A Hundred Years Ago

I've already confessed to a fascination with the Old Home Town column in my local paper. Recently I've wondered if maybe I'm not experiencing the weather of 1915 this year, what with the reports from 100 Years Ago being filled with torrential downpours and flooding after dry years. It's not just the weather reports that resonate with me, or the odd old phrasings that sometimes sound alarmingly similar to my own way of speaking and writing. There's the campaigns by moralizers against the scourge of pool halls and the risk that someone might have a flask of whiskey somewhere in town. There's the undercurrent of the national injustice of denying women the vote and the unresolved issues of the Civil War, all set against the backdrop of reports of war in Europe.

The year 1915 was closer to the Civil War and--particularly relevant in these parts--Quantrill's Raid than the year 2015 is to the Second World War. The reports from a century past are a long time gone, even if the street names sound familiar.

Some, perhaps including a younger and smugger version of myself, might overlook the affairs of 1915 entirely. Even if my prior self had read the reports, he might have chuckled at the thought that he knew how the story ended. It's easy to be on the right side of history after the fact.

My older self reads about my Old Home Town every day. I certainly don't laugh. I read about the moralizers and the crusaders, the farmers coming into town and the girls who ran the telephone switchboard, and I now know that I have no idea how their story turns out. I haven't seen their story end; we're just living a later chapter.