“That’s the thing about time travel. You’re always moving forward, even when you go back.” (James A. Owen)
I’ve always embraced a lifelong passion to read about history which has often revealed to me a meaningful cause/effect connection between the past and the present. So as I closely examine my book cabinets at home today, the historical impact of three writers I have extensively read in my life immediately come to mind. I should first single out James Michener for his informal story telling abilities infused with unique, local settings which inspired my lifelong interest in studying community relics/cultural behaviors. I will also grant special praise to Doris Kearns Goodwin, whose intimate portrayals of the public/private lives of U.S. Presidents have provided me with so many sound ideas for fulfilling my role obligations as a U.S. voter and informed American citizen. A final “shout out” must be given as well to a lesser known writer of historic fiction: Harry Turtledove. For his alternative plot versions of famous events in U.S./ World History stimulated me to think more open-mindedly about controversially politicized issues in contemporary times.
Along with such “bookworm” passions for biography and other past event based readings, I have often traveled with a historic mindset to help me deal with life’s current moment to moment challenges. You might further have noticed that my travel blogs often flashback in time to find relevant human insights from unexpected historic places encountered at unexpected times. You might say then that my writing style sometimes seems reminiscent of “time travel” in the movie “Back To The Future” as if I were Marty McFly imagining myself adapting to what it would really be like if I lived in randomly chosen years before. So step inside my time machine and travel back into the past as I present ten “then vs. now” examples evidenced in the following historic photographs from our world travels.
Walking along the main road of the ancient ruins of Ostia along the coast of Italy west of Rome, I positioned myself behind this casually posing, masculine sculpture. Placing my head on his body facing the vast expanse of marble baths, enormous temples, and multistory apartment remnants, I felt an odd sensation of wealthiness and power amidst this important center of trade in the Roman Empire.
Soccer unquestionably reigns throughout the United Kingdom as a popular favorite in the athletic realm. At the History Museum in Southampton, England, I proudly took my place posing with this trophy replica and absorbed the winning spirit among the giants of soccer stardom.
The opportunity to hold an authentic Revolutionary War musket at the Powder Magazine in Charleston , South Carolina, I obsessed on the the stressful act of colonial times weaponry as demonstrated by the slow loading and firing of this ponderously heavy weapon used then in the heat of battle.
The lighthearted presence of Charlie Chaplin along the lakeshore in Montreux Switzerland invited me to join in with his comical antics to politely tip my hat and dance merrily as he often did during his silent movie career.
I shared matching Hawaiian shirts and the mellow spectator vibe pervading the stands during an Oakland A’s baseball game in posing with this fun loving mascot sculpture during a visit to Jack London Square In Oakland, California.
Before boarding a mid 19th century passenger car to experience a scenic ride on the “Heber Creeper”, a steam driven railway In Heber City Utah, we ducked behind these costumed figure mannequins at the depot to recreate the elegant formality feel of an affluent family traveling 1st class during these Victorian times. Along this slow train ride through the spectacular Wabash mountains, we also sang along merrily with authentically dressed volunteers to favorite tunes of the Old West.
My bumpy journey steeply uphill on the back of a sad looking elephant along the walls of the Amber Fort in Jaipur, India alerted my senses that I would have been physically unsuited for this slow and ponderously dangerous ride during this fort’s “heyday times. Moving forward to the complex’s present, I also felt distinct distaste for such physical abuse of these giant mammals for the sake of capitalistic tourist profit.
The Royal Guard ceremonially protects the queen and her family entourage at Buckingham Palace in London all year around. In posing stoically behind this Guard replica, I realized that I had joined into the patriotic public spirit that the “Changing of the Guard” ritual meant for the continuance of the British imperial crown.
Cellphones seemed no match for a traditional British phone booth for calling home during a Canadian cruise visit to Market Square in Saint John, New Brunswick. For who wants to talk on the cellphone in public view when you can enjoy the traditional British custom of embracing privacy by isolating yourself inside this time tested red box?
As a serious trombone player in the past, I felt a strong urge to join into a cool jazz session in Bourbon Street style as I posed with my wife amidst three music greats performing together in this statue in downtown New Orleans.
Note: In the current era of social distancing demands, I discovered that many of these sites described above are closed or severely restricted in attendance. How then can history help us to adapt to these current touristic challenges in the future?