Monday, June 27, 2022

Daily Life on the Homefront in America During WWII

Some interesting enactments and reenactments have been occurring lately,  from The Battle of Lexington & Concord at Mill Race Village to 1772 spring planting at Waterloo Cabin to the Voyageurs at Port Sanilac to a timeline at Chesterfield and even to a Blacksmith and Civil War weekend  (which I plan to write about later in July).  The one I will write about this week took place over Father's Day Weekend and wasn't really a reenactment per se,  but,  instead,  kind of more like living history based around automobiles and their eras.  As Greenfield Village worded it on their web page:
Kick summer into high gear this Father’s Day weekend in Greenfield Village.  Motor Muster,  one of the country’s most exciting historic vehicle shows,  transports you to the golden eras of car culture all weekend long.  
Hundreds of car owners show off the talent that goes into preserving and restoring these living connections to the past,  and experts share the history and insights at pass-in-review parades.  Every automobile,  from luxury vehicles to gritty muscle cars,  has been carefully chosen to guide you through a unique story of American drive.
Cruise through a diverse collection of vehicles,  and enjoy rare opportunities to step inside immersive vignettes from five of the American auto industry’s most formative decades.  From the lean Depression-era ’30s and the American home front during World War II to the futuristic ’50s,  revolutionary ’60s and bicentennial ’70s,  get a unique perspective on American culture through the lens of what we drove.
Now I will have a few car photos here,  but I concentrated more on the vignettes,  particularly the one depicting WWII.
In fact,  there is a story to be told here:
Mother and one of her daughters - the middle child - sat in their living room, 
knitting socks and other items for the soldiers fighting overseas. 
War news from the front comes on the radio.  We also see a photograph of
President Roosevelt framed on the shelf underneath.
As part of the war effort,  the government rationed foods like sugar,  butter,  milk,  cheese,  eggs,  coffee,  meat and canned goods.  Labor and transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market.  So,  the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant  "Victory Gardens."  They wanted individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables.
While outside we have older sister,  Gigi,  working on her Victory Garden.
 Magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post and Life printed stories about victory gardens,  and women's magazines gave instructions on how to grow and preserve garden produce.  Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. 
You have to love her patriotic  "Keep Out"  sign.
In 1943,  families bought 315,000 pressure cookers  (used in the process of canning),  compared to 66,000 in 1942.  The government and businesses urged people to make gardening a family and community effort.
It sure does look like Gigi is doing a fine job
with her Victory Garden!
Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call.  They planted gardens in backyards,  empty lots and even city rooftops.  Neighbors pooled their resources,  planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives,  all in the name of patriotism.
Yes,  Gigi is proud to do her part!
The result of victory gardening?  The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted.  Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons,  an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.  So,  the program made a difference.
When World War II ended,  so did the government promotion of victory gardens.  Many people did not plant a garden in the spring of 1946,  but agriculture had not yet geared up to full production for grocery stores,  so the country experienced some food shortages.

Then there's the youngest daughter.
Oh,  not a teenager,  mind you,  but,  rather,  a young adult.
Aside from getting married,  young folks in their 20s in the 1940s were doing all kinds of new-fangled things like hanging out and developing their own culture of music,  dance,  fashion,  and cars.  The youth culture would evolve into the carefree rock and roll society of the 1950s.
"Oh,  Mother!  I am so tired of the news!
I would like to hear music - something happy!"

"Well,  music's alright as long as it isn't that swing stuff!"
"Oooo!  Benny Goodman!"  

"You really should be helping out with the War effort like your sisters instead of wasting your time reading magazines."

Mother,  I am not wasting my time!  Life Magazine has some wonderful articles
about all sorts of important things!"
"You put that magazine down,  turn off the radio,  go on and help
the girls sell war bonds. They're right near our house."

Jillian did some 1940s style posing for me.

