“Reader, did you ever eat a mussel? Well, we did, at Shelbyville. We were camped right upon the bank of Duck River, and one day Fred Dornin, Ed Voss, Andy Wilson and I went in the river mussel hunting. Every one of us had a meal sack. We would feel down with our feet until we felt a mussel and then dive for it. When we got to camp we cracked the shells and took out the mussels. We tried frying them, but the longer they fried the tougher they got. They were a little too large to swallow whole. Then we stewed them, and after a while we boiled them, and then we baked them, but every flank movement we would make on those mussels the more invulnerable they would get.”
Q. How would you describe yourself?
A. First and foremost, I would say that I’m an historian. To be great at the hobby of recovering Civil War relics, you have to have a passion for it–researching and discovering all of the nuanced, intricate historical details. I think most everyone in this hobby is an amateur historian in their gut.
I have a passion for Civil War history and I only focus on that time period. My degree is in chemistry; and I liked it at the time, working for both Textron and DuPont for a while. However, there’s a difference between liking what you do and having a passion for what you do.
Q. When did you fall in love with this hobby?
A. It started with the Centennial Anniversary of the Civil War. I was 10 years old in 1961, and 14 years of age come 1965. Those are real formative years for a young boy. During the Centennial, the newspaper had a big section every week, and living history presentations were also a big deal. I attended a few of them, and as a 10 to 14 year old, it made quite an impression. Those were the years when I said “you know what, this stuff is cool.”