I hesitate to write about my week at CWI because I don't think I can do it justice. But I know that there are some who have asked to hear about it, and so I will give it a go. I'm going to do it by day so that it maybe will flow a little better.
My parents and I arrived at Gettysburg College around 2:30, I checked in and they helped me carry everything up to my room. One of my roommates, Alix, was already there. So we talked and got to know each other a little. My other roommate, Corinne, showed up a little while later. We went to an orientation meeting where we did the usual "name, where you're from, and three interesting facts about you" and met Pete Vermilyea, who is in charge of the scholarship students. At 6:30, we ate dinner at the opening picnic and then went to the CUB ballroom (a place that would become way too familiar to us) to hear Wendy Allen (a personal favorite of mine) and Richard Wengenroth talk about their Lincoln art. After lectures, the scholarship students retired to Apple, where we played cards and talked. By this point we were all pretty good friends and nicknames had been given to most.
We woke quite early in order to make it to breakfast in time. Alix, Corinne, and I stopped at the library to check our emails before heading to the CUB for our first lecture. It was a big one, too. Gabor Boritt welcomed everyone with his wonderful Tiger Lily poem before the panel discussion on Abraham Lincoln featuring Jean Baker, Michael Beschloss, Ken Burns, and James McPherson. After, Corinne and I decided to get autographs on the back of our folders - a practice that we would continue throughout the week - enabling us to meet most of the speakers. After lunch, McPherson returned along with Craig Symonds to talk about Lincoln as Commander in Chief and as Commander in Chief of the Navy. An extra program scheduled for 4:00 was canceled and instead Kenneth Winkle spoke about Lincoln and civic organizations for a little over half an hour. Dinner was at 6:00. At 7:00, Dr. Allen Guelzo spoke about the Lincoln-Douglas debates and Harold Holzer spoke about the time in between Lincoln's election and his taking office. Michael Burkhimer was the moderator. When the lectures finished around 9:00, the scholarship kids again headed back to the dorms where cards were played and messes were made when applesauce was substituted for spoons in the game of Spoons.
We woke up even earlier in order to make it to breakfast. After some bacon and hash browns, we met with Daniel Epstein for a private Q&A session. Dr. Brad Hoch gave us a tour of Lincoln's time in Gettysburg. Fun fact: Dr. Hoch used to be my pediatrician. We stopped by the train station and I chatted with Adam while everyone else toured. We returned to campus in time for lunch. According to my schedule, we had a bunch of free time in between lunch and dinner with Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court Frank Williams. I think maybe we went to the writing lab to work on the writings Pete wanted us to do during the week. After dinner we attended a lecture with Frank Williams and Daniel Mark Epstein with Larry Taylor as moderator. Cards were played at night.
Breakfast was had. Lewis Lehrman, William Lee Miller, and Richard Carwardine lectured in the morning. Joe Fornieri and Sharita Jacobs acted as moderators. Carwardine was someone I saw more throughout the week and is a nice fellow with an awesome British accent that makes him easy to listen to. A side note, I am currently reading his book on Lincoln, Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power, and so far it's quite good. We took the obligatory CWI group photo on the steps of Pennsylvania Hall (Old Dorm) and complained about the sun being in our eyes. After lunch was lectures with Douglas Wilson, William Harris, and James Oakes, with Catherine Clinton as moderator. At 3:00, we went on the Lost Avenue tour and got to see that legendary part of the battlefield that few ever view. We returned for dinner. At 7:00, John Waugh, Julie Fenster, Thomas Craughwell, and Gerald Prokopowicz lectured. Eileen Mackevich and James Tackach moderated. Thomas Craughwell is not quite a Lincoln scholar; he dabbles in several areas. His most recent book is about the plot to steal Lincoln's body. He was definitely one of our favorite speakers during the week, the story very entertaining. We were disappointed when he ran out of time because he was actually fun to listen to. I believe it was Wednesday night that we attended the FOG pizza party, where Joshua Domosh (one of the scholarship kids) regaled us with more stories about the legendary Stanley Domosh. I also saw Eric Wittenberg's name on the list of honorary members, accompanied by several other very accomplished souls. Cards were, of course, played. I think maybe by this time we had acquired spoons. It'd be better not to inquire as to their source.