The porch of the Wright Brothers House is perfect,  for houses such as this were not
at all uncommon in the 1940s.  This house was built in 1871,  and if this photo was
taken in,  say,  1941,  for example,  the house would only be around 70 years old. 
Heck!  The home I live in is pushing 80!

It is obvious when a reenactor takes the hobby seriously,  which Jill does.
She is lucky in that many people of the WWII era are still around and the
 opportunities to learn first-hand are still available.
But she goes beyond simply being a female of the 1940s: 
Jill and the other ladies who reenact this period with her have taken their living history to another level:  they play baseball.
~One of my favorite poses~
Jill belongs to the South Bend Blue Sox Living History
baseball Team.  Yes,  she plays WWII women's baseball 
(think:  "A League of Their Own").
In 1943,  with so many men off fighting overseas,  Philip K.  Wrigley founded the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.  To find players for a women’s league,  Wrigley sent scouts out across the United States,  Canada and Cuba.  A total of 60 women made the cut for the first 1943 season,  and were divided among four teams:  the South Bend Blue Sox,  based in Indiana;  the Rockford Peaches,  based in Illinois;  and the Kenosha Comets and the Racine Belles,  both based in Wisconsin.  Over 600 women played in the league,  which eventually consisted of 10 teams located in the American Midwest. The league actually continued after our boys were brought home once they won the War:  in 1948,  league attendance peaked at over 900,000 spectators!
"Oh,  bother!  Maybe I will  take a walk and see if any friends are about."

Here are a few of the cars Jill would have seen as she moved along the street.
Without the sign to remind her the year of the cars,  of course!

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of Jillian in her baseball uniform. 
I hope to make it to one of their games,  should any be played in the metro-Detroit area.
Either way,  Jillian does a wonderful job portraying one from the early 1940s.
A snapshot in time~

The last time the United States issued war bonds was during World War II,  when full employment collided with rationing,  and war bonds were seen as a way to remove money from circulation as well as reduce inflation.  Issued by the U.S. Government,  they were first called Defense Bonds.  The name was changed to War Bonds after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor,  December 7,  1941.
The war bonds sold in the US helped the government raise about $185 billion.  Bonds were bought by over 84 million Americans.
Though patriotism reigned during this time,  propaganda from war bond drives—colorful,  insistent,  and maybe even a little guilt-inducing—played a big part in our visual sense of the history of the home front.
There was no guilt here - these ladies did a fine job representing those from
the early 1940s.

"There's my sister,  always working in her Victory Garden!"

On January 10,  1942,  only one month following the devastating attacks on Pearl Harbor,  the United States launched one of its most important and also most memorable domestic initiatives of the entire war:  the  “Salvage For Victory”  campaign.  The campaign asked that all Americans do their part in supporting the new war effort by collecting,  saving,  conserving,  and recycling materials that could be repurposed for military uses.
Scrap drives were a popular way for everyone to contribute
 to the war effort.  By recycling unused or unwanted
metal for example,  the government could build ships, 
airplanes and other equipment needed to fight the war.

So,  true to history,  Greenfield Village has a
WWII scrap drive as well.

By the end of the war,  millions of tons of materials including scrap metal,  rope,  paper,  and even waste fat from stoves,  had been collected and put to use.  Nearly every county in the country had its own salvage committee or salvage board operating in mobilizing both the efforts of everyday Americans,  but also in reaffirming the message of why it was so important.
Despite not taking place on an overseas battlefield,  this marshaling the strengths of millions of Americans to  “Get In The Scrap”  should not be overlooked for its importance or its lingering evocative powers.


