Into the Past

As we enter the car, we prepare for a journey into a historical time.  As we travel our car changes into a buggy powered by two horses.  The streets are no longer paved and a path of packed dirt lies before us.  Many of the buildings are the same, but different.  This is downtown like we have never seen it before. The sidewalks are busy, like always.  People pass to and fro, gazing into storefront windows, filling bottles from the fountain, and dipping feet into the hot springs.  Unlike normal, the men are dressed in long black pants with suspenders.  Some of the men have on dress coats and the women are dressed in their Sunday best, with wide brim hats, long full skirts and carry parasols.  Other horse and buggies pass by, people way and holler “howdy.”  Here there are no strangers, just neighbors.

As night falls, the pedestrians change.  No longer do we see the dressed up house wives perusing the store goods. The women are now dressed gaudily with low cut dresses, bright lipsticks and kohl lined eyes.  The men, many in shirt sleeves, are viewing the women.  Scantily clad women adorn the upper windows of the store fronts, displaying their goods.  The only thing missing is a price tag.

We caution the children not to look; never realizing the sights they see now are not nearly as provocative as those they see in our real life.  What have we become?  Where have we gone?  Is this life, full of organized crime better than the one from which we came?  The life where crime is the life, where women do not need price tags and where the dress is less than modest?

As we pass through the gate, again we transform.  The buggy fades away and once again we are in downtown Hot Springs where the busy sidewalks team with tourists, all strangers.  People dip their feet into hot springs and vendors hawk their wares from storefront doors.  Here, there are no neighbors, just strangers.

This is a creative exercise designed to describe a present place from a historical perspective.

28 thoughts on “Into the Past

  1. Very well thought out and written, easy to keep up with. As a reader i could imagine everything you wrote because of the great detail you put on the people and changes of the town. At the same time this story is so true and makes the reader think about the difference between now and then, and how much everything and everyone has changed since. Very successful at describing a present place from a historical perspective.

  2. I really love this short story. I love history and i really related to this story. It was also very descriptive and I felt like i was in this time period and on this trip.

  3. I like how you compared historic hot springs to modern day hot springs. The story was clear and easy to follow. The story was very detailed which made it easy for the reader to feel like they were a part of the ride.

  4. This story is very well thought of, while reading this i had a vivid picture in my head of the details you were saying about the town and the people. Its like a short movie in your head as you read, I could definitely imagine all of the creativity you had to put into this because future & past are so different.

  5. I walk downtown almost every week, and this story really registers with the truth within how downtown is a stranger fest. This story really gives a warm feeling about the true illustration of what downtown used to be. Downtown is full of a variety of people, but never have I thought it to be a ‘family feeling’ until I read this story. This illustration is an enjoyable read.

  6. I like how you compared a car to a horse and buggy in the first paragraph. I really enjoyed the comparison between hot springs downtown on a Sunday morning/afternoon and then at night. it gave you a real feel to the town how in the day its a nice place. Lots of people dressed in there nicest attire in the day. Just leaving church going downtown to shop. How in the night all the shady characters come out on the streets. The criminals and the hookers. How hot springs is a completely different town at day and at night.

  7. I like the way you portrayed the town from the past to the present! It’s funny how things change drastically over a few decades. I could see the people from your detail, I wish we could go back to how it used to be. Thank you for sharing your stories they keep me engaged from start to finish! 🙂

  8. This story has a very good meaning. It gives a summarization of the travel threw time where everyone was modest to now where people just let their “stuff” hang out wherever it needs to when warring clothing that is too small. Asking the question “What have we become?” makes this stand out to me. Where has the modesty gone from people? This story makes a valid point, a point that may make many people think about. The story also makes a point that we are all strangers now compared to how it was before when everyone knew everyone.

  9. I feel like I was sitting in the cart with you. I liked how well put together this story is. I felt like I was reading a movie (if that makes sense). The details were so descriptive.

  10. I enjoyed reading this story because I like the history of Hot Springs. It was very easy to read and very easy to follow, it didn’t stray off subject at all. It mentioned how it is the same, but different, and then continued to explain HOW it is different. I like how it prefaced what I was about to read instead of steering me into the dark. I think the way it is written gave a person a good picture in their mind of what Hot Springs was, and is – even if they’ve never been there before. I’m anxious to know if there are other people out there who have written about past and present Hot Springs as well.

  11. This is one of the most creative things that I have ever read. I used to vacation in Hot Springs and the Village every summer so I was very interested in this story particular. being that I have filled plenty of those jugs and stuck my feet in the springs several times I felt apart of the story in a way.

  12. This is a very thought out and well descriptive story. I feel as if I am riding along in the car telling the children to close their eyes. As the sunlight faded, one could also vision the change of type of pedestrians. I can picture the women in their low cut dresses and bright lip stick and the men viewing them. As you went through the gate I saw the transformation into the Hot springs that the tourist view it as. I love this well detailed story.

  13. This short story was very easy to read and the first moment I started reading it I knew exactly where you were talking about… downtown Hot Springs. The story has a good meaning and within this story, you were able to tell two sides of a story. One in which there was a horse and buggy and people were modest. And another side to tell about what the world has become today, which is true. Throwing in that piece of time travel added something special to the story. I enjoyed it!

