Friday, June 3, 2011

2011 Original Northeastern

The 2011 Original Northeastern was a fantastic event this past week. My complements to the staff, you guys did a great job.

I saw many good friends, made some new ones & really had a wonderful time.

I got there on the early set-up day & it was already packed - ended up camped directly in front of the Silver Springs (water tanker), which my tent hid nicely. I believe it was the shortest trip to the Lou I'd ever had. Tents were packed in rope to rope & there was no cutting through anywhere.

An odd phenomenon I've noticed is that when the hooters are screened in people slam the doors & make a general racket, but when they are left uncovered people are polite & close the doors quietly. Perhaps it's psychological & we remember when we are seen coming & going. No one wants to be "that guy" who makes a mess or slams the door at 3:30 a.m. On the flip-side, the porta-johns were fully visible in our 18th & early 19th c. encampment. I guess, all things considered, I'd rather have to see them than hear them - that's why Photoshop was invented.

I tip my hat to the porta-john folks, they were clean, well stocked & had hand sanitizer in every stall (I didn't have to carry a bottle in my pocket) and the truck was quiet! My only lament is that the regular stalls are never wide enough to easily maneuver in big skirts; it's always a careful process avoiding the Dreaded Pee Pan on one side & the toilet paper covers on the other. When paniers/hoops are involved the only solution is the Handicapped Head.

My Princess Bed was absolutely delightful. I still have to finish the uprights & paint the wood, but I was so happy. It kept the bugs out, the wind out & I got to wake up to cute, fuzzy critters & flowers every morning. It also provided a place to toss mending garments or things I needed quickly without having to search through every box & disrupt the whole store... and a place to hang my cloak.

Turtles were a pretty common critter, along with spiders, dragonflys, tiny crickets, butterflys & several kinds of birds. I had one wasp one day, but the nasties were kept to a minimum... dog ticks (yuck) were awful, and whatever bit up my legs I'd like to eradicate because they were on fire for several days, not so bad after 2 hot showers. Poison ivy absolutely everywhere, which I managed to avoid until packing up & helping a neighbor rescue their fly as it blew down.

This little speedster was chased by 3 kids right into my tent. He headed for the back corner & hid under the table for a bit. Then we let him out under a mudflap & off into the woods he went, one boy left trailing while I distracted the girls with pretty dresses. I thought he looked especially nice on my rug. The only reason I got a picture is that I'd been photographing the store.

The rug... I love the rug! I hated rugs & tarps for the longest time. Now I'm a fan. The tarp kept the moisture out (a little) & the bugs away, and the rug kept the tarp down & slip free. Putting a canvas cloth over the tarp never works for me, I always get a heel caught & trip. This was perfect. Now I just need 3 or 4 more. It did leave a slimy mess underneath it, but the mildew smell did not come home with me.

I'm a huge fan of the peg racks & displaying the clothes in a historically appropriate way, but unfortunately they don't display well. People are so accustomed to seeing clothes on hangers that few will take a garment down to look at it or try it on. And I'm forever straightning things - though it beats unpinning from the hanger, or having to bandage my customers after they rip themselves open on a pin.

I'm not 100% sure this is the greatest idea or if it's hurt my sales. Choices are purely fabric based "ooh pretty" vs. garment based, and you can't see what you are looking at right away - this format demands that one be interactive & take one's time, which folks are not used to doing.

One good thing about this system is that those with 1/2 an oz. of patience will allow me to help them & select clothes that will fit & look good on them.

What I have yet to figure out is how to display the sleeveless waistcoats not on a hanger. They don't stay on the pegs & don't look good in a pile. I'm open to suggestions. The table seemed to work better this time around & I can't figure out why. I did keep putting the books back in the box, which may have helped. I would like to set up the shelves in this corner as it will provide additional display space & a place to set piddly little things that are so tempting to set things on.

I've noticed the strange tendency to either sit or set drinks on my box-shelves right on the garments. I think I need a drinks table just outside the door. Apparently the rug is another tempting drink-holder & an excellent place to kick said drink over. More signs, that's the ticket.

Stacking the boxes on top of each other helped with the no sitting thing, but encouraged the drink-setting thing. I'm also open to suggestions there.

We had a motley selection of weather, but mostly it was HOT. Some days so hot no one could even think about moving... so hot that I actually stripped down to stays & petticoat (scandalous)... so hot that I resorted to a wet modesty cloth. Monday we had some damp weather, and on Wednesday we watched Tornado Clouds boiling over our heads & in the second wave of storms they actually opened up & there was a bit of a funnel forming. Thankfully it passed over us, though others in the area were not so fortunate. The sky was gray in the first wave, orange in the second & a beautiful soft yellow in the third - rather discomforting.

Between the bouts of rain, the girls puddle jumped & got quite muddy; everyone cheered them on. When it's like that, you might as well take your joy where you can find it because the Great Bad Thing will either happen or it won't. One thing is sure about the weather, it doesn't care what you say about it.

This lovely young lady was the one who won my gift certificate & we settled on something like this archery dress from 1820. I think she'll look lovely in it & I'll get to see someone running around in an 1820's dress. It will have detachable sleeves & I'll replace the pink with a different color, perhaps white or cream... maybe not so crazy on the hem.

As a closing note, Chuck, Hannah & Kayla; this is the poem I'm ashamed that I couldn't remember seeing as how I knew it by heart in 6th grade & could recite it off of any soda or beer ingredient list for years... and now that I read it again, I think I was a truly macabre child because I loved this thing to pieces.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ‘round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ‘taint being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows—O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;

Then I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked;” . . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.


TwoForks said...

Thanks, Gail, for the poem.
It was great to see you at the Original and to hear some of your stories by the fire.
I left a few hours before the storm and was relieved to hear later that all was well. Too bad it was so bloody hot. I got a nice letter from Kayla shortly after I got home and must be sure to write her back.
DONT FORGET to put a Pop tart in Gary's vest pocket when you sent it to him - frosted brown sugar.
He'll go nuts trying to figure out where it came from.

All the best

Gail Kellogg Hope said...

I'll have to remember to bring frosted brown sugar pop tarts with me to camp next year.

We can have a "Pop Tart Party; Celebration of All Things Farby!"