My reenactor family at Collier-Seminole State Park, after Saturday's battle, in February 2003. Everyone one of these people I consider family.
Being into reenacting has its own culture and customs. We always wondered what it would be like if someone came and did their doctorate thesis in psychology of the characters involved in reenacting. What type of individuals are these? After twenty years of doing this, I am not sure if I can even give a good answer. The assortment of the cast at event are certainly as diverse as anyone in a large city.
One of the few common factors among reenactors is that they all seem to be concerned with portraying history as a living and dynamic concept. We don’t always agree with everything, and some don’t always get the facts right, but they are concerned with getting other people interested in the past. Showing history as living characters is more educational than what the forth graders will ever get out of their Florida history classes. It gives the human element and relates to the audience, which are some of the principles of educational interpretation.
A few years ago, A&E had a special listed in the tv program that looked like it would be a documentary on reenactors. My co-worker & myself at Fort Morgan waited in great anticipation on what we would see. Unfortunately, the special showed the nuttiest and most extreme among American Civil War reenactors. There was one guy who had a shrine in his basement where he always got dressed in the Confederate grays and prepared for an event. And he was talking about how he would imagine what it was like to get killed in battle and lay grotesquely on the battlefield during the Civil War, like in those old glass plate photos. What made us disgusted with the whole special and change the channel (to something better, like WWF wrestling) was when they were around the campfire at night talking, and one reenactor turned up their speckled enamel ware cup for a sip, where we clearly saw the cash register bar code sticker, still stuck on the bottom from Wal-mart.
Fortunately most people I know in Seminole War reenacting are not as scary. For the most part we are one large family. The reenacting community that I am a part of is the best people I have ever know and the best friends I will ever have.
As an example, I think of my friend Ralph Smith and his family. Ralph has portrayed the Black Seminole Abraham, and his wife and two sons have been at events for nearly 20 years now. The two sons started out when they were babies, and are now both in college. And I can think of other families where the kids grew up at reenactments. Those kids will be at events, and will have 200 babysitters watching over them. Everyone in camp knows who they belong too, and are good friends with the parents. And all the adults are a pretty active and sometimes a wild bunch themselves, so the kids are not going to fool them with anything. The kids are not able to get into any trouble, because our reenactor community keeps them in line. Those two young men have now grown up to be among the most intelligent and talented kids I have known. And they are also very well behaved and respectful towards others. Parents, if you want your kids to grow up right, drag them to reenactments and keep them in the park all weekend.
Well I will talk about reenacting some more, and maybe talk about reenactors and movie makers. May the two never meet. They have nothing in common.
Okahumpkee signing off!
|at the salt mines|
|Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith|