Friday, February 22, 2019

Ken's Colonial Collection of Lighted Houses & Miniatures

This is an update of a posting I wrote back in 2012 - seven years ago as of this writing - and since then I have accumulated a pretty good collection of figurines and accessories to add to my ever-growing colonial village.
Plus, there is some history included, to boot!

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Since discovering Dept. 56 back in 1989, I have become a fan - a collector - of the small lighted houses. Though my main collection is their Dickens Village, with the various Dickensian characters such as Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, etc. (click HERE to see my post on that from 2011), I have ventured off a bit over the last few years to collect other series, such as Sleepy Hollow and other Hallowe'en houses (click HERE), and also a few odds & ends showing Victorian times. I've even had a few 1940s through the 1960s Americana buildings such as a Dairy Queen, a drive in restaurant, and a gas station (though those have been packed away so good I forgot where I put them). A good many of the houses in the various collections are designed from an artist's imagination seemingly based on nostalgia, but the improvement over the years to bring out much more accurate looking buildings, designed from actual structures, has taken precedence, including Big Ben and Gadshill Place in the Dickens series.
But I have mentioned to my wife quite frequently on how cool it would be to have actual historical houses - American historical homes - from the early days of our country's founding, as a collection.
It took a while, but in 2010: "A new porcelain Village series "Williamsburg" delighted Village collectors and history buffs alike. This series was formally introduced at a collectors' event held in historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia in October with Village artist, Jeff Junkins present for the entire event." (from the Department 56 site)
This is the first time, to my knowledge, that the company had concentrated on an actual historic village, and I was pretty darned...well...ecstatic, to say the least. So I began purchasing them until I got nearly the entire Williamsburg village. To be honest, I couldn't afford the prices being asked by the company itself, but by searching on the internet daily and having patience, I was able to locate a few of the houses at, in most cases, half off or more the original asking price, allowing me to acquire pretty much all but a very few in the collection.

I don't have a large house - bungalows usually aren't - and therefore space is limited, so I have to put my lighted house collection on a wall shelf and on top of my computer desk.
So, beginning with my wall shelf, here is my colonial village display:
My colonial mainstreet.
Now, just so you don't think I am blindly purchasing this Williamsburg set by name alone, I did a bit of comparison on the original structures to see how closely they resembled their ceramic counterparts.
Perfectly! They matched perfectly!
So, what I have here are photos of the original buildings as they sit in Colonial Williamsburg followed by the Dept. 56 miniatures I had purchased.
You be the judge:
The home of George Wythe, built in the early 1750's. Besides being elected to the House of Burgesses in Virginia and Mayor of Williamsburg, Mr. Wythe, a "profound lawyer" (according to Benjamin Rush) was also a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson called Wythe "my second father, my faithful and beloved mentor in my youth and my most affectionate friend through life."
Yes, that's me you see at the door.

And here is the Dept. 56 ceramic version of the Wythe house.
I need a ceramic figurine of me at the door.

King's Arms Tavern: This was one of the best-known taverns in Williamsburg and, during the Revolutionary War, the proprietress, Mrs. Jane Vobe, provided food and drink to the Patriots fighting the Redcoats.

Dept. 56's accurate rendition of the King's Arm Tavern

The Taliaferro-Cole House. This place was originally owned by Charles Taliaferro from the mid-18th century until he sold it to Jesse Cole in 1804. Charles was a well-known coachmaker as well as a merchant and also owned the shop next to it to sell his wares.

Here is Dept. 56's fine replication of the Taliaferro-Cole House.

Here is the original Taliaferro-Cole Shop. When Charles Taliaferro owned it in the late 18th century, he sold "an assortment of lines, shoes, saddles, bar iron, candles, nails, and brads." When Jesse Cole purchased it in 1804 it continued as a general store and a post office as well.

And here is the Dept. 56 replica of the Taliaferro-Cole Shop.

Dating from 1715, parishioners of Bruton Church sat in boxed pews, their walls providing privacy and protection from drafts. In the early years the sexes sat apart. A vestry book entry for January 9, 1716, says:
"Ordered that the Men sitt on the North side of the church, and the women on the left."
A succession of galleries was built for particular groups beneath the soaring ceiling. For example, on July 10, 1718, William and Mary students were assigned a gallery that still stands. Exterior stairs were added for access to some of these railed, overhanging rows of benches. In 1744, the building was enlarged, and in 1752 the vestry voted to make the east end as long as the west, extending the chancel 25 feet to the east. The assembly paid for the work, and it was completed in 1755.   Among the men of the Revolution who attended Bruton Parish Church were Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, George Wythe, Patrick Henry, and George Mason.

