she picked up at my 'post office.'
I received an e-mail from my sister, as well as from a friend, of an interesting article from the CNN News Site about living historians and how far some folks take their living history.
It's a fascinating piece, and I must admit, I can see myself along side the folks mentioned, although we don't actually live the Victorian lifestyle like some may do. My wife Patty and I, more or less, incorporate many aspects of the mid-19th century into our daily lives. And that incorporation grows yearly. I greatly admire those who have the opportunity to immerse themselves into their chosen era.
Anyhow, as much as I enjoyed the article, it's the comments (254 of them!) the readers made afterward that grabbed my attention.
I shall present here a few of my "favorite" comments ahead of the actual article itself:
We live on the same street as one of these evil time warpians. My children are not allowed to to play with their kids.
I think these people are insane. They are probably worthless mongrels who have absolutely nothing to offer society and need an escape from their pointless existences. The only positive thing about "timewarping" to escape reality is that they chose this absurd escape instead of choosing illicit drug use.
"Good manners" and "respect for women"?? I think this was the era when women couldn't vote, own property, get educated, have jobs, etc. Not to mention the brutal oppression of native populations, like what the British did in India. Not to mention child labor and sexual abuse were considered normal parts of life.
I used to belong to a Civil War reenactment group, and that was great fun. I wore hoop skirts and ballgowns, and dated guys who actually had 1860s codes of chivalry (whenever a lady walked by a group of reenactors hanging out, they all stood.) And these men knew how to dance! Not the Krump, I mean real 19th century contra dancing. Happy days...and yes, we were all well aware of how awful the Civil War was. That was another bonus, I could talk about history with guys who weren't intimidated by an intelligent woman. I highly recommend it to anyone fascinated by history. Most American cities have at least one reenacting unit, and the larger ones have several, both Union and Confederate.
These folks are totally incapable of dealing with reality...that's why the escapism! Losers would be a very accurate term to describe them. Wonder if they would have liked the decreased life span that existed back then when people died from diseases that are now curable.
Losers! You can always enjoy what you have right now and live a normal happy quality life. But to escape yourself into the past is only for losers. Don't be fool with Victorian era, there were no personal freedom, racist-arrogant white, sexist, no filtered-clean water, no real doctors, no education for most people, no human connection if you don't live in one of the few cities, and so so much more. So only losers would dress up like that.
Lady Gaga dressed as a sno-ball is accepted nowadays. Which ones are the freaks?
Why are we trying to normalize these outcasts? These bizarre social rejects can't fit into our current society so they've created their own little fantasy world. How sad that they can't find a hobby or activity in our own world.
Its sad how some readers view this reenactment as gay, not living in reality, a bunch of losers etc. These reenactors are just having fun. Is it possible that those of you being so negative lead routine lives but your condescension makes you feel like you are better than these people? Which of course your not.
And this is only a few of the worst comments. There are actually many more that are actually in favor of the harmless practice of what they call "time-warpians." (Two of which are also listed above).
And now, here is the article:
Living in a time warp
(CNN) -- Social networking may be one of the biggest phenomenons of the 21st century, but for some denizens of the Web, it's a way to get in touch with the past.
Web sites like livinghistoryworldwide.com (with a membership of more than 5,700) and groups on Facebook allow people who enjoy past eras to connect with each other. But it goes beyond that: Some of them dress and live like they would decades, if not centuries, ago.
Step into Estelle Barada's living room in Providence, Rhode Island, and you might feel like you've traveled back to the 1890s.
Barada, a hotel caterer, sees it as an escape from her stressful job.
"I was the middle child and kind of like the dreamer, and for some strange reason I always dreamed of living not in America, but England," she explained. "I imagined having tea with the queen and touring the castle and that was my dream as a little girl."
Today, "Lady Estelle," as she likes to be called, lives out that dream by hosting tea parties for her friends while dressed in Victorian clothing, completely in character.
When going out, she's dressed in a more understated fashion, but still completely consistent with the late 1800s, with a long skirt and hat. "I always wear hats and when I go shopping, I get the attention of the older women, who say, I love the way you look," she said.
