November, 2010

A Short Relation of a Day of Thanks in the New Plimoth Colony

November 25th, 2010 by admin

So, Thanksgiving. The single busiest day in the life of a Plimoth Plantation employee. For many, the holiday conjures up images of turkey dinners and pumpkin pie shared by the English settlers and their Native guests. Visitors to the site today may be surprised that neither the English nor the Wampanoag seem particularly inclined to get together and pig out. In fact, besides the crowds, little is changed in the museum’s daily routine. Without going into a long, involved explanation of why this is so (which we’ll be doing a great deal of in person in the village today), let’s just say that for the Pilgrims, a day of thanksgiving was a day of fasting and prayer, entirely different from the feast day embraced by modern American culture. In addition, it was not an occasion that they celebrated with any regularity, so if you bring up the subject of “Thanksgiving” or a “harvest celebration” the interpreters will react with surprise or ask if you have heard about such a day being planned.

Obviously, the interpreters who portray these seventeenth century villagers have twenty-first century customs, so most of us have plans of our own for Thanksgiving Day. The break room becomes a repository for all sorts of fantastic food, brought in buffet-style by the village staff for the enjoyment of our friends and co-workers. We obviously look forward to five o’ clock when the gates close and we can relax after a long and hectic day at the office. That being said, even those hours spent in the village are enjoyable, because what better place to spend Turkey Day then at the place where the modern conception of the holiday was born?

If anybody would like to learn about the true origins of the Thanksgiving holiday, then why not come down and visit us? If you prefer the relaxed atmosphere of your own home and comfortable couch, then perhaps you would enjoy watching “The Real Story of Thanksgiving,” filmed here at the Plant, starring our costumed interpreters, and airing on the History Channel tonight at 11:00 PM.

To all of you I wish a very happy Thanksgiving, and family and good friends to share it with.

Aaron Dougherty

Interpretation Apprentice

Pilgrim Muster

November 15th, 2010 by admin

Well met, dear readers. Veterans Day and the military muster have come and gone. Here at the Plant, we costumed interpreters hope that the military drill will come in handy with the approach of the Thanksgiving season and the influx of countless hordes of people, dreaming of black buckled hats and tame, easily catch-able chickens.

The muster was attended by six musketeers and six pike-men, who drilled in separate companies under the auspices of Captain Myles Standish. After some instruction in the art of marching and military drill, the musketeers conducted a mock firing demonstration while the pike-men trained in field exercises. The whole company of militia then gathered in the newly cleared hayfield north of the town to demonstrate the basics of pike/shot combat, with the musketeers firing on the flanks while the pike-men charged home with cold steel.

My character, Edward Doty, served as a musketeer, so I found myself shouldering a piece and lurching along more or less in unison with my fellow townsmen. Stripped of the grandeur and majesty inherent in the images of soldiering and the great battles of this period, you start to notice things that prints and paintings don’t show you. Your heavy weapon pains your shoulder. Your fingers are cold, but mittens are too cumbersome to wear. Wind threatens to blow your hat away and muffles the sergeant’s commands. The slow-burning match in your left hand interferes with your drill movements and promises bodily harm. Imagine tolerating all of these hardships while marching away from New Plimoth into a vast, uncharted country where few Englishmen dwell.

Why did these men put themselves through this kind of ordeal? Because they were in the middle of a great and sometimes hostile wilderness, and they were protecting their families, friends, and their vulnerable little settlement against numerous potential enemies, none of whom would likely announce their hostility before attacking. I’m glad that we still have men like that today, who make all sorts of sacrifices for the sake of those loved ones at home.

Thanksgiving approaches, dear readers, and we will speak on that subject later on. For now, I approach the end of this post, so you are all dismissed. God save King Charles!

(Pictures to Follow)

Torch passed; no burns suffered

November 9th, 2010 by admin

Hello, readers. My name is Aaron Dougherty and I would like to thank Buddy Tripp for the introduction, as well as for his labors on this blog over the last few years. I will be taking over this blog for the foreseeable future. As I am a fairly new employee who is just starting out in the field of first-person colonial interpretation, I hope that my experiences at the Plantation will be of interest to visitors curious to know what “Pilgrims” feel as they conduct their research, develop their characters, and force their vocal cords to do all sorts of things that feel unnatural to the 21st century dialect.

For my first post, I would like to invite everyone to the Plantation this coming Thursday, the 11th of November, for Veterans Day. Veterans and active duty members of the military get free admission on this day to both the Plantation and the Mayflower II. In honor of their visit, the 1627 English Village will be conducting a military muster which includes the display and drill of match-lock muskets, pikes and armor. There will be an exhibition firing of the muskets at 11:11 am, and a militia exercise at 3:00 pm. Will Captain Standish’s much discussed snaphance firearm be exhibited? Stop by the village and see!

For those unfamiliar with seventeenth century European warfare, the term “pike and shot” refers to the two staples of any self-respecting English army (or militia) of this time period. The pike is a 10 to 12 foot long spear lowered by a pike-man to create a defense against charging cavalry or melee infantry. Musketeers who have fired their pieces can retire behind a body of pike-men to reload their pieces, emerging once more to exchange shot with the enemy. For more information on the warfare of this period or to hear about the thoughts and experiences of both musketeers and pike-men in the New Plimoth colony, make certain to stop on by.

That about does it for this, my first ever post on the Plimoth Plantation Pilgrim blog. I look forward to many further interesting discussions. Please feel free to ask questions or comment on what you would like to learn from future posts.

Good day to you!

Aaron Dougherty

Interpretation Apprentice

Passing the Torch…

November 6th, 2010 by admin

Well, dear reader, the time has come for me to pass the torch. I no longer have the time required to attend to this blog. It has been a labor of love, but all things must end. Thank you for your kind indulgence and your readership of my sometimes endless ramblings.

But, fear not. I am leaving you all in capable (and younger) hands. My colleague, Aaron Dougherty, will be manning the helm of this blog. Aaron is a new addition to the Colonial Interpretation Department and is a great interpreter and a fine scholar.

Thank you once again for your continued interest in Plimoth Plantation and our little peek behind the scenes here.


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