Port Royal History Seen in Japanese Earthquake
Sometimes we can learn about the
history we portray by watching what is happening in
the modern day. In
this case, the horrific earthquake and Tsunami in Japan
are a perfect example.
As I have watched report after report come
out of Japan about the quake and ensuing tsunami and
aftershocks, I thought about how it must have been for
those who were living in Port Royal, Jamaica on June
7, 1692. I saw the images of the northern coast of Japan
before and after the tsunami and had a flashback to the
before and after images I had seen of Port Royal.
When the movies portray Port Royal, Jamaica in the Golden
Age of piracy (1720s) they act as if it were still a
massive, bustling city and den of piracy. While, yes,
the city was there, it was not nearly the force it had
been just 30 years before.
Things were going along just fine on the
morning of June 7, 1692. Church services had wrapped
up and then some time between 11:15 and noon the ground
began to shake. The exact time is under slight debate,
but a pocketwatch that was found during archeological
digs in the area was x-rayed and the hands stopped at
11:43 a.m.. This coincides with written reports of the
First, you need to understand where
Port Royal is in Jamaica. As you can see in this map,
it is a little finger of land that sticks out at the
bottom of the country. It's called the
Palisadoes peninsula. The quake struck in the Blue
Mountains, on the mainland to the north. The ripple
effect did cause the water in the Kingston Harbor,
between the mainland and the Palisadoes peninsula to
start to swish like ripples in a bathtub.
Those who experienced the quake said
it felt like theground
was sailing on top of waves, it was rolling. Then the
ground started to disappear, some described it as ground
turning to water, as one side of the city began to
sink below the surface. There were multiple shocks,
two smaller ones, leading up to one large 'main shock'.
believe a few things were happening. First, that washtub
effect of the harbor was causing the ground to become
saturated with water and people would begin to sink
into the ground, much as you would at the beach when
you step on wet sand. It was during this phase of the
quake that many people sank into the earth or were
swallowed up by the ground. Those who only partially
sank were trapped as the rest of the disaster played
out. There were also reports that at times the ground
opened up and then closed again, trapping people inside.
Witnesses differed in how long the earthquake lasted.
Some said as long as 15 minutes, but the majority set
the time at 2-3 minutes.
Additionally, the layers of sand that were
beneath layers of limestone of the Palisadoes may have
been washed out by the back and forth motion of the water.
This liquifaction caused 1/3 of the city (the west side)
to literally slip below the surface of the waterline
in just moments. To this day, you can see the cobblestones
continue down into the water of the harbor. They also
stick out of the ground nearby as well
If you go there
today, there are markers that will give you an idea of
how massive of an area went below the surface, telling
you, for instance, where Fort James is.
And this picture shows what that portion
of the city looks like in modern times… a photo
I shot as the Schooner Wolf sailed in a few years back…That
1/3 of the city is still below the surface.
As if these two things were not enough,
finally there was a tidal wave or tsunami. The tidal
wave pulled people and property out and because of it's
time onshore drowned many of the people who had found
themselves trapped in the ground.
At the time of the earthquake there were approximately
6,500 people living in Port Royal. Nearly 2,000 of those
people died in the quake and ensuing tidal wave. Another
3,000 were injured. Up to half of these people later
died of their injuries.
In the wake of the disaster, the people of Port Royal
were on their own. The waves had knocked out the land
between the Palisadoes and the mainland, and damaged
or completely destroyed many ships, so the rest of Jamaica
could not help them, at least not as much as they desperately
After the quake there are reports of aftershocks that
went on for some time as well as the ugly side of human
nature. Looters ransacked all the buildings they could,
taking anything of value. There are even stories of the
dead being robbed as they lie on the ground.
To really grasp how the landscape changed because of
the earthquake and tsunami, I offer this picture, this
shows the shoreline before and after the quake, and how
the island has rebuilt ground in the generations since.
Now that you have the history, let's fast forward to
An earthquake off the coast of Japan
has a similar impact. Look at the before and after
that were solid ground are now below water due to an
effect not unlike what happened in Port Royal 319 years
When we do living history, we try
to understand not only what happened, but how people
thoughts and felt. Until this point when I would talk
about Port Royal, I could only imagine what it looked
like, what people felt like, how they responded to
Now I can see it. I can feel it.
I felt my blood run cold as I saw the images of that
wall of water devouring everything in it's wake.
I prayed for a father running with
his child hoping to be safe from water that kept rising...
I felt moments of hope as I saw survivors
working together trying to pull victims out of the rubble and those
who have strength, aiding those who did not
I cried with the people who were suffering
when I saw the pain and agony they are experiencing with
the loss of those they loved to the ferocity of Mother
And I am in awe and fear of the chaos left
While I would never wish for such
a horrific event as this to happen, and my heart goes
out to all those who have been impacted, I
will tell you, the next time I give a presentation on
the earthquake that destroyed Port Royal, I will likely
have images from this modern-day disaster running through
I will see desperate faces being confronted
by such a fearful force. I will visualize the unimaginable
destruction. I will remember their losses and pain and
be able to better express what it must have felt like,
or bring images to the minds of the public as I have
them recall this devistating event.
March 9, 2011
Searle's Raid of St Augustine
(Thank you to Poppa Ratzi (Tony Callahan)
Henry, and Greg Schultz for photos that are being
used in this in addition to the only couple I seemed
The past few weeks have been pretty hectic, to say the
least, but culminated with a fantastic event in St Augustine
this past weekend - Capt. Robert Searle's Raid of 1668.
I was unable to arrive in St Augustine until Friday afternoon,
which had me already envious of those who had begun their
weekend of camping and levity on Thursday.
There were so many faces I was thrilled to see including
Mickey and Kate, whom I had not seen in a full year!
There were also Mark G, Lft Johnson, Melissa (or Melvin
for the weekend since she was getting out of the kitchen
and onto the field), Capt William, Willie Wobble, Doug,
D.B., Anne Marie, Ivan and his lovely lady Kelli, and
the list goes on. Let's just say it was like old school
week with lots of people to see and hug! The major surprise
was that Tony, PoppaRatzi was also there! I had seen
him last in Key West in December and had no idea he was
going to be at the event, but there he was, camera in
I was not there long at all before
he had me in my wench garb taking photos with Carlos
(Pedro, Ponce, Chad… take
your pick of names) in his Spaniard attire that, as Carlos
said, were going to get himkilled by his girlfriend.
And yeah, he's probably right… Now, I must mention
the funny part of these pics. I had a heck of a time
keeping a straight face because Poppa told Carlos to
whisper sweet nothings in my ear. To which he whispered "nada,
nada, nada" which means 'nothing' in Spanish.
Then there was a little more socializing
that all seemed to have to do with hammocks. First was
Melvin, who had gotten into a hammock (after darn near
falling out, due to no hammock balancing skills) and
could not figure out how to get out of the hammock without
doing bodily damage. It took a little trust and a big
hug from Doug to separate the two.
