My Very First Time Trip

Today is the 100th Temporal Tuesday. Hard to imagine. I had only planned on doing one. For this momentous occasion I decided to do something different and tell you about my very first time trip forty-eight years ago.

The year was 2610. I finally got my Time Travel License. I can honestly say it was harder to get than my doctoral degrees in history and anthropology. The Institute of Time Travel insists on both. I don’t know why one needs either. I think it’s just a weeding process so they will have fewer travelers to deal with.

I had already applied to the Association of Temporal Anthropologists. My membership would be official as soon as I made my first trip into the past. I asked University of Cambridge if they would like to sponsor me. To join the Association a Temporal Anthropologist, one must be attached to a university. Being a sentimental lot, we try to get picked up by our old alma maters. Having a T.A. on staff is as prestigious as having a Nobel Prize winner, so any university that can will snatch us up. Cambridge was very eager to have me, for not only was I an alumni, I was also a native of the town. I was the classic local boy makes good.

So, I was all ready for my first trip into the Victorian Age. Whenever possible the Institute likes our first trip to be with an experienced older Temporal Anthropologist to show us the ropes. It’s what we call a Mentor.

Not that I hadn’t been trained, heaven knows. I had spent countless hours being groomed by Victorian re-enactors. I had practically lived in holographic mock-ups from real footage from the past. And there were the “ingraining” sessions at the Institute that I don’t remember much about, which I’m sure is the way they want it. My own family no longer recognized me.

The only Temporal Anthropologist covering the 19th century at the time was Dr. Henry Darrel from the University of Wyoming. Problem was his persona was a working class cowboy, mine was a gentleman scholar. And he had only been a T.A. for five years. Not ideal, but he was better than going it alone.

Sir Albert Leach in his younger days
(Always envied that magnificent mustache!)
Then I got a call from Sir Albert Leach. THE Sir Albert Leach himself! Sir Albert was a pioneer temporal anthropologist back in the old days before one needed a time travel license. He was one of the founders of the Association of Temporal Anthropologists. He had been knighted for his service to historians. The man was a living legend, a national treasure. And Sir Albert Leach was calling me.

I felt like I was fourteen again, the first time I had seen Sir Albert. My Grams Julia, the Victorian literature professor, had taken me to a lecture on campus. Sir Albert Leach presented footage of 1870 Cambridge that he brought back for the University. I was completely enthralled and vowed I would one day be a Temporal Anthropologist just like Sir Albert.

And here I now stood talking to my childhood hero and inspiration like we were old friends. Well, he talked like I was his old friend. I just stammered. Sir Albert asked if I would like him to be my Mentor and take me out on my first outing. He was willing to come out of retirement for me.

I managed to mumble a “yes.” I’m sure the fellow felt he was dealing with an idiot. As I hung up I remembered Dr. Darrel had already promised to mentor me. I called him up and apologized profusely for my rudeness. He just laughed, “Wendell, who do you think called Leach and put the idea in his head?” That is one I still owe the man.

The day came. Sir Albert looked so noble in his black silk top hat and frock coat made by Victorian tailors. He also looked a little frail. He was ancient by that time. A few more years and he would not have been able to make the trip. I fought the urge to kneel and kiss his ring.

Sir Albert gave me an appraising eye, and then smiled. “All right, Dr. Howe--mind if I call you Wendell?--if anyone asks, you are my sister’s son, Wendell Howe, from Cambridge, and this is your first trip to the big city. You will call me 'Uncle Albert' in the field. Understood?”

I nodded nervously.

He clapped me on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, old boy. You will do just fine, even if you aren’t an Oxford man. Besides we will give the natives that story to explain any awkwardness on your part. London is full of gawking tourists.”

London in 1888
My word, did I ever gawk! The minute I stepped out of the time machine into 1888, I was staring about, open mouthed. Every passerby, every object, filled me with wonder. No amount a virtual reality programs can prepare you for the real thing. Here I was in another time with folks long dead.

