A friend and I were recently trying to remember what year it was that we saw President George H.W. Bush in our home town of Grand Rapids, Michigan. We knew it was the early 1990s as we were in our late teens or very early 20s. We bantered back and forth (via Instant Message, no less) with bits and pieces of memories to try and pinpoint the exact year.
Jake: ok let’s figure it out
it was before i went to Scotland
Jake: i think i was 19
i think 1991
Me: Oh. Hmmm…in fact, it was the summer before the election
Jake: ok, sounds good
Mystery solved, right? We used our collective memories of this event and had it nailed down. We had various details but still a bit of vagueness as well. But then the Internet corrected us.
There’s actually a webpage that details what every US president has done on the 4th of July. Every one. It’s scope is limited to that and it’s a simple list researched by one James Heintze. Now, I both love and hate that this information is out there and easily accessible: Love it because it is fascinating and so specific; hate it because a certain level of mystery and cloudy memories are no more.
Everything is known…or at least knowable.