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: Loren Eiseley's Remembrance of Things Past :

an excerpt by Don Lago


It was an ordinary town, with an ordinary sense of time.

It had a five-block downtown of Victorian buildings crafted of stone and brick and wood, which by the 1950s were considered old-fashioned and were covered over with chrome and tile. No self-respecting American town wanted to look old when it could look modern, even Space Age. The same merchants who were hiding their stonework were also driving cars with tailfins to make cars look like rockets.

Perhaps this town-Moberly, Missouri-had even less of a sense of history than most American towns, for it wasn't founded until after the Civil War, half a century late by Missouri standards. The only thing Moberly had to be proud of was its future. It defined itself by its growth, calling itself "The Magic City" because it grew so fast. A century later, long after its growth had stopped, Moberly was still boasting of being "The Magic City." For decades after Moberly was founded, its sense of history was largely in the hands of ladies' clubs like the Daughters of the American Revolution and the United Daughters of the Confederacy, whose main delight was in identifying New England or Virginia pedigrees, with ranks and accomplishments that couldn't be found in Moberly.  Ancient history in Moberly was defined as a house or family that had been there in 1870.



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