I only have photos of the aftermath, because I was part of the display. You’re asked not to use cameras when you’re the animal in the zoo, so nothing of Tom fishing with a boy from another regiment, nothing of the battle (we sat in camp, as women did), and nothing of me, either, though I know people took photos of me sewing and talking to the “Bourbonnais priest” under a tree. He’s really a librarian at a local college and we were talking in a very meta way about history and interpretation, and in a chatty way about vacations. But it makes me wonder about the stories people tell themselves about the things they see.
I sat on a stone wall and felt a breeze cool my sweat-drenched stays, watched overweight tourists trudge past in shorts and tank tops, their backs soaked with perspiration, and wondered about the experience of watching and being watched. A troop of tourists walking through your camp is a curious thing; they come right up and into your space–no ropes, as David said–and want to touch your things and play with your companion’s baby.
They take photos, and we’re literally on opposite sides of fence. We’re eating and they’re watching, even as we’re clearly trying to get some “Off display” time, to eat our 21st-century sandwiches. This is not to say that, costumed, one does not invite this, for are we not asking to be looked at in these curious clothes? But the visitors are rude and don’t seem to know how to behave. Smith’s Castle’s people had the best notion, I think, with a structured display and demonstration set up inside a fence. They had a barrier that we, in camp, under an apple tree, did not have.
Another time, I would do it differently. Tent, fly, camp kitchen: a table barrier between us and them, and a place to go and hide.
Not to say the visitors weren’t rude no matter where we were: I took Thomas up to a shop to get him a treat (candy and a quill pen; he likes to write that way) and the tourists were as odd there as anywhere, cutting in line for one thing, but also clearly not knowing what to do with the people dressed so funny. The OSV staff–they didn’t care. Everybody’s money spent the same.