After breakfast Thursday morning, we had a private Q&A with Ed Bearss. Brian Dirck, Burrus Carnahan, and Allen Jayne lectured. Tim Shannon and Tom Turner moderated. Lunch was consumed with Catherine Clinton. Everyone then met outside for the Marine Color Guard that arrived to present Ed Bearss with his birthday cake. The man is now 85 years old. At 1:30 we went on our Beginner Tour of Gettysburg. Needless to say, this covered things I do all of the time, including seeing the film at the Visitor Center. So I slept through it (even Pickett's charge, which is loud), because I've seen it about five times now (I do work there, you know) and I was tired. Jared Peatman took us on a tour of the battlefield. The end of the tour brought us to the cemetery, where I told Jorg Nagler, the German Lincoln biographer, a little bit about some of the people buried there. We made it back for dinner, which we had with Dr. Allen Guelzo. All I will say about Dr. Guelzo is that he is a very interesting person with a gift for snark. The Raffle/Auction was eventful for us scholarship kids. We convinced Jordan to bid $1100 on a rifle, which we thought would sell for about $10,000. It um... didn't. It wound up going for $1200 and there was a moment of silence that Jordan describes as "the scariest moment of his life." And you guessed it! Cards were played when we returned to the dorms.
Friday was the last day we all had together, as Corinne left that night and several others left very early Saturday morning. Our first lecture after breakfast was one with Michael Burlingame (whose lecture helped me immensely with how I look at research), Jorg Nagler, and Matthew Pinsker. Michael Birkner and Kent Gramm moderated. Matthew Pinsker gave us a demonstration of the incredible Google Earth Tour project that it seems like everyone is working on (including myself). Afterwards was the annual CWI slide show. After lunch we heard from Barry Schwartz (whose lecture was not exactly well-received) and James Percoco. Jean Bandler and Elizabeth Brown Pryor moderated. I spoke with Elizabeth Brown Pryor after the session and got some great advice about the Foreign Service. CWI was then given a sneak peak of the horrible, horrible, horrible film Discovery did. It was supposed to be based on Gabor Boritt's The Gettysburg Gospel, but it just wound up being terrible. It was actually so bad that it was hilarious. It was also hilarious hearing Gabor and Jake argue about the events leading up to the film being made and Gabor talking about how horrible it is. Unfortunately, Pete wanted us to finish up our writings for him and we had to leave mid-horrible movie. We attended the banquet, which was nice. We then had to say goodbye to Corinne. At 8:00 we went to the Majestic, where we watched Budapest to Gettysburg, which is absolutely amazing. There was a Q&A with Jake and Gabor afterwards. We played cards back at the dorms until 11, when we went out to the soccer field to watch fireworks. It was a wonderful night. Alix and I went to sleep by 12:30. Apparently the others all stayed up all night. And apparently some really crazy happenings occurred. Let's just say that Alix and I were glad we missed said happenings.
We went to breakfast, lugged our stuff to the CUB to check out, hung out in the café for a short amount of time. My mom then came to pick me up and I had to say goodbye to everyone, which was sad. I then went home and took the rest of the day to recover.
In summary, I had the most incredible week of my life. I met some amazing people, some of whom had such an immense impact on me that it cannot be put into words. It was an excellent time and I hope I can make it back somehow next year when the joint themes will be the Assassination of Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln.
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot
Welcome to Ten Roads! This blog is intended to be a place for me to share my (generally Civil War-related) thoughts and experiences. I try to update once a week at the very least. All comments and readers are greatly appreciated!