This post is brought to you by adult snow day #1228382. Adult snow days are the best.
Back to FIG –
For being the last girls in the previous night, we were the first ones up and out the door. I was rather proud of us – Poland is SRS BIZNIZ.
0800 was morning colors and we arrived at about 0835. Oops. The guys were all lined up in front of the flagpole. One of the drawbacks to staying in a barracks with the CO – he gets you up on time. We stood awkwardly at attention while one of the men raised the Polish flag, taking commands in Polish. Fortunately no one got a picture of this because most of the girls didn’t know what they were doing.
After a quick breakfast, the morning was filled with paperwork. Someone had printed off reproduction ID booklets and the guys spent a long morning figuring out what year we were supposed to be in, what year they should have been born in, and what year they would have gotten whatever immunizations were around at the time. The CO had an authentic ballpoint pen to get the same kind of look, and he had the same pen in two different colors so they could switch ink so their books didn’t look like they were filled in all at once. This was more SRS BIZNIZ because they actually used a modern calculator to figure out ages and dates.
Did I mention these guys were nerds?
At about this time, the Scenario was beginning. The Scenario is the actual battle reenactment. Big yellow school buses were driving reenactors by the busload to a different part of the base where they would spend the next 6 hours in the dirt pretending to throw grenades and shooting blanks at each other. There were real jeeps and maybe a tank or two as well. It sounded like fun.
(It was not the Scenario that Mel and I had put together where we would both still be working our crappy retail job while all the gorgeous men we knew would come by with their supermodel wives/girlfriends, which would cause is to go home and eat ice cream and buy cats to fill the emotional void in our lives.)
Our guys did not go to the Scenario this year. We split up and the girls went to a hair-and-makeup class hosted by the Paper Dolls.
The Paper Dolls is THE (?) elite group of female living historians for WW2. when they were first described to me, they sounded scarily militant about authenticity, down to the thread count in fabric. Their Facebook page has a lot of resources too. (Side note: facebook groups > web rings) Normally I’m not one for girl stuff but it has occurred to me that if I’m as interested in authenticity as I am, I should know how to do hair and makeup.
From how to make your own hair rats to the do’s and don’ts of hair nets, to the six most popular shade of nail polish (red, coral, pink, blue, teal, purple), to pantyhose and bump-its and makeup tutorials – it was actually quite interesting. On a side note, I was the only one there not wearing a skirt and at least two of the girls were wearing the same pair of shoes from Payless (which I totally own). I learned the best way to do rag curls and how NOT to do bobby pin curls, which I’m still never trying again. The women of this time period were tough yet feminine and their fashion choices reflected that. The woman giving the class even had some vintage videos of a woman talking about how to be properly feminine. The video woman reminded me of her:
Side note – Polish women didn’t really have back-seamed stockings and their makeup consisted of red lipstick, when they could find some. Nor did they do their hair in Victory Curls. That was an American thing. My comment: “If we lose the War, it’s your fault. You didn’t believe in Victory.”
After a quick lunch, our first class of the day with the menfolk was about a radio, either a WS38 or WS18. One of the guys has meticulously restored this radio, piece by piece, and he was obviously very proud that he could show it off and talk about how all the parts worked together. Apparently these radios are very rare which makes it even more impressive his piece is so complete.
Our guys didn’t go to the Scenario this year. Instead they drilled and ran around the base pretending to dodge the firing enemy. The girls went back for a nap, so I ran after the guys and took some nice action photos. And it was quite a workout. I couldn’t run because of my boots so I had to strut quickly after them. I was never sure if I should fall into line behind them or match their step. My compromise was walking behind them but not in step, just to be contrary.
The weird thing about this day is that the entire base was open to the public. There were normal civilians wandering around in jeans with cameras, staring at us as we walked by. For the first time I was on the other side and it was weird. We would be talking about either drilling or dresses, and I would be clomping around in my boots with a modern camera around my neck and say something about “shoes and gloves” and the passersby would stare. I knew they wanted to stop us and ask questions but didn’t know how. I knew this because, having been on the other side, I’ve given my share of that look.
