Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Motor Muster (But I have to admit, I hardly even looked at the cars)

Car shows are awesome;  I really enjoy them.  And Greenfield Village puts on a car show like nowhere else!  But,  as the title of today's post states,  I hardly even looked at the cars - and there were hundreds  of  classic autos all lining the walks and open spaces throughout Greenfield Village.
The funny thing is,  I really am a car guy;  I absolutely love old historical vehicles.  Always have. 
But the Motor Muster at Greenfield Village has so much else going on in connection with the car show that I spent most of my picture-taking-time pointing the camera in other directions!
Part of the reason is they now include the vignettes and scenarios that simply cannot be done to any large extent at the typical car lot shows.  Since Motor Muster highlights autos from the 1930s through the 1970s,  each decade gets its own vignette;  a living illustration surrounding the automobiles to put them in their time.  
For instance,  the 1930s has a wonderful old acoustic blues singer sitting on the Mattox House porch,  allowing us to hear the past as he performs  "Blues from the Lowlands."  This year,  however,  I did not see him for I was not in the area during his performances.  
Unfortunately,  the blues performer was not there at the Mattox House when we walked by,  but,  instead,  they had a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation by the great actor/presenter,  Mr.  Anthony Lucas.
(Pic taken by Emily Marchetti)
The great Mr.  Lucas always gives an amazing performance - one that grabs you and commands you to listen and learn,  all the while in an entertaining manner!  I've enjoyed his variety of performances and presentations for years,  including one on slavery called  "How I Got Over,"  a Brer Rabbit story,  his reading of  "A Visit From St.  Nicholas"  at Christmastime,  and others he's done.
1930s Emancipation Day Celebration at the Mattox House
(Pic taken by Chris Robey)

And in the back yard of the Mattox House they had a summer picnic,
all the while listening to music coming from the radio.
The family had a backyard picnic with an old radio - a kind like I've not seen before. 
This is quite an unusual radio...and it looks like it is hooked up to a car battery!

Clean up time...

For the 1940s they concentrated on America's involvement in World War Two.
For this vignette,  they call it
Summer of 1943:  A Small-Town Wartime Homefront

Meg was there selling war bonds.

I think they did a bang-up job reproducing a 1940s living room.
Here we see Linda & Makenzie.
(Pic by Mike Nattrass)

Collected items to be shipped off to the fighting men overseas!

And Gigi was there,  reading to us about the importance of the
vegetables growing in her Victory Garden!
(My own mother used to tell me about her Victory Garden when she
was a youngster during the war)

I happen to know Peter's Great Grandfather,  who fought in the Civil War
(Peter is our Civil War unit's Military Commander)

I used my 1940s camera to take a snapshot of Makenzie,  Peter,  and Gigi.
(Actually I used my digital camera,  aging the photo with a little computer help)~

For the 1950s they showed America's obsession with lawn care and yard work.
With the rise of suburbia in post-WWII America,  the perfect lawn became an
 important symbol of the American dream. 
(Pic by Mike Nattrass)
Whether a sprawling sweep of green mowed in crisp diagonal bands or a more modest swatch of grass and clover,  a lawn expressed the national ideal that,  with hard work,  sacrifice,  and perhaps a little help from Uncle Sam,  home ownership and a patch of land could be within reach for every American.

For the 1960s there was a camping vignette,  along with a teen dance set in 1964!
"Stop!  In the name of love..."~

"You know you make me want to SHOUT!"~
What a blast - - so many of the fun songs of 1964 were played,  such as I Want To Hold Your Hand,  Twist and Shout,  The Nitty Gritty,  Glad All Over,  and a host of other hits,  even including a few  "oldies"  from before that iconic Beatle year such as Why Do Fools Fall In Love and In The Still Of the Night.

The 1970s had a Bicentennial  (1976)  barbecue picnic,  which I particularly liked for,  as you probably know,  that was one of my most favorite years of my filled with American History.  And,  as you also probably know,  I collect Bicentennial items and have amassed a fair collection,  the latest of which you will see in my next Passion for the Past posting on July 4  (2023):
Roy cooked up some dogs on the grill.
From what I understand,  the grill was a recent Greenfield Village acquisition - it was found tossed out as garbage in front of a house for trash pick up when an employee with a discerning eye could see it was exactly what they needed for their  '70's vignette and snatched it up. 
And what's in your garage?

Morgan checks out a magazine - not sure which one - from July 1976 while her  "parents"  prepare the food for the Bicentennial picnic.
Yep---she could have been one of my high school classmates,  if you go by 
how she is dressed!

