Monday, March 31, 2014

The 21st Michigan Spring Meeting 2014 - Bringing the Past to Life

Nothing like using a beautiful period home for a back drop, even when there's still snow on the ground at the end of March. I try to have a few group shots taken at many of our events - there's a sort of cohesiveness that one can see and feel when they gaze upon themselves amongst others of their kind and caliber.
As the civilian coordinator for the 21st Michigan, I normally have only one period dress civilian meeting during the pre-reenacting season when the cold winter weather seemingly prevents much from happening in the world of living history. Many of the members of our group use the January through April months to hone our historical skills, make or purchase new clothing, and take that opportunity to dress in our period clothing while at our period dress meeting.
However, coming off of the Christmas at the Fort 'high,' I decided to have two meetings this year. My immersion experiences at the annual Christmas at the Fort became the catalyst to raise the bar of our presentations even higher, for it's an amazing experience like nothing I've done before. It can feel almost like a literal time-travel encounter.
And I would love for other living historians to have that same feeling.
Hence the reason why I called for two civilian meetings this year: the first one, our winter meeting that we had back in February, was used to speak on how we've been putting our immersion events together and how to make the past a reality for those involved, and this second meeting to put it all into practice by giving members a few scenarios to "act out."
Not acting as an actor would, but acting as real life...without any scripts.
For instance, I chose two of our members to portray husband & wife and gave them the topic The Husband Is Telling His Wife That He Plans To Join In The Fight To Preserve The Union, then let them play it out. The two practically had everyone in tears in the way they spoke to each other in such a heartfelt and dramatic way.
Other topics for scenarios included Looking For a Room at a Tavern, A Wounded Soldier Returns Home from the War, A Laundress Looking For Work, Two Sisters Speak of Times Gone By, An Irish Washerwoman Explaining Why the Laundry Was Not Completed, and a few others.
We also showed proper ways for a man and a woman to greet each other in public and the response expected depending on whether they knew each other or not.
Then, after each scenario, we discussed the interaction that took place and the whys & wherefores of the etiquette of the time. 
I wasn't sure how a meeting like this would all pan out, for I've never done one like this before. I must say it went very well with each member there participating *almost* willingly!
On top of the meeting, our hostess, who happens to live in a house that was built in 1880, had an 1860's tea that also included finger foods, small sandwiches, desserts, scones, etc.
And we played a parlor an actual parlor! 
Meetings of this sort are important, for we need to spend more time on our impressions and impressing upon our membership that learning about the past and learning how to present the past matters as much as anything else in the world of reenacting. I cannot express this enough!
So anyhow, here you go - - - here are photos of the springtime period dress civilian meeting of the 21st Michigan:

Our hostess and her servant girl stand at the tea table. As more people showed up, the table top became totally covered with the delectable treats of the 1860's

Mrs. Frey and Mrs. St. John sang a beautiful duet of
"On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand." This really set a wonderful mood for the rest of the afternoon.

Mr. Cary and Mrs. Schubert listen intently to the two lovely singers perform.

Mr. Tennies also listens to the hymn. I believe all who were there would agree that this was one of those ethereal moments and was a highlight of this gathering of friends.

I tried to get a bit artsy here and used the parlor curtains to my advantage for this photograph. I think it turned out well. Of course, my two subjects *made* the image, wouldn't you say?

A few of the lovely ladies who attended the meeting, including the hostess, Mrs. St. John, on the left.

Usually I'm so busy taking other people's likenesses that I tend to forget to have one taken of my wife and I together. Well, here we are, upon the porch of the 130 year old St. John's home.

One more group shot, this one showing the entire house. Beautiful structure, isn't it? And a pretty fine looking group of living historians, too!

Well, every unit has their "class clown" right? We in the 21st Michigan have two! Yep, Larissa and Rebecca throw out the one liners and willingly make up poses that would make a stitch counter grimace.
I suppose that's what I like about these two: they're serious when they're supposed to be, and hilarious behind the scenes!

Hmmm...what's behind curtain number one? Or, should I say, WHO is behind curtain number one??

Poor Larissa was ridiculed and shamed by Rebecca for not wearing her collar. Will she ever be able to show her face at another tea?

Ha! Nothing shames either one of these ladies! A jolly good time was had by all!

If you can't have a little fun, then why are you here? Or didn't they have fun in the 1860's...
(something tells me they did!)

And that's the way it was, on March 29, 2014.


1 comment:

Linda said...

An amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing.