Safari to 1946

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Time Machines are a tricky business.  They conjure up possibilities of vast fortunes, limitless power, and the unimaginable possibility of changing the course of history itself.  Or if you’d rather, the ability to escape the shackles of our time entirely, and venture off into the unknowable realm of the future.  The excitement that such an idea brings to mind is almost universal among us, however I would argue that fewer people would choose this escape than one might estimate;  I know I wouldn’t.  The present is an unbelievably beautiful place;  a beauty which people never fail to take for granted.  Every single connection with the people around us, which we cherish so deeply, are inevitably chained to the present with a metal stronger than any mithril Tolkien could dream of.

Maybe I just don’t fancy myself as a Time Traveller, but this present age is the one in which I belong.  If I could use the machine to acquire anything, it would be a single photograph in a simple wooden frame, which I would keep on my desk.  So I believe I would set out on one adventure through time before destroying the machine myself.  In this Bradburian Safari, I choose to make one stop in the past, armed not with a rifle, but with a camera to forever embed the history I seek in stone.  Let it begin…

First stop, 1946.  A turbulent time for not only America, but the entire continent of Europe.  However, my business is in Vermont, where I seek a young 21 year old navy pilot by the name of William Kimball.  I find my target at a local bar, surrounded by several of his friends from the navy and from his high school.  I approach the heavy oak table, introduce myself, and offer to buy the next round.

An hour later, having heads thoroughly filled with jovial conversation and bellies equally full of drink, most of his friends departed and the young woman sitting next to him (who I had learned was his wife of 3 years) kissed Bill and retired as well.  I congratulated him as the brunette exited the room, and he asked me if there was anyone special in my life, to which I replied “Well, yes, but she doesn’t exactly know it yet.”  “Haha, well then you need to do something about that!” he shouted across the table, the level of his voice elevated by the empty pitcher of beer between the two of us.  Bill laughed hysterically as I joked I would get around to it in around 60 years or so.

Around one o’clock in the morning, Bill and I stumbled rather clumsily out of the bar and began walking to his home, which he had generously offered to me as a place to spend the night.  I stop him at a lamppost and ask if he would mind taking a picture.  “Good friends are worth remembering,” I said.  I set my camera on a nearby stone wall, and upon my return to the lamppost Bill throws his arm on my shoulder.  The cold Vermont wind picks up and Bill quickly turns to button his jacket.  “I haven’t seen a camera like that one before,” he said lightly, “where did you come across it?”  He turned around to receive his answer but found himself alone under the light of the lamppost.

My grandfather died of lung cancer a day after my first birthday.  I never got the chance to meet him until now.



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