#nobletrain, 18th century, authenticity, common people, common soldier, Costume, Events, feminism, Fort Ticonderoga, history, interpretation, living history, progressive reenacting, women's history, women's work
Fort Ti was described to me as “Disney World for Re-enactors,” but my vote is for Living History’s Moonrise Kingdom.
I almost didn’t go when my Saturday night roomshare cancelled on Monday and then I developed an ear ache on Wednesday, but on Thursday, Low Spark , Mlle Modiste and I arranged a carpool, so on Friday morning, a Carload of Rhode Islanders (a thing to behold and to be wary of) set off for points north.
Our initial plan was to to sleep in the soldiers’ huts, but they proved extremely crowded and smokey, so when Mlle Modiste and I were offered a bunk in the barracks, we took it… unfortunately, only one of the blankets I’d brought for us did not make it back up to the fort or into the car heading home.
Before supper, we stuffed bed ticks, started a fire, startled a bat (I was not the source of the shriek that brought officers, women, and soldiers running), and stuffed straw in the hole we thought it flew into (thank goodness I’m tall, I guess).
The tavern moved up to the would-be armory at the barracks, though I’m certain multiple political deals and presidential candidacies could have been plotted and bought down at the smoke-filled huts. Instead, it was reenactor politics as usual: parallel experiences for men and women (not ladies, thank you, and if I hear you use “distaff” about me, expect to find one has become part of your anatomy). Just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean I don’t notice it, understand it, and still dislike it.
We’d expected to attend to “sick” soldiers in the hospital, but Saturday was such a lovely day that we spent most of it outdoors, starting and tending a fire to boil laundry and make dinner for the women’s mess. This pleased me mightily, even as I may have distracted troops despite my advanced age as I crouched at the fire being a human bellows. You try getting low in stays and see how you do: immodesty, thy name is fashion.
While I kept the fire going, much credit should go to Rory, a bad-ass woman in men’s clothing who split wood a-plenty for us. Rory made me want badly to make myself a suit and wield an axe. I find myself wanting to do the same work as the men (I have always been this way), and I was intrigued by the debate that was reported to me: should a woman do men’s work in women’s clothes, or in men’s clothes? In the end, they chose men’s clothes, and Rory wore them well. Reader: I was jealous. I was also covetous of an axe, having realized all the cutting and hewing tools are no longer domiciled with me.
Saturday really revolved around three things for me: food, free agency, and feminism:
- I ate some interesting things, including a smoked chocolate cake (left overnight in a hut, I can describe its flavor best as sucking diesel exhaust through a chocolate cupcake).
- Now that I’m a free agent attending events sans unit, I have much more fun.
- I am determined and dedicated to effecting well-researched roles for women in living history events of all kinds.