Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Galesburg Heritage Days 2013

Our first year at the rendezvous was very pleasant, although perhaps not altogether successful. Because, you see, it seemed that we spent most of our time on the Civil War side anyhow; due to the fact that most of our friends were over there and, well, so we were over there too.

It was still very exciting to dress up in our early 19th century attire. The children were happy and adorable in their new clothes and David stalked around in his tailcoat and breeches, receiving many compliments and being often asked for photographs. He enjoyed that, I think.

And also the fact he was wearing linen while all his other friends were in layers of wool. From what I saw he was the only gentleman present in early 19th century dress; most of the others wore earlier or later period garments.

The weather was perfect. It was quite mild (for August) and sunny.

There were plenty of shady spots to retire to when the sun became a bit too warm and since we were by the water the air was cool and fresh.

I remember going to this event back in 2004 for the first time. 9 years ago! I never would have guessed then that 9 years later I would still be going and I would be married with 4 children. . .

The only outfit that caused me some frustration was Anne's. Despite putting another tuck in Malachi's old dress it was still a bit too long for her. And, well, Malachi was two and a half when he wore this and Anne is barely 13 months.

Since she is starting to walk this was problematic for her as she kept treading upon the hem. I really ought to have made her a new dress but I just did not have any time at all. Still, I feel guilty about not providing her with clothes suitable to her needs.

We picnicked by the playground where the boys expelled some of their energy. It was all I could do to convince them to shove a hasty bite in their mouth before they resumed their play.

Anne sat with David and I and methodically ate. And ate. And ate. And ate. Sausage and cheese and bread and ripe peaches, which she then doused with a healthy amount of water (soaking herself, and her clothes, in the process).

And after that, she nursed. . .and then refused to take a nap. Therefore I carried her in my arms and slowly walked up and down the camps with my friend Peter while David stayed with the boys. When she was nearly asleep I stepped squarely upon a wasp and was stung in the arch of my foot. I gasped and shuddered and said to Peter, "Peter, I think I've been stung." Therefore Anne awoke and was determined to remain awake for the rest of the day.

The remainder of the event was passed in pleasant company. David's sister came down from Iowa to visit us, along with her husband and two of her children. The boys were thrilled to see their cousins and Anne happily ate the food they gave her.

Anne, having smashed several bananas into her clothes after the aforementioned dousing of herself in water, of necessity had to be stripped and washed and her clothes rinsed and wrung. So she sported her necklace and her diaper covered with a linen cloth and was supremely happy in her scanty attire.
She was SO tired. . .but so determined to stay awake!
The boys were allowed to pick one thing they wanted from the merchants area. They all got bows and arrows.

Malachi especially enjoyed his and I kept having to enforce the rule that no, he could not aim at people. or goods in the merchant tents. We found an open grassy area where he shot and retrieved his arrow to his hearts content.

David and Judah enjoyed making loud noise with the sliding whistles their aunt got for them.

There were activities for the children, including a candy cannon. . .

. . .and a sack race.

In the evening, we headed once again to the Civil War camp for the dance. David and I took turns watching the children so the other could dance. The boys ran off onto the battlefield and played with their bows and arrows and the baby finally succumbed to her weariness of the day and fell asleep at last.

The dance was on the street. It is one of my favorite parts of the event. The dim evening shades, the shadowy people in the fringe of lamp light. The fiddler fiddling and the people dancing, feet stomping in time and whirls of skirts and bright flashes of laughing eyes. For me it is one of the best moments; the coming together of all kinds of people from all walks of life, bound together by a common love of their heritage and a plain old fashioned desire for a good time with good company.

And it was!

On a different and selfish note, I was really happy with how my hair came out. I have had the worst luck with regency hair styles. My hair is either too long or too short, or it won't hold a curl, or it just looks frizzy and bad.

I began planning my hair a few weeks in advance. I wanted curls around my face with a neatly braided chignon smoothly knotted in the back. Not so difficult, right?

Well, it seemed it would be. I have had great luck with pin curls in the past but even so, they loosen and flop over the course of a day. Especially in humidity. In the past I've tried to preserve the pin curls with the use of pomade or styling gel but it just ends up making my hair feel nasty and it still doesn't hold the curl very well.

