Got History?

There is a restaurant I just keep going back to.  Sweetwater Tavern in Sterling, Virginia.  I don’t know why I keep going back, exactly because it was the scene of one of my most embarrassing moments evah.

Still, I return. Went there just a few days ago, as a matter of fact.  They have terrific food and good beer. So I guess that explains it.  Plus, it keeps me humble.  Humbler.  Yeah.  Humble-est.  Or at least quiet.

Nevertheless, if you go with me, I’ll tell you the story. Unless John’s with us. Because last time, when I tried to tell Jacob the story, John hushed me up. Imagine! Now why would he do that?  He looked around the room and kept saying “keep your voice down!”

Actually, if it weren’t for my husband, it would never have happened. Not at all.  So it’s his fault.

And, if it weren’t for our friend Rob, who was visiting us from Geneva, well, it absolutely wouldn’t have happened.  So it’s Rob’s fault, too.

Me?  I’m innocent.

You see, both John and Rob are Civil War buffs. When Rob was visiting a couple of years back on Martin Luther King Day and it was a beautiful, warm, sunny winter day, well, what else was there for us to do but visit a Civil War battlefield?

Luckily for us, we live in Virginia. Civil War battlefields are a dime a dozen, ’round here. [Fortunately, the fears I wrote about in Great Balls of Fire have not materialized. Yet.]

Anyway, the three of us decided that we would head off to visit the Manassas Battlefield. For those not living in Dixie (Civil War – Land for the non-initiated) I’ll just let you know that Manassas was the very first battle of the Civil War, on July 16, 1861. Folks from Washington made a day of it – they packed picnics and took carriage rides out there from the Capitol to see the Yankees whup the Rebs. They called it the Battle of Bull Run.*

Only it didn’t happen quite that way.

The Rebs won. And when they had a do-over  the next year  on August 28–30, 1862, well, the Rebs whupped us again.

Of course, that’s not how the whole war went, though, was it.  Nope.  The NORTH won the Civil War!

Actually, Google Wins

Actually, Google Wins

But when you wander around Virginia, and probably other parts of the Old South, well, you don’t really get that impression.  Nope. Not at all.

As it was, John, Rob and I should have been prepared for what we found when we arrived at the Manassas Battlefield that morning. Cars with Confederate Flags were everywhere. Mostly pickups and cars that were auditioning for the Dukes of Hazard.


There are more cars around here like this than you can shake a stick at. Google Image, Natch.

There are more cars around here like this than you can shake a stick at.
Google Image, Natch.


Because, unbeknownst to us at the time, here in Virginia, the weekend of Martin Luther King Day also includes a Virginia State Holiday:  Lee-Jackson Day. Yup. Nothing says “We Lost” more than having a holiday to honor the vanquished generals.  And one that just happens to coincides with the National Holiday honoring slain black civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr!  Folks can get up to all kinds of merriment!

All morning long, there were whoops all around us of “The South Shall Rise Again!”  Men sporting Confederate Flags on their jackets, their cars.  And they were there to honor Stonewall Jackson whose birthday (January 21, 1824) was nearing.  Oh boy!

You see, it was at the First Battle of Manassas, that General Thomas Jonathan Jackson became “Stonewall.” It’s where he earned his famous nickname when as put by Wikipedia:

[Confederate] Brig. Gen. Barnard Elliott Bee, Jr., exhorted his own troops to re-form by shouting, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall. Let us determine to die here, and we will conquer. Rally behind the Virginians!”

John, Rob and I had a nice time touring the battlefield. I’ve often said that we Americans do great battlefields. There are maps and audio buttons, knowledgeable park officials wandering around to answer your questions. Demonstrations of the firearms used, the uniforms. The works.  But it was clear from their words (and their bumperstickers) that folks around us, well, they didn’t really know their history.


My Picture. Take that, Google Images!

The answer, based on what we were hearing around us was: NOPE. My Picture.
Take that, Google Images!


As we wandered, and as we left, the three of us shook our heads constantly. Because you see evidence everywhere, not just at the battlefield, that Virginians haven’t heard the news yet — that that they’d lost the war.

Afterwards went for a late lunch at the Sweetwater Tavern. It’s a big, fun restaurant and bar, with great food and a terrific atmosphere.   We drove to the restaurant, crossing Lee Highway, John Mosby Highway. We passed the Sully Plantation, and took a wrong turn leading us towards Leesburg. The names of the Confederate heroes of the Civil War were everywhere. There is no Lincoln Highway as far as I’ve seen.  No Grantsburg.  No Sherman Boulevard.  Nope.

“Whoever said ‘History is told by the victors,’ has never been to Virginia,” John quipped.  You’d really never know that they lost, that they surrendered right there in Virginia, at Appomattox.  Because, really, they haven’t given up.

So how did that lead to my most embarrassing restaurant experience ever?