And here is Department 56's miniature of Bruton Parish Church.

Tarpley's Store: John Tarpley began his store at this location in 1755.

And here is the copy

Next up we have a building that is not located in Colonial Williamsburg but in Philadelphia. I am including it in my Williamsburg collection for two reasons: 1) because it fits the colonial look of the 18th century (obviously). And 2) because there is no other historical collection of lighted houses that I can put it with. So, what else am I supposed to do?
Don't worry, I do let folks know about it when they see my set up, just as I am doing now.
So...the original...
 ~No...not in Colonial Williamsburg, but Pennsylvania~
Construction of the Pennsylvania State House, which came to be known as Independence Hall, began in 1732. At the time it was the most ambitious public building in the thirteen colonies. It wasn't until 1753, 21 years after the groundbreaking, before it was completed. Independence Hall is, by every estimate, the birthplace of the United States. It was within its walls that the Declaration of Independence was adopted. It was here that the Constitution of the United States was debated, drafted and signed. That document is the oldest federal constitution in existence and was framed by a convention of delegates from 12 of the original 13 colonies.

And here is the wonderful miniature from Dept. 56.

Having the lighted houses are fine and all, but it's the accessories that will make any ceramic village seemingly come to life. Dept. 56 did have people to go with the houses, but they didn't seem to have enough interest in this series (or it was not a big seller), for the Williamsburg Village was cancelled after only a few years, and so figurines were few and far between. However, it was in 2018 that I inadvertently discovered (through another miniatures collector) there were plenty more 18th century accessories than what Department 56 had available, though from another company. It seems that back in the 1990s Lang & Wise, through the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, not only put out a collection of houses, but, more importantly, period 18th century figurines.
I was elated.
However, I also learned that the houses put out by Lang & Wise were quite a bit smaller than the Dept. 56 size, and they didn't light up either. To top it off, the house sizes make the figurines that supposedly are to go with them look like they are much too large - they might be giants.
Needless to say, I am not interested in the Lang & Wise houses.
As for the people/accessories, I, once again, delved into the search engines of the internet, finding many, if not most from the L&W figurines at pretty good prices. Remember - you need to have patience. If you wait long enough, that $30 or $40 piece can be found at $10 or $15.
So, please allow me to introduce you to the townsfolk of my colonial village:
What would a 1770s colonial town be without a fife and drum corps?
These are part of the Department 56 collection.

The 'bug-eyed' town-crier sort of fellow to the left is not part of any particular series. In fact, he was made by a friend of mine who also made period-correct spoons and knives. I am sad to say he passed away only months ago, so this piece means a lot to me.
On the right we see someone who could be Benjamin Franklin with a young boy. This is from Dept. 56.

A couple more Department 56 figurines:
The soldiers on the left look to be enjoying some off time, sitting near the small cresset flame and "Telling Stories."
On the right is the set called "Going to Church," so naturally I placed them by Bruton Parish.

Another Dept. 56 accessory called "Carter Coach" takes unseen passengers to the next village or town.

We have the "Master Sign Painter" on the left and the "Post Master & Printer" on the right.
By the way, all of the Department 56 Williamsburg houses and accessories have been retired and can only be purchased through collectibles shops (or places like Ebay and Amazon).

If I had one major complaint it would be that all of the Department 56 Williamsburg houses are decorated for Christmas.
I know, I know...that's what they specialize in...
Still, I leave mine up all year long.
For this picture we'll concentrate on the two sets up front, 
again from Dept. 56.
What we have on the left are "Tavern Balladeers," and why wouldn't we? They are standing in front of the King's Arm Tavern.
On the right we have "Caroling in Williamsburg," though I just sort of assume they are singing along to the popular fiddle tune the musicians are playing rather than a Christmas carol.

"Two Men With Cart," put out by Lang & Wise~
 It seems to show the men emptying the cart, so I put it next to the tavern as if they were making a delivery.
What I also like about these figures, besides the high quality detail, is the lack of 'snow,' which seems to be on most Dept. 56 figures.

