Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Motor Muster 2018: Not Your Father's Car Show

Oh! To own a classic car!
I find it difficult to call the 2018 Motor Muster a classic car show. I mean, yes, it is a car show. But there's so much more. One may even call it a borderline classic car living history event.
But it's not all living history either.
Let's just say it's unique, for what the good folks at historic Greenfield Village have done is build living dioramas around the classic cars on display throughout the Village. They've created vignettes of a life gone by to accent the hundreds of autos, from the mid-1930s through the mid-1970s, brought in by classic car buffs throughout Michigan and the U.S. And that's what I decided to concentrate most on in today's post: the living history scenes.
Unfortunately, I did not get to visit every scenario - Greenfield Village is a pretty big place - but I did capture a few of them, mostly of the WWII era.
But we'll begin with a year that is near and dear to my heart and soul, 1976.
Why 1976?
Why, that was the year I turned 15. It was also 12 months of fervently celebrating our nation's bi-centennial - the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
And did we celebrate! One could hardly make a move without seeing or hearing of our country's founders. Magazines, radio, newspapers, television...the media exploded in history.
I was in my glory!
So for this year's Motor Muster Greenfield Village decided to have a little fun with the essence of that year and did a sort of 'spirit of (19)76' revisited.
Here we see some "chick" getting into the red, white, and blue.
Yes, we called girls "chicks" back then.
I'd be afraid to say that today - - (lol) 
What's strange to me is seeing a sort of reenactment of a time that I remember!
So...why don't I feel old?? are visiting Greenfield Village...and it is the summer of 1976 - the bi-centennial celebration is on...and they have the 1st Michigan Fife & Drum Corps performing the "hits" of 200 years earlier...
What is unique and even sort of strange about this vignette is the fife & drums are reenacting the reenactors from the 1976 who were reenacting 1776!
Did ya get that?
It reminds me of the Beatles song "Things We Said Today" which has a reverse nostalgia premise in that we’ll remember the things we said today, sometime in the future. So the song projects itself into the future:
('Someday when we're dreaming, deep in love, not a lot to say,
then we will remember things we said today.')
Ha! My wife says this proves my mind works in ways unlike most normal people.
I would say she just might be right...
To add to this - - - a couple of the performers performing on this day were 
playing at this very spot in 1976, reenacting 1776!
In other words, they were reenacting themselves as reenactors!
Sort of like the "I'm my own grandpa" country song.

From 1976 we'll jump back 13 years to the summer of 1963 where we find a family having a picnic- - -
~Summer 1963~
Perhaps they're from out of state and they're headed to Michigan on a vacation to visit - where else? - Greenfield Village, and they've stopped off to rest up and have 
a snack or two before continuing their trip.
1963...the Dovells "You Can't Sit Down," Leslie Gore "It's My Party," "Hey Girl" by Freddie Scott, "Sally Go 'Round the Roses" by the Janettes, "Louie Louie" by the Kingsmen...
Ahhh...what a great year for top 40 music!

Ten years earlier and we find a family from the early 1950s after church and preparing for their day of rest.
Meet Cyndi and Gilbert Carlson and their three "adopted" daughters. Cyndi & Gil also enjoy dressing in Civil War era as well, and have even dabbled in the colonial period.
But this day at Motor Muster we find them during the time of 

"Sh-Boom - Life Could Be A Dream" and "Rock Around the Clock."

One more stop before we head over to World War Two:
It's the 1930s at the Mattox House and it's here we found a wonderful very traditional blues singer and musician named Revereand Robert Jones. This guy brought my old blues records back to life! Yes, he was that good!

Because my parents were both born in the 1920s, my early growing up experiences included lots of talk about life in the 1940s and of the War itself. The sad part for me personally is that my father died when I was still twenty years old - not old enough to care about his past and of his 'adventures' during WWII. I never thought to ask him the questions that now interest me about what it was like for him while he was in Okinawa, Japan in 1945.
But being amongst the good folk who reenact the War does help to give me an idea.