I love the music of WWII.
I love the cars.
I love the culture.
I loved hearing the stories of the era from my mom and dad.
But,  as much as I enjoy seeing the reenactments of this time - and the reenactors do such an amazing job at it - it's a period that I personally have little interest in doing.
As an older male,  the clothing does very little for me,  and the fact that much of my life had a strong 1940s flavor to it while growing up;  hearing the stories when friends and family would visit,  while music of the era played on the hi fi...and even seeing the popular actors and musicians on TV - - yeah,  it was my parents'  time  (my father was in the army stationed in Okinawa in 1945,   and my mother worked at a dime store in Detroit,  and loved serving the men in uniform - that's how she met my dad),  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...
But I am so glad these ladies  (and the others)  do bring this period to life,  and in a well-researched manner.  My hat is off to them.
Of course,  extra thanks to Jillian for her wonderful poses!

~   ~   ~

Until next time,  see you in time.

Information on Victory Gardens was lifted directly from THIS site
Information on Scrap came from THIS page

More on WWII women and those who portray them HERE
A WWII-leaning Motor Muster Car Show is HERE
In the Age of Big Band, Swing and Sweet...and the Culture to go with it,  HERE

~   ~   ~

Monday, June 20, 2022

Port Sanilac - Voyageurs 2022: An Easterner Visits Great Lakes Fur Traders, Missionaries, Natives, Settlers, and Explorers

Our great American history!
There is so much to teach and so much to historical reenactors,  we can only do so much.  That's why I like to help teach the kids in the classroom. Yes,  I am a paraprofessional - a teacher's aid.  But,  I do also help to teach nearly as much as any educator.  The head teacher I am with and I are almost - I said  "almost" - like co-teaching partners.  But when it comes to history,  oftentimes she will defer to me.  
You see,  we don't just teach history as is written in the history books.  We expand on what is written;  we'll take a paragraph about,  for instance,  the 1920s and,  rather than just read the few sentences about the decade,  we'll pull up silent movies for the kids to watch,  and they laugh at the comedies just as hard as those from a hundred years ago. This way they get a deeper understanding of the period - we try and make it into something the students can relate to on a more personal level.  
And when we speak of early Michigan history,  we'll teach the kids about the founding of Detroit and Mackinac,  but then we'll get into the interaction between the French inhabitants & fur traders and the local Indian tribes and of their intermingling between the two groups.  To get that information I will hit the few books available on that subject...but also visit those who study the period much deeper than I:  the Lac Ste.  Claire Habitants et Voyageurs de Detroit~
"The river that runs from lake St. Claire to Lake Erie  (or rather the Straight,  for thus might be termed from its name)  is called Detroit,  which is in French,  the Straight.  It runs nearly south,  has a gentle current,  and depth of water sufficient for ships of considerable burthen.  The town of Detroit is situated on the western banks of this river,  about nine miles below Lake St.  Claire.
Almost opposite,  on the eastern shore,  is the village of the ancient Hurons;  a tribe of Indians…
The banks of the River Detroit…are covered with settlements that extend more than twenty miles;  the country being exceedingly fruitful,  and proper for the cultivation of wheat,  Indian corn,  oats,  and peas.  It has also many spots of fine pasturage;  but as the inhabitants,  who are chiefly French that submitted to the English government after the conquest of these parts by General Amherst,  are more attentive to the Indian trade than to farming..." 
Written by Jonathan Carver in 1768:  "Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America." 
(General Amherst is credited as the  "architect"  of Britain's successful campaign to conquer the territory of New France during the Seven Years' War.  Up until 1763 - the end of the Seven Years War/French & Indian War - Michigan was part of an area known as  "New France")
~ Ste.  Claire Voyageurs - Habitants of Detroit ~
I want to recreate this painting as a living photograph.
Are you game,  my Voyageur friends?
So,  just what are Voyageurs?
Well,  the living historians known as the Lac Ste.  Claire Voyageurs do an excellent job at replicating the actual Great Lakes fur traders,  missionaries,  natives,  settlers,  and explorers that came to the Great Lakes region in the early 1600s and remained through the early part of the 19th century.
Easterner Ken visiting the Old Northwest Territory.
No,  I am not a Voyageur,  though my Voyageur friends are some fine people indeed.  Perhaps there is land available for me here,  should I choose to move
from the east coast.
And now here is a very quick piece of  settlement history of Michigan:
before the European explorers and settlers arrived in  "Meicigama"  (Ojibwa for  "large water"  or  "great water"),   there were numerous Indian tribes who called the area their home,   including the Chippewa  (Ojibwa),  Miami,  Sauk,  Wyandotte,  Ottawa,  Huron,   Potawatomi,  and a number of others who were spread out across the land.  It was in the early 1600s that the waterways - the Great Lakes - were first explored by the Europeans who came here.  And it was in 1701 when Antoine Cadillac founded Fort Detroit.
Yet,  aside from a few areas such as Detroit,  Mackinac,  Monroe,  and Sault Ste. Marie,  most east coast settlers were not finding their way to this region.
However,  a few did - - - -but you'll notice that my clothing does not necessarily match the style of the folk I am with at this reenactment - - 
The area we now call Michigan was part of Canada  (New France)  from 1668 to 1763.  When New France was defeated in the French and Indian War,  it ceded the region to Britain in 1763.  After the British defeat in the American Revolutionary War,  the Treaty of Paris  (1783)  expanded the United States'  boundaries to include nearly all land east of the Mississippi River and south of Canada.  Michigan was then part of the  "Old Northwest,"   and from 1787 to 1800,  it was part of the Northwest Territory.
The building in the top and bottom picture was built in 1789 by Utreau Navarre  (in Monroe / Frenchtown,  just south of Detroit)  and is the oldest wooden structure still standing in Michigan,  according to its historical marker.  It is the most complete example of French-Canadian piece-sur-piece construction in the Old Northwest.
A few of us did a sort of  trade scenario in an actual trading post from the period.  
I have fur,  musketry,  candles,  and rum to offer for sale or trade.
The rum certainly got their attention!
The Trading Post complex was established to represent a French pioneer 
homestead along the old River Raisin.
The men I am with in the above three photos are not necessarily Voyageurs.  I just felt the photos fit today's blog post theme.

