East(Or Was it Weast?)field Village

On September 19th, I ventured up to just outside of Albany to Eastfield Village with Kitty Calash to recreate a company of the New York Militia circa 1830. I would’ve wrote about the event sooner but I was A) Waiting for more pictures to surface and B) Was distracted by school and personal life. 12004793_1065467793465666_7951464711607999494_nThe ride to and from events always seem to be the most interesting. Between nearly getting run off the tiny New York road in a hobunk town, to (sort of) attending pizza and wings night at the local volunteer firefighter’s station, the ride up proved to be just as enjoyable as any. We arrived at Eastfield around 7:00 in the evening which still gave us light to see where we were going and at least get bearings before total darkness set in. Eastfield was a new kind of primitive for me. Don’t get me wrong, rope beds and horsehair mattresses are a welcomed change compared to the usual dirt and hay but here there was nothing modern near by. Not a single McDonald’s, power outlet, or cell service for that matter. How would I survive without any Oreo’s for the weekend? One word: Pasty.

12084182_10205509875132780_1947926542_n

The one…The Only… Café Sans-Culottes

12067877_10205509875412787_580174023_n

Café Sans-Culottes also offers….comfortable sleeping arrangements.

The first evening was spent discussing usual New York things like what exactly is an “Unnatural Act” and how committing one would land you 10 years in prison. Anything involving pigeons and lard warranted 15 years, no ifs, ands, or butts about it. We also established a new name for our humble abode. No longer was it the “Yellow Tavern”. Team Eastfield bestowed it with “Café Sans-Culottes”, a place where les Lumières met to discuss pressing issues over bowls of rum punch. (Pants optional)

12064257_10205509875372786_1040362593_n

12047479_10205509875532790_296639657_n

The morning began with us stumbling out of bed and down the stairs (Some of us more literally than others) and indulging in a breakfast of bread, cheese, and indian pudding. Stomachs satiated, we did what any good militia does. Drill. A lot. Marching, manual of arms, you name it, we did it. It took some getting used to the faster pace tempos of the music compared to Rev War. I’ve trained myself to keep a nice 60 beats per minute for the common step but 1830’s required a 90 beats per minute tempo.

12038215_1066401990038913_2738601353614719093_n

Marching off again. Note me in the back trying to keep up.

Supper was served around noon which consisted of an amazing apple pie, bread, cheese, and a pork/onion/apple pie. We ate al fresco on the ground behind Kitty’s house/tailoring since Café Sans-Culottes was occupied by food service for patrons.

12077152_10205509874092754_1685452343_n

Casa de Kitty

After our supper, we rested for a couple of hours then we drilled some more. We then paid our respects to Don Carpentier, the founder of Eastfield Village, who passed away not too long ago. All of use were honoured to be able to enjoy the fruits of Don’s labour for the weekend.

12020002_1065468316798947_3591729689537216372_n 12011128_1066401756705603_2739913894923852006_n

After the ceremony, we ventured out for the live shooting competition. I had only shot a ball out of a musket once before and I completely missed the target. This time, I’m proud to report I got it on the paper in the ring just outside of the middle. Still not enough to progress me into the next round in the competition but enough to please this fifer. The winner, of course, used a rifle.

12046940_1065468420132270_8993166502420687634_n

The pumpkins trembled in their boots at the sight of such men.

After the competition, dinner was served. Reader, this was the most amazing feast I have ever seen at an event. Beef a la Française, chicken with mushrooms, roasted chicken, and bread were just some of the things on the table. There was enough for thirds! Afterwards, we were invited on over to the Brigg’s Tavern for dessert which had ginger cookies, syllabub, meringue cookies, and countless other treats.

12039323_1065741206771658_5228727533786336283_n

Brandy+Cream=Syllabub

12092454_10205509875332785_76491658_n

With bellies filled, we were ready to be fortefied back at Café Sans-Culottes. The punch bowl was passed around and the music flowed all night. Songs about dead women and babies seemed to be the running theme but on occasion, happier tunes were sung. Hell, after I had enough punch, I attempted some lyrics of Nottingham Ale, Over the Hills and Far Away, and a couple of sea shanties. Needless to say, my singing was not as pretty solo so I was fine to sit back and just do refrains with the group. This was definitely the best session I’ve heard at an event and it was amazing spending the evening talking and laughing with everyone by candlelight.

12042835_1065741523438293_2929226601397835432_n

Sunday morning met us with a slightly damp village and one last meal before hitting the road. Of course, I couldn’t leave without paying respects to one last soul before departing the area.

12071662_10205509873972751_580904416_n

Gone but not forgotten… Mildred (????-2015)

Advertisements

Round and Roundabout

I often listen to the other history majors argue about what their “specialty” is. Some are obsessed with WWI, others love the Crusades. As you might have guessed, I’m pretty darn fond of Early America and the 18th century in general.