It did my heart good to hear an old WWII veteran who was actually "there" fighting back in the early 1940s exclaim how honored he and his friends were to have the reenactors honoring them in such a way and never letting people here at home forget what it was like. I would like to imagine that people of any era would be honored.
The men were set up inside the Cotswold Cottage, which was originally built in England around 1620.
This cottage, however, was brought over to Dearborn here in Michigan in the 1930s, so it never actually "saw" the war. But it was set up as if it were still in England during the 1940s and American soldiers had made it their "home" for the time.
The vignettes for WWII were outstanding and somewhat a bit more elaborate than the other decades.
For instance:
Buy, buy, buy, buy a bond.
And by and by,
The bonds you buy will bring you victory.
Buy, buy, buy, buy a bond.
And you’ll be standing by the victory arch
When Johnny comes marching home again.

Oh, you should need no request,
For after all, you know that you’re investing in the best,
Till the lads come back again,
Back the old attack again,
Buy, buy bonds.

This is no time to say you’ve done enough.
This is the time to really do your stuff.
And even if you can’t be a soldier in the ranks,
You can be the guy that helps supply the guns and planes and tanks.
This is the time for you to do your best.
This is no time for you to take a rest.
The enemy is reeling and his morale is low,
So now’s the time to fall in line and deal the final blow.

And you can hear Der Bingle sing this all-but-forgotten patriotic tune in a clip from 1945:

One of the stories my mother used to tell me was how she and her sisters and their friends would all have Victory Gardens.
If you grow your own food, then more food can be sent to the soldiers fighting the axis.
How to win a war - - get everyone involved!

And the World War Two scenarios just kept on coming...
This could be just about anywhere in the USA during the War. I think it's scenes like this that I enjoy most, for it almost felt like I was walking among my parent's generation while they were still in their youth.

Tell me that pie doesn't look good enough to eat!
She's so proud of her accomplishment!

I didn't catch the make or year of this auto (1940s...), but I did capture a reflection in the window...

I bet these three young ladies were photographed more than nearly anyone else there! It's great to see young people get involved in living history, even if it's just wearing the clothes of the past.

My friend Meg has worked at Greenfield Village, either as a historic presenter or, more recently, a Model T driver.
Oh, she also swing dances and portrays Rosie the Riveter.

Speaking of Rosie the Riveter...
My friend Beckie also portrays the
great American icon!

So many people dressed the part. As I've said, it was almost like being at a reenactment. I suppose in a way, it kinda was!

This young lady was one of the dancers at the USO dance in the evening.

Meg and Jillian: both dancers, both Greenfield Village employees, and both Civil War reenactors with the 21st Michigan. Meg is also a member of my Citizens of the American Colonies 18th century group!
Wonderful young ladies!

This pose right here.
It's 1943.
Before we get to the USO dance...
...I did a little dancing myself.
Unfortunately, I am not much of a dancer at all, but Meg made me look like I knew what I was doing. Sorta.

She even taught me how to dip!
Didja catch the sign?
There's a USO Show tonight!
I plan to be about you?

I do believe she plans to make it to the USO Show as well.

Greenfield Village will change up the Saturday night dance entertainment every few years. They've done a teen sock hop covering the years 1963, 1964, and 1965. Last year and this year we're back to the 1940s.
For the sock hops they use a disc jockey playing records. For the 1940s USO shows they have a live big band playing the swing and sweet music.
How cool is that?
The show began with a few of the girls coming out, reading letters presumably from their soldier boys. And they compare notes, giggle, and, well, acted like young girls of the World War Two era might have acted. 

Then they suddenly see their men in uniform and run to greet them, screaming all the way.
And then the dancing commenced.
The band played all the big hit songs of the day, beginning with Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade."
The beat picked up a bit with "The Hucklebuck."

Benny Goodman's "Sing! Sing! Sing!"

And this trio emulating The Andrews Sisters sung "Bei Mir Bist du Schon" and "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy."

Numerous other great big band era tunes were played, including "In The Mood," Is You Is or Is You Ain't My baby," "'Tain't What You Do It's the Way That You Do It," and "Pennsylvania 6-500," among others.

