Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hiking With History and Goober Peas

In the heat and humidity on Saturday, June 5th, Tony Cook did something very unusual. He held 12 hikers spellbound, weaving the story of John and Jim, two homesick boys from North Carolina, caught up in one of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. One Jim, was lovesick. The other, John, got way more adventure than he bargained for. But we learned their experiences at Chickamauga led one to his death and the other back home to find love in an unexpected place. And through it all, as Tony led our group from one lonely spot on the trail to another monument that told a sad tale, our group was enthralled. We would have followed him all afternoon, sweat logged shirts, and all!

We learned about Benjamin Helms, Abe Lincoln's brother-in-law, who was shot and died the next day. This prompted Abe, when he learned, to shed tears for this son of Kentucky who followed Robert E. Lee to serve the South. It also left his widow, Mary Lincoln's sister, behind enemy lines. Events eventually brought her to the White House where Abe housed the widow of a Southern officer! This did not sit well with the North, and before the year was out, she moved back to the South.

Then, there was the unsung hero, General George Thomas, who earned his nickname 'The Rock of Chickamauga' for refusing to completely give up his position as so many others did which saved the Union Army from being completely routed at Chickamauga. He continued a military career after the war and did not try to go into politics, burning his papers before his death so they couldn't be made public. His Virginia family turned his picture to the wall when he 'went with the North' and refused to attend his funeral when he died.
We walked through the park for about six miles, learning all this and much more, waiting for Tony to read excerpts of Thomas Wolfe's story from the short story 'Chickamauga' involving John and Jim. At the end, as he promised, we were treated to Goober Peas! One of our group, Dave, a North Carolina native, was a bit apprehensive- not at all sure what Goober Peas were. But when they were finally brought out, he enjoyed them every bit as much as the rest of the group. We ended our snack time by 'singing' Goober Peas.

Someone wondered where this expression came from so I googled the name and I've pasted the info I gathered. See below:

“The only true friend the South ever had was corn field peas.”  -- Confederate General Robert E. Lee

“Goober Peas” was a popular song sung by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The phrase “goober peas” is one of many southern expressions for peanuts. The word goober was a derivative of the African Bantu word nguba. Calling peanuts goober peas began with blacks along the Georgia and South Carolina coasts speaking in the Gullah language

A great hiking experience was had by all!

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