So why in the world would I venture into 1830? Well, for starters, I wanted sideburns. Second, I like this period in history. My interest in US history tends to drop after the Civil War. The fashion in the 1830’s has always struck me as unique with its large collars, trousers, and insanely tall hats. So when I was offered the opportunity to hop on the 1830’s wagon, you bet your bottom dollar I did.

Bar-room Scene, William Sidney Mount, 1835, oil on canvas

Bar-room Scene, William Sidney Mount, 1835, oil on canvas

Kitty Calash and I are headed on up to Eastfield Village just outside of Albany this weekend for Founder’s Day. This is going to be my first immersion(-ish) event and I’m pretty excited. I’ve spent the last month or so making a roundabout jacket for this event. I didn’t have to do trousers or a hat since we found loaners that fit me.

My roundabout adventure began before school started when a few of us 10th Mass folks went on up to Uncle Hank’s house for a 1781 LI coat workshop. Uncle Hank pulled out some other things for us to look at (as always) and my eyes fell upon a simple white linen roundabout in his collection. He took out his magical measuring tape, took a quick measure of the jacket, then me and proclaimed, “This oughta fit you with barely any modification! I’m gonna make a pattern and cut it out!!”

Roundabout Jackets in HCS Collection 1810-1840 121

Roundabout Jackets in HCS Collection 1810-1840 121

Needless to say, being the first to receive a pattern from Uncle Hank that was taken right off an original was pretty darn neat. Uncle Hank put the main body together and it was up to me to finish the coat which meant putting the back waistband, two front panels, cuffs, upper collar, make buttons and then attach them, and make buttonholes. Sounded easy!

Boy was I wrong. Mistake number one came pretty early in the game. I messed up on the back wasitband and accidentally used the scrap cloth meant for buttons for it. I was wondering why the back pieces were weird sizes but thought nothing of it until I went to make the buttons. Then it all made sense why the seams didn’t match up.

Ooops! #1 of the Garment

Ooops! #1 of the Garment

The front panel linings then required my most dreaded stitch…the zig zag stitch. This stitch and I became enemies back on my blue frock coat when I had to do it on the buckram. The attention needed to do it is not something I have and originally I was gonna say forget it and just whip it in. However, the good sewing angels Kitty Calash and Low Spark chimed on my shoulder and convinced me to take the path of righteousness.

Then came the cuffs. These things were a pain in the butt to pin and fold over the edges. The shape still didn’t come out like the original’s and that’s do to sewer error. I took way too much in on what I thought was the seam line on Uncle Hank’s pattern instructions. Turns out that was the fold line. So they’re slightly more narrow than they should be but I think they’re just as stylish.

Ooops! #2

Finally, the button fiasco. As I was attaching the buttons, I began to remember the garment having more than 8 buttons total. But I asked Uncle Hank how many I needed and simply took his word that I needed 8 in total. Turns out just the bottom 8 were functional and I still needed 4 more to finish! Guess who didn’t order 12  buttons! This guy! So we’re going with what we got for now. And of course, the button holes are just as funky as you’d imagine.

Things were looking good at this point for the buttonhole.

Things were looking good at this point for the buttonhole.

That confidence in the buttonhole quickly died as I finished the last stitch.

That confidence in the buttonhole quickly died as I finished the last stitch.

Is it a perfect roundabout? God no. Is it mine? You betcha. I’m gonna wear it proud this weekend. After all, I’m a poor farmer. I doubt anything they had was super nice. Expect photos next week!

The kind of finished garment after numerous button placement tweaks that involved stitching the buttons on, cutting them off, restitching, and then repeating on both sides.

The kind of finished garment after numerous button placement tweaks that involved stitching the buttons on, cutting them off, restitching, and then repeating on both sides.

Stamp Acting Up: 250th Anniversary of the Newport Stamp Act Riots

Last Saturday was the event of the Summer for me and the RI contingent. Last year’s event was the event that inspired me to make my blue suit and up my civilian game. This year was definitely a leap in authenticity for me. I went up from military breeches, an old waistcoat, and machine sewed coat to handsewn clothing. Did I wear the same outfit for L’Hermione? Maybe…..

Stamp Act Outfit 2014 The hat was a loaner from Uncle Hank. The beaver proved very fun to pet through out the day.

Stamp Act Outfit 2014
The hat was a loaner from Uncle Hank. The beaver proved very fun to pet through out the day.

Stamp Act Outfit 2015 Blue ditto suit with a rabbit pelt hat complete with an original gold button.

Stamp Act Outfit 2015
Blue ditto suit with a rabbit pelt hat complete with an original gold button.

