Friday, July 30, 2010

Simple Thoughts from a Simple Man...

It's 2010 and I am driving down the main street in my city...let's see, there's a Kroger grocery store, a Dairy Queen, a Rite Aid, K-Mart, Best Buy, Macomb Mall, Petco, 7-11, Office Depot, Circle K, Burger King, a Comfort Inn, Ken's Auto Repair Shop, Home Depot, Costgo, Pep Boys, Ed Rinke Chevrolet, and a few smaller, more localized shops. All the businesses that are as familiar to me as my own name. Cars, SUV's, semi's, buses, and motorcycles zip past by the thousands in a constant flow of traffic. If one tries to cross this busy thoroughfare by foot it can be pretty dangerous due to those vehicles who turn right at the red light, forgetting that the pedestrian has the right of way.
And the stop lights are there, every quarter mile or so, along with street signs - probably a dozen for every 500 feet - telling the drivers to turn left here, no turn on red there, lane ends, speed limit 40, school crossing, yield...
Probably not unlike Anytown U.S.A.
Now, my mid-19th century personna is walking down the main street in my mid-19th century town...let's see, there's the cobbler and shoemaker, the millinery shop, and there's the blacksmith shop, the cabinet maker, the general store, the printer, the tinsmith, the cooper shop, the farrier, a tavern, the weaving shop, the tailor, a wagon shop, the saddler and harness maker, a baker, a gun manufacturer, and, seen on the outskirts is the gristmill. Folks on foot, wagons, carts, and carriages pulled by horses trot hither and thither - watch your step as you cross the plank road! - mud from the recent rainstorm cause puddles where there are no planks, soiling the bottoms of the trousers and skirts of the townsfolk and visitors.
Two different worlds...
Have you ever thought about what your town may have looked like a century and a half ago? Have you ever thought about how much has changed in comparison?
Well, okay, if you're like me and practice living history you probably have.
But let's reverse that dream or fantasy that many of us who attempt to time-travel have.
You see, we know what the future holds from a mid-19th century perspective, don't we? would one from 1850 react if he or she were suddenly placed in our modern time.
I think of that every-so-often, of how one from the mid-19th century may recognize very little if somehow drawn from their time to our time.
We, on the other hand, have the benefit of historical knowledge on our side - visits to museums, books, the internet, etc. - all allowing us to study what life was like during our ancestor's time.
Can you imagine someone - my 3rd great grandparents, William and MaryAnne Raby, for instance - suddenly popping into the 21st century from her 1850's existance? How would they react? What would they think? Would there be anything at all inside of Best Buy that they would recognize?
I am sure that William would clearly know many of the tools inside of the Sears tool shop, such as the gardening supplies: shovels, rakes, etc. But, he most certainly would not recognize the tractor, the chainsaw, the power drill, or the staple gun.
How about the women's department at Khol's? I can just imagine what MaryAnne would think of the latest fashions in clothing and shoes!
Of course, shopping for kitchen supplies at Bed, Bath, & Beyond would make their head spin! A toaster? A mixer? A refrigerator? Ha! just the fridge alone would be unfathomable: think about it - a box that you can regulate the temperature in one area to freezing while another area is above freezing but still at a cooler temperature - inside the same box! And a light goes on when you open the door!!
Wait! What's a light??
How about the hustle and bustle of traffic? I would think their minds couldn't conprehend all of the fast-paced action of the motorized vehicles, the lights, the flashing billboards, the volume of the sounds surrounding them, and the speed at which everything was transpiring.
I find thinking about this sort of thing entertaining, especially while at work when time allows for such thoughts.
Do you ever think these kind of "frivolous" thoughts, or am I alone in this?
I will say, sure beats thinking about politics all the time!



Eastlake Victorian said...

I think this way a lot! Mostly about my own house. It was built in 1873, and that is all I know about it. I've seen photos of other buildings in town from that era, so I know in general what the town looked like. But I wonder what the people who wandered through my own rooms, THEIR rooms, did with their time. Did they play instruments? Have a vegetable garden out back? Where was the outhouse?

It's why I love living in an old house!


Historical Ken said...

Pam - One day we hope to live in an old home. We have a beautiful Victorian village in my area - the Village of Romeo - and that's where we one day hope to move.
Your house was built in 1873 - how cool is that?
A prerequisite: our new home must be pre-1900!