So a few weeks ago I had the brilliant thought - you know what? My hair is naturally curly. So let's unleash the Natural Curl. To that end I stopped washing my hair. I dabbled in the Curly Girl hair philosophy a few years ago and saw great results at that time. No frizz! Lotsa curl. So I gave my hair one good final shampoo to strip everything out of it, and then I stopped washing it.

I also gave myself a hair cut. Pretty much just a trim, since I'm trying to grow my hair longer and its just below shoulder length right now. I layered the ends and then dealt with my growing-out bangs. I trimmed them up evenly, to about earlobe length.

My hair immediately started getting curlier and the frizz disappeared. It took over a week to get rid of that nasty dirty-hair feeling but by the time of the event my hair was good to go! That morning I got up and took my regular shower (not shampooing my hair in the shower, but rinsing conditioner through it) and let my hair damp dry. I scrunched my hair in my hands to make it as curly as possible. I got the kids up, bathed them, got them dressed, got them breakfast and made a cup of tea. By then I was ready to dress and do my hair.

I left my hair down around my face and it was curly enough as it was. The back hair I put into a low chignon. I really wanted to use the hair extension I got so I cut off a portion of it and braided it and wound it into a bun to pin at the back, but it ended up looking odd. .. and you could see the weaving strip at the top of the hair, which was totally not cool. So I unbraided it and just sort of pinned the length into a curly mass at the back of my head, and it mingled with my own curls. I was really happy with how it came out. Little David told me "your hair is camoflauged mommy!" so I think the hair piece really worked well!

To finish it off I twisted a piece of blue-green fabric around my head (we won't discuss the fiber content. . .) and pinned it in place. My sister gave me a pretty blue and green brooch for Christmas so on impulse I pinned that to the bandeau. And that was it! My hair stayed perfectly in place all day and my curls didn't droop at all and it was all good and wonderful and I was very very happy.

Me and Petey-Boy
And seriously, someone called me "Empress Josephine." I will love that guy forever.

I wore my cream checked gauze drawstring dress that I made last summer. It was very cool and comfortable. Underneath I wore a bodiced petticoat, my shift and my stays. And that's it! Gotta love this period. I wore red leather pointy toe shoes at the beginning of the day but soon discarded them and went around barefoot. It was too nice to wear shoes, and I'm a country girl.

And now, one last thing before we go. . .THE BUSK.

I use a paint stick for my busk. For some reason this busk snapped in half at about rib level when I bent over to pick the baby up. Therefore for half of the event I had pretty much no bust support. I felt very self conscious and awkward, so later in the day I had David run me to Wal Mart where we got a new paint stick and I whittled it to size in the car. Instant relief and improvement of appearance! See:

So yes. The busk is so very, very, very important to get a good look, especially for ladies who are perhaps endowed by their Creator with certain unspeakable attributes. . .the busk keeps it all up and in and minimizes things. For someone who normally wears DD, this is good.

So I'll conclude this ridiculously long post. . .I LOVE DRESSING REGENCY!!!



  1. "certain unspeakable attributes" - You crack me up; so funny. And I love your hair. The "no poo" thing does wonders!

  2. David looks BRILLIANT. That picture of him (putting on your Malachi's shoes?)makes him look perfectly period, somehow. I made my husband a linen coat after reading your research and construction notes, and I am so glad that I did - it really helps with the heat.

    This event looks so fun! I wish we had more of a community for this in the Atlanta area.

  3. Beautiful clothing! It looks like you had a wonderful time! :)

    God Bless.

  4. I think you all look great! For the busk, I have found that if the bush is at least the length of my sternum, I can still bend and have plenty of support and I'm a F/DDD. I cut off my long corset at the waist and am so much more comfortable.

  5. I love to see kids in historical costume!

    Your hair does look good! My hair also doesn't always want to cooperate. It is both fine and very slidey, good at escaping hairdos!

  6. Sarah your hair look so beautiful! I must admit I have used shampoo once every two weeks starting in July. My hair has been the worse for it! I am definitely going to go back to using no shampoo soon. My natural curls love it too! You and your family look great in their homemade garb as usual.

    God bless!

  7. Dear Sarah Jane,

    Sorry to jump in late: have been offline a lot lately. The weekend looked super: the dance photos in particular remind me of country dances at friends' farms when I was little. There's something speial about music outdoors in fading light and incipient night coolness coming out of the low places.

    Your hair worked a treat! Hooray for keeping at it.

    Very best,



Thank you for your lovely thoughts!