Saturday, February 24, 2007

Squeaky Clean

I spent this afternoon watching a variety of documentaries plus one feature film that each depicted life in the early to mid 19th Century on the American plains. As the narrators inform us, life on the frontier was often brutal, unforgiving and harsh. Many people died young -- very young. Those who survived led a life of isolation and constant anxiety.

With all this as a backdrop, the various actors and actresses who acted out various depictions barely resembled the historical description. While food was often scarce, these people all looked well-fed. While bathing was an infrequent occurrence, all of our "characters" looked spiffy and squeaking clean. While most of these homesteaders lived far from towns and local trading posts, their clothes looked new and pressed with nary a hole or fray in sight.

As is often the case, we tend to romanticize the past. While our rational minds understand the hardships, our artistic expressions tend to be antiseptic. In essence, the past loses its hue and color. It becomes a snapshot frozen in time.

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