Monday, July 11, 2016

Celebrating Independence Day at Greenfield Village 2016

I'm ready for my journey.
Come along with me!
I have been celebrating Independence Day by visiting historic Greenfield Village now for seven years straight. And, per my usual routine, I enhance my patriotic experience by wearing appropriate period attire, and oftentimes a few living historian friends - sometimes more than a few - will join me in this time-travel adventure.
This year was no different.
In fact, the five of us that attended were like a hundred year time-line...well...90 years, from 1776 to the 1860s: three of us were from the Revolutionary War period (yes, I had my 1770s clothing on), and two in our party were of the Civil War era.
I don't know...there is something special about visiting a historic place while dressed in clothing of another era, especially on such a great American holiday as Independence Day. The spirit (or should I say "spirits") of the past just seems to engulf you. At least it does me, especially considering the fact that only a few days earlier I returned from Colonial Williamsburg: The Revolutionary City!
Talk about American historical immsersion!
So...needless to say, I had camera in hand - or in someone else's hand if I'm in the shot - to document our partaking in the 240th birthday celebration of the uniting of our colonies, and many of the best pictures are here in this blog post.
Hope you like 'em!
A tale of two time periods
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Like any time-travel journey, one must go through a time-tunnel to enter the past.
You may exit in the 1770s, or... may come out in the 1860s...

I happened to find myself in the 1770s - - - -1776, to be exact!
We spent the first part of our visit in the colonial section of the Village where the majority of homes were built in the pre-19th century.
I hung the 1776 Betsy Ross flag out the window of the 18th century Daggett Farm House for a quick couple of patriot pictures. (no worries, GFV management, there were no visitors around)

Everyone, please say "good day" to Rae!
This was her first time ever as a colonial...a sort of 'coming out,' you might say. And what a place to have a photo taken - inside the Daggett house!

Meg is a former presenter at Greenfield Village. She still works there, only now she drives Model T automobiles. But when she returns while in her 18th century clothing, she likes to play with kids toys while inside the Daggett home.

Ah, but on this Day of Independence, the weather was becoming steamy, so I felt it best to step outside.
The herbal and kitchen garden were directly behind the house, planted in raised beds.

I am not a botanist so I cannot tell you what type of plants these are that Rae is admiring, but I'm sure someone reading this will be able to help out here.

Hahaha! This is one of my favorite pictures of the day: Meg was admiring the plants when a bug popped out at her. She reacted just as I shot the picture. The result? She went airborne!

Next we moved over to the Cotswold Cottage, originally built in England in 1620.

Henry Ford brought this stone cottage over from the Cotswold region of England back in the 1930s to remind those of European descent of our roots.
Yes, I know not everyone is descended from the English - or even from Europe - but since England is who we won our Independence from that was the country of choice.

Cotswold Cottage also has a magnificent garden of varying plants of which I do not know the names, but do have such beauty to add to the picturesque look and feel of this stone cottage.

Wait---what's this?
I see a person who is dressed quite differently from the young colonial ladies I've been walking with...'s Beth---Beth Beley!
Beth is from the 1860s. Hmmm...there seems to be a quirk in the system...she must have accidentally stepped out of the tunnel right into the 1770s instead of the 1860s!

'twas no accident! She heard we were in the 1770s and wanted to visit with us!
Great seeing you Beth!
The house you see directly behind us is the Plympton House, built in the early 1700s. The single room inside is plexi-glassed off so photos generally do not take well inside. But that does not mean we still cannot go and see the furnishings!
So, off we went, including Kevin, a very good friend of Beth, to see the inside of the Plympton House.
~Photo taken by Loretta Tester~