The other hammock incident came as
we were discussing the raid to come, which was Spanish
Vs English. The next I knew, Mickey was tied up in
a hammock and being yanked around on a rope by Sam.
Lesson to be learned – don't
hang out with a number of English and Spanish troops
and say you're French.
Things changed a bit from past years in that everyone
was going to 'parade' through town that evening in an
effort to let the public know what was going to happen
on Saturday. The concept was that everyone would begin
the parade through town around 5 pm then head back to
the camp around 6 for dinner.
Before dinner I was able to link up with
Gumbatz (Who later would be renamed Augustus then Gus
Gus by Kate) whom I had invited to the event. He is from Bawdy
Anne's Buccaneers. We had done performance events
together in the past, but I thought it was time he took
his acting skills to the reenacting world and told him
Searle's was the place to do it.
The first group of us arrived back at camp
around 6, but there were literally only a handful of
people. That said, there had been stew cooked and bread,
cheese, fruits and other munchies out, so Willie said
the fewer people who were there translated to more food
for each of us!
The evening was a great time of catching up with people
I hadn't seen in some time, meeting new friends and lots
of levity. It was just what you want to have at an event.
Saturday morning, everyone was up and moving
pretty early. There were weapons checks to be done, pike
drills to be performed and more socializing to happen.
Not to mention, the public starts coming in early so
things have to be in order for their visit.
again Tony grabbed a hold of a few others and me and
wanted to take more pictures. We were hiked all over
the Fountain of Youth Park (where we camp) for various
photos including the 'battle line up' with The Englishman
(Gumbatz) on one side of the shot and Craig Shell Carver
and The Spanish Lady (me) on the other side. There
were also a couple of photos taken of me looking nice
and innocent, so I must share those as they are rare.
also had a fun little side moment. I had been saying that since it was bike
week, I needed to pick up a man in leather with a bike over the weekend.
I mentioned that to Craig and he said he had a horse….
It's close! And he was wearing all leather. Ok, so I
didn't really pick him up, but we thought it was funny
so I got a picture of the man in leather!
I was going to have a sword class with
Gumbatz that afternoon, but my new Starfire sword did
not quite fit my hand the way I wanted and I was having
a problem keeping my footing. I blamed the footing issue
on the mulched ground (a MAJOR mistaken
placement of blame which you will learn more about later)
and Gumbatz said he would adjust the wrap on the handle
to make it better fit my hand, so less than 10 minutes
after it began, my sword class ended.
When it was time for the raid, I was all
excited for a couple of reasons. First, one of the things
I love the most about doing Searle's raid is how we all
get to the raid site. You see, it starts across the city
from the FOY park where we are camped, so they bring
a trolley or two down to the park and it carries us to
the starting area. There is nothing like looking at a
trolley full of costumed English and Spaniards driving
alongside the automobiles and motorcycles in the city.
The first part of the raid is held
in the Plaza. The Spanish townspeople and a few of
the guards are staged in this area and are just 'minding
their own business' when the English attack. Now, this
is where I get to work. I work the crowd. The crowd
is quite spread out all around the park so I gave the
same speech about the raid approximately 8 times to
make sure everyone could hear it. Essentially I explained
that they were all good Spanish citizens and that they
needed to be ready to defend their city from the attack
of the English PigDogs, at which point I pointed to
Gumbatz. He would then do an introduction
to the English perspective of the raid, essentially
saying they deserved everything because they were pompous
English (or perhaps that was just my interpretation)
and we worked to get the crowd to take sides.
Essentially we were to stall and
keep the crowd's attention until the fighting started,
which happened to be about 20 minutes. About half way
through this time period I hurled some insult at Gumbatz
during a part of our improv and he started running
after me. I took off, and was doing just fine until
I hit the pavement. Remember that slipping I was doing
during sword practice earlier? Well, it wasn't the
ground. It was the period shoes. I hit the pavement
and it felt like ice with a layer of oil on top.
I was lucky that Ian was there and I grabbed
his arm to lessen part of my fall, but only by a fraction.
I still went down hard. I heard members of the audience
and reenactors gasp and saw faces that said "Did
she just kill herself?" After
getting untangled from my skirts, I stood up and did
a quick inventory. I was pretty sure I was alright. I
had a little road rash on the elbows that hit the ground
and my right leg was also sore, but I figured I would
be ok. I dusted off and got back into the pre-show.
Within about 5 minutes, I was dashing about again when
I started to slip once more, to the repeated gasps of
the audience. I stopped mid stream, stripped the shoes
off and asked the ladies to get them to the end of the
route and did the rest of the event in stocking feet.
I did not fall again.
Searle's Raid is unique in the fact that
it is not only a field battle, but it literally marches
through the streets. The English soldiers chase the Spanish
down St George Street, periodically stopping to fire
a round of shots to keep the Spanish running. Gumbatz
and I, meanwhile, work to keep the 'masses' that we have
collected following the raid through the street as the
English loot the city and periodically take hostages
from the crowd.
One of my favorite moments related
to a large biker who was right at the front of the
pack. This big, hardened guy had switched into a 6
year old, completely enthralled in what we were doing. While
he was a southern white guy, he became 100% Spanish
for the hour! As the English came to try and take me
away, he would step out in front of me and hold his
arms out to block them from taking me hostage then
asked me if we could yell Viva Epsana again, which
he said more like 'Vivee Esp-ah-ha'.
My second favorite moment was when
I realized what a mob I had created. Gumbatz jumped
on a cart that was in the street to try and bring everyone
over to the English side, chanting 'Long live the king!'
Instead of repeating it, as they did every time I said
'Viva Espana' he was boo'd and hissed at and then they
yelled Viva Espana again. I do love my good Spaniards!
He looked at me and said, "I think they really want to kill me!" And,
he may have been right. He plays a magnificent bad-guy
When we got down St George Street,
made our way through the arches and to the field for
the final battle, I finally got to take a bit of a
breath. I told the crowd where to go to watch the battle
and then enjoyed seeing guns, pikes, cannon and sword
go back and forth in the final battle scenes. They
do one heck of a job with this!
After the raid was complete we headed back to camp.
By now my elbow was killing me. If I even lightly touched
it, it felt as if I was being stabbed through the arm.
(I found out after a trip to the doc once I was home
I did some cartilage and ligament damage, but did not
break anything.) I washed the cut area and then was quickly
Neosporin-ed and Band-Aid-ed. I was also medicated, with
lots of Fuzzy Navel cocktails. Perhaps not PC, but they
made me happy and after 3 or 4 I did not notice any more
Then Scott West(whose character name I do not know)
pulled out a guitar and set up a lyric book and started
playing. We sang for a while doing a number of songs
like the Mingulay Boat Song and he was even able to fudge
a pretty good version of Dark Lady which had Lft. Johnson
come up and play the role of the Baron and elicited hugs
from Willie Wobble. It was a fantastic end to a great
day, give or take the elbow incident.