I even got in on the Bicentennial fun!
I never had a Bicentennial t-shirt,  so I found one on Amazon and wore it this day---
I never got to go to Greenfield Village during the actual Bicentennial. I am!
Now I'm here~!

The dance took place in the evening,  from 7 to 9,  and the Village closes right after.  But after the final song ended and people were herding toward the exit,  I turned in the opposite direction and took a quick trip to the far end because there was a certain picture I really wanted to snap.
I also snapped a few while huffing on down:
The Edison Office and the Edison Laboratory,  both exact reproductions of the originals as they once sat in Menlo Park,  New Jersey in the 1870s,  had an interesting feel as the sun set and the old-time street lights came on.

Worried that the wrought iron entry & exit gates would be shut and locked before I had a chance to leave,  I quickened my step to make it to the Cotswold Cottage,  originally built in England around 1620.
You see,  I've greatly enjoyed watching Tudor Farm and Vikings and the like on TV,  so this is as close to buildings from that period that I can actually physically be near,  and in my mind I have photographic ideas:
This was one such idea of the dovecote and the barn...

And then,  roughly from the same location,  as the sun set,  I took this.
I practically jogged all the way down for this shot  (and a few others like it)!
I would like to take another in this same location,  but hopefully under heavy,  thick,  gray skies...perhaps in the autumn time of the year when shadows come out to play.  I am just looking for those magical shots that I have pictured in my head.

The Motor Muster is quite an adventure through the mid-20th century,  as you can see.  And,  though it can make one feel old  (were the 1970s really 50 years ago??),  I must say I do enjoy seeing  "my time"  in time  (yeah,  the  '70s were my teen years).
And maybe next year I'll go to Motor Muster both days:  day one for the scenarios,  and day two for the cars!  There's just too much going on for only one day!

Until next time,  see you in time.

This post is more on car culture and cars.  American Graffiti comes to life!

    ~      ~

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

A Weekend in the Past: Doing the Garden Digging the Weeds and Hanging With the Voyageurs

This blog is a history blog  (duh!);  it can be used for information on the past,  or it can be used to see how living historians and reenactors bring the past back to life.
Either way,  it is all about history - my own personal Passion for the Past that I am able to share with anyone who has the same interests as I.
It's also a sort of diary - a record of my historical activities.
That's pretty much what it is for today's post - a record of my recent time-travel adventures - a weekend spent in the past.
Let's begin on Saturday at Waterloo cabin,  where the garden we planted back in May is coming along swimmingly well,  even during the 30 day drought.  I appreciate very much Waterloo Ron,  Brian,  and Arlene watering it for us.  We live about an hour and 45 minutes away so we,  unfortunately,  cannot make it there very often.  We actually are doing good if we can make it out twice a month.
That's where my wife and I were in mid-June,  spending a sunny Saturday...weeding in our garden.
I was honored that the good folk who run Waterloo told me it was my garden and I can pretty much grow what I'd like there...Ron said by having such a garden we are giving Waterloo Farm credibility.
Makes me very happy!
In fact,  it makes all of us living historians - Larissa,  Jackie,  and Charlotte - involved in this endeavor very happy!
My wife,  too,  who happened to come out with me on a weeding excursion one warm Saturday!
Here's Patty & I weeding.
Some of the seeds we had seemed to be having a tough time coming out of the ground. 
But we're not giving up hop!

Got my hoe & my old wood bucket for the weeds.
Oh,  and I do really like my work smock/farmer's smock.  It does its job in keeping my clothes clean!

My wife captured the image of Brian,  the President of the Waterloo Historical Society,  while he was capturing my image  (lol).

Patty  (top pic)  and me  (bottom pic).
As I mentioned before,  I have sciatica,  which hurts so much to bend over!
But I force myself to do stuff like this.  Who cares about a few days of suffering - I have
a job to do,  and that job is to bring the past to life!

That's the map of the seed placement Patty has.

The turnips are doing great!

The hoe I'm using belongs to Brian,  and it is a pretty darn old one.

