Greetings, dear readers!
If you are reading this post (which I assume you are), then you are in for a treat! Not only because Alex (in the orange) and I (in the green) are writing it together, but it’s also a TWO-PART-ER. That’s right folks, this post is only half the story!
You see, we thought what all our dear readers would want to know is exactly how a Pilgrim becomes a Pilgrim – what makes a seemingly ordinary, well adjusted adult decide to dress up in funny clothes all day and spew out obscure historical facts? But that’s the rub – for most of us our descent into Pilgrimhood started well before we ever could drive cars, drink legally, or had even graduated high school for that matter. Some people were just born to do what they do, and we Pilgrims are no exception.
All of us Interpreters have experienced our fair share of history nerd-dom in our respective childhoods. And, if you ask me, the blame for this should be squarely placed on the shoulders of the ones who raised us: Our parents.
It’s true Sally – I don’t think I would be the Pilgrim I am today if my family’s idea of “vacation” didn’t include so many trips to Civil War battlefields, or if they had had the good sense to not take me so many weekends to visit Henry Ford Museum & Greenfield Village. If only they had done normal, less educational stuff! Then they might have ended up with a daughter who doesn’t play historical dress up for a living!
My family spent many happy hours exploring historic castles, manor houses and museums on days out too! Being the intrepid reporters that we are, in the writing of this post and the discovery that Mother’s Day is approaching too quickly for us to have time to mail cards (sorry Mum!)(yeah sorry!), Alex and I made the ground-breaking decision that we should interview our Mothers! Yes, it is the cutting edge of journalism. Yes, it has the potential to be incredibly embarrassing for both of us. But for you, our distinguished readers, we are willing to make this sacrifice. In order to prepare ourselves sufficiently for the writing of this article, we became friends with each others mothers through the medium of Facebook. Being friends with Alex’s Mom has been enlightening in more ways than one, but this blog is not an appropriate forum for such disclosures…
Well, don’t you worry Sally, I have learned plenty of delightful anecdotes from your Mother as well (which will definitely be discussed later in this post). But interviewing our Mothers is certainly to best way to get to the bottom of the age old What-Exactly-Makes-A-Pilgrim-Become-A-Pilgrim Mystery, seeing as no one has known us longer. This means no one has more incriminating evidence about our highly nerdy pasts, and when it comes to warning signs at even a young age that one might grow up to eventually work at Plimoth Plantation, there is one which stands out above all others. And that, according to Sally’s Mom, is that “She learnt to talk very early and never shut up after that.” Thanks Mum! – Sally.
But Sally’s Mother says she loved other Pilgrim things too, long before she ever had to worry about keeping a 17th century kitchen garden:
Sally has always loved carrots – it was her favourite food (even more than sweets!) and when she was 2 if you asked her what her name was she would say ‘Lally Carrot’. She still loves carrots. And her brothers still call her Carrot sometimes. In fact her Uncle gave her a bunch of carrots on her wedding day:
Yup, that’s me. In fact, I did plant carrots in my Pilgrim garden just last week. Speaking of digging in the dirt, Alex’s Mom says that when Alex was five, she wanted to be an archaeologist. When she was FIVE, people. Her Mom, quite wisely, didn’t hold out much hope for that happening, because once Alex got older, “she realized that meant working in hot, dirty conditions. But wait, that’s what she does now. Only she gets to wear a costume!” Alex’s Mom then went on to say that she wanted her (only) daughter to grow up to do something that she truly loved…can I get an “aaaaaaaaawwwwww”?
Now, going back to the costumes…here’s what Alex’s Mom had to say on that matter:
I may have been her enabler in that regard.
She always had whatever Halloween costume she wanted. Mostly Disney princesses. However, her favorites were her Felicity dresses. Which she wore all around Colonial Williamsburg (are we allowed to mention them? – Yes, we like them! I’ll even hyperlink it – Sally). I credit the American Girl dolls and books for her particular blend of loving history combined with playing dress up. I can still get her to play dress up when she comes home to help with our local historical musuem. Have you seen her as a flapper? (For the record, I was dressing this way before Carey Mulligan made it cool – Alex)
We have now. (It should be noted as well that my Mom is an excellent seamstress and she’s the one who made me all those Halloween costumes and American Girl outfits. Thanks for being an enabler Mom!)
Now lest you think you’re getting off the hook easy Sally, I asked your Mom too what you were like when you were five, and she had this to say:
She learnt piano from 5 years old and was very unusual because she enjoyed the theory as much as the playing. When she was 9 she announced she wanted to play the saxophone. As soon as her fingers were long enough she started to play and she loved it. When she was 15 the neighbours came round and asked if it was her playing. I thought they were complaining and said I would ask her to stop…but they said no, they wanted her to open her bedroom window as they were having a party in the garden and wanted to hear her music!
