Now that it is over and I am home, I will attempt to paint a bit of a picture of it for you. We didn't get many photographs (none of the battles) because as reenactors, we weren't supposed to be hauling around modern cameras--not that that stopped most people from walking around with smart phones in hand. It really does rather spoil the authenticity of things, but most people probably don't even give it a second thought...
With those preliminaries out of the way, let's start on Thursday. Thursday was packing day...and the day that saw an "internet friend" become an "in person" friend. Miss K was picked up by my parents on their way home from an appointment and by the end of the weekend, if she doesn't have a pretty good idea about how crazy we are...well, she does. ;)(And by the way, some of the photos you will see here were taken by her. :) I think she was more on the ball about a lot of stuff than we were!!)
We got the truck packed, more or less, on Thursday and we meant to get out Friday a little earlier than we did--but because of a little extra packing we got out at 10 AM. Then we got hung up in city traffic for an entire hour, so we arrived in Tennessee later than we wanted to. We were scheduled to tent camp in the Courter's front yard (which we did), but we went straight to the supper kindly provided free of charge by the Commodore Hotel. This event was, to a degree, an entire community event. After eating, we hung around for the "USO" show and enjoyed a variety of singers...the Boyer Sisters being one act. Among the others were several of the young people from Christ the King church. During the Friday night show, Steven Bowman did an Roosevelt impersonation, giving the December 8th speech that launched the US into WWII.
We got a little damp throughout the evening, but oh well. By the time we cleared out and headed for the Courter's (we skipped watching the scheduled film again this year for obvious reasons if you keep reading), it had quit sprinkling. I did my very first real, in the hills driving then...in the dark. Savannah was feeling really very nervous, I think. :) Regardless, we arrived at the Courter's safe and sound. When I switched off the engine, I left the headlights on so that we could see what we were doing in order to set up the tent. We brought two with us, but settled on putting all four girls in the one. It was probably around 11 our time (only 10 locally) when we all finally crawled into our harder than usual beds and tried to sleep. I never sleep the greatest first night out, whether tent camping or otherwise. I was really psyched up too, so that didn't help. I finally did sleep (probably more than I think I did) and when I woke up in the morning, I was impatient for the day to start.
I couldn't get the single burner propane stove to light, so we were delighted to be invited up to the house for some coffee and breakfast. We only took advantage of the coffee Saturday morning, but it was indeed highly appreciated.
As vendors we were supposed to be completely set up by 8:30, so as soon as we were dressed, made-up (which did not only entail "putting on our faces", but included having Savannah draw "stocking" lines up the back of our legs for accuracy's sake), and fed, we rolled out and proceeded to get set up...in a misting sprinkle. Everything would get damp on and off all day.
If you look carefully, you may see a face grinning out at you...and under the face and the shadow of the wooden basket, is a dark spot--which happens to be a revolver. I set up my own little personal history display, similar to what was in several shop window's about town.
I had a bi-fold picture holder, an antique in and of itself, in which I had put a photograph of Uncle Harold and one of Shorty.
As it turns out, both the pictures and the gun developed into talking points...and DANGER! ;)
Danger, that is, for our sweet little "French" girl. K would have to tell her own tale to do it complete justice, but I will try to tell it in a lively enough fashion for you to get the idea. (By the way, when we registered we got to choose between English, French, or Italian "papers". Katherine and I went British--though I didn't even bother attempting to fake it and Savannah and K went French.) As it turns out, the Germans didn't bother any of us except for K...twice!
The first time, my gun got the innocent girl into deeper "trouble" than she was in before. (The girls were off someplace and I had just taken a quick detour into a nearby area...I returned shortly after the following events took place).
Apparently, this "German" strolls up and asks if she had the right to vend there (mind you, K was doing a French accent and she was really very consistent--and as far as I could tell doing a good job at it). An affirmative answer...he starts to walk off...then spins back around and demands to see her papers--which she couldn't find even though they were in her purse (she found them later). At any rate, while she was digging through her purse he started looking about and spotted my gun...and K says he switched into all German and apparently started demanding about the gun...accusing her of being in the French resistance....
To put icing on that cake, once he got done haranguing her, he stepped over to her and kind of whispered in her ear that she had done a fine job. :) That's a fine compliment.
I forget the second story as to how she got "carded"...but it happened.
Moving on to a different tale now...for the last year I have been declaring to any and all who will listen to me that I was going to get a half-track ride this year. Savannah and Katherine went earlier in the day and got duck ride...by the time K and I went down to the camp (one of the pick-up spots), they said they weren't giving any more rides....bah. Phooey. NO. You mean it happened again??
No ride. I think I survived. I think I even laughed about it. I am now...here I've been making a fuss all year about how I didn't get a ride last year only to miss it again. *shakes head* Oh well...now NEXT year...wait...perhaps I oughtn't to jinx myself... ;D
Anyway, yes, K and I went down to the encampment, where I enthused politely over firearms and got to hold a BAR, a tommy gun, and M2 grease gun, and....I think the lad said it was a Springfield...I had thought it was maybe an Enfield. We talked to a few gentlemen from the 115th Infantry (US) and grinned and chuckled as one of the "Lymies" fired blanks from a 50mm (I'm guessing) machine gun at the camera drone someone was flying about.