Fortunately most people didn’t notice me, but one woman frowned back at me as I stared at her.

Sir Albert tipped his hat to her. “Please, excuse my nephew. He’s a little touched in the head.”

She gave him a sympathetic look, and moved on.

“Now my boy,” he said patiently. “It is very rude to stare at strangers in this period, especially at women. They take it as arrogance or even a threat. Next time you find yourself doing that, cast your eyes down and beg their pardon.”

“I already know that. I forgot.” I gave a defeated sigh. “How am I going to remember everything? It’s so overwhelming.”

“You will catch on quickly. A polite tip of the hat or a humble apology can get you out of a lot of social faux pas. ”

“I don’t think I can pass myself off as a gentleman like you, Sir--I mean, Uncle Albert.”

He studied me a moment. “Maybe in time. However, you are going with an upper middle class persona with a large enough inheritance to pursue a life of scholarly interests. Plenty of those now running about with butterfly nets or haunting libraries. I believe some day the term will be ‘geek.’ Yes, I think you can pull that off quite nicely.”

Nowadays I can pull off a “refined gentleman” when I need to, but it is hard work. Quirky bachelor is my forte, perhaps because that’s what I really am. I’ve never been able to match the smooth elegance and sophistication that Sir Albert had. He still is and will always be the greatest temporal anthropologist of all time.

We didn’t have any special project for that trip. This was to be an uneventful dry run. I had only the reproduction clothes I stood in, so we went shopping for a wardrobe and other essentials for me. No question as to whether or not they looked authentic since they were the real thing. I stared at the sleeve of my new suit realizing this had been hand sewn by Victorian tailors, from cloth woven in Victorian mills, from wool grown on Victorian sheep, that had eaten Victorian buttercups! It was all so amazing to me. Even after all these years it still fills me with wonder.

Traffic Jam on London Bridge in 1888
We only stayed a week, but Sir Albert showed me as much as he could. He taught me how to travel by train, what people to avoid, how to sew on a button, how to cross a street with heavy traffic without getting trampled by horses or stepping in something unpleasant--things the Institute had never thought about.

Sir Albert was always patient and kind to me. He also had quite a sense of humour. I began to feel like he really was my uncle. I always knew I could call him any time and ask his advice. I mourned him greatly when he passed away. After all these years I still miss the dear old chap. And I know I can never fill his shoes. Best I can aspire to is to one day fill the pinky of his glove.


On the Edge of the French Riviera

Saturday, 8 August 1891 - Menton, France

Menton, France (unless you ask the Italians who call it Mentone)
Today I went about as far east you can go on the French Riviera before it becomes the Italian Riveria. Menton is almost on the border. In fact I was told there is a marker not far from here where one can stand so you can brag to the folks back home you were in France and Italy at the same time. One feels like they are already in both countries walking about the streets. The French town has a strong Italian flavor.

Until the 1860s Menton was a sleepy little fishing village surrounded by lemon, orange and olive orchards. Then the tourists discovered it. Now it is filling with villas for the wealthy and hotels for the not so wealthy. Unlike Nice, that is being turned into a poor imitation of Monte Carlo by gamblers, Menton is sticking to it’s tourist roots as a refuge for retirees and invalids sent forth by doctors in London.

Menton is mostly uphill
Menton is built mostly up the mountainside since there is little flat land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Maritime Alps. The town dates back to the middle ages, and I’m told there are prehistoric remains in the area.

I found a room on the west side of the bay at the Hotel des Isles Britanniques or Hotel of the British Isles. I wasn’t surprised to find the clerk spoke English. I have a room overlooking the garden. Sea views cost more. The staff is courteous and the place is clean. I would recommend it to any time travelers passing through.

Hotel of the British Isles
I’m looking forward to exploring this quaint town. I’m hoping to find the villa Queen Victoria stayed in.


The Heart of Monaco

Wednesday, 5 August 1891 - Monaco

I must apologize for being silent these last few days. TimeTweets was a bit dodgy. I think the good techs back home in the 27th cenutry have fixed it.

