Monday, November 13, 2017

Plus Ҫa Change

Michigan Avenue Bridge, by Errol Jacobson

About fifty years ago, my father (who resembled Dr Gibbs in this respect) piled the four youngest children -- aged eight to sixteen -- into our station wagon with my poor mother and headed for Alabama.

Ostensibly we were going to see my oldest sister graduate from boot camp at then-Ft. McClellan, but the real reasons for the trip were Chickamauga, Chattanooga, and any other Civil War site that could reasonably be sandwiched in along the way.

In front of a six-pounder perched high on Missionary Ridge, a young Park Service guide began asking questions of the small crowd of tourists.  Little did he know what he was in went something like this.

He: Does anyone here know how many shots per minute this cannon could fire?

Me:  Two rounds per minute, with an experienced crew.

He:  Very good!  Who knows what these cannons were made of?

Next Youngest Brother:  They were cast out of bronze except for some Confederate cannons that used to blow up.

He:  Mmm..okay.  Now, in order to use a cannon, the crew needed to haul ammunition and other equipment around.  Does anyone know what this was called?

Youngest Brother: Limber.

He:  Ah...yes.  Moving right along, can anyone tell me what made these cannons so much more accurate than they were in the past?

Youngest Sister: They had rifled barrels.

And so it went for the rest of that poor man's spiel.  The four of us answered every single question, while my father grinned behind his moustache and my mother looked resigned.

Last Friday my sisters and I went on an architecture tour up the Chicago River (yes, it was snowing.  Took two hours for my feet to thaw out).  As soon as we were underway the guide began quizzing the dozen or so hardy souls aboard.

It was Missionary Ridge all over again.


Patricia Young said...

Love the story. LOL

Sam said...

Ha, ha! Now my dad does Civil War re-enacting so I can recite gobs on the history of the Gatlin Gun. And know to never again go to Fort Tigondaroga with dad. There is 1 2.5 mile drive with with 28 markers. Yes, we stopped at every one of them.

As for the "driving the guide nuts" - we went to the National Seashore on Cape Cod every summer. 4 kids + 1 miser dad = every free lecture and walk offered was done. Over and over again. So off we went on the kid's walk with a new ranger from Alabama. Who got seriously frustrated with our corrections of his facts. When the walk was done, his boss asked how it went. The Ranger complained about the annoying kids. When we were pointed out, his boss came over (in front of EVERYONE) and asked what he got wrong. We told him. He turned and said to the youngen, "you need to be re-trained as these kids can guide this walk blindfolded. So if they corrected you, they were right." Oops!

Bunnykins said...

I'm surprised the guides took things way too seriously. You'd think he'd be happy to have an audience who were informed and interested - and given each of you a prize. Sourpusses.
Just a suggestion: get a pair of Sorel boots; no pretty, but your feet will never be cold again.

Jackie said...

What a great story! And it's good to know your siblings haven't lost their touch.