Monday, August 4, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg Has History With Modern Amenities

While staying in Richmond Virginia for a wedding, Terry and I took a one day road trip to Colonial Williamsburg. After parking in a huge parking lot, we walked into the tourist information center to get tickets for the day. There was a long wait as Terry negotiated a triple A discount. Single day tickets are about $44 per person. Besides being a tourist attraction, some of the homes are private residences. Cars are not allowed on the towns dirt roads until after hours. Our ticket girl is saving her money so she can someday live in the town. I asked her why she would want to live in a town that is swarmed by a locust mob of tourists every day, but then I realized, we live in Orlando, so who am I to judge?

The walk to the Colonial Williamsburg town center was about a quarter mile alone a winding path through the woods. The only transportation in the town was a horse drawn carriage so there were piles of manure in the streets. My goal was to draw a colonial insurrection on the main street starting at 3pm.  I discovered this revolutionary plot because it was on the map. Terry and I stopped for lunch right away and it took about half an hour to get our sandwiches from a local shop. I realized as we were waiting for our sandwiches that we should have ordered a loaf of bread and some cold cuts from the deli and made our own sandwiches.

Bus loads of cheer leaders wandered the streets. They gave a quick series of choreographed cheers as we ate lunch. Actors in colonial garb wandered freely among the throngs of tee shirt and shorts wearing tourists. They always stayed in character talking about troubles with Britain and other topics of the day. Through the course of the day history unraveled at an accelerated pace. At noon, the declaration of Independence was read on the steps of the court house.

As I sketched the main street, I didn't catch and revolt. Instead, there was a broom jumping ceremony for two slaves. Although there were no official wedding ceremonies for slaves, this broom dance was an unofficial way for slaves to express their shared love. In some African-American communities, marrying couples will end their ceremony by jumping over a broomstick, either together or separately. This practice is well attested for as a "mock marriage" ceremony for slaves in the Southern United States in the 1840s and 1850s. Its revival in 20th century African American culture is due to the novel and miniseries Roots.

There was discussions among the women as well as they complained about their losses of fathers and sons in a revolutionary war that seemed pointless. Periodically I would Text Terry to let her know what was happening where I was. She wandered through the rest f the town exploring the many shops. Several boys played in the street drawing pictures in the dirt. Entertainments had to be simple since there were no video games to occupy them. I felt at home documenting the towns activities the way the would likely have been documented at the time.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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