May 20, 2008

Unpopular decisions.

Wes of Bodhran Roll, Please! has a post of were heís been and whatís been going on in his life. It ends with some comments about changes heís made regarding re-enacting. These include, unfortunately due to some research of my own, to him deciding not to bring his Bodrhan to the events anymore and to shave his facial hair. Of course good friend and blogspawn Petey is not pleased with this decision to stop bringing the bodrhan. (As well as our friend Wil, but he hasnít commented yet).

I know that when I shaved my facial hair and decided to get rid of some of the items in my camp that are not period correct, I took some, okay a LOT of ridicule. The thing is that I think some people are missing the point. Now, I can only really speak for me, but after conversations with Wes, I think heíll agree with me on this. I didnít make these changes because someone else forced me to or because I didnít want. I made these decisions because they are what I wanted.

When I was younger I was brought up that if you are going to do something, do it right and take pride in your work. History has been a passion of mine for years. When I was younger I loved going to museums and ready about history. I loved going on vacations and taking tours of various historical locations. When we went on these tours I was always the kid fighting his way to the front so I wouldnít miss anything the tour guide said.

In 1997 when I had an opportunity to start doing some re-enacting, I jumped on it. I joined Clan Chattan and we did more of the Scottish Highland Game/Ren Faire style re-enacting. We had two events that were early American events, and those quickly became my favorites. In fact after a couple of years I started hating the Ren Faire and Highland Games gigs. There wasnít much history to them and the people that attended really didnít want to know about history, unless I was talking about the history of the sword. Occasionally I would find someone that wanted to talk Scottish history with me, but mainly they just wanted to see the sharp shiny objects. After leaving Clan Chattan, I havenít worked a Ren Faire or Highland game.

Now Iím on my own doing what I want to do. Over the years Iíve been slowly weeding out what is wrong in my camp and gear. I was reading more books and brushing up on more history. Becoming more and more knowledgeable about the history of the period and location Iím portraying. I know what is wrong in my camp and what needs to be improved.

At the end of last season something finally snapped into place for me. I shook off the last of my Ren Faire mentality of ďif they had it, they would have used itĒ and ďIf it looks period correct, thatís all that matters.Ē Now, Iím striving to get as historically accurate of a camp that I can get and still have my family with. (There is absolutely NO chance of my having a White wife and kid with me in 1756 in Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin) So I make exceptions, because this is first and foremost a FAMILY hobby for us, and its damn well going to stay that way. Yet I am going to make the changes I need to make for me, and my costuming and my equipment. Not the familyís stuff, but mine. Ktreva is behind me on this.

Things really didnít hit the fan until last month when I made the decision to shave my facial hair off, replace me capote and update the camp chairs. All of a sudden everyone was going nuts about my decision. Hereís the thing. Iím not doing this because someone told me to. Its not because I feel I have to. It isnít even something I didnít want to do. This was a decision I made in order to get it right. I did it because I knew these things are wrong for my persona and my camp.

I did this because I want to do my best to do it right. I am taking pride in what Iím doing. This is something that I know is right and I want to do it. It doesnít bother me that people are making fun of my cleanly shaven face. When they laugh and tease me about my decisions, it rolls off of me. The fact is simple, it was a decision I made, it is something Iím standing by and none of them can tell me that Iím wrong.

Iím not mad, irritated or even annoyed at any of them. Because Iím doing what is right for me, and they are doing what is right for them. And that is what is most important.

That is what they donít understand.

Now of course if Wes wants to bring his Bodhran and play, I'd be all for that. The nights are going to get quiet.

Posted by Contagion in Re-enacting life. at May 20, 2008 06:47 AM | TrackBack

Will the beer need to be historically accurate as well?

Just asking.......

Posted by: bx19 at May 20, 2008 11:34 AM

I suspect you are wrong about the facial hair. It may have been uncommon among polite company but by the time of the French and Indian Wars white men had already started trapping in the Shining Mountains. By then some had reached the Pacific. Don't fall for the myth that Lewis and Clark were the first to go. Men started walking and riding west when we first got here.

Most died of course. Then again, everyone else died, too. Now those frontiersmen didn't have nice neat goatees, one would be lucky to see a nose sticking out and I'm sure the surviors shaved as soon as they returned.

There are too many legends of white men among the tribes to believe otherwise. Frontiersmen became Mountain Men and Voyageurs and by the mid 1800s had trapped out the Shining Mountains which became the Rocky Mountains. Trapped out by men with beards.

No drums, though. When sneaking around among tribes that tortured people to see if they died brave, few men would carry a drum.


Posted by: Peter at May 20, 2008 12:37 PM

By the wauy, did Tammi ever give you that bullet lube I sent up for you?

Posted by: Peter at May 20, 2008 12:49 PM

Actually there is a ton of documentation to support they didn't have facial hair. From journals to excavated razors to inventory lists. They have reports of men being found dead and they would check their belongings and find razors and shaving soap. They wouldn't shave every day, but they would shave. According to documentation even the frontiersmen would shave on on Sundays and before entering any type of civilized area or rendezvous. Having facial hair in the mid 1700's would be the equivalent to not wearing pants today. By the late 1700's and early 1800's facial hair became more socially acceptable. By the time of the Civil War it was the norm.

Posted by: Contagion at May 20, 2008 01:28 PM

You wear pants?


I'm just glad I don't live closer to you because I bet you'd totally suck me into this hobby of yours. I know I'd love it, but I know I don't have cash (any) or time to do it! :) I just live vicariously through you. Hope you don't mind.

Posted by: Ogre at May 21, 2008 08:07 AM