I have a confession, I'm a sucker for a good mystery.
I'm not talking mystery books. I'm talking history books. Stories of people that lived in the past, pictures from those time periods. Wild west, pioneer days, colonization times, the victorian era. Who the people were, how they lived, how they died.
I have read all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and the few more books published afterwards that include writings by her, letters to her husband and daughter, and pictures she took at that time. I've dug into the mysteries such as the Mary Celeste, Roanoke Island, Easter Island. All of these give details you can picture in your head, or even photos, but you can't actually be there at that time to *experience* it, or in some cases know what really happened. What was it like to actually not run to the store when you ran out of milk? What really happened when they find a perfectly good ship just floating in the sea with no one aboard?? Wouldn't it be cool if I could kill all those stupid !@# Canada geese that loiter around destroying lawns and supplement my larder (see, I know the word LARDER cause I read stuff like that).
It's the same with old pictures. I've recently been enjoying this site: http://www.shorpy.com
This guy posts old photos, anything from places to people and more. Every picture shows a little piece of the past that I never got to experience. Perhaps one shows a town where all the conveyances were horse-drawn, this one has farmers working in the fields by hand. Another shows a solemn couple in their finery (and just WHEN did people make the transition to *smiling* in pictures, anyway?).
Each one has a story to tell, but I don't know it. These people and places existed, had lives, loved, lived.. and it seems irrational but the pictures and stories all make me a little sad. It's as if I missed out on something amazing and beautiful even though my logic says today's technology, sanitation, and medical care is really where I want to be. Imagine seeing the plains stretching for miles and miles with thousands of buffalo thundering past. Imagine the sky so dark with birds it blacks out the sun. Imagine wearing bustles, or high-necked gowns, or a time when an a car was a novelty. Pictures capture a moment in time, but they can't really make you understand how it FELT, or convey the full impact.
So I continue to look at the pictures, and try to imagine what the people were thinking, or who they were, and perhaps make up stories in my head about them, and enjoy the mystery.