Another Lang & Wise accessory, this one called "The Mulberry Sociable." Look at the top-notch quality on every part of this. The detail - - ! Even the carriage body sits on springs!

From Department 56 we have, beginning on the left, "Going to the Ball," though for my scene this couple are looking to purchase from the man who has "Silver for Sale." On the right we have "Charlton's Morning Shipment," which looks to be a woman making purchases from the cart of a street vendor 

Lang & Wise: "Strolling Men" and "Strolling Women"~
Excellent depictions of the every man and every woman.
I have them visiting on the street, perhaps preparing to enter the home of Master George Wythe.

More strollers (part of the series in the previous picture). I've had more than one person tell me the gentleman bares a resemblance to me...or I to him. Well, then, this could be my wife Patty strolling with me!
In the background is the figurine that started the whole Lang & Wise collecting for me - "Cooper Making Wooden Barrel."
I received an e-mail not too long ago asking if I knew of a cooper figurine. I told the sender that I knew of no such item. Fortunately for both of us, she dug deep and found this one. I, too, ordered one (my great grand uncle - 2nd great grandfather's brother - was a cooper here in Michigan back in the 1880s) - and I thought it would be a fine choice to have. But once I saw the quality, I began searching for more of the series and found a whole slew of them, so, as mentioned earlier, I began to purchase as many as I could.
All because of an e-mail asking about a cooper.

Remember the 'bug-eyed' town-crier a few photos back? Well, the young man and woman facing each other on the left were made from the same gentleman. Perhaps he is asking to see her and maybe escort her to the dance...
The woman sweeping is from Dept. 56, but I cannot locate her box that denotes the name. But I believe she came from one of the Halloween series, hence the lack of snow at her feet.

It's not often that I have seen African Americans depicted in historic series such as this, but Lang & Wise made a few, including "Carpenter Teaching Son," shown here.
I love having people of color in my collection - and you'll see more as you scroll through this post - for it adds to the over-all realism of the set.

Wait----did you see that?
Yes, this is Paul Revere, galloping along. But, since this is not Lexington, I suppose I could just say he is delivering some important information to sources unknown in any old 18th century town.
He did make more than one ride, you know...
I found this particular figurine at an antique store and was told it was from the 1950s. There is a paper taped to the bottom that says "original Sebastian model," and, upon looking it up, it is of no real value. Except to me, I suppose.

Now, in the next picture, take a look at this version of the Taliaferro-Cole Shop, which is slightly different from the Dept. 56 house I have. And I recently purchased it on Ebay for---$11.00! That's it!
So, of course, since it doesn't have Christmas wreaths in the windows, as does Dept. 56, I put this new "Town Hall Collectibles" version from the 1990s on display, for the quality is top notch.
Lang & Wise "Man and Boy Whittling"~
Everyday folks. This is what I enjoy most.
Yes, I realize the figures are pretty large in comparison to the houses, but if they were to make then compatible in size, then either the figures would have to be awfully small, thus losing much of the detail, or the houses must be made much larger, which would not work for most collectors. 

Now let's take a leap over to the computer desk to see another colonial scene - - - -

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To begin, here's a bit of information you might find interesting, for it includes the next phase in my miniature collecting:
My very favorite houses inside car magnate Henry Ford's open-air museum of Greenfield Village is the Daggett Farmhouse, originally built around 1750. There is an attachment I have to this house like no other.
And if you didn't know this about me, then you must be brand new to reading my blog!
But this breakback/saltbox-style home is, to me, the epitome of 18th century architecture.
Here it is:
The 1750 Daggett Farm
Though it was originally built in Connecticut over 250 years ago, it was painstakingly dismantled and relocated to its new and permanent 'home' at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan in the mid-1970s.
And right next to the Daggett house we find the Cape Cod Farris Windmill, built in 1633, also carefully taken apart and removed to the internationally known open air museum.
The 1633 Farris Windmill
This windmill was once the oldest on Cape Cod, and it originally stood at the road to West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. It was a gift to Henry Ford from his Ford dealership employees nationwide back in 1936, and now currently sits at the southeast end of Greenfield Village, right next to the Daggett Farmhouse.

Being that the Dagget house is my favorite, I've often thought how great it would be to have a Department 56 version for my collection.
Hmmm...
It was back during the latter part of this century's first decade that a friend of mine and his then fiance were at a local collectibles store, and they made sure they stopped by to tell me that they had seen a lighted ceramic Dept. 56 Daggett-style house for sale there.
Of course, I went to the store myself to see it.
Yep - there it was! And it was beautiful. In fact, there were four of these houses sitting on the shelf. Since they were a discontinued Dept. 56 product, thus considered used, they had no box or packaging of any kind.
And, unfortunately, they were also rather pricey, so I decided to pass on owning one, though I thought about this ceramic version of Daggett and how cool it would've looked on my shelf. I really wanted to get it, but I just couldn't pay the extravagant price.
I decided to see what I could find on Ebay.
Wise choice, for there it was, listed under the title "Home Sweet Home."
And guess what? With it came, in the same box, a windmill. A windmill that looked suspiciously like the Farris Windmill at Greenfield Village.
It wasn't being sold that way at the store - - - hmmm...something's amiss here...so I decided to go back to the collectibles store and let them know.
They could not care any less. How sad...
No matter, for the price for both items - the house and the windmill - in the original packaging, was less than half the price of just the house by itself from that shop.
Needless to say I bought it off Ebay.
It took only a few days til my package arrived - and here they are together:
And this is how the two structures look as they sit inside Greenfield Village:
Compare the two photos - - - - pretty cool, huh?

After researching it a bit I found out that the two Dept. 56 ceramics were introduced in 1988 and were discontinued in 1991. They are v-e-r-y close in comparison, especially considering they came in the same box.
But, alas, it was not replicated after the two Greenfield Village; Dept. 56's website says that the house was, "Inspired by the East Hampton, NY historic landmark home of John Howard Payne, composer of 'Home Sweet Home'."
Does the Payne home have similarities to Daggett?
Why, of course!
The home of John Howard Payne - with windmill
Even though it is not Daggett and Farris, I still think of it as such, so now I sort of have my own personal corner of Greenfield Village as well as the landmark historical home of the "Home Sweet Home" composer John Howard Payne all in one. Or two.
Who could ask for anything more, right?
But for this history nerd, owning "the Daggett Farm" wasn't enough. Besides the town miniatures you saw above, I also learned that Lang & Wise put out farming figurines as well. And since I am interested in historic farming, I dove head-first into this collection, once again blending Department 56 and Lang & Wise, and put together a colonial farm scene, and with a little imagination, we can get a slight idea of how the Daggett farm (or one similar) may have looked 250 years ago:
In this first picture we have the Dept. 56 House and Windmill.
However - - - - 
*poof* the windmill is gone.
Instead, I found a hay cart and had to add it to the scene. I only have so much room on the shelf and the accessory collection kept a-growing, so I removed the windmill to continue adding to the farm. No worries, though, for the windmill is in a safe place, ready to be brought back out when I am able to utilize a larger space for display. 
By the way, the ceramic house was originally painted green, but I repainted it a darker gray in order to give it a more "Daggett" look.
Now, let's get a closer glance at the accessories and figurines that make up my 18th century farm:
In my farm world there's always a touch of fall and harvest time:
from the left we see pumpkins, a corn shock, and a wood pile, all of which I picked up at Michael's, the arts and crafts store. We also see apples being pressed into cider. "Running the Apple Press" is a Dept. 56 figure from the, I believe, 'Snow Village' series. The woman is not dressed 18th century but, rather, 19th century. It is the only cider press figure I've ever seen, so it has to work for now.
Next to her we see an 18th century woman of African descent "Cooking Over a Fire" (Lang & Wise). Perhaps she is making dinner for the farm family and farm hands.
As we make our way along the front of the house - - -
The next piece is Dept. 56 - "Churning Temptation,"  which shows that ancient chore of churning milk into butter. Again, like the apple press woman, the fashion depicts the 19th century. And then we have a woman doing that time-honored craft of spinning wool into yarn. This is another very old piece put out in the 1950s by Sebastion Miniatures that I found in an antique store.
We have another Dept. 56 figure showing the necessary chore of candle dipping. Since my wife spins and since I dip candles, both were must haves for me.
And then, as we move away from the house, we see out-door chores with "Women Picking Vegetables."

