“What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been!”

by Phil Spaugy


Phil Spaugy – First trip to Gettysburg National Battlefield, July 1974. Location was the Cavalry Field Road.

#tbt – My first visit to Gettysburg – July 1974.

Accompanied by my buddy, Joe Davis I loaded up my VW Beetle with a pup tent and other camping supplies and left home [Vandalia, Ohio] shortly after I got off work which was around 11:00 PM. Driving east through the night we approached the battlefield on US Route 30 just shortly after sunrise. What is and always will be etched into my memory is how the Buford and Reynolds statues seem to rise like specter-like out of the early morning mist. I was simply awestruck and I remember well the feeling coming over me that I was in a place where for whatever reason I was supposed to be. We stayed at the Drummer Boy Campground and in my view spent three wonderful days exploring [much of it on foot] the battlefield. Up early, coffee and breakfast on the Coleman stove then off to the battlefield! Evenings were spent in what my memory serves me correctly was the “Billy Yank – Johnny Reb” Tavern on the southeast corner of the town square, where the hamburgers were good and they served ice-cold Coors beer which was a real treat for us since it was not available in OHIO at that time. Unfortunately, even after being plied with plenty of ice-cold” Rocky Mountain” goodness, Joe did not share the same enthusiasms as I for Gettysburg, a feeling that exists even to this day. Whenever the subject comes up and I begin to reminisce about our long ago road trip he gets a strange look in his eyes and even starts to quiver a bit! Oh well, I tried to convert him, I really did !

So today, as I look forward with much anticipation to next weeks 151st anniversary events and activities at both the Seminary Ridge Museum and on the battlefield, I have reflected back on the many visits I have made to Gettysburg since that first trip in July of 1974. I find it hard to believe that so much time has passed since that first visit, and as I think back I just can’t seem to get the line from the Grateful Dead’s song “Truckin” that seems to sum up this life long journey of mine most perfectly – Yes…….

“What A Long Strange Trip It’s Been!”