Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summertime at Crossroads Village

Hello, my name is Ken and I reenact the 21st century Monday through Friday. It's a tough job but I believe that teaching people about the future is important no matter how ugly it may be.
Thank God I can return home to the 1860's on the weekends...
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Not every time-travel excursion for me is an official event. As you may already know, I make up my own events and "excuses" to don period clothing and enjoy time in the past. And it just makes it so much better when family and friends come along for the ride.
I've done this at Greenfield Village often (and you know how much I love Greenfield!), but rarely at another (semi-local) open-air museum known as Crossroads Village. It's been three years since I've been to Crossroads, which is located in Flint, Michigan, and when we showed up attired in our 1860's finest, we were welcomed with open arms. Everyone there seemed appreciative that we chose their Village for this summertime field trip. And I was so excited about going there that I had a difficult time sleeping the night before.
I'd like to explain a little about Crossroads - - - -
first off, I love the "warning" they give to visitors entering the gates:

Welcome to Crossroads Village
Please watch your step
Walks, streets, and floors replicate those of the 1800’s and are uneven

Isn't that great?
And the best part's true! The lay out is very authentic: roads are dirt and the sidewalks are wood-planks, just like a real 19th century small town. That in itself is pretty cool. In walking throughout the village one feels as if they have stepped into the pre-electrical age of the oil lamp and carriage - the time of Laura Ingalls, Huck Finn, or easily of the Civil War. In fact, I would bet that, except for a few minor details, if someone from the last half of the 19th century were to to suddenly find themselves there, they would feel very much at home.
I know I do!

Lately, I have had the itching to head back out to Crossroads. As I said, it's been a few years.
The date we picked - July 13 - was sunny with temps in the mid-80's - it was the perfect summer day as far as I was concerned. It was their "Pioneer Weekend" and I was looking forward to this visit.
I had my camera in tow, and since every picture tells a story, I believe I'll let my photographs do the talking for me...well, to an extent:

At the train depot, we watched as our steam locomotive came in.

It was soon after the the conductor allowed us to enter our train car

We chose a car with few people - it was nice to be able to ride in this beautiful train car. We knew we had quite the ride ahead of us so we settled right in.

Some settled in better than others.

Before we knew it, we were in the Village of Crossroads!

There was a traveling photographer in town and he kindly took our image. This is how we looked to the photographer...
...and this is how the future folks will see us.

The Mason Tavern was closed on this day - I had heard the tavern owner, Mr. Mason, was feeling very poorly. Well, things like this happen - we had hoped to quench our thirst and hear the latest news from the travelers who went by stage.
We checked to see if the ice house had some ice chips to sell to us.
Looking inside the ice house we could tell that if there was any ice that hadn't melted by now it would probably be pretty dirty setting 'neath all of this sawdust. We've had some hot and muggy days this summer and ice is getting rather scarce..
We strolled along the shaded lane to visit our friends, the Buzzells.
Hey! There's the Buzzell house, built in 1854!

The Buzzells have a beautiful garden, and my wife & Mrs. Schubert spent plenty of time enjoying the scents and sights of the many types of flowers and herbs grown there.

They found strolling through the yard to be quite a relaxing ordeal.

On the other hand, Mrs. Buzzell took no time to put our domestic servant, who traveled with us as a helping hand, to work filling the bucket up with water...

...and then watering & weeding the garden. As a good servant, she did as she was told.

After admiring the plants, we all trailed into the house.

The Buzzells have a beautiful home.
As it was a hot summer's day, my wife chose to spend time on the porch, enjoying whatever breeze came her way

We thought it was such a beautiful day for a picnic that we would search out a nice shady area to partake in such a fun summer excursion. The chapel has many fine spots in which to shade ourselves as we enjoy nature's bounty.
We picnicked on egg sandwiches, cold cuts, peaches, nuts - quite the feast!
Even strawberries! Oh, and gnats - lots of tiny gnats.
In the nearby schoolhouse, the local musicians, who are known around town as Suzanne and Jim, entertained all who cared to listen. They are a very talented duo who not only sing, but play such instruments as the guitar, fiddle, dulcimer, bones, banjo, and spoons. They did the finest rendition of "Old Dan Tucker" I've heard yet!

And then there is the local town troubadour who is also very versatile in his musicianship, Neil Woodward.

