Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I was a Yankee in the Civil War

Yesterday, I mentioned that I did Civil War reenacting in my early teen years. My wonderful friend Gretchen, who I've known since birth, is a great lover of all things historical, but the American Civil War really sets her heart a flutter. Over the years, Gret developed her 'character' as a male soldier and participated in many battle scenes. Growing up in Washington State surprisingly provided a lot of opportunities for reenacting and there are many events throughout the year, even down into Oregon and California.

Gretchen and myself in our early high school years...this is the only photo I look tan in

Gretchen's family were all into the fun of dressing up and camping out for a weekend of living in the past, and I got to tag a long. I have always adored dressing up, so getting to flounce around in a hoop skirt all weekend was extremely appealing to me (enough at the time to make me overlook the atrocities of camping!). After public demonstrations during the day, we would party it up with dances...typically waltzes, and I sucked at them. Sadly, I didn't have the passion like Gret did to really hone in my character and make myself as period as possible, but I had a decent enough crack at it and found it to be very fun.

There were a few 'memorable' moments that you may find entertaining. Chrissy left me a comment in yesterday's post about my crochet abilities. Stinker! One thing I liked to do when the public would be wandering around, viewing us re-enactors, was to plop myself under a large tree with my basket of yarn and start crocheting. People would pass by and see me set up in the shade, full skirt fluffed around me, and me intently creating something with my yarn. Luckily, it wasn't enthralling enough for them to stick around for long because I couldn't for the life of me crochet rows. I could crochet you a chain as long as you liked but that's as far as I could go. Picturesque me would be crocheting up a nice line, people would slowly walk by, I'd glance up and smile, never stopping in my work, and as soon as they walked away, I would rip the whole line out and restart for the next group of people that would happen upon me. I probably would have made a fabulous animatronic character in The Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Disney Land. The one time I did try to crochet a pot holder resulted in me making a crocheted kidney...

Another problem I had was also something I loved: my hoop skirt. I had a 3 boned hoop skirt which wasn't massive but was still fun. One evening, after the public had long gone, a bunch of our friends were all sitting on the ground around a campfire, chatting away. Someone said something so funny that I fell back laughing, at which caused more laughter and Gretchen to immediately sit me upright. If you are on your back in a hoop skirt, you more or less make a nice round window version of a peep show to your panties. Thank heavens I was being authentic that day and wearing bloomers. I was more careful after that incident, but still had another bad situation when I was running ahead of my friends, tripped on my skirt, and fell face first in the grass. My skirt flashed me again, but sadly I wasn't wearing my bloomers...I was even told I had a wedgie...

I don't have any photos of my days as a Civil War belle (at least not in Ireland, I may have some in storage in the States) but that's ok by me, since Gret was strict on not letting me wear makeup because it wasn't authentic. She also did my hair in the 'fashionable' middle parted style, which makes me look ridiculous! Not many people can say they have rocked a side part since 2nd grade or so (I would have made a lousy hippy). It was a fun time in my life, and maybe over here I can get involved in some Celtic War reenactments and then I don't have to worry about flashing my panties, since my outfit would most likely be blue paint...thank goodness my Grandma doesn't read this!

Civil War reenacting may be looked upon as nerdy...but at least I'm not this guy!


  1. I've never seen a centaur with a potbelly before. Or a witch in a wheelchair.

    Civil War Re-enactments : The History Buff's LARPing.

  2. I think Civil War reenacting is AWESOME! It sounds like you had so much fun in high school :)

  3. That picture's awesome. There's so many things going, my head might explode...LOL I didn't do reenacting, but I did do historical "interpreting", which involved getting dressed up like a school marm. Uhh...just pretend I didn't tell you that.

  4. Joshua, originally I had been just looking through Google images for Civil War images but when I came across that beauty I just had to throw it in!

    Elisa, I tend to like to forget much of high school if I can but there are a few memories worth sharing :)

    Paige, it is a picture that keeps on giving! The more you look, the more you laugh! ...historical interpreting huh?? Dressed as a school marm??? Are you sure you didn't just homeschool for a bit?? ;) (I tease only because Branden was homeschooled and we do plan on homeschooling)

  5. How does that guy get around, dragging a horse behind him?

  6. It's hard to tell--is that a guy in a horse costume or a horse in a guy costume? Either way, the centaur look is awesome.

  7. My 87 year old patient and his 83 year old wife told me yesterday that they still travel to Ohio and West Virginia for Civil War reenactments! In their Airstream! I immediately thought of you and Gretchen!

  8. Matthew, you think he would have lost that potbelly from dragging all that extra weight!

    Fishducky, I don't think a horse would stoop so low...

    Alicia, oh how cute but crazy to be camping out when you are almost 90! I don't do well and I'm a 3rd of his age!

  9. hee, hee...this is a silly post.
    We got Peanut a monkey costume for her first Halloween....I dressed up as a Wench...We went to my office as a Monkey Wench! I told my ex he should have gone as MC Hammer, then we could have been a monkey wench and hammer.

    I just had sugar....sorry....

  10. Stephanie...a monkey wench and hammer! LOL That's my kind of humor! ...mmm, now I want sugar...

  11. I remember going to the reenactments when I lived in the southeast... i remember flinching every time the canons would go off, super loud. The camp scenes are always so awesome though.

  12. When I was a reporter I wrote lots of articles about re-enactors. I always thought it was funny how they'd go ape shit crazy if something wasn't authentic and then I'd see them buying a coke out of a machine. I think I'd enjoy wearing a hoop skirt for about five minutes.


  13. I love that you did that! I think it would be tons of fun. I'm a bit jealous actually.. Well not of the butt crack hair part but the rest is cool. lol

  14. A crocheted kidney? I think I know what you should be giving for Christmas gifts this year! This both horrifying and hilarious. I have to concur with Joshua's comment. Have never seen, nor want to, either of those in real life. Ack!

  15. Seemed like good fun at the time. Glad you enjoyed re-enacting the past - Dave

  16. Mike, I saw a person pee their pants once when the cannons fired...I laughed so hard! Hospital scenes were my favorite and I did get to participate in them sometimes.

    Lola, it is nuts sometimes how 'authentic' the re enactors get...and then they go get a beer out of their camper van.

    Melynda, You probably would have a blast doing it. Dress up and pretend to be someone else?? Yes Please!

    Vixen, the crocheted kidney was flesh colored too...don't know if that helps or not.

    Interwebs Fails, 'cool' is a matter of perspective... ;)

    Dave, I had a lot of fun! It's quite the experience that not many people have done.


Does this straitjacket make my butt look big?