Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Minor Mystery of History

History isn't something that's just written about in musty books in old libraries, or for that matter crisp books in new libraries. It's something that surrounds us every day, the building blocks of the present in every respect. Sometimes it's so close that we don't, or can't, recognize it for what it is. Sometimes there are even circumstances in which the Web is unable to shed more than a guttering light onto the unknown, whatever it may be.

For more than ten years now, my grandfather's old toolbox has been sitting in the garage. To call it a toolbox isn't entirely appropriate, though - while that may be what he repurposed it as, that's not what it was made to be. It was originally a Second World War ammunition box, intended to hold cartons of 9mm ball ammunition. Aside from that, I've not been able to determine much of anything of its provenance. I know it's old, I know it's historic - but I'm totally unable, as of yet, to figure out anything more than the obvious.

Whoever made this had access to yellow paint! Amazing!

In a way, history as a whole has been characterized by that lack of knowledge since the days of Thucydides. That which is known is always outweighed by the unknown - no matter how many perspectives are recorded, there will always be those that were carried only in one person's head. It's a puzzle with half of the pieces missing, and so fertile ground for interpolation, speculation, and back-and-forth theorizing about what really happened. For me, this is one of the pleasures of alternate history - to take that speculation and realize it.

I don't know much of anything about that ammo box - but it's still a piece of that puzzle, nonetheless.

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