Sunday, May 3, 2009

History comes alive

An interesting phenomenon in the south is that some of us LOOOOOOOOOVE to live in the past.
I was raised near a state historic site, Jarrell Plantation, where i volunteered as a teen, and subsequently worked as an older teen. In that time I learned the required arts of the time period: spinning, weaving, dyeing, shearing, wood-stove cooking and dulcimer playing. (I am stashing those skills for the inevitable "survival of the fittest" that I sometimes think this world is coming to.)

In that time of my life I became attached to a rogue group of civil war reenactors that ate-lived-breathed the lifestyle. I joined the group, falling into place as a living historian. Dressing the part was enabled by my seamstress mother who made every day dress, pantaloon, chemise, ball gown that I salivated over. Some patterns were a premium, she once made me Scarletts' barbeque dress from Gone With the Wind. I traveled the the state to participate in various battles, Chickamauga, Resaca & Andersonville. Some, Griswoldville & Sunshine Church, were closer to home.

We were in deep.

The following photo would have been in my hey day( 21 or 22 yo), we won first place for authenticity that evening. The judges would even pull up our dresses to make sure we were authentic to the bone, guess they chose to overlook my braces.

I introduced my first husband to the group and after being punished for being the yankee that he is :) , we were allowed a civil war wedding in the local historic community, where we lived, Clinton.

The best picture, that I could not find, is the regiment dragging up a wooden coffin & asking him to get in, just to see if it fit. This is where he would reside in the event the he did something to hurt me. My great grandmother loved that.

Fast forward past years that I spent roaming the state, estranged from the camps, the lifestyle, the fellowship, the familiarity. When we moved home, i made a point to get Minime to Jarrell Plantation where she, too, volunteered and got a small taste of my childhood. She learned about cotton fields, textile arts, animals and history.

Several years after the photo above, she worked as and ice angel ( for girls under 16) on the battle field in Clinton, carrying water and ice chips to wounded soldiers. We have stopped short of dressing her up as a soldier and sending her out on the field. I was know to do that to be in a position to set off pyrotechnics for the artillery.

Fun Times.

Minime doesn't care too much anymore except to go see the folks that we have visited with over the years, but we went down today to see the Battle of Sunshine Church with some friends. It is an emotional trip for me, 5 minutes from the house. I drive by it all the time, but when it is seething with blue and gray, i get a little verklempt. We noted that some pictures had been added to the memorial wall, "Mountain" and "King", both long-time familiar characters at any battle. I remembered them fondly as each had their ashes blasted from a cannon at the end of a memorial volley, seen below.
I am not sure if this was a health violation.

Things have come full circle, I am home, close to Clinton. Below is the man in previous photos (as my escort and then the minister at the wedding). He is a driving force behind Clinton battles, which ultimately are to raise money for the Clinton Historical Society.

Here are a couple of battlefield shots.

I realized some years ago that some of the participants are more gung ho than others if you know what I mean, and when I was much younger I did not realize the stigma that may be attached to being involved in this sort of horse play. I have since been told by those opposed to certain ideals of 1880 to get over it and move on, but i was NEVER in it for more than the living history demonstrations and never to push a political viewpoint.

I believe reenactments have their place as educational, and those that are just a little too loud and proud about the whole damn flag thing are usually not over it and should, in fact move on.
I am simply proud to have been involved with a such great group, and hope that they have many more years of living history left in them.

1 comment:

lime said...

my kids and i have been involved in a living history farm up here in the north. i also got to see some alamo interpreters when i was in texas a year and a half ago. it is such an enriching thing really. i am glad you have such precious memories from it and have been able to pass it on to minime. there is great value in remembering and appreciating what it was like. thanks for sharing.