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Andy's Umbrella Appreciation

Is The Umbrella An Underappreciated Invention?

This segment was originally broadcast on Jan. 13, 2008.

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

Of all the inventions of man, the wheel, the light bulb and the internal combustion engine were probably the most important. Our lives would not be the same -- or as good -- without them.

There have been some good minor inventions too, though. For example, I'd be lost without elastic bands. The other unimportant invention we all need is the umbrella. We know Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, and it seems wrong that we don't know the name of the person who came up with the idea for the umbrella.

The umbrella was a great invention but umbrellas do have some shortcomings. They're better in the rain than in the wind. Umbrellas don't handle two people easily -- they both get wet when they try.

Protesters try to make statements with their umbrellas, but umbrellas aren't good for statement-making.

Designers won't let umbrellas alone. They're more clever with umbrellas than is necessary. No one needs a clever umbrella.

I personally prefer the simple big black umbrella. An umbrella isn't anything with which to make a fashion statement. I don't want a Scotch plaid shield from the rain.

People hang onto their umbrellas even if they're broken. We don't throw away broken umbrellas.

No one is so important that they don't get wet when it rains. Everyone resorts to an umbrella: George Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Woody Allen, Michael Jackson, or even the Rev. Al Sharpton gets wet when it rains.

You might think Pope Benedict could pray for sunshine when it starts coming down, but he needs an umbrella just like mortal man.

Our president has someone do almost everything for him; occasionally he does something for someone else. No one can satisfactorily hold an umbrella for someone else. An umbrella is a one-man job.
Written By Andy Rooney