Friday, November 17, 2006

Legacy


I’ve hinted at this subject in a few comment posts and I’d now like to elaborate. One day a few years ago I was reading a book by James Harriot where Harriot commented on a treatment he was trying on an animal. He said, “…it won’t make a difference in a hundred years.”

That got me thinking about what will make a difference in a hundred years. When I lived back east there were a lot of structures, monuments and trees that were well over a hundred years old, but here in Astoria there are few things that old. There were a couple fires that wiped out the town. Most of the trees growing are the result of a third of fourth planting. The bridges are relatively new.

Then realize how many people have lived here through out history, and we can only name a hand full of people who actually have done something that we still associate with today, a hundred years later. There are some families here who have been here over 100 years, but that’s the only remarkable thing about it.

I’ve done some speaking in schools over the years, and one question I like asking is if anyone famous ever came from their school. Most schools boast of no one famous, yet some will talk about a star athlete from the 50’s or the 60’s who hasn’t been heard of since they left that school.

So in the grand scheme of things, it is rare that anyone does anything remarkable that will still be around in a hundred years and keep your name alive for that amount of time.

Yes, I understand that if you have a child who has a child, it all falls back to you in the ancestor realm, but in reality few things we do today will matter in 100 years. There are physicians who change and save lives every day, few will be remembered. There are architects who design buildings that may be standing hundreds of years from now, yet Frank Lloyd Wright will be the only architect that will ever be remembered by name.

We know the names of several artists and composers from a hundred years or more in history, but how many Doctors can you name. How many lawyers, preachers, actors can you name from 100 years ago or more? How many police officers and fire fighters? You can probably name astronomers, mathematicians and writers, but how many Pony Express riders, coal miners and shop keepers?

13 Comments:

Blogger Jeff said...

Shop keepers: J C Penney and Peyton Hawes.

6:25 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Yes, Jeff, Sears, Roebuck, Ward are others are others, but dang few are remembered. Now lets go back another 400 years and I'm sure we can name tons of artists from back then. It's amazing what one must do to be remembered. Very few of the people who are amazingly famous today will ever be remembered in 100 years. Kind of sad, isn't it.

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your blog.

10:15 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Thanks, East. Do let me know how you found your way here. Remember, this blog ib half baked fresh daily.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you guy . . thanks for stopping my blog too . . I read your blog actually several weeks ago as I recall and have followed it - - THEN I finally created my blog and of course now I'm hooked and have to comment on all I like. I might be a blogaholic. Astoria is one of the places in Oregon I have yet to actually visit, but as is the rest of Oregon, seems divine - almost mythical . . . being so near the place Lewis & Clark travled to and back again - and the rest is history.

1:30 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Where can I get some of that blogahol? I could certainly use some after Wende reamed for my Christmas post ; )

Mythical? I'll have to use that one. It is a great place to live, and be aware that we are looking for candidates to run against the DA in four years. So finish that law degree and get the heck out here.

1:42 PM  
Blogger Trish said...

This sounds like a plaque I gave a friend once that said something like "100 years from now it won't matter what kind of car you drove/money you had/house you lived in or clothes you wore only that you were important in the life of a child"

Remembering a name isn't so important as the cultivating of a good and creative character in a young person that will in turn pass it down to the next generation and so on.

Although when it comes to the Mozart's and Bach's of the world there was some real music genius that I don't know if any amount of cultivating could recreate.

Did that make sense?

Interesting post.

2:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doctors: Jonas Salk. Um... maybe Dr. Livingston, I presume? Ooh, Doctor Zhivago!
Pony Express Riders: Wasn't Buffalo Bill one? And wasn't one of our Presidents a Pony Express Rider?
(Sally Struthers and Quarterflash are the only famous people I can think of from my town. Oh, and that annoying kid who tried to win "American Idol" by mimicking a crooner.)

3:32 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Dang, Mel, and I thought I majored in revisionist history. Struthers was from PDX? Portland sure keeps that a secret, doesn't it?

Yes that made sense, Trish, but people do like recognition. Most people don't even get a grave stone any more.

4:17 PM  
Blogger Boo7 said...

Great post Guy....definitely food for thought....

4:54 PM  
Blogger Rich said...

Architects that came to mind quickly:
I.M. Pei
Eero Saarinen
Thomas Jefferson

Doctors:
Salk
The Curies
Stephen Hawking
Einstein

Actors:
Lillian Gish

Not an actor, but the greatest showman ever:
P.T. Barnum

Lawyers:
Quite a number of our presidents were lawyers, but we don't remember them for that.

I don't think anyone from my high school has achieved widespread fame, but I only had 62 people in my graduating class.

You're right, of course, that most of us toil in relative obscurity. On the other hand I don't think I'd ever wish for great fame for myself--I don't think I could handle the obligations of celebrity.

Maybe what's needed is a change in what we tend to think of as greatness--perhaps we confuse being worthwhile or important with being famous.

1:46 AM  
Anonymous Mosehead said...

Well, there are 82 Legacys in my neck of the woods. They are just after the Leclairs and the Lebretons and just before the Legeres and the Lejeunnes in the phone book.
Wasn't John Wilkes Booth an actor?

4:10 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

OK Rich, was that from memory or from Google?: )

Moosehead, I don't think he'll be remembered for his acting abillity. Just like Jesus wasn't known for his carpentry skills. Phone books don't count no matter how long you have them.

5:54 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home