THE CITY TAVERN of primeval America smelled of fried fish and stale smoke. Everything was made of hardwood and leather, and the place was roaring with joy!
A newspaper sat atop the table where I was seated. The Pennsylvania Gazette. July 2, 1776. I scanned the headline. “This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States.” I gazed up to gather my bearings and I nearly fell off the barstool!
"Hello, Professor Waldo Franklin, mentor of young minds," a man said, smirking, sauntering over to me. He peered over his round glasses at me. He had straight grayish-white hair that hung to his shoulders and a round belly. He slammed down a small glass filled to the top with a brown liquid.
"I’m Benjamin Franklin,” he announced. “Have this, you’re going to need it for what I’m about to tell you."
I drank the syrupy liquid without protest. The sugar and spices crept down my throat, its fumes whooshing out my nostrils. Without warning, my face involuntarily went into spasms.
He laughed uproariously, his face turning as red as a beet. He took off his glasses and composed himself, pouring himself more of the putrid substance. I was grateful that he didn’t offer me any more.
"Waldo," he said before gulping down the drink, "I have watched you for many nights while you dream.” He shook his head. “This is no such dream."
He raised his fingers to his lips. "I brought you here to give you something, Cousin."
Cousin? Holy history, I'm Benjamin Franklin's cousin! I fidgeted in my seat, stumbling over my words. "Ah . . . Ah . . . What is it?"
"This!" he exclaimed, pulling a beautiful golden timepiece from his plum waistcoat. "I made this. Though . . . something magical happened to it.” He swung it from its chain under the table lamp.
"This will enable you and your students to explore the realms of time travel. Your students will not only learn history, they will experience it! Your group will need a new name too. How about . . . the Band of Patriots? Yes, the Band of Patriots!"
I was flabbergasted, my mouth unconsciously ajar.
He gently closed my mouth and winked. "No time for catching flies, Cousin." Opening my hand, he placed the timepiece in it. “You and your Band of Patriots need to experience real American history and you’ll do it with this!”
I studied the timepiece. It was normal in all of its effects, except for the back. It was engraved. Benjamin Franklin. It shimmered under the light.
“You rub that there,” he said. “You rub that and set the minute hand on the month and the second hand on the day. Then you simply say the year and the place you wish to travel to.”
“This is perfect,” I told him, unable to sit still on my stool.
He nodded his head with pride, raising his index finger to the ceiling. “Kids that don’t know their true history will never be given the tools to secure their future liberty!”