The original Voyageurs befriended,  learned from and intermarried with the local Indians who were already here when they arrived.  In our general area of Michigan,  they built earthen huts and farmed  "strip farms,"  which were long pieces of land beginning at the narrow end near the lake and extended inland for about a half mile with a width of about 500 feet.  In this way they were able to take full advantage of the natural waterways of the Detroit and St.  Clair Rivers as well as Lake St.  Clair itself.
The Voyageurs were also known for buying,  selling and trading animal fur and pelts.
Dale and Tim.
Reenacting with the Voyageurs is a wonderful experience,  for their history is a sort of timeline on its own;  as I mentioned,  they go back to the 1600s up through the mid-1800s - a good 200 years.  With so many doing a variety of different period crafts,  the visitors really get  "their money's worth."  It's great to be able to step up to any camp site and see & learn something new,  as these great living historians teach about their lives as fur-traders and trappers.
And so I found myself intermingling with this group of Voyageurs in the Lake Huron village of Port Sanilac,  about 30 miles or so north of  Port Huron.  
Remember when I mentioned about studying and researching the deeper history?
Well,  when you find the right books,  such as  "Travels Through the Interior Parts of North America"  by Jonathan Carver  I mentioned a bit earlier,  it's not hard to imagine what real life was like and what the general area looked like during the time the Voyageurs are emulating:
"In June 1768 I left Michillimackinac,  and returned in the Gladwyn Schooner,  a vessel of about eighty tons burthen  (archaic for  “burden”),  over Lake Huron to Lake St. Claire,  where we left the ship,  and proceeded in boats to Detroit.
The fish in Lake Huron are much the same as those in Lake Superior.  Some of the land on its banks is very fertile,  and proper for cultivation,  but in other parts it is sandy and barren.  On its banks are found an amazing quantity of the sand cherries,  and in the adjacent country are the same fruits as those that grow about the other lakes.
A great number of the Chipeway Indians live scattered around this lake,  particularly near  Saganaum (Saginaw)  Bay.  On its banks are found an amazing quantity of the sand cherries,  and in the adjacent country nearly the same fruits as those that grow about the other lakes.

