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Fort Taylor Pyrate Invasion, Nov/Dec 2012 - Key West, FL

Chapter 4th: Of Friday afternoon, including Becky; Why the surgeon doesn't do mock surgeries; Bunnies and Doggies and Pee, Oh my!; A woman with a silver nose; More on the period displays and a discussion about some man named Gunnister's purse; The Key West Key Lime Pie Company and what was interesting about them; Captain R. Hood's gifts and a bit about him; Shopping at the neighbor's place; Opening Chez Mission to all the women in the Roberts' clan and preparing for dinner at the author's favorite restaurant.

Post battle, I wandered back to the fort to do my bit as the pirate surgeon. On the way, I saw my gibbeted piratess Becky, who was sorely missing her mate, Bucky. As I mentioned earlier, she was happily clothed this year and all was well on that front. I think I may make her a mate for next year along with a better gibbet.

Becky at the Fort Entry
Photo: Mission
Cannibal Chrispy Admires Becky, the Gibbeted Piratess
Becky with Mae Photo: Mission
Mae Looking Down at Becky
Becky with MissionPhoto: Mae Harrington
Mission Looking Up at Becky

Mission at His Table
Photo: Don Dunbar
Mission - The Man With the Hat, Not Doing a Show, but a Presentation
I was on the schedule to give 'a show' as the surgeon at 3pm, so I had to get in place for that. I had settled in and given a few presentations. 3pm apparently rolled around because someone appeared at my table asking when the show started. I told them, "Right now! Pick anything on the table and I can tell you what is was for and how it was used!"

I don't really do a 'show'; my intent is to educate folks about period procedures, medicines and tools and throw in bits of history as the opportunity presents itself. Doing shows has the artificial element of theatricality about it that I usually find to be very contrived.

On top of that, most of the period medical 'shows' I've seen at events like this haven't been of the sort of quality I would feel comfortable presenting personally. If I'm going to do such a thing, I want to do it very accurately. In fact, if I ever get around to doing a show, I want it to be like the sort that Mick Crumplin does. Until I can do that, it's history and anecdotes for me.

Pearl Photographing the Teddy Bear Dog
Photo: Don Dunbar
Pearl Snaps the Teddy Bear Dog
There were a number of animals visiting your surgeon's table at the fort on Friday. A woman appeared who announced to me "I am Mrs. Ford and I am 90 years old!" She was accompanied by her large dog, which I petted and found to be incredibly soft.

A couple who couldn't have been a 1/3 that old brought a little teddy bear sort of dog which they explained was a brown Pomeranian. Apparently this is a rare type. Knowing his part well, the little pooch sat up in its owner's arms like a fuzzy Buddha and allowed itself to be fawned upon by every female pirate in the joint, which most did unreservedly.

However, the day's Most Interesting Creature Visiting the Surgeon's Table in Furred Skin prize winner was a large lop-eared bunny named Spike the Pirate Bunny who was, I kid you not, wearing a little black pirate hat.

The Teddy Bear Dog
Photo: Don Dunbar
The Teddy Bear Dog
Reaching for the Mission Bear
Photo: Mission
The Owner Reaches for the Mission Teddy Bear
Teddy Bear and DogPhoto: Mission
"Gee, I wonder what he tastes like?"

Spike the Pirate Bunny and his Owner
Photo: Mission
Spike the Pirate Bunny & his Owner
While Mrs. Ford's dog was far too large to get on the Surgeon's Table, and the Pomeranian was too cute for his owner to let go of, Spike the Pirate Bunny was just right. So he was set down next to the Mission the Surgeon Bear and everyone took photos. Spike ('Who, BTW, was not related to our Spike the pirate. So far as anyone can prove, of course) sniffed the Mission the Surgeon Bear's head which caused everyone to take upwards of twenty photos, including your author.

With that excitement over, Spike the Pirate Bunny left the building and I resumed the normal pirate surgeon's patter, believing him forever gone from my life except for the photos that were taken. However, that wasn't the case - Spike had left us a secret gift. He had been sitting on the blacksmith's nipper which I use to explain finger amputation. A group showed up and I started to explain the nippers. There - right in the middle of the place where the round hole of the nipper had been - was a neat, round puddle of yellow bunny juice - right smack in the middle of that hole! Fortunately, the leather the nippers were sitting on is treated or is naturally impervious to bunny pee or something and it didn't soak in.

Spike the Pirate Bunny on the Table
Photo: Mission
"Really? This is it? I'm not impressed."
Spike and Stynky
Photo: Mission
Stynky - The Pirate Bunny Whisperer
Spike Leaves Pee BehindPhoto: Mission
Spike the Pirate Bunny Leaves Gifts!

