Going Back in Time: The Ohio Historical Village
When I was in High School, my theatre teacher was always looking for opportunities for us to get out and get experience portraying characters. She mentioned the local Historical Society had an historic living village that was looking for volunteers for the holidays. I had been there several times over the years with my parents and always loved the experience of walking around the costumed interpreters and feeling like I was living a part of history. When the opportunity was presented to me, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.
Over the next seven years, I would venture to the Ohio Historical Society a few times a year, get dressed up in bloomers, frocks and bonnets and walk around the village trying to convince families to buy song sheets or flowers for a dime. But, what I loved the most was watching that actual interpreters (the costumed characters that had names and told stories about their lives). They would carry on about various topics, chastise young men and women for wearing short-pants that in the mid 1800’s would have barely been considered drawers. Each of them were committed to drawing in visitors to experience life as a man or woman in the 1860’s.
The Mayor and his wife, the leather smith, the school teacher all kept my attention rapt. Their lovely finery and hoops drew me in, but their tales of what life was like for them. I wanted to know more and it was so much more vivid an example of history than the dusty books I was used to in school. I was learning and I wanted to help others find the same interest someday.
When I heard they were closing the Village due to budget cuts, I was crestfallen. This fascinating way to immerse yourself in history was gone and I was terribly disappointed for the generations of kids that wouldn't get to work in a leather shop or have a brief arithmetic lesson in the school house, all the memories I cherished as a child. It seemed like such a waste of an opportunity to teach in a very hands-on way. It felt like not only the city lost something, but I had as well.
But, after almost ten years later, I heard they were opening the doors again. My heart raced and the normal fear I have with reaching out and trying things at which I might not exceed was trumped by the fear I would miss an opportunity. So, I called and got approved for the first person interpretation class. I jumped at the chance to read, learn and create my own character, finally able to be a costumed interpreter who could help children (and adults for that matter) learn. I was so eager to be part of living history that I had created a persona by the end of my first class!
So, if you'll all indulge me, I will likely post a few entries about the last few weekends as an interpreter at the fantastic Ohio Village!
See you back in 1862!