Past and present collide

Do you know how fun and rewarding it is when something you heard about from your studies suddenly comes alive?  When connections that you never even thought about cross your path, and you realize that history is not just some old dry book of facts, but a living, breathing account of the lives and happenings of real people?   Well…it is pretty neat!

This happened to us out of the blue this week.  We picked up the next book in our current series that we are reading together, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and began to read.  Imagine our surprise when we came to the part where Laura’s family gets to take a train ride–you can be sure that all ears tuned in for that!  Our boys have turned into train fans for sure, and the whole chapter describing the noise, the danger, and the impressions of that train ride captured their attention.  We all listened eagerly to the details that Laura described to Mary, who by then was blind.

When we came to the paragraph describing the scenery out the train window, it was like past and present collided for our family.

“The whole car swayed now, in time to the clackety-clacking underneath it, and the black smoke blew by in melting rolls.   A telegraph wire swooped up and down beyond the window.  It did not really swoop, but it seemed to swoop because it sagged between the poles.  It was fastened to green glass knobs that glittered in the sunshine and went dark when the smoke rolled above them.  Beyond the wire, grasslands and fields and scattered farmhouses and barns went by.”

We happened to be driving as we read this part, and several voices shouted out at the same time, “Insulators!”  Yes, she was describing the telegraph poles, and the green knobs were the insulators!

To to most people, this probably wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow, but to us, it just clicked, and a connection was made.  Daddy is currently working along railroads similar to the one described, to take down those now-compromised telegraph poles, and green knobs, or insulators, still adorn those poles.  To many railroad buffs, these insulators are becoming sought-after collectors’ pieces, as their days are literally numbered.  To us, they are a nostalgic reminder of days past, and provide a tangible connection to the days of steam trains, westward expansion, and, now, to Laura Ingalls.

Don’t you love it when learning clicks?



2 thoughts on “Past and present collide

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