Brian opened the cabin for us to eat lunch.
Since this was not one of our special cabin days,  we just brought along a simple sandwich to eat while we caught a light breeze between the two doors.  Yes,  it was pretty warm - it got into the mid-80s that day.
I did bring along a few period items,  mainly for our
own benefit and purpose and just in case there were any visitors.
I mean,  we did dress for the occasion!
But there's one particular item sitting on the table
I would like to tell you more about -
it's the left...
Brian surprised me with a replication of an 18th century wooden candle holder that he made.  As he gave it to me he told me it was a retirement gift.  Yes,  I am actually much older than my immaturity shows and can actually retire after nearly 50 years of work  (lol).  As of the day we were here,  I only had four more days left in my working career.
It was a wonderful gift to receive!
Of course I had to see how awesome it looked with my antique candlestick that I purchased a couple weeks earlier.  And we hung it on the cabin wall:
This is so cool!
The wooden candle stand/holder is replicated from an original  (Brian
is a woodworker as well),  the burning candle you see was hand-dipped at the cabin by one of us living historians on that warm day back in February,  and the candlestick itself is a recent acquisition of mine,  made in 1757!
I brought it along to show Brian,  since he also collects 18th  (and mostly 17th)  century antiques.

Here is my beautiful wife,  all full of smiles and joy,  for she loves working in the dirt and growing things  (lol).  On the right is the new holder with the candlestick & candle...
but wait---there's something else I wanted to show you:'s my new/old porringer!
But just what is a porringer?
A porringer is a low bowl or dish that was commonly used for containing a wide variety of food and drinks such as bread,  vegetables,  soups/stews,  and milk.  Bestowed in honor of a marriage or baptism,  or as a gift to a child,  silver porringers were popular presentation gifts throughout the eighteenth century.
Traditionally European porringers featured two handles,  whereas their colonial counterparts were crafted with just one.
I have a beautiful replicated porringer made in Colonial Williamsburg.
But the one that is in the above picture that I brought along is an original...
If you look close at the handle you can see it is engraved/stamped by the maker:
So now I have two items from the 18th century in my collection!  (I may have a couple more antiques that may also be of that period,  but their age has not been verified;  they may be of the late 18th or early 19th century period.  But the candlestick and porringer are bonafide).
For right now they both sit on my desk,  but in a short time the candle holder and stick will be hanging on my wall,  and the porringer may also be a-hanging on the wall as well...or a-sitting on the fireplace...or inside our corner cabinet~
Candlelight at night gives a wondrous glow.
So it was a good day indeed for Patty & I at the cabin.

The very next day found me at a timeline event with my Lac Ste. Clair Voyageur friends in a place much closer to my home.
The Chesterfield Historical Society puts on an annual timeline,  which generally includes 18th century Voyageurs,  sometimes soldiers from the same period,  people from 1812,  Civil War,  WWI and WWII,  and once in a while even beyond that,  closer to our own time.  Unfortunately,  with the threat of rain on Sunday - first rain in a month! - many had packed up and left,  including participants from those other eras.
So though Sunday was smaller with a less diversified history,  the event continued on.  Those of us there still put our best foot forward and gave any visitors that came their money's worth.
Micki had a nice set up,  and even had a few items for sale!
She and her husband used to present as chandlers,  but since her husband passed a few years ago,  she has since sold a few of her candle-making accessories to me.
In the photo below you can see Micki & Jerry's set up from 2017:

Pretty awesome!

Dale showed off his ropemaking skills.
In this picture he is showing a sort of twine and explaining the process on how to
make it into a viable rope/twine to interested guests.

The one I am sitting next to showed her skills in weaving a belt.

The doctor is in:
Blood letting to improve your health appears to have been a standard treatment for fever and other ailments in the 18th century.  It was also considered of value in the treatment of hypertension and drowsy headaches as well  (among other things).
Lynn felt the need to be bled,  for she wanted to  to rid
her body of impure fluids to cure a host of conditions.
Bloodletting involved cutting a vein or artery to remove the affected blood.
Notice Dr.  Bloodsworth uses a porringer to catch the dripping blood from the vein.

I have an Indian friend  (who does not mind being called an Indian,  as long as it is in a respectful manner),  and he and I have plenty of good conversations.  We talk mainly of  American history,  and neither one of us are afraid to speak our knowledge and opinions  - sometimes agreeing,  sometimes disagreeing - but we often have discussions others may be hesitant to have for fear of being called a bigot.  But he and I are open-minded enough to listen to each other without fear.
And we always remain friends!
And this is as it should be - this is what should be allowable in conversation.
When we were trying to come up with an idea for a background for his picture,  this is what we came up with.  Mark's heritage is of Osage blood,  which were mainly from what is now Texas,  and bits of Oklahoma and Arkansas,  but he portrays an Oneida,  who were originally came from upstate New York but later could be found in what is now Wisconsin.

