Back to the future…or the past?

Greetings friends, classmates and anyone and everyone who stumbles upon my humble first blog post!  This photo below serves as a great example of my pursuit of the study of history.  At this point, I bet you are wondering how that photo got taken.  Before you start lecturing, no, I did not take this while driving!  The story is much more interesting and fun!

Road to the past or the future?
Speeding into the past…or the future?

It all started with a trip back home from Port Aransas. My wife and I were returning from a relaxing beach trip in 2013 on Labor Day weekend.  As we were leaving Port A ready for the long drive home, my attention was drawn to a Delorean gassing up at the convenience store.  For anyone who is a fan of the Back to the Future movie trilogy, you know how rare it is to see an actual Delorean with the doors up and parked.   The driver had a smile from ear to ear and was taking pictures with a couple with the doors wide open.  I leaned over to my wife and asked her to pull over so we could get gas and also maybe get a picture with the Delorean.

Missed opportunities and second chances

Now my wife was not feeling well and was ready to get home so she declined to stop and we continued on down the road. We have all had an experience where we were really excited about something and then in the blink of an eye you miss an opportunity. With my study of history, it has mostly been walking into a book store and finding the perfect book to read and then reluctantly setting it down before exiting the store promising to come back later and buy the book.

As we continued to drive into the distance toward home all I could think was that I would never get an opportunity like that again. How often do you see a great opportunity and let it pass by or in this case drive right past it?  For the next hour or so, I wondered how many years it would be before I got another opportunity to see a Delorean.

You know the  point when you are making a long drive back home and all you can hear is radio station static? That’s the point at which I looked into the passenger side mirror to see a car coming in pretty fast. Yep, you guessed it. It was the Delorean. (I’ll tell you how fast it was going later…) At this point I knew this was my moment. As the Delorean sped up, I asked my wife to follow suit beside the car so I could get the perfect picture. I snapped about five photos from my phone, some were blurry but this one photo above captured it perfectly.

Now you are  probably wondering what this has to do with a public history blog. Surprise! I tricked you into reading about history in your spare time. (Muahaha!) When it comes to hearing or telling stories, I’ve often noticed that there are missed opportunities and second chances.  This blog will take the opportunity to share a few stories and online resources that just might spark your curiosity and give you a second chance at learning and loving history. I promise not to make you memorize any dates and there will not be a quiz! Yet…

Telling your story or writing your story? 

So often, I have heard friends tell me how they have thought history was boring but I’ve also noticed something else. If you ask enough good questions, you will find someone’s passion and realize what stories they are interested in. We all tell stories, we just don’t always realize which stories are most important to us and why.  What is your story? Do you know it? Do you actively write the story of your life or do you tend to let others write it for you? How will the story of your life be told by your grandchildren and future descendants?

For as long as I can remember I have always had a passion and interest in history. I’m sure there are points in your life where you can remember an opportunity that passed you by. This blog intends to capture some of those moments and tell or highlight some stories along the way that need telling. I hope that this blog challenges and engages you to think about history in a different way and find your interest whether it’s in a museum, a park, a book, an online resource or maybe even just a phone call to your abuela or meemaw.

Join the ride. Jump in the Delorean! 

Thank you for taking the time to read my first post and know that along the way it will be a wild ride with some ups and downs and maybe an occasional lead foot to catch you up to speed on some stories that you may have missed out on. I promise to try to make it fun and engaging.  I will spend some time sharing my critical thoughts on the past while occasionally using technology to share a new perspective on history.  Some of my favorite topics for potential future blog posts include, San Antonio history, Texas history, Marianist history, history podcasts and maybe even reviewing a book or two in the future.

Please leave a comment about your personal interest in history below and maybe that will help me find some fun topics to write about. If you could jump into a Delorean right now, what era and location of history would you go to and why?

Also, please share this first post on social media so I can get a few new readers and comments!

16 years later but finally getting somewhere

Nuremberg Castle, Bavaria, Germany

Hello all,

Again, names John Cadena. For the majority of my life, I have lived in San Antonio. Most of my life, on the west and southside. In 2002 I graduated from McCollum High School (Go Cowboys). Immediately after graduating I enrolled at San Antonio College for summer classes and quickly learned that I was no-where near ready for college. Discouraged by this I decided to follow in my family’s footsteps and joined the military. While in the Army I continued college at the University of Maryland Europe, Cochise College in Arizona, and San Antonio College, finally completing my undergraduate at the University of Incarnate Word.  My interest in Public history primarily stems from my feeling of always enjoying history more when given the opportunity to experience it in living reality. Recounting my years in high school, I can remember that I’ve always loved history but never felt connected to it. For me, all this changed when I was in Europe, Germany to be exact. During this time, with the help of local friends, I was able to walk, stand, breath, and lay in places of historical significance. For me, this is when I realized the importance that physical history has on an individual, culminating in my excitement in learning of the introduction of this program.

The Van Hoy Interlude

Photo of Dr. Teresa Van Hoy visiting the St. Mary’s University Public History program!

Having Dr. Van Hoy visit today was a great way to re-awaken an interest in history that has been dormant for a few years. She brought in a great perspective to the class by sharing some great stories and personal testimony about her time as a historian. Dr. Van Hoy helped bring together the history that we are making now with the history from the past. Danielle, a fellow student in the course, was a main source of interest for this visit.

Danielle Garza featured in the “Faces and Voices of History” article

Dr. Van Hoy spoke to us about her previous experience with the history department and how she was able to include her experiences from her history as a student to her future experiences as a future public historian. We ended our visit with Dr. Van Hoy by taking some shots that we can later include on our curriculum vitae and LinkedIn profile. Hopefully we can continue to bring these shared experiences into the classroom. I know they can definitely share some insight and theory to the history that we will be contributing to in regards to this program.

I’ve included some photos with this post. I plan on using my art of photography within this field as we progress into other areas of history. I think that using the areas of “expertise” in your favor is extremely important. “You will all bring something different table in this program,” Dr. Van Hoy stated, and I completely agree with this. Dr. Wieck has made it clear that her expertise that intersects history and technology shows in her work and we should be able to intertwine these trainings and previous works within out time in this program.

Discussing these topics and ways to loop into the public history we are learning was a great way to shed some light on the possibility of what work we can do on a local and state level as well as a national level.

Now let’s just stay on this with the same momentum and we’ll see what happens!

Stay tuned!!!