A Day (literally) at the Marietta Museum of History
Above - In front of the entrance to the Marietta Museum of History.
Thursday we practically spent the whole day at the Marietta History Museum (MHM). My wife Anna was responsible for organizing the annual trip for Blackwell Homemaker’s Club, thus choosing to go to MHM. I went along to help, thinking I might need an electric cattle prod to keep them from wandering off while the docent was pointing out things of interest. The docent was Anna Monroe, who really knows the details of the artifacts, giving demonstrations on how the printing press worked, the different types of music players from barrel cylinders, metal disk players and an old victrola. They have quiet a collection. Her knowledge of everything really enhanced our trip. Thank you, Anna!
Next we were treated with a presentation given by Christa McKay in period costume about a local woman named Regina Rambo Benson. Regina was born in Brazil while her Father practiced dentistry there. Her family returned to Marietta where her family roots were. In time she married Dr. Benson, who practiced in an office next to her Father. Christa told many stories about Ms. Benson’s life. As the story goes, Dr. Benson asked for her hand in marriage while offering her Father a box of strawberries and Dr. Rambo said, “Sold! For a pint strawberries!”
Regina was an accomplished musician in many instruments, graduating with a degree in music and drama. Being a woman did not hold her back from anything she desired to do. She was the first woman in Cobb County to drive a car, and the only woman to go on an auto tour across Georgia where she needed to know her car and how to repair it. She was a big force in keeping the spirit of Dixie alive and had a whooping time on Confederate Memorial Day. She also ran for congress but could only qualify for a write-in candidate since the qualifying fee was $1500. She lost the election but had an everlasting impact on future elections by having the qualifying fee reduced to $250, thus aiding the common man/woman to run for office.
Christa had much more in her presentation and represented the MHM as a valuable asset to Cobb County. Thank you, Christa!
We had lunch at Old Ephram’s, where McClellans 5 & 10 Cent store used to be. When I say “We” I mean eleven ladies and me. I think our waitress (who probably pulled the shortest straw) was very efficient – and six months pregnant at that! I wished I had ordered the hickory pork bbq sandwich.
Anna and I (my wife, not the museum docent) came home for a few hours only to return to MHM for the very first Civil War Roundtable in Cobb County. I don’t really think I knew what to expect in a roundtable since there were no round tables, but there were lots of folk enthused about the Civil War. The room was packed with some having to stand. Several experts of local battles spoke. There was a pitch to start a local branch of the Civil War Round Table in Cobb. Apparently the members orchestrate speakers and trips to Civil War sites. I recognized some of the people in the audience, such as Dr. Tom Scott, who wrote a very concise book of the history of Cobb County.
The key speaker was Dr. Brian S. Wills. Dr. Wills has a face of a delighted teenager with a Vandyke beard. He looks like the type of kid who could tell you all the characters in STARWARS and other fantasy adventure movies while playing video games. Looks are deceiving. Dr. Wills is a professor of history at Kennesaw College. He is an excellent speaker with his enthusiasm for the subject making me wish I could go back to KSU and retake history. He said history is all in how you perceived it. It is according to the frame of mind of the observer/teller, which is similar to the old phrase, “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” As an example, today some people think President George W. Bush was the greatest president yet, as others think the opposite. And others think the same about Obama. In other words, everything factual is just a matter of opinion.
He spoke mostly about CSA General Nathan Bedford Forrest since he wrote a book about him titled “A Battle From the Start”. He has done an in-depth study of Forrest’ personality, expressing what an untamed wild man he was, being a killer while at the same time a softy - very emotional. He didn’t mind getting into head-on confrontations often ending with in violent settlements.
During Dr. Wills’ speech my cell-phone started ringing. Embarrassed, I ran for the exit door. It was our neighbor calling from work. She wanted to know if her dogs were barking with their new bark collars. I told her we were not at home. When I returned I noticed throughout the remainder of the speech no other cell phone rang. Maybe others quieted their cell phone after my embarrassment.
A man in the audience that the speaker knew said that he named his son after the General, hoping that he would be at least half the man. Throughout the years I have heard many Southerners praise General Nathan Bedford Forrest more than any other Confederate hero. What did he have the other leaders didn’t? The only thing I can figure is he didn’t hesitate to kill someone if they presented a problem. Did his being the first Grand Wizard of the KKK influence his reputation?
Dr. Brian S. Wills was named the Kenneth Asbury Professor of History and received both the Teaching award and the Research and Publication award from UVa-Wise.
All in all, our day at MHM was an outstanding one.