Warmest of regards to all,
As I sit here, with the last of the morning’s coffee, the keyboard seems a stranger to me. The only ones I have seen in the past five days were those at the registration desks of the motels that me and mine took refuge from the road at.
2,567 miles later, we are once again back to our humble home at Mole Church; weary and worn yet, at the same time refreshed and refilled with what I believe to be the true Confederate spirit, be this so many years after that spirit was supposedly surrendered.
Over the past few days I have been lucky enough to take Pam and Mayme on another whirlwind tour of the South that has so influenced me most of my life. We have traveled the beautiful winding back roads of TN ALA. and of course our home away from home of GA. Along the way, we met some of the kindest folks in some of the most backwoods places on Earth, total strangers to us, and we to them. It mattered not, one tiny bit, their interest in this family of three rebs from the north amazed us daily. Questions regarding all the pro South stickers on the van started many a conversation along the way, as well as comments such as “ Ya’ll don’t sound or act like Yankees.”…………..Thank you God, for allowing us a dialect that doesn’t whine, and for parents who provided an upbringing stressing politeness and courtesy.
We arrived in Jesup Georgia and pulled into the motel where we had reservations. As I registered, it was then I learned that a very nice clean room had been already paid in advance by an anonymous benefactor. Fortunately, after a small amount of bribing the desk clerk, I learned who had done us the kindness and was able to thank him before we left.
As we pulled the van in front of our room, the door to the adjacent room flew open, a lady and gentleman popped out and said “welcome T and family do you know who we are?” or something close to that effect. As I said “no I’m afraid I haven’t a clue” the man handed me a 4×4 Bama battleflag, a Bama license plate frame, and a poster of Forrest. At this time his New Zealand accent and the Bama goods clicked in my head. Before I could get the words out of my mouth they told us who they were. Folks that Pam and I have emailed with for sometime yet had never met, and in fact his “active camp” in Alabama had made my entire family associate members months ago. To say I was speechless doesn’t do it justice. These good people had driven from Mobile unbeknown to us just to say hey and take in the festivities in Waynesville. This was just the start of several special moments that were to occur over the next few days.
As we unloaded the van which was packed to the roof with sound system, guitars, and period clothing, camp 2022 Commander Tom Lavender and son Mathew pulled up, and a joyful reunion a year in the waitin began. After a visit of an hour or so, we said so long till later. Pam and I were sittin at the table in front of our room’s window, when a truck pulled up out front. As I began waiving, Pam questioned me as to who I was waiving to… I said it’s “Sam and his kids” It was my past Commander Sam Lyons, here we haven’t been in Ga, but a little more than an hour, and Southrons are dropping by our temporary digs, just to say welcome to GA.
Sam was on the way to a meeting of his new camp, and asked if I would like to come along. Having not attended a SCV meeting since resigning my camps command in ill annoy, I jumped at the opportunity. I told Sam to head off without me, and that after I washed off nearly 12 hrs of road grime I’d be there, and I would try not to be late. Fortunately, they meet at a church not but 4 blocks from where we were stayin. I got there pretty much on time, and pulled the van in amongst a sea of battleflag covered cars and trucks. Speakin to guys as I walked to the church, I looked back once to see several checkin out our land of stinkin Lincoln license plates. Sam introduced me to a couple of members who were already inside, others followed in. Sam then introduced me to all in attendance, and I received one of the most sincere welcomes I have experienced. Not only was I given the honor of delivering the opening prayer but was asked to speak on my life as an activist, and deliver the closing prayer as well. I could not have felt more a member of that camp had I actually been one.
I returned to the motel, tired from the road, but wide awake with spirit and drive. I sat down and immediately Pam and I began rehearsin the material for the performance in Waynesville on sat. (Fortunately that rehearsal was caught on a digital portable studio recorder we had brought to capture our first live performance…. (Ya’ll will see later on why I say it was fortunate that rehearsal was captured…) Sometime around 1 am, we collapsed from sheer exhaustion……….
When we awoke the next morning, the plan of the day was to take Pam and Mayme to experience the beauty of Savannah. I know how beautiful that city is, but Pam and Mayme have never been there. After makin a couple of phone calls, I learned that the organizers of the Confederate celebration in Waynesville were short of helpers to finalize details before the event. So, I told them that my family would change our plans and we would pitch in and do what we could to help. At this time I would like to publicly thank my beautiful wife and our daughter for being so understanding. Not only did they not question my change of plans, but they went to work as well. God has blessed me so with their understanding, for I know their hearts were broken that they would have to yet wait again to see the beauty of Savannah, but, they said last nite that they were glad we spent the day trying to help, cause it made them feel more a part of Ga. Instead of just bein tourists.
Before we left for Waynesville we made a jaunt to Odin, where we were privileged to be given a personal tour of Barber and Company (Dixie Outfitters) by none other than its founder Dewey Barber. The fact that a man of his importance would take half of the morning to give my family a step by step tour of every department in the plant simply amazed us. And to say the least “Mr Dewey Barber stole Mayme’s heart. She made a comment after we left, that Mr. Barber made her feel like she was someone special! I told her “she was someone special, not just to Pam and me, but to many folks in the South. She just can’t get it through her head that her commitment to stand tall, loud and proud of her Confederate heritage up here in the northland, means something to many people she has yet to meet. Perhaps it will all sink in someday, that she has made personal stances as a young lady that full grown men are afraid to. We left Dewey’s company and made the drive to Waynesville where we got our first look at the beautiful park there.
