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Archive for June, 2010

Special “Behind the Scenes” tours were yet another feature of our
full day at Old Sturbridge Village during the recent 2010 National
ALHFAM Conference. I accompanied the ten or so other folks who
took a peek at the inner workings of OSV’s Costume Shop.

Now when I was at Conner Prairie (back in the early ’90s), we had
to make, or pay someone else to make, all our own 1836 clothing.
Any and all fabrics we used had to be approved by, and all patterns
were obtained from, the Costume Department. However, that is NOT
the case at OSV. All clothing worn by interpreters is made by Shop
staff. Various items are constructed, and then each person is assigned
whatever pieces are appropriate for his or her particular character
and/or location, be it farmhand, spinster, shoemaker, gentleman,
cook, or whatever. Everyone is responsible for alerting staff when
repairs and such are needed, and if an item is lost or destroyed,
the Costume Shop must be reimbursed. However, washing and/or
dry cleaning of each item is done by the individual wearer.

OSV’s Costume Shop itself is housed in a cute little white former
house adjacent to the Village. Comprised of three floors, one is
dedicated to women’s clothing, one to men’s, and one for fittings
and other more general tasks. Christine Bates and her staff are
responsible for providing clothing for any and all people, young
and old, big and small, who work daily in the Village. From children
participating in summer camp to special event folks to the everyday
interpreters, all are outfitted by Bates and company. And, if I recall
correctly, more than 200 people will be wearing period-appropriate
clothing during this year alone, thanks to the Costume Shop.

There were two things that I found particularly interesting
about the way clothing is handled at Old Sturbridge Village.
One, that any and all fabrics used must be documented by
virtue of their existence in the Museum’s Collections. Two,
that the actual sewing of garments, large or small, is done
by select seamstresses, hired on contract, in their own homes.
Yes, there wasn’t a sewing machine in sight during our tour!
All major work is done off-site. Apparently (and I don’t quite
understand it), there’s something regarding the use of sewing
machines and the ability to obtain insurance. Or something.
That certainly wasn’t the case back in the days at good ol’
Conner Prairie! I can remember going often to the Costume
Room to use some nifty sewing gadget or other. Never used
the sewing machine, tho, as I had my own…but I digress.

The Shop’s work can be simply exquisite. This lovely dress and
its color combination caught my eye:

An interpreter saw this banyan and wanted one like it, so he
brought in the original, the Shop staff created a pattern, and
then made the garment, using fabrics he chose (now, if it’d
been me, I would’ve selected a nice paisley of some sort!):

A never-ending task in the Costume Shop: patching; and yes,
the Shop, and NOT the interpreters, does any and all mending,
repairs, altering, and so forth:

Speaking of which, rows and rows of spools of thread, in every
conceivable color:

OSV’s Costume Shop takes care of all woolen garments, as well:

Something it would’ve been nice to see more often at Conner Prairie,
men’s corduroy trousers:

Hats! (er, Bonnets!):

I especially like the small, close-fitting, navy blue one,
with the pink-ish feather:

______________________________

One thing I’d like to add…during our brief tour of OSV’s Costume Shop, I was
struck by the sheer numbers, by the quantity, of clothing the Shop produces.
And by the variety of fabric patterns…solids, small prints, large, plaids, as well
as every color imaginable. Oh, and the things that CP banned. Yet, at the same
time, I didn’t see any stripes. Wonder why? Or maybe I just missed them?

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Yet another annual National ALHFAM Conference has come and
gone. Here I sit, back in my own home, wondering just where did
the time go? And me with so many more pictures to share. dagnabit.
I’m so far behind on postings. How it goes, I guess.

Incidentally, the Conference was a HUGE success. Three hale
and hearty HUZZAHS! to all who planned it.

Be sure to stay tuned. Photos WILL be posted, both now and
in the coming days. We’ll get the ball rolling with “ALHFAM Day”
at Old Sturbridge Village.

___________________________________

The lady of the household at the Small family dwelling was busily
preparing a meal, consisting of roast pork on a string, a baked
corn pudding (in the brick oven), a boiled Indian corn pudding,
and a medley of root vegetables, including parsnips and potatoes
(it all looked, and smelled, wonderful!):

Mike the Potter was busy unloading the roughly 750 redware pieces
from the kiln, which had been fired the previous Friday, beginning
at 7:30 a.m. until about 10 p.m. on Saturday:

The firing temperature reaches between 1600 andd 1800 degrees.
I asked Mike if any pieces blew up during the firing, if he’d lost any.
He said, yes, about five or so.