I appreciate our shared knowledge and friendship. 

Besides the Voyageurs,  there were a few guys representing WWII

I gotta say,  in listening to their conversation,  they really have a great knowledge of the 1940s military and earlier,  and sort of give their own gun timeline.
WWII reenacting has taken off for both soldier and civilian,  for I also have a number of female friends who show the many different aspects of homelife during this war.
Even though I have no want in reeenacting this era,  I do have a great interest in it since this was the war my father was in,  and I also love learning new things.
I remember years ago when I first began going to historic reenactments,  one mainly saw military men,  with a few women around representing civilian homelife mainly by usually doing cooking demonstrations.  But as I have witnessed since getting involved in this history hobby 20-odd years ago,  I've seen great changes take place.  Changes which now include a large civilian contingent in nearly every time period.  For the realization has come to pass that having a strong mix of both military and civilian reenactors and living historians completes the picture.  And civilians today do much more than cook over a campfire.
That is a good thing.

Until next time,  see you in time.

To read more about historic colonial farming,  please click HERE
To read more about the Voyageurs,  click HERE

~    ~   

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

It's A Living Thing: History Come To Life (utilizing historic homes to help bring the past to life)

1~When people recreate an actual battle,  such as the Battle of Gettysburg or Lexington & Concord,  or perhaps a major event in history,  such as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates or the reading of the Declaration of Independence by a period-dressed presenter,  and really make the effort to be accurate as possible,  I consider that to be reenacting.
2~When people recreate different aspects of  daily  "home"  life of the past,  utilizing the well-researched manner of dress,  tools,  accessories,  and abilities of the period being shown,  I consider that to be living history.
Both styles are very important,  yet different,  and I don't believe one sets above the other.
For myself,  though I've done and very much enjoy both,  I prefer  #2,  for I personally find that's where my main historical interests lie.
Over the many years that I have practiced living history,  I have been able to use and utilize historic homes and structures quite often.  The first time I'd ever done anything of the sort took place at Greenfield Village during Civil War Remembrance in 2006 at the Smiths Creek Train Depot,  which was originally built in Smiths Creek,  Michigan in 1858.   
Though I was already a civilian in the 21st Michigan Volunteer Infantry reenacting group,  I had joined the Michigan Soldiers Aid Society a year earlier.  The Michigan Soldiers Aid Society  (MSAS)  is a civilian organization who took 1860s civilian history much more serious than most organizations,  and they specialized in living history,  both of which I was most interested in.  I had no plans - and never did - in leaving the 21st,  but I knew upon meeting the MSAS members that I could learn a whole lot more about everyday life during the Civil War with them than any other unit.  They were fairly strict in their manner of dress and they spoke of doing well-researched scenarios,  which piqued my interest greatly.
I wasn't wrong;  the MSAS were a great organization to be a part of.
And to learn from.
It didn't take very long before I was a part of an 1860s scenario,  the likes of nothing I've experienced before,  much less even seen at any other reenactment.  It was when a few of us put on a little something for the visitors at Greenfield Village during Civil War Remembrance  (CWR)  in 2006 at the aforementioned Smiths Creek Depot that I got my first taste of real living history.
I don't recall the city or town we were portraying,  but we were waiting for the train to come in,  for there were Union soldiers bringing in captured Confederates that were to be sent off to Union prison camps,  possibly the notorious Camp Douglas.
Yes,  that's me you see sitting at the table toward the right side of the picture.

And here they come,  closely guarded by Union soldiers.
A few of the Confederates were badly wounded. 

A rebuilt steam locomotive,  based on one from about 1870,  chugs on into the depot.

The train brought the body of somebody's loved one - 
a Union soldier who gave his last full measure of
devotion to the cause.
That was a real live portrayal of a dead man in that coffin!

In the meantime,  I was part of a crew who were taking in and sending
out packages to and from home for our Boys in Blue.
I remember that the members of the 21st Michigan were surprised to see me taking part in such an event.  They were wondering if I'd left the group or not.  Of course not!  But I sure learned about the different ways of presenting history! 

The ladies were there,  dropping off quilts,  socks,  non-perishable food stuffs,  and other items for our boys fighting to preserve the Union.

Historical realism and authenticity reigned.

This was my first time seeing non-tent reenacting,  and I loved every second of it.
No tents,  but an authentic historical building was our  "stage" - it just didn't get any better than that!
We did this same scenario for the next two years at Civil War Remembrance:
2007 - and I so very much enjoyed immersing myself in this manner.

