Six months ago you could have asked any one of us, "Did you see this one coming? Did you see yourself sitting in an 1840's
Methodist Basket Makers House in historic costumes, having so much fun singing that you didn't care that you were missing
out on free wassail?" and the answer would have been, "No."
This is a draft. I have to get the names of the lovely folks at the Historical Society and check the spelling, etc.
Staten Island Historical Society - review and thank you
Thank you to the staff of the Staten Island Historical Society who were so welcoming to idea of a Sacred Harp Singing demonstration
at their annual Christmas event, an overview of Christmas celebrations from the colonial era to the turn of the century.
Historic Richmondtown is an amazing place and the staff for the event were so organized and together. We couldn't have been more impressed.
And we had a blast.
Photos of some of the lovely staff members: Felicity Beil, who arranged for us to sing, the lovely woman that kept our throats refreshed, her husband, the lovely man
who kept the fire going, and the cute little gal that got caught back stage smoking. Until I get their names on here they will be known as, Laura, the 'water docent', her husband the 'fire docent', and the 'busted docent'.
We arrived and found our historically accurate clothes in bags with our names on them. They had been hand sewn to our sizes.
Then we were taken to our house. The Methodist Basket Makers House was tiny! You came into a hall with a stair case.
On the left was a room with a bed, a table and a desk. We stowed
our gear upstairs in the other room which held of a bed and a spinning wheel. We had the video camera and mini-disk recorder and
even remembered to include the rechargers. Good thinking when you're going to an historically
accurate house with no electricity. We brought extra copies of 'New Briton' aka 'Amazing Grace" so the tour groups could sing along
with us. But there were no lights! We sang by candlelight. It was a little hard on older eyes but older people have the advantage of
having done some of these songs about a million times so no pity for them. It took us awhile to warm up our voices because even
with the fire going it was cold. No wonder big conventions used to be held in summer during the day.
Tours came through every 10-15 minutes from 5:00 - 9:00. The docent would open the door to the tour group, saying that they were late
and the singing had already started and then lead them from the hall into the little room. Then we sang about three songs.
They applauded (often out of generosity of spirit) and then
a broo-ha-ha erupted outside the windows. The "drunken revellers from the local tavern" were singing 'Wassail, Wassail' outside.
The docent then asked the
tour group to help chase them off and the revellers led them to the next stop on the tour. At that point we could rest until the next tour was
due to arrive. But we couldn't help ourselves. We just kept singing. We were having too much fun to stop.
When the last tour was done we went to the reception and drank this amazing Wassail that looked like a toxic swamp and tasted like heaven.
Thank you to the singers, John Taylor, Inga Knets, Aldo Ceresa, Lauren Weintraub, Holly Laws, Linda Griggs, Frank Griggs, Diane Minello, and Ann Henry
(who soldiered on, singing through a fever).
Our only regret was that we couldn't tear ourselves away from our sing to go see the other buildings and singers.
Linda documents her own hair-do
Caption contest: What is he saying? What's going on here?
Possibility #1: "I don't care what the bartender told you, lady. This is a 'vampires only' bathroom."
Possibility #2: "Are we going to sing in THERE?"