The “Punch and Judy Show,” which was a big hit with all the kids,
young and old alike. Of course, being just a kid myself, I happily
went up and shook Mr. Punch’s hand when invited to do so:

Dyeing wool yarn using walnuts, which have been dried
for about a year, pounded, and boiled for several hours:

Time to do the evening’s milking at Freeman’s farm, where three
generations of milk cows reside: Buttercup; Bess; and Betty. The
youngest (this cow) is a first-time mother, and so is new to the
whole routine. In fact, she rejected her own calf, so it will be
bottle-fed for a time. She gives only about three gallons each
day, which apparently is a low amount compared to other cows.
Cheese was also being made up in the farmhouse:

Chatting with the Indian Doctor about her clothing, a combination
of Native American and “Yankee” items (the former would’ve been
hand-crafted and sewn, while the latter would’ve been store-bought
or traded):

Unfortunately, due to a misprint on our special ALHFAM map/schedules,
I later missed her presentation in the Village. dagnabit. Would’ve really
liked to have heard it.

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This past Sunday, I participated in “An Introduction
to Tinsmithing,” a Professional Development Workshop
that preceded the start of the 2010 ALHFAM National
Conference. Guided by the very capable Phil Eckert
of Old Sturbrige Village, five fellow ALHFAMers and
I created several 1830s-appropriate tin items, using
the tools of the trade. Our project list included:
a candle sconce; a pint mug; and a heart-shaped
cookie cutter.

First up, the tin candle sconce:

TA-DA!

As we broke for lunch, I asked Phil if we could possibly
make other items. You see, I wanted to make things I
need, that I can use in my historic cooking programs.
Besides, I already have a tin mug (and candle sconces,
for that matter). Naturally, he inquired at to what I had
in mind. I replied, “Oh say a couple of small cake hoops,
maybe a nutmeg grater.” And so, he graciously allowed
me to veer off the set project list. HUZZAH!

I started with the nutmeg grater:

The round bottom piece, the handle, and the seam then
had to be soldered.

Next, the cake hoops. Phil asked that I make a drawing
of just what I wanted. Easy enough:

It was pretty basic. I made two, so pieces of tin were cut,
folded back at the edges, rounded, then hooked and
clamped together. No soldering necessary.

Of course, by this point, I kinda knew my way around
the shop and had learned how to use many of the tools.
So I was merrily playing around with pieces of tin and
trying this ‘n that. When the time came to make the
heart-shaped cookie cutter, I stated that I would make
a biscuit cutter instead. Well, since it was simple to do,
I ended up making both. I had Phil’s help in shaping
the cookie cutter, but I figured out the biscuit cutter
on my own. The heart shape required soldering, but
the biscuit cutter did not; it was hooked and clamped
like the cake hoops.

Overall, it certainly was a most enjoyable workshop. I love
learning new skills, particularly in something I don’t, and
wouldn’t, normally do. Besides, I use many tin items, so
it’s valuable to know how they were created. Now, whether
I purchase tools and set up shop at home, is another matter.
I’m glad, however, to know that I could make various items
if I should choose to do so. It’s nice, as well, to participate
in such a workshop and walk away with lots of goodies.
Lots of highly useful goodies! HUZZAH!

My treasure trove of tin utensils (made by ME!):

___________________________________

Incidentally, according to our illustrious instructor, Phil Eckert,
there is no evidence that tin mugs were used for drinking
historically, except possibly by the military; they were
for measuring. He informed us all, however, that we
could use it as we wished.

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Here are photos from the June 19 kiln firing on the grounds
of Old Sturbridge Village. It was a fantastic event. Reminded
me of the kiln firings back during my Conner Prairie days. It
was simply, absolutely, awesome. HUZZAH!

___________________________________

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Well, it’s been quite a day (Saturday) here at ALHFAM 2010.
I just returned from the mostly-after-dark kiln firing at Old
Sturbridge Village
, which was simply AWESOME by the way,
but my report will have to wait. Must get up early tomorrow,
so am gonna try to sleep if I can (nothing new on the A/C
issue). Plus the ol’ camera battery is dead, so will have
to wait on pictures.

