Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

July 13, 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.

Capt. Gary pointed down the hill and said, “There’s our buddy, Jim (the tour guide).”

He wasn’t easy to spot at first, being surrounded by a busload of high school girls and a few teacher/chaperones.

Jim is a great guy. He likes us, and not just because we buy him drinks at Gettysburg Eddie’s. (He also buys them for us.) He knows he can entrust his charges to us without fear of our corrupting them or undoing his very good work, and he will get a much-needed break at the same time he receives quality free entertainment.

I would add that Jim, like the other tour guides, is required to possess a knowledge of what happened at Gettysburg that would put to abject shame all but the top-shelf college American history professors.

He also knows that Capt. Gary and First Sgt. Goldy aren’t like many of the re-enactors, who do what they do to feed their own egos (which leads the tour guides to despise them). We study the subject and admit that we don’t know everything because we don’t want to mislead them or give bad information.

Most important, we don’t (what was left after Ferdinand moved to another part of the pasture) the tourists. We want them to take something good away from the experience.

We teach them, they teach us, and we try to see that everybody has fun with it. Most times, we just talk.

Jim said he told the schoolgirls, “I’m sure those soldiers would like to have their pictures taken with you,” then high-tailed it to get out of their way.

It was like facing a buffalo stampede, except that we didn’t have any horses to shoot and take cover behind.

They were darting here and there, in and out — almost as if it had been choreographed — to alternate standing next to us at the cannon.

Then they would look up at us with radiant eyes and teenage girl smiles that would reduce boys and lesser men than the captain and the sarge to quivering protoplasmic marmalade and say, “Hi!” We just quiver a bit internally and proceed with the mission.

It’s at such times that I often turn to casual onlookers and ask, “NOW do you understand why we do this?” They usually nod Uh-huh.

(My dad and once I watched a pretty girl walk by, expertly pretending not to notice her. [Dad took notice of pretty girls until the last day of his life.] I told him some things are easier to deal with when you’re 50 than they were at 20, 30 or even 40. “Wait ‘til you’re 85,” he said, “and see how damn easy it gets!”)

 When the person with the camera says “Smile!” we usually explain why we don’t smile: Back in the day, having your picture taken was a formal occasion, and it took so long to expose the plate that you simply couldn’t hold a smile that long.

Sometimes, it’s not possible to keep a straight face — like when a little kid in his mother’s arms points to us and hollers, “They’re The Good Guys!”

An attractive lady teacher was the schoolgirls’ designated picture-taker. They took turns handing her their cameras and jumping in between the captain and the sarge.

The time came when she was holding three cameras, so she leaned back a ways and rested one of them on what I can only describe as a shelf, which at the teacher’s angle of attack was about level with her chin. That camera never moved an inch while she took pictures with the other two. I figured she’d done this before.

Gary and I didn’t dare look at each other for several minutes out of a mutual desire to maintain decorum.

Some of the re-enactors are pretty good guys. One is our friend Larry, who portrays Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

Larry showed up in uniform with three other Union generals, including George B. McClellan, and a full bird colonel.

I told the captain, “Sir, I ain’t seen this many stars since the last time I was out on a clear night.”

There were plenty of tourists to go around, so we divvied them up.

One family group that came up to the captain and me included a tall, clean-cut, thoroughly robust and handsome young man. I’d not hesitate to walk into any bar in the country with him (after he turns 21, that is).

He would have had those high school girls swooning and fluttering to the ground like white oak leaves on a late October squirrel-huntin’ day.

“We oughtta recruit this’un, Cap’n,” I said. “He’s packed with vitamins. Besides that, he’s already Army.”

He was wearing a T-shirt that said he was a member of the U.S Military Academy football team and told us he was in the class of 2015.

“Come here, son,” said the captain. “I want you to meet another West Pointer,” and took him over and introduced him to Larry, who looks so much like Grant (class of 1843) that most folks would have trouble telling them apart.

While his family watched, Larry talked to him for close to an hour — about what, we had no idea, but we had the feeling that Grant himself was present and doing most of the talking.

He even escorted the cadet and his family down the hill to the 20th Maine monument at the left flank of Little Round Top, a couple of hundred yards away.

This kid’s grin was big as those we see on the youngsters we hold while they’re sitting on the cannon barrel, with one of our caps on their heads. (Or the little old ladies who ask if they can have a photo with us, when we respond that we’re always grateful to have our pictures taken with pretty girls.)

“I guarantee you,” the captain said, “it won’t take long for everybody in that young man’s class to hear about this after he goes back to West Point.”

So will everybody in every other class, I added. It will be a day he and his family will remember for the rest of their lives.

That’s the real reason we do what we do.

Oh ... did I mention that Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee is also a friend of ours? He is.

And so is Wolf Boy.

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Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything
  • He was here long before Duck Dynasty

    July 27, 2014

  • 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

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