Saturday, May 31, 2008

Do I need to watch more TV?

When I got home from the battlefield this evening I found myself flipping through the channels waiting for my spaghetti water to boil.

I realized how long it's been since I watched a hockey game when I found myself wondering out loud:

"Since when is hockey in color, and why are they wearing those helmets?"

Remember, if you can't play a sport, be one.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Maryland Heights hike

Substitute teaching ended for me this week, Rangering begins tomorrow, for my birthday (Friday) I gave myself the day off and went to Harpers Ferry. My mission: hike the six mile Maryland Heights trail.

(hit the play arrow)

It was a perfect day for it, low humidity, not even seventy degrees, and a beautiful blue sky.

The first stop would be the scenic vista from the top of this cliff high above the C and O Canal.

This trail had bested me about five years ago. On a very hot humid day, when I was twenty five pounds heavier, I had to call it quits early into the going (it is a pretty strenuous trail). Today though, I was ready for it.

There and back with pictures to prove it!

Today was the first day of the season at Harpers Ferry and the park looked great with freshened up signs and...

lots of neat props around providing atmosphere.

As I hiked the canal towpath along side the Potomac this enormous heron caught my eye, the first of the local species I'd encounter today.
And further up the trail,

the second.

Three years of Union occupation and fortification of Maryland Heights has left its mark. Although softened by time and vegatation many remains, like this powder magazine, are tangible reminders of the war.

The dry moat and parapet of the 30-pounder Parrott battery still stand sentinel over the river ...

and the town, far below. That's John Browns "fort" on the left.

The views (see video below) were frequent and spectacular!

This is the commandaing view of the Shenandoah River from the Federal 100lb Parrott gun battery

This Federal fortification "the Stone Fort" is at the summit of Maryland Heights. These stones are massive, and to think this was built by hand, the hands of free men that is.

It was a perfect morning and afternoon. A rigorous six-miles (all uphill it seemed), and a delicious home-made pizza at the end of the day,

Happy birthday to me, happy rangering for the summer!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day 2008

Saturday saw the 141st annual celebration in Sharpsburg Maryland, honoring the Union dead of the American Civil War as well as all fallen American soldiers since.

If you want to experience small town America at its best, then Sharpsburg is the place to be on Memorial Day. I captured these images on what was an absolutely perfect day in the valley. I hope to have a Youtube posted of the parade within a few weeks.

The color scheme of the day is strictly red, white, and blue.

A group of veterans at the presentation of wreaths in the town square.

Music filled the air as...

the Rohersville band serenaded passersby on the main street.

Sharpsburg always seems to feel like everyone's hometown on Memorial Day. Everybody grabbed a comfy spot on the curb, lawn chair, front porch, or stone wall to enjoy the PARADE.

The U.S. Air Force provided an honor guard, and they looked stunning! CORRECTION!!!
I am just informed that these are not Air Force personnel they are airmen from the 167th Airlift Wing, Air National Guard, Martinsburg, West Virginia. Their motto is "Mountaineer pride, worldwide!"

(thanks to Ranger (Lt. Colonel) Keith for setting me straight on that one)

The parade had participants of all ages either walking,


marching, or...

driving! (see the short movie on these guys at the bottom of this page)

Coast Guard Lieutenant, Mike Toth, was the keynote speaker at the wreath laying ceremony in the National Cemetery after the parade. Earlier this year I had helped his son with his National History Day project (he took third place in the county!).

The Boonsboro High School Marching Band (Go Warriors!) as usual, looked and sounded smashing.

Here comes that very long line of every little league team in the Cumberland Valley.

Still smiling and only two blocks to go.

Once a Marine, always a Marine.

Park Service employee and Sharpsburg resident Ike Mumma, (yes, as in Mumma Farm) notes that his late father Wilmer attended 82 Sharpsburg Memorial Day parades. Wilmer Mumma is a guy I wish I could have met, though I'm very happy to know and work with Ike, a really great guy.

