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Through Your Eyes

Text by: Polite Society Readers

In response to our monthly query, our readers and contributors answered the following question:


If you had the chance to take one trip in a time machine, where and when would you choose to travel?

Raechele Garcia: 28 August 1963, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C - to witness one of the greatest men in history, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., deliver a monumental speech to the world!

Malinda Holmes: As a historian, it would be hard to only pick one. I do love Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous speech at the Lincoln Memorial, but being present on November 19, 1863, would also be an equally interesting speech to hear-- Lincoln delivering his famous 'Gettysburg Address.'

Jacque Watene, Editor-in-Chief: If I could travel through time to any point, though it's so difficult to narrow down, I would love to have tea with Jane Austen!

Aaron Watene: 1982. When I was a kid.

Ariel Watene, daughter of Jacque Watene: I would travel to ancient Europe to visit the Druids.

Elijiah Watene, son of Jacque Watene: I'd go to Medieval Europe, where there are like, dragons and stuff... and I would be a knight.

Brittany Knotts: This is a difficult question for me to answer, because I so love history. I would love to have been there to witness the storming of the Bastille in Paris; for Galileo's announcement that the Sun, and not Earth, was the center of the universe; with Charles Darwin when he developed the his theory of evolution; to try to stop President Truman from deciding to go ahead and drop the a-bombs on Japan; or to witness dinosaurs roam the Earth... my list is probably just as infinite as time itself. I suppose, though, the era I feel I really belong in is the 1960's, a time when life was all about peace, love, and rock 'n' roll. So if I could pick one place on one date, I think it'd be White Lake, New York on August 17th, 1969, or as it's better known, the third day of Woodstock. Any of the three days of that festival would quench my thirst for the hippy experience, but on the last day, Jimi Hendrix played. To have been there for that... wow. But if my time machine breaks and I don't make it there, the nerd in me will settle to be present when Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and the DeLorean arrive to the future on October 21st, 2015.

Myles Steimle: I'd go back to right when surfing was invented, because then I'd know I could work with a shaper to shape a great board, and I could surf un-crowded waves.

Christine Pethel, Editor-in-Chief: I would go back to grade school. I'd do a lot of things differently. Or I'd travel to the future to see how things turn out. Sometimes that scares me, knowing too much, but I also really enjoy reading the end of a book before I can get through the first few chapters. Once I know everything turns out okay in the stressful, contentious parts, I can peacefully read the entire book. I would use that bit of reasoning and definitely travel 50 or 100 years into the future. I also like the thought of seeing all the new technology that would be used then.

Brian Pethel: I would not want to "travel" to a specific time per se (as in, to be there and allowed to interact), but rather there are two events that I would like to "witness". First, I would like to witness the Creation, The Big Bang, the beginning of Time and the Universe. Wow, that must have been a sight. Second, I'd like to witness the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; even though I'm not sure I'm quite ready for it to actually happen :).

Heather Powers: 1969 - My first day at school, because it was exciting. I spent the whole day with my mom, just her and me, and we experienced the whole day together..."

Alicia Carter: I'd want to witness the Impressionist Period. Or go back to see Conan O'Brien host The Tonight Show.

Jennifer Hunsaker: There really is nothing of historical significance that I would want to witness first hand. Going back to the Middle Ages, I would have to pee in a pot. Literally. If I went back to the 1960s, I would have to witness civil unrest and an unpopular war - we've got that now. I couldn't prevent 9/11, because the government wasn't even listening to itself at that point. I would go back to the summer just before I met my husband. I had just finished my master's degree, and I was working for the university doing my last summer of freshman orientation. I would want to just drink in what it was like to be 22 and surrounded by friends in an environment where I didn't have a care in the world beyond making enough money to travel across the country. I wouldn't change anything. I wouldn't do anything differently. I would just soak up the days and long summer nights and love every minute of it.

Julia Ferguson: I would like to go back to one of my teen years and really savor the time spent with

Nancy Schultz: To answer this question, first of all, I would tell you what time I wouldn't want to go back to, but I think my children would disagree. It would be the era of the 1960's, a.k.a., the era I grew up in. Things were so scary and tumultuous! We had fears and threats of nuclear bombs and war; we even considered building a bomb shelter in our basement. The Civil Rights Movement was so violent with riots, along with the Vietnam War, which drafted many of our young men, many of whom were close friends of mine. I know many of my children love the music and styles back then, but I lived it! The movie Forest Gump depicted it perfectly, and the new movie and book, "The Help" is also a perfect depiction. Watching them both makes me feel like a teenager again, reliving those times of bigotry, discrimination, and prejudice.