Well, we continued our conversation after we got to our table. We asked for a round of beers, placed our lunch orders, and continued commenting on all of the things in Virginia that, well, that you’d expect would be named differently. To be named by the Victors – The Yankees. Named by ME in fact.  Well, my ancestors.  Who were still in Ireland during the war.  But still …

Anyway, we talked about how, even today, folks in the states of the former Confederacy, don’t accept that they lost and are still fighting the Civil War. I mean, the War Between the States.

Our beers arrived, and, shaking my head at the bizarre attitude of folks in my adopted state, I raised my glass in irony:

“The South Shall Rise Again!” I said, my voice dripping with sarcasm.  With Irony.  With my superior knowledge of history.

And I said it, just as our African-American waiter placed a basket of bread on the table right next to me.

I stammered, shuddered, tried to evaporate.  I wished a cannon ball would fall on me – from either side, it didn’t matter.  I sincerely hoped that someone, anyone would run at me with their bayonet at the ready.  I wanted a quick death, not to be left dangling in my humiliation.

Because, really, what could I do?  I considered explaining myself to the poor waiter, but I knew it wouldn’t matter. That really, even a Connecticut Yankee like me couldn’t make reparations.

I stayed pretty quiet for the remainder of the meal.

We did leave a ridiculously large tip, though.


*     *     *

* For some reason nobody seems to know, streams and creeks in Virginia are called runs. I presume that’s because they run to the rivers and then to the sea. But still, if anybody knows why they are called that, I’d love to know. Because nobody I’ve ever known knows. It’s a mystery.


Filed under Adult Traumas, Bat-shit crazy, Diet tips, Disgustology, History, Holidays, Huh?, Humor, Mysteries, Politics, Stupidity, Wild Beasts

73 responses to “Got History?

  1. You silly, silly girl. You needed only to tell your anguished waiter that, when you declared enthusiastically that “The South will rise again!” you were only encouraging your husband that his prescription for Viagra would fix his “problem.” Then the only one embarrassed would have been him! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you ever been to a battle re-enactment? That was one of the neatest experiences I had living in VA.


    • Sorry! I missed your comment. I’ve never been to one — that would be cool. And to think, Rob will be here in just a few weeks …

      Hope you’re well!


  3. Oh well, it happens to the best of us. The fact that you were incredibly embarrassed shows you’re a good person. I’m a Yankee but doubt the South will ever get over what happened back in the 1860’s. I guess its human nature, not to mention male pride.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Which came first? MLK day or Lee-Jackson Day? Was the latter created in response to the former? This sounds like something that would have taken place in Alabamy or Miss’sippy. I always pictured Virginia being more cosmopolitan than that. This is a cultural thing that’s passed down through the generations. I wonder why they cling? Is it important to their culture? They’ve been fighting the same war in Crimea for hundreds of years. In the middle east for thousands. Why should we be any different?


    • You make excellent points, so much so that I am tempted to head off to the Stonewall Jackson Shrine.

      All snark aside, I will answer your other question. Virginia, of course, was the Capitol of the Confederacy, so no. Folks here are not more cosmopolitan. It just galls me, though. Because what they want, or claim they want, is states rights, which is of course the guvment we had during the Articles of the Confederacy which, it was quickly realized, didn’t work.


  5. Paul

    Ha! Pretty impressive faux pas Elyse. you Yankee you. i used to truck a lot in Dixie and you’re right, they don’t figure they lost the war. A lot of truck drivers are very solid citizens of the confederacy. They were always nice to me as a white male Canadian.

    Hope your holiday went well. Fun Post.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oops hopefully they didn’t spit in your food.


  7. Everyone has their own perspective on these things. We have similar discrepancies whenever the war of 1812 is mentioned on both sides of the Niagara River. It’s interesting how our side and your side tell the story so differently. I’m sure that waiter was use to that kind of thing happening. He probably makes out like a bandit on the tips.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True. Here in the US we don’t really pay any attention to the War of 1812. But part of the problem — a huge part — with holding on to that Southern Pride thing is that it is (1) racist and (2) very anti-Union and thus Anti-Constitution. The race element speaks for itself. But the very same folks who get the most from our federal government by way of subsidies are the very ones who are preaching states’ rights. Personally I’d let them go (dividing Northern VA off, of course!)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. D-oh! I’ve done one even worse, but it’s too embarrassing to share. As a Bostonian by birth, I’ve never understood why my Tennesseean brother-in-law calls me Yankee. I thought the war ended a very long time ago. I have since learned what you witnessed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wait! No FAIR!! I told mine!


      • *Ok* Back when I was in my stupid years (early 20’s), I got a job in Key West working as a cook on a party fishing boat (took people out fishing overnight). Technically, I worked for the fleet owner’s son (in his mid 30’s). After a Thanksgiving dinner that was thrown by the fleet owner (captains and crew were there)- welcoming the boats and crew to Key West for the winter season, we went for a walk. (I had been in FL for about a week at this point). As we walked, I made a crack about people in Key West being “queer as a three dollar bill.” A while later during the walk, I spouted off about how my friends likened Key West to Provincetown (MA), in that they were both hot spots for gay people. My boss piped up and said, “Well, I’m gay, and Key West is nothing like P-town.” I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. If I hadn’t been so young and stupid, I would have just apologized for my earlier ignorant crack. Instead, I backpedalled as fast as I could. At that point in my life, I had never knowingly met anyone who was gay. Thank goodness I grew up. I now have a niece, nephew, and possibly another niece who are gay.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Ha ha! I wonder how much of what WE hear and interpret is wrong because we lack context. At least you left a big tip, you racist scumbag.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many years ago, I decided that I will only take things the right way. Because the alternative is to be depressed all the time!

