Katy Vine joined TEXAS MONTHLY as an editorial assistant in 1997 and became a staff writer in 2002. Her articles were anthologized in Best American Sports Writing 2005 and 2006, and her piece on an Odessa prostitution parlor was adapted into the movie The Client List, for which Jennifer Love Hewitt received a Golden Globe nomination. This month, Katy Vine travels to Jefferson to take us inside the world of Civil War reenactments. As she discovers, the makeshift battlefield is a place where the small details—what kind of paper you use—matter, while the large details—say, whether the battle being reenacted actually took place—might not. Here’s the story behind the story.
To get this story, you donned a full-on Confederate get-up in ninety-degree heat. What’s the farthest you’ve ever gone for an article?
That’s easy. Back in 2002, I stood inside a contraption called the Globe of Death for an article about a ninth-generation family. My participation had not been planned. Motorcycles drove around me in this little metal sphere. The costume they got for me was awesome: blue sequins and silver stars.
You note that reenactment attendance is starting to decline. Did you get an impression as to what accounts for this? Do you think it might pick up upon the sesquicentennial of the Civil War this year?
Most folks identified the bad economy as reason for the decline. It’s just more expensive to travel right now. You’re right that the anniversary might increase the level of participation.
You quote one participant as saying, “[This reenactment] is not a race