Merely the Caretaker…

It was… maybe 48 years ago – 1972…

Cover, Recollections and Letters, 1st Edition, 1903

We had been married for about two years, and I was a sales representative at a Volkswagen dealership in Evanston, Illinois. The owners name was Herman Eberhardt. Older buildings, and the dealership was split, with the body and paint shop on the (appropriately) South side of the lot – and that is where the treasure was to be found…

I have told my story many times in the past, but will share the basis of it once more, so that you will understand the (personal) significance of my discovery.

It was 1958 and that year I attended the Crestwood Elementary School in Northbrook, Illinois. It was this one fortuitous year that I would receive the greatest gift of my ‘formal’ education – a year to remember for many reasons – chiefly among them was my teacher – Donald Adair.

In those years, history (or Social Studies as they called it) was taught from the outset of our formative years. How many times would we learn the stories of Columbus or Magellan and the other explorers, in addition to the tales of the Sons of Liberty and the original American Revolution? But Mr. Adair took me down an entire adventuresome path when he embarked on something called ‘the Civil War’ – and nearly six-decades later I am still excited to be on my quest for TRUTH – and it all extends far beyond that period of history spanning the years 1861 to 1865.

Gen. Robert E. Lee

My mentor taught history in not only an exciting manner – but most importantly – in a truthful way, and one of the ways he accomplished his goal – was to challenge us to learn – and he knew how to get us to question, question, question – and in that manner – we learned.

It was near the end of our studies of this period of American history, that we were to put on a series if vignettes depicting various moments of that four year period. When it came time to cast the roles of the two Generals who were to meet at Appomattox Court House on that day in April of 1865, I was asked, “Which General would you like to portray Jeff?” My answer instinctively was, “General Lee.”

The point I wish to emphasize it that during that year with Mr. Adair, I was given two gifts; the first being that in the fifth grade – I learned the truth about what I have always called, the ‘War of Northern Aggression’, and secondly – to never end your quest for the TRUTH – no matter the cost.

Oakland Cemetery – Shreveport, Louisiana

During the late Spring of 2000 I was privileged to travel cross-country by car (my favorite way) to Atlanta for a three day seminar. On the way there – I saw something that peaked my interest and promised myself that I would stop on the way home – and I did. I spent two of the most spiritual hours I have ever experienced as I walked the hallowed paths of the old Oakland Cemetery in Shreveport, Louisiana. Among those interred are nephews of President Jefferson Davis; sons of Confederate General Richard Taylor, numerous casualties as well as at least 300 veterans of the conflict.

Given the irrationality of the PC crowd in Washington, D.C. and the media today – and NASCAR, the NAACP, the South Carolina debacle and the digging up of Confederate officers and their wives from age-old cemeteries – I frankly have heard enough of the Northern side of an issue that should have been settled long ago – but it just doesn’t suit them to leave well enough alone. Racism? Sure – by a group of radical degenerates who just can’t let go of their version of Reconstructionist foolishness? Even D.W. Griffith would be appalled.

Remember the way it really was in our two nations – and the REAL reasons that eleven states chose to leave the Union – and how the Constitutional provisions allowed this to happen.

Thank you Mr. Adair.

The above is a slightly edited version of a book which Kettle Moraine, Ltd. published in 2015, ‘The South Was Right‘ by S. A. Steele – written in 1914 – by a man who was born 12 years before the Aggression of the North began.

Back to Illinois and my discovery of treasure…

General Robert E. Lee, 1869 – his last sitting

So the word comes down that Herman’s mother has passed away, but like most business owners – your company buildings become the storage facility for boxes and boxes of THINGS that you or your extended family doesn’t know what to do with – in this instance – some 20 cases or so of books. Now, I have been an avid reader and student of history for many years by this time and had an extensive collection of books – and hey – I was only 24. But this day was to provide me with something that – first of all I did not know even existed – and second of all – nearly caused me a heart attack due to excitement.

Herman asked us to help him clear the storage room out as he was getting ready to add a new product line to the dealership. What it was is of no significance, and business is slow at that time of the year, so we said – “sure,” but proceeded to go through the boxes of books. Herman was going to throw them away, so we just thought that we would see what kind of stuff that his mother read. Within a half hour – I struck gold, shut up and never mentioned it again.

Title Page, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1904

Struck gold? Yes – but not for financial gain, – but for the first hand knowledge that I was about to absorb, a 1904 first edition of a book edited and published by Captain Robert E. Lee, the Son of my hero. The book was titled, Recollections and Letters of General Robert E. Lee.

The book begins in Lee’s early years as Captain Lee of the Engineers, the Mexican War, Superintendent of West Point, covering his “suppression of John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry, his ultimate resignation from the First United States Calvary to his ultimate acceptance as the Commander of the Virginia Forces and Chief adviser to President Davis, Manassas and beyond and through the entirety of the rest of his life. NEVER was there such a Grand man as Robert Edward Lee – General or not. Remember – this is not a history book, per se – these are HIS words – papers, opinions and letters – both from a militaristic standpoint – with continued correspondence to members of his own family while he was away.

For many years I dreamed of republishing the book in it’s original format, but about 10 years ago I walked into a now defunct book-store (a failed and bankrupt chain) – and saw a newly published version of the book. I did not personally care for the brightly colored cover – but hey – it was out there… but it was not mine. To this very day – I am honored to be the caretaker of this marvelous piece of OUR history. And that is all that I am – not the owner of the book, but the Caretaker.

The images which I have included in this post have been taken directly from the book. The symbol of the South, Virginia and what most people (incorrectly) believe is the Confederacy is from the cover of the General’s book.

Although the book was in rough condition when I acquired it – and Herman willingly gave it to me as he had no understanding of its significance, nor did he care about its “value.” I cared not about it’s monetary value – nor do I today. My last Will and Testament includes instructions that the book is to buried with me – unless I should decide to place into the hands of someone deserving of the responsibility of preserving it for the sake of history and posterity. In the long run – I cannot be selfish – someone deserving will receive this book before I face my final Sundown.

My General, I’ll see you at Sundown,

~ the Author ~
A veteran of Viet Nam, student of history (both American and film), Jeffrey Bennett has broadcast for nearly a quarter-century years as host of various programs and has been considered the voice of reason on the alternative media – providing a unique and distinctive broadcast style, including topics such as health and wellness, news, financial well-being, political satire (with a twist), education and editorial commentary on current events through the teaching of history.
In addition, he is the Director of Kettle Moraine Publications.

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