I have not been idle though. The last couple of days I have been recording Monaco as it looked in 1891. It now seems rather modest, knowing the tall buildings that will one day cover this tiny 3/4 mile nation.

Monaco is technically a city-state so the capital and nation are one and the same. The closest thing the principality has to a capital is the oldest section of the city known as the Rock of Monaco, or Monaco-Ville. It was the original medieval settlement and many of the walls are still here.

Rock of Monaco or Monaco-Ville
The most impressive building is the Prince’s Palace, which began as a fortress in 1191. In 1297 Francois Grimaldi captured it disguised as a monk. Doesn't sound cricket to me. Francois’s family still lives there.

Prince's Palace
In other countries when the royal family wishes to live in a nicer palace, they simply build a new one elsewhere. In Monaco, lacking space, they add a new wing. The resulting castle is a hodge-podge of various periods. They did whitewash the whole affair to give it a more homogenous look. Thanks to the money coming in from the casino across the bay, Charles III has been able to do restorations and a few additions to the ancient building.

On Tuesdays the Prince allows tours of part of the palace. There are frescos and paintings are everywhere. One room has rich red Damask material covers the furniture, as well as the walls.

The tour guide proudly pointed out the Duke of York room. I wondered why they had a room named after an English duke, then found out the poor chap had died there in 1767. No, nothing underhanded. Apparently the Duke was traveling by ship, fell ill and landed at the first port he came to. The Prince of Monaco put him in one of his best rooms, but despite Monaco’s best efforts, the Duke died. King George III of England was quite touched by the act of kindness toward his family. Not a bad ally for a tiny nation.

Close by is the palace is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-Immaculée (Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.) It is better known as Saint Nicholas Cathedral. I not sure why it has two names. Although the church dates back to 1252, the current structure built on it’s foundations dates back to the late decade.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception
or St. Nicholas Cathedral
The streets in the old section are narrow lanes, the whole place keeping it’s medieval flavor, without the medieval filth. The place is very clean and well paved. Besides government buildings, like the post office, there are shops. I visited them all to get vid.

On the southern and eastern end, on the rocks overlooking the sea, is the Avenue and Garden de St. Martin. Prince Honore V (reigned 1819-1841) carved the road out of solid rock and designed the garden. (Well, actually he had some laborers carve out the road, but he paid for it.)

Avenue and Garden of St. Martin
in the distance Monte Carlo
If one looks over the edge you can see prickly pear cactus clinging to the rocks. It’s said Franciscan monks planted them there to help defend the city from invaders. Yes, I can see where anyone brave enough to scale the cliff would be put off by these vicious plants.

Overlooking the garden is the Convent and College of La Visitation founded in 1673. The sisters abandoned it during the French Revolution. After that it was used as barracks, until 1862 when it was placed at the disposal of the Jesuits. In 1872 they made it an educational establishment. Next century they will turn it into an art museum.

Across from it is an orphanage for a couple of dozen girls. The are no poor houses, though there is an asylum for foreign laborers down on their luck. Poverty seems non-existent in Monaco at this time save for a few unfortunates that fell through the cracks and are given aid.

This is the real Monaco, in contrast to the gaudy, noisy Monte Carlo filled with tourists. I’m glad I am able to show how it looked before the skyscrapers and landfills will change it all. I can see why so many have fallen in love with Monaco.

Monte Carlo Casino, in the distance the Rock of Monaco
(the gaudy part of Monaco overlooking the heart of Monaco)


The Man Who'll Break the Bank at Monte Carlo

Friday, 31 July 1891 - Monte Carlo, Monaco

There is an ancient saying, “When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade.” So, what happens when they take away your lemons and leave you nothing? Then what do you do?

That is pretty much what happened to Monaco. Monaco was a principality along the Riviera that began in 1215 and has been ruled by the House of Grimaldi since 1297. In 1793 the French Revolutionary army, fighting for independence from the nobility, conquered and took Monaco. (I have absolutely no idea why. I suppose they were just on a roll.)