      And thanks for having my back here, Peg, you bitch. 😉


  10. NotAPunkRocker

    Lee-Jackson Day used to be Lee-Jackson-King Day. It was decided sometime in the last 10 years that they maybe shouldn’t be on the same day…so state employees get a 4-day weekend now from the two recognized holidays.

    I live ten minutes from the famed Monument Avenue and Museum District in Richmond. That’s always fun to explain to friends visiting from out of town, the street-long shrines of the Confederacy or the flag-holders in “protest” outside the museum now.


    • I’ve been down that street! And I remember reading about the ruckus when they added Arthur Ashe’s statue! What do they call it — Loser’s Lane?

      I mean I suppose you can’t change people’s birthdays … but do we really need to celebrate the losing side of a divisive war that killed hundreds of thousands and never really healed our country? Do we really need to do that? (I know you’re on my side on this; I am just bloviating.)

      A 4 day weekend would be nice, though, I will admit. I am swamped at work so I got a 0 day weekend. Which hardly seems fair. (Especially since I’m a Yankee and WE WON!)


  11. Jay

    Well the good news is, by continuing to go back to the scene of the crime, you clearly have a personality that’s not afraid to confront your fears. Cute story.


    • Or perhaps it means I am hopeful that there are frequent staff changes …

      Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Welcome to my blog, Jay. I will check out yours soon.


  12. Actually, when we moved to Virginia, I learned that the proper way to refer to the Civil War is “The War of Northern Aggression”.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. The most entertaining part of the story is trying to picture you sitting quiet for the rest of the meal 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Your story was very believe until you got to the “I stayed pretty quiet for the remainder of the meal.”


  15. I am truly baffled by people in the South who continue to fly the confederate flag and “celebrate” this chunk of history. What baffles me even more are people like my 21-year-old neighbor here in tolerant California who flies a confederate flag in his truck. He grew up in California, not the South. As far as I know, he has no connection to the South. That he flies that flag … sheesh.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was in Maine lastsummer where a lobstah boat was flying that flag. Ummmmmm, your ancestors made a HUGE difference in winning the war! But ignorance is much easier


  16. I had heard that it only applied to fast moving water (i.e., the water will “run”, rather than mosey), but I’ve never seen any documentation to back that up.

    Good question!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I drove with a friend across the southern US last March. It sure was an eye-opener. Beautiful country but not at all what I’m used to here in Southern California. Lots of good ole boys and Confederate flags. One restaurant we ate at in Mississippi had a sign on the door that said “no firearms allowed.” That’s not something we need to tell people here. Like List of X said, I’m sure that poor waiter has heard worse.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh my, there’s really no recovery from that one, is there? But look at it this way, you probably gave him a story to share forever. 😉


  19. Hi BFF! Happy Lee Jackson Day, I guess! You’re probably not home and out partying with those confederates in denial! So who’s idea was it to celebrate it on MLK weekend anyways? Loved your post – you’re an excellent writer and history buff! I used to live by a battlefield site called “Fort Meigs” (ever heard of it?!) but that’s the only one I could probably name, at least quickly. As for your waiter, he probably just chalked it off to your beers – at least you had the sensitivity to think about it after the fact…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. There’s a time and a place for everything, although that certainly wasn’t the best time to shout out that the South shall rise again. Good tale well told.


  21. They call them “runs” because they were discovered by the late, great explorer, Burill Bernard Crohn. Ooops, got that one wrong. He was the gastroenterologist that discovered something else entirely.

    Sorry, but I couldn’t resist. You DID leave that one wide open. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. And you need the tee-shirt.


  23. got history… I am history… I make history… good post… need to see more civil war battle fields…

    Liked by 1 person

  24. That was quite some suspense you built up. And I wasn’t disappointed. You ruined that poor guy’s day. What COULD you say after that? Gee, I’m not really a racist. some of my best friends are black. Eeks. Horrible that VA does that stuff though.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. AC

    I’m guessing that “run” is short for “runnel”, which is a small stream or rivulet. I think I’d feel a little embarrassed in your situation too. And it was probably wise of you to not try to explain yourself. You could have dug yourself in deeper.


  26. Elyse, I’m pretty sure that this waiter had heard that many times from other people, but mostly without the sarcasm. And those people probably weren’t the least bit embarrassed. After all, we’re talking about people proudly displaying Confederate flags on their cars, lawns, and clothing.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Happy (belated) Birthday, Elyse!


Play nice, please.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s