Monday, September 9

The 7 Worst Things About Being a Reenactor

Every hobby has its own quirky PROS and CONS, historical reenacting is no exception. While there are a LOT of delightful PROS, there are plenty of CONS as well...

...Here are the 7 worst things about being a reenactor:

For a weekend event, I need almost an entire day to cram all my clothing and gear into the car and another day to get it all unpacked when I get home. I'm fortunate in that I have a mini van with a little more space, but even then there's the hassle of dragging the heavy seats out of the back to make room. It can turn a Saturday/Sunday event into a Friday/Saturday/Sunday/Monday event.

Why must it be a thousand degrees outside when you have to wear a wool coat on top of other thick layers of clothing? Why must it begin raining right as it's time for the battle reenactment to start? Or it starts raining right before it's time to start packing your canvas? Or it's crazy cold outside when you didn't pack appropriate clothing for it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fair weather reenactor. I am aware that it was occasionally hot/cold/rainy in the past, but yikes!

It can only mean one thing... God hates reenactors.

We've covered these in a previous post... you know the ones I'm talking about. Don't get me wrong, I love working with the public, but these can wear on a body after repeated application.

I love seeing new places and attending events at far flung historic sites... but yikes I get tired of the hours in the car! I have worn a hole in the carpet where the heel of my gas foot goes and mashed a dent in my armrest where my elbow sits. I've worn through oil and tires and put a zillion miles on my poor car in the pursuit of my beloved hobby. I know reenactors who have burned up tires, engines and entire cars in their travels. A moment of silence for our four-wheeled friends who have lost their lives in the tireless pursuit of our hobby.

I'm the worst about it in the world. I goto an event to present or demo for the public, or with some other agenda, and I'm so busy all weekend that I completely forget to eat or drink. Or it's nasty hot and I'm just too sweaty to even consider food of any sort. Then to compound the problem, when the public leaves there's a rum ration issued to the unit or an adult beverage offered to me on an empty stomach.

Crash starvation + Alcohol = I'm missing colors on Sunday morning

For some years I labored under the mistaken impression that cliques went away after high school, SPOILER ALERT... they do not. 

North, South, Indians, Slaves, English, French, American, Militia, Army, Navy, Longhunters, Stitch Nazis, Librarians, Farbs, Mainstreamers, Progressives, Old-timers, Spirit of 76ers, Costumers, Steampunks, Quebecois, Western, Performers, Presenters, Demonstrators, Craftsmen, Research hoarders, Doctors and Surgeons, Officers, NCOs, you name it.

In the end we're all doing roughly the same thing in our own way, giving the public a glimpse of life in the 'old-timey' days while trying to learn and experience some aspect of history for ourselves. Play nice out there kids!

I already don't enjoy using strange toilets. But I REALLY don't enjoy using strange PUBLIC toilets. Then, put that strange public toilet in a cramped, outdoor blue plastic booth while wearing my 'funny clothes'... and it is my ultimate recipe for discomfort. There are so many layers of clothing between you and your eventual goal that it is the least graceful and practical thing you can do at an event.  

I have been known to avoid port-a-potties like the plague unless I'm just absolutely desperate. And even IF I decide to make use of one, I usually try to use the 'handicapped' potty because they're so much bigger than the regular ones, there's generally enough room to take off and hang up the five layers of clothing between me and the plastic seat. God forbid my clothing be allowed to touch any of the mysterious and fetid fluids that lurk on any and ALL of the potty's surfaces.

Now, a tale that the lovely Mrs. Roberts twisted my arm to make me include.

A year or so ago, I was at a nice little event whose name I won't mention (but it rhymes with 'Long Run Massacre') and I had avoided the port-o-johns all weekend and finally was beside myself with desperation. So I picked out one that was partially obscured from public by the treeline. At least the event coordinators had made an attempt to hide them a little bit.

