One day I was sitting at my desk thinking about the history of the world and how many of the great civilizations of the planet took hundreds and thousands of years to grow and mature.  It is said that Rome wasn’t built in a day and the same could be said of other extraordinary nations such as Egypt, Greece, China and the broad ranging cultures of Mesoamerica such as the Mayans and the Aztecs.  Then I thought of our own great nation and realized how much we had grown and developed in just a couple of hundred years.  Then another thought crossed my mind of how much growth and history one person could have witnessed in his one lifetime.  As I day dreamed I thought of my grandfather who was born at an important juncture in our nation’s history and was amazed to have realized what he witnessed in his short length of time span as compared to the total amount of time that man has been on earth.  When I thought it would be unique to write about the timespan that my grandfather lived I realized that it would take more than a single column to capture all that the world had provided to our history.  This will take several weeks to cover a span of only seventy-eight years.

Harvey Fields was born in Marksville, Louisiana on May 31st 1883.  On this day the French Fleet, powered by sail and batteries of large cannon, began a siege of Madagascar a half world away.  That same year a weapon that changed the way battles would be fought in the future came into existence; the machine gun was invented.  America had thirty-eight states and Thomas Edison ran his first overhead lights in New Jersey.  Powered by DC power, it would prove to not be viable for electrical transmission.

We have all seen movies about the Indians and the fights that pursued between settlers and soldiers against the native Americans.  One name that use to resonate with this struggle and filled the movie screens while I was growing up was Geronimo, chief of the Chiricahua Apache tribe.  The Apache were ferocious warriors and were chased all over the American Southwest by the United States Calvary.  When Fields was three, Geronimo finally surrendered in 1886.

Today we drop a memory chip into a camera and we click away a thousand pictures with impunity.  Until 1888 the only pictures that could be captured were by professional photographers and the quantity of photos taken were very limited.  This changed in 1888 when Fields turned five and Geroge Eastman introduced the first camera that could be used by the amateur photographer, the Kodak Camera.

While America was making strides in technology and culture, while independence and entrepreneurial spirit was building a nation just barely 100 years old, we were still not in sync with our recognition of or respect for the Native Americans.  In 1890, when Fields was seven, the papers carried the stories of the massacre at Wounded Knee.  American artillery batteries opened up on an Indian village killing 200, many of which were women and children.

In 1893 something that we take for granted and use many times daily came into existence; the zipper was invented.  A major improvement to the button.

Two years later in 1895, the x-ray was discovered which would eventually lead to great inroads in medical treatment.

A week before Fields turned 15, the Spanish American War started.  He would have been aware of what was happening in the world as his father was the editor of the first newspaper in Avoyelles Parish.  The only method of mass communication at that time was the newspaper.   A fact that would affect Field’s life decades into the future.  This was a pivot point in America becoming a world power and left many who referred to the United States as the great agriculture experiment as believers in the power of this fledging nation. This was also a time in our country that many young impressionable man or woman would be mesmerized with what is swirling around them.   America had flexed its’ muscles as it defeated imperial power Spain in just 10 weeks.  This action led to modernizing the American army and establishing colonies outside American borders while launching a national leader into the ranks of the President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt.

Next week we will begin at a point in time that a new millennium rolls across our calendars. and Fields is seventeen years old.


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