Getting Ready For A Big Weekend…

Well, I had all good intentions. I’ve had “write ECW Weekender” on my list all week, but unfortunately continuing tech problems have made my photos and historic site notes not easy to access at the moment. So, as I was bustling around this evening (Thursday) trying to decide what to do and how to fill the 1300 weekender posting slot, I had an idea.

What if I shared my own excitement about my plans this Labor Day weekend? After-all, I have history plans!

One of the largest Civil War reenactments in Southern California is held on Labor Day weekend, and I’m going to participate in some living history demonstrations and to network with the Civil War Round Tables and other history groups that will be there. Some of the blog readers may know that I’ve been involved in living history for seven years as a way to open discussion and foster education. I’ve always presented a civilian impression and have had many wonderful teaching (and learning) moments through the years.

For example:

I’m definitely looking forward to the event, but it’s going to be a little different than usual. Typically, I work with my mom, and we share an impression of the McGuire Home and talk about the war experiences of civilians in Winchester, Virginia. This coming weekend she’s away at a family event, so I’ll be on my own – sort of. Happily, my youngest brother is going, and he’ll be riding cavalry horses with his buddies; I’ve wrangled him into coming over and holding the poles while I stake out my tent.

Since I’m “solo” for the weekend, I decided against hauling “the parlor” and doing the McGuire set-up. I’m going to try something new. I’ve been looking at photographs of U.S. Sanitary Commission scenes in war-torn towns – like Fredericksburg – and I’ve decided to attempt an impression of a female nurse with the Commission, living in a tent and trying to organize medical supplies before the next wave of casualties arrive by ambulance. No extra frills. Nothing “Victorian pretty.” All very practical. Trying to capture the stacked boxes background and  tired civilian look from the photographs. I’m loosely basing my scenario off Arabella Barlow‘s experiences and will probably incorporate her story into my weekend teaching.

Sanitary Commission Volunteers, Fredericksburg, May 1864 (Library of Congress)

So what have I been doing to get ready? Well, think of it as a complicated camping trip…

  • Shopping expedition to get fresh produce for basic meals (and to fill those boxes and baskets)
  • Trip to the printers’ to get conference flyers finished
  • Baking ginger cookies (my trademark treat that has become a tradition with my friends)
  • Made and chilled mint tea
  • Interrupted by friends texting to clarify the weekend plans
  • Packed the car – the tent poles fit! Huzzah…
  • Somehow got roped into making neckties for my brother’s cavalry regiment and an oversized handkerchief for their lieutenant…
  • Ironed my dress
  • Discussed camp set-up and parking details with my brother

Here’s a photographic look at the current mess and activities:

Ginger cookies!

Brother’s uniform – yes, he did his own mending tonight and is finally getting happier with “the look” since the fabric finally looks dirty, though that’s hard to see in this picture!

Quick basting red neckties for Custer’s cavalry. I’ll have to finish them properly at some point during the weekend…

“The Green Dress” on the ironing board. Yes, “Gods & Generals” is on the screen for some entertainment and my own running commentary on history and inaccuracies.

And I had to get it finished on Thursday night since I got an unexpected shift at my retail job on Friday which caused a change in all the campaigning plans going into the weekend…

I don’t know how accurate my impression will be; I’ll certain give it my very best effort and hope for some great conversations. But I think I can tell you this with certainty – after a late night of preparing, editing, a work shift on Friday, and drive in traffic, one aspect will certainly be authentic: I’ll look tired. And even that can be a teach point and a learning experience. Right? Tired or not, I’m looking forward to my history getaway this weekend. I know that in addition to catching up with friends, building new connections, and discussing the past, I will have quiet moments to get ahead on my reading and find new ideas for blog posts and books.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday weekend whether you’re heading to a history event, reading at home, going battlefielding, barbecuing with the family, or something else wonderful. I’d love to hear about your holiday adventures…

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, historian, editor, and historical fiction writer. When sharing history, I try to keep the facts interesting and understandable. History is about real people, real actions, real effects and it should inspire us today.
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4 Responses to Getting Ready For A Big Weekend…

  1. David Dietly says:

    Your post is really endearing and very much funly to read. I hope your weekend meets your expectations! My expectation is that you’ll share what transpires!!!

  2. Donald W Smith says:

    You should join your brother’s regiment for a charge. Grab yourself a tall campaign hat that you can tie your hair up under. I’m sure your brother can scare up a uniform, a saber and a horse for a member of the family.

  3. It all sounds exciting! I’ve wanted to do a living history interpretation at the annual Olustee event as a nurse, but haven’t gotten up the nerve to pursue it. Just dreams and plans. I can empathize with all the hustling too. Getting ready for an SCA event (medieval reenactment) is a nightmare some days. No plans for me, apart from reading, but I think I’ll have two new homemade bookcases by Monday to house all my research books, haha. I hope you have a blast, Sarah!

  4. Meg Groeling says:

    I will be thinking about you, dear Sarah, while my family gathers ’round for an event. I am FINALLY getting the ceiling of my porch painted Haint Blue!! When you have a chance, come sit for a while! Have fun!!

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