Monday, April 28, 2008

The Bookstore in the new VC...

...if that's what you'd like to call it. I call it another "Gettysburg Gift Shop". Less than 300 titles? Newt Gingrich's alternate Gettysburg history?

And, the books aren't even together. They're strewn throughout the shop in no orderly fashion amongst the Lincolns-on-a-stick (?), the felt kepis and cartridge candy, and all the other junk you can already find in town.

Want to do some serious book-shopping on a busy weekday? Be prepared for dozens of kids playin shoot-'em-up with the toy muskets and such as you try to look at the books! I got so frustrated I left. Maybe I'll try to shop in December when no one's in town!

The potential is there for so much more. They have the space. Put the tourist-trap gift shop on one side, and the books on the other. I guess the idea of 'screw the seriously-interested', let's sell junk and milk the tourists has carried over fom Old Gettysburg Village and Steinwehr Ave. to the new Gettysburg Visitor Center.

And to think, like a lot of the rest of us, I waited anxiously for this thing! :-(

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Out with the old...

...and in with the new! I went last Weds., and my thoughts are mixed. It is a very nice, very well-done Civil War Museum. The layout makes sense, the displays are presented in a logical and concise way, and it looks good.

That said, it is not what you think of when you hear the words, "Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor's Center". That is not even close to what this new creation comes off as being.


Very little of it is actually devoted to Gettysburg! If I wanted to go to a Civil War Museum, I would have gone an hour north to Harrisburg. It has one of the best in the country!

But, I did not. I wanted to see Gettysburg!

This museum starts of with an intro. to the causes of the war, a big presentation on slavery, the early battles, then Gettysburg, and then the remaining campaigns (with very little mention of the Western or Trans-Miss Theatres). Then, there is a brief bit on the aftermath, and the creation of the park. My favorite exhibit was the EXIT sign, which meant that I no longer had to take in the forced-doses (by the shovels-ful) of political correctness that I was being made to digest!!

The potential was there They could have done so much more. How about the events leading up to Gettysburg? How about an exhibit on "Why Gettysburg?", etc. More on the battle itself, and more on the effects of the battle, both during and afterward, on the town itself? How many wounded? How did they treat them? Where did they send them? How about the pre-battle fighting in Westminster, Hanover, York, Carlisle, and Hunterstown? Why no mention of Lee's retreat with his 17-mile-long wagon train of wounded and even some of the fighting along the way? Also, (and this will be the last one) if you are showing the general Civil War, what happened at almost the same time in Vicksburg?

I think this thing was given to us under false pretenses! When first proposed, we were told that it was necessary to have larger exhibit space, because the park owned significantly more relics and artifacts than it could display. This from the Gettysburg NMP website itself on the initial plan,

"The requirement of a new building dates back any years when the growth of the museum collection, based on the famous George D. Rosensteel Collection, was beyond the scope of the current visitor's center. The need for an updated building to house the park's extensive archival and museum collections was not the only predicament. Outdated visitor facilities, exhibit space..."

Yet, the new museum presents significantly fewer pieces of the collection. Why?

Anyone besides me see something wrong here?... We won't get into the disgraces of the so-called 'bookstore'. That will come later.

I don't know, for the average 'Joe or Jane public' tourist, this thing might be ok, but if you know more than who fought, what the battle meant, when it was, and how it ended, you will be more than a bit disappointed!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"Goodbye to an old friend"

This is a little late, but lots of things have been going on in Gettysburg. I didn't get to make it on the very last day, but on the Fri. before it closed for good, my friends Donna and Karl, and I went to see it one last time. It's kind of sad to see it go. It's one of those things that we all thought would be there forever. A "Gettysburg Institution".

Yet, at the same time, it is definitely time to move on. 50 yr-old technology to show a three-day battle with blinking lights? Surely, we can do better! I think the electric map was one of those things we all remember from our first Gettysburg school trip, something from our youth that helped us understand the battle (though on my particular first trip to Gettysburg, most of the kids were just glad to have two days away from school!).

I've only really seen this thing about 6 times, mostly when people who had never been here before came, so that we help them understand where things happen and why they did. So rather then lament on its demise, lets look to the future, and the new Gettysburg Visitor's Center. I've been there, and there will be more, much more, to follow on that subject.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

One Continuous Fight

I remember this thing when it was a crazy idea put out there by some friends of mine. My, has time passed, and wow, is it awesome actually holding a copy in my hand! Now, the copy I have isn't quite the finished work, but it's close enough!

I was there for the final check of the tour of the wagon train of wounded (even made a dumb mistake that uncovered gold!), was sent on a last-minute mission to Chambersburg, and even a year and a half ago, was drug through Fairfield, across the mountains and into Carroll Valley (Sorry, JD! Steve and I did have fun!) hearing about what happened along the way. Through it all, I was told, "You just wait 'til the book comes out!"

Well, ok! I just got it a few days ago, and I'm only about 50 pages into it! Guess what?! It was worth the wait! I hope Eric, JD, and Mike are proud of it, because IT IS THAT GOOD!

I have my share of books, but I don't read as much as I should. Rarely do I get excited about the release of a book. I was given a copy of Plenty of Blame To Go Around in November of '06, and finally got around to reading it in June of '07, a few days before the authors showed up at my place for what turned out to be a good weekend. Shame on me! I won't wait that long again!

If you've read a lot about the Gettysburg Campaign, or even just the battle here, and/or if you've ever wondered about what happened after the battle, buy and read this book when it becomes available! You will not be sorry! Instead, you will feel like you were there!

A Lot Has Been Going On...

...Between trying to get a good start on reading the book that a lot of us have so anxiously been waiting for (though I'm not far into it, I am loving it!), and getting ready for the new Visitor's Center to open, things have been a bit crazy!

I missed being able to go this past Sunday, but I will be there tomorrow evening and will post about what I see and hear. There have been very mixed reviews so far about the Visitor's Center. I've heard either ,"Really Good!', or "Really Bad!", and not much in between. We shall see.

Anyway, 2008 is going to bea good year in Gettysburg. Things we've been waiting for are finally happening. First will be the VC, then the Cyclorama, and finally the Will's House in Nov. Now that I'm back to being an active blogger, I will post my thoughts on what I see and hear on a more regular basis.

I forgot to mention that the Peach Orchard has been replanted, and a lot of the cannons will soon be back on the field. Let's hope!