This year's event was a bit smaller than usual for the group,  most likely due to the very high gas prices,  but those who participated did certainly have a great time and showed the visiting public a view of the Great Lakes region's past not seen too often.
Ron has captured the historical imagination of  these kids.
Then there's me...the easterner...a colonial from Boston...who doesn't necessarily fit in with the fashions or lifestyle of the Voyageurs,  though I do fit roughly in the same time period.
Why do I portray a colonial easterner rather than the people of my home-state of Michigan area?
Although I love seeing the reenactments and hearing the history,  my personal 18th century interest lies on the east coast.  It doesn't mean I do not care for the history of my area - - - - - - I do.  But my historical heart lies elsewhere...still,  I am thankful to be welcomed by this group and I greatly enjoy coming out with them.
Father Marquette was at the event as well.
Jacques Marquette  (June 1, 1637 – May 18, 1675),  sometimes known as Père Marquette,  was a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan's first European settlement,  Sault Sainte Marie,  and later founded Saint Ignace.  In two canoes paddled by five voyageurs,  Marquette and Louis Jolliet,  an explorer born near Quebec City,  left St. Ignace,  at the head of Lake Michigan,  on May 17,  1673.  In 1673,  Marquette and Joliet were the first Europeans to explore and map the northern portion of the Mississippi River Valley.

Marko there on the right kept asking the visitors if they had rum to trade for
the furs he had hanging there.

Various crafts occurred throughout the day.
That's my favorite thing about the Voyageur reenacting group:
they always keep busy doing traditional activities.

The musical group here were pretty darn awesome and played many
wonderful period tunes ranging from the 18th through the 19th centuries.

When my friend  (and Citizens of the American Colonies member)  Jennifer showed up in the early afternoon,  she and I hung around together for a while,  talking about upcoming events and getting a few nice shots near the cabin situated there.  Yes,  there is a historic cabin amongst the buildings on the property owned by the Sanilac County Historical Village & Museum.  After the Great Fire that took place here in the  "thumb"  of Michigan in 1881,  which destroyed a good portion of the remaining timber in the area,  many stalwart residents were quick to rebuild.  Henry Patten and his sons,  James and Elias,  built this little cabin from the trees left standing on their land near the long-forgotten settlement of Banner.  Some of those trees exhibited charring from the inferno.  
The cabin was donated to the Sanilac County Historical Village & Museum in the 1970s.
Jennifer,  knowing her station,  dressed for frontier living/farming.
The cabin may have been built in the 1880s,  it looked no different from those
built over a hundred years earlier.

Though there were water pumps around in the 18th century, 
I'm not sure what they looked like.  Did they look like this?
I honestly don't know.
Still,  it is kind of a neat picture.
If you are a regular Passion for the Past reader,  you will have probably seen my series on 18th century cabin living entitled  "A Day In The Life."  In each of the excursions I've taken part in - eight,  so far - I've written a personal account of  what it was like being immersed in the 18th century while at the Waterloo Frontier Cabin,  with no outside public and no modernisms to bring one back to the present time.  For what each of us - myself,  Larissa,  Jackie,  Charlotte,  and a couple of others here and there - who took part in this living history excursion accomplished has allowed us to feel as if we became a part of the 1770s past in ways other forms of reenacting cannot replicate.
Jennifer and I. 
Jennifer has yet to come out with us to the
Waterloo Frontier Cabin,  but she hopes to one day soon.

