I asked readers which period they would like to visit. They are all over the calendar.
Ron wrote, “Living on the Upper East Side. Dinner at 21. Theater or opera. clubbing with george and will go [Gershwin]. Of course, I should have been born into inherited wealth – sigh.
That’s always the problem, isn’t it? But we must not let reality intrude on our fantasy.
Pollock stew of Batesville, Va. — a nature lover and doctor — says he’s pondered this over the years “around campfires and with corn whiskey on hand.” He has two recurring thoughts.
“I would have loved to see the United States, especially my state of Virginia, before European settlers changed it,” he wrote. “Think of elk, buffalo, beavers everywhere and virgin forests of massive, ancient trees.
“My second thought is, thank goodness I live in an age with antibiotics.”
Cindy Ocamb from Corvallis, Oregon, would date back to a time before Europeans, before Europe, before humans, even, to the Cretaceous period, when – or when – she could see dinosaurs and witness the rise of mammals.
Cindy wrote, “I’m a plant biologist and the Cretaceous period was also when angiosperms started to populate the earth. Seeing these plant forms in vivid colors would be endlessly fascinating. Probably however, whatever period of time I might live, I would feel awe and wonder at the beauty of nature. But I wish I could have lived in a time when Mother Earth was less tainted by human activity.
Fast forward about 65 million years and you’ll be where Charles DeLuca from Mandeville, Louisiana would like to hang out.
Charles writes: “As a retired engineer, I think everything happened between 1870 and 1930: the great machines, relativity and its confirming experiments, the era of electronic communications (telephone, radiotelegraphy, transatlantic cable , electronic amplification), polyphase electrical power — just all that is needed to create the foundations of the modern era.
“I so wish I could have been a part of it.”
Great machines can be – usually are – beautiful machines, and even beautiful machines can be horrible machines. Joseph Harington of Wakefield, Mass., wonders what it would have been like to be born in 1920.
“At 20, I would have gone to England, I would have joined the RAF [Royal Air Force] and flew Spitfires,” he wrote. “I wouldn’t have reached 21, but what a journey I’ve come.”
Robert O’Connor of Columbus, Ohio, said he would choose the 50-year period between 1670 and 1720 in England or New England. The call ? “isaac watt write hymns, the Glorious Revolution, John Locke the writing of political philosophy, the early growth of the American colonies,” Robert wrote.
For Bruce McClellan from Turlock, California, the sweet spot is 1735 to 1800. Why? “An intelligent person could learn all known at the time,” Bruce wrote.
Learning everything would be great, of course, but learning a few things might be reward enough. The neighborhood one Kelly Elaine Marines would return to the Reconstruction period – those years after the Civil War – to meet his direct ancestors.
“I am in awe of them and want to know how they survived this time,” she wrote. “My great-great-grandfather and his brother… Edward Eugene Carter and Hannibal C. Carter — were captains in United States Colored Troops, then served in that fleeting time in American history when black men first exercised their right to vote and participate in democracy.
After the death of Edward, his widow, Mary Victoria Carter, remained with three young sons. “She attempted, unsuccessfully, to obtain her pension on several occasions, and her applications, written in elegant handwriting, are preserved here in Washington, at the National Archives,” Kelly wrote.
“Yes, I want to meet them and see what I can learn from their courage and intelligence in person, rather than imagined from a distance of time.”
Tomorrow: More time to travel.