The Plymptons were not home, so it was onto the next colonial location - - -

The Giddings Home:
The Giddings House, built in the 1750s, is a very good example of an 18th century "city home." It is a wonderful compliment to the Daggett Farm, which shows rural life from the same period.
"Ladies, I have something to show you!"
"Since we are against the Crown in this house, I thought it right to have a symbol of our patriotism. Thirteen stars and thirteen stripes representing our thirteen united colonies."
You all already know I love dressing up and replicating the past. But it's on Independence Day that I especially enjoy wearing my 1770s clothing. Unfortunately, Greenfield Village does little to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Yes, I know about the Detroit Symphony Orchestra performance in the evenings along with the fireworks, but that is a separate event from visiting the Village - and one has to pay extra to go to it. Plus, a Star Trek Medley, as good as it may be, is hardly patriotic.
And, yes, it's also true they do have the Daggett House from 1750 active with daily colonial activities, which is wonderful.
But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why they don't do a little extra special 4th of July colonial celebration during the regular daytime hours. I mean, they have an 18th century house collection in one area; a perfect solution would be to open up the 1750s Giddings House for the day - July 4th - and have historically-dressed presenters doing something period-patriotic while dressed in the finer "city" clothing of the period, and maybe speaking a little on that special year of 1776, including what occurred on the homefront during those tumultuous times of the Revolutionary War and of the uncertainty of "independence." I mean, after all, we are at the cusp of the 250th anniversary of the 13 colonies becoming the 13 United States, for goodness sake; the imposition and repealing of the Stamp Act happened 250 years ago, and we are inching up to the sestercentennial of the Townsend Acts, the Bloody Massacre in Boston, the Boston Tea Party, the 'shot heard 'round the world,' and, of course, to the Revolutionary War itself, which includes the writing and signing of the Declaration of Independence. I would hate to think the powers-that-be of Greenfield Village would let such an opportunity slide through their fingertips, especially considering how wildly popular the Bicentennial was 40 years ago.
It also helps that TV shows such as HBO's John Adams, AMC's Turn, and Bill O'Reilly's Legends & Lies: The Patriots, are very popular, as is the Hamilton play.
Celebrating Anmerica's birth is back in vogue!
By the way, kudos to those in the homes of Ford and Firestone who show some excellent Independence Day patriotism for the visiting public. 
~(For those who think I am attacking Greenfield Village, please re-read what I wrote. I am questioning and suggesting, not attacking)~

I actually garnered a small group of interested spectators - - totally off the cuff - - when a young family questioned my appearance:
While at the Giddings home, a couple of young ones with their families came up to me and, out of the blue, asked if I was George Washington.
I replied that, though I was honored at the confusion, I was not George Washington. I was, instead, Paul Revere.
I was then asked, "Who is Paul Revere?"
The mom was as shocked as I that her children did not know the story of Paul Revere's ride.
So I proceeded to tell them the "Reader's Digest" version of my nighttime excursion that took place in April of 1775, of the battle that followed, and how that was the beginning of the Revolutionary War which, by the end in 1783, concluded with us becoming a free and independent nation called the United States.
The parents were very pleased with our little interaction and commented on how they would like to see more of this sort of history presented.
It was an honor.
I loved the fact that my two colonial lady friends were standing with me to help to give an overall feel to my little presentation.
~(Many, many thanks to Kevin Amos, of B&K Photography, for having the intuition to capture this spur-of-the-moment historical happening)~
Here's to hoping I may have inspired future historians!

Meanwhile, inside the Giddings Home... 
...the ladies moved above stairs to the bed chambers - -

All rooms except the stairs and balcony were plexi-glassed off, so there really wasn't very much we could do for photo opps.

So it was off to other areas and eras of American History to visit - - - - the Burbank House, built around the year 1800.
I caught our two young lady friends peeking into the windows of a home not of their own. Obviously, they have not gone to Miss Manderly's etiquette classes for girls.

"This is not the proper way for ladies of your stature to act!
What, may I ask, are you doing?"

"It looks so nice from the outside, we just had to see how wonderful it was on the inside!"

After a reprimanding, I reminded them that in this world of long ago they were in my care, and this sort of thing shan't happen.
"We're sorry!"
"Okay...let this not happen again!"

As we moved up the road, Kevin found the perfect house for himself...and his girl:
This cabin once belonged to the McGuffey family. In fact, William McGuffey, of the McGuffey Reader school book fame, was born in this cabin around the year 1800.
It was not long before we found ourselves at the Eagle Tavern, built around 1831.
Even though this tavern was built 60 years or so after the Revolutionary War period, the style is very reminiscent of the era of our Founding Fathers and Mothers:
After visiting the excellent taverns (or 'ordinaries') in Colonial Williamsburg, I was happy to find the Eagle Tavern could easily pass for 18th or 19th century, as you can see by this "quick sketch."

"Gimmee a chocolate drink...and make it hot!"
Hot chocolate was a very popular drink in the 18th century, so this would not have been an unusual request.
Yeah...I'm not a drinker of liquor or alcohol, but I do like the look and feel of a historic drinking establishment. 
And I do like hot chocolate.

