Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

May 5, 2012

It's best to beware of unseen hitchhikers

— One of the questions Capt. Gary and 1Sgt. Goldy get at Little Round Top involves the stupid questions that people ask us.

Seriously. Some folks ask what stupid questions people ask us when we’re at our usual post on the Gettysburg battlefield.

“Some people,” says Capt. Gary, “want to know why it was so hard to get the cannon up here with all the paved roads they had to use. We say it’s because the horses had the wrong shoes on, and they couldn’t get any traction.”

Dick, our buddy with the Gettysburg Park Watch, laughs and shakes his head at us. “Do you guys have an answer for everything?” he asks.

For the most part, we do. Another question we often get is this:

“How long have you guys been up here?”

“What year is this?” the captain asks.

“2012.”

He and I look at each other and say, “No wonder we’re hungry!”

I tell them, “That’s how come they ain’t no squirrels up here! Me an’ him done kilt and et ‘em all!” Then I continue the conversation in a version of English my mother the English teacher would prefer that I use.

We were rained out one day during our last visit, but spent at least five hours on duty each of the four days we were there ... one day, it was closer to six.

This is not easy, but we have the cannon to lean against, and it makes a difference. You can shift your weight around and take turns giving your legs a break.

Also, the nearest convenience stations are clear at the bottom of the hill — way too far for the captain and me to walk. (Private Reggie takes the walk, although he doesn’t care for it one bit.) This is why I drink very little coffee in the morning.

Some re-enactors were sitting at a nearby table one morning at breakfast. While we weren’t eavesdropping, we couldn’t help but hear what they were talking about and said so.

A friend of theirs had been out and about during an encampment one night when he was approached by a man in a Confederate uniform.

He said, “Hey, buddy, it’s late. You better get back to your unit.”

The soldier growled menacingly at him and vanished.

They had been talking about Sach’s Covered Bridge, and we said the story was that three Confederate soldiers were hanged from its rafters for desertion. If you go there and know where to look, you can see what looks like rope burns on the wood.

One Confederate re-enactor told us a couple of years ago he was there in uniform one night when a Confederate soldier came walking up to him out of nowhere.

“He took me by the arm and said, ‘Come on. Let me show you what they did to those three boys.’ That’s when I got the hell out of there,” he said.

Sach’s Covered Bridge is on private property, by the way, and access to the public is cut off at dusk. Believe it or not, vandals have tried to burn it down.

We told them some of our ghost stories, and after they got up and left a woman at the table behind ours said, “I’m sorry, I wasn’t eavesdropping ... but ... .” And it went on from there.

By the time we get down from the hill, we’ve usually had enough for one day, so we haven’t gone ghost-hunting for a while. Besides, the park service has chopped down most of the trees at Spangler’s Spring, our favorite haunt (you might say), and that seems to have driven away most of our nocturnal friends.

Reggie, who has his own paranormal investigation outfit in Hanover, Pa., went out one night to the Triangular Field and had plenty to report.

“I got some EVPs (digital voice recordings) that said, “Meat” and “Help,” he said — two things Civil War soldiers would have had on their minds.

He said he’d gone to a place where one of his buddies had seen the shade of a legless Confederate soldier crawling through the brush.

“I heard sounds like that of someone crawling,” he said, “and when I looked I could see the grass moving like someone was crawling through it — but nobody was there.”

He also saw the little green lights that Gary and I have run across a couple of times. They’re about the size of the end of a pencil eraser and the color of the green light in a traffic signal.

They once formed into a column and marched around Gary and our buddy Mark, and one night they formed corridors that led Gary and me to places we wanted to go.

“They were following me around,” said Reggie.

One thing about these ... whatever they are ... is that they can follow you around without your knowing about it or wanting them to.

Our friends Cathy and Harry, who live near Philadelphia, made the mistake of picking up a rock and taking it home from Gettysburg. This is not a good idea, because something may be attached to it. At least, that’s what they say.

Things began to happen and there were sounds that couldn’t be accounted for, and then one day Cathy saw him in the house.

“He was wearing a flat-topped, wide-brimmed hat and a long overcoat, just standing there looking off in the distance,” she said.