Sunday morning was as depressing as always. Camps were
coming down and people were disappearing quickly. I did
not get to say goodbye to many of the very early departing
folks, which may have been for the best, as I hate goodbyes.
Despite the sadness of the parting, I ended my weekend
in a mood of enchantment, once again feeling truly lucky
for the wonderful people I spent my time with and enjoying
each and every moment to the fullest.
Until next year, thank you to Searle's
Buccaneers for inviting me back and - Viva Espana!
Finding My Chosen Sister
Most people know
Fayma Callahan or Momma Ratzi as the 'in-charge' woman
who helped to make the Fort Taylor Pirate Invasion
a success and as the other half of Poppa Ratzi, famed
pirate photographer! You probably know a tough chick
who can get darn near anything accomplished no matter
what hurdles are facing her. That's not how I know
her. Fayma and I met under circumstances that are going
to give you a different view of the both of us – of
a very weak moment.
I was in a fetal position under
a tree in Key West sobbing like a baby. Not one of
my proudest moments, but true nonetheless. It
was at El Meson De Pepe, right after the award ceremony
for the Walk the Plank Championship in 2008.
10 minutes before I found myself
crying under this tree I was having a fantastic time
at one of those 'picture-perfect' events and was literally
the center of attention. Then
my job was over, I walked outside and with one phone
call I had all the happiness taken out of me and found
myself shattered beneath a set of boughs just outside
the gated area where the dinner was taking place. The
details of the phone call are not important. Let's
just say a few words had taken my self-worth and stomped
it into quite a few pieces. It
was one of those punched in the guts, helpless moments. But
I was not alone. Following me over was Fayma. We
had met in passing before, but really had not built a
relationship before this. She grabbed a hold of me and
gave me a hug. Then I noticed she was crying too. We
were both having similar evenings. They were caused by
completely different triggers. But there we were, both
crying under the same tree. After a bit of consoling
each other we realized we had been working most of the
day and had not eaten, not even at the dinner that we
had comp tickets to.
People were leaving the now completed
event, but I figured there had to be some food left.
Not much. There was a little bit of rice and beans
and bread left on one plate so I grabbed that. Then
I looked for silver ware… one
set. I grabbed that too. Fayma was now sitting on a
cement planter wall that surrounded the area where
the dinner was being served. I joined her. We balanced
the one plate on our collective laps and shared the
food, the spoon and the one napkin.
I remember us trading comments through red, swollen
eyes, and eventually the remaining tears dried up and
we ended up laughing at our situations. After all, what
the heck else could we do but laugh?
We bonded. And I don't mean a 'hey
you, you're my friend now' type of thing, we REALLY
bonded. As she describes it, "we saw two halves
of an incredibly strong person, like we were split
down the middle. It was so solid and committed to a
sisterhood that defies definition."
We also have a similar trait; we
usually do not get along well with other strong-willed,
independent minded women. There's usually a battle
of wills. They're getting in our Alpha way. But with
each other, well, she's my sister I didn't know I had,
so that doesn't happen with us… that also means
if you mess with her, I'm coming at you axes and cannon
Now a little more on how Fayma came to be the pirate
she is today:
The Ohio Renn Fest is responsible
for Fayma getting into Piracy, "I attended the
fest with my husband, Tony. I never knew they existed.
As close as I had been was places that have themed
restaurants. So we went and I fell in love with the
whole concept of going back in time and I wanted to
play too. We went shopping, bought clothes and attended
the fest every week during its run."
So, how did she come to play with pirates?
"Our oldest son decided he
wanted to join the Navy. Before he was deployed he
wanted to go to a real pirate festival, with an actual
ocean, so we started looking at places and were told
'if you want a real pirate festival you have to go
to Pirates in Paradise'. So, in November 2006 we made
our first appearance at Pirates in Paradise."
So in just a couple of years she
went from not knowing any pirates into being Momma
to them all? How did that happen?
A lot of that credit, she says,
goes to her husband Tony (aka Poppa Ratzi) and the
photographs he takes at events that they print and
give away to the pirates who are in them.
"What he does is so far beyond
regular pictures. It's artwork and its stunning and
vibrant, colorful and beautiful. He has an incredible
talent for capturing your soul. What sets us apart
is that we want to give back to the community. The
pictures, artwork, websites and gift packages when
we come to a festival are our way of saying thank you.
We applaud what you do and you are important to us. "
Anyone who has received one of those photos knows how
precious of a gift they are, as those camera lenses always
seem to catch wonderful moments we never could have.
So what are her favorite pirate
moments so far? She had a list…
"Firing my first cannon, deciding
I really love corsets, being able to touch the world
one person at a time, sailing with the wind in my hair
on the Wolf, seeing my first green flash, the list
could go on and on and on..,"
But what if she was forced to pick
one moment that holds a special place in her mind?
"The first time I walked into
Fort Taylor and met Harry Smid who was the park specialist
for Fort Taylor in 2006. We had never met the man and
accidentally had come in early. He was very kind and
said 'come on over and we'll figure something out'.
The first thing he did when I stepped out of the truck
was give me a hug and tell me 'welcome home'. To this
day Fort Taylor is a second home and it started with
that first moment."
And now in many respects it has
become a first home as Fayma has relocated to Key West
and is even a member of the Friends of Fort Taylor
board and, as we know, is a integral part of the Fort
Taylor Pirate Invasion being our pirate home in December.
As a matter of fact, running the 2010 Fort Taylor Pirate
Invasion in 2010 is on her list of great pirate accomplishments – having
all the pirates that attended know they are part of her
'family'. That and being a reenactor and entrancing children
and adults alike. "I want people to recognize what
we do is an important learning tool. I want to call national
attention to the venues themselves that are in a lot
of cases in very horrible shape. They need preservation
and though living history we are able to shine the light
on these needed repairs."
While I often think of Fayma as
a force to be reckoned with in Pyracy, as one of those
upper-tier folks that everyone looks up to, she has
only been in this circuit for 5 years…so who
does she see as her mentors?
"I look to everyone I ever work with. Everyone
in the community of piracy whether you are a polyester
pirate, serious reenactor or Hollywood - you have something
to offer me that I can learn from."
But if pushed to pick a top 3…they
Jamaica Rose – "She
is the one who taught me to be a pirate. I typed
in piracy online and found the magic manna of No
Quarter Given. I have every single issue they ever
Diosa - "Who taught me
that being a living historian can be really fun.
And that no matter how much running around there
is to do there are always those moments when you
can pause and enjoy everything around you." (While
I am quite flattered, no, I did not pay for this endorsement)
Captain John Sterling - "When I don’t
know what's right or what's correct or whether I
can wear my purple fancy Captain's coat, Captain
Sterling is my incredible, unending research tool
who in an instant can give me 15 sources for everything
I ever need."
