It was a one day event (on Saturday), but we girls left home on Thursday in order to swing over and collect some friends of ours. We spent the night at the H. house before loading A and R's things into the truck and hitting the road.
A. sat in the front with Savannah (longer legs than mine!) and I confess, that though I was sitting directly behind him, couldn't hear what their most interesting conversations were. Only by straining my ears could I catch the jist of them...guess that's what you get for putting two soft-spoken people in the front seat of a very noisy vehicle. :D
We arrived in Tennessee safely and we got ourselves registered, scouted out where we'd be setting up the next day, listened to some live songs as the mic checks were underway, and I, at any rate, got eaten by mosquitoes (nasty bugsys!)
The fact that we girls are used to Eastern time actually was a blessing because we woke up earlier in the morning and so were able to get out the door at 7:30 (like we planned) without much extra stress. Below is what we looked like (minus the aprons we would later don):
As vendor's the day was something of a flop. We sold a few things, but not near what we would have liked to sell. When talking to various people on the organizing/planning/event host staff, it became clear that there were not as many folks there as they had expected; also roughly half the vendors pulled out and didn't show and "a lot of the reenactors" cancelled at the last minute. Odd...
Anyway, the actual reenactment part was outstanding. The battles, which ranged up the street from the encampment (which I never did make it down to!) up to the courthouse. Here's the set up: The Nazi's held the town and there was this HUGE Nazi flag hung on the courthouse. The Allies (101st and 82nd Airborne, and a British paratrooper unit) came up the street from the encampment, past the vendors, and took the town. Dropping the Nazi flag, they replaced it with a little US flag.
Anyway, now that you get the idea of the strategic movements of the battle, let me tell you a little bit about the experience. As the Allies came up the street, they were firing. It really gave one a sense of what it would have been like. I wasn't afraid, because I knew the cartridges were blanks, but I could easily imagine being afraid under the circumstances...so, I got into character and hunkered down behind my tables (but not in such a way that I couldn't see) and jumped every time the small howitzer roared.
I guesstimated to A that the shell was probably "this size" (holding up my hands in a rough circle about 5-6 inches across) and we tried to figure out what caliber that was. [After doing a real brief Wiki search here, it looks like it could have been a "75mm Pack Howitzer M1 (also known by its post-war designation M116)". According to this, it was primarily used by Airborne units...at any rate, it was a smallish one.]
The first battle (there were two), I was down at the vendor area and really felt right smack dab in the middle of things. The second battle, I went into the spectator area and didn't feel quite so much in the middle of things. The were both well executed.
At some point during the first battle, I was standing near the front of this pretty antique Ford pickup (it was red!), shading my eyes and looking towards the courthouse square. One of the field photographers (101st, I believe his patch was) was facing me [his back to courthouse], so I glanced back to see if there were more men coming (I wanted to know if I needed to get out the way)...there weren't, so I realized he was taking my picture, so I faced back the way I had been and kept squinting up the street (it was pretty sunny). After a moment, he grinned at me and said, "Perfect!" before wheeling and hurrying up the street toward the fighting. I must say I was rather flattered. :)
The overall organization and coordination of the event was probably the best of any reenactment I've been a part of. The Courters (and their church) did an outstanding job getting everything ready and making it work, even with the little hitches that inevitably happen. I really hope they do it again next year! I'll try to make it if they do! (*mumbles: Can I get my old truck fixed up by then?*)
Throughout the day, they had speakers and live music up next to the courthouse. I didn't hear any of them really except for the first veteran who spoke. He was one of the Dachau concentration camp liberators. I think that A caught all the speakers on video (he was out and about with his camera enough), so I'll have to bug my brother for copies (please ;])...
I gave hugs and kisses to as many of the WWII vets in attendance that I could get to. There were the usual jokes about me flirting with the old men, but it doesn't matter. I do love the old gentlemen for who they are and what they did and as my own grandfather is of them and that age, it doesn't seem odd or inappropriate to me. (Besides, I have yet to meet one of these men that has refused the affection. :D)
I feel that this post is rather inadequate, but I'm really quite tired and think I'm fighting off another meningitis attack. I'm just glad that didn't come over me yesterday, because I was driving. (YES. Racheal has finally learned how to drive highway speeds!!!)
We didn't get many pictures because as reenactors we were going to try to follow the rules (no modern looking cameras)...so that is why there are practically none.
I did get to meet a few people that hitherto I have only a) heard about, b) seen pictures of, or c) read their blogs. I met a couple of the Botkins...I actually had a short conversation with David and Nadia over the doll dress table. They have a two year old daughter who was getting quite sleepy. Anyway, Mr. David Botkin left the table with a Lady Libby business card in his hand. :)
At supper that evening, we sat across from a lady and her red-headed son (he was one of the medics) from Florida. I was going to ask said young man at some point whether or not he did Civil War reenacting because he looked soo familiar. I'm not sure I haven't seen that face under a grey kepi before...Anyway, I didn't ask and Sunday morning I was too tired (and thus shy) to stroll up to him and tap him on the elbow and ask. He probably would have been nice about it if I had because he seemed to be a nice fellow. His mother looked really familiar too... Oh well. I guess it won't kill me to not have my curiosity satisfied.
Speaking of Saturday evening though...after supper, Steven Bowman (a filmmaker I had name [and to a degree, face] recognition with), did an interpretation of Winston Churchill's speech after Dunkirk (you know, the famous "we will fight on the beaches" speech). He did such a GREAT job; putting on the accent, slurring like Churchill...it was really enjoyable. (He didn't quite sound like Churchill, being too young to really get the grovel going right, but was really close.)
Afterwards, the Boyer sisters did a little show, replete with USO arm bands and all. There were old favorites and songs I had never heard before. One of my favorites was "Put it in a Box, Tie it with a Ribbon, and Throw it in the Deep Blue Sea". It was really catchy. (Do you know that one, Mrs. S?)
Once the entertainment was over, I was well satisfied to head back to our motel and get to bed. My sunburn was beginning to catch up to me.
Sunday morning we joined Christ the King Church for worship. It's the first time that I have ever been to a Reformed Baptist church, so it was interesting for that in and of itself. However, the message(s) were edifying and Biblical. We stayed to eat afterwards and had a good conversation with a pretty young lady named Norah. A. was further down the table in conversation with another fellow filmmaker.
We headed back to the H.'s around 4 o'clock (central time) and got in someplace between 7:30 and 8:30. By that time I was too tired to really bother what time it was. We ate the supper that was waiting on us, talked to the rest of the H. family for a while and then everybody went to their respective sleeping quarters. The pull-out couch I was loaned was pretty comfortable and I slept good and hard all night long.
We girls didn't leave until nearly noon the next day because after a good breakfast and a couple cups of coffee made by the still exhausted A, L, the youngest of the H. "kids" 'hornswoggled' (a word used to describe me by A! ;D) us into a game of Frisbee. He's so tall he just reaches up and plucks the flying disk out of the air. Anyway, L had to leave to go to work and the rest of us kept playing for a while (yes, Savannah still had on her heels!) and then we just jawed for a while.
I drove home (as I had driven over on Thursday) and we got home before 7.
I am grateful we got to go; it was a good time with friends (family ;]) and a good reminder of our history and how we ought to hold brave men in esteem.
I really hope they do it again next year!