1.09.2011

we like lists: list # 7: hanging out in history

This is one of those lists that, for me, feels nearly limitless: 12 people from the past who you would like to meet. I'm sure I could name several dozen.

To narrow it down, I'm arbitrarily defining "the past" as people who have been dead at least 50 years. (I turn 50 this year, and I'm deciding I can't use anyone who was alive during my lifetime.) So I can't hang out with Howard Zinn, and Cesar Chavez is out, along with my first writing hero, John Steinbeck, and my pal Woody Guthrie.

They must be people who are known by name. I would love to time-travel and hang out with an ordinary pre-contact Incan, an ancient Mesopotamian, the people who built Stonehenge, some radical labour organizers from the early 1900s, World War I war resisters, Europeans who hid Jews from the Nazis. And on and on. But for this list, we'll name specific people whose names we know.

Please put aside any concerns about how overwhelmed you might be, how silly you might act, how inarticulate you might feel. We'll just assume we could have a pint, talk about life, find out who these people were. No language barriers, either.

I've chosen people I revere and admire, but I know some readers will choose people they revile. I expect a few dictators will pop up in these lists.

I'm finding it really difficult to limit myself to 12! But here are 12 of the many people in history who I would like to meet.

1. George Orwell

2. Margaret Sanger

3. William Shakespeare

4. Lou Gehrig

5. Harriet Tubman

6. Amelia Earhart

7. Michelangelo

8. Charles Dickens

9. Samuel Pepys

10. Emma Goldman

11. Oscar Wilde

12. Mark Twain

Your turn.

[Update: My number one "should have included": Clarence Darrow. Not sure who I would lose - Wilde or Twain.]

34 comments:

MSEH said...

Oops! Are there two different George Orwells? Or does this just mean you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to meet him? -)

This may take some thinking...

laura k said...

Fixed! Thanks for that. Cutting and pasting, dangerous stuff. :)

johngoldfine said...

I'll be thinking about this as I fly home tomorrow--right now, only a few minutes left on my computer @ 2 £/hr.... People dead before 1960, ok.

Amy said...

Good question!

This was hard! Most of the people I thought of at first were not dead 50 years or more. This took some Google research to be sure I wasn't breaking any rules this time. I also am not sure these really are my top twelve, but my brain hurts from trying to think about this.:)

It was particularly hard to think of famous women who had been dead for 50 years or more---a sad but honest reflection of how women's roles have changed in the last 50 years.

In no particular order:


1. Abraham Lincoln

2. Thomas Jefferson

3. Moses

4. Jane Austen

5. Leonardo DaVinci

6. Mozart

7. Mark Twain

8. Maimonides

9. Harriet Beecher Stowe

10. Benjamin Cardozo

11. Anne Frank

12. Louis Brandeis

laura k said...

Anne Frank! Excellent choice. Although if we couldn't actually change history, and we knew what she didn't... oh man, too heartbreaking. But those are not considerations for this list.

This definitely does not have to be your top 12 - that's too difficult!

Mine are also in no particular order. That is WAY too difficult!

I Googled many people to check on death dates. Everyone I had to check on was ruled out.

Kev said...

I had the same problem as Amy, How ever after setting off the smoke detector a few time here it is.

1 Luis Riel
2 Tecumseh
3 Gandhi
4 Robert Peary
5 Eleanor Roosevelt
6 Victor Hugo
7 Sir Arthur Currie
8 Archie Belaney - Grey Owl
9 Alexander Ross
10 Agnes Macphail
11 Humphrey Bogart
12 Sir John A MacDonald

Stephanie said...

This is really difficult as you said Laura. I expect as soon as I have published this I will think of others I have forgotten. This list really corresponds mostly to moments/events/eras that I wish I could witness.

1. Mohatma Gandhi

2. Norman Bethune

3. Jean-Paul Marat

4. Leonardo da Vinci

5. Nellie McClung

6. Mary Magdalene OR the woman/women who inspired her image.

7. Jonathan Swift

8. *Boris Vian (through whom I would anticipate meeting Jean-Paul Sartre who can't be on the list because he died in 1980).

9. Voltaire

10. Charles Dickens

11. Jane Austen

12. Emily Carr

As is likely the case for every one else here there is quite a number of others I would rank here but who are not eligible by virtue of not being dead yet 50 years (perhaps for another list).

Jere said...

1. Ethan Allen (this is a sneaky way to meet one of my ancestors while keeping with the rules of the list)

2. Anarcha

3. Frederick Law Olmsted

4. Matthew Brady

5. Babe Ruth

6. Curly

7. Roger Williams

8. Albrecht Dürer

9. Leadbelly

10. Frederick Douglass

11. Chris Colombus

12. Cotton Mather

12a. Rod Serling (died right before I was born so meets that criteria but not the 50-year one)

allan said...