While I could go on for days with things Fayma and I
have talked about, I need to wrap this blog up, so let's
finish on her thoughts for newbies getting into pyracy:
"Jump in! It’s
a great time. "
"Ask for help. There
are plenty of people who will be more than willing
to welcome you with open arms."
"Decide who you want
to be, but take your time. Be whoever you want
to be and then look around at events and places
and find your niche before you make a commitment
to organizations that may or may not fit."
"Know what you want to get out of it. If you
go to something you didn’t have fun at, that's
ok. Not everyone is cut out for every event. Not
everybody likes brussel sprouts. I would say not
everyone likes chocolate but I think that's a mortal
Chautauqua Assembly 2011
have a feeling many of you are reading the title
and thinking 'A Chatauq-what?' So, I am going to
begin by explaining what Chautauqua is.
Chautauqua Institution began operation in New York
in the late 1800s as a combination of vacation and education.
Its weeks of educational and performing arts events surrounding
particular themes. But who wants to spend the winter
in New York? They decided they could have another
Chautauqua for that time of year further south and
settled on a beautiful location in Defuniak Springs
for the Florida Chautauqua, which began in February
1885. The annual Florida Chautauqua continued through
1920 and then faded out to be revived again in 1993
(and every year since). I was invited last year to
deliver two presentations on Anne Bonney and Mary
Read for their 'Journey into the Caribbean' theme
and this year I was invited back for their Florida
theme and created a presentation about St Augustine
from it's Spanish founding through the year 1750.
wrote a 'She said - He said' style show, taking on
the role of the Spanish Lady and cast Joe Catalano
(Gumbatz as a pirate) as the Englishman whom I have
since lovingly named 'Pig Dog' as I could not decide
whether I wanted to call him an English pig or an
English dog. He
turned out to be the perfect choice in the role and we
were told a number of times that we sounded like a real
bickering couple and people thought we were married or
at least must have worked together for a long time to
work off of each other so well.
arrived in Defuniak Springs on Wednesday afternoon
and was let into our home for the weekend, a beautiful
Victorian (from the original Chautauqua days in the late
1800s) owned by Dennis and Brenda Ray. We had the
whole upstairs two-bedroom apartment to ourselves, with
kitchen, multiple sitting areas and a walk around balcony
with a couple of Adirondack chairs - just beautiful!.
you are trying to figure out where Defuniak Springs
is, it's a quaint little town of about 7,000 a little
west of the Suwannee River in the panhandle of Florida.
It's far enough west that I changed time zones.
evening I already had a dinner date with Art and
Marty Dees, the owners of the WZEP radio station.
We went to Mom & Dad's,
an Italian Restaurant, and had a fantastic meal and
conversation. A perfect kick off for arrival night.
it was down to work. We had agreed to do presentations
for four classes at Walton Middle School. I was a
little puzzled about this though as we were told
to prepare a 25-minute presentation for a 50-minute
class, as Andrew Jackson would also be there doing
a presentation for each hour. But what were we going
to do for the other 25 minutes? Just sit there? No,
it turns out that the teacher we were assigned to,
Mr. Guy, was going to trade us out with another teacher,
Ms. Thorn, every hour. That means we were doing 8
presentations....right up until Ms. Thorn said those
famous words, "I really wish
you all would still be around for my 5th period class,
I think they would really enjoy the presentation." We
looked at each other...and the next thing you know we
were in for two more presentations, one for each class,
in 5th period. The 6th -8th grade students were great
and liked that we had hands-on items, especially the
3 1/2 lb cannon balls that always surprised them when
they felt how dense they were.
After 10 classes, our brains were completely fried and
Mr. Guy decided they needed to be fed with a local favorite
- a Pub burger and fries from Ed's. While he ended up
being a big part of our weekend, I am going to hold off
on talking about Mr. Guy too much right now, as he will
be the focus of another post I am going to write later
this week. Suffice it to say, he is such an impressive
teaching force and has this amazing heart that it warrants
an independent article!
evening took us to the community center for the Opening
Reception. Here we were able to meet many of the
other presenters and see people I had met there last
year. Among them was Greg Garland an 8th generation
Floridian who comes down from his DC job with the Department
of State and claims to be a presenter. I say claims because
that may just be a joke they are playing on me since
my presentations are always set at same time as his.
For the second year I was unable to hear him speak
which begs the question... if I can't hear him, did
he really speak? Actually I heard that Joe and I
might have been loud enough during our show that
our voices were carrying through the wall into his
presentation. If that is the case, I'm sorry Greg!
also saw Brenda and Lane Rees (Brenda plays local
historical figure Octavia Walton Le Vert), Dale Arrowood
and his beautiful owls and falcons from Winged Ambassadors,
and met Kevin Mims, a fantastic photographer who was
there on behalf of Visit Florida. He was kind enough
to even snap shots and video from one of the presentations
Joe and I did that I hope to see soon.
were lots of hugs and lots of animals. In addition
to the owls and falcons, Brain Staples of Staples
Safari brings in animals every year for the Conservation
Station portion of the assembly to educate the masses
on animals. I fell in love with Tyler the Lemur.
morning we had a lot to do. We were up early and
off to WZEP to do a radio interview about the assembly
and then more education sessions. It was
only 6 classes this time. During one of these sessions
something happened that made me realize that we were
officially in the south, where children are expected
to have a certain level of manners.
have a Q&A at the end of the presentation and
one of the kids asked "Why is he dressed like a
pimp?" to Joe. I thought it was funny, but the teachers
did not. As they were leaving one of the teachers profusely
apologized for the 'inappropriate question'. I was so
unaffected by the question she had to clarify which one
it was. I assured her it was not a problem but she continued
saying it would be dealt with and that not only would
his parents know, but they would be taking it up with
the principal. I told her there was no need for any real
punishment as we were not offended, and I hope he didn't
get in too much trouble...
The afternoon had time for a stop off at The Little
Big Shop, an old style country store with lots of fun
flashback merchandise as well as old-fashioned candies,
which I went home with a bag of.
we took a break on the balcony of the Victorian.
It's amazing how peaceful one can become by sitting
on such a balcony for 30 minutes and watching the
world go by! I also appreciated the view after learning
some of the history of the area. The
homes on the lake were all built as a part of the
initial Chautauqua campus in the late 1800s. Most
of these homes have been lovingly kept up are just
a beautiful step into the past.
could easily picture the original assembly members
walking around the lake and stopping on the porch
of one home as the lady of the house offered them
a glass of fresh lemonade.