While I was tending my table, Key West pirate celebration veteran Dutch of Meka II appeared and introduced me to a very forward woman who called herself Alamadea. (I hope but hope that I managed to spell that right.) She was proudly wearing a silver nose piece and a wild-looking woven hat. I asked her about Alamadea and Dutch
Photo: Mission
Alamadea of the frizzy hat and silver nose. Oh, and Dutch of the Meka II
all the frizzy, dried, curled strands of the hat and she explained that they collected the bugs before they could get in your hair. "Then all you have to do is shake your head and all the bugs fall out!" Ah.

I then asked her if she had had syphilis. (My understanding is that It can deform the nose, you see. Probably not in a way that warranted a silver nose, but some people seem to think that period sailors wore green-tinted glasses due to syphilitic symptoms although I've found no proof of that either.) She laughed and assured me that she did not have syphilis.

She explained that she had lost part of (or perhaps all of, I don't recall exactly) her nose when she refused to join the crew of a slaver ship. Then she asked to be left off on some islands - I believe she said the Cormorant Island - where she had lived for a period of time. I made some flip joke about the islands because of their name, but Dutch told me that she had actually lived there for several years which is why she had included it in her character profile. (I suppose it's good to work with what you know when concocting a story. That makes it easier to remember.)

Curiously, later that day William was explaining the history of the Mercury crew while presenting his William Presents Navigation to a Crowd
Photo: Mission
William Presenting Navigation to an Admiring Horde
spiel on navigation. He explained his role on the ship and how his character had lived in Jerusalem for a while. I later learned that William had actually lived there for a period of time so he, like Alamadea, had included it in his character's background. (Other than that, he didn't remind me much of Alamadea. I'm sure he'll be relieved to hear that. Or maybe not.)

Speaking of William, he had brought me a really cool little wooden mixing bowl that I am using to inspire myself to make a proper plaster box for my reenactment kit. William also said he knew a woman who made period correct Dutch medical mixing pots (called gallipots) and that he would forward me that web site. Unfortunately they were no longer taking orders. Since the idea had been planted, I contacted my favorite ceramic-makers J. Henderson Artifacts and arranged to have some similar pots made, which they did with alacrity. (The style of the gallipots is called Delftware.)

William Explaining Navigation
Photo:Jim McGavic
William Presents Navigation and Reads Tarot for a Young Couple
Zach and Youngblood Learn NavigationPhoto: Mission
William Teaching Ship's Boys Zak and Youngblood Navigation

William and his two walking sticks
Photo: Mission
William and his Walking Sticks. Want one?
Something else William got me involved in was the Gunnister man discussion. Well, William was really talking about one of his pet topics - walking sticks. He was droning on about how so many images of sailors showed them holding walking sticks and how every period sailor reenactor should really have one and so on. (He does the same thing with knives. Fortunately he hasn't seen any period images of surgeons with walking sticks, so I can be excluded from his exhortations. If we ever get on the topic of silly-looking wigs, I may be in trouble, though.)

William was showing off his two walking sticks and offering one to any takers when I happened to spot someone wearing what looked like the foppiest of foppy knit purses. "What the heck is that ?" I ejected, incredulous. "It's a Gunnister man purse." William replied matter-of-factly. The Gunnister Man purse
Photo: Mission
The Gunnister Man Purse. Very handy; it doubles as a Mitten.
Of course! It was a Gunnister man purse! "What the heck is that?" I ejected, no less incredulous.

As it happens there was a period Scotsman uncovered in a peat bog who was so well preserved that they were able to examine all his clothing including his underwear and purse according to Kit Madden of the Archangel crew.

"This?" I said, skeptically holding the purse. "That," everyone answered. So I guess it has period roots, although it sure as heckfire looked like something Mr. Gunnister's maiden aunt made him for Christmas one year that he carried it around so he wouldn't hurt her feelings. (One can't help but wonder if he didn't just dive into the peat bog due to pent up shame over such belongings. Either that or he was sampling the local single malt a bit too liberally.)

Table with Lace Coverings
Photo: Mae Harrington
Wasabi's Tent - Note the Lace
While we're talking about period items and displays, I wanted to mention what my twin Brig was doing this year. Actually she started doing it awhile ago, possibly in 2006 for all I know. Brig has been making lace, which is a skill every pirate needs. OK, that's not quite fair, the Archangels are pirate hunters. So it's more correctly a skill every pirate hunting crew needs. It looks like a painstaking process that requires a lot of manual dexterity, intense concentration and focused dedication. (In other words, I couldn't do it at all.) It must also require a boring name because Brig has changed hers to Alice Mason. I remonstrated with her about this and she said, "Plain in name... reputation is another thing!" (I guess I can't argue with that.)

