Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Jim: After circling around Temple Square in Salt Lake City, seeing the monumental original temple and the Tabernacle, where last trip here we saw and heard the famous and very accomplished MT Choir, we ran down the road 50 miles to Provo. Yesterday, our friend Christian took me on to the campus here, where we saw his office and the art musem, and also some of the oldest buildings, which were beautiful. I learned more about the history that pertains to my father's ancestors, and saw the present-day approach here to preserving history. It appears that while a part of the historic buildings and other tangible relics is preserved, they are often gutted and then rebuilt in a manner that seems to me to be over-cleaned up and revisionist, despite a reverence and respect for the history here since 1847.
The small Pioneer Museum in a Provo city park, which we saw during our last visit, keeps history in a more tangible and unfiltered way, with numerous objects and exhibits which are unrestored, including handwritten personal testaments from the 19th century which I found fascinating. There are examples of the pushcarts that my forebears and many other emigrants used to cross the prairies and mountains when they lacked draft animals. This was history close up and very personal, and evoked those earlier days not only in the strongest possible terms, but in a way that for me drew a much more palpable and realistic connection between past and present.
Today, Christian and I hiked a little way into the steep Wasatch mountains which are on the east side of town, and dominate the landscape. We overlooked the Utah Valley, especially the large and environmentally challenged Utah Lake (not the salt one), and the mountains to the west. Clear at first, it then started to snow. We are hoping to explore the lakeshore later today. One trail we walked on extends along the mountainsides for many miles, all the way to Salt Lake city and also to the south.
On campus, I saw a photographic exhibit of a dismantled WWII era steel mill, Geneva Steel, on the shore of Utah Lake. This was built by the US government in 1942 to provide steel for west coast shipyards, while being protected from air attack, and operated until a few years ago. This reminded me that in Idaho two days ago, we passed Minidoka, the concentration camp for the most suspect Japanese Americans during that time. Sheds some light for me on the current paranoid fears being constantly fanned about terrorism and "Islamic extremism", and the proximate danger that Bush and his people constantly raise in order to promote their repression and worldwide torture and lawlessness.