An Absence of Place

When the Past Vanishes

Anybody who is familiar with my journos will know that I tend to sentimental sketches and ramblings at times. If you are new here consider yourself warned. I once read that if you sit in one place long enough you will eventually run into everybody you know (I’ve spent enough time in bars and coffee shops to think there may be some truth to this). I’ve also read that if you live in one place long enough you will see pieces of your own past vanish (I’ve lived long enough in one place to think there may be some truth to this).

Broken Dreams (#205-edit)
“Broken Dreams”

There used to be this just low class enough, just dive enough bar that I frequented in my early twenties. It was one of those kinds of places you would go with friends to drink heavily and try to meet someone (or a least be a wing man for one your friends who was trying to meet someone). It was the kind of place where you would spend a good chunk of your week’s pay on not too cold beer and watered down whiskey drinks. It was the kind of place that had a second rate DJ on Friday nights and third rate bands on Saturday nights. It was the kind of place with long lines at the bathroom and a haze of cigarette smoke (showing my age here) over the dance floor. In short, it was the kind of place that was the source of many good times with friends, many of whom have faded away over time.  It’s amazing how we move from being friends who drink together until 3:00 a.m. to friends who occasionally “like” each other’s social media posts.  If friendships of youth vanish it stands to reason that the places, those dive bars, would vanish too. There were many nights spent at Dreams with Brad, Chris, Dano, Drew, Ken, and others. Dreams is gone, a fire burnt it to a shell, and I’ve lost touch with most of those friends, two decades can cause people to fade away.

Burnt Dreams Nostalgia (D70-edit)
“Burnt Dreams”

An absence of place (an old dive bar) and friends (moved on or faded away) can make you feel as if a part of life has vanished. But life isn’t a collection of places and proximity. Life is experiences and how we react to them. I went to the upscale bar and grill that has replaced Dreams a few weeks ago. I bought their cheapest beer, took a sip, closed my eyes and realized that the important things will never vanish if you care enough.


Lockport Coffin Race 2019

Boxcar Coffins, Bloody Marys, and Good Times

Brimming with Halloween spirit I attended Lockport’s Second Annual Coffin Race a couple weeks back. With my Nikon in one hand and a Bloody Mary in the other (which may account for the quality of some of these pictures) I posted myself on the corner of Hamilton and 10th and took a few snapshots and quite a few sips (there was more than one Bloody Mary involved). What follows is a bit of what happened.

Coffin Race Parade (D5300-editj22.66)Little did I know we were about to be pelted with an assortment of Halloween candies thrown by the racers.

Rum Runners Chasing Police (D5300-editj22.68)‘Rum Runners’ chasing the ‘Lockport Police.’

The Eye (D5300-editj22.66)Starting to wonder if I had one Bloody Mary too many?

Off Course (D5300-editj22.66)When these racers veered off course I wondered if they were sipping Bloody Marys too?

Bees Gone (D5300-editj22.68)Never thought I’d see a bunch of Killer Bees pushing a coffin to victory.

The Lockport Coffin Race was a fun time. There were some great teams with some wildly decorated boxcar coffins.


Past, Present, and Perspective

The Impact of Historical Reenactments

It doesn’t require a vast knowledge of history to know who was victorious in World War II, yet amateur historians like me continue to attend WW II reenactments. This past weekend was my eighth visit to the annual World War II Days held in Lockport, IL. I knew who would emerge victorious but I still went. There was a bit of a twist concerning this year’s reenactment that got me thinking about why I attend every year.

The three day living history event hosted Civil War and Vietnam War reenactors, but the main focus, as the title suggests, consisted of living history demonstrations and a reenactment of a battle from World War II. The battles reenacted have varied during my past seven visits but the premise was always the same, U.S. and allied forces battle and defeat a German force. The twist this year concerned the opposing forces. There were a few groups of reenactors that portrayed U.S. forces in the living history portion of the weekend, but the battle that was reenacted was between Soviet and German forces. Watching a Soviet force defeat a German force got me thinking about history from a long view. Germany was an enemy that needed to be defeated and the Soviet Union was an ally that was needed to defeat Germany, but history has shown the Soviet Union (maybe I should say Joseph Stalin) was not the great liberator of the masses it (or Stalin) presented itself to be. As I walked among the German, Polish, Soviet, and U.S. camps I got to thinking about how living history events and reenactments show us how fluid history can be (I don’t mean this in any sort of revisionist history way). History is a fluid timeline that in some ways folds back on itself. Reenactors exist in the present with a full knowledge of what has happened between the historical events they reenact and the modern day in which we all live. These living historians provide us with an experience from the past tempered with knowledge of the present.

Attending World War II Days gave me cause to think about the roles each of the major allied and axis powers had in the war and its outcome. The event allowed me to, for a brief moment, put myself in the time that was World War II and it left me thinking as I went home about the long term relationships those powers had after the war and how they shaped the world we live in. Living history events and reenactments, if done well like Lockport’s World War II Days, give us the opportunity to think about history and its impact on our lives, and this is a good thing.


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