The smell of powder, the roar of the cannon...
December 13, 2006 9:14pm CST
...and the screams of my officers to "Hide That Dang Can of Coke!" With great financial distress come great hardships. One of the worst I've had to deal with is missing out on two seasons of War of 1812 re-enacting... with dim prospects of probably missing a third. Just before the "lay off" from my old job, I had "signed on" to be a re-enactor with The Norfolk Militia and was helping out The Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada with their website. At the time, I was doing fiscally alright and therefore purchased uniforms, "civilian" dress, my Baker Rifle with sword bayonet (although I really should have been using a Brown Bess... in the Norfolk, I was in the Rifle Coy. so it was "acceptable"...) and stuff for my family as well... my wife has civilian dress and a full "red coat" kit as well. Well, things didn't go so well... I lost my job, money dried up, we found that a car was an absolute necessity (we don't own a car nor have we ever... hey, we live in the city and haven't needed one!) and then, in order to make ends meet, I sold my rifle and bayonet... probably in the top-five list of the hardest thing I've ever done. Yup, a "hobby" and something that was really fun had to be put on hold... I'm still an honourary member of both units (as I still look after the websites), but only get to look at the pictures I put up for them... remember the few times I was "out"... and more or less wait until things are "better". Oh yeah, don't get me wrong... first things first! My personal debts must go and RLH 3 is a HUGE priority (granted, we're hoping to be successful here as it's in imminent danger of being scrapped and waiting to "save up" for it may not be prudent...) but once those two hurdles are passed, I'd like to get BOTH a Bess and a Baker so I can be back on the field with my comrades burning powder, eating from cast-iron cooking done over a camp fire, and generally having a great time! Unlike the "media driven" image of historic re-enactors, drinking and general silly-behaviour is not only frowned upon, it's a great way to be banned from the field and possibly given the boot out of the encampment! Safety is ALWAYS the order of the day! Then there's the "Historical Anachronisms"... when in the field or the camp, the "public eye" (anything that the general public or officers might see while wandering about) is strictly forbidden and/or highly frowned upon. "We" see ourselves as living history... a walking, breathing, speaking link to the past... and as opposed to simply "playing with old guns and dressing funny", you'll find re-enactors well versed in the history they recreate and what they are doing/represent. One of the great joys of a living historian/re-enactor is educating... the public and usually kids. My stepling (dressed in period garb) LOVES abandoning the PS/2 and Nintendo GameCube for the antique replica toys and dolls... and loves showing other kids the same toys. My wife has yet to be "in the field", but that's where she's hoping to be... Me, I love it all... and I love bringing history to life and talking to people about it. If you've never been to a War of 1812 re-enactment (and live in North America or Europe), please visit one of the battle re-enactments. For history, excitement, and fun in the encampment and/or with the historic sutlers (merchants), it can't be beat. (In Ontario, Canada... I highly recommend the one at Fort Erie! The night battle is fantastic to watch! - and it's haunted to boot!) In ALL honesty, attending a War of 1812 re-enactment should be mandatory for all kids aged 8 and up in Canada! So, GOD SAVE MAD KING GEORGE! and perhaps 2007 will be the year I'm back in the field! (With RLH 3???) After all, whenever my re-enactment friends ask me "when" I'll be back in the field, I usually answer, "I dunno, but I'll probably be driving my double-decker bus to the event!" See http://doubledeckerbuses.org/blog/ for details on that... It's appropriate... a historic British bus at historic British/Canadian/American events!