For where I'd like to visit: When my husband and I were staying in an old hotel, we needed to kill some time, so we decided to visit the great display they had about the early days of the hotel - when it opened, what dignitaries have stayed there, etc. I was really taken back in time. As I looked at the memorabilia and pictures, I kind of felt like Christopher Reeve in Somewhere In Time, when he looked at that picture of Elise McKenna. I wished I was back at the time when this hotel had opened, which was in 1911, a year before my own father was born, and about the time the Titanic went down. I loved the clothes and the architecture - so beautiful and ornate. Time wasn't as backwards as we sometimes think it was back then - there were already gas lights, indoor plumbing, and the invention of cars, although there were horses and buggies too, which I love as well. There was still a feeling of "elegance" to life. There was propriety and etiquette. People dressed so nicely when they went out in public, even just to go shopping, not like now, so casual and grubby. Dinner was always set each night with beautiful table linens, china, silverware, and goblets. They would have never set a table with paper plates and plastic cups just so they didn't have to wash dishes. I learned a lot about appreciation for the finer things from my mother and grandmother, and I hope I have passed that on to my daughters. So I guess I would say that I would visit the era of the "Turn of the Century." I guess you could also consider it still part of the Victorian Era, even though it was toward the end of it, and was named after Queen Victoria of England. Thank goodness for England! They still have some of that elegance even now. Even Prince William's modern-day wedding depicted that.

Amy Carpenter: I think I would go back to the early 1930s, back to the farm where my mother grew up near Lewiston, Idaho. I've heard her stories and seen pictures of her farm and family, and I visited the area often with my parents when I was young. But I want to meet her grandparents, uncle, and aunts. I want to see firsthand what life was like for her. I want to see my grandma and grandpa when they were young and vibrant. I want to see the little, red chair and table that my mother played on and which my children still play on. I want to see her ornery goats and patient horse. I want to watch my mother's imagination in action as she acted out being a sea captain or an Alaskan explorer. I want to see all the stories of her childhood in living color.

Sylvia Will: I would travel to the time and place of Biblical times and listen to the Sermon on the Mount LIVE.

Leah Grammer: I would go back to the 1500's, back to when the Tudor's ruled England. I think Henry VIII was such an interesting man, and ruled his kingdom with his heart and not his head. Or better I guess, by the heart of the women that he was with. I don't know that I would want to live during that time because it was such a hard time for women, but to be a shadow and to watch from afar would be my choice.

Blake Werner: Wow... how do I answer a question like that? Do I go back to the day I met my ex and JUST SAY NO?? But then I wouldn't have my kids who make me very happy. Do I go back to a true love and make everything work out? Could that really happen? Would we have control over something like that? Or do I just indulge in pure fantasy and go visit some historical time? Honestly, I don't have a single one that I would... because there is no time I can think of without its major drawbacks. I think I'll just learn from that truth and make THIS TIME, right now the best it can be.

David Lumb: I love this question, but its range of possibilities produces a tyranny of choice: Einstein? Tolkien? Charlemagne? Da Vinci? Elvis? There are a thousand wrong answers, depending on who you ask. So instead, I'd go back and see myself. Narcissistic? Partially - I'd want to see myself growing up. I remember moments of trauma or discomfort or victory or fury, all blurred through the lens of childhood. Those moments when I chose to do cruel things or cloister secrets instead of confessing - do they make more sense from the outside looking in?

Audrey Niffenegger's book, "The Time Traveler's Wife," features the conceit of a main character who travels back in time, often to the infamous day when a family member dies but protagonist Henry escapes unscathed. Tender moments nonetheless emerge when Henry travels back before the accident and sees his family, whole and happy, existing in the bliss before destiny. If I traveled back to see me as a nascent bumble of emotion and inexperience, I'd get to see something far richer: my parents, rough and wide-eyed with the responsibility of life, barely older than I am now. I'd see two barely-adults learning to struggle valiantly against all the mundane terrors chipping away at patience and love, newly minted from the altar. I'd know that before they were monoliths of capability and well-tested affection, they were rough stone similar to the crude block they can no longer shape with choice words and heavy lessons. I'd go back to see the love and pain it cost to bring me here; I'd know the me I've become from their labors.