Personal Narrative: My Roots Essay

Personal Narrative: My Roots Essay

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At only seven years old, pulling the starter rope on my older brother’s Boston Whaler is no easy task. After a dozen tries, I finally call for my dad who is on the other dock dealing with the fishing gear. In what seems to take hours, he walks over to me and shakes his head. Before we had even gotten to the Marina, Dad asked if I needed him to start the engine, and of course I declined, wanting to feel like a “big kid.” With one simple tug from my father’s strong arm, the old Briggs & Stratton engine purred to life, as if brand new. Switching into the forward gear, I roared off the dock in search of circling birds, a clear indicator that fish were nearby.
My great- grandfather, Stephen Foster Briggs, was born on December 4th 1885, in Watertown, South Dakota. At South Dakota State University, he majored in engineering, which was a passion of his as long as he could remember. There, his ideas for building engines and other inventions came to life. Throughout his college years, my great-grandfather developed a simple 6-cylinder engine that was revolutionary during the early 20th century. Eager to get into the rapidly growing automobile and engine industry, my great-grandfather was introduced to investor, Harold M. Stratton. The two hit it off, and went on to start the Briggs & Stratton Motor Company in 1908.
Originally, the intentions of these men were to create affordable cars, like “The Flyer.” The Guinnes Book of Records lists the Flyer is the most inexpensive car of all time at $125-150. Released in 1922, the Flyer is a small, simple, lightweight, two-seat vehicle with a wooden frame that doubles as the body and as the suspension. A small gasoline engine is mounted on a fifth wheel, or motor wheel, to drive it. Though not t...


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...actly. He said that Briggs & Stratton purchased OMC, the Outboard Motor Company, for a period of time. Using the same engines in many other Briggs & Stratton mechanisms, the company was a success in creating outboard motors for boats, and today is known as Evinrude Motors. My father, in his early twenties and looking for adventure, was pleased to learn that OMC had an outboard boat racing team. It couldn’t have been a more perfect career for a man who grew up with the sea, and was not afraid of anything. These racing suits had been through collisions, full-on flips, and even fires. Now, they were the uniforms for a sisterly competition of ping-pong. Though Briggs & Stratton may not be a big part in my life as it was in my father’s, or even my grandfather’s, I still feel a part of Stephen Briggs’ legacy and have a sense of pride every time I think of “my damn roots.”

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