Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rant #334: The Club Clubbed

Yesterday, I reported on a happy occasion, Jackie Cooper's birthday.

Today, I have a sadder chore, as I am bringing to your attention the death of James Winner.

Who the heck, you are probably asking, is--or was--James Winner?

He was a very successful person. He owned hotels, schools and businesses. He was a self-made Pennsylvanian.

He also created something called The Club.

The Club is a device that one puts on the steering wheel of their car to prevent auto theft. The device looks like a heavy metal stick with a claw on it. Put it on your steering wheel, and your car won't ever get stolen--certainly, the bright red color that The Club came in put fear into any crook's mind.

Winner developed The Club after his own car was stolen, and it was, er, a winner. It showed up in various forms all over the place during that decade. But crooks found ways to thwart this device, and it basically became useless as we entered the 2000s, although it is still on the market.

I, myself, used The Club after my own car was stolen the night before I got married on June 5, 1993. I used this device on all my succeeding cars into the 2000s until I bought my newest car two years ago.

And I still have The Club--it is in the trunk on my car. I can't get rid of it. I guess it has sentimental value.

I kind of knew it wouldn't really thwart someone who wanted to steal my car, but I thought just seeing this thing on my steering wheel would be signal that the crook had to perform an extra step to steal my car, so he might pass.

Ironically, Winner died in a head-on car collision in Western Pennsylvania after his sport utility vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic. Two other people also died in the accident. Winner was 81 years old.

I guess The Club couldn't help him in this situation, but I will tell you that it helped me--it gave me peace of mind--when I used it.

Sure, it was probably phony peace of mind, but at least I thought it might work, unlike car alarms, which never stopped anyone from stealing a car.

So I salute Winner, his invention, and the fact that as truly useless as it might actually be, it was one of the great inventions of the latter stages of the 20th century.

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