Touring the Old West
I love reading western historical romances. I love the Old West. I imagine it to be rough and romantic with so many attractive cowboys to choose from. All of the men rugged, strong, possessive.
With that sentence alone, it’s obvious I write romance! But that wasn’t how it was like. At all.
Anyone seen the show Deadwood on HBO? That depicted the South Dakota gold rush in its heyday…realistically. Gritty, dark and cutthroat. Women were depicted in a more realistic light. The hardships of death, childbirth, cruel husbands, miserable conditions, sickness were not glossed over. They definitely didn’t have it easy.
In the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, there’s a photo of a woman standing outside doing her wash. She wore a long-sleeved dark dress that hung to the ground. Her hair was up in a high bun. She stood in front of a steaming kettle. There were no trees, just prairie. Her expression, I remember vividly. She looked…miserable. I imagined her husband, her children that were nearby, but out of the photo.
I lived in Montana for five years and traces of the past are still visible. The Oregon Trail, with the wagon wheel ruts, are still there to see today. Virginia City is an Old West town that looks the same now as it did back in the 1800’s. Ghost towns abound. To me, it’s like touching the past, to imagine who stood in the same spot as me, what they wore, what hardships they battled, their joys. I imagine them thinking almost 150 years into the future and imagining what the world would be like. Did the woman with the wash wonder if life would be easier in the future? Would they have thought of me, a woman who wears pants, with a job, head-strong and independent, driving a moving vehicle that didn’t require a horse?
Then I think forward 150 years. What will the woman, who stands in the same spot as me in 1163 be like? What will she wear? What will her dreams be? What will she be driving?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on ways you’ve been able to touch the past, to see and feel and appreciate how easy we have it with our washing machines, dryers and fabric softener!
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