The Wilderness Road Regional Museum for the past 3 years has had an afternoon/early evening event near Halloween, with two gorgeous Belgian horses pulling a wagon through the Museum property and streets of Newbern to be greeted by “spirits” of historical figures from the region, including 3 tiny, young kids portraying the Shawnee and an equally tiny Werewolf. The first year, I volunteered to help with tickets as no reservations were required that year, and to help with serving hot cider and directing some crafts for the kids in the outdoor kitchen, but the elderly woman who I had driven over to portray Mary Draper Ingles got cold very early and had someone take her home. I stepped in to do dual duty, helping to get the wagon loaded, then running in period clothing around the museum to be Mary on the opposite side of the property before the wagon got there, then back around to help prepare the next load.
Last year, I was asked just to be Mary and enjoyed playing the role of an anxious woman, fearful of getting caught out after dark. Then going into the museum and demonstrating spinning between the wagon loads.
When it was announced that they were going to do it again this year, with reservations and masks for all visitors, knowing that I was outdoors on the porch and in the front of the building, that I felt safe enough to dress in my period outfit, grab my shopping basket, and visit the spirit of the proprietor, Henry Hance, the founder of the town and shop keeper. We tweaked our part a bit to include more conversation between Doug (Henry) and me (Mary) and twice he caused me to turn to the wall laughing when he told Mary not to worry about the “Indians” that they were adorable. I didn’t set up to spin indoors this year, the museum part was closed to control the number of people inside, and to allow us to close off the old store for us to be able to safely go in as part of my skit sends me in while Henry finishes his part. This worked well, except for one “Karen” who felt entitled to come in with her group even after being told the museum was closed and the area we were in shut for our safety. She had donated something in that room and felt it was her right to bring people in to see it. Though she had to have a mask for the ride, none of them had them on in the museum. I stayed on the porch, wrapped in a wool shawl and masked between skits that occurred every 30 minutes for 8 wagonloads (about 70 people total).
It was good to get out and do some living history, see some of my living history friends again. I look forward to the day that I can return to more activities over there, to set up and spin, to work with camps and school groups on spinning and fiber usage during the late 18th and early 19th century.