Laura and Lee's Post-Apocalyptic Virginia Venture

October 11-19, 2003
Part 3

Friday, October 17 - Jamestown

We drove back down the Colonial Parkway (getting waaay too familiar with that road by now!), only this time we went past Williamsburg towards the Jamestown Settlement. The actual Jamestown site was further down the road, and we kept going just to see how close we could get to it, and were very surprised to see that it was open! We got lucky, because it had just opened two days before.

But unfortunately the Visitor Center and glass house had been heavily damaged by flooding, so those were closed - we were able to walk around the townsite and some archeological sites, though.

Something I hadn't realized is that, unlike the Pilgrims in New England, the purpose of the Virginia Company was not to colonize the New World and make a new home, but to make money. Since there wasn't any gold in Virginia they really weren't very successful with that whole making money thing until they started growing tobacco.

And another pronunciation guide - we heard "Jamestown" pronounced both as "JAY-mis-town" and "JAMES-town".

Not much is left of the town but some bricks that mark the outlines of some of the building...and we found out that actually the bricks are fake - to preserve the real site they've allowed the ground to cover it, and put fake bricks up that approximate what is underneath. That seems like cheating to me.

We saw the statues of Pocahontas and John Smith. John Smith became leader of the colony at one point when it was in almost total chaos. But he came up with quite an incentive program: "He who does not work, will not eat", and that quickly got things back in order again. :-) He was a rather controversial figure and not well-liked by the powers-that-be within the Virginia Company - after he was forced to return to England in 1609 because of an injury, he never again returned to Virginia.

The Jamestown Settlement is not far away - it's a living museum run by a private foundation. They are in the middle of an extensive construction project as they prepare for Jamestown's 400th anniversary in 2007. It's really a very nice facility now, and will be even better when the construction is finished.

Susan Constant
Susan Constant
The Settlement is divided into three areas - the Powhatan Indian Village, the ships, and the James Fort. The Indian village depicts their way of life at the time of the Jamestown settlement - we saw interpreters demonstrating arrowhead napping, cooking corn cakes and making dugout canoes.

Down at the wharf area are life-size replicas of the three ships that brought the colonists to Virginia - the Susan Constant, Goodspeed and Discovery. The ships are quite small - hard to believe people actually lived on them for the voyage across the Atlantic! We learned quite a bit about how ships defended themselves - there were several different kinds of ammo used in the guns (the proper term for what we consider "cannons" is actually "guns" - cannons are a lot larger than what they could carry aboard ship). Some ammo was used to tear holes in the sails while the purpose of other types was to terrorize the opposing crew rather than killing them - that's a little too permanent. :-)

In the riverfront area we saw a demonstration where they actually fired one of the guns, though it was just a powder charge with no ammo. Sure made a lot of noise!

Over in the James Fort we talked to one of the carpenters for quite a while - they are building houses and buildings by hand, using the same construction techniques that would have been used in the 1600s. The buildings have wattle-and-daub walls with thatched roofs. They still have several more to finish before 2007!

We had a very interesting discussion with the guy working in the blacksmith shop - he was *much* more talkative and informative than the one we'd seen in Williamsburg! He was making nails that the carpenters will use, and said that their shop does make most of the metal work that is used there - such as hinges and door hardware. Though back in the Jamestown days most of those products would have been imported from England, and the blacksmith shop would have been in the business of repairing items rather than creating them.

We saw a demonstration on musket firing, also - it takes 42 steps to fire a musket. But someone who's good at it can fire three shots a minute! A musket with a musket ball that's about the diameter of the musket barrel is actually pretty accurate.

All the interpreters we saw were really good and very informative - we were quite impressed. I liked the Jamestown Settlement even better than Williamsburg - I think I learned a lot more there.

We had thought that we'd spend the morning in Jamestown and go back to Williamsburg in the afternoon, but it was 3:00 or so by the time we left Jamestown, so we drove back to Daisy's. And *again* we didn't see any deer along the road (by now I *know* Barb is pulling my leg about this whole deer thing), though there was a really nice reflection in this pond.

When we got back to the house, we found that the debris removal crew had been by, and the street in front of the house was clear! There were still lots of leaves and twigs and dirt, though, so we got busy with brooms and cleaned up as best we could before it got dark.

Then *we* got cleaned up, because we had a special dinner planned for the evening. We all (Daisy and Louise, too) drove back to Williamsburg (love that Colonial Parkway!) and had dinner at one of the taverns - Christiana Campbell's.

