My personal Nobel
In this season of distributing Nobel Prizes, I wish one could go to Bernard D. Sadow, truly one of humanity’s great benefactors. For years, as I quickly roll my suitcase the length of airport concourses, I have been quietly blessing the man who thought of equipping it with wheels.
Mr. Sadow, I just learned, is that man.
“Many thousands of years ago, there were two important inventions, the wheel and the sack,” Joe Sharkey wrote on Tuesday in the New York Times. “I can’t help wondering why it took so long to put rollers on that sack to create wheeled luggage.”
Sharkey’s travel column recounts the history of Mr. Sadow’s bright idea, its relationship to the switch from train stations with their porters to air terminals with their distant gates. More women traveling alone are part of the story; so is the resistance of macho male suitcase luggers.
Mr. Sadow’s innovative suitcases were large, had four wheels and a strap, and were towed flat. So he should probably share the Nobel for Preventing Suitcase Elbow with Robert Plath, the pilot who invented the two-wheeled Rollaboard, an upright model with a telescoping handle. “Let’s also give three cheers to the flight attendants,” Joe Sharkey adds, “the early adopters who showed the rest of us how to carry a suitcase sensibly.”