Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Celebrating a Holiday Historically: The 4th of July 2015~ (part 2)

Every 4th of July since 2010 I have dressed in period clothing - mostly Civil War era - and have visited historic Greenfield Village to celebrate this glorious American holiday.
And every year we've had spectacular sunny storybook-perfect 4th of July weather - as good as one could ever ask for. Well...except for 2012; it got up to 101 degrees on that day. Yes, we truly were hot in all those clothes that year.
(And in 2013 we had clouds, but no rain, so there was really not a reason to complain for that year either).
To add to our historical experience, in 2014 we started wearing our colonial/RevWar-era clothing while visiting the historic Village, which gives an entirely new dimension to this holiday for me. Stepping into houses that were around during the time that we became an Independent Nation while wearing appropriate clothing gives one a feeling's kind of hard to explain, but there's a strong sense of historical patriotism that engulfs you. At least it does for me.
And because of that we did the colonial thing again this year.
Mind! We are not technically reenacting while we are at Greenfield Village on the 4th of July; we just show up on our own accord and kinda become our own historical entity.
So, why do we do this?
Well, there is something very special about dressing in period clothing that simply adds to the experience when visiting an open-air museum, especially while celebrating a historical holiday (or, as my post title says, celebrating a holiday historically).
And, to be honest, we just enjoy it immensely.'s more than that. There is really not just one answer; most of us do like to dress in period clothes any chance we get not only because of our love of living history, but it also enables us to have more of a feel for the past, and also gives us the opportunity to speak to the public a bit and give them some historical information in a more personal manner; by wearing period clothing we sort of give off a kind of aura that can help to transport people with a genuine interest in history to another time as we talk to them. I have been told by some visitors who I have spoken with that they felt as if they were actually in the presence of someone from the past.
And that, my friend, is as cool and as good a compliment a living historian can receive. And I know, fellow reenactors, I'm not alone here, right?
And, yeah, well, period clothing is pretty cool to wear.
So, once again, here are a few of the pictures (with snappy-quotes) that were taken on this day, a day that "ought to be Commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance..." (as John Adams wrote in a letter to his wife, Abigail, in 1776).
And a bit of a Bastille Day celebration at the end.
Hope you enjoy 'em: 
Meg & Rob peeping through the window of the tinsmith shop - - - what do you think they see inside?'s me they see, the local tinsmith, sitting behind my workbench. (I'm actually happy and not grumpy as this picture seems to show - I really do need to learn how to smile once in a while!)

Yes, the kind folks at Greenfield Village's tinsmith shop allowed me to give an impression that I was a tinsmith. Here I am soldering with a blow pipe. If you look close you can see the blue/orange flame.

I sat at the stump/work bench, pounding out what will become the bottom of a candle holder.

Here are a few of the tin lanterns in the shop.

The tinsmith shop was well-plenished with necessities for the 18th century home: candle molds, coffee and tea pots, more lanterns, candle holders, a candle box, and a few other items.

Carolyn (center) has been enjoying spending time in the 18th century for around as long as Patty & I have, but this was Meg's first venture out as a colonial. Well, she used to work at the 18th century Daggett house here in the Village, so wearing the clothing is not so foreign for her. My son Rob attended Colonial Kensington in 2014, but in borrowed clothing. Now both are wearing their own clothing.
Meg’s 1770s outfit comes from "An album containing 90 fine water color paintings of costumes." Turin : [ca.1775]. Underneath the illustration is handwritten in pencil "North Holland." - Netherlands - Dutch."
Her jacket pattern is directly based off one found in “Costume Close-up” by Baumgarten.
As for her bonnet... the image of the one extant bonnet is from Colonial Williamsburg.

What would a visit to the Daggett House be without my signature "Daggett House pose"? Here we see three former Greenfield Village presenters, and all have worked at this home at one time or another.

Dorothy takes a peak inside the Daggett parlor. This is the very same parlor where the ghost of a man was seen numerous times. What? You didn't know there were spirits in this house? Then maybe you should click HERE to read about it!

Meg told me that the Cotswold Cottage, built in England around 1620 (!), is her favorite building inside Greenfield Village, so I felt I had to take her picture while we were inside. Just think...this house was 150 years older than the time we were representing (1770s), which makes it nearly 400 years old in our modern times!

Two ladies make it twice as much lovely: Ruth joined us inside the Cotswold Cottage and the two posed for this photograph

A few of the locals discuss the latest occurrences of 1775: I had my daughter take a number of these posed pictures that I plan to use for a future posting I am currently working on about colonial taverns and travel. 

