Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gloom, despair and agony on me...

This morning started so well and then I received a phone call from my shipmate and 1812 sailing master, Jim Greathouse. It seems that the US Navy Dine-In at Augusta, Ga we were supposed to be attending tomorrow night was cancelled. I was so looking forward to it. I purchased a new hat, roundabout (short jacket) and vest just for the occasion. I had spent the last three days compiling and trying to learn shanteys for after dinner entertainment. I am bummed a bit by this news. Now I will miss being with my shipmates, enjoying much story and song. Oh well, such is life. At least I hadn't cancelled my Mariner's Museum gig yet! So Saturday morning, I will be making the trek up to Newport News to do my paid song and dance for the fine folks up there! Also, my shantey work will not be in vain as I will be armed and dangerous with a wee bit of song for the next event. So, there is a silver lining in this dark cloud!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The steps we take....

My merry band of living historians, the Ship's Company of the Carolina Living History Guild, had a wonderful day yesterday in Edenton. Set up on the green in front of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse, we enjoyed interacting with 250+ visitors while soaking in both the beauty and the history of the town. As I was speaking to one of the historic site employees yesterday, weaving a yarn about some little known piece of the past, I began to realize the significance of where we standing. We were trodding the same streets, the same paths that were trod by our fore fathers some many years ago. Think about it, Joseph Hewes, Samuel Johnston, John Harvey, and yes, even George Washington stood where we stood yesterday. How amazing! I challenge everyone to learn about their hometown history and consider the significance of your little piece of Earth. On another note, I wonder what our forefathers would think of our government and the candidates that are running for office these days?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Edenton, oh Edenton, I still hear your sea winds blowin'....

We're off to Edenton tommorow to do a little song and dance. Little did I know when I submitted a proposal to them two years ago that we would be doing a Civil War Navy Living History event on the lawn of the 1767 Chowan County Courthouse. I assumed that we would be expanding our age of sail events which fits into the standard interpretations of the quaint Colonial-era town. However, the powers-that-be wanted us to portray Civil War Navy. We'll split the crew with half portraying Confederate sailors and the other half Union sailors. Actually, it makes sense as Edenton played host to both Confederate and Union sailors throughout the war. Before Eastern NC fell to the Union forces, the Confederate (and NC) Navy spent time there purchasing steamers for its fledgling fleet. Both the CSS Curlew and CSS Seabird were purchased from people in Edenton. Also, the town raised an artillery unit, the Edenton Bell Battery, so named because brass bells from the town and the town of Columbia on the south shore of the Albemarle Sound donated bells that were melted in cast into four cannons. Edenton has located two of the four and they are currently on display outside the Barker House along the waterfront. Ya'll come and see us!

Monday, May 12, 2008

"Our Story" exhibit Opening at the Museum of the Albemarle

Over the weekend, I attended the long-awaited opening of the Museum of the Albemarle's "Our Story" exhibit. As a board member of the "Friends of the Museum of the Albemarle" and its Vice-President, I really didn't have much choice but to be there to press the flesh and help out to make it the opening a success. The private, "supporters-only" opening on Friday night was typical for a semi-formal happening, however, the real fun was seeing the ribbon cutting and public opening on Saturday morning and the chance to actually do a bit of interpretation for the public. The Our Story exhibit is the first big exhibit to welcome visitors to the Museum of the Albemarle since the move to the wonderful facilities located on the waterfront in Elizabeth City. It succeeds in painting a picture of the surrounding 13 counties' past beginning with the native americans and ending in the late 20th century. I spent most of my time in the Civil War section, along with local historian and fellow board member, Alex Leary, engaging the public and answering questions. That particular section contains artifacts associated with various battles including the Battles of South Mills, Elizabeth City, Roanoke Island and my personal favorities, the Battles of Plymouth and Albemarle Sound. For all to see, they have General Hoke's Headquarter's flag and the smokestake from my favorite Confederate ironclad, the CSS Albemarle. Going backwards in time, I also was intriqued by seachests from the 17th and 18th centuries, one of the Queen Anne's Revenge's cannons and a broach containing the only known image of Joseph Hewes, one of NC's signors of the Declaration of Independence, a member of the Continental Congress' Maritime Committee and the man who is credited for obtaining a commission for the great US naval hero, John Paul Jones. If you are up in the northeast corner of the state, drop in on the museum and visit "Our Story", the story of Northeastern NC.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sailing...Takes me away....

Well, almost as I doubt we will be doing any sailing. However, we will get to look at some pretty nice ships while we are at Beaufort, NC this weekend for the NC Maritime Museum's annual boat show. The crew will split this weekend with part of us portraying Civil War Union sailors and the others portraying 1812 US sailors. I've just about recovered from last weekend's fun at Plymouth (It's so much fun to have Cushing's Launch to play with) and have started making swivel gun rounds for this weekend. Also, I will get to break in my new 1812 era topper that was made for me by Mr. Matt Brenckle of the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, MA. It looks great but it's much bigger than what I was expecting. Matt is an ECU alum who received his Master's from the maritime history department. Anyway, come check us out at Beaufort if you get a chance. We will be over at the Gallants Channel Annex property. See you there!