Luckily for us, all of Sally’s playing for the neighbors has paid off – today if you come to the Plantation, you might get the treat of hearing Sally play the pipe! Pretty sure that’s what your Mom had in mind Sally when she said that “To be honest I wanted her to be happy” when I asked her what her hopes for your future were when you little. Because who isn’t happy listening to a merry tune?
According to her Mother, Alex received a lot of her Pilgrim Housewife training through the Girl Scouts. There, she learnt how to start a fire and cook over it (and she’s one of the best Pilgrim chefs I know!) (aww thanks Sally!) and plenty of other “things she never thought would be useful in everyday life. However she wasn’t good with the knife safety. You must have heard about the time she sliced her finger…” I have heard this story. She cut herself badly making macaroni and cheese FROM A BOX! It’s amazing that nothing worse has happened since she has been working with knives AND the public. The more I questioned Alex’s Mom, the more it seemed to me that her upbringing was perfectly designed, through both nature and nurture, to create an excellent seventeenth-century housewife in a twenty-first century living history museum. Alex always loved Thanksgiving, “except for the year my [Alex's Mom's] cousin let her put black olives on all her fingertips and keep eating them till she got sick” and in her middle school days she was a junior docent at the Detroit Historical Museum. When she won every science fair project in elementary school (total nerd), “the teachers always thought that her parents did them for her, which we did not. Except for the year she broke her toe and I had to do some of the physical labor for her project. And the year she erased her entire paper on that new-fangled word processor and had to stay up all night retyping it.” That sounds like the Alex we all know and love!
Hey Sally, did you know you were interpreting from the tender age of 3? According to your Mom, you were:
When Sally was small we lived on the Isle of Wight (just off the south coast of England) and a tourist destination. It was Queen Victoria’s favourite place and she had a holiday home there called Osborne House to which we could walk from our house. Sally loved it there and would amaze visitors as she pointed out things of interest. Her saying ‘This large urn was given to Victoria and Albert as a wedding present from Tsar Nicholas II’ was the one that always had the most effect! Little did we know then that this was a foretaste of her life in the future!
The island often held Victorian markets and fairs – I will give you a (grainy) photo of Sally with her two brothers in Victorian costume:
Mwuahahahaha! You’re welcome Sally!
I think I was rather cute, actually. There was one final question I asked Alex’s mother:
What did you (really) think when Alex told you she was going to be a full time 17th century housewife?
That she would love it, but hoped she could afford to live on that salary. And that she would hate being the subservient housewife. But it’s only dress up, not real life.
Oh, and Sally, your Mom thinks you’ll be great no matter what you do (well, except for one thing!):
Sally did everything well-so long as she wanted to do it. There was just one thing she never achieved – she couldn’t or wouldn’t ride a bike.
(Psssst! Sally! Don’t worry! I can’t ride a bike either! (We few, we happy few…))
So there we have it, directly from the mouths of the women who made us who we are.
Thanks Moms, for letting your little weirdos grow up into the big weirdos we are today, and loving and encouraging us all the same! The least we can do is return the favor, and make you super famous on our humble blog!
And if you want something cuter for your Mother’s Day than just some pictures of Baby Alex and Baby Sally, we’ve got your fix. In the animal world, spring is a great time for mothering – prepare yourselves for some incredible adorableness!
We have a baby kid goat in the Village. In the twenty-first century, we call her Anna.
Some eagle-eyed interpreters spotted a nest of Marsh Wrens snugly tucked in between the timbers in the saw pit.
Down at the Mill, not only are the herring running to increase their population, and four little cygnets being well protected by their parents, there’s a family of Canada Geese with their goslings. I would have taken a better picture, but the big ones started to hiss at me, and once when I was about 7, I got bitten by a goose. It hurt.
I think that just leaves us to say “Happy Mother‘s Day” to you all! If you are a Mother (or a Mother figure) we hope you are spoiled today, and if you have a Mother (or a Mother figure), we hope you’re showing her how wonderful you think she is!
And to our own Mothers…THANK YOU! Thanks for bringing us into the world, loving us, supporting us and encouraging us to be ourselves and do what we love, no matter how crazy it might seem.
Oh, and remember how we said this post was a two-parter?!! Hold on to your (buckle) hats, because more stories and pictures chronicling the rise of Plimoth Plantation’s Interpreters from kid nerds to fully formed adult nerds are on the way. You didn’t think we’d be the only ones to post embarrassing photos on the Internet, did you?