Most of the dancers are Greenfield Village employees, and they rehearse for weeks leading up to the big day, and their hard work shows. The crowd loved 'em!
In fact, I took a few videos:

Afterwards, as I've done for the last five years or so, I take a group picture of all the dancers...and this year I've included their dance instructor, Susan, in the photo.
Standing on and in front of the porch of the home once belonging to aviator pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, we have the wonderful group who entertained us for two HOT swinging hours (and it was hot - low 90s temps!). 

As I said, this is definitely not your father's classic car show.
"But Ken! Where are the cars in your post? I thought this was a car show!"
You know what?
There were so many different things going on that I simply forgot about the hundreds of classic cars covering most of the Villages grassy areas!
Fear not---I did take a couple of video clips of two Mr. Gasket hot rods during the Pass & Review:


And you can also check out my posting from a couple years ago - - Click HERE to see a ton of cars from previous years.
No worries, by the way...I will be going back to this event next year.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this time travel journey of a different sort - not my usual post, eh?
With this being Summertime USA, I got to take advantage of all my area has to historically offer.

Until next time, see you in time.

If you are interested in learning more about teen life in the late 1930s and early 1940s, please click HERE

~   ~   ~

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Civil War Comes to Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit 2018

I would like to think it is the goal of all reenactors of any period they represent in time to do their "maximum utmost" to be as accurate as they possibly can, to show the past as it was to the best of their ability.
Aside from a few who may not care to be accurate (and I believe most of these exceptions know who they are), I believe nearly everyone who participates in the living history hobby certainly does make their best effort.
President Lincoln with my son, Robert.
Rob is the Military Commander of the 21st Michigan.
Like his father (me!), he fully engulfs himself into
the world of living history.

As for President Lincoln, Fred Priebe is, 
without a doubt, the finest interpreter 
of our 16th president. After hearing him speak, 
you will feel as if he were the real deal.
We are proud to have him in the 21st Michigan as well.
I like to tell people that we don't need to be carte de visite perfect, but, rather, Currier & Ives perfect, for C&I colored paintings/prints, in my humble opinion, are actually a better representation of what life really looked like in the mid-19th century.
(Ohhh...I can already feel the spears coming at me---how dare I say such a thing!)
Now, before you get your dander up against me, all I am saying is Currier & Ives makes the past come alive vividly and can be used for clothing fashions and daily life activities, for they were contemporary prints of their day. This is where one can see, in color, a farmer plowing or haying, or a woman cooking or working in her kitchen garden while wearing their work clothes.
And that's why I love Currier & Ives prints so much, for they depict actions of everyday life that the camera of the time could not, or, rather, did not very often.
I have numerous books of the prints of C&I, and have enjoyed looking at these "scenes from the past" immensely; they take you away to another time and place. But, I never really looked at them until a good clothing historian friend pointed out the clothing of both the men and the women, as well as the children. Here were images showing, in great detail, everyday life in America - an America the average middle class citizen could easily identify with. And these prints were extremely popular in the mid-19th century. Nearly every middle class home had at least one Currier & Ives hanging in their parlor. Americans saw themselves in these lithographs that showed "the whole panorama of our national life in the mid-19th century." In fact, C&I were known as "Printmakers to the American People.” A whole heritage of American tradition is caught vividly. In these prints can be found that wholesome national flavor, which makes their work the finest representation of the habits and customs, life and tastes...of the exciting era which witnessed the building of a great republic." (Quoted from the book CURRIER & IVES by Harry T. Peters.)
What's more American than farming...plowing...?
And we, as reenactors, can and should show the public the depictions of mid-19th century America.
Everyday Americans.
Which brings us to the reenactment at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne - an actual fort.
And now we, as reenactors, get to 'play' in the very same buildings on the very same grounds as did the actual soldiers of so long ago - from the Civil War through Vietnam.
If you would, please join me in pictures to witness our version of the 1860s at Historic Fort Wayne.
We'll begin with a couple of boys who could easily be farm boys: - - -
That's my farm son, Miles, on the right with his pal John Paul.

5th Michigan Regiment Band performing 
grand old American music of the Civil War era.

The 5th Michigan Regiment Band was one of the many highlights of the reenactment, and they drew a goodly crowd to watch and listen.

The future of the world of reenacting...
Children of reenactors spend their weekends playing simple imagination games, keeping themselves busy and going non-stop without the use of electronics to hold their interests.