01 Babe Ruth
02 Ben Franklin
03 Robert Johnson
04 Walt Whitman
05 Henry Chadwick
06 Leonardo da Vinci
07 Johannes Gutenberg
08 Stephen Hopkins
09 Michelangelo
10 William Shakespeare
11 Pharaoh Khufu
12 Ebenezer Wood (my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, who came from Mass. to Vt. in about 1795)

(I was sure George Schuster would qualify, but the fucker lived until 1972! So I'll add him in 2022. Howlin' Wolf goes on the list in 2026, with Elvis Presley being added the following year. To be dumped: Hopkins, Johnson, Michelangelo.)

Amy said...

Hey, if Allan can add a family member, then so can I. I would love to meet both of my grandfathers---Isadore Goldschlager and John Nusbaum Cohen. Both died before 1960, sad to say.

laura k said...

allan's list

i came very close to including robert johnson - mostly because muddy waters didn't qualify. also came very close to including gutenberg.

allan said...

3. Frederick Law Olmsted

Shouldn't you instead be waiting for Joe Pepitone?

Stephanie said...

I Love Kev's top two
Tecumseh and Louis Riel!! I would add those in place of Jane Auatin and Emily Carr. If I could add family I would like to have met my maternal Grandmother Aurore (Laporte) Lascelles in place of Nellie McClung.

Jere said...

Ah yes, it was Pepitone. During the Civil War I believe.

Stephanie said...

While we are sharing our waiting for list too:

1. Che Guevara 2017
2. Dorothy Parker 2017
3. Robertson Davies 2045

Cool Hand Luke said...

I wish I could put Steinbeck as well.
That being said my top 12 are(more like firsts to pop into head and where liked or found interesting enough to be included):

Rene Descartes
Ghangis Khan
Thomas Paine
Samuel Clemens
Muhatma Ghandi
Gautama Buddha
Douglas Mccarthur
Leon Trotzky
Marie-Antoinette
Cleopatra
Charles Darwin
Gregor Mendel

impudent strumpet said...

I don't have a whole list, but I wouldn't mind having a chat with Jesus Christ and finding out what really happened.

allan said...

some radical labour organizers from the early 1900s ... But for this list, we'll name specific people whose names we know.

You can find those names.

the people who built Stonehenge

Gotta be from Earth, though, so ...

Lorraine said...

Ikhnaton, the inventor of monotheism
Paul of Tarsus, theologian
Joan of Arc, martyr
Dante Alighieri, theologian
William Tyndale, inventor of Protestantism
Michael Faraday, bookbinder
William Godwin, philosopher
François Marie Arouet de Voltaire, écrivain
Friedrich Nietzsche, aphorist
Clarence Darrow, trial lawyer
James Byron Dean, actor
Marilyn Monroe, actor

allan said...

(From deleted comment about L possibly forgetting someone: Thanks to Lorraine, I realized I meant Darrow, not Darwin.)

Other possibilities for me:

Hal Chase - To give me the truth about which baseball players were throwing games prior to 1920.

Eugene Packard - Did he really arrange the fix of the 1918 WS, and, if so, how?

Lee Harvey Oswald (killed 39 days after I was born).

laura k said...

some radical labour organizers from the early 1900s ... But for this list, we'll name specific people whose names we know.

You can find those names.


Not the people I mean. I don't mean famous people - I mean the grassroots, the people who organized their own factories, their pals in the mines. Their stories might be told in some book somewhere - but they're not generally known by name.

laura k said...

* Not sure what gave anyone the impression we can't name relatives or ancestors. As long as you know they're names, it's cool.

* The rule is dead for at least 50 years. Not dead before you were born - dead before I - laura k - was born.

* Frederick Douglass, so sorry I didn't think of him!

* I've been wondering who would be the first person to name Jesus. Imp Strump wins the internet!

There are many other inspired choices.

Others for my extended list:

Clarence Darrow (trial lawyer? that doesn't begin to describe! one of my earliest atheist heroes)

Gandhi

Frank Lloyd Wright

Also waiting for:

Louis Armstrong

deang said...

In the order they occurred to me:

1. Nezahualcoyotl
2. Sojourner Truth
3. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
4. Helen Keller
5. Anacaona
6. Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca
7. Carl Linnaeus
8. Peter Kropotkin
9. Ishi
10. Franz Boas
11. John Reed
12. Diego Rivera

johngoldfine said...

