If You COULD Time-Travel . . .

OK, forget physics and all that stuff. Let’s say the world is gonna blow up and you HAVE to go back to another time and place. Where would you go, and to what era? Think Jack Finney here.

Things to consider: when you got there, you’d be the same sex, age, race and socio-economic status you are now.

Me, I think I’d head for New York around 1890. I love the clothes, theater, music and architecture of the time, and as a well-educated, middle-aged white woman, I could still earn a living, precarious though it might be. And, I’d probably die before things started to go to hell in the 1920s . . .

So, how’s about y’all?

I’d go back to the late 1960’s. I am only 23 now, and most of the music I listen to is classic rock. I would have loved to have been around when Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, etc. were still playing. Then, in the 70’s I could move to Austin, TX, and check out Stevie Ray Vaughan, who is my alltime favorite.

Also, I play guitar, and I’ve always liked the scene in Back to the Future where Marty plays Johnny B. Goode before its released. Imagine the possibilities of knowing how to play so many classic songs before they are recorded. I would be sure to become famous. (Interesting sidenote about that scene in BTTF, Michael J. Fox plays guitar in real life, and that is really him playing throughout that whole sequence. Not Bad)_

If I could time travel, you’d all be worshipping me as a god right now. :slight_smile:

I would go back and wait for the door of the Ark to open and kill the pair of ducks,thus ending the never ending debate on time travel. Then I’d go to the late 50’s to get the advantage of the vacines,wouldn’t worry about the cold war,still be young enough to enjoy the 60’s and early 70’s,I’d be the wise old guru of the commune,enjoying all the hippy chicks. ( I can’t drive by high schools any more all the girls in bell bottoms give me flash backs,I enjoy the flashes,but way hard to concentrate on drving.)


Mr. John,

You’ve raised my interest. What am I missing when you say that killing the ducks on Noah’s ark will “end the never ending debate on time travel”?

Anyone read “Hobson’s Choice” by Alfred Bester?

“pair of ducks”…“paradox”. Get it? (I got a chuckle out of that one myself.)


Do you mean you’d have the same relative socioeconomic class? I’m a comfortable example of a middle-class 1990s American but I doubt I’d be very comfortable in the middle class in most other times and places. If my standard of living didn’t change as I moved backward in time I’d quickly move into much higher classes – I’d outrank most kings and queens before many centuries slid by. We are sometimes forgetful of how affluent we truly are.

Assuming you mean that I’d still be lost in the masses somewhere but not in abject poverty (like most of mankind throughout most of history) I guess I’d stick pretty close to the present day. Your 1890s New York is not a bad idea. Maybe a little later so I could watch the ideas of modern physics unfold. I could publish the theory of relativity in 1904! (Well, assuming I could remember enough college physics to pull it off!!!)

If I were more adventurous there are a lot of cultures it would be exciting to experience firsthand – Native American, ancient Greek or Roman, early European – but I’m afraid I’d be so foreign that I’d be taken for a witch or a lunatic or something. I’d have to do a little research to find a culture renowned for its tolerance of strangers! Ooh! I’ve got it! How about Hawaii or Tahiti? I even have a little knowledge of a Polynesian language (Maori) so I wouldn’t have to start from scratch. Hmmm – sunny skies, blue water, beautiful wahines – I think I could handle it!
think I’d like to live with the Plains Indians anytime before the white man invaded.

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”

I would go back to The Big Bang. It would be cosmic, and it would answer a ton of questions that have plagued humanity for as long as we’ve been around…

Brian O’Neill
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Isn’t anyone interested in going back to the Renaissance, or the court of Louis XIV? I mean, I’ve DONE the 1960s and '70s once, I don’t need to do 'em again!

Oop, I posted that just as Pluto posted his–interesting! I hadn’t thought of Hawaii, but that DOES sound good. I’ll meet ya in Hana?

Okay, I’ll play…

Paris in the 1860s. I’d be a painter, like those three guys in TRILBY. I don’t have a helluva lot of artistic talent but, aside from Little Billee, neither did they. Dally with the grisettes, party in Montmartre, fall in love with Mimi, have piano duels with Svengali.