Oh, I *do* have to say that on the way out of Daisy's neighborhood, I caught a glimpse of something that *might* have been a deer. But it was quite dark by could have just been branches on top of a pile of logs. :-)

Christiana Campbell's specializes in seafood, and supposedly was George Washington's favorite tavern. "Mrs. Campbell" was serving quite a few different selections that night...she was certainly serving lots and lot of people! :-)

After they seated us at our table, our waiter came through and tied large napkins around our necks. I guess they expected us to be messy. :-)

Several of our party had the "Waterman's Supper", which included sherried crab stew, baked clams, grilled scallops, and some type of fish. I had the salmon, but I don't remember what the others had. The entrees come with Tavern Slaw, spoon bread and sweet potato muffins. Louise had told us how good the spoon bread was, and she was right - it was like nothing I've had before, but it was really good. If I had to describe it, I'd have to say it's sort of a cross between a nice moist corn bread and corn pudding.

During dinner a guy dressed in period costume came in and announced that this was a tavern...and that the reason people came to taverns was to *sing*. (Silly me, I always thought they came to *drink*! :-) )

Anyway...he led us in a singalong of Yankee Doodle...and told us what that funny "stuck a feather in his hat and called it macaroni" line was all about. The song "Yankee Doodle" was written by an English surgeon and intended to ridicule the upstart Americans. In England at the time "Macaroni" referred not to pasta, but to the Italian fashion (widely imitated in England) of wearing fancy clothing with ridiculously tall wigs and headresses. It required a lot more than just sticking a feather in your hat to be "Macaroni", so that only served to demonstrate that Yankee Doodle was a backward country bumpkin. But the Americans were rather proud of being called "Yankees" and of course the song backfired on the British and became a rallying anthem for the Americans.

We also learned a drinking song composed by a guy named John Smith (no, not Pocahontas' John Smith) called "To Anacreon in Heaven". It was the club song for the Anacreontic Society, which was inspired by a 6th century Greek poet and celebrated the pleasures of food and wine. It had a rather familiar tune...Frances Scott Key "borrowed" the tune for the Star Spangled Banner. (Don't you kind of wonder why a *drinking song* is the only thing that came to his mind???)

Here's the words - written by Ralph Tomlinson rather than Smith.


To Anacreon in heav'n where he sat in full glee;
A few sons of harmony sent in a petition
That he their inspirer and patron would be;
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
Voice fiddle and flute, No longer be mute
I'll lend ye my name and inspire ye to boot,
And besides I'll instruct ye, like me, to entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine!

The news through Olympus immediately flew,
When old Thunder pretended to give himself airs --
If these mortals are suffer'd their scheme to pursue,
The devil a goddess will stay above stairs,
Hark! already they cry, In transports of joy,
A fig for Parnassus! to Rowley's we'll fly
And there, my good fellows, we'll learn to entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

The yellow-hair'd god, and his nine fusty maids
To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee,
Idalia will boast but of tenantless shades,
And the biforked hill a mere desert will be.
My thunder, no fear on't, Will soon do it errand
And, dam'me! I'll swinge the ringleaders, I warrant
I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine
The myrtle of Venus and Bacchus's vine.

Apollo rose up; and said, Pr'ythee ne'er quarrel,
Good king of the gods, with my vot'ries below!
You thunder is useless - then, shewing his laurel,
Cried, Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
Then over each head My laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your crackers no mischief shall dread,
Whilst snug in their club-room, they jovially twine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

Next Momus got up, with his risible phiz,
And swore with Apollo he'd cheerfully join --
The full tide of harmony still shall be his,
But the song, and the catch, and the laugh shall be mine:
Then, Jove, be not jealous Of these honest fellows,
Cried Jove, We relent, since the truth you now tell us;
And swear, by Old Styx, that they long shall entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

How's that for a catchy song???

When we walked outside after dinner we discovered that it was *raining*! Where did *that* come from??? Walt and Louise went to get the van - Louise was making sure that Walt could find it ;-) - and then we took the *wet* Colonial Parkway back to Yorktown. Still didn't see any deer, though. I guess those mythical deer don't like the rain. :-)

Saturday, October 18 - Williamsburg

We managed to make it back to Williamsburg again - the weather had cleared nicely. On the walk from the Visitor Center to the town itself we visited the Great Hopes Plantation - this is a re-creation of the way that *most* people lived in Virginia in the 1700s! Only a very small percentage lived in towns like Williamsburg - most people were farmers who lived in one or two room houses. By and large they were tobacco farmers, since that was a crop that could earn them a fair bit of money if they could farm enough acres, but of course they grew some crops for their own use, too. They owned a couple of slaves to help them work the plantation. One of the goals of the plantation is to show how closely master and slave lived together and how dependent they were on each other.