Our first tea presentation was in the afternoon. The
patrons are literally sitting in small gazeboed tables
around the room and served tea, sandwiches and snacks
while we present in a 'theater in the round' environment.
am not going to go through the whole presentation,
but I do have one moment that still has me laughing.
the show, I am a history teacher, in a Spanish school
and the Englishman crashes class and counterpoints
St. Augustine history with me.At the beginning of class
I handed out paper and pencils so the 'students' could
take notes. It was mainly to be funny,but
a couple people did take notes.
20minutes into the show the Englishman was talking
about how much of a great man Robert Searleswas
(he sacked St Augustine in 1668). I responded that
the only thing anyone needed to know about Searles
was that he was a "bad, bad man". It seems
I said it with enough importance that one of the
women actually grabbed her paper and wrote 'Bad,
bad man!" The
only other thing she had written to this point was the
date! I made her sign it and that was my memento.
That evening we found out the place for the younger
folks to be on a Friday night in Defuniak Springs is
the McDonalds by the interstate. I wanted ice cream and
when we pulled in the parking lot was full. The line
at one point was literally out the door with most people
ordering ice cream or coffee drinks and socializing.
It was quite the zoo. I am not sure if the ice cream
was THAT good, but it hit the spot.
had us up early for a little down time. Art Dees
had invited us out for a boat ride on Lake Stanley.
Art just turned 70 in January... but I am pretty
sure he is going on about 17. He went speeding around
the lake, making wakes and then quickly turning into
them to jump them on the water while laughing maniacally.It
was a great time and wow does he have a beautiful backyard!
it was back to work. It seems our first tea presentation
on Friday had been appreciated because what we had been
told was light-sale tea event that afternoon was suddenly
sold out! Among the audience were some folks I remembered
from the year before. They were members of a local
developmentally disabled center. One of their group leaders
came up and gave me a hug and told me they had wanted
to see me again this year. I later found out that they
had all been working in the community in jobs they could
do and had been saving a little money to do special things
throughout the year. Coming to see us was one of
the few 'special events' they wanted to do. They
remembered me and wanted to see me again... That
was one of those heart touching moments and I am
tearing up again writing about it. There were LOTS
having a victorious set of presentations Joe and
I decided we deserved a celebratory dinner. Everyone
in town said the place to go for such a thing is Bogeys. It
is a restaurant attached to the Hotel
Defuniak, a nice old Victorian
The dining area was quaint and attractive. The difference
from the picture is that it was pretty busy and we didn't
have a reservation, but were lucky enough to get a table
toward the back of the room.
to the table had a little bit of a celebrity feel
to it. People at four of the tables waved to us and
said 'we saw your performance' or ' you all were
great' or similar things. Talk about a nice ego boost
at the end of the day! We were frankly surprised
they recognized us out of costume!
was a keyboardist playing the old standards and I
found myself singing Summertime at the table between
bites of fried green tomatoes. I was in heaven! I sat
there reflecting on the weekend thinking 'this is
how life is supposed to be!" - great
old friends, great new friends, great performances,
lots of laughs, lots of good tears and hugs and more
positive energy in the air than I knew what to do with.
wrapped up dinner with a toast to an awesome weekend,
had some crème
Brule cheesecake then spotted Greg Garland and Tom
Cloud and we all headed back to the fairgrounds for
the evening animal show by Brian Staples. It's also
the farewell evening and many of us hung around for
over an hour after the show all chatting each other
up and trading business cards, e-mail addresses and
was time to pack up and head home with a now traditional
stop at Po Boys in Tallahassee for fried pickles
before finishing the 7-hour drive back to Melbourne.
Here's looking to the next one and hoping I am again
on the faculty!
January 13, 2011
Happy New Year! Yes, I know, I am a little
late. But as we all know, the holidays can cause time
to get away from us and that is just what happend. But
now, it's back to work and time for the next of my Pirate
Who The Heck is Bilgemunky? (Picture pirated
from his Facebook page)
This is a question I have been asking
myself for some time. Just kidding. Sadly, I have not
had as many opportunities as I would like to spend time
with Bilgemunky. He is always such a lively and happy
guy and the kind of person you want to hang out with.
But we seem to only see each other at events perhaps
once a year and even then we are both usually doing so
many different things we just wave and say 'hi' as we
2010 was pretty amazing because I saw
him twice in two months! I figured if the fates aligned
to have us in the same location at such a frequency,
it meant I should interview him.
Let me first begin, as I do with these
things, by doing my impressions of Bilge.
The first time I met Bilge we were both
lost. We had all just arrived in New Orleans for the
first PyrateCon and did not know where we were going
and what we were doing. It was less than a year post-Katrina
and New Orleans, while operational, was still a pretty
messed up and messy place. There were abandoned
and rotting buildings all along the route driving in.
It was quite the depressing drive to get to the hotel.
Our hotel itself was filled with pirates for the convention
and National Guard members who were helping to keep peace
in the city. This is also the place where I had a National
Guardsman tell me he could kill me 16 different ways
with a quesadilla, but that's another story. I know I
should remember something more riveting about Bilge from
this, but really, the lost and confused look he had is
my first memory of him. We had a 'hi, nice to meet you'
chat in the elevator at one point and otherwise both
continued befuddled en route to our various commitments.
The next impression I can recall was in
Key West at Pirates in Paradise. The
Pirate Ball was out at the waterfront that year and we
were sitting at a table as he was trying to interview
me for his radio show. The problem was, he had
been sampling the rum. I am pretty sure he had about
a half dozen samples of every variety they had, because
he was completely blitzed and openly admitted he was
so drunk he did not know what he was doing. I saw
the red light, so I know he was recording, and, oh, how
I would love to hear how that interview came out! Ok,
enough of that, on to my interview of him.
In case you don't know, his real name
is Gerard Heidgerken. So, where did the Bilgemunky name
and character come from? It was a name relating to his
time in the Navy. Yes folks, he is a pirate that was
in the Navy. Careful, you never know where his alliances
"You're familiar with the term powder
monkey? Powder monkey is of course from the age of sail
where you had the small boys who would run around with
the gunpowder because they were small and wiry and could
slip between small spaces. When I was in the Navy I was
the smallest and wiry-est of the machinist mates on the
USS Enterprise in the engineering nuclear division.",
he said, "Most of those guys are gorillas – big
guys, thick necks, arms like tree trunks. So whenever
something had to be done in the bilges - that was me.
I kept some sandwiches tucked away down there. You disappear
for a few hours; play some Gameboy in the bilges. It's
not so bad once you get used to it cause no one can find
And thus the 'bilge monkey' concept and
name was born. Now, if you are like me, you may be stuck
on fact that he said he had sandwiches tucked away in
the bilge and perhaps that is making you, too, a little
urpy. But, then again, I consider many of the pirates
I know and figure it may not be that odd so I chose not
to pursue that line of questioning…
So now that we know where the name came
from, how did he get into being a pirate?
"Me and piracy go back as far as
I can remember. I think with me and my brother it was
right there with cowboys and Indians and being astronauts.