In 1814, with Emperor Napoleon defeated, Monaco went back to the Grimaldi family and became a protectorate of Sardinia. Remember in my last blog, when the King of Sardinia gave Nice and Savoy to France in 1860 in exchange for helping him become King of Italy? Somehow Monaco wound up as part of the deal, too. Some protector, eh?

France browbeat the House of Grimaldi into selling them 95% of their land, in exchange for which France allowed them to keep their independence. Now Monaco is nothing but a single town clinging to a cliff.

Bright blue shows what Monaco lost
Orange is what they have left
This is where Monaco lost it’s lemons. Most of it’s wealth came from the citrus orchards in it’s farmlands it no longer had. Not to mention Sardinia had been trying to destabilize the country for years, so they could annex it. Monaco found itself the poorest country in Europe.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. The Monte Carlo Casino was opened. They called it a spa, which did not fool the Pope, who had banned casinos. This made it Europe’s only casino at the time. Everyone from bored aristocrats to fortune hunters flocked into Monte Carlo. In a short time Monaco became so rich it did away with income tax in 1870!

Monte Carlo Casino
Of these fortune hunters, possibly the most famous, and least savory, is an Englishman named Charles Wells. That is why I am here today. Wells was here at the casino when they opened at noon, bragging to the rest of us waiting that he was “going to pull a Jagger.”

Wells was referring to Joseph Jagger. (I would say no relation to the later rock star, Mick Jagger, but apparently they are distant cousins.) Jagger, also English, was the first man to break the bank at Monte Carlo. “Breaking the bank” does not mean winning all the money at the casino, but rather winning all the chips on the table. A black cloth is draped over the table to show it is closed, until more chips can be brought in. Even so, it is no mean feat and almost never happens.

Jagger had a system. It did not involve a rabbit’s foot or not changing his lucky socks. Jagger was an engineer. He made a living knowing how things worked, and decided to figure out how the roulette wheels worked.

In 1873 Jagger went to Monte Carlo. He hired six clerks to watch the six roulette wheels at the Casino, and write down all the numbers. One of the wheels showed a bias for nine numbers, having a slight mechanical imbalance. Jagger put that knowledge to his advantage and bet those numbers on that wheel.

Customers playing roulette in Monte Carlo
After winning considerably over the next three days, the casino started to smell something fishy and began switching the wheels, and then moving the frets. Jagger knew he was beaten, took his £65,000 and went home, never to return. He quit his job at the cotton mill, invested his money in real estate and lived happily (or at least comfortably) ever after.

Now some might say Joseph Jagger cheated, but he was only using logic and did nothing illegal. The same can’t be said of Charles Wells. Rather than coming with his life savings, like Jagger, Wells has brought other folks life savings. He has gotten several chaps to invest in a bogus invention, and plans to invest that ill-gotten £4,000 in the roulette tables.

One of the waiting gamblers, listening to Wells brag, asked him how he planned to pull a Jagger. Wells winked and said he had a plan. He was going to use the Martingale System. I managed not to roll my eyes. This systems is just doubling your bets every time you lose. A rabbit’s foot works better!

No one took Wells seriously. The man is such an obvious loser. But I know for fact he is going to beat Jagger. He will be in the casino until it closes at 11:00 p.m. tonight and will somehow break the bank twelve times in those eleven hours, winning a million francs.

I’m here to record that event as best I can. I can’t hover over him that whole time least I be noticed, so I came yesterday and set up cameras around all the roulette tables. Hopefully no one will notice the “tacks” in the walls. I’m currently took a break for a cup of tea and to post this blog.

Charles Wells
Also unlike Jagger, Wells will return. He’ll come back this following November and repeat this feat, though it will take him three days next time. An army of detectives will be following him, trying to figure out how he is doing it. Turns out it was just one of the most incredible lucky streaks known to man.

