I spend a lot of time in my local cemetery – Hollywood Forever. The cemetery, among the most interesting in Los Angeles, is the final resting place for all kinds of Hollywood celebrities – from Cecil B. DeMille to Rudolph Valentino to Dee Dee Ramone. But nearly every time I visit, I find the grave of someone who strikes a historical chord – often having some Civil War connection. Just the other day, I encountered this rather dignified looking fellow: one Cornelius Cole. Cole served a single term in the House of Representatives representing the Republican Party from California from 1863 to 1865, and then in the Senate from 1867 to 1873.
After the war he practiced law in San Francisco and then Los Angeles where he purchased one of the original Spanish landgrants – he called it Colegrove.
Well…Colegrove is now Hollywood. But at least they named a street after him. So if you are in town and find yourself on Cole Street – you’ll know where it got its name.
When I was an undergrad at UCLA my Civil War professor, Joan Waugh, would open each class with martial music of the day…blaring from every speaker as the students filed into the room and took their seats. I thought it was a great way to introduce the history – it got us in the mood, so to speak.
Anyway…I have continued that legacy with my own students, and it has become one of the staple features of my Civil War history course. I have had students send me music that they have found on their own and some have brought in different versions of the music they heard in class – we once had an impromptu sing-a-long break out to close the week.
So far – the class favorite has been Eating Goober Peas, a folk song probably originating the southern states that was popular with Confederate soldiers…I would imagine that some Yankees joined in the chorus from time to time – or at least sampled the southern delicacy.
So – let’s all join in with this remarkable version – a duet featuring Burl Ives and Johnny Cash.