Monday, July 13, 2009

What's YOUR Favorite Era?

A genealogist searches for their ancestor.
A historian wants to know how their ancestor lived.
A reenactor wants to be their ancestor.

I don't remember where I found this quote - or even who made it up - but it is so true for me. You see, I consider myself to be all three: a genealogist, a historian, and a reenactor. And they do all tie in together. But, it's the reenactor who has the toughest job - they have to research extensively the everyday lives of their ancestor (or anybody's ancestor for that matter), then use the information gathered and apply it in order to create living history authentically.
This lead me to notice, from a different perspective, other eras of reenacting. For instance World War II.

World War II reenacting is gaining in popularity, which is a cool thing. Recently, while at Greenfield Village, they had a WWII USO show, complete with an actual big band playing the music of the day, a dozen or so young folk dressed and jitterbugging in 1940's period clothing - women in the "latest fashions" and their service men. There was a radio announcer giving us the latest updates of that awful war in Europe - it was really something to see when the WWII service men (and others) threw their hats in the air and hollered when it was announced that the Germans surrendered. There was also a display of jeeps and other WWII artifacts.
As I spoke to the reenactor of this time period, he asked me if I might be interested in also portraying one from the 1940's. Although I love the music of the big band era, and the cars were the best (a '41 Ford is my favorite!), I politely turned him down stating truthfully that I prefer the earlier era of the mid-19th century. I am too interested in the times of the Victorians.

But, even if I were open to other eras, I don't think I could ever reenact the time of my parents - World War II. I could never be my parents, and that's how it would feel to me if I were to do the 1940's
Weird, right? But, that is the way I feel. The family ties are just too close there.
Now, I could (if I had an interest) portray a WWI era person - my grandparents time. That is 'far enough' away in years where it wouldn't really bother me in the same regard as the WWII era.
But, just as the 1940's is not my era, the WWI era is just not where I belong either.
On another note, my 2nd eldest son, who loves Civil War reenacting, has expressed interest in Revolutionary War. Now that would be interesting, to become a citizen of the 18th century.

I have been to a few Rev War reenactments and, for the most part, have enjoyed them. Unfortunately, in this part of Michigan, reenactments of the colonial era are few and far between. I can only think of two - maybe three - actual 18th century reenactments within a three hour drive of Detroit. Up on Mackinac Island, however (a five + hour drive), I understand they have a wonderful colonial era living history presentation with soldiers, Indians, and civilians. That would be awesome to see, but for me to participate up there would be virtually impossible. And to do the very few local events I know of would really not be worth the money to purchase all that I would need. The too few events would never satisfy my passion for the past (nice plug, eh?).

I would imagine if I lived on the east coast it would be a different story. But, something tells me that no matter where I lived I would still prefer the Civil War era over all others.
Again, the mid-19th century is just my era.
And, I suppose, that sounds strange doesn't it?

It's a fine thing that we are able - and willing - to re-create, to the best of our knowledge and ability, other eras in time.
Just as long as they keep it authentic, patrons will attend.
And, even if the patrons don't come I'm sure there are many of us who would continue recreating the past for our own pleasure.
In fact, I'd be willing to bet most of us do anyway...


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