Gettysburg Diorama

Gettysburg Diorama
The Gettysburg Diorama in Gettysburg showing the Battle in miniature.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

William A. Frassanito- Gettysburg Author


Before I move on from Gettysburg, I wanted to mention local legend and author, William A. Frassanito.

Mr. Frassanito has written several books, mostly on photography relating to Gettysburg.  He wrote a great volume that came out in 1971 where he looked at the photographs taken of the Battlefield in Gettysburg shortly after the Civil War battle.  He examined the photos and tracked down the sites of the pictures now (in the late 1960s early 1970s).  Like a photographic archaeologist, he retraced the locations in the pictures to their modern locations.

He was also able to estimate the dates the photos were taken.

Some were easier to figure out than others.  Some included obvious visual clues such as buildings, or well known landmarks.  Also, as bodies were not left on the battlefield long, the photos showing bodies were the ones taken VERY shortly after the fighting.

After Frassantio's first book, others followed.  New vintage photos were found.  New discoveries were made about some of the pictures from the earlier editions.

So, a few weeks before our planned trip, I picked up some of his books and read them quickly!  He has done some amazing research.  I searched around for more info....  I found that, though generally very reclusive, William Frassanito is easy to find while in Gettysburg.

So, while we were in town, we tracked down the author at his favorite night time hang out.

I hoped to get my books signed, and maybe ask a few questions.  Well, William was extremely kind, and we ended up chatting for a couple of hours.

I expected to find an intellectual man, possibly a bit uptight and quiet after reading the books.  I figured he would be a pleasant, but methodical professor type.

Well, I found a very relaxed cool guy who enjoys a relaxed conversation, talking about history or other topics.  He was casual, and comfortable with a random stranger like myself, and he enjoyed telling stories.

I must admit that I was honestly a little shocked at his generosity with his time, and his friendliness.

Our conversation was scattered (my favorite kind of conversation).  William talked about his time in Vietnam, his books, his life in Gettysburg, and other topics.

We compared notes as my father was also in Vietnam, and I have taken a recent interest in Gettysburg.

William asked about my interest in Gettysburg, and the Civil War... and indirectly in genealogy.

I answered his questions as best as I could...  As we talked though, I felt a little embarrassed at my lack of knowledge on most of these topics.  Without being critical, I felt that William was politely encouraging me to be more active in these very personal pursuits. 

Its funny, there is so much to learn, and to absorb while in a place like Gettysburg.  We met some great folds, like William, who contributed to our visit, and no doubt contributed to how I see my own life.

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