Are our lives really that different from the people who were around on July 4, 1776? Although slavery, class, and gender differences greatly restricted people, I suspect that many of our daily activities are still the same.
This morning, I finally got around to planting my seed potatoes. Since our house was built in the 1840s, chances are the family who lived there spent July 4th catching up on their gardening, too.
Across the street, I saw that my neighbor had put up an enormous American flag. The number of stars and stripes have changed, but the first flag dates back to 1777.
As I took a more leisurely stroll than usual around Jamaica Pond, I saw people sailing, fishing, and reading – things people might have done on a day off in 1776, provided they had the freedom and leisure time.
I stopped to chat with Juan, who was teaching his two sons, Gabriel and Ariel, to fish. The boys were sporting Mohawks, a hairdo that has certainly survived the centuries.
I also took a look at the little island in the Pond, one of my favorite sights. According to the JP Historical Society, this willow-covered isle was ingeniously built up over a promontory some time before World War 1. The island was devastated by Hurricane Bob in 1991, when all but one of the original willow trees was destroyed, but over the last two decades, the island has been built up again. The precise view has changed, even while I’ve lived in Jamaica Plain, but the effect is the same.
As I eagerly snapped photos on my iPhone and thought about what I’d write in my blog, I realized the irony. Sure, people have taken photos for nearly two centuries, but not on their cell phones. They wrote with quill pens, not with computer keyboards. The activities are the same, but the delivery vehicles have changed.
So two centuries from now, what technology will people be using on July 4th?