We arrived so early the shuttle buses weren't running yet, so we walked over. Lovely split rail fences.
Adam found an oak gall, from which he can make ink! So he swiped it off the tree. (We are naughty.)
We did enjoy the trees so much.
|Adam kept calling this The Party Tree, as in Bilbo's birthday party.|
|Catalpa trees, I think|
It was so early the shops weren't open, and the trucks and tractors were removing horse poop and doing other tidying before the guests arrived.
Our first stop was the Bake Shop. When he was a boy, Adam ate a ginger cake baked here.
They stopped making ginger cakes in 1985. Many complained about the lack of ginger cakes. A recipe was posted online. Finally in 2015 the Bake Shop succumbed to pressure and resumed baking the cakes. Adam relived yet another piece of his childhood while smelling and tasting a ginger cake.
We visited the Presbyterian Meeting House, and Adam took his turn in the pulpit.
The meeting houses were not called churches because there was only one church in Virginia, the state-approved church, the Anglican (Church of England, Episcopal) Church. Everyone else was a dissenter, and had to register as such. Dissenters had meeting houses, and their doors could not be shut during meetings.
We strolled the streets and visited the printer's shop.
|Impressive topiary gate!|
|Inside the apothecary's shop|
The printer was a testy, opinionated fellow. He went to great pains to stress the difference between freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which he says we tend to confuse these days. Freedom of the press applies to anything printed on paper, and has nothing to do with the news media. Freedom of speech applies to anything spoken, which does apply to the news media. Interesting definitions!
We did return to the museums. I particularly wanted to see the exhibit of 18th Century keyboard instruments. Most had a recording allowing me to hear what the instrument sounds like.
I revisited the weaver's shop because I could not resist.
I had to examine these lovely cloaks that they're assigned with their outfits. I love the red one. Adam wants a green one with a yellow hood liner, so he can feel like he's in a Tolkien story.
And at the last we did the Palace Exploration, when guests can explore the Governor's Palace without a guided tour.
|William and Mary are in the portraits. This is the ballroom.|
For instance, I cried quietly as we listened to the Barber of York give his presentation in his barber shop. John Hope was a real African American freed slave in Williamsburg. He told of his troubles in trying to purchase his own 6 year old son out of slavery. The longer he waits (while trying to get the money), the more valuable his son becomes, and thus more expensive to buy. Hope himself bought slaves, trying to improve his own financial position, so he could buy his son's freedom, but struggled with participating in the very horrific institution that he loathed. My heart ached for his sorrows, knowing when he frees his son he will take the boy from his mother.
The new focus in Colonial Williamsburg on the lives of 98% of its population is refreshing -- this includes slaves, indentured servants, freed slaves, women, and poor whites -- anyone who was not a wealthy, landowning, white male. And while the lives and efforts of this handful of men are very important to our history (they held the power that allowed them to make the crucial political changes that shaped our nation), the silence around the others has been accepted for too long. Colonial Williamsburg is now trying to dig into those other lives also, reminding us all that democracy continues to grow and improve in our own time. It's a courageous move, in my opinion. As I walked those ancient streets, I saw who the primary customer base is, for this living history museum: wealthy white people. There were school groups including black and Hispanic children and teachers, and some African American guests. But the vast majority of visitors were white, and wealthy enough to afford tickets. We must assess our own history honestly. It's sad and uncomfortable to hear the obvious truth about Colonial Williamsburg: that the Palace Green was lined with rich homes full of 3 or 4 whites, and 20 slaves living in the attics. I sometimes think it's a miracle that new freedoms have been acquired by anyone at all, especially those in slavery.
It was a sobering visit, and rightly so. Our history is often an ugly one, even in the days when we shouted "Liberty and justice for all!" I think it was usually meant, "Liberty and justice for some!" But thankfully, along the way, some brave people expanded liberty to others, even at great personal cost. I'm thankful they did.