Monday, October 20, 2008

Lone Star State Round Table Wrap Up

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I was preparing for a series of talks to various Civil War Round Tables in north Texas, including the Dallas, Waco, and Fort Worth CWRTs.

Well, it's over and I have to say it was a great success. What's a success? Well, everyone has their own definition, but as I said in the introduction to my various talks my criteria is that: a) I meet some nice new people and b) everyone leaves having learned something new. And, I think on both accounts, I can confidently say it was, indeed, a success!

My first talk was at the Dallas Civil War Round Table. This is a VERY active group under the leadership of my very kind host, Pax Glenn. We had a great turnout of 50-plus folks on a really nice fall evening (cool even, in these parts!). I give a lecture of about 35-40 minutes and then allow time for questions. The questions are my favorite part and you can always tell whether you've engaged an audience by the number and quality of questions that were asked. Well, the Dallas crowd asked some GREAT questions!

Besides meeting Pax and some other very nice people at my table, I also had the great privilege of meeting author and Dallas CWRT member John C. ("Jack") Waugh, author of the award-winning Class of 1846 and most recently, One Man Great Enough: Abraham Lincoln's Road to Civil War.

The CWRT group in Waco is smaller but no less avid or dedicated! We met in the setting of a beautifully-appointed room in the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Building on the campus of Baylor University in Waco. My host was Dr. Doug Guthrie - a lifelong and well-regarded member of the Waco community.

On Dr. Guthrie's advice, I actually arrived a little early to take in a few of the city's historical sites, especially some local cemeteries such as the Oakwood and First Street Cemeteries, which are the final resting places of some of Waco's first families as well as Civil War veterans (mostly Confederates) including the father-son pair of Confederate generals: Jerome Bonaparte Robertson and Felix Huston Robertson. Next time I'm in Waco, I hope to visit the Texas Ranger Museum and - on one member's advice - the Dr. Pepper Museum!

Fort Worth
My final stop was with the Fort Worth CWRT, another great group of people under the direction of another great host (hmmmm...there's a pattern here!), Jim Rosenthal. Again, I met some great people and heard some great questions!

Over a pint of Old Speckled Hen at a local pub after the talk, Jim Rosenthal introduced me to one of his favorite characters: Ashbel Smith. Jim says he is a "one-man public relations department" for Smith, whom he regards as one of the under-appreciated men in both Texas and Civil War history. I can't wait to learn more about him myself!

On my way up to Fort Worth I stopped at the amazing Pearce Civil War Museum...this was a GREAT experience and warrants a future post of its own! I also had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Esther Sims, Executive Director of the Texas Civil War Museum in Fort Worth, which I will definitely be visiting on my next trip to the area.

I closed out the night there by staying at Etta's Place, a wonderful B&B in downtown Fort Worth.

Lessons Learned
None, really. My hosts and the audience made my trips enjoyable and worry free. The great thing about these three CWRTs is that they all meet within a week of each other (sometimes a Mon, Tues, and Wed of the very same week) and so they work carefully to coordinate and share speakers and expenses.

If anyone is looking for speakers to fill out their 2008-2009 schedules, replace last minute cancellations, or already planning their 2009-2010 schedules, please feel free to contact me!

No comments: