The uses of history

A couple years ago, I tracked down a copy of Born Grown, a history of Oklahoma City written in the middle 1970s by Roy P. Stewart. This was the immediate post-Pei Plan era, after extensive clearing of downtown had begun but before there was any noticeable uptick in actual rebuilding. (It would be two decades more before downtown was upgraded from “dead” to “breathing.”)

Brian J. Noggle has happened upon a history of Webster Groves, Missouri, from the same period, and while he’s fascinated by the actual, you know, historical stuff, he has more important things in mind:

[T]he conversational tone tells you what replaced the old blacksmith shop and early businesses downtown. However, 30 years later, the Farmers Home and Trust Bank is gone as well as the IGA grocery store, and those things seem quaint now. But I didn’t buy it for contemporary insight, I bought it for its discussion of the old times, and I got it. More trivia for the cranium, and things that I can tell the child as he grows up so he will think I’m very smart.

Which, after all, is the whole idea — almost:

Fooling the children, really, is the secondary use of all knowledge that comes to the fore after you’ve succeeded in the primary use of all knowledge, fooling women into thinking you’re smart so they will mate with you. One, anyway.

I wish I’d known that thirty years ago.





2 comments

  1. Brian J. »

    5 November 2007 · 8:21 pm

    It’s as true now as it was thirty years ago, so really, “knowing” it wouldn’t have made much difference.

  2. Steve Lackmeyer »

    6 November 2007 · 11:39 am

    Here’s an interesting tidbit about “Born Grown” – the chapter about Urban Renewal, I’ve been told, was written by the public information officer for the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority.

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