She said they never made eye contact, and she and Harry took the rock with them when they returned to Gettysburg.

“We stopped the car, I tossed the rock out and said, ‘OK, we’ve brought you home,’ ” she said. “We’ve never seen him again.”

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He means well, and this time they spared his life

    Our pal Phil is the only re-enactor certified in writing by both the Lee and Custis families to portray Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (whose wife was Mary Anna Custis Lee). When he’s in uniform, he generally stops at the bottom of the path that leads to the summit of Little Round Top, salutes Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy and asks permission to join us. (Get it? Generally ... General Lee?) We always return his salute and grant him permission, in part because he’s our friend and also because the real Lee never got to see what it really looks like from up there. (Get it? Grant ... Grant? U.S. Grant? Real Lee ... really? OK. I hear you. That’s enough. Seriouslee.) Phil gets a kick out of being able to sneak up on us while we’re distracted by tourists.

    July 20, 2014

  • They’d have fallen like Autumn leaves

    So there we were, minding our own business (at least momentarily), leaning against the cannon at Little Round Top.

    July 13, 2014

  • Better read that french fry before you eat it

    People give me otherwise-insignificant items they hope will amuse or inspire me. I appreciate this. I’m always glad for free entertainment, which as Goldy’s Rule 33 says is everywhere. All you have to do is wait and it will come to you. Also, I have been writing columns for 37 years and embrace inspiration anywhere I can find it.

    July 6, 2014

  • The moose is loose, and it’s coming for you

    So how would you like to look out your kitchen door window onto your porch and see a moose looking back at you from close range?

    June 28, 2014

  • There are some debts you can never repay

    Today’s column will be relatively short, as my columns go, for reasons that should become apparent, and I thought long and hard before writing it.

    June 21, 2014

  • It could have saved the county a lot of money

    Random thoughts sometimes occur to me when I least expect it, usually when my brain has become tired.
    When I voice these thoughts at work or in other places, people may tell me, “Goldy? It’s time for you to go home.” Yes, ma’am.
    Here are two random thoughts of recent vintage:
    • If Bugs Bunny were an Emergency Medical Technician, would that make him a MedicHare?
    • If Daisy Duck got a job driving for United Parcel Service, would she be an UPS-a-Daisy?
    I wouldn’t blame you if you think that sounds Goofy — or Daffy.

    June 15, 2014

  • These two were part of the Not Top Ten

    Occasionally, at this time of year, I see reference to a “class orator” or a “class speaker.”

    Nothing wrong with that — people can call such things whatever they want, as far as I’m concerned — but it makes me wonder. Have “valedictorian” and “salutatorian” become politically incorrect, and I didn’t notice? It may come as a surprise to you, but I really have not kept up with what is politically correct or incorrect. That’s what people tell me, anyway. With some of them, it actually seems to be a compliment.

    June 8, 2014

  • Coming soon to a highway near you?

    People say to me, “Goldy? Can I ask you a stupid question?”

    In theory — and theory only — the correct response is: “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Not so much. There ARE stupid questions, some of them so stupid that to call them stupid is to damn them with faint praise. Other questions are — on the face of it — legitimate questions, but shouldn’t be treated as such ... not if you subscribe to the same philosophy that I do: Free entertainment is everywhere; all you have to do is wait, and it will come to you.

    June 1, 2014

  • This was a skill that proved very useful

    The Belmont Park stewards have decided to let California Chrome wear his nasal strip during the Run for the Carnations. Nasal strips usually are worn by people who snore and may have saved numerous marriages. It helps the Triple Crown hopeful to breathe, and some twolegged athletes wear nasal strips for the same reason. In this case, Chrome’s nasal strip may keep him from (wait for it) ... losing by a nose.

    May 25, 2014

  • He made a big splash by asking this question

    “I don’t know who you were talking to last night,” said Capt. Gary, “but you were talking and moaning in your sleep. Never heard you do that before.” Neither has anyone else, I said. Besides, I had told him not to be surprised if we had visitors. I wasn’t at the top of my game for a couple of days, and he said some of our friends asked him if I was all right. It’s not the first time for this, so now I’ll know to watch out for it. It can affect you and is not something to play around with — as our friend Cathy found out.

    May 18, 2014

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