There is always "Somewhere In Time.."

There is always “Somewhere In Time..”

In the immortal words of John Donne, which most of you know, I quote a lot: “No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”  ~ Meditation XVII, 1624

In this wonderful retrospective posted by Gerard Vanderleun in his own American Digest it is hard to imagine that this happy pic was taken over 100 years ago. It has a “naturalness” about it that in some ways, defies even Time itself, and yet, we are all under the limits imposed upon us by God the Father Himself.

Keep reminding yourselves as you contemplate the images and text of this memorable piece, that this all took place in a single “this moment in time” moment, if you will. The very same “this moment in time” that Jesus Christ constantly reminds us of. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” ~ Matthew 6:34

All of this over 100 years ago, and yet we are connected by a hundred threads to the past; but Time marches on, as the old Chaucer quote would have it “time and tide waiteth for no man.” Those happy, joyful, people on the beach frolicking so carefree in the surf, how could they possibly guess at what the future would bring in just a few short years, how both wonderful and yet terrible it would be?

These images remind us all of who we are, and who we were when this pic was taken in the blink of a second, and that those days are gone, done, and dusted for ever. Not to be putting a sad disposition on anything, but just comprehending how fragile and inconsistent life is, whether it comes by enjoying a beautiful, fleeting summer day at the beach, or any one of a hundred or more other things that life is to be lived by…

Yes, the people in the pic are all long-dead now, but in a way, they live on in the inheritance they left us. This moment in time, has now become ours. “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” ~ William Faulkner, Requiem For A Nun


The Summer of Our Content…

August 1910: 104 years ago this month, it wasn’t the last summer but it was one of the last summers when America was at peace with the world and at peace with itself. The Civil War was a 45-year-old memory. The first of the World Wars that would scar the century to come was not even the shadow of a premonition. Lenin was an exile in Europe with no power and Mao was a student in Hunan. Hitler was living in a homeless shelter in Vienna selling paintings to tourists. Stalin was either being sent to or escaping from Siberia. Churchill was the Home Secretary in England and planning the first bit of social engineering, the National Insurance Act. Taft was President and his plan was “try to accomplish just as much [as Teddy Roosevelt] without any noise.”

Both the automobile and the electric light were ubiquitous. Air conditioning was still a wild fantasy, but the swamp cooler had begun to come online in 1904 so it wasn’t completely out of the question for the very rich.

Halley’s Comet had just passed by taking Mark Twain with it. Somewhere in Macedonia Mother Teresa had just been born. If men looked up they could have seen, had they been in the right place at the right time, other men in flight. If any had been in Sheepshead Bay outside of New York City on the 20th they would have heard the first gun shots ever fired from an airplane. Individual lives might have their small tragedies but there was no perceptible or imaginable catastrophe in the cards dealt Americans that summer. It was August and everywhere Americans paused to refresh themselves.

Presented for your contemplation: One wave breaking over a group of Americans who have waded into the Atlantic on the Jersey shore sometime around noon on a hot day in August in 1910.


The wave would have swelled up and started out far over the eastern horizon near the edge of the Gulf Stream. It would have rolled with strict impunity in the midst of thousands of others like it, all bound towards the shore. The photographer would have gotten up early and hauled his cumbersome equipment towards the shore. The bathers would have arrived in the late morning if they were not already staying near the shore.

Once there, they changed into swimming apparel known more for modesty than comfort. From the light it was around noon and would have been hot. Seeking to be cooler they waded in. Some stayed near the shore. Others waded further out into the steadily deepening water.

On some kind of elevated platform above the sand, the photographer put the 8×10 glass plate into the camera and ducked under the black hood for final adjustments. Then he stood up and called out and called out and called out and finally got the attention of some. Most ignored him.

The wave rolled in from somewhere over the horizon, rising up and down, maybe cresting here and there, until it swelled one last time and, just as the photographer happened to release the shutter, jumped up in that one moment and splashed and spattered the unwary people posed and unposed in the cool salt water just off the beach on the Jersey shore.

That was the moment, less than a second, in the midst of that summer now more than a century gone. All, each and every one, of those nearly 300 souls are now gone as well, even the children held on the shoulders or standing in the shallows, all gone – all perhaps, maybe, save one now almost silent centenarian.

Well, what of it? That’s the way of the world and the way of the waves of the world and our lives. What we have is this moment snatched out of time on the Jersey shore one afternoon in August before the last century went smash. Who is there? What were they like? It can’t be known, but it can be seen and what can be seen, at least in this one moment, is that these people had what anyone would recognize as that thing we call happiness. Let’s see what we can see of it…

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Sourced from Vanderleun : July 31, 14  | American Digest