Cumberland Times-News

Jim Goldsworthy - Anything and Everything

December 7, 2013

A man should never argue with a redhead

Capt. Gary tells people we do living history. 1Sgt. Goldy usually adds, “With all due respect, sir, we ARE living history.”

Sometimes we get closer than that. A fellow who said he was a descendant of Gen. Dan Sickles told the captain a few years ago that his ancestor saved the Union’s bacon at Little Round Top.

Gary doesn’t care much for Sickles. Neither did Sickles’ men, one of whom said upon hearing that he been wounded and been carried from the field, “Bad news for him, good news for us.”

The captain takes his inspiration from Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, whose spirited defense of Little Round Top with the 20th Maine may have been what saved the day. (There are people who disagree, but it’s always that way with history.)

During our most recent visit to the great battlefield, we met a man whose great-great grandfather was at Little Round Top with the 20th Maine.

“He was wounded twice,” the man said, “once in the arm and once in the leg, but both bullets went through without striking bone, so he was able to keep the limbs.

“They carried him to the top of the hill so he could be treated by the surgeons who were there,” he said.

The captain and I stayed in uniform after the Remembrance Day parade and were sitting at the bar in Gettysburg Eddie’s with our coats draped over the back of our chairs.

A young man in a fancy corporal’s uniform and his lady in a beautiful gown came in, and she sat on a stool next to me while he stood.

Directly, the captain and I were able to move down one seat, so I told the corporal to please sit with his lady.

“Thank you, sir,” he said.

That’s when I picked up my jacket, pointed to the chevrons and lozenge on the sleeve, smiled at him and said, “Corporal, you know better than to call me that!”

He grinned back and said, “Yes, first sergeant! Thank you, first sergeant!”

“You’re very welcome corporal, and ma’am,” I said, nodding toward her in my most gentlemanly fashion. You’ve got to do more than just dress the part for it to mean anything.

Our friend Jayne from Wisconsin was with us in July for the 150th anniversary of the battle, and she has never met anyone who wasn’t a potential friend.

We were taking a break for lunch at Eddie’s when she visited some Confederate re-enactors at the next table.

They told her the experience was all about them. They’re in it for the glory and the recognition and adoration it brings them, etc.

“Shame on you!” Jayne bellowed, and she pointed to the captain and me. “They do what they do to teach people and help them have a good experience here! They want the next generation to know what happened during the Civil War because the schools aren’t teaching them!”

Gary and I looked away and acted like we didn’t hear anything. My mother was a redhead like Jayne and about her size. I learned early in life never to argue with such a woman and, apparently, these fellows were equally wise. They didn’t say another word.

Some re-enactors may put you in mind of the southern end of a northbound horse, but most do not. We have wonderful friends who re-enact.

A fellow was sitting next to me at the bar in his Yankee infantry uniform while I was in my civvies, and we got to talking.

He asked if I was a re-enactor, and I said the captain and I do living history. He asked what that was, and I told him we go to Little Round Top, talk to tourists and have our pictures taken with more pretty girls than a man could want.

He wanted to know about my outfit, so I said I represent 1st Sgt. Theodore Field of Battery C, 1st West Virginia Volunteer Artillery, whose four cannon fired 1,120 rounds in two days while stationed at Cemetery Hill. It put fire down on Pickett’s Charge.

This fellow told me things I didn’t know about infantry, and I told him things about artillery that he didn’t know.

I told him “What you and I have been doing with each other? That’s what my captain and I do at Little Round Top.” He thought that was cool and told Gary and me he’d enjoyed talking with us.

A pretty woman came walking up to us at Little Round Top in what looked like a bicycle-rider’s outfit, Turtle-head helmet and all that.

She was almost diminutive, but not quite, and very pleasant to talk with — smart, with a sense of humor and an air of considerable substance about her, and she seemed to enjoy our company as much as we enjoyed hers.

There was little tourist traffic, so she stayed around for half an hour or so.

She asked me about the cannon we were leaning against, and I said it was a 10-pounder 1863 model Parrott Rifle with a 3-inch bore, which made it different from the 1861 model that has a 2.9-inch bore.

She asked me about the cannon we were leaning against, and I said it was a 10-pounder 1863 model Parrott Rifle with a 3-inch bore, which made it different from the 1861 model that has a 2.9-inch bore. The 1863 model was created to handle the 3-inch ammunition that cannoneers fed to the 3-inch Ordnance Rifle, which was a better weapon than the Parrott, but more complicated and expensive to produce.

You can fire a 2.9-inch shell from a cannon with a 3-inch muzzle, but I wouldn’t want to be around when someone tried to shoot a 3-inch round through a 2.9-inch bore. She agreed wholeheartedly with that.

We stand next to one of three 1863 model Parrott Rifles that’s at Little Round Top along with a single 1861 model you can recognize immediately because it has a flared muzzle, while the others do not.

And so on.

She was an avid listener and asked really good questions, so I kept going.

Eventually, we got around to talking about where we were from and what we did for a living.

That’s how I found out I was talking shop with a U.S. Military Academy graduate who had been an artillery battery commander.

Before she left, she said she’d had a thoroughly great time being with Gary and me and actually thanked us for what we do.

When folks ask us to explain why we do what we do, he and I look at each other and say, “Where would you like us to start?”

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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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