"Eighteen-seventy-four should have been my birth date ... instead of 1974," said Raychyl Whyte of Hamilton, Ontario. Her fascination with the Victorian era began in childhood, coinciding with a pop cultural revival of Victorian themes in the 1970s.
Whyte and her "Victorian gentleman" began restoration on a circa-1898 house in 2008. Now they host 1800s-themed events there, where dress from the time period is always encouraged. They use Meetup.com to organize these events as part of the Hamilton Victorian & Steampunk Society.
Why would one live this lifestyle? For many of these iReporters, it's a reaction to modern society just as much as a love of the fashion and style of days gone by.
"I suppose others might call me an eccentric, but I just live the life I want to live and don't care about what others say or think about me," said Ray Frensham, a "Living Victorian," from London, England. "Even though I've felt increasingly disconnected from the modern world for many years now, I'm not retreating into some past nether-world seeking a kind of comfort-blanket."
Modern society in the United Kingdom can be "remarkably cruel and unforgiving," Frensham said. "There is certainly no sense of any kind of community anymore," he said. "People are purely self-centered, only in it for what they can get out of themselves." He points to the recent MP expenses scandal there, which led to the resignation of British House of Commons Speaker Michael Martin, as an example.
At the same time, something just feels right to Frensham when he wears a suit and bow tie, or more recently, an ascot. "It just creates a mind set that you're ready to face the day," he said.
Frensham is also the coordinator of the London Victorian Strollers, who take walks around the city while decked out in Victorian garb, and says that the reaction from passersby, especially tourists, is extremely positive. "It's quite extraordinary, people just love it."
Social networking certainly plays a large role, but Frensham also believes that groups like the Victorian Strollers (with its 125 members on Facebook) are emerging more and more lately. "I think it's just a lot of people saying 'I don't like what I see anymore, so let's create our own reality.' "
Carmen Johnson of Orlando, Florida, certainly sees that as being the case. She runs one of several social networking sites that bring together retro lifestyle enthusiasts of all stripes. "The first thing I ask [members of the Web site] is what they would like to bring from the past. Many of them say they would like to see the return of good manners and morals," she said. "They like the values of respect for women, respect for others. Now with the society we live in, anything goes."
Johnson, like Frensham, can trace at least some of what influences her to Hollywood. Growing up in the 1970s and '80s, she was a big fan of "Grease," Elvis Presley and "I Love Lucy," but "Back to the Future" captured her imagination. "Just thinking about traveling in time to whatever year that I always dreamed about was fascinating to me!" she said. Needless to say, the 1950s are her favorite era. This translated into her pursuit of art, which she described as both modern and retro.
When her love of this time translated into reality upon viewing a documentary about "time warp wives," she was inspired to start the blog Timewarpwives.com, eager for the opportunity to interview women who live their lives as "traditional 1950s housewives."
Now, those with casual interest as well as those who live their lives in a past era, what Johnson calls "timewarpians," interact on her site, Timewarpliving.com, which boasts more than 250 members. "When people come to this site, they see that they're not alone," she said.
Johnson considers "Lady Estelle" Barada to be a great example of a "timewarpian." Barada hopes to pass on the manners, if not necessarily the fashion, of the era to the next generation by hosting parties with young girls and teaching them about etiquette.
As for her own granddaughters, she said they love paying a visit. "They ask their mother if they can wear a pretty dress and go to grandmother's house."------------------------------------------
My wife and I along with some very good friends of ours many times have stopped off at a restaurant after a reenactment while in our period garb. I can say with complete honesty that we have yet to meet anyone who treated us as if we were freaks. In fact, it has always been quite the opposite, some even taking pictures of us.
And we do enjoy milling about the modern world looking like specters from the past!
As for some living historians living their reenacting era while not at a reenactment, well, it's a choice right? What harm is there for anyone to live in a way that makes them happy? Besides, it truly is a great release from the rigors of our modern daily life, one that can include entire families. I cannot think of a better way to spend your time. As I said, I know a number of people who have incorporated the past into their present-day lives. And these are some of the finest people I know because of the meshing of the two eras.
God Bless 'em!
(By the way, Lady Estelle, mentioned in the above article, is one of my blog followers. You might enjoy reading her blog as well!)