The casino will lose a lot of money, but they’ll get it back when Wells comes back a third time next year and loses it all. Wells luck will really run out, for the police will also catch up with him. He will spend the rest of his life as a swindler, living in and out of prisons until he dies in poverty.

Monte Carlo will get something priceless from Wells--publicity! The number of patrons will rise as people pour in from England and elsewhere to repeat Charles Wells feat. He will start a “Gold Rush” for which Monaco will always be grateful.

Next year Fred Gilbert will write a song about Wells. “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” will be sung in Music Halls throughout England, and beyond. Everyone will want to be another Charles Wells.

No, I don’t think any of us really want to be another Charles Wells.

The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo sung by Maurice Peckman

Here’s a free online roulette game. This will show you how quickly you can go broke trying to win. (Don’t worry, it’s pretend money.)


What Does the Father of Italy Have to Do With Nice, France Anyway?

Monday, 27 July 1891 - Nice, France

Today I visited Place Garibaldi (Garibaldi Square) named for Giuseppe Garibaldi. If you don’t know who Garibaldi is, ask any Italian. He is called the Father of Italy, the military commander most responsible for uniting Italy into one country from a collection of small states.

For that matter ask anyone in 19th century Europe or the New World who Garibaldi is. His life reads like a Victorian adventure novel. (I’m sure he was the model for more than one ripping-yarn hero.)

Giuseppe Garibaldi
Born 1807, the son of a fisherman, Giuseppe Garibaldi started out as a merchant marine captain. He then fell in with the Carbonari revolutionary association who wanted to unify Italy and get rid of Austrian dominance. In 1834, he participated in a failed Mazzinian insurrection in Piedmont, for which he was sentenced to death.

Garibaldi flees to South America and winds up playing a prominent role in the Uruguayan and Brazilian Civil Wars. While in Brazil he meets another brave revolutionary, a lady called Anita--a lioness for this lion. They fight side by side, while making babies on the side. (Yes, they were married.)

In 1848, events came to a boil back home. The First Italian War of Independence is about to start. Death sentence or no death sentence, Garibaldi had to return and join in the fight. While in retreat from one disastrous battle, ever by his side, Anita died carrying their fifth child.

Once again he flees to the New World only this time to Staten Island, New York. He finds it too boring. (Italian Americans will build him a memorial to commemorate his being there anyway.) He heads for Central America. From there he spends a few years sailing the Pacific as a merchant captain.

Victor Emmanual II - King of Italy
Things calmed down enough in Italy for him to return in 1854. He buys half a small island and farms. Then in 1859 The Second Italian War of Independence starts and Garibaldi gathers up a group of 800 volunteers and joins in to kick out the Austrians. His victories and fame were such the man could have taken over Italy himself. But he handed it all over to Victor Emmanuel II, King of Piedmont, Savoy, and Sardinia and now King of Italy. Garibaldi wished only to retire on his farm on the Island of Caprera.

Like that would last. One year later he heard about the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States of America and volunteered his services to President Abraham Lincoln, but only on the condition that the war’s objective be the abolishment of slavery. Lincoln was still waffling on that one.

Just as well. There were still the Papal States to conquer if Italy was to be completely unified. Garibaldi and his volunteers marched on Rome. Unfortunately he forgot to ask the King of Italy, if he was also on board on this one. Big misunderstanding. Garibaldi was captured when he refused to fire on fellow countrymen from the Kingdom of Italy. He was tossed in prison long enough for Italy to save face and to guarantee that Garibaldi would stay put long enough to receive medical attention for the wound in his foot. Victor Emmanuel owed the old boy far too much to really punish him.

Garibaldi was more than ready for the Third Italian War of Independence in 1866. (Italy certainly has a lot of War of Independences.) Everyone else called it the Austro-Prussian War where Hanover and other Kingdoms lost their impendence. Italy was hoping to wrest Venice from Austria, so backed Prussia. Prussia won, despite the fact that Italy only won one battle--led by Garibaldi, of course.

