Not long ago, I was listening to a podcast, and the host confessed that he had yet to watch any of the PBS series Mercy Street. The host stated that he really didn't "do history" when he left his office and headed home. Isn't that odd? I do history all the time, not only in my office, but I find people wanting to talk history at the post office, at the gym (yes, I go almost every day), at the grocery store. And to be honest, I love the banter and the questions, and I'm always learning something.
For the past twelve years (or maybe more), I've served on the board of the Avery County Historical Society and Museum (the Avery Museum). I've seen the Museum grow, adding a Depot and Caboose, and I've seen the quality of the exhibits improve. Hopefully, I've been able to contribute, helping people both local and from around the nation understand just a little bit about what makes Avery County great. Two and a half years ago, I became chair of the board. Tonight, I submitted my resignation as chair. I've come to the conclusion that I really don't have the time to devote to the administrative side of being chair. I want to research, and write, and share pieces of the past. It's what I am good at doing. It is what I enjoy. I'm not leaving the Avery Museum - I'll still be there from time to time, sitting at that desk, ready to answer your questions, or maybe point you in the right direction. I'm also going to continue to write my bi-monthly column in the Avery Journal-Times. To date, I've written somewhere around 160 articles, and there are still pieces of the local past that I want to explore.
For the first time in, I don't know how long, I'm not actually serving on any board for any museum or history-related organization. I've had the opportunity to work with some fine folks over the years at a number of sites or groups.
So what am I going to do with all of this "free time?" Dig deeper, write more, and share more history. It's what I love to do, and thanks to you, it is what I am blessed to do every day. My history of the Branch-Lane brigade (General Lee's Immortals: The Battles and Campaigns of the Branch-Lane Brigade in the Army of Northern Virginia) is scheduled to be released this fall, and I continue to work on a book about the War as it repeatedly crossed the North Carolina-Tennessee border. There are several historic sites where we plan to volunteer this year. History has always been more than words on a page for me, and I believe that historic interpretation is a vital tool for getting young people interested in our past.
So there is the scoop. I look forward to sharing more history and meeting you in the field.