View single post by susansweet
 Posted: Mon Apr 9th, 2007 04:38 pm
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Joined: Sun Sep 4th, 2005
Location: California USA
Posts: 1420

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Most interesting story and journey Johan.  Where did mine come from.  I am much older, you are lucky to have started younger with your interest .  I am playing catch up.  As a young child growing up during the cold war I loved reading history.  Seems like it was mainly western history I loved the best.  I do remember though writing a letter to the president  Eisenhower , that is and telling him he was my favorite next to Abraham Lincoln.  I was a fifth grader at the time .  That spring we visited my father's cousin in Springfield.  When they learned how much I liked Lincoln they took us every where Lincoln had been in the area, his house , the Capital building , New Salem and to the cemetery.  I still remember standing looking at his tomb with the flags in a half circle around it .  My younger brother was wearing his confederate kepi that spring .  We each had gotten one at Disneyland his gray , mine blue.  Dad's cousin called my brother beau.  Told him it was in honor of Beauregard .  He then had to tell us who that was. 

I studied the war in school as the years went on.  It was the centennial the year I started high school.  I even had my mom make me a dress from the pattern that came out that year.  Called a Centennial Dress.  But I lived in California .  No battlefields to visit out here.  The Drum was still an apartment building . 

I went off to college to major in history but my love had become European history.  I studied English history , Renaissance etc.  Then started traveling in Europe.  THAT was where history was I thought. 

In 1976 I was teaching kindergarten.  I had been on a committee for our school district to develop materials for the bicentennial.  After spending a year or more gearing up all that came out of it was a page that came out each month with what happened this month in history.  I was disappointed.  That summer at our big 4th of July parent some reenactors marched.  Not revolutionary but Civil War.  They invited all to join them in Huntington Beach Park for a battle that week end.  Off we went.  I sat on the side of of a hill to look down on the field and watch North and South battle.  Somewhat like I thought it had been at Bull Run. 

But life went on I was busy with other things.  A friend moved to Fairfax Virginia .  I went to visit.  I spent most of my time in Washington but she did take me out to two sites.  The stone bridge by Bull Run and the Park headquarters by the Statue of Stonewall Jackson.  Still it didn't stick.  I was now beginning to read anything and everything about Renaissance England I started attending Renaissance Faire.   I did this for years.  Collecting more and more books and as the years went on more and more clothing to wear at faire.  

I kept saying one day I would go east and see the battlefields.  The only place in the east I got was Boston to visit my brother at Christmas.  Revolutionary sites were my interest there . 

The rest of my free time when I wasn't teaching was taken up by my new passion Shakespeare.  I went to festivals everywhere I could.  The theatre was my love.  Old and new.  I traveled to Oregon to the Festival in Ashland .  I still do once a year in August.  BUT I retired. 

My dream was to drive cross country to see historical sites .  Things I had only read about. My second year of retirement I made the dream come true.  I hit the road.  I had a month .  As I was leaving Oklahoma where I had found my family roots I was crossing Northern Arkansas and saw a sign.  PEA RIDGE.  I remembered somewhere in the back of my mind that a battle had taken place here .  I took a big turn and headed that way. That was it.  I toured the battlefield with a driving cd.  I was in awe.  I went on up to Springfield Mo to see a friend.  She worked during the day so before I met up iwth her I was killing time and saw another sign, Wilson Creek battlegrounds. I went.  Another driving tour with cd.  I went back to the visitors center and looked at the books.  The ranger recommended Life of Johnny Reb and Life of Billy Yank.  I bought them.  I went on east . Visited Shiloh  in Tennesse, Appomattox in Virginia and met friends in Gettysburg for a day long visit .  I was bitten.  I had to know more.  I came home and signed up for a class for seniors at the high school  This high school teacher after school would show senior citizens videos on the different aspects of the Civil War .  Some were Hollywood movies , Ride with the Devil, some were History Channel or A and E shows.  I took two semesters and started making a notebook of places to see .  I hit the road again this time with a major focus on the war.  I visited Fort Jefferson Davis in Texas, mainly a Indian Wars fort but had been captured by Confederates during the War.  I spent two months mainly going from Battlefield to Battlefield, buying books, talking to park rangers.  I was hooked.  I still missed some major sites as I hadn't read about them yet.  Franklin for one.  I also learned about park closings   I would arrive at 5 pm to find the gate across some battlefields, but I would explore around the outside area.  Stones River for example. 

I came home after two months of Civil War wanting more.  I went to a reenactment again at Huntington Beach park and saw another sign.  Orange Country Civil War Round Table.  I sat down and wrote out a check to join right then and there.  I have only missed one meeting since that day two and a half years ago.  One thing has lead to another, Members of the round table invited me to join them at the Drum Barracks for a reading group , they even carpool to Wilmington from Orange County.  That led to training to be a docent there at the Drum which lead to going to reenactments to pass out literature about the Drum Barracks.  So here I am , three years into my journey.  A docent at the Drum,  Program Chair of the Round Table, and a member of the Daughters of the Confederacy and Union Daughters.  The books are piled up everywhere as are the magazines subscriptions.  Oh and yes as Patty and I talked about it the Civil War dresses.  I am up to three.  I also write a column for the Drum Barracks newsletter about places I have visited and the history.  A friend at the Drum mentioned this website one day.  told me I would enjoy it.  I am now a trivia junkie.  I drive my friends crazy looking for the answers. 

I also have friends in South Carolina I met because a mutual friend knew we were interested in the Civil War.  So last fall I flew back to tour South Carolina seeing battle sites and museums etc.  I will return in the fall to tour Tennesse with them .  Oh yes I am totally hooked .  I have sooooo much to read and right now I am trying to figure out how to get a road trip east in.  Gas and all make it expensive on a retirement salary. Then there is the car that has seen so many miles now seven years after retiring .  Excuse me I need to read the news page on here, read a chapter or two in the biography of Jesse James to get ready for the speaker next week at Round table and then meet the former president of the round table for lunch to go over the newsletter I just posted to the membership.  My new laptop with visit is not letting my printer work so she is mailing the newsletters to those without computers. Oh then I have to review my notes on Lincoln at Cooper Union for the book discussion group tomorrow night at the Drum.  At this stage in my life my world seems to revolve around the Civil War.   Oh I wish I had started earlier and maybe joined a unit as a female in diguise or as a Civilian in camp.  I know not too late but I have to man the Drum Barracks booth and tell people about this lovely building and the events we sponsor, 

I am off and running.


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