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.