Monday, July 14, 2008

"Visiting the Past..."

On Friday, after walking from Shinbashi Station up through Ginza and over to Yurakucho, I stopped by a "stand-bar" (cheap place to buy suds, where you stand - sometimes on the sidewalk - while you drink, thus "stand" bar) near Yurakucho Station, had a drink, and - looking at the old brickwork of the elevated railbed - pondered someone putting those bricks in place, one at a time. Then, looking down the street, I thought of stories an e-pal has written about the times he spent in Yurakucho, Ginza, and Hibiya Park in 1948-51. Maybe the bricks soaked up some of those times, because it almost seemed as though I could - realizing the brick-faced overhead railbed was the same as at that time - see him and the people of that time walking by in the distance - crossing under the railbed when going to and from Hibiya Park and Ginza.

The next step in that line of thinking was (naturally) a time machine, so I could actually go back and walk around in that era. And here I ran into turbulence. Supposing you really could go back to another era - you would have to have period clothes ready before crossing the time bridge, and you'd have to assume some sort of period identity. Someone asks you who you are, and you might have to actually be someone other than a time traveler, which would spoil the fun:

"What? Another time traveler huh? Well look here bud, this here is our time, and we don't appreciate you future time tourists coming here and treating us like funny animals in a zoo! Go back to where you came from, and stay out of the past! You don't belong here!".

The main attraction to going back, after all, would be to find out first hand exactly how it felt to live in that era, so being a part of the past - even for just a few hours - would be important.

And that's about where I was on Friday, when some people from a group also drinking at the stand-bar began to talk to me, and I shifted gears and re-entered the 21 century.

The flow of time has been on my mind since last Wednesday actually, when I attended a retirement party for a man who joined the company I work at in 1969. That was part of what got me going on the past on Friday, and then over the weekend I watched a color newsreel from... 1944 I think, that showed life aboard an aircraft carrier (with the title "Fighting Lady", if I remember correctly). The young men in the film seemed pretty much the same as the young men I remember from my school days. Maybe adjusting to the past wouldn't be so difficult after all. No Internet though....

Lyle (Hiroshi) Saxon

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