Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Day at the Mariner's Museum

I'm tired! Rather than spending my Friday after Thanksgiving hunting, shopping (I hope someone would have shot me to put me out of my misery if I did go shopping ) or enjoying other pursuits, I decided to help out the folks at the Mariner's Museum by filling in as an Monitor Center interpreter (paid no less!). After talking with my friend, Al Mitchell, who is one of the regular interpreters, we figured it would be a slow day with most folks out doing the shopping day. Boy were we wrong! Even though I wasn't supposed to go on duty until 11am, I went ahead in the exhibit area and began work early as I noticed that there were a lot of people already in the Monitor Center. That flow of people never stopped until 5pm and even then we had to escort people out. By 3pm, over 800 people had been admitted to the museum and while the flow wasn't as brisk, folks kept coming in. I don't know what the final count was but I suspect in was close to 900 people. As for guests I engaged, they came from all walks of life. I met retired Navy captains and their wives, Master Chiefs on vacation, history teachers enjoying time away from their students, Sub commander's wives amazed at the size of Worden's cabin. As part of my duties, I was supposed to give a twenty minute talk on a related subject (I chose Ericsson and the construction of the Monitor) but very few folks slowed down long enough to listen. As I left, I felt tired but also renewed and reinvigorated. Sometimes, I get the feeling that most people don't appreciate history and what's being done to preserve it for future generations. However, Friday renewed my belief that what musuems, historic sites and living historians do actually matters. If you haven't been to the Mariner's Museum, take a day out of your busy life and visit them. You'll not only get to visit one of the greatest exhibits in terms of the Monitor Center by also a wonderful tribute to Lord Nelson, boats of various points in time as sell as other fun displays. I had a truly rewarding experience and I hope to get to help out again some day soon!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Upcoming 2007 CSS Neuse program (Annual Chance to Drool)

This weekend marks my 7th year attending the CSS Neuse's Annual Civil War program. I remember my first visit as it was my original group's first year of existence with the program marking our third outing. We camped along the riverbank in the "Hotel Albemarle", a hospital wall tent on loan from the place we got started, the Port O' Plymouth Museum. The Tidewater Maritime Living History Association (Tmlha) was our gracious benefactors at the time, as they were one of the established CW navy units in the Va/NC area that did living history. Boy were we green! I also remember that first visit as it marked my introduction to Andrew Duppstadt and Jim Greathouse, two of my kindred spirits and the Marines from Fort Fisher who are just a great bunch of guys.

Time certainly has passed since then with my old group metamorphosing into a pretty potent Confederate Naval Artillery unit. In September, 2004, I retired as CO of this group with an express desire to focus on living history exclusively. What started as an invitation to friends to "come play in my sandbox" whenever they could, ended up evolving into a new group of living historians, the Ship's Company of the Roanoke. The CSS Neuse event was the second event for this merry band and we haven't looked back.

Now, I am assuming you are wondering what I will be drooling over this weekend. Artifacts, folks! It is a rare chance to get a look at some of the most well-preserved artifacts from a Confederate ironclad. Their collection of brooke shells and bolts is by far one of the most impressive I have ever seen in terms of both numbers and condition. Now, do you understand why I drool with each visit.

Why don't you come and visit us this weekend? If you have the kit, I might let you play in our sandbox!