We wanted to visit some of the craftspeople that we'd either missed on Monday or that had been closed...our first stops were the basket maker and the cooper. The cooper was being monopolized by a guy who was obssessed with discovering who regulated the coopers to make sure that a "tobacco barrel" wasn't too large or small, etc. He was quite insistent, and evidently the cooper wasn't giving him satisfactory answers, and he wasn't letting anyone else get a word in edgewise.

So we moved on. The basket maker was doing some beautiful work...though actually he told us that there wouldn't have *been* someone whose profession was basket-making - most people made their own!

We spent quite a bit of time at the brickyard - they had a big pile of bricks that they had built into a kiln and would be firing soon. There were also some piles that had gotten hit by Isabel and disintegrated into piles of mud. Of course the nice thing about bricks is that if that happens you still have the raw material - just need to wet it down and reform it! We'd noticed that bricks are not a uniform color - some are almost black, some are a light brick color, and some are a darker color. We learned that this has to do with where they are in proximity to the fire - the black bricks are closer than the others. Many of the black bricks also had kind of a polish on them, which is from the bed of sand that the bricks sit on - get sand hot enough and it turns to glass! The iron content of the clay has an effect on the color, also.

English Bond
English Bond
We also learned that there are two basic bricklaying patterns used in building houses - English Bond and Flemish Bond. Generally English Bond, where one course of bricks is laid end-to-end and the next course is laid side-by-side, is used for foundations, but the rest of the building might be either English Bond or Flemish Bond.

Flemish Bond
Flemish Bond
In most buildings we saw in Williamsburg, the brick pattern was Flemish Bond, and they often made the brick pattern more interesting by incorporating the different brick colors in the pattern.

We also spent a lot of time at the cabinetmaker's shop - they really had some beautiful work. They were making a harpsichord - the Williamsburg cabinetmakers actually did build those in the late 1700s. That was unusual - generally something like that would have been imported from England.

This time we made it over to the Capitol Building with time to do the tour. The first room we went into was the courtroom. You really didn't want to be convicted of a crime in Virginia in the 1700s - though you had your choice of punishment for most crimes - death, death, or death. Though generally even if convicted and sentenced to death they let you off the first time.

We went into the room where the House of Burgesses met and our guide gave us an interesting talk about Virginia's role in the American Revolution - basically, according to him, all of the other colonies looked to Virginia for leadership. It was an interesting contrast to what we'd heard in Massachussetts, where they considered themselves the leaders of the Revolution. The Virginians regarded the Bostonians as a bunch of hoodlums. :-)

We managed to visit most of the craftspeople we hadn't seen on our first day here, like the gunsmith, wheelwright, and shoemaker, but we still didn't get to several of the museums like the Wythe House and the Governor's Palace. We'll just have to save those for another visit - hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

On our last drive down the Colonial Parkway we again saw no deer (ok, who is surprised by *that*? :-) ). After we arrived back at Daisy's we put some work clothes on. The guys got the ladder out and got up on the roof to see what they could do about making it a little more weatherproof, since it was sounding like Daisy might have to wait a couple months before she could get her roof fixed. Barb and I worked on cleaning up the yard and moving large piles of leaves to the compost pile in the backyard.

It was getting pretty dark by the time the guys finished, but they managed to get the debris cleared off the roof and got the tarps tied down and secure.

Louise cooked dinner for us that night - she made a wonderful cheese souffle, something that I've never had before. Barb made an apple pie out of some of the apples we'd picked, and we had that for dessert. It was a really nice evening.

Sunday, October 19

Our final morning. It was another beautiful day - we certainly couldn't complain about the weather on this trip, though it would have been nice if we'd had good weather for our tour of Monticello. But if we had to have a day of not-so-good weather, that was the day for it!

After breakfast we packed our bags and loaded them into the van and said goodbye to Daisy and Louise - it was so wonderful to finally get the chance to know them after all these years. Their hospitality couldn't be beat and their local knowledge helped to make our trip even better. And they were a lot of fun to be around, too. :-)

We drove to the airport and all got to where we needed to be - Walt and I had the same flights, Barb was on the same airline but different flights, and Lee was staying in Norfolk and needed to rent a car.

Walt and I enjoyed our first class trip home. Unfortunately my homecoming was marred by an electrical problem that had caused our refrigerator to be without power for several days. That gave me a (very) small taste of what Daisy and Louise had been through with the hurricane. But I at least had power in the rest of the house, not to mention a phone and hot water! Oh well, I guess everyone needs to completely clean out the refrigerator and freezer once in a while! :-)

Final Thoughts

Other Links

Part 1
Part 2
Tigger's Histerical Virginia Tour
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Text and photographs copyright © 2003, 2004 by Laura Gilbreath and Lee Zimmerman. All rights reserved.

Laura Gilbreath lgil at lgil dot net
Last updated 2/13/04