Monday, April 7, 2014

Kristen: Detroit Fort Wayne Park Day

Do you ever feel the need to randomly clean out underbrush with clippers and saws? Do you burn with the desire to plow through grimy dirt, completely ruining a pair of perfectly good yoga pants. No? 
What about historical preservation?
Isn't she Beautiful?

I had the opportunity this past weekend to volunteer at Fort Wayne's Park Day. I've even reenacted at the Fort several times, and already have a few posts that detail my experiences. (Here, here, and here!) The description on the Historic Fort Wayne Coalition's website clearly called for my expertise:

CWPT Park Day April 5 - ALL invited

For several years now, the HFWC and Historic Fort Wayne have been Michigan's only participant in the Civil War Preservation Trust's (CWPT) Park Day. Park Day is a single day when history fans across the country gather to help clean up Civil War sites for the coming tourist season. Park Day for 2014 is April 5. We need your help! All are welcome, not just HFWC members. Come out from 9am to 4pm (or any time in there you have) and help us get Historic Fort Wayne ready for the season. It's been a hard winter on all of us, and the Fort. We could really use a lot of hand! The CWPT sends us shirts and patches which we will hand out to as many participants as we can. Lunch is on us! Come join us for a great time helping the fort and visiting with history fans from around the area! All are welcome!

So I struggled fell mumbled leapt from my bed early with high hopes of historical preservation! Tom Berlucchi is the chairman of the coalition, and he met us in the barracks with a thoughtful talk on historical preservation of Fort Wayne. Another member of the 21st Michigan, Robbie Giorlando, joined me in the revels. Please note the massive amounts of pre-teen boys; a boy scout group was using this weekend as a campout, with an emphasis on helping out with various projects. I can not think of better work to wear out a kid!

We started with clippers and hand saws (no saws for the Boy Scouts!) and jumped right in. The last of the ditches around the five-star fort needed to be cleared. Other groups had recently cleared the hill, with the hill/bottom of the ditches left. I understand why they needed help; it was tough manual labor!

There are no pictures of me working, since I was too busy working to have anyone take one! I did get a few shots of the kids. Seriously, if you want anything razed, just hire a bunch of pre-teen boys. The weeds and thorns didn't stand a chance, as evidenced by these before/after photos...

 For my part, I cleared as much as possible. Four hours of work with a scrumptious lunch of (too many) hot dogs. While we ate, we listened to a very interesting talk (by Mr. Gardner? I need to sp. that) about historical preservation. I was surprised that a few of his childhood experiences mimicked my own. My love of history began long before I ever put on a corset! He also brought along a few magazines that focus on saving historical sites in the U.S. It's these moments that I wish I was a millionaire!

Oh, by the way...a few branches whipped me in the face, so I'm hoping they weren't poison ivy...I'll update on a blog post with that later...
 Before the makeover...
 And a whole new look! Fort Makeovers has struck again!

By the end, my entire body ached. My gluteus maximus is in  g-reatus pain-imus from planting my feet into the hill and cutting away. My arms were more than sore; I'm sure they fell off somewhere. Yet it felt good to contribute, to help restore Fort Wayne as a historical site. I'm rather proud of my aches and pains...
 Luckily Robbie is an EMT in modern life...

It was an amazing experience, one that I hope others will try. If not, I urge you to contribute to this beautiful site. Even $5 will help! Please help us to restore this beautiful place!


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