The kickoff for Platte County’s 175th anniversary year is now what the event sought to observe - history. Future historians will leaf through accounts of county anniversaries. They will see that at the start of the 175th year, on Dec. 31, 2013, a crowd of more than 100 people gathered at the Platte County Courthouse steps. Attendees shivered on a chilly and windy morning. Historians will note that on this day the building that once housed all county offices, but now mostly the court system, was renamed the Owens Lee Hull, Jr. Justice Center. This honors a long-serving and deserving former prosecutor and current senior circuit judge with deep family roots in county history. It’s likely been awhile since speeches were made from the Courthouse steps. Our ancestors, though, would not have found such a gathering unusual. Oratory was once entertainment to break the monotony of manual labor, pen-and-ink bookkeeping and nights with only fire crackling in a wood stove or wind whipping through the trees to break the silence. For most of us it felt quite unusual to be gathered outside in Platte City on a winter day. We greeted old friends. Handshakes were exchanged between veteran Democrats, Republicans and independent voters. People with deep roots in Platte County history, such as Jim Farley and John Dillingham, stood witness. Individuals who have played vital roles in preserving County history for the future, such as Betty Soper and Shirley Kimsey, braved the cold. History buffs from Weston, Dearborn, Parkville and Platte City were on hand. A common tie between all who gathered is they care about the County past and present. But I cannot help but wonder how the modest event will be viewed 100 years hence? Senior Circuit Judge Abe Shafer did a fine job speaking to introduce Hull, his friend since childhood. Hull spoke graciously and with humor. The salty old Platte Countians of yesteryear would have approved. For me the courthouse name will likely stand not only for Hull but also for a generation of others in the legal profession close to him. Yet as fine as the words were, it will be the pictures most looked at and remembered a century from now. How many of you have leafed through a history book and barely scanned the words but studied thoroughly the photographs or illustrations? One thing will stand out most of all – our clothes. That’s the first thing that strikes me when I see an old photograph with people from Platte County’s past. Some garments come back into style, but wardrobes always distinctively vary from era to era according to manufacturing methods, price and fashion trend setters. What seems so commonplace today is tomorrow’s question: did those folks really wear that? How modern revelers felt in 1976 as they celebrated America’s bicentennial. But bell-bottom pants met their doom. In a photograph I took of the 175th birthday cake I noticed in the background various shoes on those standing on the Courthouse steps. The shoes may draw more interest than the cake 10 decades from now. Once the clothes are scanned, the viewer will notice beyond the people cars and pickup trucks parked on the square in Platte City. Getting from one place to another is a human challenge through the ages. Nothing leaps out of old pictures like a horse and buggy, or in later decades the almost gothic shapes of Fords, Chevys and Buicks. Will our cars seem so exciting in 2114? Finally, after the oddities are picked out of the photo, the viewers of history will turn their attention back to the people. They will study the faces, try to gaze into the eyes, wonder about smiles or frowns or laughs. Those a century hence will not take us too seriously because they will consider themselves vastly smarter, in part because technology will have advanced, but also because they know what happened after the photos were taken and we don’t. Historian W.M. Paxton in his “Annals of Platte County” wrote that brickwork for the front rooms in this Courthouse (the first was burned down during the Civil War) was completed in 1866. Paxton was a dedicated Temperance Movement man and he wrote for Feb. 14, 1867: “St. Valentine’s Day profaned by a dance and carousal, at the new courthouse, called a dedication.” Chances are slim we’ll re-enact that dedication. In advance of the 175th kickoff speeches, a sheriff’s deputy ordered me not to take photos in our public Courthouse lobby. The security equipment was all in place and most attendees didn’t dare venture inside the front doors to see reproductions of early County documents on display. Our venerable and attractive old courthouse is held hostage by the threat that lunatics will commit violence, and that threat is real. Still, judges and law enforcement folks who are waved through the checkpoint daily likely don’t realize how intimidating and demoralizing it is for the average person to enter the Courthouse. Hindsight being better than foresight, perhaps the administration offices should have been kept in the old Courthouse and the courts, jail and sheriff’s offices moved to the north. Maybe they will have fixed this 100 years from now. However, let it be remembered for the future that outdoors the 175th kickoff felt meaningful for those who attended. The sun shone. Flags flapped in the breeze and those on the tall poles on the front lawn cast dancing shadows on the red brick front of the Courthouse, also known now as the Hull Justice Center. History should note that our personalities and preferences were as varied as the shoes on our feet and hats on our heads. But we all cared about a county and it’s people, and that’s what counts.