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Aug 8, 2004 2:58 pm

History High On The Hog ...

I've been doing history high on the hog for the last few days. The St. George Tucker Society met over in Augusta. We had a foretaste of Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese's masterwork, The Mind of the Master Class; and I had an opportunity to butt heads with David Chappell over his important new book on the civil rights movement, A Stone of Hope.

Still, I came away from the meeting with qualms. We met at Augusta's Radisson Riverfront and the conference rate of $139 a night was entirely too much for this historian's bank account. Morning and afternoon sessions were held at the hotel, but we went to Tom Watson's estate, Hickory Hill, thirty miles west of Augusta, for dinner and the evening sessions. Since Bill Scarborough and I were both there, it was an opportunity for historians who had been on opposite sides of the civil rights battle lines to re-assess things. Given Watson's very mixed legacy to Southern politics, there were a few too many ghosts in the attic for me to be altogether at ease, despite the lavish hospitality. The $100 registration fee covered most of our meals. Still, I found the stretch limousines that carried us back and forth too pretentious. Dinner at Hickory Hill was wonderfully Southern (pork steak with a fried green tomato on cheese grits, broiled fish on a bed of mashed rutabagas, etc), but I'm not used to beginning with light appetizers and drinks, followed by a heavy appetizer of quail or crab cake, salad, a main course, rolls, and desert; and washing it all down with several glasses of wine and, then, brandy. By then, I was ready for bed – not for another presentation and discussion. No wonder one of my colleagues snored through most of the evening sessions. Actually, he was a bit like the doormouse at Alice's teaparty, sleeping through most of the morning and afternoon sessions, as well. Occasionally, he would come to attention, mumble something about the one subject he knew anything about and then drop off into his teacup again.

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