A cow and her calf were moo-ing nearby, and the younger set decided to keep it company. Miles loves cows, as you can tell.

Crossroads seems like such a fine place to live. I wonder if there are any opportunities for work here? Well, I'm off to find out!

Guess what? The local sawmill was looking for help. It seems their steam motor is in need of repair and they must have some wood cut - I was hired on the spot!
Ian was hired as well and we were put to the task of sawing logs immediately. And, boy! it sure was a tough job! Did we work up a sweat! Because of the heat, we did not work too long. We were told to be back the next day early - before the heat set in - and we promised we would.
I was asked to stop off at the gristmill to pick up 20 pounds of the ground flour for the Buzzells. Notice the sleuth holding the water feeding the turbine (bottom center).
It's amazing to think that water can move these wheels weighing thousands of pounds. It sure did get dusty inside the gristmill building. And the entire building shook as the sleuth lever was pulled to allow the water to flow to turn these gigantic wheels. I mean literally shook!
Spending time strolling the wood-plank sidewalks of Crossroads Village is certainly a fine way to spend a day. But with the sun showing us that the afternoon was about to turn to evening, we knew it would not be long until supper, and then the relaxing time of nightfall would occur, where young Miss Buzzell might just play the organ and sing a few songs for us. I hope she knows "Some Folks!"

And, soon enough, it was time for bed. Thus ended our first day in Crossroads Village...

Thus ends our time at Crossroads Village. No, we didn't really get to sleep at Crossroads. Nor did I "get a job" there, though Ian and I really did give sawing a log a good go.
But we did have a fine time.
I suppose it's the lay out - the feel - of this village that really gets to me; it's just so Victorian Americana, you know?
With that being said, it's unfortunate that they are only open Memorial Weekend through Labor Day, because that doesn't give any time to show history in the spring and fall. In fact, I do not understand why they don't have a fall harvest-type festival; how great would it be to show rural life in the 19th century during September and October as the folks celebrate the autumn harvest with cider (they have a working cider mill here), doughnuts, hayrides, music, train rides to see the fall know, just an old-time autumn celebration.
(They do have great Hallowe'en and Christmas celebrations, but it isn't the same as being able to walk around and witness history, you know?)
But the train ride (without the recorded music) is pretty awesome, and the greeters at the front gate are very welcoming. They also have a snake oil salesman selling his wares on the streets of town - very period appropriate. The blacksmith was great, and the gristmill demonstration was especially cool (and we bought flour that was ground right there at the mill!). And then there is the printer and tinsmith.
I do hope to go back to Crossroads Village before it closes for the season, for I just want to take that opportunity to stroll back in time and have my senses completely surrounded by the past.

~Just so you know, I do not compare Crossroads Village to Greenfield Village. Both places have a very magical feel about them in their own way.~



A Country Victorian said...

Great post! You always have such nice pictures. :) Are you going to be at Charlton Park next weekend?


Historical Ken said...

Thanks Veronica!
Yes, I plan to be at Charlton park inside the Sixberry House on Saturday - attempting a 1st person day there. Come and visit!

Anonymous said...

I want to live there!

Historical Ken said...

I do, too, Andressa.
In fact, if I ever hit the *big* lottery, guess what I'm going after?

A Country Victorian said...

I most certainly will! :)


the bee guy said...

I live about 25 minutes from Crossroads and get out there a few times a year. This place has so much potential but it's owned by the county parks and rec (need I say more). Most of the time the park is empty. The crowds do come out for Thomas the Train in August, Halloween (where everybody gets to trick-or-treat) and Christmas.
I often wonder if this park where to be bought by a private company, could it become as excellent as Greenfield Village.

Historical Ken said...

To The Bee Guy:
I have to agree with your assessment. If you notice, most of what I wrote about had more to do with the esthetic feel of the place and not necessarily the way they present history. Most of the presenters leave much to be desired, though there are a couple that are very good - - Greenfield Village good. They need to get away from the "historical society" attitude and delve more into history. Like I said, I enjoy the lay out - very period correct.
I appreciate your comments Mr. Guy.

Historical Ken said...

My dream is to one day own this place.

GinaBVictorian said...

Hi Ken,
What a great post! I love all the Victorian furniture you showed. Thanks for sharing,