2008 - Can you find the thorn amongst the beautiful roses?

It was in 2006 when I began portraying and presenting myself as the local postmaster.  Oh!  It was a wonderful presentation and scenario I created,  and I included period-correct stamps affixed to replicated envelopes that were used during the Civil War.  Folks - reenactors - would often come to my tent to see if they had received any mail,  or to send mail to fighting loved ones,  and I would take the letters to the military camps.  You see,  I had the ladies from a variety of different camps write to the soldiers - "notes from home" - and oftentimes the men would write back.  Once in a while there would be a package sent as well - food items or socks.
All the while I would speak to modern visitors about the importance of mail during this time.
2007 - There I am,  behind a counter inside a historic post office.
This was my first  "on my own"  scenario done in this manner.
The pictures above and below are of me at an actual 1810 post office.
This was pretty cool to be able to do.
2007 - Off to the Union camps!
I was so pleased when Greenfield Village entrusted me to be able to utilize
their historic post office in such a manner.

I would bring the mail to the nearby camps of  Union soldiers,  and their preacher would read the letters from home to those who could not read,  oftentimes filled
with not-so-good news,  but more often they would be filled with homefront activities.

Each living history event was such an amazing experience,  and I always learned so much.  If it wasn't for the Michigan Soldiers Aid Society,  I might never have done such a thing.
But wait - the best is yet to come:
The first time I was ever able to reenact inside  such a historic structure to any great extent was back in summer 2008 at the Sixberry House located at historic Charlton Park  (Hastings,  Michigan)  when I was a part of a mourning scenario,  hosted once again by the MSAS.
Members took turns portraying the dead.
It was much,  much better than using a mannequin as I've seen done elsewhere!
It was a complete scenario showing how the inside and outside of
a house in mourning during the 1860s would have looked.
I was stationed in the back parlor.

Up until this time I'd never had much to do with period mourning,  so I found it very intriguing,  and I learned so much about the traditions of the 19th century. 
Later in the day we had our image taken with an antique 1860s camera. 

And later that summer we put on another mourning scenario,  only this time at Waterloo.  It was here that we raised the bar a few rungs by holding a mock funeral!
A funeral visitation inside the Waterloo Farm House
Mike Gillett,  who portrayed a Civil War minister,  and myself  (wearing male
mourning accessories)  inside the Waterloo Farm House.

Yes,  we held a funeral in the same way as would have been done in the early 1860s!
No one actually died here  (duh!),  but it was a very real depiction.
The visitors were awestruck.