It was part of our childhood culture. Pirates was just
one of the things that you aspired to be."
Being a pirate (or doing things relating
to piracy) is how he makes his living, sort of, "This is my living
in the sense that this is my sole source of income except
for mooching off my wife, who has a real career."
In case you don't know, there are a number
of layers to the Bilgemunky Empire. Sure, you know the
guy who is on Pyracy Pub, and you may have heard of the
website, Bilgemunky.com. Then there's the Bilgemunky
radio show and also the DJ company. And when he's
not working on those, he is working on his house, "I
am rehabbing our mansion. It's an 1893 Victorian that
has fallen on hard times. So while it's a mansion, it's
not as luxurious as we would like it to be."
But let's get back to the pirate work.
How did the Bilgemunky Empire get created? And why? The
honest truth is it was sort of by accident, "I started
a website one day mainly as an exercise. All of the sudden
I had a pirate website. It probably would have lasted
two weeks but people started saying 'Hey, we want to
send you this book to review or we want to send you these
hats to review', and I was like 'Oh, I can get free stuff!
That’s kind of cool!', and it built up from there."
When it comes to what he promotes, Bilge
takes a modern look at piracy. "My entire professional
career is solely based on pirates and how they can interrelate
with popular culture. My own bread and butter is the
pirate music. There's pirate rap, pirate jazz, pirate
metal, you can have a pirate wedding, pirate bar mitzvah,
bris, graduation ceremony. I have pirate music that goes
for any of this." (Is anyone else hearing the Bubba
shrimp scene from Forrest Gump in their head right now,
or is it just me?)
After uttering a few more pirate possibilities,
Bilge went on to say he is surprised by those in the
pirate community who don't know more about the performers
who are around them, "I'm amazed at how often people
who are really into this - eat, drink and breathe pirates
had no idea this stuff existed", he said, "I'm
not just talking about the kind of stuff I DJ. So, you've
never heard of me. I can live with that, but people like
Pirates Charles, Captain Bogg and Salty? There are so
many different pirate bands out there of so many divergent
genres. It's always amazing to me how difficult it is
to get the word of that out there, which I try to do
every week.", he says tossing in a shameless plug
for his radio show.
While he is quite rabid about spreading
the world about all kinds of pirate music, he also has
his eye on other ways pirates and popular culture have
intertwined, things such as clothing, which he says is
a very tough thing to do well, "Gwen Stefani about
four years ago released a line of stuff that was very
pirate inspired. It was brilliant. Some of it was gorgeous.
I love seeing people being pirate and taking it mainstream.
It's tricky. I have seen a lot of other designers do
stuff that's just scary, frightening and the men who
wear it look absolutely like you want to beat them up
in a dark alley. When people succeed, and it's rarely
done, but when it is done, it's absolutely genius."
So, want to know what mainstream pirate
things he thinks are genius right now? That's what his
website is for. www.bilgemunky.com.
And, conveniently, it will also link you into any of
the levels of the Bilgemunky Empire you may be interested
December 16, 2010
Steely Silent Pirate...
(Photo by Tony Callahan)
Many of you know of First Mate Matt or
Matt Stagmer as the guy behind Baltimore Knife and Sword
or the guy that writes that sword article in Pirates
Magazine. Many people even go out of their way to meet
him and talk to him because they know of him and the
wonderful things he makes. Well, the first time I saw
First Mate Matt, I didn't talk to him. The second time
I was around him - same thing. Perhaps a generic 'Hi." but
that nothing any more substantial. I have been seeing
Matt at events for 3 or more years now and it was not
until we were in Key West this year for Pirates in Paradise
and the Fort Taylor Pirate Invasion that I ever sat down
and had a conversation with him.
It wasn't anything he did wrong. It wasn't
anything that someone had said about him. It wasn't anything
he said. As a matter of fact, it was what he didn't say.
ANYTHING! He's a pretty quiet and low-key guy. In his
own words (once I got words out of him) "I go with
the flow. I am on Keys time even when I'm not in the
So, what made me break the silence and
talk to him? Chocolate and steel. A few of us were heading
back to Klaus' hotel room to enjoy some yummy German
chocolate he had brought down and he was rooming with
Matt. Matt was showing off a just-completed Damascus
sword and everyone was at first in sticker shock ($1,400
or so) and I said 'Well yeah, it's Damascus!" Our
eyes met. Everything went quiet. The world around us
ceased to exist and... OK, not really. I was just impressed
that I said something other than just 'Hi." We had
actually traded a couple sentences!
Our second conversation was outside El
Meson De Pepe in Key West as we were waiting for the
pirate dinner. I am not going to offer all the back-story,
but suffice it to say that over a short chat about knives
and swords he uttered these precious words - "I'll
trade knives for sex." Ah, the joy of being able
to offer no context and let you all draw your own conclusions
on what preceded that line. But, before you all start
offering your bodies up for a blade please note he has
discerning tastes and not all 'trade offers' will be
Visually, my impression of Matt is that
he is fuzzy. He has lots of facial hair with what I am
pretty sure is a baby face hiding underneath. Then again
he is a bit younger than I am (grumble) so I suppose
that should not be such a surprise. He has a very welcoming
smile (if you actually approach him) and pretty blue
eyes (which was one of the things he wanted people to
know about him - Done!).
First Mate Matt has been a pirate for
only about 4 years, but has been making swords for about
15, since he was twelve or thirteen years old. He learned
about making and selling swords from his brother, "When
I was twelve years old my brother had already been making
swords. He had a booth at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.
It was semi-pirate themed, more Musketeer-era, but I
was always more into the pirate thing. I always wore
the big boots and stuff like that when I was a kid growing
up and then I started working with him and making stuff
and went into it." And it seems it was a wise move
as he is now making swords full time.
While we in the pirate community appreciate
a man who can craft weaponry, not everyone has that same
view of this trade, according to Matt, at least not before
the POTC movies showed Orlando Bloom crafting blades.
"All of the sudden when I told someone
I was a sword maker it went from 'Oh my god, he's a creepy
sword maker!' to now all of the sudden it's ok to go
somewhere and tell someone in non-garb that you're a
Matt spends the little free time he has
working with the folks at Pirates Magazine. He originally
got into the magazine world when he was talking to Kim,
who was at that time running Faerie Magazine, "She
was looking for another genre to get into and I said,
if you do pirates, I'll help along the whole way. I didn't
know everybody, but I had been on the Pyracy Pub for
a while and I just said lets do it."
That 'let's do it' attitude is also how
an event in his hometown of Baltimore came to be what
it was last year. I'm talking about the Fells Point Privateer
Day and the Order of the Leviathon event. He even lists
it as one of his best pirate accomplishments, thus far, "They
fired their event coordinator and looked at the magazine
people. All the magazine people looked to me. It was
lot of work and fun making it happen. Before, it was
not much more than an arts and crafts street fair and
we brought it up. It was a blast and next year I'm looking
forward to it again!"
