I am a history buff. That’s right, I’m one of those nerdy people that visit museums, stop at historical landmarks, and visit old cemeteries. I’m not sure when it happened but it’s true. Would I even go so far as to attend reenactments? I haven’t yet, but given the chance I would be sporting a saloon girl outfit complete with whiskey bottle in one hand and a six shooter in the other.
I never enjoyed history in high school. It was boring and flat. The classes were just a series of facts and figures with no spirit at all. When I got into college, I had a professor that brought history to life. I remember him saying, ‘don’t bother remembering dates and years because you can look that up, remember the story of history instead’. That is why I love history. It is a story of times gone past and a tale of how we came to be.
I have always loved historical romance. The first book I remember reading was Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was hooked from then on and I became intrigued with the Civil War. Kathleen was a pioneer in modern historical romance. I also read every Valerie Sherwood and Shirlee Busbee novel that came out. I would go to bed at night dreaming of sailing the seven seas with a handsome sea captain and fighting pirates. I would be doing all, of course, while wearing a sexy corset, long skirt, and never having a hair out of place.
Were these books historically correct? In some ways they were and in many other instances they were not. There is a great amount of ‘romancing’ history in romance novels. The heroine on the pirate ship is treated like a queen and her every need and want is fulfilled. If you were on a ship back in the 1800’s I doubt that would be the experience. A ship tossed by rough seas with no running water and no indoor plumbing, I don’t think so. Your fellow shipmates, no matter how handsome, would smell pretty ripe by the time you saw shore again. Not to mention the rats, scurvy, and lack a decent food.
Then again, we read to escape the real world. If romancing history gets people to learn, enjoy their free time, and read more I am all for it. It is the same with movies. Have you ever watched a movie and been so inspired to find out more about the real event? I have. I don’t go to many movies as I prefer to watch them at home on DVD but I did go to Titanic. After viewing the movie, I was captivated into discovering more. I even attended the Titanic exhibit when it came to a nearby city. It was so fascinating to see real artifacts that had belonged to the ship’s passengers brought back to the surface and displayed in front of me. They even had a portion of the ship.
It can also be a sobering experience. So many people lost their lives on that tragic voyage so long ago. I remember they had an ice cold wall that we put on hands on to see how long before we would let go. It was the same temperature of the water in which the ship sank. Most passengers of the Titanic didn’t drown, they froze to death.
Another reason to love history is because it teaches us to never forget. To never forget the good that people have done and never forget the bad that has been done to others. It is for us to celebrate the first and to not tolerate the second. Whether you like your history lessons romanced or not, enjoy your travels through time and always remember to make some history yourself.
In a future blog I will talk about one of my favorite time periods, the 1920’s; a fascinating era of flappers, gangsters, Gatsby, and more.