I was on the radio once. I know, I know, what in the world is a hay farmer doing talking on the radio? Well, it was like this. During my years in Witter Springs I got to know a lot of people and a few animals. The long and the short of it is this. I found a perfect excuse for not doing some of the less pleasant farm chores around my farm by writing about my experiences and about some of the interesting folks that have crossed my path.
I am a Civil War buff. I like to learn all I can about that war. It fascinates me. The American Civil war is a part of the blood and bone of every patriotic American and I am patriotic. Like a lot of people, I am interested in the battles and the people of that war. Half the folks in Lake County have Great Grandfathers who fought for the South or for the North. In the monthly Civil War get-to-gathers that are held in the old Tallman Hotel conference room, anywhere up to sixty souls listen to stories about that war. They come on the first Monday every month. The chairman, Phil Smoley, leans to the Confederacy. I think he may still raise the Stars and Bars on occasion. Some of the others lean just as hard on the Union. I admire both sides for the fierce fought battles and their heroism in that bloody conflict.
Anyway, like I was saying, I decided to write something not as frivolous as all my science fiction and tongue-in-cheek semi-funny tales, I picked a story about the Civil War that was crying to be told by somebody.
A soldier, a Major General in the Union Army, about as high as you could go and still not be a politician, was my subject. General Porter was a hero. No one had bothered to tell his story. Since I pick up stray cats and root for the underdog, I had to tell that soldier’s story.
After the Union lost the Battle of Second Bull Run, which in the North was called the Battle of Manassas, crooked politicians treated that major General in the most shabby way possible. The biased Court labeled Porter a coward and blamed him for the loss of the Battle. After his Court Martial he was crucified and forbidden to hold public office. For the next twenty years General Porter fought tooth and nail to overturn the Court’s decision. With the help and testimony of Grant, Lee, Longstreet and fair-minded Presidents, General Porter was restored to his former position with honors.
The worst part is this. That man was not only innocent, he saved the Union Army from destruction. That army went on during the next two weeks to stop Lee’s invasion of the North at Antietam and send him back to Richmond.
What it came down to, when people found out about my scribbles and my trying to set the record straight about that good soldier, they asked me to talk about my book at one of the Upper Lake Civil war meetings.
KPFZ, Lakeport’s proud claim to a window on the radio world, is a public radio FM station. On the day Olga and Linda, the two ladies that run the local station, invited to come to downtown bustling Lake port. I went. Fighting nine AM traffic (I think there were three cars and a tractor on Main Street at the time) I got to the station on time. KPFZ is on the second floor of 149 North Main. I parked, full of hope that I wouldn’t do anything to embarrass myself and opened the door.
Lately, since my hip operation in the VA hospital last year, I walk a little slower than I used to. Steps are sometimes a challenge. Those several hundred steps to the Second Floor were a challenge. They are higher than climbing the Great Pyramid of Giza. I almost turned around and went home. But I had promised to let the ladies interview me.
Up I went, one step at a time. On my farm, my house is on a hill. The barn is fifty feet lower on the pasture level. The garage is half-way up the hill. So I built steps from the barn to the garage (
The thousands of steps I climbed that day were steep. Every step was like climbing part of the way up Mt. Everest.
It all turned out okay. I was interviewed, they were kind to me and I didn’t stutter too much or fall over my words more than once or twice. I admit I was scared going in but they put me at ease. By the time the hour was
© 2017 PAL PUBLISHING/USED BY PERMISSION
To enjoy more of Gene’s writing and his Newsletter
visit Gene’s website; http://genepaleno.com/