All hands on deck when it comes to harvesting crops.
Oh---and note the "Water Well" behind the churner (left), and the flat bed cart with hay, both 
from Lang & Wise.

Heading out toward the field we see more field work:
"Working in the Field With Oxen" is another Lang & Wise miniature.
From the clothing to the work, I have never seen accessories like these before - actual farm work depictions from the colonial period.

The little ones around the farm tend to the chickens, roosters, and the eggs. In the center background we see "Girl Chasing Rooster" from Lang & Wise, while on the right the Dept. 56 figure is called "Gathering Eggs."

The Lang & Wise figure center left is called "Dairymaid Leading Cow," while the woman milking a cow is simply called "Dairymaid Milking."

I have a sort of wooden sheep pen, for sheep shearing is to take place. We just happened to find it in Frankenmth (Michigan) and bought it because I knew I could use it. Some of the sheep are from my parent's Christmas manger scene they purchased back in 1949/1950.

And here we are: two women "Shearing Sheep" (as this figurine is called) while another watches the flock.

Lang & Wise "Plowing in the Field With Oxen"~
And, since I've actually plowed behind a team of horses, this is a special accessory for me, even though it is oxen and not horses.
Seriously...how many people would get so excited about a plowing accessory?
Well...me, for one!
In fact, this entire collection is pretty exciting to me, especially since I, as a historical presenter, speak about colonial farming at reenactments, schools, libraries, or wherever me and my presentation partner are asked to go.
And, of course, I also speak as Paul Revere when asked.
This miniature collection really does fit in well with my love and fascination - infatuation? - for the colonial period in America's history, as well as with Greenfield Village's Daggett Farm in particular. I suppose it's a sort of could it have been like this?
Too bad I don't have more room to spread it out a bit more...
Anyhow, I hope you enjoyed this little reprieve from the modern world. In this day and age of insane Facebook anything goes craziness, I try to surround myself with the little things that help to get me through life.
Some people have sports. Others travel.
I have history.

Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time, see you in time.



To read more about the Daggett House, click HERE
To read about my Dept. 56 Dickens Village collection, click HERE
To read about everyday life on a colonial farm, click HERE.
And to read about my Colonial Williamsburg adventure, click HERE

























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Monday, February 11, 2019

The Women of WWII and the Reenactors Who Portray Them

Out of the nearly 700 postings I have written for Passion for the Past, I would venture to say that only around a dozen - maybe a dozen and a half - are about the 20th or 21st century.
Count today's post among those, for it centers on a couple friends of mine who enjoy  - really enjoy - spending time in America during WWII.
Their passion for the period and their research is an inspiration.

