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Capitol Crossing: 1928

Capitol Crossing: 1928

        In a tragic twist of fate, Senator Schall -- whose blindness was the result of being shocked by an electric cigar lighter in 1907 -- died seven years after this picture was made, struck by a car while crossing the Baltimore-Washington Parkway.

January 1928. "CANINE CHAPERONE. Senator Thomas D. Schall, blind solon from Minnesota, is now able to get around the Capitol without an attendant since his specially trained German police dog has arrived to lead him around. The dog, 2 years old, has been specially trained for the purpose." 4x5 inch glass negative, Harris & Ewing Collection. View full size.

 

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More on the Cigar Accident

Here is what I found online regarding the accident that robbed Senator Schall of his sight:

"In 1907 he was trying a case in Fargo, North Dakota. Court had recessed for lunch. Thomas and another attorney went to the cigar stand to purchase cigars. The other attorney lit his cigar with a match. But Thomas lit his with a new electric cigar lighter. The lighter exploded and hurled Schall backwards.

His arm was seared, but he still went back into court to finish the day. Thomas noticed that day that his vision was a bit unfocused. As the days progressed, he lost more and more of his sight. Within a year Schall was totally blind."

So my guess is he suffered some kind of head injury, secondary to the "explosion". Maybe he struck something hard when he was hurled backwards and it caused an intracranial hematoma? Just guessing. If that's the case though he's lucky his sight is all he lost.

How it happened

Schall was trying a case in Fargo in 1907 when he used a newly installed electric device at a cigar stand to light a cigar. Connected to the wrong power source, it flashed in his face. Over the next three months he lost his eyesight completely. After a period of doubt he resumed his law practice, specializing in personal injury. With his wife, Margaret, doing his reading and writing, Schall prospered; juries liked his oratory.

Learn something new every day.

I had never heard of losing one's sight due to electric shock. First time I have ever heard of that.

The car

Senator Schall is given priority by a 1927 Chevrolet Series AA Capitol sedan

Straight plate, bald tires

Made sure his license place was perfectly centered and aligned, but neglected the rubber.

Car ID

circa 1927 Chevrolet coupe (pronounced Chevrolay cupay). Note 2 wheel brakes and bald tires! -

Blinded at Cigar Stand

"Schall was trying a case in Fargo in 1907 when he used a newly installed electric device at a cigar stand to light a cigar. Connected to the wrong power source, it flashed in his face. Over the next three months he lost his eyesight completely."
From https://www.mnopedia.org/person/schall-thomas-d-1878-1935

Two Capitols

The car is a 1927 Chevrolet Capitol. So the senator is crossing in front of a Capitol in front of the Capitol.

Electric cigar lighter?

I have a hard time believing a cigar lighter could blind him, unless it was fashioned from an old arc lamp street light.

Baltimore Washington Parkway

This was probably present-day US 1, or more precisely (since it went through Cottage City) the Bladensburg Road spur now designated route 1 alternate. Most of the Laurel-to-Washington end of route 1 is still designated as Baltimore Avenue or Baltimore Boulevard. The Laurel-to-Baltimore end is designated as Washington Boulevard.

Shorpy image 18093 shows what is now route 1 alternate -- the old Baltimore Boulevard -- at (or just a trifle north of) Cottage City.

Blinded by the Lighter

I searched a bit, but couldn't find any explanation of HOW Senator Schall's blindness was the result of being shocked by an electric cigar lighter! Burns, yes; even electrocution, but blindness?

Guiding Light

His dog, who was named "Lux" - not "Fido", as might be inferred from an earlier post - predeceased him (1933).

Not so close

This is as close as traffic gets to the capitol now. The ornate lampposts with the heavy bases are still there, in the distance.

Canine chaperone

This is one I consider a double embigulator. I generally keep an embiggened Shorpy picture open in a separate tab for a couple of days, and I usually arrive at the scene I want early on. (Before I click it away, I always take another zip around.) The obvious scene here is the blind senator crossing the street, the dog, the car, the license plate, etc., but if you scroll up to fill your screen with only the upper portion of the photo, you are treated to a glorious view of a magnificent dome. Looks almost like a watermark. And it’s blue or even pink. Ethereal.

Baltimore-Washington Parkway?

Accounts of Senator Schall's 1935 hit-and-run death say he was struck while crossing the Baltimore-Washington Parkway in Cottage City, Maryland. But the Baltimore-Washington Parkway as we know it was constructed starting in 1947 as a controlled-access road without pedestrians. It does not go through Cottage City.

[At the time it was called the Washington-Baltimore Boulevard (or Highway). - Dave]

It was identical to US 1, no parkway but a notoriously dangerous road.

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