Monday, April 6, 2009

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life For Me..............

This post is not about pirates for the most part, but I knew that the title would yank the chain of my messmate Andrew.(aka Leonidas the spear bearer)He HATES pirates.

I spent Saturday at historic Bath, a state historic site in eastern North Carolina. Bath is the oldest incorporated town in the state, having received it's incorporation in 1705. The town of Bath isn't really near anything, so it has been pretty well preserved. Very few modern conveniences, I don't even think they have a "Stop and Rob" in the town limits. It has a old town quaintness and there just isn't a big rush for any of the locals to do anything. It was a great event for me because in the past I have been to historic sites where people were there either because there wasn't anything else to do, or perhaps they were in the area and just decided to "stop by" It's a lot like a historic site that is close to the interstate. Folks will stop there because it has clean restrooms, and then since they are there, they might as well look around. Bath wasn't like that at all. Since it IS out of the way, you go to Bath because you WANT to be there.

My messmates in the Carolina Living History Guild agreed to set up a display on colonial sailors for the site, I figured I would head down and do some sewing or rope work. Another of my messmates Johnny Mo wasn't going to go, but I talked him into it by saying I would drop by and pick him up. I must say, I am one charming and convincing soul when I need to be, so he agreed. It was a bit out of my way, but it was well worth it, since John is good company and keeps me out of trouble with my knees.

It is about three hours from my home to Wilmington where John lives, then three more hours to Bath. Coffee, icebag and a collection of Sea Shanties and Sailor's songs CDs`and I was ready for my road trip. When I picked up John, I plugged in the Garmin and headed north. As neither of us had ever been to Bath, we were trusting the Garmin to get us there. It would have, but for one small thing. It didn't take into account the fact that the ferry that it said to take quit running at midnight. So after this discovery, we needed to backtrack just a bit. We arrived at Bath at around 1:30 AM. We crashed at a house that the site people loaned us and I slept like a dead man.

The next morning, refreshed, we started gathering our kit and got a wee bit of coffee on board before heading to the location where we were going to set up our display. As I was putting on my clothing, I heard a few muffled curses coming from the room next door, where John was. It seems that he had forgotten his period pants. Since pants are a very important part of period clothing, John thought that we had a major crisis. I on the other hand, having seen this happen before,didn't think so. I had a spare pair of trousers. Of course John and I are very different in clothing sizes, (Sorta like Laurel and Hardy) so my trousers didn't fit John. But with the help of a sail needle and some twine, I did enough modification on the trousers to allow John to keep them up. I will admit they did look just a bit like M.C. Hammer parachute pants on him however.

One thing I forgot to mention when talking about Bath is that one of it's "selling points" is that at one time the pirate Blackbeard lived in the town. While we were setting up and putting all our show and tell stuff out, a few people asked if we were pirates. Of course we told them no, and used the opportunity to educate folks about piracy, the life of the common sailor, and the weapons of the age of fighting sail. I noticed that each time someone mentioned the word pirate, Andrew twitched just a little bit.

About Andrew's dislike for pirates, well different strokes for different folks, but for the most part, people who dress up as pirates practice bad history. Their clothing and actions are based more on movies and what looks "cool" rather than what is historically documented. Again, I say what ever trips your trigger, but you shouldn't go to a historic site and fool the public by saying what you do is historically accurate. Those types of pirate folks don't care for people like us either. I have been called a "stitch Nazi" and other things less even less flattering because I have a desire to do it right.

Just so I don't paint with a too wide brush, there ARE some pirate reenactors who are spot on and do a wonderful job. They are a joy to behold and are assets to the the world of living history. If you are wondering what the difference is, just think of someone dressed like Jack Sparrow, that would be an example of the non-authentic pirate reenactor.

While the other fellows were giving both musket and swivel gun demonstrations, I was working on putting buckles on a pair of colonial shoes and sewing on a seaman's hammock. Again, people just LOVE to see someone making something with their hands. We talked to the public all day long, visitation was steady, but not overwhelming. We packed it up about 4 PM having spent a very good day doing what we love and hopefully sharing a bit of information wit the public. The site employees were very pleased with what we did and we were invited back in the future.

Oh yeah, While packing up, Andrew took up our boarding pike and hefted it as if it was a throwing spear. With the sun glinting off his rippling biceps, he looked very much like he should have been in the movie 300, thus his nickname, Leonidas.........


Andrew Duppstadt said...

Nice. But I'm glad I waited almost a week to read it. I'm too tired for your comments about pirates and 300 to really make me twitch tonight.

Michael W. said...


You KNOW we love you Andrew! If we didn't we wouldn't mess with you. -grin-