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I received the box set of the Tom Hanks HBO mini-series Band of Brothers and The Pacific for Christmas. What an amazingly true-to-life set this is, showing both the European and Pacific theaters of war in all its intensity and realism. Both series were produced by Tom Hanks (who also produced the amazing John Adams HBO mini-series), and Steven Spielberg. I wish the two men would continue in this vein...you know, bringing American history to life. These are not your typical Hollywood History garbage strewn out with big names to make a buck; instead they are filled with top-notch quality depictions of battles and even life on the homefront. Realism at its finest.
Rosies - The real deal (actual picture)
So as I watched this WWII box set, which, in its entirety, has twenty episodes total, I began to think of the reenactors who portray this era. I have a few friends who absolutely love this early 1940s time of boogie woogie, Rita Hayworth, streamline cars, Clark Gable, classic movies, and Bing Crosby. And I thought I would throw the spotlight on a couple of young women who have taken the 1940s citizen patriot to a high level. Each have spent years as ladies of the 1860s, and each has also been period-dressed presenters at historic Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan. So it's suffice to say they do know their history pretty well. Though the ladies love to dress in the clothing of the mid-19th century, they have also found the era of WWII America - the early 1940s - to be a fascinating time for women.
The idea that so many Civil War reenactors, both men and women, have ventured out to other times in history is intriguing to me. I mean, I'm no different, for I also reenact in two different periods, but both of mine are pre-20th century, so the idea of my two friends finding an interest in the 1940s piqued my interest, and I set out to learn more of why they chose the later period rather than remain in an earlier time.
I think you will enjoy what you are about to read (and see), even if the 1940s are not your cup of tea, for their passion of the past shows.
Beckie preparing for her
journey to the 1940s.
Beckie is a long-time living historian and seamstress who has been a Civil War-era reenactor for over a decade. I'm also proud to say that she is a member of my period vocal group, Simply Dickens.
When I queried her on the passion she has for the time of her grandparents, she gave me this explanation: "The first time I participated in a 1940s event was for Wyandotte's Victory Rally (in Wyandotte, Michigan). I think it was 2012. I was volunteering at the Wyandotte Museum and was asked by the then director to help. She wanted a home front vignette and I agreed to help with it." So she and her friend Donna, for the first time, went into the public eye to represented the home front and talk to visitors about "how ladies did their part towards the war effort."
And that got her historical mind a-thinking...
Please understand, Beckie doesn't do anything lightly - she especially takes her history seriously, and because of this she wanted to feel totally immersed in the era and decided that dressing the part would be the best way to present it. "I made a dress and apron from some patterns of the era and made sure I was dolled up from head to toe," she said. "It was a blast! We showed another side of the war that most people don't see. The struggle was real at home and those left behind had to learn how to make due without things that many of us take for granted today."  She was very pleased at the "tons of compliments on our display and our presentation," but the best one she received was from a gentleman who "told us we looked beautiful and reminded him of his mother. He told us that women in the 1940s were so elegant and classy, and our presentation of the era brought back some great memories. At that point, I was hooked!"
Donna & Beckie at their first-time-ever representation of 1940s women.
So Beckie took a giant feet-first leap from the 1860s and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" to the 1940s and "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree With Anyone Else But Me." As she herself put it, "The more I researched the period, the more I started to love the look and the entire era. Women and men both looked clean and polished, even when they were in comfy clothes. People got dressed up to go to the grocery store! Who does that now-a-days?"
Beckie "all dolled up."
To help get herself in the mood, she will watch some of her favorite movies from or about the era, such as Pearl Harbor from 2001 ("I cry every time the Japanese start bombing, the pain and fear they must have felt"), Hacksaw Ridge, Life is Beautiful, and Casablanca (of course!), just to name a few. She also enjoys listening to 40s music. "My Sirius is usually set to the 40s Junction channel when I climb in my car, and I've got a large playlist that I'm continually adding to. I also have a huge stack of records that I listen to often when I'm sewing."
As a Civil War reenactor and seamstress, Beckie has always enjoyed researching the clothing of the 1860s, and it was a natural segue into the world of bright red lipstick, wavy hair, and skirts & blouses. "There are a lot of patterns out there that allow me to sew my own outfits, which makes this seamstress super happy." And then there are the websites like pinterest to help her with hairstyles and makeup. "I've got the makeup thing down but I'm still working on the hair," she told me. "For ladies back then, the hairstyles were no big thing because they did them every day, like us throwing our hair in a messy bun today. I'm a work in progress."
Hey! This could be my mom! Or at least one of her older sisters.
But it's not just the girly fashions of the home front that Beckie enjoys, for being the historian that she is, she is quite aware there was a war on, therefore she takes the time to research the military factors. She admits that she doesn't know as much about the battles as she would like, but is gaining knowledge through her adamant research. However, she is also learning about how the ladies participated in the military: "My Aunt Alice was a Lieutenant first class JG in the WAVEs, a branch of the Navy, and that sparked me into looking into different branches," she said. "I'm considering doing a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) impression."
These days Beckie mainly spends most of her time representing a Rosie the Riveter at the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville. "I absolutely love being a tribute Rosie! I have the chance to show the strength of these fantastic ladies who did their part in the home front, building bombers, driving buses and taxis, working in banks and offices." Basically doing things that were not considered lady like, as she put it. But it was because it was their duty to their country that these 1940s women stepped out of the confinement set up for them by previous generations.
And she is proud to represent those women that did step out. "I strive for authenticity so my jumpsuit is based off of a WWII air raid suit, which was used protect clothing during air raids."
And she proudly exclaims, "I was even told that my jumpsuit looked like the jumpsuit an original Rosie wore when she worked on the line!"
(That's Beckie on the right)
If that doesn't confirm her interpretation, I couldn't tell you what would.
She also explained that, "The job of the Rosies from Yankee Museum is to inform people of who Rosie was and what she did towards the war effort and to help raise funds to save the last remaining piece of the Willow Run bomber plant, where the B-24 Bomber was built." They have a drill team, of which she is a part of, that marches in parades all over the state to help raise awareness. "We're like those briefcase guys but way better." In fact, in 2018 they were invited to march in Washington DC's National Independence Day Parade! "It was fantastic and we actually got to stop in front of the review stand to perform."
Only two sugar ration stamps left.
(This is an original ration booklet
given to her at an event)
Something else Beckie likes to do is to bring as much of the 1940s era into her present life as feasibly possible. And those of you who read this blog consistently are quite aware of that many reenactors, including this author, does the very same of our chosen period in time. But this is not an unusual practice among those of us who participate in the living history hobby. "I am trying to pull more of the 1940s style into my everyday life. I just love the look and I want to express myself in this classy style. I'm continually researching - a history background will certainly do that to you!"
However, Beckie hasn't left the Civil War behind. "I still enjoy Civil War reenacting because I get to represent a lady of the era and create a persona and outfits that complete the look," she says, "but I must admit that it's definitely nice to get out of the corset and hoopskirt. It's definitely a different experience reenacting the 1940s than the 1860s. Ladies had a very limited existence during the Civil War, although there were some standouts who did their part or disguised themselves to fight. Women in the 1940s still were supposed to be housewives but WWII recognized that women could play an important part and, at times, did an even better job then men did."
There were rumors that Civil War reenacting was losing ground, that people were leaving the hobby.  But then I came to realize that they weren't leaving reenacting...they were only expanding on their love - their passion - for history. As Beckie puts it, "I honestly love portraying a part of history, and the chance to do so is great. I think it makes me feel the part and it makes everyone else around me enjoy the event more."
And she hopes to meet more original Rosies, "while they are still with us," and through their own personal stories, perfect not only her look, but her persona as well, for she wants to be "as accurate as possible."
Rosie...the riveter!
Everyone stops to admire the scene, Rosie at work on the B-Nineteen
She’s never twittery, nervous or jittery
Rosie the Riveter
What if she’s smeared full of oil and grease, doing her bit for the old Lendlease
She keeps the gang around - they love to hang around
Rosie the Riveter

