Tamara Eastman

Position: Historian for Defense Commissary Agency

Hometown: Resides in Petersburg. Lived all over the world as

a military brat

Time as historian: 10 years      

Duties: “I scan and preserve photographs and memorabilia, and manage and maintain the very large collection of plaques, trophies, vintage equipment and historic imagery of nearly every commissary that ever existed. I write articles for Vision Magazine and conduct a lot of research for videos and print products.”

One of your biggest accomplishments here: “I’ve located information on commissaries that we didn’t initially know and even found evidence of stores we hadn’t initially heard of, including ones that were operated by the Army on clandestine bases for the Manhattan Project during World War II.”         

The aspect of your job that challenges you most: “Keeping up with all of the writing assignments that are due each week. I love it, though.”

What you love most about your position: “I look forward to coming to work each day. I love the folks I work with; they’ve become a sort of family to me instead of just coworkers. We’re a team, and nobody is ever too busy to lend a hand.”

Your chief motivation: “I want to leave my mark after I’m gone. Everything I do is important because the day may come, down the line, when somebody needs the exact information that I archived today.”

The most creative thing you’ve done at work: “The ‘Minute of History’ videos we have made. I conduct research on a topic, write a script and search for photos and documents relating to the topic in order to help with the video production.”

Your greatest achievement off the job: “I’ve been published as a writer for over 20 years. One of my stories is about a massive fire that destroyed Petersburg in 1815. The book took over four years to finish. All the while I was holding down a day job, so the research and writing had to take place in the evenings and on weekends. Since the book has been published, I have delivered several lectures on the topic in various places that were well-attended. I’m told this was the first book ever written on the topic.”

Where you’d most like to live: “You will, no doubt, think I’m crazy, but I’d love to live in Greenland. It was discovered by Vikings, who are my ancestors. I’m also a huge cold weather fan, so I’d be just fine there.”

Worst fear: “I’ve actually overcame many of my worst fears through the years. I’ve managed to earn a master’s degree. I guess my worst fear is that someday I might begin to lose the knowledge I’ve acquired through sickness or just old-age cognitive problems.”

The talent you’d most like to have: “Better social intelligence. I’m fine standing at a podium delivering a lecture to a full house, but if I have to mingle with that crowd afterward, I often find myself at a loss for words.”

The celebrity you’d like to meet: “Actually, I have met Billy Bob Thornton and Alice Cooper. I gave both of them a signed copy of my book and had a wonderful time interviewing them. Mr. Thornton and I had a wonderful time chatting about our mutual love of history, and I was most impressed with Mr. Cooper – he was nothing like I expected him to be. Both of them are very sharp, witty and delightful gentlemen.”

Favorite quote or saying: “‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams;

live the life you have imagined.’”  (Henry David Thoreau)

What would surprise people to know about you: “As a child, I was told by many they didn’t expect me to grow up to accomplish much. I have a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, which made me very socially awkward as a child.  Back in the 1960’s, very few people – including my parents and teachers – even knew what it was, let alone how to deal with it. I hyper-focused on things that interested me, such as history, and drove everybody around me nuts. But, I was determined I was going to make something of myself, I think just to show folks it could be done. Today, I am a guest lecturer at several autism conferences, speaking chiefly to people whose kids have just been diagnosed and are terrified for their future.”

If you could do anything, anywhere right now, what would that be? “If I suddenly became wealthy and had the time to do anything, I’d travel around and research history’s most unsolved mysteries. While attending college in England several years ago, I did a research study on Jack the Ripper’s killings. My conclusion was that it wasn’t one person who committed these killings, I believe several medical students did the dirty work. They were being paid by a lead doctor who needed the organs from these women to study in a teaching hospital. It would be awesome to have a TV program similar to Josh Gates’ ‘Expedition Unknown,’ where I’m paid to travel and research mysteries every episode.”

Your role models: “I’ve always admired Albert Einstein. He was one of those folks who grew up and showed the world what he could accomplish. And Joan of Arc has always been a powerful female role model for me. She lived in a time period when women didn’t really have a voice in things, yet she stood her ground and, while only a teenager, she led the French Army to victory over the English at Orléans.”

Your future plans: “After I retire in a few years, I’d like to spend time traveling, conducting research and writing more history books. I feel that writing is the gift that was bestowed upon me by God, so I plan to utilize it until the very end.”