Last Sunday I had the pleasure of meeting Russell Bonds and hearing him speak on his wonderful book Stealing the General. Mr. Bonds was the guest speaker at the Christmas meeting of the W.W. Loring Camp 1316 of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Mr Bonds uncle, the late Jan Parham, had invited him to speak. Mr. Bonds gave an interesting talk which was enhanced with a PowerPoint presentation. While I have read and highly recommend Stealing the General I was able to learn some new things. The city now known as Atlanta went through several name changes but did you know that Atlanta is actually an old Cherokee word for "to change planes"? (See Russ we really were paying attention).
In all seriousness Russ gave a very interesting talk and if you get a chance to see him I highly recommend making the time. In addition to a great talk Russ was genuinely glad to "press the flesh". When I walked in he recognized me within literally just a couple of minutes and came and introduced himself. He introduced my wife and I around to several people including is aunt and charming wife Jill. He really made a positive impression on me as an author, speaker, and person. My wife, who despite having been a history major is not enthralled by the Civil War, told me the talk was interesting enough she may have to read the book herself. She'll have to get her own copy though because she can't have my signed hardback copy!
I had never been to a SCV event before and was not sure what to expect. I must admit my wife and I were treated with kindness and respect by everybody. I was wearing my FSU windbreaker and stepped outside for a few minutes. A young man who happens to be a University of Florida fan struck up a conversation with me about college football and we had a really nice talk. Many others came up to say hi to the "new couple" and all were pleasant. Even new camp commander James Davis talked to me and made a point to tell me I was always welcome and he'd love to see me again. The United Daughters of the Confederacy even talked to my wife and promised to send her information. Whether we have any interest in joining these groups isn't relevant it's that they tried to make sure we didn't feel like outsiders.
Overall 5/5 stars on the presentation. And to think all it cost me was a trip to the St. Augustine Outlet Mall afterwards! That's a whole different story though.