Thursday, April 24, 2008

Oh my goodness, Bev Perdue has unleashed the big gun.....Andy Griffith!

I was sitting at my desk yesterday and heard a familiar voice coming from the tv. It was good ole Andy Griffith. I said to myself, "That can't be. It's not time for Opie, Andy and Aunt Bea to come on the tube." Well, sure enough, it was Andy. He was telling me that Bev Perdue was the right choice for Governor. He told me that she was going to make a goooooood governor! The last time this happened, Mike Easley was losing ground in his bid for governor to Richard Vinroot. Something had to be done so the Democratic Party powers called on Sheriff Taylor to help out. Sure enough, with Andy's support, the election was over. I guess since Richard Moore has been closing the gap in the polls, Bev didn't want to take any chances. And of course, Andy does know what's best for us! I just wish the world was like Mayberry....much simplier and much more civil. However, the most important opinion to me is that of Barney. Now he was a lawman! Nip it in the bud!!!!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My eighth year of dancing my "little dance" begins....

It's the end of April and time for The Battle of Plymouth Living History Weekend again. This year's event marks the beginning of my eighth year reenacting. Boy, has it been an eventful period in my life! As I write this entry, I have began to reminisce about my journey, thinking about how I got started and how my life has been influenced. In early 2001, several local citizens including myself, Tom Harrison and Nevis Leary, helped create a group of local ACW naval reenactors to portray the crews of CSS Albemarle and USS Miami so as to take part in the annual living history weekend in Plymouth. For years, troop numbers for the event had been uncertain and the thoughts were if we could "grow" our own, we would always have a base group on which we could depend. The plans were that we would do things at the museum periodically for the public and serve as the navy during Living History Weekend. Well, it worked....and grew much bigger that than we ever expected. Our baptism of fire was at the Plymouth reenactment. All it did, though, was ignite a fire inside, a desire to do it more! Our group of Confederate sailors, which I commanded, developed much faster than our Union counterparts, with myself, Nevis Leary, Creston Simmons and Mark Sheppard helping form the foundation. We started not only attending the Plymouth event but also other events up and down the Carolina and Virginia coast. What we found out is that we became "defacto" ambassadors for the Plymouth event, making contacts wherever we went. Typical reenactor numbers at Plymouth prior to our "birth" ranged from about 30 to 75. Once we started participating at other venues, our Plymouth event numbers grew to an average of 250 reenactors. We adopted a name which more accurately described this band of brothers, the NC Naval Squadron. Our membership expanded with new members coming from such locales as Fayetteville and Kinston. We also started further refining our group's identity, which was that of a naval artillery detachment, once the group purchased our first cannon. We travelled from place to place, participating in living history events, reenactments and other programs such as the burial of the Hunley sailors in Charleston, SC. We continued to attract new members and made many acquaintances along the way. In 2004 , the group participated in the filming for the documentary about the CSS Albemarle and the man who sank her, Lt. William B. Cushing, called "The Most Daring Mission of the Civil War". I had been involved in the project from the start, helping advise the producer during several phases of production. It was a labor of love. In September of that year, the filming was finally over. I was exhausted, glad it was over and happy that the story was finally going to be told. But I was also unhappy. Some of it came from stress of working on the documentary. However, it was more than that. I was caught up in the logistics of running a unit, worrying about keeping the members happy and worrying about the product we were producing for the public. I needed a change. I had stopped having fun. So, I decided to take a step back and resigned as Squadron's commanding officer. Friends were shocked to say the least. They asked me what I was going to do now. I told them that I was going to focus on my true love, living history education. I told them I was going to start traveling to various events setting up my displays on ironclad construction, torpedoes and navigation. Also, I wanted to develop a Union navy impression as Union navy contingent had not been truly developed at Plymouth, plus my old bunch needed someone to shoot at as Union reenactors are hard to find in the south. I told them that they were all welcome to tag along with me as long as they promised me that they would make sure they had fun. Within a few weeks, a group of like-minded folks coalesced to become what is now known as the Carolina Living History Guild. I never thought I would help start another group. The Guild travels across NC and VA, "singing our songs and doing our dances", which is basically sharing our love of history with the people we encounter. We have standing gigs at a variety of places including the Museum of the Confederacy, NC Maritime Museum at Beaufort, NC, Historic Edenton, Historic Halifax, the CSS Neuse/Richard Caswell Memorial Historic Site, Ft Anderson/Brunswicktown Historic Site and several others. We've developed a variety of impressions including ACW era navy, War of 1812 era navy, AmRev navy and Continental Line (yes, even infantry). Our membership includes historic site/museum employees, artifact conservationists, historic site/museum support group board members and the list goes on and on. I've learned so, so much over the past several years. Not only about the history of the area but also about myself. I have also met many fine folks and made many dear friends. Much like Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a woods and I...I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference". I chose the least travelled road and it has so richly impacted my life. If you have time this weekend, come to Plymouth and enjoy the event where I got my start. I'll be there with my friends having loads of fun!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Historic Halifax - A Place to Watch

Historic Halifax is such a great site! It's history is rich with its beginnings in the Colonial period all the way to the 1860's where it played host to the completion of the CSS Albemarle, arguably one of the Confederacy's most successful ironclads. The Carolina Living History Guild, in the form of the 5NC and a member of its ship's company, enlightened the public Saturday as part of the annual Halifax Resolves Commemoration and the ribbon-cutting for the newly-renovated 1828 era Jail. We were joined by our compatriots from the Detached Hospital, Mike Williams and John LaRosa, by Hank Brown of the 6NC and by Dr. Larry Babits of ECU in his 1st Maryland garb. With exception of the afternoon rain which cut out afternoon musket and swivel gun demonstrations, the day went very, very well. Approximately 450 or so people entered our web as we weaved our tales.

Dr. Babits brought with him his living history class who all participated in interpreting at various locales around the site. He also took out some time to impart his wisdom to our merry little band. He has forgotten more than I or any other member of the bunch knows. I guess he should...he's been doing this since '67....before I was born!

Our very own Dr. Mike introduced me to a 1500's handgun, that if I had the cash, I probably would have bought, if nothing else but to terrorize the crew of the Albemarle replica at the upcoming Battle of Plymouth event (more on that later!) and to have fun with on New Year's Eve. It did stay in the extended family as Hank Brown traded the dear doctor for a small sword. Mike also swapped Mo Bass for a '61 Springfield and a revolver for a de-farbed Charleville. Mo has no excuse now to quit wearing all that red and start wearing his Patriotic clothing more often!

Seriously though, the site has so much potential and is getting quite a bit of attention (finally). The Historic Site Division director said he hopes that the Resolves program will expand into a bigger event and start developing other parts of its history. I think he has the right idea as its proximity to I95 and the new theater complex should help its visitation and donations to its support group to help fund further growth.

Another project at the site is the proposed monument to NC's Continental Lines. This is very appropriate as all NC regiments passed through Halifax on their way to their assigned destinations. Hank Brown of the 6NC has taken the reigns of the project and is working on putting together a steering committee along with the funding to make this happen. Keep a look out for further information on this specific project coming to Historic Halifax soon!

All in all, a great time was had by all!