Niagara Gazette

Columns

December 4, 2012

BRADBERRY: Surviving the cliff … in a better barrel

Niagara Gazette — The nation might learn a lesson or two by examining how the wonderful City of Niagara Falls, New York has learned not only how to take the plunge over the fiscal cliff, but to apparently survive it.

When Annie Taylor, the 63-year-old school teacher decided to take the plunge on October 24, 1901 she was certain that her feat would bring her fame and fortune; she certainly earned a name for herself and in the process, helped boost Niagara Falls, but when she died twenty years later, she was broke.

Ten years later on July 25, 1911, daredevil Bobby Leach also survived the plunge in a steel barrel though it took nearly six months in the hospital to heal his shattered body. He did not earn a lot of money for his efforts either.

Then, Quebec native Jean Lussier conquered the cliff on the Fourth of July, 1928 in a 6-foot inner tube covered rubber ball with a double walled steel frame. He made his small fortune the hard way by displaying and selling small slices of rubber inner tube cut from his contraption for fifty cents apiece, a tough way to earn a living!

At least as many would be rich and famous daredevils tried and died attempting to beat the challenge, proving that it takes more than simple courage and a well crafted barrel to survive the cliff, while those who took the plunge and survived also proved that fortune is much more elusive than fame.

Perhaps one important lesson to be gleaned from Niagara’s experiences with cliff diving which we might share with our representatives in Washington who now seem fascinated with the prospect of taking the plunge over the fiscal cliff might be that, while the imagined awe and splendor of the blind leap is certainly entertaining if not spiritually inspiring, the reality of the consequences of actually diving into the abyss are not quite worth the effort without a good plan as well as a better barrel.

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