Posts Tagged ‘Williamsburg’

Maybe it’s the former drama major in me, but I love a good “pretend” and Williamsburg, VA is full of opportunities to play. Take our visit to the Yorktown Victory Center: it’s not the official historical site, but it is grand fun.

soldiers, Yorktown Victory Center

Don't you just love a man in uniform?

We had a lovely time chatting with the Colonial Army and admiring their quarters. (Their sleeping quarters, not their change.) soldiers' tent Yorktown Victory CenterCaptain Morris must have been out on a mission; we poked around on his desk while he was gone.

Capt. Morrris's desk Yorktown Victory Center

Trusting soul, to leave all that out.

As we were decidedly not Tory spies, no harm was done. I particularly like the laundry area…note that they make a point on the sign that they use soap. Clearly an exemplary establishment.

Laundry facilities at Yorktown Victory Center

Scrub a dub dub.

On a random note, one thing they do have is George Washington’s actual tent that he lived in during the Revolution. It’s preserved behind glass, but it’s set up so you can get a good look at it and it’s quite impressive. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of that; it didn’t come out. Take my word for it or go see for yourself.

We were most entertained while there by the musket and cannon demonstration. The little boy who came out of the crowd to help fire the cannon was so well-trained he had to be told it was OK to toss the…whatever it was…on the ground. (I can’t remember exactly, but it was something to do with the fuse, I think.) Yorktown shooter Yorktown Victory Center No silencers on these puppies; muskets are loud and produce impressive amounts of smoke. Just imagine what it must have been like with scores of these going off at once. It must have been difficult to see who you were supposed to be fighting on the battlefield. Musket shot, Yorktown Victory Center This being a pretend, and as the Colonial Army is not currently engaged in battle, they let anybody hold their weapons. (Yes, we let the kids go first.)

Me with a musket, Yorktown Victory Center

Yes, I know that's not the way to hold it, but it was a photo op, not a battle.

And one final thought, from my old crush John Adams… Road to Revolution 1730-1776

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One of the best things about going to Colonial Williamsburg is chatting with the people. Some of the people are living in the late 1770’s, like the wigmaker.

wigmaker of Wiliamsburg

Would you care to shave your head and order a wig, madam?

Did you know that in order to have a wig custom-fit to your head, you have to shave your head? Considering how hot and humid it was the day we were there, that almost sounded tempting. Almost. They had such a nice variety of styles from which to choose, too. Eventually, we decided to pass.
Williamsburg Wig Shop
The silversmith, on the other hand, was a modern woman working in a colonial craft. This shows her using a nifty drill to punch holes in a sheet of silver. The delicacy of the designs was amazing.
Williamsburg silversmith
Then there was this nice girl who let us into the Wythe house (the Wythes weren’t home but she assured us it would be OK) and told us all about the people who lived there.
Wythe house guide
This woman took us through the Capital. She was very passionate about the insult to the elected officials when the Royal Governor disbanded their little group. (That whole independence thing rubbed him the wrong way.) It was a fabulous tour.
Capital guide
Finally, we met a lot of women like this one, who bravely soldiered on through record-breaking heat to sit outside various buildings and talk to tourists.
greeter at the jail
They were terrific. Even though they must have been outrageously uncomfortable—Lord knows we were—every one of them was polite, friendly, and cheerful. With tough, talented women like this in Virginia’s capital, I think this whole independence thing might just work!

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I like to cook—but if I had been born 200 years ago I’m not sure that would have been the case. Can you imagine trying to whip up that Church Lady Cake in one of these?

Great Hopes Plantation Kitchen

Picturesque, but...

It really takes “slaving over a hot stove” to a whole new level:
Colonial cook

It was 95 degrees that day. Note the "spice rack" on the right.

Of course, if you served under General Washington, your stove would look more like this:
Yorktown kitchen

Cooking at Yorktown

Mind you, to get to this new land, you’d have had to cross the ocean (which took weeks and weeks and….) in a wee little boat cooking in a wee little kitchen.

Below deck on the Susan Constant in Jamestown.

Once in your new settlement (in swampy, bug-infested, hotter than England ever though of being) Jamestown it’d be best to do the baking outside.
Jamestown baker
If you were lucky enough to work for President Jefferson at Monticello (we’re bouncing through time a bit here, try not to get dizzy), then you’d have an industrial model stove.
Monticello stove

Look, multiple burners!

Despite the lack of modern conveniences, cooks have always been a resourceful lot, so they managed to pull off dishes like this:
Governor's Palace kitchen Williamsburg

A feast fit for a royal governor. Kitchen at Williamsburg's Governor's Palace

Impressive, isn’t it? BTW, the cook at the Governor’s Palace told us all those “rising before dawn to start cooking breakfast” stories were malarkey—as she pointed out, “Have you ever tried to cook by candlelight?”

So the next time you find yourself standing in front of a microwave muttering, “Hurry UP, I haven’t got all minute!” take just a moment to appreciate the comforts and conveniences twenty-first century has to offer. Happy cooking!

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