You may recall that the twins brought back-up girl Alexis with them this year. Brig was dutifully teaching Alexis how to make lace as you can see in the photos below. This is probably a good thing, because the Archangels' need for lace has been far outstripping their production rate lately and they really had to step up their output.

Lex LacemakingPhoto: Mission
Lex Learns the Ropes (Ha ha!)
Brig and Lex Lacemaking
Photo: Mission
Brig and Lex Churning Out Lace for the Pirate Hunters
Brig concentrates on Lacemaking
Photo: Mission
"Knit One, Purl Two" (Or Something)

The Key West Key Lime Pie Company
Photo: Mission
The Key West Key Lime Pie Company Outpost.
Back at my table, I spotted the place across the way from us: the Key West Key Lime Pie Company. Actually, I had spotted them the instant they started setting up shop because they were selling chocolate-covered slices of key lime pie on a stick. Business seemed a bit slow for them in the beginning, so I kept bringing various pirate reenactor women over to meet them and then buying frozen key lime pie on a stick for them (the women, not the Key West Key Lime Pie Company people. They had all they wanted.) They were $3 of delicious, semi-frozen heaven. I ate four or five of them this weekend. You will probably notice my waistcoat buttons popping off in the photos from Sunday.

Girls Eating Key Lime Pie on  Stick
Photo: Mission
Don't they look yummy?
Of more interest to me personally was that one of the owners was willing to champion my pet cause for the FTPI weekend - a key lime pie fight. I learned this as I was buying my third round of frozen key lime pies on a stick from one of the friendly owners. I explained how William Red Wake had come up with an idea for a pie fight (mentioned it, was more what he did) and I had been pushing to get it on the docket for the event next year. Event organizers Lily Alexander and Scarlett Jai were a bit skeptical that this was a good idea. (Key lime pie is heavy, not to mention the whole affair would be messy.)

Oliver
Photo: Borrowed
Yaaaaaaaaah!
My reasons were altruistic, I wanted to recreate a pirate version of the Brady Bunch scene where the Bradys go to a movie set and Oliver gets whacked properly in a staged pie fight. (Admit it, you hated bolt-on Brady kid addition Cousin Oliver in the Brady Bunch series. No one can fault you for this.) Not that anyone would happen to represent Oliver in this little scenario, but we must be sure and get Stynky to participate.

The guy I was talking to assured me that he could create safe, pie fight-friendly pies for our effort and he gave me his card. So how 'bout it, Scarlett? Hmmmmmm? (Help me out here guys. You will find her email address on the FTPI Webpage - email her and tell her you support the FTPI Pie Fight Initiative and you want to see a reenactment of Oliver getting creamed. Don't mention my name, we want this to seem natural and spontaneous. Plus I want you to sound like a looney who has it in for some poor 70s kid actor, not me.)

Speaking of vendors, my neighbor this year was none other than vendor extraordinaire Greg Hudson of the Weeping Heart/Hudson Bay Trade Company. I peeked into the store throughout the day to see how things were going (and buy a pair of green socks.) I got a couple of relatively candid shots of the shoppers which you'll find below.

The Weeping Heart Trade Company
Photo: Mission
The Shoppers Tarrying at the Weeping Heart/Hudson Bay Trade Company With Vendor Extraordinaire Greg Hudson Behind the Counter

Matt and Elizabeth Shopping
Photo: Mission
1st Mate Matt and Elizabeth Browsing
Gwen and Devon in the Store
Photo: Mission
Gwen Shows Handsome Devlin a Likely Hat
Alexis and the Twins
Photo: Mission
Mae, Brig and Alexis Examine the Wares

Captain R. Hood in his Domain
Photo: Don Dunbar
Capt. R. Hood at his Work
Sometime during the afternoon Captain R. Hood appeared. He was my interesting neighbor from last year who lives on the island. Capt. Hood greeted me warmly upon arrival and announced that he had some bottles for me. He had told me that he had them last year, but kept forgetting to bring them to the fort for me. I had completely forgotten the whole thing, to be honest. However, true to his word, he brought over a box of 20 or thirty old glass bottles for me. (This is a good thing because the bottles in my surgeon's chest keep breaking during UPS transit. I really should pack them better but ...well ...I just never do.) The bottles came from a neighbor of his who had tried - and failed - to sell them at a garage sale. So he gave them to Capt. Hood who now gave them to me.

Captain R. Hood's Bonsai Tree
Photo: Mission
Capt. Hood's Bonsai, Feather Pen and Oranges
He also brought a pair of medical books for me to check out - one from the armed services from the 50s or so and another one called, The Barefoot Doctor's Manual, which was a translation of a Chinese medical book.

