite a few) anywhere nearly as much as did a sputtering, smoking combustion-powered vehicle. 

All in all, it must have been an elegant ride. And it was a mature technology; in Europe, electrical and gasoline-powered autos went into production within a year of each other in the early 1880’s (albeit by different companies in different countries). In America, the Cleveland-based Baker Electric Company had been founded in 1899, and the market flourished until the gasoline-driven car’s longer range and ease of refueling finally proved superior, particularly on the nation’s expanding highway system. Even then, the “plug-in car” remained useful for urban travel, especially by wealthy people who were presumed to be less interested in tinkering with their vehicles (or shifting gears), and wanted a “more refined” driving experience. Which probably is why my father’s Beacon Hill dowager was still driving one in the late 20’s…….

Fast-forward to the present: interest in all-electric cars has waxed and waned over the decades, and we’re now in a huge growth spurt for the industry. It’s fueled by environmental, economic and aesthetic concerns, and facilitated by some major advances in such essentials as cruising range, battery technology and highly-advanced control systems.

It’s a compelling story, and your MIT Club of Maine is proud to invite you to hear it told by a man who knows a great deal about the subject. He’s Professor Robert (Bob) Siegel of Southern Maine Community College, who has spent a long career teaching the Marine Sciences at that institution. He has an equally long history of being passionate about matters of environmental sustainability, and is nowhere more focused than on the “how to” of providing clean, ecologically responsible personal transportation.

Bob practices what he preaches, but to learn more, you’ll have to join us for lunch on October 27, 2016 from 11:30 AM to 2:00 PM. The place: The Woodlands Country Club in Falmouth, ME. Ticket price: $25 per person, for our program and one of the Woodlands’ excellent buffet luncheons. There will be a cash bar. Please join us for a glimpse of the “Extreme Now” in automobile transportation!


Looking For Alums who were Tutoring Plus Volunteers 

Tutoring Plus of Cambridge, http://www.tutoringplus.org/home.html, will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in 2014. In preparation for this very special celebration with a Mardi Gras themed event on Friday February 28th, 2014, the organization is making an effort to contact former volunteer tutors. Tutoring Plus hopes to include as many comments and reminiscences as possible as part of the program for the event, and of course they would be thrilled if you could deliver them in person!

If you were a Tutoring Plus volunteer as an MIT student, please contact Ellen McLaughlin, Executive Director at: mclaughlin@tutoringplus.org, and let her know how she can best reach you to follow up, get your comments and reminiscences and send you an invitation to the event.

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