No, wait! New Orleans, 1913! Hang out with Buddy Bolden and King Oliver, sit in with Jelly Roll MOrton’s band, give sax lessons to little Lester Young, work with a teenaged Satchmo on his scales. If an ofay isn’t welcome in these circles, take the boat upriver to Chicago and become Bix Beiderbecke’s bootlegger.


Boy, tough decision. Considering there really wasn’t much of a middle class to start with until the 1500’s (or later), hmmmmmmm.
Well, maybe Rome around the time of Ceasar (Julius, that is)or Augustus.
No way would I do any European country from about 100 CE to 1700-too much narrow-mindedness, disease, war, etc, etc.
India in the early 1000’s might be interesting (only cause I don’t know that much about it!).
Of course, with any of these at my socio-economic status, I’d probably end up having to be a prostitute or slave wench, or end up as an heretic burned at the stake. Glad to be where I am.

One more point, I think this is a question men have more freedom with because, as far as I know, this is the first age where women have really been seen as equals. We were just chattel before in almost all cultures.

And I thought I was a little “historophobic” about dropping into a strange culture!

But you’re right, BG, it would be much harder for a woman to make her way. Tolerance of others is a rare phenomenon historically but equality for women? That’s asking too much!

Come join Flora and me in Hawaii! I don’t really know enough about their history to know if we’d truly be welcome or not. I know Captain Cook had some bad luck there, but my understanding is that was because he was willing to take advantage of their thinking he was a god, and his demise had more to do with disappointed expectations than inherent hostility. Polynesians generally treated their white visitors well – a little too well for their own good in the long run.

I do know the Maori people of New Zealand believed in a race of fair-skinned fairies called menehune. Actually they were more pale than fair – they had the pallor of the dead, and were not considered “good” fairies – more like bogeymen. So there’s a chance I would be mistaken for some supernatural being upon arrival which would put me on the same slippery slope as Cap’n Cook. No thanks!

“non sunt multiplicanda entia praeter necessitatem”

As BunnyGirl points out, this question has a clear gender bias, and as such should be immediately closed, deleted and burned! For shame, Flora, for presenting such a question to use gentle and fragile readers! For shame!

Before this gets deleted I have not one but two answers!

  1. I forgot the question, was it past only? If not then I would go to the future.

  2. If past only and specifically as stated, I think I would stay where I am (what a wimp, eh?). The past is nice to study, and feel nostalgia for, but I wouldn’t want to live there.


Have you ever read any Edith Wharton? She writes about New York at the turn of the century… I love her books, and yeah, it’d be great to go back there. But I’d have to have money. I think being poor at any point in history would be pretty bad.

Polynesia before the white people, Ancient Greece as long as I was a prostitute (“normal” women were confined to the house - the heterae (prostitutes, loosely translated) were the independent women). Or the future. The future could be good.

There IS no future. In this question, the world’s gonna blow up–otherwise, I’d stay where I am, too, I’m very happy here with my a/c and TV and window screens.

But I think I could get by in New York of the 1890-1914 period; even as a woman, I have the skills to have survived (yes, I’ve read Edith Wharton, the Jew-hating bitch).

Pluto, you’re right about Hawaii–depending on when we landed there, and where, it was NOT always a peaceful paradise. Hmmm, maybe I’ll join my other boyfriend, Ike, in New Orleans? I could run a brothel for his jazz friends.

Yes, the world was often an unfriendly place for women–but many women (the more clever, rich or pretty ones) did manage to squeak their way around the rules. And I know all my Straight Dope sisters are either clever, rich or pretty!

Oh right … planet blowing up … hmmm … that could be bad.

I would choose feudal Japan, except I am not Japanese, so that could be a little suicidal.

I guess I would take somewhere in Great Britain circa 1400 AD. With my martial arts skills I could easily become a weapons instructor or military officer. Not a bad job (not as dangerous as in fuedal Japan either), with a considerable amount of respect attached to it.


We’d all die of the plague, or smallpox, or be ritually disembowelled as heretics, or rot in prison for asking smartass questions of authority, or branded as lunatics for suggesting that voices come out of the ether into the little box on our hip.

I’d last about 15 minutes in mediaeval London before wondering how long it was going to be until someone invented sanitation, and why the hell no-one’s gone to discover coffee yet.