Revolution in the Air! Again.Posted: July 25, 2009
After spending the past few days in Colonial Williamsburg I’m convinced the whole experience is a combination of The Truman Show and Groundhog Day. A new day? Revolution’s in the air. Again! And I’m not sure whether all of the “colonists” know they’re just play-acting. Some of them take their roles so seriously I swear I was getting looks like we were the ones oddly out-of-place with our cameras and t-shirts and soft drinks.
Don’t get me wrong. We had a great time down there — hanging out with our friends Harry, Andrea, and their daughter Madeleine (Harry’s an old Army buddy). And I’d always wanted to spend over $40 on replica muskets. At least we were all well protected on our walks down Duke of Gloucester Street.
One of the most intriguing things about the whole Williamsburg experience is the “real” Episcopal church — Bruton Parish — right in the heart of the colonial district. I went to a mid-week service and sat in John Marshall’s pew. Pretty heady stuff but I can imagine tourists wandering into the liturgy and thinking the whole thing is part of the theme park. “Oh, Bea, look at that priest — his robes make him look so authentic!”
There’s also a slightly cult-like feel to the whole place. Or at least the conspiracy theorist in me felt it. It takes a special person to dress up in knickers and wander around in the hot sun all day. One morning on the way to Aromas Coffee Shop in Market Square, I saw a young professionally-dressed woman driving an SUV. In the passenger seat was a man, presumably her husband, dressed up like a colonist. She was obviously driving him to work. “Have a great day, honey; give the Royal Governor hell.” Then I went for a quick run around five o’clock the next day and all of the 9 to 5 colonists started walking out of the historic district at the same time. I think they instruct them to walk alone — don’t want to hear them complaining about the tourists. Seeing them all slowly walking out of the various shops — the gunsmith, the printer, the cooper — it looked to me like the Day of the Dead. But that’s just me.
One day we’ll go back — you can’t possibly learn all the history in one trip. Plus, I need to get myself a musket. And if I ever need to enter the witness protection program, I’ll hide myself in colonial America somewhere in Williamsburg. Check out the blacksmith shop.