This is the type of fortitude we should all have when we don period clothing.

Now we'll head over to the 1940s time-travel experiences of Jillian:
Not necessarily a WWII event, it is still a scene directly out of the 1940s~
This photo was one that I set up at Motor Muster inside Greenfield Village, and it seems to show the young Jillian, perhaps as a teenager, admiring her sisters and brother for their part in the War effort.
Jillian began reenacting WWII in 2017 with her first event taking place in Chesterfield Township (Mi). When I asked her what drew her to the 1940s, she replied with, "WWII is appealing to me because it is another important piece of history. Since we have people from that generation still living, it is tangible history, and we have a responsibility to help preserve their stories as much as we can."
Home on leave...
She went on to tell me that through WWII reenacting, there was more access for women to reenact their part in the war. And she felt the need to show that little-known piece of the past. After co-founding the reenacting group, W.A.S.P. Re-enacted (W.A.S.P. stands for Women’s Airforce Service Pilots), the ladies involved can now tell the story of 1,074+ women who were not recognized as a military unit, even though they were private pilots trained the same as the Army pilots (but were not trained in combat or battle flight formations). As the website states:
We are a small, yet mighty, group of American female “pilot” reenactors based out of Michigan, who are dedicated to authentically representing the 1,074 WASP of the Second World War.
Jillian said, "Their duties included towing targets for ground to air gunnery practice, ferrying airplanes from assembly line to base or between bases, 'tracking and searchlight missions, simulated strafing, smoke laying and other chemical missions, radio control flying, basic instrument instruction, engineering test flying, administrative and utility flying.'”
It was by completing those duties that the WASP could then free the male pilots to participate in combat duties. According to the Director of Women’s Flying Training, Jacqueline Cochran, in her final report on the program, the WASPs “flew during operational duties nearly every type of airplane used by the AAF, from the small primary trainer to the Superfortress (B-29), including the Mustang, Thunderbolt, B-17, B-26, and C-52 … the women pilots … flew approximately 60 million miles for the Army Air Forces.”
Some of the W.A.S.P.s check out the latest issue of Life Magazine.
(In this photo we have Amanda Baughman, WASP PILOT, on the left, that's Jillian, XO, holding the magazine
 in the center, and Lacey Opdycke, CO, is pictured on the right)
Jillian proudly stated that "The W.A.S.P.s were incredible women who were not recognized for their efforts until the 1970s. It is our responsibility to help keep their story alive."
And Jillian really enjoys her role in remembering WWII, for it has "more opportunities for women to play a different type of role."
This photo captures the three main ladies of W.A.S.P. who
participated in the reenactment
of D-DAY, which took place in 2017 in Conneaut, Ohio.
When I asked her in which era of the reenacting hobby does her loyalties lie, she responded with, "I think I have an interest in both. It’s really important to me to tell the true history of both the Civil War and WWII."
During her research of Daughters of the Regiments (Civil War), she learned of the many women who were out on the battlefields, including Franklin Thompson, a woman who dressed as a man during and for a few years after the war. Thompson published a best selling book based on her experiences. As Jillian told me, "Women who did dress as men on the battlefields didn't always keep records, for they were sometimes discovered by their handwriting. I find myself learning a lot about both time periods equally."
Jillian is grateful, however, to the men in Civil War reenacting that are supportive of her own role as a Daughter of the Regiment and is glad she could help bring the truth of women who truly were on the battlefield into Civil War reenacting.
Another photo of Jillian taken on the porch of the Wright Brothers Home inside Greenfield Village.
A snapshot right out of the past.
Like Beckie, Jillian is also has a passion for the past and researches deep to find the little-known stories of people that deserve to be remembered and told.

