Battle of Olustee
In spite of being there five times, I’ve seen very little of Lake City or Olustee. This event begins early in the morning, with set up and cars out by 7 am. The half-hour drive from the hotel in Lake City begins and ends in the dark. Dave accompanies me on this trip as we normally combine it with our annual February trip to Jacksonville to visit friends. We went to Jacksonville, but returned home because of a death in the family, then returned for this weekend. I can’t tell you much about the area, there’s never any time to sight-see.
But, I can tell you about the reenactment. The organizers of this event are the friendliest, most down-to-earth, most reasonable and hospitable of any I’ve attended in 6 years. The go-to guy is Eric Hague. Saturday I was visiting with another author and we agreed Eric is a great guy. Then I said to him, “Since you are from Illinois, do you happen to remember Herb Shriner? He was a humorist from Indiana on TV in the 50s.” Bob thought about it, and said, “Yeah, I do. Yes, yes, I remember him.” Then he caught me staring at Eric who was chatting in another tent. He looked at him, then me, and a grin moved across his face. “You’re right!” he said. Eric looks like Herb Schriner, his voice and speech patterns, the way he moves, it’s all there in Hoosier-style humility. The other thing I can tell you about Olustee is, it’s the worst food on the reenactment circuit! But, I don’t go there to eat, so I don’t care.
I go there to meet the folks and sell my books. On my table this weekend were Avery’s Battlefield, Avery’s Crossroad, The Mysterious Life of Jim Limber, and McIntosh Summer. I also display a book for another author about reenactment artillery. A man came up to my table and said “That’s my name.” “Avery?” I asked. I get that a lot. “No,” he said, “McIntosh.” His large McIntosh family, descendants of Chief William McIntosh, are in Live Oak, FL, just a short trip up 90. “A long time ago,” he said, “a few of them escaped from Georgia and hid out here rather than go to Oklahoma. And here they stayed.” Wow! That was worth the trip for me. Frederick Douglass came by and learned the story of Jim Limber. He’d never heard that story. Perhaps it rounded the edges a bit on his feelings toward Jeff Davis. Well, maybe. I met some teenagers who’d bought the Avery books “as kids,” and raved about them. Authors need to hear that now and again. It was a good weekend.