Then we moved to the Axis side of the encampment....and this resulted:
Um...yes...briefly. I wanted to see their guns! I regret that I cannot remember the make and model of the one I'm holding in the pictures, but it felt nice and balanced...and I liked the sights.
The battles themselves were better than last year and I have to say that I do not enjoy standing with spectators. They cut up and laugh and are a distraction. There was one young man in the crowd that I remember from last year....not only did I recognise his face....but he spent the entire time telling his neighbor what gun was what and particular specs about said firearm. It was a bit irritating....but maybe it was because I was just about as well versed on most of them as he was. I don't know, but it sure detracts from the solemnity and realism when people talk. Next year (assuming there is a next year; apparently Mr. Courter is saying they may skip a year), I want to be on the OTHER side of the street where I can react and play the part. Maybe I'll be a little more mentally prepared as a reenactor too. I wasn't quite in the correct mindset the entire time...
Anyway, on to more stories...
Someone, I believe it was Jessica Courter, told me about the Memory Wall, seeing my pictures. There were some copy machines that one could use to make copies of the pictures and then pin them on the Memory Wall. Tickled at the idea, I snatched them up and headed off up the street determinedly. Coming to the right place, I was waiting to talk to the young lady behind a table when "something" happened. The young man who was inside moved toward the door and kind of leaned on the door jamb. He had on a nice suit, but I didn't notice that until a little bit later. His name tag was reflected in the glass panel of the door and I read it absently...then again a little more alertly. I knew who he was even though I figured he hadn't the slightest idea who I was. So...I turned about, faced him squarely and queried, "Do you know Evan N?" The response is still cracking me up because it sounds exactly like something brother Evan would have said.
"Do I know Evan N?"
I quickly explained who I was and why I asked and we introduced ourselves properly and yes, he does know Evan, which I naturally already knew, and he was able to take care of the copy machine for me. Young Mr. B and I would not exchange further pleasantries until Sunday afternoon when I dropped by where he was sitting to ask him to greet Evan for myself and my sisters as we were fixing to hit the road. At any rate, it is always interesting to run into persons who know the same people as you do. :)
Speaking of running into people, there was two people that, even though I've only seen them and spoken to them once before (last year), I had taken a shine too. I was therefore pleased to see them again. I talked to both Mrs. S and her son Evan for a bit during the time in which I was visiting with Mr. Churchwell...or rather both Mr. Churchwells... :)
I don't have any pictures of them as they are now, but I got these:
Then...of course...there was the story about the girlfriends. Apparently, Bob didn't have much trouble getting girls since he was (and is!) a talker. But...he couldn't dance...and Johnny could. So, "I didn't keep girlfriends very long because the next thing I know, Johnny's out on the dance floor with them." I told him then that he was just supplying his brother with a bunch of nice girls, and he laughed and agreed. :D
But that's not the end of the story. A lady of "about 50" in the USO noticed that Johnny always ended up with Bob's girls...and she took pity on him and taught him the basics of how to dance and "I kept girlfriends a little longer after that."
I have a feeling those two were quite a set of hoots in their younger days (probably real nice boys too)...they still are, but just in a mid-90's sort of way. Bob talks and Johnny kind of smiles and nods almost as if he's snickering in some cases. I sure hope I get to see them again...
There were other interesting happenings...other previous acquaintances to renew...new friends to make...new laughs to be had...
Saturday was spent busily about doing this, that, and the other. Then...evening arrived. We girls all changed into our formals and headed for supper. I can't seem to find a picture that looks decent enough of all of us at once...so you'll have to take it from me that everyone looked pretty decent. :) (The pictures all make me look fat though...despite the black I'm wearing.)
After supper we moved to the further end of the parking lot of the evening USO show...a little over half way through I'm guessing, it started to rain a little and over half the people abandoned ship. I simply can't understand it. You get a little wet, so you run? I feel sorry for Esther, who had just begun to sing when the mass exodus happened and for the Boyer Sisters who ended up not finishing their entire planned performance due to the wetness.
We went "home" after the fireworks and rain. I sleep like a log both way (hard and long) and woke up quite stiff. We had coffee in the Courter house again and ate the food graciously provided and then headed for church...me in my new sailor outfit. I'm just plain tickled with how it came out.
After church, we ate left overs from the evening before and though we might have liked to stay longer, as soon as we were done eating, I went about and bid adieu to those folks I wanted to and then we hit the road. Savannah was not feeling well and I figured that we could make it all the way home if we didn't dawdle too long. Which we did....safe and sound. We still didn't get to bed until after 1 AM though because we were telling Mama and Daddy all about it and winding down from the whole exciting shebang.
It was a fantastic time and I really, really, REALLY hope that they do it again next year. I think I may do as Mrs. Courter suggested and contact Jessica (a mover and shaker behind it) and see if there is any sort of "help" I could be for next time from two states away. We'll see. I have to recover my wind right now and jump head first into getting ready to open a physical store front next week.
I'll leave you with a semi-goofy picture taken on Thursday night of the girls and I in our same-fabric, different pattern dresses which we wore on Saturday: