Sunday, October 18, 2009

Worth a Thousand Words

Currently being without a camera makes it clear to me that this blog has always taken a visual lead, that is, the prose supporting the photos rather that the more traditional photos supporting the prose.

I like taking pictures, and this digital revolution has made photography inexpensive, easy, and almost as essential as any of the five senses.  That my camera died of exhaustion is no surprise really when I consider that it has been on my belt and in daily use for nearly two years.  The Canon Powershot has also freed up my videography, making it easier to shoot video on the fly with very adequate sound and picture quality considering the compactness of the camera.  Lest this start sounding too much like a commercial I end by simply saying that Canon is a pretty swell little camera. 

Had I a functioning camera yesterday I could have taken some shots of two tour-hour Ranger-led tour.  In lieu of a photo merely visualize cold weather coupled with a light, saturating rain.  It was ragged and bone-chilling.  I ended up telling the whole battle story from the warmth and comfort of the observation room and then inviting those who wished to join me for a drive around the park with stops at the iconic areas of the battlefield for additional narrative and conversation.  I actually had about 25 true-believers go the distance with me for the following hour out on the field.  Considering the  rotten weather it turned out to be quite a delightful time.

Every season I find myself incorporating a new theme or element in my talks, and this year I've hit upon one that has really resonated with my audience.  After I greet everyone and lay out the goals for the two hour tour, I offer this observation;

"Now I know that a good percentage of this group is made up of true believers - life-time students of the Civil war, another percentage represents the real good sports who've come along for the ride, and I'm also fully aware that among you are the outright hostages who'd much rather be elsewhere.  My aim, for all of you, is to make this the best two hours of your day".

The good sports and the hostages really seem to enjoy the recognition; which they really do deserve.  Not everyone shares our passion, but thank goodness they can suffer ours with such good grace.

And that grace is something I wouldn't be able to do justice to with even with the best of cameras.

Maintaining focus, just north of Sharpsburg,

Ranger Mannie 


Unknown said...

Back at ya, Mannie. How about if I plagiarize your intro--I love it! I wasn't able to post pics easily this summer, so I know the feeling! We also bought a new Canon this summer. Having to learn new skills again!

Jared Frederick said...

Some excellent points Mannie. I may implement some of them in the future!

Mannie Gentile said...


Plagerize away! with the best wishes of a fellow Ranger and teacher. And enjoy that new camera.


Jeff said...


I hope to visit this coming spring and I look forward to hearing one of your talks.

I just finished Freeman Tilden's book on interpretation - very good stuff that I can use now in the classroom - and maybe if a spot opens up at Independence this summer! (keep fingers crossed)

Thanks for another enjoyable post,


Anonymous said...

I always tell visitors, whether they know a lot or know a little, that I hope they each go away from my programs with something new that they hadn't heard before and hope that it will help them understand this place and what happened here a little better.

John C. Nicholas

Mannie Gentile said...

And John,
You are one Ranger that many could profit from emulating.


Anonymous said...

I'm just an average guy trying to do a hero's job Mannie.

John C. Nicholas