A kind of introduction
“History is a kind of introduction to more interesting people than we can possibly meet in our restricted lives; let us not neglect the opportunity.” — Dexter Perkins
It’s not surprising that the people who tend to show up in history books are interesting types. But as I’ve often said here, I think everybody is interesting, when you look closely enough. Many everyday people who lived in generations past would be fascinating to talk with today.
I appreciate the way historical parks and museums have become so much more interactive. Costumed docents and interpretive staff members lend a touch of drama and an air of authenticity that helps us feel we have stepped back in time. Some of these people are amazing in their ability to stay in character for the time they represent. I imagine that many of them have some degree of theatrical training in addition to their knowledge of the era.
Often there are look-alike actors playing famous individuals from history, but most of these costumed staff are playing the roles of ordinary people: shopkeepers, soldiers, farmers, school children. It’s fun to talk with them and pose for (anachronistic) photos with them. I’ve “met” Thomas Jefferson, Queen Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll, among many others, but some of the most engaging people I’ve met are typical citizens whose names are not often found in the history books.
We have so many opportunities, in reading books or visiting historical sites, to be introduced to unforgettable characters from other worlds. I hope you will not pass up the chance to get acquainted with some of those who helped shape our past.
One year ago today: