I'm rather tired this morning due to the past weekend, but that does not dull my enthusiasm nor my story-telling capabilities (at least at the moment). I'll begin on Friday.
Friday morning, I packed the Cadillac. By the time I was done, the right side of the rear window was completely blocked. Poor Katherine had to be rather squished into the back seat with Savannah's ball dress dangling into her lap and some food stuffs under her feet. (Of course, she wasn't the only one with stuff under her feet. I had the pressure cooker [for heating up the chili] under my feet--both to and from the event.) We left after lunch and it took us longer to get there than we expected; partially because we got behind three separate slow-moving vehicles in places that we couldn't go around them.
We arrived at the event and registered. I was so excited and besides that a chilly wind was blowing, that I was shaking so bad that I was having difficulty writing. I was shivering...but it really wasn't that cold. I shelled out the $5 per person 'donation'. It's kind of my job to pay....
We found that the map they gave us was backwards, but found our people without too much trouble anyway. Savannah was driving (of course) and I was keeping my eyes peeled for the familiar trailers and trucks--and that green GMC camper of the L's. I really like the color of that thing.
We pulled in, said "Hello" to a few folks, introduced Katherine, and started putting the tents up. Elden came and helped us get them up (thank-you!). It was one of those times for me to remember to let the boys be gentlemen--I'm so used to doing things myself. (Which reminds me, I told someone, I forget who, that I was a "stand-in for a ranch hand" and they were very surprised. It amused me. *grins*)
We met Erica's Great Dane, Blue. I like that dog--he's nice. At one point, I guess it was yesterday morning, I was sitting next to Erica and Blue put his head in my lap. Then I said something backwards and set myself to laughing...I was talking to the dog and said, "Yeah, my head's big enough for your lap." What I meant to say was, "My lap is big enough for your head"!
Friday night, I was freezing...on top of that, I could only lay on either my back or right side, because when I attempted the left side, my back started bothering me. Still, I slept alright (it has actually surprised me how well I sleep on the ground.) Saturday morning, before we got up, I was talking to Savannah (about what I can't recall), and I kind of rolled over and peered at Katherine..."I think Katie is still asleep." Out of the depths of her sleeping bag came this: "Not for long if you keep talking." It made me laugh.
Anyhow, Saturday morning went something like this...after breakfast, we strolled down and watched colors. Colors is when the two opposing armies gather in the morning for the raising of the flags. (The Federal flag was about twice the size of the Confederate Stars and Bars and higher.) It appears that there was some talk betwixt the officers from both sides; almost as if the Yankee officers were reviewing the Confederate soldiers and vice versa.
After colors, we dropped by Mrs. Joanna's sutlery where Katherine found herself a nice hat--I didn't have enough cash on hand to pay for it, so Katherine went off to get hers...Savannah had gone off someplace to talk to someone else. I hung around the sutlery and talked to Mrs. Joanna for a while--about half of that being about my socks. She is quite willing to put them out...she later had Walter C look them over and said he was impressed with them...(Walter--who still owes me a dance from Ocklawaha, by the way--is "Mr. Authenticity". ;D) I saw Walter a couple times Sunday, but if he saw me he didn't let on...like his brother Tom, he has great hat and wears it at a studied angle. However, unlike Tom, he's quite talkative.
Anyway, while Katherine was gone and after it got settled that Mrs. K would try to sell my socks, I strolled out and found myself a big 'CSA' button for my secession cockade. Shortly after that, Dana L and Amanda C caught me and we went to the ladies tea. I called Savannah at some point before it was really going to let her know where I was and that Katherine might be wandering around--however, Savannah had Katherine and had bought her the hat! Katherine soon joined us at the ladies tea. The subject was children's clothing and games and they had a mini-fashion show. Towards the end, during the raffle (during which I won a hat form made out of buckram), I heard my cell-phone ringing in my purse (period draw-string thing), I hopped up and slipped out. I somehow managed to dump the entire contents of my bag out onto the ground when I got my phone out. I answered it and on the other end was 'brother' Matt. He and Leah had come out! I was so glad. We met out in front of 'Pipers Pub' (root beer stand). Katherine showed up someplace in here and then we went for a quick stroll through the camps.
Now, I will tell you, walking through the Yankee camp was rather...interesting. Particularly when we got to where the "Maine" boys were set up and I made eye contact with Captain S. I'm pretty sure he knows I'm Confederate...anyway, the look I got was almost quizzical. I think I smiled kind of like I was embarrassed (I was a little!) and looked down real quick.
In the Confederate camp, I told Leah mainly (Matt was hungry and so wasn't paying way too much attention :D) about the three Confederate national flags...and other flags--such as the 2nd Florida's regimental flag and how the place names on it (like Chancellorsville) were battles they had fought in.
I then hauled them back and introduced them to Mr. Joe and the rest before they headed off for lunch. We ourselves ate shortly after that and then readied to go watch/film the battle.
There was a crush of people. I first set up in the VIP 'box' (after I got permission to), then Katherine came down to get me--she and Savannah (I couldn't see them!) had a spot saved for me up the hill. Well, I went up there, but I was soon back in the VIP box because I was in the way. I wasn't even asked to move politely either. I was treated with something like disrespect by a couple of baby boomers. It hurt and left me in something of a bad mood. I was trying not to cry by the time I was back in the VIP box. Once there I soon began feeling better after talking to a Boy Scout leader who was there with his son and three daughters.
I got some footage, but I didn't go overboard with it. I did take a couple of still pictures of the Confederate cannon WAY across the field with the battle flag waving. That was pretty cool.
I was stationed directly behind the Federal artillery (again! I love the cannon), so I got engulfed in sulfur smoke time and time again. I got it in my eyes, in my ears, in my mouth, and up my nose. I think my blouse also took on a gray tinge. I had forgotten my ear-plugs, but I didn't have too much trouble with the noise this time.
After the battle, Katherine and I stayed around long enough to watch them launch 6 anvils, all at the same time, into the air. That was louder than anything else. Now, if you've never seen a blacksmith's anvil hurtling straight up into the air by a 1+ pound powder charge, you've missed an interesting sight. However, it won't kill you if you never see it. The "Anvil Shoot" was apparently something folks used to do around the 4th of July and such like (according to the MC). You know what I think? American's like to make loud noises with black powder. :D
The battle was almost two hours long...of our people, only Mr. Doug, Mr. L, and Mr. B were on the field. I think I heard that Elden didn't have his rifle, so he didn't participate. Later, I heard Mr. L talking and he said he 'died' twice--on the berms--so he got filled full of goat-heads. (Only, I think he called them something else...)
By the time the battle was over, it was about time to start thinking about supper. I ate more food then my corset comfortably allows, but in the long run, I'm glad I did. About 7 we started getting ready for the dance. Amanda came out dressed in a pretty red gown that was her mothers...Dana in her gold gown. Me...well, I showed up in a full hoop with a bright red secession cockade on the waist of my blue dress. :) Savannah's lovely silk gown was admired again. Then we were off. On the way, Savannah had to have her skirt adjusted. Amanda's hoop (her mother's) was sliding down and sticking out from under her dress. When we (somehow Miss 'Manda and I reached the big tent before Savannah and Katherine) got there, I crowded the both of us into one of those large handicap accessible porta-johns (the door wouldn't close...and I'm so glad they had just cleaned them out!) and tried to fix her up. No go...it didn't work. (Now, if I'd a just had a safety-pin....)
The ball was well, exactly that...a ball! (Sorry, no pictures of that!) Savannah danced quite a bit with Timothy, the Union artillery Corporal she danced with at Suwanee. Who else she danced with I didn't notice. Katherine primarily danced with an older Confederate gentleman, Mr. Richard...he danced with me a few times too, but I'll get to that. Katie was up against the wall of the tent early on (she and Savannah were on the opposite side as Amanda and I), so I sent Amanda across (I would have been bumping too many people with my hoops) to tell her to 'get off the wall'. Amanda, being Amanda, charged off happily to do as I asked.