You can also catch his article in each
issue. Blades of the Brethren is a sword column,
each focusing on a different sword maker and a specific
piece they've made.
His hope for the future is that pirates
will continue to be popular, "I would like to see
this genre live beyond just the Pirates of the Caribbean
movies and just stay, and so far it has. There are some
people who have gone into the steam punk and this and
that. It's too much fun to stop doing."
New to pirating? Well Matt has a couple
pearls of wisdom for you:
First, he says don't go all out deciding
on a character and shopping for everything right away, "Before
you buy anything look around and really know what you
want. Make sure you really want it." That
is sound advice I could've used when I started pirating.
I can't tell you how many outfits I bought or made that
I have sold, given away or just tossed because they no
longer suit my characters.
As for his character? "Pretty much
I'm the guy who tries to do some PC stuff, but then some
days I am a ren pirate. I don't really like to make rules
Second, establish good friends. "First
and foremost - good crew, good friends. Find the best
people you can - that smile the most. Hang around them
and go from there."
Third, don't get caught up in the drama, "Somebody
comes up to me and starts talking drama and I am going
to walk the other way which I advise anybody to do that."
Fourth – "Stick to your own
girls, don't steal anybody's girls. Bastards."
If you take one thing away about First
Mate Matt is, he says let it be this – "I'm
the guy who strives to make nice things for nice people." And
don't forget, he has pretty blue eyes and will trade
knives for sex…
December 7, 2010
It's a Tuesday morning and I woke up in
my own bed in a house with a heater…. The Fort
Taylor Pirate Invasion and Pirates in Paradise is over….
I find myself missing the long shivering
walk to use the restroom, and a chance to take another
gander at an amazing star-filled sky to as I walk through
a fort of sleeping pirates. I miss seeing Galen working
to get the fire roaring in the morning. There are no
Fayma or Lily hugs and no periodic squawks from Oreo
letting me know he's awake while Crudbeard slumbers….
So, I will now attempt my look back at
the events of the past week and condense as much as possible
to just a few cute stories so I don't write a novel.
I arrived at the Cypress House to see
my roomie for the first 4 days, Captain Marci from the
Schooner Wolf, just moving in so we caught up and I introduced
her to Amelia. They became fast friends and on many occasions
they had conversations I was left out of… By the
way, if you are looking for a great place to stay in
Key West, centrally located, but beautiful and with yummy
breakfast and happy hours every day, check out the Cypress
House. Dave and the staff are second to none!!! I love
Then I headed out to dinner with Momma
and Papa Ratzi, Lily and Klaus. Klaus seemed very overjoyed
that there were always Klaus Sandwiches with Lily and
I on either side of him.
After dinner Lily and I did what we have
always been told not to do…. Followed a strange
guy who said 'Want some candy little girl?' You
have to admit, they don't get much stranger than Klaus
J But, he was sporting a cooler FILLED with yummy German
We also got to see First Mate Matt and
Sarah at the hotel and I got to play with Matt's newest
pretty, a beautiful Damascus sword that I unfortunately
do not have a picture of, but I have no doubt he does,
so hit him up for a look-see!!!
Monday I had to do a little work, helping
to set up things on the Waterfront side of the fest,
but my work buddies were none other than Jamaica Rose,
Michael MacLeod and Powderkeg. Great company to be sure!
We had things done in minutes and were able to do a bit
of socializing. It was during this time at Amelia met
Pierre, Michael's pet rat. She was less than pleased
as her whole body is about the size of his head. She
ran back into my shirt to hide.
started picking up more on Tuesday with the End of Hurricane
Season Party and Conch Republic Holiday Party. Liberte
and Dean and Deadly Aim were kind enough to help me get
onto the Navy base so I could purchase the final pieces
of my Naval Uniform to be a proper member of the Conch
Republic. Then Silkie tacked the pant legs as Edward
O'Keeffe helped assemble the rest of my outfit and they
sent me out the door looking dashing in white! Once
I was on site Fayma put my Epaulets on and gave me a
hat and I was good
to go. (I forgot to take pictures from just before this
point forward, so Thanks to Tony and Fayma Callahan for
many of the pics you are about to see!)
Drop Dead and Great Scott were put on
the flag detail for the burning party, which went up
in a fireball and made the front page of the paper
Wednesday morning, a group of us (including
Edward, Galen, Silkie, Cascabel, Braze, Scarlet, Mamasabi,
Klaus and Caribbean Pearl) went over to a local school
and talked to the kids for a couple hours about being
pirates. They were a great group and got involved and
had lots of questions for the pirates!
Thursday got a lot more active! That was
fort setup day. Every few minutes another tent would
come in and our neighborhood was really coming together.
I managed to get my tent up pretty quickly with a little
help from Drop Dead, Great Scott, DB Couper, Buxom Anne
Marie and some of the Searle's Buccaneers and we erected
the 'great mast' that DB built.
Then there was the baker's tent. I was
delivering an old baker's tent to Fayma to become part
of her collection and she was having it set up for Beauwolf
to use. It had been a while since I had assembled it,
and it became quite the group effort. After getting a
little hardware we were missing and a couple other side-jaunts
of shopping for things that were lacking at the campsite,
a group of 6-8 of us managed to get it up. Once I quit
looking confused and remembered how it went together
it went quite smoothly, and since it had a built in fly,
it even became home to the Mission the Surgeon presentations.
The evening ended peacefully with me back
at the fort. Constable was playing his harmonica and
I went over and sang a few songs with him and had a nice
evening just taking in the environment we were blessed
to be in.
Friday started and ended at 'full speed ahead'. First
thing in the morning I donned my Mary Read attire for
the trial of Anne and Mary at the waterfront. Those
who have watched it over the years know one of the main
things I do is abuse a guard. After all, Mary was
described as a hellcat that took half a dozen men to
control. I can't be easy to bring to trial. This year
they gave me Thomas. While a little smaller than me,
he was all muscle and gave me a 'bring it on' look as
we headed out. On Friday, he got off a little easy. I
was in bare feet and the ground was covered with rocks,
so it was a little hard to really throw him around without
causing myself substantial pain. The trial itself was
a little 'rusty' but we made it through. The bright point
of the trial was Gareth (Pew, I think, on the pub). He
took on the role of the Bailiff and was fantastic – and
brought the role the pompous air it needed!!
I got back to the fort in the early afternoon,
quickly switched into my 'Wrecker' dress and headed up
the fort wall to do commentary for the battle. I was
getting help from CJ (JollyJackTar on the Pub) and Hawkyns.