However,  here at Port Sanilac we also portray rural colonials from the
east coast 
rather than colonists of a more French flavor like the Voyageurs.
Yeah...our clothing gives us away...
For each of our Waterloo Cabin visits I wrote a personal account of  what it was like being immersed in the 18th century,  with no outside public and no modernisms to bring one back to the present.  For what we as living historians accomplished here has allowed us to feel as if we became a part of the past in ways other forms of reenacting cannot replicate.  Of course,  each post includes loads of photos:
To read about our 2020 autumn excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 wintertime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 springtime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 summertime excursion at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2021 harvesting of the flax at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2021 autumn excursion making candles at the cabin,  click HERE
To read about our 2022 winter excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE
To read about our 2022 spring excursion at the cabin,  please click HERE

So this day spent up in Port Sanilac was a very good one.  I enjoy American history in general,  so all of this fits right into us leading up to the sestercentennial  (250th)  of our Nation's anniversary coming up in four years.   There's so much history to learn and research...and the Voyageur era is another aspect that helps complete the great American picture!
Posting about the reenactments I participate in allows me to relive the event as well as become a sort of photographic record of my time spent in the past.  That's why I usually include so many of my pictures.  And today's posting is no different,  and I even included pictures not from this event to help fill in the story a bit more.
No matter which reenactment I participate in,  I always try to make it a good one.  And the Lac Ste. Claire Voyageurs Encampment is always  a fine event indeed,  especially this year,  hearing that the big encampment,  which normally takes place during the last weekend in August,  will not be happening,  so I'm not sure when or if I will see most here again this year.
Micki has her wares with her during her travels.
Well,  at least there are plenty of reenactments on the horizon:
Blacksmiths,  Soldiers,  and Cabins  (1860s)
Celebrating a 1776 4th of July  (um...RevWar/Colonial)
Charlton Park  (Civil War)
Frankenmuth  (Revolutionary War) 
Port Sanilac  (Civil War)
Colonial Kensington  (Revolutionary War)
Armada Living History  (1860s)
Jackson  (it's back!)  (Civil War)
The 150th anniversary of the Eastpointe school house  (later 19th century)
Vermillion Creek  (Revolutionary War)
Plus two or three more Waterloo Cabin visits  (colonial period---1772)
possibly one or two events at the Selinski-Green Farm House  (1860s)
Yep,  God-willing,  I will have a fine summer spent in the past.  I plan to share my experiences right here on Passion for the Past,  so stay tuned.

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read about the adventures of explorer Jon Carver's 1760s travels through Michigan in his own words,  click HERE
To read about Detroit's early past,  please click HERE
To read more on the structures still standing from when Michigan was still a territory,  please click HERE
To read more about Michigan in the 18th century,  please click HERE
To read about Michigan's involvement in the War of 1812,  please click HERE

 ~   ~   ~

Friday, June 10, 2022

Stepping in a Time Zone: The History Alive Timeline at the Chesterfield Historical Village (and a bit on raw wool, too!)

Four weeks is just too long to go without wearing my period clothing.
May 7 was the last time I was in my knee breeches,  cocked hat,  buckled shoes,  and waistcoat,  and I went until June 4 before I was dressed that way again.  Simply too long in between.
Can't let that happen again! 