Here are the group of time-travelers at one sitting. 
The fare at the Eagle Tavern is not only seasonally and historically accurate, but exceptional to the palate.

I sort of made a little Independence Day vignette of the candle & glass, my cocked (tricorn) hat, and the Betsy Ross flag.

After our fine meal at the tavern, we found ourselves travelling further into the future.
Here, in the yard of the home of Henry Ford's birthplace - built around 1860 - we find an Independence Day celebration in the year 1876 - the centennial of the birth of our nation.
The two wonderful presenters were having an outdoor picnic (mmmm...chicken...) to celebrate and had decorated the tree with red, white, and blue ribbons.
I thought it fun to capture an image of those of us who were there to witness the 1st celebration of our Independence and of our descendants of one hundred years hence.
1776 meets 1876 for the Centennial Celebration of Independence Day.
~That is an original stitching from the centennial celebration I inserted into the photograph~

And, just outside the front gate of the home (where we can see the patriotic-looking flowers)...
19th century Americana!

But we still weren't done with our journey into the past.
We had one more stop to make - - the Firestone Farm from 1883:
The Firestones decked their home very patriotically with flags and buntings. And to add to the celebration, ice cream was being made!
Of course, all the ingredients for the delicious treat came from this farm: the eggs from their chickens, milk from their cows, and raspberries from their own bushes. Truly homemade ice cream!

And was it good! I know it was good for the simple fact that I own a hand-cranked ice cream maker and have made my own homemade ice cream. 
It's good!
And making this delicious treat was a 4th of July tradition on many farms across the land in the 19th century.

At the Firestone Farm, it's another tradition to take a carriage ride throughout Greenfield Village on this patriotic holiday.
But poor Jill missed her chance - the buckboard left without her.
Don't feel sad, will be back soon to pick you up so you, too, can enjoy this outing!
In the meantime...
"Stop that pouting and come up here with me!"
"Whatever for?" 
"We're gonna throw stuff out the window!"
"Oh boy! I will certainly be right up!"

Larissa and Jill made little 'festivities' to throw from an upper window to help celebrate the holiday.

Jill tossed her's first...

It worked! It came floating gently down to the ground!

Next came Larissa's turn - - - unfortunately, it didn't do quite so well...but the girls had fun with their little celebration!
American Girls!

Now for the Village ride!
I'm not going to lie - - this is something I would love to be able to do. Alas, that will never happen, but I do enjoy watching my presenter friends enjoy this fun adventure - - !
Wait---is that ankle I see?

A "family" photo
if you look close, this is what you'll see:

And off they go, to travel around Greenfield Village and wish all the good people, both worker and visitor, a Happy Independence Day!

Celebrating the 4th of July in the past - I love it!
So, there you have it - our day spent in the past celebrating the 4th of July at Greenfield Village. I would like to thank my friends Beth & Kevin, Meg, and Rae for joining me this year. We had such fun together!
And to all of my presenter friends who work at Greenfield Village, thank you for putting up with us (and once in a while, our shenanigans!), for you know we do this with the strong spirit and best intentions to help spread our passion for the past.
And to anyone who has a historic village near where you live, whether large or small, please take the opportunity to support it by visiting it and visiting often. Volunteer your time to help out. Donate whatever funds you can spare. And this goes for the larger, more well-known open-air museums as well, for they have had their funding cut and need our help.

By the way, thank you Beth & Kevin for allowing me usage of a few of your photos (bottom left corner has their watermark to show which photos belong to them).
And to you, Loretta, for the picture I stole from Facebook!

Here is a listing of postings that might be of interest to those who enjoyed this post:
The Glorious Fourth
Celebrating Independence Day in a Colonial Way
In the Good Old Colony Days
With Liberty & Justice for All
Paul Revere

And finally....I'm back to the future - - now it's time for my clothesline to look colonial while my 1770s attire airs out.

By the way, I like what Mike Rowe (from "Dirty Jobs") said about this most favored holiday (I am paraphrasing here):
We say Happy Thanksgiving - not Happy November 26 (or whatever day it falls on).
We say Merry Christmas - not Merry December 25.
So, let's say Happy Independence Day rather than Happy 4th of July.
I know I will.

Until next time, see you in time.


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