I enter and immediately realize this is going to be an unpleasant visit. The little blue booth was full in the hot afternoon sun and had been baking there for several hours. To make matters worse, it would seem that everyone else had used it before me, leaving it a complete wreck!

There were no interior hooks for me to hang my waistcoat etc from, so I very carefully folded it up and placed it precariously on a little shelf attached to the exhaust pipe. Then, I very carefully got myself arranged so as to do my duty (as it were). I was mindful the entire time not to allow my breeches to touch the wet floor.

Once my transaction was complete, I stand to pull up my breeches. But because of the small size of the little potty and the awkward angle at which I had to stand in order to keep my breeches from touching the floor. I was having a hard time. Then the perfect storm occurred, Leather soled period repro boots met slick plastic floor, awkward crouching angle met wonky balancing act center of gravity. I sliped forward and banged my head on the plastic door then fell in a half-clothed crumple onto the wet floor.

Needless to say, the scream that issued forth from the interior of that little blue hell must have sounded like a middle school girl.
Be sure to check out other lists of interest:

That does it for this reenactor list. If you have enjoyed reading this or the other adventures of the HMS Acasta, be certain to become an honorary member of the crew. This is a easy way to show us that you're out there and paying attention. It is a simple matter really, there is a blue button at the very bottom of the page that will allow you to join.

And Second, I would ask that you comment from time to time on the posts that interest you the most. This is an excellent way to let the crew of the Acasta know what you, the reader, is the most interested in seeing. It is always most gratifying to know what the readers like. For those of you that have commented in the past, we thank you for you support and interest!

If you find a post that you are particularly fond of... be sure to share a link with your friends over on Facebook, Tumblr, Google Plus, etc. so they can enjoy it too!

Monday, September 2

About Mark Ledford

If there ever was a living, breathing embodiment of that Jolly Jack Tar what is in all the songs it was Mark Ledford. He was a big bull of a man, strong as one also, but I never seen him loose his temper or even his good nature. No matter what the weather or officers throwed at us he would just take it all with a smile and a laugh.

Once a gang of us was ashore on liberty and there was a gang of lobsters in the same grog shop, but at the start they kept to their side and we ours. After a bit the biggest one come over to Ledford, who was standing at the time. He might have picked him cause he was the biggest, or maybe cause Ledford was laughing the loudest.  Mark just ignored him until he speaks up real loud and says “there ain’t a Tar alive what is fit to wipe the boots of a Royal Marine.” Mark just smiles at him and says “I see you ain’t acquainted with many tars”.

All to once there was a loud noise and the Lobster is standing funny lookin cross eyed. It happened so fast none of us caught it but Tony Weremacheck. Tony was born someplace that was not Russia, but nearby to it. He never said much, but he studied everything going on around him real careful. I don’t know if that is the way they are where he was born, or it was just his own way of hisself. Anyway he didn’t say much, but he didn’t miss nothing either.

He told us later the Lobster looked quick back to his mates then went to throw a punch, but Ledford beat him to it and give him a uppercut to the chin that almost lifted him off his feet. It throwed him against the wall so hard he bounced of it- that was the noise- and left him still standing, Tony said Ledford set his mug on the table with his free hand while he was doing it. 

Ledford took a sip from his mug and says to the Lobster “you shifted your weight before you started your punch- and ya looked back at yer mates to make sure they was watchin. That was a dead giveaway”. He says it just like he was telling the fellow his shoe had come unbuckled,  At that the fellow kind of comes to hisself and goes to throw another punch- we was all watching this time- but Ledford beats him again and punches him first, this time in the gut. That doubled him up and put him on his knees, then he starts to puke. Mark waits till he is about done puking , then squats down beside him, friendly like. “ We gonna keep this up much longer? I’d really like to get back to drinkin” he says. “Let me buy ya a drink” gasps the Lobster.

As it was he bought the next two rounds for both our whole crew and his mates, by morning we a was all pretty good chums.

-James Cullen,
Remembrances of Eight years before the Mast,