Hey---that's me---Colonial Ken,
representing the early 1770s.
"You're obsolete,  my baby,
my poor old fashioned baby...
I said,  baby,  baby,  baby,  you're out of time."
That's what I'm told,  that I'm obsolete,  out of touch,  and out of time.
Well,  I'm not exactly called  "baby" - some of you may recognize this bit of a lyric from a 1966 Rolling Stones song  (that they just happened to perform in concert for the very first time ever this year on their 60th anniversary tour).
But,  yeah,  I suppose I look sort of out of time.  However,  don't let the modern fashion police fool you - I am up on current events as much as the next guy,  and I am quite aware of all that's going on with the war in the Ukraine,  the  ridiculously high prices for food and other items,  the extreme price of gas that everyone but politicians seem to be talking about...yeah...I'm very aware.
But,  had I been strolling about the 1770 scene,  I would have blended in pretty well with the times.
So it was on the first Saturday in June when I found myself  in a swirl of various time periods,  for I was at a timeline event.  It's been about a month since I was last in period clothing,  which was during our spring planting at the frontier cabin event in early May.
Too long!
But it certainly felt good to be back.
Timelines seem to be increasing in popularity for a variety of reasons.  Some may not like them or agree with me,  but timelines are not necessarily a bad thing,  for they can give the visitor a good overview of the passing of time and the changes that have and had occurred.  In fact,  timelines are actually pretty cool, for,  in all honesty,  and,  aside from a battle,  nearly everything else can still be presented.  Yeah,  I'm pretty okay with timelines in general.
If you look under the title of my Passion for the Past header,  you will note the general description of this blog:  "A Journey Through Time With A  Living Historian."  I recently changed that from  "Thoughts and Social History for the Living Historian,"  for I believe the new description fits my blog postings much better;  as a living historian,  I am  taking a journey through time.  So when I have that time-travel opportunity,  I jump on that horse and ride - and that's exactly what I did at the timeline event in Chesterfield,  Michigan.
It wasn't a fast ride - it was more of a relaxed trot along the perimeters of time.
And I'm so glad to have you come along on the journey with me.
A journey through time - soldier and civilian~
From left:  a citizen of the American colonies from 1772. 
Next we have a representative from the Mexican War - late 1840s.
Our third time-traveler is an 1860s Civil War soldier.
And finally we have a citizen from 1917 - one of the many women who helped out
in a myriad of ways during The Great War..
At the time of the First World War,  most women were barred from voting or serving in military combat roles.  Many saw the war as an opportunity to not only serve their countries but to gain more rights and independence.  With millions of men away from home,  women filled manufacturing and agricultural positions on the home front.  Others provided support on the front lines as nurses,  doctors,  ambulance drivers,  translators and,  in rare cases,  on the battlefield.
Instead of  "Sister Susie's Sewing Shirts for Soldiers" 
(which was a World War I era song that tells about a young
girl sewing shirts for soldiers fighting abroad),  we have 
"Debbie's Baking Doughnuts for Doughboys"  (lol).
Every housewife in the U.S.  was asked to sign a pledge card stating that she would  “carry out the directions and advice of the Food Administrator in the conduct of my household,  in so far as my circumstances permit.”  This meant canning food for future use,  growing vegetables in the backyard and limiting consumption of meat,  wheat and fats.  Most of all,  women were expected to bolster the morale of their families at home and loved ones overseas.
One observer wrote that American women “do anything they were given to do;  that their hours are long;  that their task is hard;  that for them there is small hope of medals and citations and glittering homecoming parades.”

Next we have a Union representative for America's Civil War:
Some say that Civil War reenacting is dying out.
I say whoever is saying that is nuts!
Sure,  it might lay low for a while,  but it isn't going
anywhere.  We won't allow our history to be pushed
away or cast aside for anyone!

Here we have 18th century Voyageurs and Native.
The Voyageurs were of French origin,  though they did not come directly from France.  Rather,  they came from the large French settlements in Montreal and Quebec.  From the 1670's until the 1800's,  French fur traders and homesteaders started settling in the Macomb County area of Michigan,  north of what is now Detroit.  I find this very interesting since Macomb is not only the county this event is taking place in,  but it is the county in which I have lived nearly my entire life.
More folks who participate as Voyageurs  (and I see one from the
French & Indian War on the left).
The knowledge these folks have is outstanding.  It would be great to see some
young folk join up and learn the old ways to keep this history alive. 

Representing the western theater of World War Two - the same my father
fought in 1945  (Okinawa).

Mexican War - The 4th U.S.  Infantry
The Mexican–American War,  also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the Intervención estadounidense en México,  was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848.

