Monday, November 19, 2007

Finding History

There were news reports this past week about the discovery of a new photograph of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. A historian spotted Abe in a wide shot, riding a horse, trademark stovepipe hat on and he appears to be saluting the troops are he rides by. The story – and photograph – has fascinated me. It really is discovering a little history nugget.

There are only about 130 pictures of Lincoln that we know about. A new one is a rare find. This got me thinking. What other kinds of pieces of history could be found? It wasn’t that long ago, 1989 to be precise, that a chap found a copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden an old picture frame. He bought the picture for 4 bucks at a swap meet because he liked the frame. He was taking the painting out of the coveted frame, the document fell out. Literally money falling into your lap.

There’s also the 16mm footage of Babe Ruth “calling his shot.” It isn’t definitive, but is does give the urban legend some merit. He may have called that home run in Wrigley Field in 1932.

So what else could be found? A photo found in a forgotten trunk in your Nanas attic. A journal found in a used bookshop. Or a canister of 8mm film lost in the basement.

I wonder about possible discoveries like this;

Another photo of Billy the Kid. There is only one confirmed likeness of the Prince of Pistoleers. The image was flipped for many years, leading to false stories of the Kid being a southpaw.

What about another picture of Robert Johnson. The most mysterious figure in the history of modern music. There are only two pics of The King of the Delta Blues. A couple years ago, some footage appeared that many thought was Bob playing on a street corner. Unfortunately, the footage was shot years after Bob’s death in 1936. We still don’t know how he died.

What if there is a lost letter from Jack the Ripper that gives his identity. Is he of royal birth? Was he a doctor? Hell if I know. Saucy Jack needs to be ID’d.

Maybe footage from a different angle of the Kennedy assassination in Dallas 1963. With a shot of the grassy knoll for example. Second shooter? Maybe there is a photo of Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Lyndon Johnson, the mafia, the CIA and the Cubans planning it.

I saw this documentary once called “Independence Day.” With a historian named Will Smith or something in it. They talk about a UFO crash landing in Roswell New Mexico in 1947. What if a photo exists of the crash site that has been “lost.”

You never know.

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