The next year Garibaldi once again marched on Rome to wrest the Papal States from the Pope. Once again he forgot to ask the King of Italy for support. Once again he was wounded, this time in the leg. And once again he was imprisoned by the Italian Government long enough for things to die done and then released.

In 1870 the Franco-Prussian War broke out. Garibaldi rushed to the aid of his Prussian allies. While he was gone, the Italian army captured Rome without him, unifying Italy at last. (You would think they could have waited for him.) After the Second French Empire fell from within, Garibaldi switched sides to back the Third French Republic. (I guess he just liked the new name better.) The Prussian never defeated his Army of Volunteers.

Retiring from the battlefield, Garibaldi fought politicians. In 1879 he founded the "League of Democracy," which advocated universal suffrage, abolition of ecclesiastical property and the emancipation of women. Oh, and somewhere in the midst of all these battles, he wrote at least two novels and an autobiography. I’m not sure if he really got a lot of farming done. He died in 1888, a national hero.

Statue at Place Garibaldi
Now, you are all scratching your heads and wondering what does Garibaldi have to do with the French Riviera? Why did Nice name this square after him in 1870? And why, at this moment, is Nice building a beautiful fountain with his statue on top in that square?

Giuseppe Garibaldi, the Father of Italy, was in fact born in Nice. He was very upset to say the least, when Italian politicians traded Nice to France in 1861, for their aid against the Austrians. Other Italians were very upset, too. So upset they took Nice back for awhile in World War II.

The local Italians have a saying: “The Emperor Napoleon made Nice France, but God made it Italy.” It was the local Italians who insisted that the plaza the city kept renaming be named for Garibaldi. Since he was backing the French Republic at the time, the French went along and the name has stuck.

Alexandre Dumas
It’s probably not surprising that Alexandre Dumas, the novelist of The Three Musketeers, wanted to co-author his memoirs. If Giuseppe Garibaldi had never been born, Dumas would have had to invent him.


Women Heroes of World War II

Tuesday, 3 May 2658 - Cambridge, UK

This was a workday for me, doing all those tedious forms the Institute of Time Travel insists we do. I decided to take a Temporal Tuesday break, and go somewhen outside of the Victorian age.

So, I read the delightful book Rosie gave me. Dr. Rose Murphy, from the University of Ohio, is a Temporal Anthropologist studying mid-20th century America. Her first project was working in a ship-building plant during World War II just so she could call herself “Rosie the Riveter.”

The book is the 21st century classic Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue by Kathryn J. Atwood. Yes, I do read things other than Victorian, although not in the past, of course. Wouldn’t want anyone to find a history book of the future. Someone might be tempted to change history.

I must say, it is an brilliant book. In an era full of courageous women, Ms. Atwood tried to give a nice cross section, from movie stars to housewives. The book is divided up into countries, with an introduction telling the general experience of all women in each nation. She begins with Germany and explains how an advanced civilization could have sunk to such barbarism. It’s a warning to us all.

Among these amazing women are:

Marlene Dietrich: The German-born Hollywood actress who entertained in the USO on the front lines. (And found herself suddenly behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge.) What isn’t as well known is she worked with the OSS (predecessor to the CIA). She was America’s “Tokyo Rose” to the German Army, broadcasting to her countrymen, begging them to quit following a madman.

Marlene Dietrich, motion picture actress, autographs the cast on
 the leg of Tec 4 Earl E. McFarland at a United States hospital
 in Belgium, where she has been entertaining the GIs.
Tuttle, November 24, 1944
Josephine Baker: The poor African-American dancer who became the Toast of Paris. She repaid her adopted country by risking her life for France as a spy.

Maria von Maltzan: The German Countess who hid 60 Jews in Berlin under the very nose of Hitler and the German High Command.

Noor Inayat Khan: The delicate Indian princess who gave up a career as a children’s writer to live in occupied Paris, so she could operate a radio to transmit messages to London for the SOE resistance group.