The first book contained all sorts of procedures for surgery, although they were much too modern for my use. The second was quite fascinating, however. It also contained procedures, but it had a listing of various Chinese herbs and their uses along with helpful line drawings. I instantly recognized some of the names of the herbs from the various scripts I had found in the period surgical manuals. Period medical books are hopelessly Capt Hood Searches For Feathers
Photo: Mission
Capt. Hood Searching His Feathers for Me
arcane when it comes to medical recipes because most of them are in abbreviated, occasionally misspelled, Latin. I may have to invest in a copy of that book.

Capt. Hood also showed me a tiny compass that he explained was a feng shui compass. (I don't know what that means. It was a very small white compass with Chinese characters on it.) He told me he had traded some unusual piece of 50s or 60s hardware he had in his possession "in the original box!" with a guy who owns a resale shop on Stock Island. "You should check the store out - he has all sorts of interesting things. I've asked him to keep an eye out for interesting medical pieces for you."

While I was visiting him, he also showed me his bonsai trees, explaining that he had dozens of them at home which he cared for. He had also brought a huge container of feathers, and he fished one out of his collection to add to my hat. A very nice guy. How I inspire such fast friends as Captain Hood, I couldn't say.

Being the first day, things slowed down quite a bit after 4pm. I decided to go on walkabout and see what else I could see before the fort closed to the public. Below are some examples.

Keith and Zak at Bloody Historical
Photo:Don Dunbar
Zak Chatting with Keith Iritski in the Bloody Historical Homestead
Woman Arranging FlowersPhoto: Mae Harrington
Floral Arrangements for Pirate Hunters*
*My editrix Mae Harrington tells me that Mamasabi is making floral arrangements for DB Couper and Anna Maria's wedding re-celebration on Sunday, but I think they're really just another thing the Pirate Hunters need to have for their display.

Dawson Walking
Photo: Mission
Man About Town
Girl in Blue on Blue Couch
Photo: Mission
Blue on Blue - Cataline De Alquezar on the "Wretched Excess"
Smee with a Parasol
Photo: Mission
Gus Diamond and his Parasol

Kiera Fascinated by Kitchen
Photo: Mission
As the daylight begin to fade, I folded up shop and went looking for my fellow twins Mae and Brig. I had promised the entire group of them that they could have use of my shower on Thursday night and all the girls wanted to take me up on that offer. Mae, Alexis, madPete and I also had a standing date for Cafe Sole for that evening. So, after some fussing and a few false starts, we finally got underway. Brig, her daughter Keira, Alexis and Jack's mom Gigi all trooped over to the condo to use my shower.

Upon arrival, Keira wandered around my condo in amazement, flipping the lights on and off, wandering out to the Kiera Eating Her Orange
Photo: Mission
balconies and looking over the rail, announcing with wonder each feature of the place.

"Look at this kitchen, mom!" she said after turning on the recessed can lights over the range. Brig said, "You'd think she'd never been in a house before!" with a laugh. She then sat Keira down with an orange which Keira proceeded to devour with gusto. Keira eats with great animation and as many funny faces as can be imagined.

Alexis showered first and once she was ready, we headed out leaving custody of the condo to the remaining girls. For some reason Mae had brought the ivy head wreaths they had worn during the parade we The brush on the table
Photo: Mission
OK, See if YOU Can Spot the Hair Brush!
never actually walked in last year. I asked her why and she said simply that "We might need them. Maybe for the dance." Ah. OK. Anyhow, they left them in my condo. I think Shana and Gigi left them behind as an offering in trade for my hair brush which was nowhere to be seen.

I later learned that she had set it under a small table in the farthest corner of the room and covered that with a rug to keep it safe. OK, that's not really true. She set it on the small table that I hadn't even noticed before she told me where it was.

Mae parallel parked Jack's car. (We were in Jack's car. If I ever thought my back seat was messy, I now have reason to be proud of my car-cleaning efforts.) She got into a space that I would never have even attempted. It was a good spot, about a 1/4 block from the entrance to Cafe Sole. I said as much, but had to add the caveat that when Red Jessi had driven us to Cafe Sole in 2009, she had managed to get a spot right outside the door somehow. Red Jessi exudes such confidence, that I've no doubt whomever was parked there before she arrived sensed her coming and ran out and moved their car.

madPete and Brig on the Porch
Photo: Mission
madPete & Brig Chillin' on the Back Porch
Mae Unlacing Gigi
Photo: Mission
Mae (Hair Down) Unlacing Gigi
Mission Unlacing BrigPhoto: Captain Jim
The Author Clowning as he Unlaces his Twin

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