Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grand Rapids Sesquicentennial Event

For me, a return to Michigan, is a return to where my childhood interest in the Civil War took root.  And here I was, two days following the 150th anniversary of the opening guns, back in Michigan, a guest speaker for the Grand Rapids Historical Society.  The subject?  Antietam.

The view from our room took in the north end of town.  Grand Rapids is bisected by the Owastanong River (called by non-natives the "Grand").  

The river is a focal point of the city, and has been made that way in the last twenty years in a very conscious and laudable manner by the city planners.  The new convention center (right) and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum (left) follow the modern trend of facing the river, a river which in previous generations was merely a dumping ground for the many factories and foundries of the "Furniture City".

On the morning of the evening of my talk I did a half hour television program at the local PBS affiliate; WGVU.  It was a very pleasant, very brief,  26-minute "History 101" class with the young and affable host, Patrick Center

Here I am next to that other Park Ranger from Grand Rapids Michigan, Jerry Ford.


On the evening of my talk I was informed that it was the largest audience ever (SRO no less), they even had to set up an overflow room with a simulcast.  Apparently I still owe a lot of people money in West Michigan.

My old friend from museum days and president of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, Gina Bivins opened the show, and I was introduced by my friend and the vice president of the Grand Rapids Civil War Round Table John Gelderloos.

The talk was very well received, and it was positively amazing to look out into that audience and see so many familiar and friendly faces, even my very first boss was in the crowd.

There were some kids in the audience, and considering that they are in the position that I was fifty years ago on the eve of the centennial, I gave them special attention

Whether folks had come out just to catch up with me or to learn about Antietam, either way, it was a wonderful event and I promised all in attendance that they'd appear on my blog.

It was an altogether delightful evening.  At supper afterwards at the good old Cottage Bar, even the mayor, George Heartwell, stopped by to say hello.  

I guess, sometimes, you can go home again.

Back in Boonsboro,

Ranger Mannie


Unknown said...

Glad it went well. I have also been fascinated with the Civil War since my youth so would have loved to have been there also. What a fantastic way to "go home"

Unknown said...

What a wonderful story! SRO in your own home town is truly a gift. Fantastic.

Unknown said...

Your talk was great! I learned a lot. Have always been interested in the Civil War as my great grandfather and his 4 brothers all fought in it - and all made it through many battles and even some bullet wounds.