* Dr Johnson

* Apostle Paul

* St Augustine (before his conversion)

* Upton Sinclair

* Edmund Gosse

* Anthony Trollope (perhaps we could do a drag-hunt together, no fox harmed)

* Caprilli

* Emmeline Pankhurst

* Christopher Wren

* William T. Sherman

* Hugh Trevor-Roper (might not meet the half-century rule, but I can't leave the list to google without losing the list; don't ask....)

* I'm going to leave 12 open for later inspiration.

johngoldfine said...

My 12: Konrad Lorenz, though I certainly wouldn't mind a stroll across London with JR Ackerley and Tulip.... (again, not sure of the dates and can't google; sorry, Laura K.)

laura k said...

Dean and John, fascinating lists. They include several I considered: Helen Keller, Sojourner Truth, Ms Pankhurst.

Helen Keller was one of the most amazing people ever.

I had forgotten about Ishi - I don't mean from this list, I forgot about his existence. Thanks.

M@ said...

I don't know if I can come up with twelve, and honestly I'm always a little flummoxed by questions like this. And I am incapable of listing things like this without some explanation of why, so you'll all have to just live with that. :)

I'm also somewhat avoiding those who have been mentioned by others, because it would be much easier for me just to pick and choose from others' lists and that would kind of defeat the purpose, I think.

1. H.L. Mencken. A sharp guy with a really fine sense of humour is always interesting to me.

2. William Shakespeare. Getting a better understanding of his plays would be rather useful, I think.

3. Socrates. If past records are anything to go on, it seems a dialogue with him would be of interest.

4. Aristotle. I'd like to know how his poetics would fit with the past half-millennium's changes to literary work.

5. Franz Kafka. Such an important way of seeing the modern world, but so much is missing.

6. Auguste Escoffier. Can any list about me not involve cooking somehow? Answer: no.

7. John A. MacDonald. I'd like to know what the founders of Canada expected to achieve here, and whether it's come close to what they hoped for.

I would probably round out my list with Orwell, Clemens, Beethoven, Jesus, or some of the large bunch of writers who influenced me. Not sure.

Anyhow -- there's my list.

laura k said...

I'm really sorry I didn't think of Clarence Darrow. I think I'd rather meet him than Mark Twain. Darrow was a big influence for me on the road to atheism, and to death-penalty abolitionism.

But I guess that's how this game goes.

Mike said...

Here's my list and I see a couple of mine show up in your list Laura but you didn't say there couldn't be overlap, and just to be pedantic I included Wikipedia links to the pertinent pages. So...

1 Emma Goldman
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emma_Goldman

2 Nicolae Tesla
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicola_Tesla

3 Charles Darwin (it was going to be Anais Nin, but she hasn't been gone 50 years)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin

4 H.G. Wells
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._G._Wells

5 Hypatia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia

6 Jules Vernehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Verne

7 Bertrand Russell
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_Russell

8 Mary Harris Jones/Mother Jones
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Harris_Jones

9 Peter Kropotkin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kropotkin

10 Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Clemens

11 William Lyon McKenzie
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lyon_Mackenzie

12 Arthur "Slim" Evans
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_%22Slim%22_Evans

P.S. I'm so stealing this list idea for forum post on a web site I hang out in.

Lorraine said...

I know it's uncouth to do something like this twice, but inspiration (if you want to call it that) hit me.

Richard Wright (1908-1960)
Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907)
Adrien-Marie Legendre (1752-1833)
William IV of Orange (1711-1751)
Ole Rømer (1644-1710)
King Louis XIII of France (1601-1643)
Giordano Bruno (1548-1600)
King Henry VIII of England (1491-1547)
Edmund Grey, 1st Earl of Kent (1416-1490)
Jan Hus (1369-1415)
Emperor Go-Murakami of Japan (1328-1368)
King Edward II of England (1284-1327)

laura k said...

Late submissions are always welcome, as are duplicate lists. :)

M@ said...

My first reaction to Mike's list: damn! Bertrand Russell! I wish I'd thought of him!

Second reaction: damn! 1970. Ineligible.

Sorry, Mike, but I think you're going to have to find an alternate for your list, at least for nine years or so...

Mike said...

Oops damn I missed that date, well I guess it's good that he lived that long, I should have checked with the tea pot...

Mike said...

Ok I'm going to go with Alexander Graham Bell as my replacement for Bertrand Russel as a few of my other choices all lived into the 70s and I thought only the good die young. This post kind of reminds me of Patrick Watson's old series the Titans where he would basically pluck a historical figure (played by actors) out of the past for an interview/discussion.
http://www.tvarchive.ca/database/18811/titans/details/

I'm going to have to see if I can find that series online.