Theresa Suave' is the proprietress of the Cozy Cabin Shoppe, and she makes homemade candles and soaps to sell at reenactments. 
"Homemade Lye Soap. Just like the old stuff Grandma used to make. Homemade bar soaps are great ways of staying clean and healthy with GREEN Earth-friendly products. All of our soaps are moisturizing and great for sensitive skin. Some are good for all-over-body use, others designed specifically for face, some are good for your hair, and yet some still just for those work-worn hands of yours."
Theresa is also a friend of mine, so if you find that
you are in need of period-oriented soaps, please
feel free to contact her at the link in the previous photo.

Visitors always stop by to speak with the Assenmachers - Andy & Sue. Their set up is based around a Victorian home, with a kitchen, parlor, and bedroom.
Yes, the stove is HOT.

I did not set up my tent at this event, but kind-hearted Christa allowed me to use her tent to set up a couple of chairs.
Here you see Christa and Mrs. Cook as they prepare to watch the men on the battlefield.

Lovely young ladies entertain an even younger lady in a myriad of ways, including spinning, playing graces, and with hoops.

From the view of a soldier:
President Lincoln addresses the troops.
Meeting President Lincoln was an important event for Union soldiers.

“Mr. Lincoln’s manner toward enlisted men with whom he occasionally met and talked, was always delightful in its bonhomie (good nature) and its absolute freedom from anything like condescension,” recalled journalist Noah Brooks. “Then, at least, the ‘common soldier’ was the equal of the chief magistrate of the nation.”

Meanwhile, over at the Confederate site...

...the surgeon is in.

One of the more interesting aspects about the past of any era is learning about the medical practices.

And of the tools of the trade.

Henry Tripp is one of the more well-known medical living historians in our area and will present not only the Civil War era, but the colonial period as well.
Yes, he really does a fine job indeed!

One of the wonderful things about reenacting at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne is that they allow living historians to use a number of the 19th century homes on the premises, and they are used in wonderfully historical of ways, including, as you see here,
a house of tea.

Folks, this is the sort of thing that needs to be done more often.
And normally I, too, would be in a house but we didn't have as many of the
civilians from the 21st Michigan show up to really do much.
But kudos to the ladies here for the fine job they did. 

Across the hall from the tea room is the parlor where the ladies can relax before and after business hours. 
Meet Miranda, a civilian from the 4th Michigan, relaxing in the parlor.
It was while I was visiting that I envisioned this next picture.
Being that the clouds were thick and dark, with spits of rain and mist here and there, the lighting, to me, was perfect, for it gave off such a period atmosphere...
Miranda was very kind to pose for me here.
This is exactly what I saw - no touch-ups needed.

"Wait --- stay as you are!"
And I scurried outside to get a shot from the window.
It almost has an ethereal - ghostly - look to it.

It's always good to see the 102nd US Colored Troops come out to teach about the role of the African-American during the Civil War. These guys spoke to the kids in my history class earlier this year and did such a phenomenal job. They had the kids in the palm of their hand.
So if you are ever at a reenactment where the 102nd are, please make sure you check them out. They have much to say.

I'm not sure what this soldier did to receive such a punishment, but I suppose it's better than a hanging.
From what I was told it was taken from the book "Hard Tack and Coffee" by John Billings, first printed in 1887.

There were not as many from the Union that we would have liked, but 'tis not too bad a showing. We had even less Confederates take part so on Saturday there was no skirmish.
Sunday, however, we had more military show up and the men were able to put on a good skirmish for the visitors.

As small as it was, it was put on well by the men, and the visitors certainly enjoyed watching and hearing the guns and cannonading.

This is one of the few times I have been able to capture the flame shooting out of the barrel of the musket.

After the skirmish...

A few of us from the 21st Michigan civilians (and one soldier) enjoyed the time spent together, no matter the weather.

It is a privilege for us to take part in Historic Fort Wayne reenactments, because all monies made goes directly to preserving the fort, the historic buildings near the fort, and the grounds in which it is all located. And I will be back at the fort soon, for next up is time spent during Revolutionary War America.
If you are interested in learning more about this important piece of Detroit history, please click HERE

Until next time, see you in time.

~     ~