Saturday, September 20, 2008

Walking backwards in time

Wow, it's been more than two weeks since I posted. A lot has happened in the world of this interpreter. My granddaughter started kindergarten, and at work we have passed through Heritage Festival to the closing months of our season.

Heritage Festival this year brought 89,000 people to the Piqua Historical Area over three days. The last day was one of the few in Ohio this year that topped 99 degrees. During that time we admitted nearly 2000 of those attendees into the Johnston farmhouse. It is a grueling weekend, but the hope is that a few of those thousands will return to enjoy the site for its own merits and bring others along. (The festival is a Piqua event we just host.) Due to the intensity of those three days it is often hard for us to get out into the 'field' where the vendors and exhibits are. There are many sutlers of varying types carrying anything and everything from modern-day goods to quality reproduction items. This year I discovered a new vendor that I wanted to give a 'plug'. In the photo at the head of this post I am wearing an 18th century gown - quite a walk backwards into the past for this lady who normally wears an 1830 high gown. I had two motives for buying this lovely item. One, I have a friend who tends to take me 'into' the 18th century with invitations to events and, two, I am working on a one woman presentation which will be used in conjunction with promoting my book COPPERHEAD.

But more about that later.

The clothier I purchased this very lovely gown from is called Briar Rose LLC. Jane Bonus is the president. I worked with Jane on choosing a gown and in the end picked this lovely brown/purple pattern with a lightly striped tan/yellow petticoat. It is truly beautiful, well made, and the price was more than reasonable. For anyone like me who needs an 18th century gown and is hunting one at a great price, I highly recommend Briar Rose. You can call them at 765-453-6357 or email

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Young Man - Mark Cummins

This week my 'guy' is a little different. Obviously this photo is not of someone who lived over 100 years ago, though you might notice a resemblance to the kind of men who are in the dags I buy. This is my brother, Mark Alan Cummins. Forty years ago, on September 8th, 1968, he was killed in a car accident. Though I am not one to set my emotions by days or dates, this year I seem to be thinking of him quite a lot. I thought I would share his picture and a little bit about him with everyone who views the blog.

Mark was born November 21, 1951. He was a big kid, over 6' 3" at seventeen. (He stole all that height, there was none left for me who topped out at 5' 3".) Mark was an unusual kid, and I don't say that just because he was my brother. At fourteen he was begging my mother to let him go march with Martin Luther King Jr. By 17 he had decided he wanted to enter the Peace Corp. and then go on to become a prison chaplain. Mark's faith was strong and he was ready, which was a good thing since God took him so soon. He was facing the draft as most young men were at that time, and was not willing to kill. He didn't know what he was going to do - go to prison, go to Canada, or something else - but he was preparing his defense for the Draft Board when he was killed. Mark was also busy applying for MENSA at that time. His IQ was somewhere up there around 190 (something else he took the lion's share of from his sister! ).

I remember him mostly as a beloved older brother who was ornery at times, and very funny. Though he tends to look very serious in his photos, I remember him laughing a lot. Unfortunately he lived in the age before video cameras were affordable for any but the rich, so there are no recordings of him speaking, no video of him moving. He lives now only in my memory.

When I was a teen, I wrote a lot of poetry (don't we all?) I don't have a copy of the one I wrote about Mark at hand, but remember a few lines. I'll end with them. In explanation, one of the few things I had left of Mark's was a model of an 18th century sailing ship.

'How can I explain the loss,
A brother's life buried in a box?
And how do I express the unspoken fear
That the music of his voice has left my ear?

See the ship with its tiny masts
It was meant to last.
Not so he, for all eternity
His ship has passed."