In 2005, Addressing Gettysburg host, Matt Callery, moved to Gettysburg to open a business. That business became GettysBike Tours. In 2010, he sold the business to one of the guides who worked for him and moved back to his home state of New Jersey. Now, he's returning to make Addressing Gettysburg a reality. Among other things
Matt in 2006 on top of the Pennsylvania Monument
The March To Gettysburg
I've always enjoyed forms of mass communication and entertainment. TV, radio, films, music and, in the recent decade and a half or so, podcasts. But what is a podcast exactly?
The simplest answer I give people who ask this question is that they're mostly akin to talk radio shows except that you can listen to them on demand rather than on a schedule. Sadly, this seem to boggle the minds of older people that I talk to causing them to miss out on material they might enjoy. And why wouldn't it boggle their minds? They're used to the actual world, not the virtual world. So, the next question inevitably becomes "How do you listen to one?" And this is when their eyes glaze over. If this is a concern to you, don't worry. We'll cover how to listen to podcasts as we get closer to the debut of the Addressing Gettysburg. Now back to the story.
In 2004, on a family trip to Gettysburg, I foolishly endeavored to take those willing on a walking tour of the battlefield...battle-day by battle-day...in one afternoon...again, on foot. We were dropped off at the Buford Statue across from the McPherson Barn. It was when we entered the shade of McMillan Woods when I had a mutiny on my hands. Yes, it was everyone else in the group complaining about the oppressive heat and the fact that they've already drank our supply of water, but it was also my own body rebelling against me. I knew we would not make it to the Round Tops, up to The Angle and then to the pool at the Gettysburg Motor Lodge where we were staying. Well, "we" be damned, I knew I wouldn't. So, we walked to the Virginia Memorial, cut across the field of Pickett's Charge and then crawled to the pool, barely alive. We didn't even take off our shoes. Ok. I exaggerated that last part. We took off our shoes... but we left our socks on.
I was a bit bummed because I firmly believed then, as I know to be true today, that the drama of the battle can't be conveyed thoroughly enoiugh without feeling the ground beneath your feet. Not merely on a stop when you get out of the car or bus, but from walking the grounds that the battle took place on. Still, a comprehensive walking tour was not the way to do it. Impossible! Gettysburg National Military Park is just too large.
As we were making the turn east to cross Pickett's Charge on our "strategic redeployment", a little birdy whispered in my ear. Well, not quite a birdy. It was my friend, Pat.
"Man, we shoulda brought our bikes," Pat said, wiping his brow.
Hmm, I thought.
Later that night, my brother-in-law said, "You know what you should do, Matt? Get a bunch of scooters and rent those out. People would love that."
Scooters? Definitely more attractive to an increasingly less physically-active populace, but too expensive and the insurance would be killer. Bikes? Bikes would be easier to get my hands on and the insurance will probably be cheaper too.
So, for the next 11 months I developed GettysBike Tours every night after work. My days of bar-hopping with friends were gone...well...on hold... and on July 1, 2005, GettysBike Tours was officially open for business and I was in New Jersey at a wedding.
Fast forward to 2018. I've been back in my home state of New Jersey since 2011. While working as a photographer and video producer, as well as a podcast host and producer -- three things that I love -- something all the while was tugging at me and it wasn't in Jersey. Every visit I made to Gettysburg felt like a return home which was abruptly ended upon the realization that I couldn't retire to the house I lived in between 2005 and 2010 and that my stay was short lived. Crossing the Delaware River back into New Jersey literally brought on anxiety. In spite of my being born here and growing up here, it never felt like home. I guess it's true what they say about home being where the heart is.
The Battle of Gettysburg has always been an obsession of mine. I feel like my life's quest has not so much been about learning everything there is to know about the battle (which IS a big part of it) but moreso to figure out the WHY of it all. Why does this battle capture the imaginations of millions like me? Why don't other battles hve the same effect? Why do people who visit Gettysburg once immediately fall in love with it? And why do many people find themselves compelled to move there some time after visiting?
There's a magic to Gettysburg that I've yet to hear a person give a good explanation for. And that's the point. Why do you love your spouse or children? You just do. No explanation is required and, even if one was required, you would just stutter and stammer as you search your soul for the right words only to find those words don't exist yet.
Through a series of events that started in July of 2017, I found myself on what I now recognize to be the road back to Gettysburg, or my "March to Gettysburg". While searching for work and other things to keep me here in New Jersey, all things "Gettysburg" were screaming at me from the wings. It took my best friend and cohost on Addressing Gettysburg, Peter Bonfanti, to call it to my attention and even formulate a plan of action to achieve my goals.
So what are those goals? Well, first, I'm lucky enough to have been brought on as an employee of the business I founded in 2005. So, my first goal is to help Jake, the current owner, bring the business to the next level. Meanwhile, I'll be studying my butt off to take the guide exam. Doing the multimedia productions under the umbrella of Addressing Gettysburg will certainly help in that effort. Through Addressing Gettysburg, my goal is to change the perspective of the person who always says, with the wave of a hand, "Pfft! History/the Civil War/that George Washington stuff is boring" by showing him/her that those stoic-looking people in photographs look that way for a reason and not to be fooled by them. They were just as human as we are. They just hid it better. It's also for the beneift of the history nerd. Let's be honest, most nerds are not entertaining. We at Addressing Gettysburg embody that rare blend of entertaining and nerdy and hope that the supernerd might find a funny bone as he or she engages with our material.
What's my plan? That's TOP SECRET.
That's why we really appreciate your support of Addressing Gettysburg through donations, shopping through our Amazon links and Sutler's Store. The revenue from those sources helps defray the cost of production and allows me more time to study for the exam. So, thanks, again.
Also, if you find yourself in Gettysburg, stop by GettysBike Tours and say hi. Even if you don't ride bikes. I'd love to meet you.
Recording sessions for the Addressing Gettysburg Podcast will begin in early June after Matt has moved to town. Sponsor, GettysBike tours has been gracious enough to allow us to conduct the sessions after hours at their location. A special thanks to Jake for that!