It was a year later that I took part in another MSAS scenario - 1860s healthcare  (or as we called it,  Home Remedies)~
Again,  this took place at Waterloo Farm House,  this time in 2009,  and I wrote the following in a blog post I posted at the time:
Yes,  that's me lying on the sick bed with my  'wife'  nursing me back to good health!
I was sick on Sunday last...very sick.  My  'cousin'  thought I had scarlet fever,  but my  'wife'  felt I had the summer fever instead.  Either way,  I had a fever and was put into what is normally the dining room day bed,  where,  as a healthy soul,  I usually try to take a quick nap after a hearty dinner before venturing out to continue the afternoon work at the mill.  Unfortunately,  since I was feeling rather poorly this Sabbath day,  the day bed was used as the sick bed so I could be nursed back to health.  The dining room location was chosen so family members could watch me closer to ensure I was well taken care of instead of being in an upstairs bedroom,  so far away from everyone.  It was also a very airy area on this warm summer's day,  allowing the breeze to flow throughout,  which helped to keep me comfortable.  While in the sick bed,  I was given medicine - feverfew mixed with lemon and water - and since I could not lift my head very high,  an invalid cup was used so the medicine would not drool out of my mouth.
She gave me herbal medicine from an invalid cup.
This was my first time ever having a  "reenacting wife."
The local preacher as well as a friend, stopped by for a visit - I was concerned when I first saw the preacher at my bedside for it made me feel my time was nigh.  Thankfully,  it was just a visit to make sure I was on the mend.
Another visitor suggested that I may have had too fine a time the evening before,  but I most assuredly let him know that my  'wife'  would certainly not have been caring for me in the kind way she was if I had taken on an evening filled with the kind of spirits that could affect the mind and body in drunken ways.  And,  as my family and friends know,  I belong to a temperance society and do not partake in the devil's water!
I was so well taken care of by the ladies of the house that by the end of the day I was up and about,  almost back to my normal self.  Luckily for me,  my  'wife'  was correct - it was the summer fever and not scarlet fever as my  'cousin'  suggested.
Thus was my day at Waterloo Farms in Waterloo,  Michigan on Sunday June 28.  The above is most certainly true.  Well...except for the the fever part - I had no fever.  And I was not given feverfew with lemon and water to cure my illness;  it was,  instead,  simple hand-squeezed lemonade.  However,  I did take the pretend medicine by way of an antique medicine bottle,  which was then poured into an invalid cup,  and then finally given to me by my  'wife.'
Oh the way...neither of the two ladies in the room with me were my cousin or my wife - they are both members of a civilian Civil War era living history organization I belong to,  the Michigan Soldiers Aid Society  (MSAS).  The MSAS are a wonderfully authentic period group of social historians who take pride on accuracy in presenting the everyday life of folks living in the early 1860's.  Last year we in the MSAS presented a mourning scenario throughout the reenacting season at numerous locations.
This year our project is home remedies.
And the Home Remedies continued on throughout the summer,  including at Charlton Park's Sixberry House:
The two young ladies were portraying my daughters in this scenario,  watching over their very ill Papa.
I was getting good at being sick!
It was at this point that I began to have ideas of my own,  attempting to recreate an authentic depiction of living in an 1860s home - husband,  wife,  and children.  I spoke with a few other living historians,  and I soon had an 1860s reenacting family!  Initially,  this included my actual wife and daughter,  and once in a while,  my son(s),  but soon became strictly living historians.  
I loved having the opportunity to turn this mid-19th century house at Charleton Park into a home  of the 1860s.  HERE's how I did that - and it's something that continues on to this day...
It was in 2010 that I took this family home idea to Waterloo Farm as well.  We showed them that we would care for the historic farmhouse like no other,  and we would return it back to its original look and leave it even cleaner than before we came.  Well,  the good people at Waterloo entrusted us fully,  without question,  and we honored them and proved to them that we were a group to be trusted.
My heartfelt thanks to them~
It was during this time that immersion crept into my style,  and has remained ever since.
So then every summer for a few years we turned Waterloo Farm into our own 1860s home for a day.  Similar to the Sixberry House at Charlton Park,  we would play out the day as if we were living in the 1860s - making this home come alive again.  It was a wonderful scenario,  and we did try to keep it real.

And then that same year I had the idea of...
...celebrating an 1860s Christmas!
And that turned out fantastic!
Again,  we created a family scenario,  but at Christmastime.
As my friend Jean  (who is on the left side in the above photo - my wife is on the right)  said,  "It was like being in a postcard!"
A few of us had already begun celebrating an 1860s Christmas at Christmas At The Fort in downtown Detroit the previous year,  and that continued on for a decade.  We truly felt/feel like we knew/know what it was like to celebrate Christmas in the 1860s!  
Click HERE for an overview of that.
At Christmas at the Fort we were,  again,  able to call a historic house our home and portray ourselves as an 1860s family celebrating Christmas.   
My actual wife,  Patty,  does not like to do such scenarios as this,  so Larissa became my reenacting wife and,  over the years,  we've had various young ladies portray our daughters,  including my actual daughter one year.
These Christmas celebrations are as real a celebration as one can have.  I mean,  we do it up historically accurate,  we practice first person,  and remain fully immersed the entire time!
We enjoyed a Christmas meal and...

...we actually lit the candles on our traditional table-top Christmas Tree!
Time-travel magic~
This was amazingly real to us.  I remember one year when there was a situation where this event had to be cancelled,  and pretty much all of us involved commented on how it just wouldn't seem like Christmas without Christmas at the Fort.
It helps that,  for the most part,  the  "key players"  remain the same,  allowing us to know each other in such a capacity as a family.
And a few years later,  unfortunately,  due to changes in ownership  (from city to state)  it had been canceled permanently,  though I do hope for a return.
For me,  Christmas at the Fort was the toppermost of the poppermost  (“The Toppermost of the Poppermost”  was a phrase that the Beatles repeated to each other as a pep talk as they climbed the rungs of the ladder of success during the early part of the decade - a play on the title from the British TV entertainment show Top of the Pops).
To me,  over time this became our  living history toppermost of the poppermost.

The decade of the twenty-teens was when using historical homes really took off for me,  for we were using the houses at Charlton Park,  Fort Wayne,  and at Waterloo,  and one time we even used a historic tavern built in the 1830s called Walker Tavern located in Brooklyn,  Michigan:
In 2010 I was a postmaster at Walker Tavern.

