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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Stories of America

~Thursday, May 20, 2021~

Day 340

Thank goodness we have another day in Williamsburg. With our park passes purchased ahead of time, we were eager to get an earlier start to take in as much as possible. One thing we’ve discovered while hearing these “stories of America'', is that we have so much to learn from the past. And what better place to learn about where it all began than Virginia. Colonial Williamsburg is THE largest living history museum and it wouldn’t quite be the same without these wonderful people...interpreters, and apprenticed staff, eager to share the story with us. They are all passionate about their storytelling and what they do that you can’t help but feel immersed in the time period. Thank goodness for the restoration and preservation that has gone into these precious landmarks, ensured by the Rockefeller Foundation, so that generations can continue to learn and appreciate the freedoms we have today.

Our focus today was seeing more of the historic sites and museums that require an admission ticket. Unlike a few years ago, we decided to skip the Merchant’s Square which has the more modern shopping and dining experiences. We strictly stuck with the true historical vibe. Here are a few things we learned today:

  1. Everything that you see in Colonial Williamsburg, has been handcrafted, not machine done or contracted out to be done, i.e. replacing roofs, wagon wheels, brick walls. Everything is repaired or reconstructed on site by the apprenticed laborers in Colonial Williamsburg.

  2. Apprenticeships take anywhere between 5-7 years to complete, depending on the skill.

  3. Skilled laborers and people going through apprenticeship programs are paid.

  4. Archaeology is ongoing. Currently, there are 4 sites being excavated at the moment.

  5. The pandemic has definitely caused hardship on the running of the museum as a whole. After the few months of shutting down, many of the workers did not return. And many young people do not want to work these difficult jobs….like brick laying, carpentry, farming, etc. There are a few students from nearby William and Mary College who apply for jobs during the summer months trying to gain some experience to build up their resumes. With that being said, quite a few shops/taverns remain closed.

We spent the majority of our day on Gloucester Street, with a few side streets thrown in. Highlights were

The Capitol, the Armory, the Bindery (book making), the Market House, and the open-air Charlton’s Stage where we witnessed a compelling story from the life of an 18th century person, an African-American woman, who is “free” because her mother was “free” bringing to life a voice from the past. These “actors” are such amazing story tellers and historians, who make the history class we’re in, one we won’t forget. Where were you in my high school years?

As we were at our last exhibit for the day, we met a really nice family from Simi Valley, CA, with our conversation sparked about chicken coops. Funny how conversations get started. We must have talked about 20 minutes, and even offered our FooprintsOnWheels info. Would be fun to keep in touch!

With the museum closing at 5:00, we had plans to return to Colonial Williamsburg in the evening for our dinner at King’s Arms Tavern. But we needed to go back to the campground (about 20 minutes away) to let Sadie out, and give her a little walk before we headed out to dinner back in old town Williamsburg. Sadie was definitely confused as we were only there for about 30 minutes before having to leave again.

Though we were sad not to be able to return to Christiana Campbell’s Tavern (closed due to understaffing), King’s Arms Tavern

offered a very similar experience and just as good. Originally opened in 1772 by Jane Vobe, this reconstructed tavern serves up a transporting experience in Colonial Williamsburg. Everything from the staff to the dinnerware to the food is true to the time period. We had the 6:45 seating

along with 2 other couples in our particular dining room set up COVID style. Normally, they operate each room with double the patrons. There are about 4 or 5 dining rooms total. As each course is served, our witty, humorous server shared stories and threw in a few idioms from the past; examples…... “an arm and a leg” referring to war time potentially costing an “arm and a leg” or “face the music” tradition of disgraced officers being “drummed out” of their regiment, and many more. The humor was great, the food delicious. Jeff had Lamb Shank and I had the catch of the day. A great way to cap off our time in Colonial Williamsburg.

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