Wednesday, July 30, 2008

"This thing is going to be spectacular!"

What thing? The soon-to-be-completed, totally-restored Gettysburg Cyclorama!

I had the honor last week of going to the sneak preview. I got an invitation since I had donated some items at the end of last year to be used in the diorama, so Lori and I decided to go (Lori, by the way, gets credit for the photos. She was quite the photographer! There are almsot 40 in all!).

I am so glad we went. Sue Boardman of the Foundation gave a 20 minute slide presentation on the restoration process and the flaws that are now corrected. Then, we got to go upstairs and see it! It is quite the spectacle! It hasn't looked this good in many years, if ever! The pieces are in the proper places, the damage is repaired, the yellowing from coats of so-called preservative has been removed, and the end result is an incredible piece of art!

As you can see from the few photos above, the diorama is not finished. There is still a lot of work to be done, but it appears to be coming along nicely. Only 2 more months, and we can all go see it!

Also, as you can see, the diorama will almost seemlessly fade into the painting. Look at the well in the 2nd photo, and you will see exactly what it will be like.

We waited several years for a Visitor Center, and a lot of us were disappointed! We waited also for a Cyclorama restoration. I think we all should be excited! It will be that good!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Gettysburg Bike Week...Re-visited!

Is this history? Maybe, but is it the kind of history people come to Gettysburg to see? Let's hope not. It happens every year. The peaceful streets of sleepy Gettysburg become host to Bike Week, and things really go down-hill fast.

I blogged last year about what happens and what it's like, so we won't go there other than to say it is not the thing most people would want their family to be witness to. Lots of drunken-ness and debuachery. Not quite the way to remember the heroes who fought on these very same fields to preserve freedom and our way of life!

It's sad, though, that we let them win...What do I mean?...I have friends who leave town for Bike Week because they don't want to deal with it! They're tired of the noise, tired of the traffic, they resent the fact that these out-of-town bikers come in and take over the bars and restaurants as if they are there own, and then leave as if they've done nothing wrong.

Leave if you like, but that's not the way to beat them. If we all leave, they would win. My plans for Bike Week? Go about my business as if nothing has changed (ok, so I may have to leave a bit earlier to get where I'm what?). Gettysburg is where I live. Come Monday, these a-holes will be gone and we'll be left to clean up the mess. Guess what? Life goes on!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Hunterstown...How not to dedicate a monument!

I had the pleasure last Weds. of going with my good friend Karl to Hunterstown for the dedication of the new monument there. For those not familiar, Hunterstown is about 4 miles north of Gettysburg, and was the scene of a major cavalry fight on July 2, 1863. It is a significant fight for at least two reasons. It kept JEB Stuart's cavalry away from Gettysburg yet once again. Stuart didn't arrive on the field until later that evening, and was no help in supporting any of the July 2nd attacks.

Also, Hunterstown was a significant fight in that was the first action involving newly-promoted George A. Custer as a brigadier general. Custer had received this promotion, as did Wesley Merrit and Elon Farnsworth, a few days prior. During the fighting of Hunterstown, Custer's horse went down, and he was trapped and appeared to be destined to death, or at least capture by the Confederate cavalry. A young trooper named Norvell Churchill, however, intervened, deflecting a saber blow intended for Custer and extricating the boy-general from the field. This is an event worthy of note, and should be memorialized with a monument.

The problems that Karl and I had were that Laurie Harding, the so-called emcee of the event, was long winded and boring. It also is shameful that she had no notes and couldn't remember the name of the fourth author that she was so glad was in attendance. Basically this says, "Hi. I'm glad you're here even though I can't remember your name and wasn't smart enough to write note cards."

Why, after the intros, the speeches and the pontificating did they then feel it was necessary to take a group picture? Children and even some adults (Karl and I among others) were getting restless. Couldn't the picture-taking have waited until the monument dedication was done?

We won't even get too harsh on the reenactors portraying Custer and Churchill other than to say have you ever seen a photo of Custer in a kepi and frock coat? I haven't! With all the Churchill descendants in attendance, couldn't they have found someone who looked a bit more like the actual person?

So, after the photo, it was up to the monument for more speechifying (of course!), and then they finally pulled the cover and unveiled the monument. I must say, it was nice. I think it served the event well. It would have been a bit better had the ya-hoo portraying Custer stepped back a bit and let the people look at and photograph the monument (Dude! You're not Custer, and it isn't your monument. Get over it!).

All in all, it was an ok event celebrating something that needed to be done. I'm glad I went. Even knowing ahead of time how things would have been, I still would have gone. I do think the event itself could have been a bit shorter and a lot better, though!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

So, what's up with Harpers Ferry, anyway?...

...Harpers Ferry, WV, is a jewel of the Shenandoah Valley. Located at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, it was the home of the US Arsenal and John Brown's uprising, which ironically was put down by Robert E. Lee. Stonewall Jackson captured the garrison there during the '62 Maryland Campaign, so it is a town, and an area rich with history. Even without the historical significance, it is an area worth visiting.

Like many areas worth visiting, Harpers Ferry is a tourist town, and should thrive during the season in the evenings, esp. on the weekends, but it does not. Why, you may ask?

Because at 5pm everyday, the town, and all the tourist-related businesses close. Lori and I went there a couple of weeks ago on a Fri. evening. We arrived in the town at around 6:30, and were shocked that everything was shut down. On a serious note, if there were 20 people in town it was a lot.

Want ice cream?...Closed!...How about a coffee? ... Nope ... Closed! ... Souvenir?...Closed!...Get the picture? The only places that were open were the Town's Pub and the Secret Six Tavern. Up the hill a bit in Bolivar, the Hilltop House was closed, but we did get a great dinner in the Anvil.

I asked a friend who does some work why everything closed? He said that the business owners just don't get it! They close because they say no one's in town. No one comes to town though because everything's closed. It's a double-edged sword.

And to think, I sometimes think it's bad in Gettysburg when places are closed or close early. I guess in Harpers Ferry it's worse. It's a sad situation, and it's shameful. What the town is and what it could be are two different universes. You would think someone there would realize this.

As a small sign that things are changing, though, we did see a ghost-walk tour. Let's hope that's a trend that does not spread!