And Carrie was the servant girl at Walker Tavern that same year!

Shortly thereafter - - - - 
The summer of 2010 also found me as the postmaster inside the Mason Tavern from 1850,  now inside the open-air museum of Crossroads Village.
I continued pushing forward into the past in my living history adventures as the second decade of the 21st century went on,  documenting most of my  time-travel activities here in Passion for the Past  (yes,  this blog is nearly 16 years old as I write this).  The good fortune - the blessings - of this type of reenacting was something not to take advantage of,  and because of being honored to use such historic structures,  I've always attempted to keep it as real as I possibly could,  and since I planned nearly every one of these events independent of any reenacting group during this time,  aside from a very few,  I found friends with the same passion for the past as I,  along with the want to do it right in following their knowledge.  And so now,  as we zip through this 3rd decade of the 21st century - the 2020s - it seems that the culmination of my living history excursions has turned a corner and this hobby for me has blossomed unlike anything before.
It's summertime...and it's mighty hot.
Time to make ice cream!
Larissa and I prepared the Victorian treat with the ice cream maker...on  "our"  
front porch at the Sixberry House!
It has become a yearly tradition now.

You may have noticed that I have not shown 18th century yet.
That's because the 18th century is a different ballgame altogether.  Even the manner in which they spoke is trying in itself,  like a foreign language. to do the 1700s without looking ridiculous or like we were Hollywood actors...?
Well,  my 18th century lesson began when I went on vacation  (with my family)  to Colonial Williamsburg  (click HERE for the first of my six-part series on that adventure).  I say  "lesson"  because I watched,  listened,  and learned from those who were living it on a daily basis.
Oh---did I mention I remained in my period clothing the entire week visit?
Amy was the first person I met there in the Revolutionary City,  and we became fast friends.  We had wonderful historic discussions,  oftentimes even disagreeing on certain topics,  but always kind and fun and,  well,  we are still friends to this day,  so that's got to tell you something.
Some may say this doesn't count as living history because it's just me dressed up at Colonial Williamsburg,  but I'm here to say that it was much more than that.  I did not act - nor was I treated - like a tourist.  I felt like I was a part of the historic village/city.
Lindsey was another Williamsburg  "resident"  I met,  and she gave me excellent pointers to enhance my colonial persona as we toured the Peyton Randolph House.

I was even included in a scenario at the Charlton's Coffeehouse!
As I roamed Colonial Williamsburg during my time there,  I immersed myself in the 18th century culture,  speaking with the workers and hearing their stories and their lessons.  It was very special when I spoke with a  "neighbor"  as if we were all a part of this time of the 1770s.
I was in my glory!
When dressed the way I was - not in the costumes they rented,  but in real top-quality period clothing - I became part of the Colonial Williamsburg population.
This truly was an immersive experience. 
I would love to continue this experience back home in southeastern,  Michigan...but how?  Michigan's not known to have 18th century structures  (though,  as I found out,  we do have a few here in our state).
Then I went to a Revolutionary War reenactment at the Navarre-Anderson Trading Post in Monroe,  about an hour from my house.  Low and behold...there was an actual building there built in 1789!!
That's it - - that white building is the Navarre-Anderson Trading Post built in 1789, 
making it the oldest wooden structure in Michigan.
And there I am about to enter.
Now,  unfortunately,  we were not able to do actual scenarios here for we were not aware of what would have been allowable,  so I set up a few photo poses in hopes of eventually being able to actually do something historical here beyond a battle.
This is a trading post - - so we're bucking for a trade.
I am projecting myself as the owner of the trading post.

