"You can get more of what you want with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word."
Al Capone, kind of.
I was issued my 1866 Springfield rifle recently, which I will use for firing demonstrations at Fort Larned. Forced to learn the manual of arms through repetition and muscle memory, I started carrying the rifle around while giving tours. I quickly realized that people kind of liked walking around with a fellow with a .50 caliber rifle on his shoulder. It also lends itself to the possibility of some intangible interpretive opportunities: tension, nervousness, and fear on the Indian Frontier.
Temperatures have been warm following some vicious storms last weekend that left the Pawnee Fork as high as anyone had seen it "since 1993" and left standing water around all week, which made the corn and the mosquitoes happy. I had warned them that strange weather follows me. Since then it's been in the high 90s daily but at least there is low humidity and breeziness, which makes marching around in a wool uniform somewhat bearable. I took to watching Ken Burns' "The Civil War" so as to remember that a lot of other people had it a whole lot worse in that uniform, and I don't complain anymore. Once one gets sufficiently sweaty, it isn't so bad anyway so long as the Kansas wind keeps blowing; it usually obliges.
This week, I also started researching various first person accounts - diaries and letters - to get a better picture of people's experience out here. One illuminating account is that of Capt. Albert Barnitz of the 7th Cavalry, who wrote to his wife frequently and often with a bit of wit and sarcasm, which spices things up. I'll use some of the quotes I've found while overhauling the park's website in the coming months. Look for the NPS to dramatically upgrade its websites' design next month!