My volunteerism at my formerly beloved Smithfield Plantation has ended due to some changes that they have made. Though the Board won’t say why, they released the Director who was “Miss Smithfield,” heart, soul, and all the toil and effort that went with her position. This disheartened me, but she asked me to continue there out of her love for history and the facility. I tried. I really did, but the heart was gone and after a very discouraging attempt early this week, I submitted a letter of resignation like most of the other volunteers had already done.
Fortunately, she has moved on to another historic facility, the Wilderness Road Regional Museum in a community called Newbern farther from my house, but still easily doable. This week, she is running a Patriot’s Camp and has 15-20 kids each day portraying local figures from the Revolutionary War, and learning about the period in fun ways, different creative activities and outlets each day. She reached out to many of her volunteers and artisans to help with the camp and today, another spinner friend and I got our turn. The youngest was 5, the oldest 13, with an average age around 8 or 9. Some time was spent with the entire group talking about how fiber fit into the history, some time with fiber prep from shearing, cleaning the fleece, spinning, and weaving. After snack and energy release play battles, the group reconvened in two parts, with my friend teaching thigh spinning and Lucet braiding while I took the other group for learning to drop spindle. Later we switched groups. She had made Lucets for each child and had balls of yarn. I had made drop spindles and weighed out a half ounce of fiber per child and after they had their lessons, they went home with their own fiber tools.
Jim gets a kick out of me coming home from an event like this as I get so animated about the opportunity. The kids were full of energy and so smart, it fills me with energy too and I so love sharing my skills with them. Each group had a couple of helpers and one of my helpers got so into it that he asked if he could have a spindle and fiber too.
When camp was over around noon, the skies opened up and poured rain on us as we were packing up our wheels, spindles, looms, and Lucets and hurrying to load our cars under an umbrella brigade.
Several of the volunteers, dashed from camp back to Blacksburg, where a peaceful vigil was held for the director, where the Smithfield Board was supposed to enter the building for a meeting. Though we had very good news coverage, the Board must have heard as they entered on the other side of the facility through the hotel and avoided us. Many photographs were take, some interviews for print media, and some for the local TV new. I was still in costume and several other volunteers were also in costume and part of my interview appeared on the evening news. Though we don’t have local channels on our TV, a friend said I looked very professional and the costume made the interview. The many volunteers that have left Smithfield would love for the director to be reinstated and we would return, but in the meantime, we have followed her to her new venue and will continue to support local history.
Photo credit to WDBJ7 news. I am 4th from the left.