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Dick Taylor


Prophetic Thoughts of Will Smith (1888)

Pawnee City School

Recently, I came across an unexpected manuscript whose unusual content immediately captured my attention and aroused a substantial degree of amazement.  The handwritten sheets were owned by a citizen of another state, and the lady was so kind to transfer possession of these incredible original writings to me along with a few other items of general interest.  I am quite grateful for her thoughtfulness and generosity in making this special document available for my own perusal and purposes. 

Can you imagine everything which science, industry, and freedom might achieve in the good old USA? 

How about a high tech device which can instantly produce a message written by your brother or sister halfway across the country?   Are you aware of a machine that could record 150 minutes of audio?   Would you believe that a system could be produced to quickly inform us of an election's projected winner based on sampling of early returns in key voting districts?   Could you see a $200K home built in the Bookwalter community of Pawnee County, NE, standing on a plot of land worth $150K?   Did you guess the US population would rise to 250 million souls and more?   What do you think of women voting and being elected to serve in Congress?   Can you envision international passenger planes flying at speeds exceeding 150 mph? 

Does all that exceptional noteworthy information stagger your abstracted and freewheeling imagination or what?  Not very much? 

Well, way back before you or I may have ever done so, the sagacious Will Smith (no, not that other one!) certainly thought very vividly regarding all this, and he let us know about it.  Nearly a century and a quarter have elapsed since young Will was a high school student at Pawnee City, NE.  The year was 1888, a time when not one of these present-day familiarities was yet even close to becoming real and actual! 

Early in that very same year of 1888, Will and other Nebraskans experienced the historic "Schoolchildren's Blizzard," perhaps the biggest and most severe snowstorm to ever strike the USA.  But as he produced an entertaining make-believe narrative of long ago, the creative Will Smith spoke of another time and place where weather was so very much colder. 

William Smith was projecting his imagination into the future to describe life's possible fates for his fellow 1888 Pawnee City High School graduating classmates.  Take a look at his fanciful but sometimes insightful 19th century words, a portion of which in our times may reflect the true and incontrovertible American history that followed. 

Notice the 21st century-style emoticon that Will employed in demonstrating Harry Foster's facial expression during the fictional 1915 Music Company concert at the famous Sing Sing Prison in New York. 

I call his paper:  "Back to Their Future."

Written by Dick Taylor


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