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RebeccaMI
09-12-2007, 01:43 PM
My BF sometimes gives me a hard time about me needing a tent at events. (Not sure if that's partly due to the fact that he has to help me set it up. ;) ) "It's not accurate" he tells me. I always respond with the fact that it's fine for him to go without a tent all weekend... He can sleep on the ground and change his shirt without having to hide. But would I want to sleep all night in my corset? Probably not. And especially if I'm wearing my hoops, I can't change my clothes in a port-a-potty, I need a tent.

I know he's right though. I believe I read somewhere on this forum once that civilians did camp now and then, but I'm doubtful that they had camping resorts like we have now. A person in the 1860s would probably never see a small village made up of a handful of A-frames, plenty of wall tents, and tent flies all covering a room worth of furniture.

So if you're like me and you attend events where there's no accommodations at the venue (no buildings in which to stay), what do you do? Do you put up a modern tent next to your car in the parking lot? Drive a motor home? Stay in a hotel nearby? Or do you camp at the venue with a period tent? If so, do you use an A-frame or a wall tent? How much other stuff do you bring with you?

And, most importantly... How would you explain the small village of tents at some events? ("It represents a town?")

netnet81
09-12-2007, 02:55 PM
It all depends on the type of event I'm at. If it is a mainstream event I will put up my A frame in the tent city and usually don't have to explain why there are all these tents. But...I only sleep there and it stays closed at all times; I don't hang around my tent and act like it's my house. I only bring what I must have for my impression, bedding, lighting, meds and food. My stuff, including the tent poles will fit in my car.

If I'm at a more authentic event and there are no period structures in which to stay, I motel it.

Robert A Mosher
09-12-2007, 04:02 PM
My situation is somewhat different because my civilian portrayal is an army correspondent based upon an actual correspondent who covered the entire period of the war. and I have his memoirs to guide me. From his memoirs, I know that at some points during the war he did sleep in a regular tent (shared with another journalist) and sometimes when weather allowed he just slept out under the skies. On occasion he also took advantage of local accommodation in homes, inns, or hotels.

Robert A. Mosher
(aka Charles Carleton, The Boston Journal)

celtfiddler
09-12-2007, 04:16 PM
If it's close enough to day-trip, I'll commute to the event from home. Otherwise, I either pitch my A frame or hotel it.

hanktrent
09-12-2007, 05:13 PM
My BF sometimes gives me a hard time about me needing a tent at events. (Not sure if that's partly due to the fact that he has to help me set it up. ;) ) "It's not accurate" he tells me.

I'm dying of curiosity. What, in his opinion, would be most near to accurate, given the practical limitations of the event site, your budget, etc.?

If an event is depicting a specific historic situation, and you're portraying a person plausibly present in that situation, it's not hard to figure out what typical housing they/you would have at that time and place. If that's not possible to duplicate exactly, then it's a matter of figuring out the best compromise.

Sounds simple, but there are so many stumbling blocks.

First, a specific situation. At events where there's a battle, a few lectures or demonstrations, then a ball, historically it would be odd to be part of all that in less than 12 hours, so just figuring out what the historic situation is, is a challenge. Are you a local woman leaving her plantation to attend a ball in all her finery that evening? Or a local woman whose house has been turned into a hospital after the battle and whose yard is full of bodies? Both would be living quite differently.

Other events may spell out the situation very specifically, and in that case, the problem may disappear because the civilian roles and housing situation will be integrated into the whole event plan, and you'll either have a logical reason to stay in a tent or without a tent, or have more appropriate lodging provided.


So if you're like me and you attend events where there's no accommodations at the venue (no buildings in which to stay), what do you do?

Practically speaking, I'd try to portray someone who was also staying in that circumstance, and therefore could deal with it as they did. If they had a tent, I'd use a tent (though unfortunately we don't own one now, so would need to borrow). If they had only makeshift shelter, I'd use that. My wife either uses darkness to change, or does without changing in those circumstances.

In my opinion, events are too short already, so it's not worth attending if I have to stop reenacting overnight, losing yet another 16 or 20 hours from the weekend. However, I know some folks just reenact during the day, and go totally modern at night, at a motel, motor home, etc.

Another option I've tried a few times is trying to find a reasonable substitute for a period hotel or home to stay in, if that's what I would have done historically, and continue the reenactment there with a small group of civilians. Sometimes suspension of disbelief just doesn't work; other times a local bed and breakfast with Victorian furnishings is just dandy, especially if you can set away the phone and TV and use candles instead of electric lights.


And, most importantly... How would you explain the small village of tents at some events? ("It represents a town?")

Same way I'd explain the sutlers selling issued items, and the armies camped within sight of each other, and the blue and gray mingling peacefully except for the battle, and the cars in camp, and Lincoln and Lee wandering around without entourages, and even the things at the most accurate events, like modern roads and power lines and invisible army wagons and porta johns and water tanks and modern spectators... This is a compromise in accuracy that we've decided is
acceptable and necessary, in order to meet other more important goals. Those goals might be anything from getting together with one's friends for a drunken party, to raising money for a historic site or trying to suspend disbelief that you're living in the past.

Hank Trent
hanktrent@voyager.net