I was beyond excited to be reprising the role John Robinson, the Customs Collector assigned to Newport in 1765. Ever a man of principle, Robinson showed up to town looking to do his job. When the leading merchants offered him a salary of 70,000 pounds a year to turn a blind eye to the smuggling, he turned them down. This same smuggling gets Robinson in some trouble though with merchants. In an attempt to call the Polly out on declaring only part of her cargo of molasses, Robinson went up to Dighton to take custody of the vessel. Lacking crew, he headed back to Newport, got one together, and went back up. To his dismay, everything from the ropes to the cargo was gone and the ship had her bottom drilled. The owner then filed suit for damages while in the custody of Robinson and our pal was sent to jail for two nights! And I thought my summer job was rough!

Capture

Newport, RI. You’ll never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. Not the usual crowd for a Customs Collector but the suit looks great in this image, if I may say so.

Besides the fashion faux pas of repeating an outfit, the event was magical in every way and event should have been. Me and Low Spark got up early (after an evening of me styling wigs) to attempt to go fishing with an 18th century hook and line. Despite getting a strange look from the man on the pier, we set about in the hopes of catching something. Anything. We got bites and lost many worms but no fish was dumb enough to bite down completely. Instead, we had to resort to our friend to buy some scups from Whole Foods. At least we had organic stinky fish!

Ahhh, the smell of hairspray at 9:00 in the evening!

Ahhh, the smell of hairspray at 9:00 in the evening!

First time setting the line. Hopes were running high still.

First time setting the line. Hopes were running high still.

Look Ma! Our biggest catch of the day!

Look Ma! Our biggest catch of the day!

11903743_10205293534884409_3287511926081695312_n

John Robinson keeping an ever watchful eye out on the harbour. No sign of the HMS Squirrel.

We then made our way to the Old Colony House to mentally prepare ourselves for the day ahead. We arrived and were even asked to open up the windows to the balcony. Naturally, Mr. Spark and I could not resist majestic pictures looking out over Newport.

Over there! Someone that needs to pay the custom!

Over there! Someone that needs to pay the custom!

Always watching my kingdom.

Always watching over my kingdom.

Lunch was served and all of us, sailors and customs collectors alike, mingled one last time before breaking into character. It was weird having most of my friends on the anti-establishment side and not being able to talk to them during the day (without having fish hocked at me) but playing a gentleman is always up my alley.

We started the day off with a debate, which Mr. Howard laid the law down on Mr. Vernon and Ellery. I was enjoying myself just sitting back and nodding in agreement. I did take more of a proactive roll in the 2nd debate though. I then enjoyed tea with the ladies on countless occasions and discussed refined things such as the latest news from London, music, and of course, oodling over a baby.

The first debate in which Martin Howard schools those that don't want to obey the law. Though the crowd was against us, we had a very nice 12 year old girl in support of GR.

The first debate in which Martin Howard schools those that don’t want to obey the law. Though the crowd was against us, we had a very nice 12 year old girl in support of GR.

11982473_10207067569263249_1758334065_o

Tea time! The plum cake was amazing as was the service! Note Mr. Howard’s 2nd wig change of the day.

11960232_928222477904_7179329833275489424_n

Loyalists love babies!

Loyalists love babies!

Things took a little more violent turn in the afternoon though as those pesky sailors sang silly songs and made effigies of my good friend Mr. Howard. I may add that the effigy looked NOTHING like him. Howard is a much better dresser and far less flammable.

11232019_10206100149560462_2663443396914921331_n

I had one of the most surreal moments I’ve had in reenacting though during the riot. When the fight broke lose, me and a certain sailor locked eyes and sticks and I was surrounded on all sides by angry men. Time stopped and the 5 seconds we growled at each other and had men pull us back stretched for about 10 minutes, in my head at least. My mind completely left the 21st century and I honestly thought 18th century me was about to be pummeled into the cement in front of the Old Colony House. It’s these moments that make me reenact.

11952996_10207661210712807_2480543011022699584_n

No, madam. I do not want your fish or the odor that comes with them.

Dressing up in funny clothes is fine for some people. I get it. But getting as close to the event as possible and having transcendent moments is what makes it all worth while. When you feel like you’re in the 18th century, so will the onlookers.

Sneaking the furniture of Augustus Johnston away from the angry mob.

Sneaking the furniture of Augustus Johnston away from the angry mob.

At the end of the riot, we all retired to the White Horse Tavern for drinks (Diet Coke for moi) and remarked over how well things went. Overall, this was a FANTASTIC event. We recreated a time specific event, in the location where it was held, we had authenticity standards, we did 1st person, and we researched our roles. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend my last and best event of the summer with.

The cast and crew of this great big production. Some of the hobby's finest right here, if I may say so.

The cast and crew of this great big production. Some of the hobby’s finest right here, if I may say so.