As usual we started with the Grand March. I did that with Ethan, a youngster in company with the B family. I think he's about 10. I'm not too sure he enjoyed the Grand March--he thought it was complicated! (It's not...at least I don't think so!) The next thing was a Virginia Reel (I think--the order of these things can get mixed up in my memories). I did that with a chubby Union boy in a Glengerry cap. He doffed his cap to honor his partner (I liked that!) and when the head couple sashayed the set. In his round face, he had a pair of blue eyes...he didn't smile, but I do think he was enjoying himself.
I believe it was directly after this dance that I sat two out...a waltz was next when Zack, one of the "Maine" boys (and now it is suspected that he is Capt. S's son--Savannah heard him call him 'Dad'), came over and asked me to dance. Well, Yankee or no Yankee, I said yes; especially after he said, "I saw that you sat two dances out..." (Capt. S is good for those boys--all his soldiers [at least the ones' I've had contact with] are fairly gentlemanly.) I told Zack that I don't waltz very well, but we got along alright. I had a pretty good conversation with him...I asked him what rank he was (I was attempting first person impersonation somewhat) and he said he was a Pvt., but he was working on going up the ranks to make captain (this too was somewhat first person impersonation). The next thing that fell out of my mouth was, "My daddy's a Sgt." (Hopefully, it didn't come across coquettish...I am pretty proud of my daddy.) Naturally, his next question was, "What regiment?" Here I had to laugh--I'm constantly backing myself into corners like this--there went all the first person impression stuff! I explained that Daddy really is a soldier (retired), but this whole thing loosened both of our tongues and we kept talking on and off. I found out that he's 18 (after he asked me what grade I was in and I told him I'm graduated from high school and I'm 21--to which he said, "There's not much difference there [age wise]") and that he is going into the Marines pretty soon. He said something about having to convince his mom that it's not a foregone conclusion that he's going to get killed--though it's a risk that 'we' (he already speaks of himself as a Marine) have to accept.
During this time, he would ask occasionally, "You want to try a spin?" Of course I did! So, he would spin me--that's fun, particularly in a hoop; it feels very graceful so long as you aren't squished between two other hoops in the Patty Cake Polka (but that'll come...) Capt. S was waltzing by with Mary (a lady I've seen at all the events) about the time Zack spun me once...and he was like, "we can do that" and then he spun Mary. Zack laughed at him saying, "Not bad, but we do better!" (Essentially.) I laughed then and said, "I'm not sure about that!" At the end of the dance, we bowed and curtsied respectively, and Zack said he would be back for another dance, "If I'm lucky enough..." Flattery! Anyway, it worked and I told him I'd be pleased (more or less).
*insert Racheal laughing at herself and the Highlander Private...*
Over the course of the evening, I danced with Mr. Joe K's nephew Joe at least twice--I'm positive that young man is named after his uncle. If he wasn't, he should have been...he looks just like him, talks like him, and even has the same dimples peeking out of his beard! Joe is 28 and he was having a hoot teasing Amanda--whom he's known since she was an itty-bitty girl. After the 'Man-dance', he came back over to where Amanda and I were, standing complaining that some rascal (I don't remember the exact word he used; it's one I'm familiar with, but don't hear very often) had bent his hat out of shape. I kind of shrugged and said, "It can always be straightened out." He looked at me almost sternly, but laughingly and retorted, "Do you know how long it took me to get this blocked just right?" I dropped the subject since I couldn't come up with an answer for that.
Mr. L taught me how to polka! I had a ball dancing the polka and gamely stuck it out to the end though I was fixing to pass out by the time we were done. I got very overheated (not enough air-flow in that tent). I had already drank all the water I had brought with me and I didn't have any money, so I couldn't sneak out to the concession stand and get myself any. Regardless, I had a ton of fun panting my way through the polka. Savannah said I looked cute out there polkaing and that my skirt bounced just right. I guess I'll have to believe her because I couldn't see myself...and I was too busy grinning with a flushed red face to care how I looked.
The Patty Cake Polka is quite fun, but we could have stood to have the men at arms length distance from each other because of the ladies with hoops! I was between two other girls with hoops on and trying to get three sets of hoop skirts to twirl in the same space at the same time is rather interesting. I know at one point my skirt was caught on the lowest round so my hoop was showing! That was just about as embarrassing as my corset ties showing at the back of my dress where the bodice and skirt were refusing to stay attached to one another. (I kept having Amanda and Katherine 'fix me'.) It was during the Patty Cake Polka (which I started with Mr. Richard), that I ran across Zack again. He greeted me cheerfully and though we didn't really have any time to talk, there was a mutual understanding that he'd be back for that promised dance...there were a few other fellows in this dance that I recognized and was recognized by. I'm sure there were more around the circle, but we didn't make it halfway around before the music stopped. 7 lb.s of Bacon sped it up a little too early I think.
Anyway, after a waltz, Mr. Richard offered to buy me some water (I imagine I looked like I needed it!); but the concession was all out! They said they were working on it, so Mr. Richard basically said he'd be back to get me some after he danced with Katherine again. A dance later, Zack and a couple of his buddies were coming back from the concession area, both with two Styrofoam cups apiece. They set them down on a chair and he came over to me and asked if I were tired yet. "No, just in need of drink." He then told me that he would give me one of his cups of water, "It was just 50 cents...[so it's no big deal]." I thanked him, then we proceeded to enter the Broom Dance--another mixer. In this dance, I also danced with Timmy (the tall, broad, red-headed 15 year old you might remember from Ocklawaha), Capt. S, a Confederate kid (I also did a Virginia Reel with him), and a couple others that I can't recall. After the dance, as I left the floor, I saw Zack, holding both cups of water, standing to the side. I didn't immediately walk over toward him, since I wanted him to initiate (after all, it was his water!), but I did glance that way once, then twice--at which point he was looking at me. He held the water out and gestured with it in such a fashion as to say, "Come over here and get it!" I did so gratefully and made sure I thanked him for it. The "Maine" boys left not too much longer after that. If I would have had an opportunity on Sunday I would have thanked him again, because that water was SO good. I really, really needed it. (I didn't even mind the coffee flavor in it being a coffee drinker.)
As is usual, we closed the dance down. Joe walked the girls, all four of us, 'home'. Of course, he was camping in the same spot, so it wasn't out of his way. He might have walked us back anyway. I don't know...It was most assuredly after midnight by the time we got to bed.
Sunday morning, both Savannah and I were dehydrated and exhibiting our own symptoms. However, Savannah felt so bad that she left church (which was somewhat informal partly because Rev. D wasn't sure they were actually going to do it) and went and put on her 'civies' as she put it and laid down. We all tried to make sure we drank more that day. I'm still not quite fully re-hydrated.
We watched the battle that afternoon from the opposite end of the line...we were right there were the troops came in, so we got a little extra dirt in our faces. Around an hour before the battle started, we were already set up down there. I needed to run back to the tent for something (water most likely), and so Katherine asked me to bring her a seat when I came back. On the way back to camp, I got hung up as the Confederate troops formed up and people crowded around and took pictures. On the way back, I almost got hung up as the Union troops formed up!
Being Sunday, the Confederates won the battle. As soon as the battle was over, we headed off and started getting ready to leave. Elden and Thomas helped us take down our tents and pack stuff in the trunk. When we left, I walked around and hugged people. I didn't hug Thomas though...he was sitting there apparently trying to look small--I got quiet amusement from the laddie's head down 'you don't see me' position, so I just patted the top of his kepi. He looked up, grinned at me and gave me a two-fingered wave. That was good enough. I was mighty pleased that Micah gave me a hug--I was almost expecting to be rebuffed, but he gave me a good solid hug. I can't explain it, but I have a particular liking for that little stinker.
We got home safely--we accidently went a different way which turned out to be smoother, faster sailing. Plans are whirling for Mt. Dora...and authentic camping!! Mr. Joe's daughter found their tents and he is eager for us to use them. From now on out, we may be setting up in authentic civilian camp. Then Olustee...we have our story planned out for that one--but this here chile is going to have to learn to speak in a more period correct manner and see if she can hold the first person impression better than she did with Herr Zack at the dance!