As the day came to an end "Old Simon" presided over the wreath laying at the National Cemetery. With that another Memorial Day celebration becomes Sharpsburg history and another battlefield season opens. Its going to be a great summer!

See you at the park.

Ranger Mannie

Oh, and below is my short movie "Shriner Thunder" I hope you enjoy it.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What a parade!

Full post later. Have a great Memorial Day weekend!


Friday, May 23, 2008

Parade Float

Every float should have a cannon!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Good teachers walk among us

(Peter O'Toole in Goodbye Mister Chips)

Heartfelt congratulations to fellow ACW blogger Kevin Levin as a 2008 "Golden Apple" award winner.

The golden apple should actually be green as it makes all other teachers so envious. Only the cream of the crop are recognized with this award. Let's celebrate excellence in education as Kevin takes a well deserved victory lap!

Kevin's blog can be viewed here.

I wish Kevin and all other teachers out there a relaxing summer, I'll see you in the Fall.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Memorial Day in Sharpsburg

Saturday will find me in my favorite small town in America - Sharpsburg Maryland, to participate in one of the oldest traditional observances of Memorial Day in the United States.

I took these photos last year, and I hope to coax you out to join us, not just for the food and parade, but also the ceremony at the National Cemetery, the final resting place for all the Union dead of the 1862 Maryland campaign. I hope to see you there.

Two veterans reflect upon the day:

Friends greet friends from all across the valley:

All the seats are good for the parade:

Local color:

Shades of 1862:

Keeping the meaning of this holiday:

There is no better place to celebrate Memorial Day than Sharpsburg Maryland. This tradition has continued for 141 years. Come join us in remembrance and celebration, just South of Antietam National Battlefield.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mannie's Helmet Museum: open for business

After being in this house for almost a year and a half, I finally have gotten the bulk of my helmet collection out and on display. I'm just eight mounting brackets shy of completion.

You can swing by my helmet blog for a virtual tour day or night.

Keep your head down!


Monday, May 19, 2008


Battlefield bon vivant, Sharpsburg raconteur, and Antietam volunteer Bob Murphy is also a member of the renowned Wildcat Regimental Band

Several times a year you'll find Bob at the battlefield giving outstanding demonstrations of Civil War field drumming.

Click HERE for a short Youtube of Bob in action.

Get in step and follow the drums, to just north of Sharpsburg!

Ranger Mannie

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Continuity: Dunker Church

Today I had ranger duty at Antietam National Battlefield. Imagine my delight when I found myself in the midst of the convergence of having the sun finally come out on this rainy Sunday and a convocation of Church of the Bretheren (including Dunkers) holding a prayer meeting at Dunker Church.

This valley has lots (and lots) of active Church of the Bretheren congregations, just as it did in 1862.I was tempted to show up for the ice cream social afterwards but decided to simply settle for the photos.

Friday, May 16, 2008

French Kiss

This has nothing to do with rangering, teaching, or the Civil War. I just wanted to share my favorite helmet picture with you.

It is also my favorite picture - period!


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Teaching in these days

Political pundits concern themselves with the realm of qualified voters, as a result they're missing out on a lot of excitement.

This unique political year has elementary school rooms buzzing. Its really exciting to see little kids ranking certain presidential candidates as nearly as important as pets, video games, and professional wrestlers.

Perhaps the future has finally arrived.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Henry Kyd Douglas, call your office*

After three days of rain Antietam Creek is really "up". It'll take more than the storied "hop, skip, and a jump" of the above named local Confederate luminary, leading citizen, and notable wiseacre, to get across today, or for the next few days for that matter.

Up, muddy, and moving fast!

I'm not the only one that this three day soaking caused to get out and about (zero in on the very center of the image).

This big old black ratsnake took a break from the long wet spell to come out and catch some rays.

Me, the snake, and let's hope the sun, are in no hurry to move on.

Just north of Sharpsburg,

Ranger Mannie

* Hat tip to a Richard G. Williams gag.