Cannonball

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The York Emporium

Yesterday was the much publicized Civil War event at the York Emporium on West Market Street in York. Reenactors, authors, living historians, and history buffs mingled at this 19,000-square-foot used book store. Attendance was a little light, perhaps due in part to a conflict with a parade downtown, but everyone seemed to have a good time. One of the highlights was watching a small group of unsupecting guys across the street casually walking westward.They apparently were unknowing (or uncaring) about the little slice of history going on in the store’s parking lot, where a group of Union reenactors were going through firing drills. When the command for “volley fire” rang out and the sound of muskets discharging echoed off the brick buildings, one of the carefree teenagers jumped a full foot in the air! It was classic!
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I had not been in the York Emporium in quite some time. It has a good, diverse selection of used hardback and paperback Civil War books, including dozens of titles on Abraham Lincoln. Much of the ACW inventory is in a central location that is easy to find and well marked, right in the center of the store. However, there are some satellite nooks and crannies on the outer edges of the massive store that are spaces rented to other book sellers. I noticed dozens of additional Civil War titles randomly placed in their military sections. It takes some digging and browsing to find them, but that’s half the fun. You just never know what you may find!
For me, the highlight of the book hunting was finding and taking home a copy of William Pittenger’s book on the Andrews Raid (AKA The Great Locomotive Chase). When I was a kid, I loved the Disney movie starring Fess Parker as James J. Andrews, a Kentuckian who led a raid of Ohio soldiers who volunteered to disguise themselves as civilians and steal a train near Atlanta. They attempted to drive it northward to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and burn bridges aling the way. However, the engine, the General, ran out of fuel and steam pressure and the raiders fled. Most were caught; some were hung as spies. Most of the raiders were given the very first Medals of Honor awarded by the U.S. government. My parents took my sister and I to see the General on its ACW centennial tour when it stopped in Columbus, Ohio, not far from our hometown.
As nearly all of Andrews Raiders were fellow Ohioans, I began to read everything I could on the raid and its participants. Pittenger’s book is the best account from one of the survivors. I had not seen a copy in decades, so I eagerly pulled the book from the shelf and added it to my stack for check out.
If you have a couple of hours (or more!) with nothing to do, why not stop by the York Emporium and browse the book collection? Dozens of Bruce Catton books (still the classic master of early ACW books) line the shelves. You will find one of York County’s most impressive array of Lincoln books, as well as Gettysburg books, all kinds of biographies, interpretive histories of the war, military and civilian accounts, a few scattered regimental histories, and much more of interest to peruse through.
The store will feature a Celtic Autumnal celebration later this fall.
Stop by at your convenience. I know I’ll make this a regular stop.