Daily Archives: November 12, 2012

everyone should have a hobby

    I have a friend who is into Jane Austen . She flies all over to attend Jane Austen events : New York , Seattle , London . She reads whatever latest book about Jane Austen appears  ( and lots of them do ) , whatever Jane Austen -related film comes along ( and they do from time to time ) . She has studied foods from Jane Austen’s time ; she has danced dances that Jane Austen might have danced . She has dressed for Jane Austen events like Jane Austen may have dressed . She probably often dreams Jane Austen dreams .

Everyone should have a hobby . Golf ? Do you know golfers ? Then , enough said .  Baseball ? Did you ever know one of these guys who can recite every baseball statistic from Abner Doubleday to Rhy Hyun-jin ?  I know a couple . One guy’s dream is to visit every major league stadium in the country some summer . He wanted me to go along . I told him no , no thanks . He can give you details about every stadium , too . He loves baseball . He loves everything about baseball .

Today Ada and I went out to Moorpark to see a Civil War reenactment event for Veteran’s Day . When I mentioned that last night to a Vietnam War vet friend of mine he said he was against such glorifications of war . ” Do they have Vietnam War reenactments ? ” he asked . ” Do they have Korean War reenactments ? ” Maybe he had a point , but I suggested that it’s just a weird hobby and not a glorification of the Civil War . He wasn’t convinced .

This  event was a big deal in Moorpark . The reenactors camp there for the weekend . They have set up rows of white canvas pup tents , ( but RVs and trailers, I noticed ,  are clustered not too far away) . There were hundreds of these people . They dress appropriate to the historical period . They pride themselves of the authenticity of their clothes and the materials used in the clothes ,  of the type of buttons used in the clothes and , no doubt , the stitching , etc .

We watched the reenactment of the Battle of Bloody Lane , which was part of the Battle of Antietam that took place near Sharpsburg , Maryland in 1862 . It took a half an hour . Cannon fire . Gunfire . Smoke . Small groups of Federal troops marching and rebel troops defending the sunken road ( ie. the bloody lane ). An announcer explained the sequence of the battle .

Before today’s  battle Lincoln spoke . He was sitting next to Jeff Davis and the two of them answered questions from the crowd . Davis had a disturbingly un-southern accent . Otherwise , they knew their stuff . It was a little shockingly unhistorical to have these two on the same stage . But , why not ?  After the battle , Lincoln read the Gettysburg Address . After Antietam and not Gettysburg ?   Again , though , why not !

There were a few zoave soldiers dressed in their red pantaloons and red beanies . A couple of them talked to a small group of us . The zoave uniforms were from north Africa , they said . One of these guys was about seven feet tall . Another reenactor , dressed in the more common blue federal uniform , walked up to this tall guy and said , ” I always like to meet a man I can look up to ” . 

There were dance lessons , dances from the Civil War era , of course . One of them was the Virginia Reel . Several people joined in . Some of them were reenactors who obviously had  danced these before . Others had fun learning . A couple of Asian kids joined in , too , who were part of a group of ten or so visitors . I doubt that they spoke any English , but these two listened to the caller , watched , and made the right moves . Everyone had fun and the music was pretty .

All around the encampment reenactors were answering people’s questions , giving demonstrations , showing off  their uniforms and hoop skirts or having their pictures taken . Most of them could probably tell you what foods were eaten during the Civil War , how they were prepared , what tools people used , how much this or that item cost in Civil War era dollars , what the furniture of the time was like , how to properly use a spitoon and what the women of the day might think of spitoons  , and what games the children played . Many of these reenactors , I thought ,  probably dream 1860s.

Sometimes I wish I had a hobby . ( Maybe not this one ) .

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