Yes, a few of us did eat at the Eagle Tavern, built in 1831. Okay, so it is 50 years beyond "our" time, but the style is relatively close to a colonial tavern and can work fine for effect.

My lovely wife spins wool into yarn. Many times she will do the entire process, from raw wool directly sheared off the sheep to cleaning to skirting to washing to carding to spinning to crocheting or knitting...the whole she-bang! And because of this she has a grown affection for sheep. 

Here, my wife strolls along the fence, eyeing the sheep, while a team of horses pulling a cart moves past. in the 1770s...

"Father wants me to weed all of this??"

New shoes: When Meg showed up all dressed in her period best, one of the living historians commented that she must have recently visited royalty because they were red. I've never heard of that...interesting. Rob has on his brand new Fugawees. Looking good, you two!

My son and I relaxing over at the weavers shop.

And here we have Mr. and Mrs. Church, two well-known and well-respected local RevWar-era reenactors. They study and portray 18th century folk who lived in Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit nestled in the wilderness of what is now southeastern Michigan but what was then part of the Province of Quebec. Of course, Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit became plain old Detroit. Their clothing reflects the style of what was worn in this area during the later part of the 18th century.

No village would be complete without a gristmill. This one behind me, the Loranger Mill, was built in 1832. Though it was built 50 years after the time we are portraying, the style of the building is very similar to those built in the 18th century. Works for me!

A little time-travel twist-up: two colonial ladies sitting on a Victorian porch. In fact, it's the front porch of the 1880s Firestone Farm, birthplace of the tire magnet, Harvey Firestone. As you can see, an enjoyable time was had by all.
And now you have seen my photo-journal of how I spent my 4th of July in 2015.
The weather, as stated, was picture-perfect, and the company was wonderful. I can't honestly think of a better way to spend this holiday celebrating our Independence than in this manner.
The 4th of July and living history - - -'s all good.

The following weekend my friend Lauren invited my wife and I over for something a little different: a celebration of Bastille Day. Now, I had no idea what Bastille Day was until I looked it up. 
Bastille Day ('French National Day' in France) commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille, a medieval fortress and prison in Paris that represented royal authority, on July 14, 1789, as well as the Fete de la Federation, which celebrates the unity of the French people on July 14, 1790. It is celebrated throughout Europe and the U.S. with festivities such as parades and French food.
(Yes, I copied and pasted this from the internet!)
So Lauren invited my wife and I over to her home, dressed period, of course, for a small celebration.
And we took plenty of pictures that I thought you might like to see:
Lauren has a fine kitchen garden growing squash, tomatoes, and other vegetables.

Patty and I brought a few of our "props" to accent some of the pictures.

We tried the same style of photo only this time I was asked to be included. I obliged.

Now, where are these two going? to share a few secrets...

Lauren prepares herself for the next picture.

Two roses amidst a lovely setting.

And here comes the thorn!
Thank you, Lauren, for being such a wonderful hostess at our first Bastille Day celebration. And to your parents as well, for being 'co-hosts." Patty and I felt very welcome into your home, and the delicious 'finger-food' was just that---delicious!
A fine day in 1789 indeed!

Here are a couple of our other historical 4th of July excursions:
Celebrating Independence Day In A Colonial Way
The Glorious Fourth

I'd like to end this post with a bit o' humor that is pretty true:

Until next time, see you in time!



The BUTT'RY and BOOK'RY said...

I enjoyed this so very very much!!
All of the photos are STUNNING!!
Many many Blessings to you and lovely Patty :-)

An Historical Lady said...

Although I have never met Lauren in person because I live all the way across the country "back in the east", we have corresponded! I love her! Please send her my kind thoughts.
You too have been a cherished blog friend as well!
I love this post and am so happy you all had such a perfect holiday.
...And yes, we often go out to parks for picnics, historic house museums, etc., dressed in our 18thc. finery for all the reasons you do! Isn't it great?!
We love that lots of the public approaches us wanting to talk about our costumes and history, and as you say, the clothing adds so much to our experiences just on our own.
~This coming Sunday we will be at an afternoon tea wearing our fine 18thc. attire held at an historic school in Parsonsfield Maine. In a couple weeks we also plan to make some period 'tea food' and sit on the shores of Lake Winnpesaukee in 18thc. clothing and with all the 18thc. accoutrements and have a summer picnic supper!
Wishing you a wonderful 'reenacting summer'!