I will return!

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Yesterday evening I arrived at Worcester State College (pronounced “wooo-str”)
in Worcester, MA, to attend the 2010 ALHFAM National Conference.

Conference activities and sessions will take place in various campus
buildings. Attendees are either staying in nearby hotels or in the WSC
dorm, Wayslean Hall:

Yep, I’m a dormer. I tell ya, after my first night here…. It’s a pretty decent
dorm as far as dorms go. Modern, clean, AIR CONDITIONED. We’re all in
multi-room suites, with living area, kitchen, shared bath. Now, it’s been
more than three decades since I’ve spent any amount of time in one of
these. In fact, my 35th (yikes!) college reunion is next week, but I’m here
instead of there (hope you appreciate it, ALHFAM!). After last night, however,
well, I sure do envy those folks staying at hotels! Am not sure how long I’ll
last…or if I do…I may join them. ugh Well, one thing is definite: it’s certainly
gonna be an adventure!

More later. Gotta go see if I can find a ride out to our host site, Old Sturbridge
Village
. If not, there’s always the local Yellow Cab (have used it several times
already). I’d really like to spend some time there today, if I can. Didn’t come
early to not! Besides, I HAVE to be at OSV tonight. Why, you may ask?
Because I scored a ticket to the Kiln Firing! I can hardly wait. It’s gonna
be sooooo exciting. HUZZAH!

_________________________

[note to Mary: See what you’re missing?! Will hopefully get LOTS of photos!]

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If you’ll allow me to step off the historic cooking
path for a few moments…

Today, June 17, would’ve been my parents 60th
wedding anniversary.

They were married on this date in 1950, which
was a Saturday that year, in Robertson Chapel,
located on the campus of Butler University (yes,
THAT Butler), in Indianapolis, Indiana. Or, as my
mother always reminded me, their wedding was
on Bunker Hill Day. This, she cheerily said, while
seeming to ignore her own note-worthy day.

Unfortunately, neither parent is still around
to celebrate this major marital milestone.
My dad didn’t even make it to Number 50.
My mother did, though. A friend of hers
took her to lunch to mark the day ten
years ago. That kind gesture meant alot
to her, for she spoke of it often during her
remaining years. I’m sure she would’ve
rather celebrated with my dad, however.
When Number 40 came ’round, there was
a huge celebratory party to mark the annual
occasion. I know they both thought it was
great fun having all their friends, plus a few
relatives, together in one room at one time.

Of course, today I’m saddened that my
folks are no longer around to celebrate
this special day (or any other, for that
matter). I miss them both terribly. I miss
that my dad knew so much about nearly
everything (or so it seemed), and that
he always had just the correct answer
to any question. I often long now for
his guidance on some sticky situation
or tough issue. He had an easy-going
way about him. Things didn’t bother
him much. At least, not for long. And
then there was his sense of humor.
I like to think that that is perhaps
something we shared. Oh! The jokes
and stories he told every night at our
dinner table.

As for my mother, well, what can I say?
She was my mother, and I was her little
girl. She was my biggest fan, and she
gave her undying support for all I did.
Although she had a PhD, and would’ve
rather continued her career as a college
professor, she was a typical stay-at-home
mom during my early years. It was just
what women did in the 1950s and early
60s. In doing so, however, she shaped
my value system and built my character;
she was largely responsible for who I am
today. In recent years, after I moved
here to the Big Bad City, she came often
to visit. Oh! The adventures we had.
Though I miss those times we shared,
I treasure the memories that linger still.

Both of my parents were intelligent, well-read
and well-educated individuals.They certainly
set the standard pretty high. Both of them
loved to travel. Both were active in local groups
and community organizations. Both just simply
loved life and lived it to the fullest. Sure, there
were the occasional ups and downs, but overall,
they were one well-oiled team. I’m glad these
two souls were my parents. I was privileged
to have had them in my life, leading the way
and showing me how to be, for all those years.
I was truly blessed.

There’s so much more that I could say, but…
well, dagnabit, there’s something in my eyes….

So, I’ll end this with a heartfelt
Happy 60th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!
Love you.

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