  14. I enjoyed reading this story very much, I love how downtown hot springs is described with very nice detail, you give a great glimpse into the past of historic downtown with this peice

  15. I loved this story! I am not from here in Hot Springs but have lived here for about seven years on and off. The history of this town amazes me. It is so interesting. Ghost stories, haunted hotels, Bonnie and Clyde, the gangsters and their activities, gambling and prostitution even. Often, I wish it was simple to go back in time and see it from the people’s perspectives then. Stories just like this one allow us as readers to do just that.

  16. This story makes me want to travel back in time to a friendlier age. Walking down downtown would be filled with welcoming greetings,and even though you don’t know anyone around you, you still feel like they are all your friends. Now, in 2016, you cannot even walk through downtown and feel safe. There are no smiles, no friendly hellos, just reckless teens bumping into you from looking at their phone screen. I feel like you could have incorporated the differences in today’s age and back then. It makes me think about how I could make our community more welcoming to everyone. You portrayed Hot Springs great, because I knew what you were talking about from the beginning.

  17. It was interesting to bear witness to the switch from present-day Hot Springs to a by-gone era. I feel that the reference to crime in this historical golden age of America, and the subsequent reflection in our modern-day society is subtle, yet direct in scope, directing the reader to inspect the circumstances avoided by a mother and mindful parent

  18. Amazing story composition! It really gives a picture as to how we have evolved or rather devolved as people and as a society. When looking at downtown hot springs, you are left with an impression that something meaningful and special once lived there. It is now trying to regain a pulse, but barely holding on. I have actually had several discussions with developers, people who are in the midst of revamping the entire downtown area, and many feel the best way to generate interest and economy would be to restore the original structures instead of putting in all new buildings. Places must preserve their history.

  19. I like this one. It describes what i’v felt walking downtown most of my life. Iv always wanted to see and feel this town at its peak, before the buildings began to run down and the big buildings lay mostly empty. Its nice to have someone put my feelings to words.

  20. This short story was a blast to read and very interesting You really captured me in how you transformed your perspective to now and before. I could only imagine how subtle and more friendly it used to be before generations began to change to now. My imagination exploded with all the details you explained. I felt like i was there all the way you gave Down Town Hot Springs a different meaning. I loved this story!

  21. I really liked the idea of this story comparing the old downtown Hot Springs to the new showing how we have changed over time from a people that greet each other in the streets to people that walk down the sidewalks seeing nothing but strangers. I also liked the way you used imagery in the beginning to not only describe the old times but compare them with how things are today. Doing it that way you only needed one short paragraph to describe both time periods well enough for someone to get a good idea of what downtown Hot Springs is like if they have never been. Although the end was short it got to the point and really made me think about the differences in today’s world both positive and negative.

    Overall, you did a great job of putting a lot of descriptive content and still managing to make your point in a very short period of time. I actually really liked this story.

  22. I really enjoyed reading this story. It really painted a picture of downtown Hot Springs. I liked the comparison of what was considered vulgar back then to what is considered vulgar now. At least then you had to go into town to see it. Now kids have access to things 100 times more vulgar in their pockets with their phones. The line ,”Here, there are no neighbors, just strangers.” hits a nerve with me, because it is true. I’m only 30 years old, but I remember going to downtown Hot Springs with my grandfather to get a haircut and everyone knew him. Everyone was friendly and genuine. Now people will hardly give you a passing glance unless there is something to mock you for. I may not be old enough to have rode in a carriage, but I am old enough to remember the kindness of a neighbor. This story reminded me of that time.

  23. This is a great story, it was easy to follow and imagine how everything looked in the past and now in the present.
    Specially how the story about the city of Hot springs goes from all good, friendly, well dressed people during the day to a complete different scene by night when everything crime, sin and lust is at is fullest.
    Good people rising in the dawn and disappearing at dusk, bad people rising as the dusk and disappearing at dawn.
    However, nowadays night-time people are out 24/7.

    • Lorena,
      “Good people rising in the dawn and disappearing at dusk, bad people rising as the dusk and disappearing at dawn.” This is a great takeaway comment and observation.

  24. In reading “Into the Past”, the author’s twist on the theme of “the Good Old Days” intrigued me. From the dress of the people from the past to their friendliness I was presented with a romanticized view of the past. I do believe the author in several places used comparative terms without making a true comparison; i.e. “Many of the buildings are the same, but different.” Different how, I was teased with a comparison without one being made, and “Unlike normal, the men are dressed in long black pants with suspenders.” Once again what is the normal? Consequently, I am left to fill in the blanks of the author’s vision. Nevertheless, I did like how the author left the reader to ponder several morality questions on what I call the question paragraph.

    ” We caution the children not to look; never realizing the sights they see now are not nearly as provocative as those they see in our real life. What have we become? Where have we gone? Is this life, full of organized crime better than the one from which we came? The life where crime is the life, where women do not need price tags and where the dress is less than modest?”
    I enjoyed the story, however, I would have enjoyed a little more detail on the front end. Accordingly, being left to ponder the morality questions posed to the reader by the author provided an ending requiring the reader to take a retrospective look at one’s sense of morality and time.

Leave a Reply