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|His Flat Tire Uncovered History||Share:|
His Flat Tire Uncovered History
(His Flat Tire Uncovered History by Alex Haley was originally published in the January 1957 issue of Coronet.)
His Flat Tire Uncovered History
Driving along U.S. Highway 101 South of San Rafael, California, in 1936, Beryle Shinn had a flat tire. He put on his spare, then climbed a nearby bluff to admire the view out toward the Golden Gate. At his feet he noticed a thin plate of blackened brass about five inches wide by eight long, with a jagged hole in one corner. Idly he picked it up, was about to shy it away, then thinking it might prove useful to patch something he tossed it into the trunk of his car.
For six months the bit of brass lay there forgotten. Then Shinn came across it again. On one side there seemed to be lines of crude lettering and he made out the word "Drake." He took the plate to the History Department of the University of California where it caused great excitement.
Historians had long known that lying unsuspected somewhere along the California coast was a record of the landing there in 1579 of Sir Francis Drake. They had argued hotly about just which "conuenient and fit harborough" Drake's chaplain on the Golden Hinde meant when he had written that Sir Francis anchored, then nailed to "a great and firme post . . . a plate brasse wereon is engrauen her Graces name . . . together with her Highnesse picture and arms in a piece of sixpense currant English monie, shewing itselfe by a hole made of purpose through the plate."
Cleaned and subjected to exhaustive tests, it was pronounced the genuine, long lost "Drake's Plate." Its angular, deep-cut lettering proclaimed:
be it knowne vnto all men by these presents jvne. 17. 1579 by the grace of god and in the name of herr maiesty qveen elizabeth of england and herr svccessors forever i take possession of this kingdome whose king and people freely resigne their right and title in the whole land vnto herr maiesties keepeing now named by me and to bee knowne vnto all men as nova albion
g francis drake
The jagged hole beneath the name of California's discoverer exactly fits an English sixpense, although the original "sixpense" still has never been found.
And so today the old seadog's priceless marker rests in a sealed glass case for all to see—because, three centuries and a half later, a California motorist had a flat tire. ~ Alex Haley.
(His Flat Tire Uncovered History by Alex Haley is presented to our audience under the Creative Commons License. It was originally published in the January 1957 issue of Coronet. © 1957 Hearst Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved.)