Just Like Magic

August 7, 1896
Elizabeth Bassett

David left on his way back to Florida today. It was nice to see him even if we barely had a free moment together. Sometimes that is better between us anyway, we have not always got along. I think most of the problems can be traced back to our difference in age but some of it is more simply just me. I have never just accepted things and while David is not so different, his approach to those things is very different.

He wants to study and examine, and hypothesize and research and generally spend a lifetime searching for inconclusive answers. I have a tendency for more directness. In example; he would like to study the probable effects of women becoming involved in politics and voting, personally I think that undermines the entire concept of democracy, either women are inclusive in the clause that all men are created equal or they are not. In the course of the argument he will inevitably tell me that my opinions are precisely an example of why it would be crucial to understand the wide effect of women voting before allowing the country to venture into what could clearly be treacherous waters. (Note: I do not approve of the term treacherous or its less than subtle connotation!)

Before he left we did have some good times though. My nephew was born and weighed in at a whopping 8 lbs and 11 ounces. He is definitely a big, little guy. I think he will grow into the strong silent type. Sylvia has been amazed at how little he cries and how much he smiles. Every time I pick him up he gets a serious look on his face, I am not sure what that means other than it is time to change his diaper again. They named him Thomas after our grandfather. It fits him.

Last night David took us out to what is called a moving picture show. I have read about it in the papers and I have seen a few advertisements around but the cost made me give up any thoughts of seeing it for myself. David was apparently involved in the development of the instrument which displays the images. Quite impressive really, but the papers attribute it to the man he works for, a Mr. Edison.

The moving pictures were something like watching a play, only without the voice of the actors reading their lines. This show was called Rip Van Winkle, which is an adaptation of a story written by Washington Irving. Knowing the story probably helped me enjoy the narration-less version of events on the screen. Mother was astounded and beaming with pride when we left the showing room. I have to admit I was in total agreement with her. I never even dreamed it would be possible to do such a thing with pictures.

David told us there is a project currently underway for a new moving picture that would bring the wonders of America to the screen. Sights like the Rocky Mountains and the Grand Canyon are often talked about as things every American should see in their lifetimes and this would make it possible for everyone.

David spent dinner explaining the science behind the show. I know I should have been more interested in it but there are things like that which are better when they remain a mystery. David does not understand this, but fortunately his wife does. She managed to get him off the subject in a subtle enough manner before he bored the rest of us to tears. I did learn that their was all ready in progress a project to improve the quality of the picture show and a separate project to provide sound to go with them.

I think the sound would really improve the experience, but I cannot imagine how you could improve upon the quality of the pictures. Well except that it would be wonderful if they could discover a way to capture color. David informs that is a strict impossibility. Sylvia smiled at him when said it and reminded him that the same would have been said of moving pictures less than a decade ago. They are well paired and if I am honest I do feel a bit ignorant in their presence.

Laying in bed, thinking about the picture show, I thought about how appropriate the choice of stories was. Rip Van Winkle is about a man who falls asleep and awakens twenty years later to a new world and in a way that is the perfect way to introduce this new invention to the world. It is as if we wake up one morning and it is the future. It may seem as though twenty years have passed but in reality it is only tomorrow finally come to be today.

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