I was the noisy character (yeah, I know, type casting)
who talked about the characters on the field and the
gentlemen were so kind as to add facts about weaponry
that was being used. I believe my favorite part
of that day was the ongoing yelled discussion between
myself and Jack Roberts (on the field below) trying to
set up my dinner 'date' with Captain Sterling that evening,
where I was instructed 'I would have chicken and like
it' to which the folks on the wall started giving me
advise on what I should ask for in addition to chicken
such as diamonds, sapphires…gold….etc…and
their reaction when Jack returned to Sterling to say
he had promised those things and was then promptly beat
around the head and shoulders by the Capt for making
such an agreement.
Dinner was plentiful - onion soup and
beef stew with lots of bread. Then it was time
for the auction. I sum up the auctioneering skills of
William Red Wake and Cannibal Crispy in two words – DEAR
GOD! I used those words to describe what I was seeing
on a number of occasions. They were hilarious and a number
of things they said and did are wrong enough that I dare
not repeat them, but there was so much laughter that
I got another one of my 'laughing too hard' headaches… I
seem to only get those hanging out with you pirates! When
all was said and done I ended up with a Don Maitz watercolor
of me done during the Trial earlier that day, a Janny
Wurtz original drawing of the trial and the beautiful
map case made and donated by Mad Pete (I picked up a
couple other Maitz items during the weekend as well).
Saturday was a similar schedule during the day with the
trail going much more smoothly in the morning, and my
knocking the wind out of Thomas and possibly injuring
his pinky finger as he dragged me in shackles, and back
to the wall for battle commentary in the afternoon.
do believe this was also the day that Willie Wobble made
the little Jerk Pork. It was on the boucan pit and I
sneakily grabbed a piece to nibble on. Now, I know Willie
makes hot food. After all, the man sells a variety of
hot sauces and pepper jellies, but WOW this stuff was
really hot. Two bites and my lips were starting to numb
up. Just as a point of reference, when I purchase jerk
chicken in Jamaica, it takes a whole plate for the heat
to be enough make my lips tingle. Willie did it in 2
bites! I did get Willie back though, I taught Amelia
how to be a good pirate in his campsite…stealing
While many went to the parade, I stayed
behind at the camp with those who were having a more
quiet evening. There were chicken and dumplings and cheddar
broccoli, potato and corn chowder to munch on, and Dutch
and Greg brought their guitars over by the fire and we
sang and played for hours. What a great time! On
a couple of songs Silkie and I both sang and found out
that we sound pretty darn good together! Neither of us
can figure out why we didn’t know that before,
but now we do and we're planning to start learning songs
we both know.
Sunday had many of the same events as
Saturday, sans the trial. The battle scenario was a great
one. Friday had seen the pirates 'test' the fort defenses
and be sent running. Saturday had the pirates put up
a fight, but ended in a stalemate. But Sunday, what looked
to be a formidable Royal force suddenly shriveled up
when Capt Sterling and the Spanish defected and joined
the pirates. But as soon as they had their victory over
the troops, they seemed to not be able to decide who
was in command and soon there was a blood bath on the
field with Capt Sterling and William Red Wake among the
casualties. Then they abused the living, the Viceroy
was stripped of most of his possessions and made to watch,
and swear allegiance, as a pirate flag (The Mercury flag
as a matter of fact) went up the flagpole. Also check
out the photo of CJ Carrying Edward ALL THE WAY ACROSS
THE FIELD! Amazing!
After the battle, things started to wind
down and as the bell hit five, and the public was officially
supposed to leave, I pulled out the Klaus Kandy Kooler
and all pirates headed that direction to have a treat.
I am pretty sure we all regressed into kids opening packs
of candy and sharing them around. Capt Sterling
seemed to be confused and was not eating candy, but instead
trying to put a candy rat down my top, figuring 'If a
squirrel lives there, why not a rat?"
We then took the Pyracy Pub picture….
…. And enjoyed the Hog Roast, which
had a long line of hungry pirates, but was the FIRST
big meal I have been to at an event this year that has
not run out of food! As a matter of fact, a few folks
had seconds! It was all very tasty too! I should have
gone back for more of the mac and cheese!
During dinner, David Foster, the park
manager, was turned into a pirate and given his new name,
Broadside Foster. We then headed to Old Zach's Tavern,
the pub in the fort, for our closing ceremonies. Bawdy
Be was the MC, and a might fine one, and presented Mamma
Ratzi with the shirt we had all signed for her and presented
Lily with the cards we had all 'customized' for her as
While emotional… I was holding
together well…..Then Harry stepped up to speak.
For those who do not know him, Harry was 'THE GUY' at
the fort until two years ago. He was both pirate and
park ranger and seemed to be able to make ANYTHING happen
for us and was one of the heads of the pirate family
there. He was sorely missed last year and this year was
able to get back to spend the time with us. As soon as
he started talking about how important this was in his
life and I heard the first crack in his voice, the tears
started. Lily and I were sitting on the floor, arm in
arm, and both bawling like little babies.
This is also when the entire pub sang
'Here's A Health to the Company' while handing around
a big goblet and all taking a drink from it. It was one
of those bonding moments that I believe everyone who
was in that space was blessed to have and if they had
not understood the 'family' concept before, after that,
it was crystal clear.
The night continued with singing and socializing
until the wee hours of the morning and when I could no
longer hold my eyelids open, I went to bed.
Monday morning as I broke camp, I thought
back to my early worries about what this year's event
was going to be like and had to admit I had been wrong. When
I first heard all of the reenactors were going to have
to camp in the fort together, I wondered how crowded
and annoying it would be. But walking down that
aisle of lantern-lit tents that turned into our pirate
town for the weekend completely switched my thinking
and I loved it.
Offhand… a couple of other highlights
of the weekend that have not been mentioned.
Crying with Fayma during dinner Friday
evening – Friday evening was the first time EVERYONE
was at camp. Once the beef stew and onion soup was up
on the table and the line assembled, the true PIPmas
Family happened. Fayma was working, but I pulled her
from her tent and had her stand in a little patch of
darkness with me. I then said, "just listen and
look for 30 seconds… this is what it's all about." And
the tears began. It WAS a pirate family gathering and
it was truly beautiful. Lit by dozens of candles you
could make out silhouettes of pirates who were serving
up a bowl of food and grabbing a hunk of bread. Your
ears would be filled with conversation and laughter as
all the family reunited and caught up. It was fantastic!
I pulled Lily out to enjoy the moment as well.
Meeting CJ or JollyJackTar on the pub
- First, he had a 'what do you need' attitude which I
always like. Second he made me look good on the wall
while he was up there and third, well, for those of you
who have not met him, he will make you immediately think'
WOW! I have so much to learn and so much to do to upgrade
my kit. He's in his early 20s and his demo stuff and
knowledge puts me to shame in no time. He's got me already
opening up books and plotting new things I need to better
my presentations! And that's a good thing. I love good
motivation to get off my backside :)
I know there are so many more things I
should mention and may down the road, but I have already
caused many of you to read far more than you were likely
intending, so let me just say – Bring on 2011!!!