Thursday, June 4, 2015

Middlesex County History Day

Three weeks after enjoying the Spirit of the Jerseys State History Fair I was thrilled to learn Monmouth County has a similar event. Well, it wasn't as similar as I had hoped. It was a day to celebrate Monmouth County history. Ashley and I drove up to the East Jersey Olde Time Village near Rutgers University for the event.

I really should have taken more pictures. This event different from the Spirit of the Jerseys event in that this one focused more on learning about different trades and less about learning about different historical sites. They did have tables set up under a giant tent, but that felt secondary to me. We met a furniture maker, a clock collector, someone who paints pictures in reverse on glass (the details are painted first), and someone who paints in the style of Victorian black boxes. Alas, I did not take pictures of anyone but the blacksmith. I only took his picture because I found his outdoor "furnace" so fascinating.

We did spend time listening to Stacy and Kim play fife and drum music. Ashley and I had a turn at trying to play the drum.

Unlike Spirit of the Jerseys, this did not feel like a full day event for us. We went early because I was helping out at Laura's ordination reception, but we could have easily have left later and waited for Don to come home from his bike ride as we were only there about an hour. Ashley was very polite when someone tried to teach her about Colonial games -- giving her the same spiel she gave when she was 6 and volunteering at Rockingham. I was proud of her for being so sweet. That is the challenge with continuing to visit historic sites, it takes a lot for us to learn something new. When we do, it makes it all magical again.

Stacy and Kim taught us about a soldier's day as represented by different fife and drum calls. A furniture maker showed us how he scores the wooden inlays to give them texture when he makes furniture in the Federal style. He also showed us the difference between furniture from the same time period, but different states (some were more ornate than others). The clock collector showed us a kitchen clock. Why is it a kitchen clock? Because you can use it to set an alarm that loudly announces when your bread is done baking.

There is nothing like first person re-enactors, though, to make history truly come alive.

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