After a full day at the Confederate Soldiers Memorial Park, in Waynesville, we drove back to Jesup to get ready for the banquet that was to be held that evening. I was absolutely astounded at the number of Southrons that showed up for an evening of fellowship, and speeches. I can still not believe it, though I know it happened, for I have seen the pictures that I shared the head table and speakers podium with Tom Lavender, Sam Lyons, Dewey Barber, and HK Edgerton. I was sent a digital photo from someone in attendance; I believe it to be the only photo that exists besides one of me as a baby that shows me crying. When asked why I was doing so, all I could say was that I was completely overwhelmed by the acceptance of me and mine in South Ga.
Commander Lavender spoke first, then had to leave for the all night vigil at the grave site of Pvt. Isaiah Parrish co D 61st GA Inf.………. At that time Commander Lyons introduced me to those in attendance. I must say never has someone spoken so kindly of me, and I must say that although he was too kind in his introduction, he did for a short time make me feel that the actions of my family and myself had actually made a positive difference in the fight for the Cause. My short talk was most warmly received. I am most grateful that I was the first of the speakers because I was followed by HK, who kept the audience spell bound. Dewey Barber was the final speaker and in a most quiet and Southern gentleman like manner captured not only the attention but the hearts of those in the room as well. A photo op session with HK, Dewey, and myself concluded the evening, and I must say I for one felt like a star, why anyone would want a photo of me is beyond my comprehension, but Friday nite was merely the warm up for Sat.
Saturday 7:30 am found Pam, Mayme and myself at the Confederate Memorial Park in Waynesville. The days events were scheduled to begin at 10 am and we had the sound system to set up, do a sound check, and then the ladies had the task of donning the period attire. Any lady reading this or her reenactor husband can relate……….this don’t happen in minutes lol.
With a crowd gathering early, the day’s events got underway. I opened the day’s program with a solo set of music, everything went flawless, the new sound system made me glad I had bought, and brought it, (despite the fact it took up all the back of the van lol). After the set of music, the pastor spoke, Commander Lavender welcomed everyone, then introduced me, and I then spoke a short 10 min, on 35 years of activism. HK followed me and again wove his magic to the crowd, Judge Huey Ham, followed next, with the museum and wall dedication. After a break for dinner, the memorial service for Pvt. Parrish was conducted. Then a period dress contest was held, (Pam came in 2nd to a lady from Mississippi)… Then it all went crazy in a bad way for me………
Just prior to Pam and I performing our duet set, a near 40 mph blast of Ga. Wind hit my Fender Acoustic electric, and slammed it into the 2 inch thick plywood platform we were standin on. I picked it up, didn’t notice anything terribly wrong with it, thanked God for that fact……………then I plugged it in, and the most horrible screams heard since Sherman’s Bummers were on that spot so long ago came from the guitar. We checked everything, grounds, cords, mikes etc. could not find the problem…. I walked off to try and figure it out before I lost it completely, leaving Pam and Mayme to perform a couple of songs they had worked up with Pam playin concertina and Mayme the flute. This was their first duet in front of anyone other than myself. I was proud of their performance, for I had really put them on the spot…… It was at that time I found the problem with the guitar. The force of the impact had busted the electronics function (volume, tone, and equalization), in simple words it was busted beyond repair. The pathetic thing was we had just finished payin it off…………talk about T’s luck……Anyway, I was devastated, and we made our apologies to the crowd that had stayed around despite it all. A musical program we had waited 10 months to perform and hundreds of rehearsal hours all for not………. except the fact that I had the motel rehearsals from Bama and Ga recorded…… Pam and I have decided to release them on cd, for the purpose of trying to raise funds for camp 2022 and for the Confederate Memorial Park in Waynesville. It is the very least we can do to try and repay the kindness shown to us by the event’s organizers and the folks who came to listen.
At the end of the day we headed back to the motel in Jesup, Commander Lyons and family took Mayme to their home for the evening, she was thrilled. Pam and I sat with the folks from Mobile in chairs in the parkin lot of the motel socializing, other guests of the motel came by stayed awhile, left and others replaced them. As the evening wore on, members from the camp I attended earlier in the week came by, as well as a couple reb reenactors and joined the party. Party is obviously an appropriate word, despite we were doin nothing wrong the motel’s owner came and busted up the gathering at 10 pm………so some folks left, those that stayed, well we just moved indoors. It’s funny how a room that all week seemed so large to the 3 of us, got soooooooooooo tiny so quick. Mayme came home somewhere around midnight and an hour later we all said our goodbyes. Tired weary and worn, we knew in the am we were headed back north.
We loaded up around 7 am Sunday morning, went to breakfast with the Mobile folks and my newest Ga brother Eric. We drug breakfast out as long as we could trying to put off the inevitable………. with hugs and handshakes the Warren family headed north, for a long day’s drive through Ga, Alabama, and finally stopping in TN overnite. Up very early Monday and finally back at Mole Church after 3pm. The first hour home was spent on the phone talking to everyone that had asked us to call when we got home…….
Well there ya have it, perhaps a little long, but shucks I haven’t posted in over a week and I wanted, no I needed, to share just how wonderful we were treated and how much we enjoyed our trip to heaven and back. God Bless each and every individual we met along the way, and especially bless those friends in Ga we left behind.
Now and forever for the Cause,
T………. (And family of course)