Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hear Ye, Here Ye!

There's just something about field trips that I've never grown weary of. There was a Mother's Day theme going on at Sturbridge Village on Sunday and mom's were let in free. Children under 2, free. 42 year old children, 20 bucks.


Let me in.

We've been to several of these living history museums: Plymouth, Storrowtown, Hancock Shaker, Deerfield. But none are so large or interesting as nearby Sturbridge. Plymouth was close, but being a little too realistic, most of the houses there looked identical and the entire area was much smaller.

This place is far more varied and colorful.

It was a bit more crowded than I would have preferred, which kind of dampened the early 19th century feel, but not too bad.

More disappointing was the relatively low number of reenactors compared to my earlier visits. But hopefully that's because it's still early in the season. A few years back the old sawmill was actually a working sawmill for instance, with a couple men cutting and planing large boards from logs as the giant wheel turned. Not so today.

Not that there weren't any reenactors at all. Most of the buildings had at least one on hand, and you would pass a couple along the dirt paths between sections of the village.

But quality over quantity, the reenactors that were available were thankfully completely in character. Viddy this cooper explaining how work was bartered, in a small village where coin was hard to come by:

At several locations there were hoops, rope, and sticks set up for playing; this lady was demonstrating to children the PS2 of the day.

...Meanwhile a tug of war raged on the common, thankfully drawing a good chunk of the visitors and providing some elbow room for us in the tiny houses.

Most of the buildings and houses were open to the public; like the parlor in this small unassuming house. It was a room probably very like my living room growing up: off limits to children.

Other than the parlor in this particular house, everything was open for the handling. Drawers could be opened, cupboards examined, the bed layed on. A board of checkers was on a table for a quick game. (btw, the original name for checkers was 'Draughts', the word checkers originally meant the substitute pieces they used in place of real pieces that were lost...)

Away from the town common and the circle of church, school house, bank, lawyer's office and general store, could be found more bucolic circumstances.

After a walk through a windy high meadow, we descended down into ol' man Freeman's farm, where much of the local livestock was available for feeding and petting... and eating...

It look liked ol' man Freeman was busy tilling with his boys,

...so we continued on, following the dirt path back to the town center and stopping here and there along the way to check out the long horned cattle and feisty goats behind the fences. Not too much of a barrier between the large animals and the passerby but overall, the situation was safe for lambs and babies alike.

The afternoon was gone before we knew it, and Kelly had to get back to our century and to work, so our tour of the past was finished for now.

My 20 dollar pass is good for 10 days so who knows, if the weather turns warmer again soon, I might just take another spin back in time...


Jacqueline T Lynch said...

One of my favorite places. I hope I can visit again sometime. Other Mr. Peabody-like time travel experiences you might consider are Mystic Seaport, and Fort No. 4 up in New Hampshire.

Elizabeth said...

I went on a field trip there in 5th grade or so, and I really should go back there someday. All I really remember is riding on a wagon, and pigs that were bigger than I was. ;)

Mattenylou said...

Tony, thanks for sharing your tour of Old Sturbridge. I haven't been there for years, but will plan a visit soon.

50+ years ago, when it first opened, you could enter free if you were a resident. The elderly woman we rented the summer cottage from on Leadmine Pond, would leave the tax bill for us. We'd spend our rainy vacation days there, for years.

Those days spent at Sturbridge Village were the highlight of my summers! I still remember many of the things you showed in the pics. I loved the church, too, sitting in those old pews, each with it's own little door.

I was the only kid that ever wished for a rainy vacation... thanks for taking me back!

Tony said...

At 20 bucks a head it's become borderline expensive, but you all should check it out again, still worth it!