Revisionists are fond of painting the pillars of history in a paler shade of gray. Frequently the evidence they offer to support their theories is less than satisfactory. The backward glances I will take from time to time will not offer answers, only questions. Those who can remember these whatifs of the past may be condemned to repeat them.
What if Paul Revere had looked up at the Old North Church that night and counted three lights? Would he have rode through the countryside shouting, “The British are coming by osmosis”?
What if Mary Ludwig Hays McCauley had brought warm eggs to the men fighting in the Battle of Monmouth rather than water? Instead of Molly Pitcher, would she have been known as Molly Coddle?
What if Shakespeare didn’t write any of his plays and the real author was unknown? Would teachers tell their students “Brush up your Anonymous”?
What if Ponce de Leon had been looking for the Fountain of Old instead of the Fountain of Youth? Would he have discovered Sun City?
What if Benjamim Franklin had invented the ironclad contract instead of bifocals? Would his reaction to the document have been “I just wish I could read the fine print”?
What if William Tweed had been a fishing czar instead of a politician? Would he have been known as “Herringbone” Tweed?
What if the legend that during the Discovery Era a Welshman taught the Indians to speak English was true? Instead of Minnesota, would we today be calling that state Llgwyngllgoychwyrl?
What if William Bonney had lived until the age of seventy before he became an outlaw? Would he have been known as Billy the Codger?
What if Carrie Nation had been an environmentalist concerned about deforestation? Would she have stormed through lumber camps smashing hatchets?
What if there had been a typo on the label for the song “26 Miles” which credited the Four Perps instead of the Four Preps? Would that record have been number one on the hit man parade?