When I left off last time, I’d just finished the Civil War surrender at Bennett Place. I also said we were about to take a tour of the area with a very nice gentlemen who was a volunteer and guide.
There were four of us in the group--Martha, me, and Vincent, plus a man who had been there before us. He was a youngish fellow, maybe in his early 40s, who (it turned out) was from the Boston-area, as we were. We ended up chatting a little. Frankly, he had high tech written all over him in big glowing letters. He had a company, he said, in Cambridge. I’m fairly sure he had gone to school at MIT. Then, he’d become an entrepreneur. I knew the type from my days as a computer press journalist.
We were then joined by a friend of the Entrepreneur, who came late. He was about the same age as his friend, and, we learned, was a professor of physics at a near-by university.
Instantly, there was tension between the four males in the group. (It’s a guy thing, ladies, you wouldn’t understand. Or you would, but we will pretend you don’t.) The problem was that we all four of us...Vincent (who mostly knew what he was talking about) plus me and the two guys (who didn't)...had read just a little about history. A little. Just enough to be dangerous.
And, in the way that boys always have been and always will be, we were competitive.
About the photo: Would everyone puh-lease hush up so I can talk about how smart I am?
The Guide took us along the path to the old house. He talked about how the Bennetts had made a living or tried to. They’d farmed, sewn clothes for sale, made tools and so on. The Guide said that they probably also made liquor for travelers on the road. It was a hard knocks life, but typical of the time.
We came to the house and went inside. It was tiny and dark, though the Bennetts had done surprisingly well making it comfortable. There was an upstairs and a living room.
And then...came the questions...
All four of us guys were asking questions. You know the type. The sort you ask not because you want to know something but to show...to the other guys in the party...how much you already know. “But didn’t...” “Wasn’t he...” “And couldn’t he have...”
A look of quiet pain passed over the guide’s face. He’d surely been through this many times before. But, to give him his due, he squared his shoulders, took a deep (if sometimes ragged) breath, and launched into answering the questions that weren’t really questions...and pretending, as best he could, they were.
Honestly, I was impressed.
In a rare moment of self-awareness, I realized what was going on and shut up...at least in front of the guide. I was a bit embarrassed, but still rather proud of the fact that I’d caught on before making a total fool of myself. Maybe 3/4s, or 5/8s, but not total.
It’s the little victories...
Still, I do wish that people who know only a tiny bit about history would stop pontificating when I wish to pontificate about the little bit that *I* know. I mean, really...I’ve important quasi-ignorances to share. So, shut up already.
Anyway, we moved on. I remember thinking how small and dark it all was, and how the people who had lived there had suffered so much in a war that, in the end, had so little to do with them. Their menfolk had marched off to battle and died. They’d known poverty and pain. They’d suffered and fought...and all so that rich men and women (and, btw, white women played a role in this, in spite of what you hear sometimes), could continue to own and exploit the bodies of others.
And something that we should occasionally consider.
So we came to the end of the tour. We thanked the guide, who really had been terrific, and then went into the gift shop. Martha bought some cards. Then, she took a rest on a bench out front. Her legs had begun to bother her. But, soon she recovered.
And we headed out. It was late by then, so we had a lunch/dinner (at the Bennett Pointe Grill & Bar, to be precise. It’s here https://www.bpgrill.com/). Then, afterwards, we decided on an early evening, since everyone was tired, and Vincent dropped us off at the rented house.
And that was Friday.
The next day...Saturday...we had Mysti Mayhem, Barbecue, and Stuffed Ice Cream.
More to come.
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