Now this is the Beckie and Jillian I know!
Welcome back to the 1860s ladies!
I want to thank both Beckie and Jillian for kindly answering my questions about their ventures into WWII. I am proud to call each my friend, whether at a reenactment or when we visit or just talk on the phone. And I know a few others who have gone forward in time to the 1940s, including men, and though it may not be "my time," I am still grateful that they are showing another important period in our Nation's history...and the world's history.
As for me, like I said I have no interest in portraying the 1940s myself, for it was my parents era (my father was a WWII veteran, stationed in Okinawa), and to replicate their lives, for me, would be, simply put, weird. I grew up hearing their stories first-hand, and as interesting as they were, I have no want to reenact that time; I prefer the pre-electric eras - those days before the electric light, before the automobile, before telephones and phonographs, before movies and radio...
As for these two lovely ladies you see on the left, here, they continue on in the 1860s as well. And, who knows? Maybe I can entice them to join me in the 1770s one day.
And thank you both for allowing me usage of your photos!


Before We Leave Dept:
Kudos to a few other friends of mine who also enjoy spending time in the both the 1940s as well as the 1860s:
Jennifer is another friend who found a
passion for WWII fashion and history.
 I'll never forget when she called me up after her first reenactment, all on fire with excitement about how she found her place in time. I could hear the passion in her, much like it is with me and colonial, and I hope she will be able to follow that passion as far as it can take her.
You go for it, my friend!
Here is Jennifer with Larissa, both of whom took part
in a Rosie the Riveter gathering. In fact, they broke the
record for the most Rosie's gathered in one place:
(From the Guinness Book of World Records): The largest gathering of people dressed as Rosie the Riveter is 3,734, and was achieved by the Yankee Air Museum (USA) at the EMU Convocation Center in Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA, on 14 October 2017.
The Yankee Air Museum attempted to reclaim their previous record from 2014. They even had some "original" Rosies present who actually worked in the factories in WWII. The oldest Rosie present was 101 years old.

Meg is yet another friend who has found herself immersed in the 1940s.
 Like Beckie & Jillian, both Jennifer and Meg also enjoy the Civil War era as well but have a strong interest in the WWII period, nearly all for the same reason. (I hope they don't mind me stealing their photos from their Facebook pages!)
I have not been to a full-blown WWII event, though I hope to sometime soon.
I think it would be very cool to see the era of my parents come to life.

Until next time, see you in time.


~To learn more about the music of the era of the WWII generation, click HERE
~To check out the Band of Brothers & The Pacific Box Set, click HERE
~For information about the group, W.A.S.P. Re-enacted, click HERE






















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