(I’m glad they didn’t ask questions because I actually don’t know anything. Most of the time, I just look like I do.)
As the guys drilled and ran through the base, the civilians would have their phones out recording everything. Once, a guy randomly engaged me in conversation about something and I didn’t know enough to have a real conversation so excused myself and ran after our guys.
Everyone else was coming back from the Scenario, our men were having a class on webbing (all their straps and pouches). I rejoined the girls for Naptime part 2.
Adult naptime is as wonderful as adult snow days.
Dressed in our best, we had dinner at this little restaurant called Funck’s. It was full of other reenactors and our table was right next to a table of Krauts, the term for Germans. We were ready for the dance that evening. I even wore my yellow gloves. It was Mel’s birthday so everyone had signed a card for her, including half the people at the bar at Devil’s Den the previous night.
The dance itself was okay. The one at Gettysburg in September was better. It was nice to see everyone cleaned up from the Scenario and looking dapper in their dress uniforms. I heard the Scenario had been a mess and the commanders had totally messed everything up by sending in “dead” units and not communicating with each other. Well, I mean, one could argue that was still authentic, right?
Our group didn’t stay too late. It’s probably an age thing. The older half went to bed while the younger half went back to Devil’s Den. They had some delicious warm cider and caramel vodka (not together), and the Fubar Boys did some pretty good Green Day covers. There was also John Wayne hour where one could go up and do their best John Wayne impression.
And then it was time for the Paper Doll’s party. I found that superior than Devil’s Den because the Paper Dolls were having a Celtic night. The Polish guys had shared barracks with the Irish Guard so I’d gotten a fair share of kilts, plaid, and bagpipes over the weekend. They were all at the Paper Doll’s house, as was this rockin’ Irish band. The whole atmosphere reminded me of that summer I spent with the Knights of Columbus Chapter 1477 at the local public house Fiddler’s Hearth singing along to Kennedy’s Kitchen, who have actually opened for The Chieftains. I’ve never been to a rock concert but I’ve seen The Chieftains live a couple of times – so I’ve been to a concert, right?
(Side note: I’m one of those people who recognizes the whole Irish thing of being a Domer as a mark of cultural pride. I can’t help it. I was raised on rebel music. 26 + 6 = 1)
Culturally, sauerkraut and kielbassa are pretty good but I’ll take Shepherd’s Pie over borscht any day.
I stayed until they played the Parting Glass. Kennedy’s Kitchen always played that song at the end of their sets so to me, their version is superior. Most recordings of this song play it too fast and take out the introspection. This band took it nice and thoughtful. Kudos to them.
And then it was time to go back to the barracks and think about packing. We were still the last girls back. Yay “social” life? We threw some stuff together and put what we could in my car because we had to be off base by 7 am. The bad thing about this night was all the snoring. These women need their sinuses checked out. It was a smorgasbord of snoring, or a snorgasbord if you will. It was ridiculous.
7am didn’t hurt as much as one would think. Once I got moving, I was up and I’m pretty efficient with packing. When everyone had all their stuff packed, we got a final group breakfast at Funck’s again. It was weird to see everyone in modern clothes and glasses. Except for members of the Irish Guard, who showed up looking like they had just come from a country club and were off to a cricket match afterwards. There were ascots involved.
After a fortifying breakfast, everyone said goodbye and drove home where the younger crew instantly found each other on Facebook and the older crew figured out how to share pictures and navigate Dropbox.
So in review:
Was it fun? Heck yes.
Would I do it again? Heck yes.
Was I so distracted the next day I talked about “species of coffee” to my boss because I couldn’t think of the word “flavors”? You betcha.
And in conclusion, because it’s not complete until they play it, here’s Kennedy’s Kitchen with The Parting Glass.