Andree de Jongh: The Belgian nursing student who established the Comet Line, the escape route from Brussels, Belgium to a British pickup point in Spain. It was 1,200 miles long, mostly through German occupied country. She made the trip 32 times, escorting 118 Allied servicemen trapped behind enemy lines.

Irena Sendler: The Polish social worker who helped rescue 2,500 Jewish children from the infamous Warsaw ghetto.

Diet Eman: The 20-year-old Dutch bank employee who formed a resistance group with her fiancée, serving as a courier to help hide Jews and downed Allied pilots.

Nancy Wake: The New Zealand born journalist turned spy for the British, named “White Mouse” by the Gestapo who could never catch her.

This is only a sampling of these amazing ladies. Few of them were adventurers, just ordinary women thrust into extraordinary circumstances because they couldn't ignore their countrymen.

Nurses of a field hospital who arrived in France via England
and Egypt after three years service.
Parker, August 12, 1944
The book is not your normal dry as dust history book (even I find some of those boring.) The book reads like a series of adventure stories, since that is what they are. Fast paced and keeping you on the edge of your seat, Ms. Atwood gives our heroines the thrilling retelling they all deserve.

I would give anything to encounter any of these fine ladies. Pity the Institute of Time Travel will only allow me into the Victorian Age. Still Women Heroes of World War II made me feel like I had met them all.

Read excerpts from Women Heroes of World War II

Order the hard cover book from Amazon

Order the ebook from Booku


Training the Next Generation of Temporal Anthropologists

Monday, 2 May 2658 - Cambridge, UK

In my last blog I told you would be gone the next few days to take six students working toward becoming a temporal anthropologist into the wilderness to “live in the past” with no modern conveniences.

Now, I’m back from the Yukon. The long weekend went well. Everyone survived the “Deprivation Tank”. It’s what a student nicknamed the cabin years ago. I did not anticipate anyone throwing in the towel this time, but on occasion we have had medical emergencies.

You will remember the six I introduced you to in the last blog. They all showed up wearing clothes from the periods they will be studying. Since the ancient Nubians did not have winter gear, Taharqa Mayardit had to cheat a bit with a wool tunic and fur cape. Brigit Fitzpatrick teased him that he looked more Irish than Kushite since she was wearing a tunic and fur cape herself. Dawn Owhi wore a fringed deer hide dress with a buffalo robe. Ropata Hahona wore a woven Maori cape and Henri Luc Pétaintall cavalier boots and a broad brimmed hat with a plume. Archie Cocker rounded out the group in a Victorian sack suit, bowler and overcoat. I could tell they weren’t completely comfortable with their new outfits yet, but I told them they looked like proper Temporal Anthropologists.

There was still snow on the ground when the hovervan dropped us off in the mountains of the Yukon, so we had to dig our way into the cabin. It was nearly May so the snow was melting. Tarhaqa had not had much experience with snow, and was quite fascinated by the white stuff. It’s a pity the snow was too slushy for a good snowman. He tried making a snowball and only manage an iceball. Thankfully he threw it at a tree instead of my top hat.

I could not have asked for better guests. They were all polite and doing their best to make the most of what had to be to them an uncomfortable situation. My biggest problem was not finding volunteers for chores, but having to divide them up so everyone could get a chance to experience the joy of fetching water or doing dishes. This was all a new adventure for them.

We already had a good store of food and firewood, but everyone wanted to add to it so they could say they chopped wood. After the necessary tasks were done, we had a lot of time to talk. They each told about why they wanted to be temporal anthropologists and what they had already done to prepare. None of them have yet been subjected to the rigorist training the Institute of Time Travel will put them through.

Dawn said she built a real tule hut like her ancestors. She said on the Columbia Basin it got very hot in summer and very cold in winter. The vegetation is just bunch grass, sagebrush and brittle basalt, so the natives there had little to work with. They would make frames out of drift wood and then pile on mats made of tule reeds. In hot weather they would just put the mats on top to create an open sunshade. In the winter they would cover the frame with several layers of mats until it was nice and warm inside.