It's when you see people bring accessories,  such as these
punch-tin lanterns,  and work on period crafts that visitors can
really see history come alive.  I must admit,  at this event I
did not bring much of anything except myself. 
Next time,  however... 

Paula has quite the collection of period toys for both kids and adults. 
She garnered a lot of  interest from passersby.  

Paula and I.
(photo taken by Richard Reaume)

A few of the ladies taking a stroll.
This Chesterfield event was lightly participated in,  compared to last year.  I hope that does not become the norm,  for there were plenty of interested spectators milling about.  Folks,  the only way we can keep this hobby going and growing is to participate,  research as much as possible  (and never stop researching),  and get younger people to join up and come out.
Speaking of interested young people,  I have another story to tell---a true story about wool.
" 'Wool,'  you say?"
I have a friend who,  along with his wife and kids,  live on a farm about an hour's drive from my house.  Jason purchased the farm,  which included their 1876 house,  a number of years ago when he wanted to leave the business world and work the land.  But he wanted to work the land in the old ways as much as he could.  He knew it would be a tough life,  and he found out rather quickly that this was true to fact.  But he keeps at it,  using modern machinery and methods as necessary,  but mostly trying to keep things in the past as much as possible.
So they have a flock of  sheep of  the breed Babydoll Southdown,  which come from England.  
Babydoll Southdown Sheep before shearing.
Members of this ancient breed are the diminutive version of the Southdown breed of sheep,  which originated in the South  "Downs"  of Sussex County,  England.  There,  they were known for their hardiness,  fine fleece,  and their tender meat.
Click HERE to learn more about Babydoll Southdown sheep~
Here is the wool after shearing.
Jason announced to me that we - my wife & I - got  "first dibs"  on the wool.
We couldn't turn it down!
So the first free day we had - only a few days later - we drove out to their farm to grab our claim.  Patty and Jason's wife skirted it before we put it into bags.  In fact,  we used 14 large trash bags!
My van loaded up with the 14 large trash bags filled with the freshly sheared wool.
I still had all that wool in my van the following day...Monday...and it was back to the classroom for me  (my van smelled like a barn on wheels---lol).
So when I mentioned to the students that I had a van filled with freshly shorn wool,  the kids were excited and interested in seeing it and seeing what it felt like.
Always a history teaching moment!
(I got approval to post these photos of the kids)
The students were very interested in the wool and how it felt.
A few made  "eewww!"  comments  (get it?  Ewe??  Oh!  I crack me up!),
but most enjoyed touching it.  And none had ever seen raw wool before.
This young man really liked the wool,  and he grabbed a bit and asked if he could take it home to show his brother and his mother.
Why,  of course he can!
(Yes,  that's me on the right)
Next up for the wool:  sorting,  followed by washing/scouring,  picking,  hand-carding  (though much will find its way to the historic carding mill in Frankenmuth),  spinning,  and then,  if she wants she can dye it  (using natural resources like tree bark and certain plant varieties...and even cochineal beetles!),  and finally she can then spin it into whatever her heart desires.
From  "sheep to shawl"  can take a year  (or more)  for a project to be completed.
Here is my wife in a photo taken a few years back,  though this photo is a posed one
taken inside the Daggett House at Greenfield Village. 
However,  she really does spin and goes through the process mentioned above, 
including knitting period-correct items that we can use at our living history events.
I hope to get her to come into my classroom maybe next school year to do a demonstration.
For me,  seeing the student's reactions to the wool in my van was pretty neat.  If there is any way I can incorporate history into our day,  I will,  and I try to do so as often as I can.
Saturday we had the historical timeline event,  Sunday we went to my friend's farm to get the wool,  and Monday my students got an off-the-cuff unplanned woolen history lesson.
What a fun three days!  Which is how history should be.
And there's more to come.
Until next time,  see you in time.

Information for the women of WWI came from THIS source.
For further information about historic textiles  (spinning,  weaving,  etc),  please click HERE  - loaded with photos,  by the way -


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