Sunday, July 26, 2009

Travel Through Time

You have to know the past to understand the present.
-Carl Sagan

Once in our lives we ought to concentrate our minds upon the Remembered Earth. We ought to give ourselves up to a particular landscape in our experience, to look at it from as many angles as we can, to wonder about it, to dwell upon it. We ought to imagine that we touch it with our hands at every season and listen to the sounds that are made upon it. We ought to imagine the creatures there and all the faintest motions of the wind. We ought to recollect the glare of noon and all the colors of the dawn and dusk.
-N. Scott Momaday

The past is visible to those who have learned to see it. It is possible to break out of the present and move through time to view the world in a different way.

I’ve been doing plenty of time travel this week, thanks to the new book, Jackson County, by Nick Breedlove and Lynn Hotaling. This beautiful pictorial history includes a vast collection of photographs dating back to the 1800s, showing street scenes, churches, schools, and landscapes. In the blink of eye, you can travel to a Jackson County before the hydroelectric projects and a Jackson County before the arrival of automobiles.

The text of the book offers just enough background to give you an appreciation of the images, and the older scenes are matched with contemporary shots taken by Breedlove to reveal a "then and now" comparison.

Some of the places have changed very little. Some are gone completely. And others take a moment to recognize.

Take, for instance, this building…

It should look familiar, even if the setting doesn’t.

Hoey Auditorium still stands at Western Carolina University, although with considerably less elbow room today.

And that’s one of the delights of this book. It allows you to see Jackson County in a different way. Every day, I pass by a nondescript parking lot on Main Street in Sylva. Little did I know that back in 1959 the lot contained a whole fleet of shiny new cars for sale – Oldsmobiles and Jeeps and Studebakers and Ramblers. Wow!

Lynn and Nick will have a book signing for the debut of Jackson County, this Monday, July 27 at 5:00 p.m. at City Lights Bookstore, East Jackson Street, Sylva.

Thanks and congratulations to the authors for their latest contributions to the cultural heritage of this area.

Jackson County, $21.99, Arcadia Publishing. Available at local retailers, online bookstores, or through Arcadia Publishing at or (888) 313-2665.

1 comment:

Gary Carden said...

The photo of Hoey was probably made about the time that I rode my grandfather's oil truck to Boodleville and met Coonie for the first time. He was feeding a frozen chicken to WCTC's mascot, that used to be kept in a chain-link cage on the hill.