I pointed out to them all this was a good example of human ingenuity. Remember no matter how primitive people in the past might seem, we are really no more intelligent now, just more technologically advanced. It’s very likely this structure was invented by one woman who came up with this brilliant idea.

Dawn sighed ruefully. “My idea wasn’t so brilliant. I thought maybe I could make a hut to learn to live like my ancestors did. I picked a spot away from all the houses, made a teepee frame and covered it with mats. Of course I had to show it off. I told my family I was going to spend the summer there. All my cousins wanted to join me, and they brought their modern camping gear, their computers, their junk food--I might as well have been sitting in my living room!”

“Maybe when the novelty wears off they will let you have the place to yourself.” I tried to cheer her up.

Archie smiled at Dawn. “At least your family didn’t have a fit. I’ve been trying to learn to shave with a straight razor, but my mother always stops me. She’s afraid I’ll cut my throat.”

“Yes,“ I said. “My mum did the same thing. Wait until you show up one day on their doorstep, and they find their little boy is gone and all they have is a chap from the 19th century.” I looked around the room. “Or someone from the 17th, 8th or 2nd century B.C.”

“Isn’t that suppose to be BCE?” Ropata corrected me.

“They said BC in the 19th, so I do, too. I don’t even own modern clothes. I don’t feel right in anything but Victorian. I feel more at home in the past. You won’t be the same person after you are ingrained into your period of study. Well, deep inside you will be the same person, but your family is going to see this stranger from another time. My Dad’s family does their best to tolerate me, but they usually act a bit uncomfortable around me. As for my Mum’s side, they don’t even speak to me. I’m no longer their Wendell, and they see me as the man who done him in.”

All their eyes got big. They hadn’t considered this possibility.

Henri brought up another problem. “Is it true temporal anthropologists have to be celibate?”

“Only in the field. We aren’t allowed to get involved with anyone in the past, least we change their lives. You can’t even make friends. Think about it. All your close friends have probably left an impression on you. You can’t leave an impression on anyone in the past least you change their life and history.”

“But you can have girlfriends in the present, right?” Henri looked scared.

“Of course, but good luck. It’s hard to maintain a relationship if you are seldom home. I’ve heard of temporal anthropologists getting married and with the right person it can work. But it is never easy. They usually end in divorce.”

“And we can’t take anyone back with us.” Taharqa pointed out.

“No, unless they are licensed time travelers and you are all discovering how difficult that is to get. A few are lucky enough to find a time traveling partner. Once in a while I get to go back with another temporal anthropologist on certain projects. Let me tell you, those rare occasions are a treat, just to have someone you can talk to. It can get very lonely in this line of work. It’s the major cause of burnout.”

They all looked disheartened at that thought. Then Brigit spoke up. “In early Christian Ireland, there were few martyrs killed for the faith. The Irish called them “Red Martyrs” and actually felt jealous of them. So they invented other types of martyrdoms. The one considered the noblest of all was “White Martyrdom.” That meant you had to leave your family and your home to travel to a far away place never to return, all for the sake of God. Aren’t you a bit of a “White Martyr,” Dr. Howe? You’ve given up family and home to bring back the truth for the sake of all of us? Isn’t that what we all will become?”

I looked into those shining green eyes. “That was beautiful, my dear, although I don’t think I rate up their with the saints.” I looked around at all of them “There is one compensation, though. You look in the eyes of someone who has been ingrained to fit ancient Rome or the Aztecs and they should seem alien. But they don’t. Temporal anthropologists may all look so very different, but we aren’t inside. Few people will ever experience what we do--to travel back in time and gaze upon the faces of their ancestors. Temporal Anthropologists are a tight knit group, a brotherhood. You won’t truly be alone.”

They looked at each others clothes and then at their faces and smiled. They were already feeling that, and they weren’t even time travelers yet.

“Just remember, whether you can hang on for fifty year, or get burnt out after five, any information, any artifact, any video you can bring back is a priceless treasure for the entire world. It’s worth the sacrifice.”