Monday, April 19, 2010

Scenes from Colonial Williamsburg

There are three things in life that are impossible to do: sneeze with your eyes open, slam a revolving door shut, and take a bad photo at Colonial Williamsburg.

Everywhere you look are lovely 18th-century vignettes of reproduction buildings, and men and women in full period regalia.

Thanks to the vision of Dr. W.A.R. Goodwin and the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a ghost of a town with deep roots in our nation's history was brought back to life for our edification and entertainment.

Here, you can tour restored buildings that are filled with reproduction furniture and other essentials made by tradesmen who are currently working in Colonial Williamsburg, visit shops that sell the same wares, take carriage rides, eat in taverns, and learn about the people who lived in what was the capitol of Virginia 250 years ago.

During that time, white or gray hair was all the rage, and the wigmaker was cranking out animal-hair pompadours as quickly as possible.

Wigs were so highly prized, they were put into wills and passed from one generation to the next. Small wonder, since some of the best would cost you anywhere from several days' pay to a full year of your salary.

No money for a wig? No problem. Just sneak up behind some young lady with bountiful tresses, snip off a handful using whatever cutting device you have, and run away like a guy who just stole some lady's hair. It happened.

And so did a lot of other things. Like cabinetmaking, coopering, gunsmithing, silversmithing, basket making, brick making, and weaving.

The town was abundant with busy hands while laws were being made that would fashion a new nation. And the same things are being reenacted here today through employees, actors, and volunteers.

To visit Colonial Williamsburg is to step back into 1765. Except with public restrooms and indoor plumbing. Huzzah.