Shortly after I obtained my driver's license, I got brave enough to travel a longer distance than the liquor store. I headed to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to visit the historic battlefield. I had always been a Civil War nut (short of reenactments) and Antietam I had seen recently (someone else drove). But Gettysburg I had seen only in textbooks. I wanted to absorb the feel of the grounds where Lincoln had stood delivering his famous speech after so many had perished. I wanted to envision the calamity of Pickett's Charge and wonder at how the Confederate Army was allowed to escape such a devastating defeat.

I drove to the city center with no problems and entered a building described as the Gettysburg Information Center. Perfect! Lots of cool pamphlets and souvenirs were offered to my delight but I primarily needed directions. I asked a lady employee in period dress where the battlefield was. She replied that the whole town was pretty much the battlefield. Not to quibble over the matter but I was sure that the conflict was concentrated over a specific area so I rephrased my question. So, if back in the day, I were to hear cannon fire, which direction would it be coming from? She squinted her eyes and was obviously torn by a question that left her so few options to cavil with. So I interrupted her facial tics to ask her a different question instead, This is an Information Center, correct? Enthusiastic response of Yes! Then could you direct me to the nearest location that could provide me with actual, helpful information? When she started eying the period muskets on the wall, I assured her I was joking and would satisfy myself with some brochures. Exit, stage left.

Three Replies to Information, Please...

Lori Lancaster | April 11, 2017
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Steve West | April 11, 2017
That would have been a smart thing to ask but I was largely naïve about such things at the time. Simply a smartass trying to become not one.

Scott Hardie | April 13, 2017
Good story, but come on, the Civil War's not supposed to be funny.

Your story makes me think I should plan a trip up there. I've seen a lifetime's worth of Abe Lincoln history in Springfield, Illinois, a town that depends more on Lincoln for tourism than Roswell depends on aliens or Hershey depends on chocolate. But I haven't been to Gettysburg, where I imagine there's a lot more to take in.

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