|View single post by David White|
|Posted: Fri Oct 10th, 2008 07:16 pm||
|Okay, I'll post a day at a time over the next five work days, that way I'll break it up and not get too much further behind at work.
Day 1: Rolled out of Austin at 10 a.m. for Cowtown. About the time I got to Doc’s Alma Mater, the cell phone rings and it’s Asbel checking up to make sure I was on my way. Confirmed my arrival at his office by 1 p.m. Hit a little traffic and made it there by 1:10 p.m. Strangely Asbel does not look at all like his picture and is indeed much younger looking than that. We went to eat at a great Mexican Food place I had not eaten at since I was a junior captain at Carswell AFB in the mid 80s. Asbel did me dirty and picked up the tab while I was using the facilities, otherwise I had intended to do the honors. We talked about the joys of roundtable leadership, speakers and people we knew and how great the pay was at the top of the roundtable. Our conversation was so pleasant I was 30 minutes late getting to the Texas Civil War Museum. As a result, I saw all of it except for the Victorian Dress collection at the end. Asbel I will never forgive you for that, as Victorian dresses are my thing… Not!
I went to two Civil War museums on this trip, the Fort Worth one and the Sweeny Museum. Both claim to be the Civil War museum with the largest collection west of the Mississippi. Well I’m here to say the Sweeny Museum is falsely advertising (maybe they both are as I think the New Orleans Confederate Museum is technically “west” of the river and may have a bigger collection than Fort Worth, it’s pretty close though). I think the Sweeny Museum may have more important items and their emphasis is the trans-Mississippi but I’ll let those museums defend their claims.
The Fort Worth museum starts with about a 20 minute film that discusses Texas in the war. While listening and watching it, I concluded that Don Frazier of McMurry University had written the script. When the credits rolled my conclusion was verified.
The museum is roughly divided into thirds, the first part is about the soldiers and sailors and is further subdivided into infantry, cavalry, artillery, medical and naval exhibits. Within this first part, things that were particularly memorable were a slouch hat worn by a Federal soldier at Antietam with a bullet hole through the brim, a Confederate flag captured at Franklin, stained with the blood of the Federal who used it to wrap his wounded foot. There were several personal items of some of the more minor generals and officers on both sides, names we would all recognize. Also of interest was some of JEB Stuart’s strawberry blonde hair, cut from his head by Flora after his death along with a note card to her children telling them how she cut it from their “dear father’s head” after his death. Overall the uniforms and accoutrements on display all seem to be identified with their owners and have a personal story to accompany them. In most cases they are in near pristine condition and I had to do a double take in some cases thinking the blouses or hats were reproductions instead of authentic. Everything in the museum is authentic and nothing is reproduction by way of example.
The second part is artifacts from the UDC Texas Division collection. These included a Davis Guard medal, the point of the flagstaff of the 4th Texas with a Minnie Ball hole in it, Items that belonged to Jefferson Davis, the flag of Waul’s Texas Legion and about six more beautiful flags. Overall this is a hodge podge of CW artifacts collected by the UDC over the years.
The third section is the Victorian Dress collection which I reached as they announced the museum was closing. A cursory look told me there were some impressive outfits. It was interesting enough I wish I could have looked a little longer but as I said I am not a clothes horse of the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries.
After a light dinner in Fort Worth (I was still stuffed from the late lunch) I pushed on to McAlester, OK arriving about 9:30 p.m. Along the way, I must have seen a half a dozen Indian casinos, I should have stopped and played as it might have been a more profitable venture than leaving my retirement funds in an IRA or 401K.
I made reservations ahead of time for my hotels stays using a AAA tour book. Normally if it’s just me and I arrive late, all I need is a clean bed to sleep, so I’ll book the cheapest place in the tour book, as seldom will they list a total disaster. So my choice was the Happy Days Hotel. I didn’t make the connection until I got there and rolled into my parking place marked with freshly painted pink lines. Out front was a fifties style diner with two 50s pink Cadillacs. The hotel appeared to be an old Microtel that had been converted into a shrine to the 50s. In the lobby was a life size Elvis in his army uniform next to a little room with Elvis, Marilyn and James Dean memorabilia. The room said it was reserved for Elvis. A jukebox in the lobby was on continuous shuffle with 50s hits. The halls had more memorabilia and 45 records on the walls. Each room was themed to either Elvis, Marilyn, James Dean or the Happy Days TV show. I slept with Elvis that night in a bed with a pink and white bedspread. Three of his pictures were on the wall, one showed teenage girls grabbing at his leg at an outdoor concert. The light switches were all Elvis themed. A clock on the wall rhythmically ticked with Elvis on the face. Even the bathroom was themed with an Elvis shower curtain. I decided if I were to die that night, I’d jump out of bed and go sit on the toilet of the Elvis room. The only thing missing would be a Peanut Butter and Nanner sandwich.
To be continued…
Last edited on Fri Oct 10th, 2008 07:23 pm by David White