Last week I said goodbye to the Jennings. Steve and Susan have been interpretive volunteers here at Fort Frederica with us since the second week of January. They were last-minute replacements for another couple, but they came with enthusiastic and inquisitive spirits.
We knew when they came that they would only be able to be here for a short time. Most NPS RV volunteers stay for a three month period. Because they were last minute replacements, they told the Volunteer Coordinator coming in that they could only stay through the end of February. The Jennings already had commitments back home in Texas for March.
We were glad they came, even if their time was over too soon. Doing living history is a strenuous activity. Colonists worked hard, in very physical ways. From chopping wood to carrying heavy pots to hammering iron, they worked hard. When we are doing living history, we work hard as well. First, we have to carry all our supplies from the living history building out to the living history area. We keep all the cooking supplies on the goat cart, which makes them relatively easy to haul out and in. But we also carry out tables, and supplies that we use for the activities of the day.
For instance, on days I am doing my full-blown textile talk, we carry out an 8 foot table for my display, the bin with the display supplies, then the loom, the spinning wheel, the weasel, a chair, a stool, and various smaller supplies. At the end of the day, we carry it all back in. Great to have it out but a pain to tote back and forth. Tom has all his blacksmith tools and equipment that gets carried out each day as well.
Having another couple to help carry all the stuff out and put it back really helps make the job easier. Besides that, having another couple working on living history and talking to folks makes the whole thing more fun. Visitors see more going on and stay longer with us.
Susan and Steve really threw themselves into living history. Susan was great at talking people of all ages into making a candle. Steve owned the palmetto hut and had a great soldier talk. Susan alternated cooking duties and, more importantly, dishwashing duties. You have to do the dishes no matter what century it is! Susan learned how to weave on the loom and finished a complete dishtowel on her own. Steve fired up the bake oven to bake Susan’s apricot-pecan bread. He also tried his hand at blacksmithing. In short, they pitched in and helped with whatever needed to be done.
This was the first NPS volunteer gig for the Jennings and they did a great job. All the RV volunteers went out for supper at Mullet Bay as a goodbye dinner with Susan and Steve. We had a great time together, but still made them pay for their own supper. Goodbye to the Jennings for now – but we hope to see them down the road.