And we also posed as if it were a stage coach stop.
I was told it was at one point,  so this was how it may have looked at the time.
Unfortunately,  there has not been another Rev War reenactment there since this one took place in 2019,  but it is my high hope that one day we can get back there to reenact and actually use this building in such a manner.
How cool would that be??
Again,  this whole thing furthered my can I create - or recreate - an 18th century living history scenario in a realistic manner with little to go on? 
I had a dream one night in late summer 2020 that I was in the Daggett House...but I wasn't just visiting - I was in my period clothing and actually working there!  But I wasn't working as an employee - - - for some reason I,  and a few others with me,  were allowed to make the house come to life by actually living there with no bosses hovering over us,  as if it were 1770.  Well,  you can imagine my disappointment when I woke up from this wonderful dream.  
But it got me to thinking - - what if...hmmm?   And that's when I thought of the only place,  aside from Charlton Park or Fort Wayne Detroit,  that ever allowed me to make a historic place my home.  
And Waterloo actually has an edge:  I got in contact with the good folks there - those that remembered me from a decade ago - and we discussed an idea I carried over from my dream as well as mixing in our Civil War experiences at the farmhouse all those years ago...A Fall Harvest Day in the year the cabin right next to the house.  
You see,  besides a beautifully restored mid-19th century farmhouse,  Waterloo also has a frontier-type log cabin that I knew would be very suitable for the 18th century,  and since I have a positive  'history'  with Waterloo by volunteering there for all those years before and have proven my trust in caring for their historic structures and artifacts,  they graciously allowed me to carry on with my plan.
And...this would be my first experience doing 18th century immersion,  rather than 19th century!
At the time I thought,  "it just might work!"
And it did - - - much better than I ever could have imagined,  in fact.
I knew who I wanted to help me with this project,  so those were the people I went to first,  and they willingly accepted the opportunity.
Well,  since this idea came to life I have put together twelve more 18th century outings at the cabin  (plus a few extra's,  as of this writing),  initially calling them  "A Day In the Life"  in my blog posts  (gee,  where'd I get that  name from?),  but now calling it  "Experiencing Our Research."  Both titles are suitable,  for both describe what we do.
I can honestly say that of all of the living history I've done,  I've never experienced anything like what we've done here at the cabin before - experiencing our research  indeed:
There's our frontier cabin!
An obviously posed photo of me looking like I'm about to go hunting with my
1760 fusil musket as Larissa bids a farewell.

Though I did not actually go hunting,  I did spend some time firing my musket.

The ladies kept quite busy fixin'  our meal!

All of our period-correct meals were prepared right there.
We even went to the cabin for a wintertime experience!
Carrying snow in the buckets to melt into water.

Rebecca spun flax into linen thread.  This was January and it
was mighty cold outside - and inside as well, 
hence our layers of clothing.
But I had spent a few hour processing the flax to be spun.
And here we are!

Springtime planting.
We've had three spring plantings - Waterloo gave me a patch of land to plant
and care for.  In this picture Larissa and I were planting flax.

I also used my axe to cut sticks for markers and to string rope
around our garden.

My wife & I pulled the flax when it had matured three months later..

Breaking the flax - part of the preparation process before spinning.
This was the very flax that we planted in the spring!

Though candle dipping was mostly done in the fall,  it was also done throughout the year.  We found a beautiful early February day when the sun was out and the temps reached into the 40s the perfect weather to dip candles.

We also celebrated Candlemas on this day - an old religious custom rarely even spoken of in our modern days.
To learn more about Candlemas and how we celebrated,  click HERE.
Another 18th century religious custom we celebrated was Rogation Sunday:
Rogation Sunday - having our crops blessed.
Rogation Sunday is another holiday well-known in the 18th century but not so much in the 21st century.
I have very much been enjoying our blessings celebrations!

Another period opportunity was threshing wheat with a flail.
This was as common a chore in the 18th century as cutting grass is today!
To read more about this  (and other)  colonial farming chores,  please click HERE.

Larissa has worked at the Daggett House for nearly 30 years,  and she is very much a pro at cooking meals on the hearth.  Well,  she taught our other living historians how to do the same - such a wonderful history lesson as well as experiencing the past in a way very few get the opportunity to.

Another thing we had the chance to do was to chop down a tree with an axe.
I had never chopped down a tree with an axe before.  I've used a hand saw,  
but never an axe.
Until this day.
That's Tony taking a swing there while EJ & I await our turn.
The ladies also swung the axe as well!

With a crack and a crash,  the tree came down.

Our harvest meal.
Every visit,  which has been over a dozen now,  we enjoy a period meal cooked over the hearth.  This has been a dream come true!
And for each visit we try to do something different,  but historically correct.
I was not prepared for how amazing the cabin experiences would be;  these are the culmination of all that came before,  taking me to the toppermost of the poppermost in living history.  These colonial cabin visits go far beyond my expectations.
When you do such a thing with the right people...
The thing is,  each living history event listed in today's post,  from the beginning,  became a building block of learning.  I feel like with each one I am closer with our American ancestors.  As a civilian living historian,  I feel this way of  experiencing the past is as close to time-travelling as one can get.
And I look forward to more days of future past. 

Until next time,  see you in time.

    ~      ~