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Pirate Fest, June 2012 - Put-in-Bay, OH

Chapter 4th: A look at all the various displays with an absurd amount of time spent on the author's own set-up, even though, let's face it, it doesn't change a lot, it just keeps getting bigger; What happens when Joe is hauled away; Trish's and Shannon's Shananigan's Leather Booth and a whole passel of kids so cute you'd want to eat them if not for that pesky priggish local ordinances concerning cannibalism.

The display encampment
Photo: Mission's Camera
The Put-in-Bay displays have always been among the best I've seen at pirate events. People stick around the display camp for most of the day and everyone takes the time to do presentations on some part of the pirate life that they know about. Every year it seems to get bigger and better and this year was no exception.

Michael Bagley had put some serious thought about the layout of the camp this year and decided to set us up in such a way that you could remain in the shade for most of the daytime if you had a fly set up. The flies were all erected along the sidewalk, which I though also created a town-like effect that got the attention of people walking by it. We all built off Trish and Shannon's booth, Shananigen's and continued down the line - weapons display, cooking, surgeon, writing and map display, pirate facts and legends and the kid's tent. Along the other sidewalk was the gibbet and the whole thing was sort of fronted by the Green Black Sheep, sitting there useless and inviting.

Shananigan's Booth
Photo: Sos Boss
Let's virtually walk down the row of vendors and displays, shall we? We'll begin with our anchor - Shananigen's in Leather.

Trish and Shannon had actually come out Friday night to set up their enclosure because it was such "a pain in the *Lob*" as they put it that it took too long to get ready in the morning. They had a wide array of leather goods and a couple of items the crew had given them to offer. (Including your ship's surgeon. More about that in a bit.) Among the leather goods were corsets, vambraces, scabbards, belts, purses, bracelets and wallets. They had some really neat and ornate book covers that were tooled and had even been colorized somehow.

During much of the day, Trish sat at a little table and worked on leather pieces with the tools. I think Michael Colosimo helped out with assembly or something based on the photo below right. Shannon... well, I guess he was in charge of marketing. To be honest, I was so busy during the day that I didn't really get over there as much as I'd have hoped. That was a real crime because they had some of my goods for sale.

Trish preparing the booth
Photo: Mission
Trish setting up the goods
The booth at work
Photo: Mission
The booth in full swing with the shopkeeper hard at work and her husband...also there.

Rotten Pirates Teeth for sale
Photo: Mission's Camera
Yes, your ship's surgeon actually had a line of fine products for sale at the Shananigen's Leather booth this year! It all started as a joke. (It sort of ended that way too, but let's tell this linearly.) Trish had offered to put any products we had in her booth at no charge. Seeing as dentistry was part of the surgeon's job, I suggested we sell rotten pirate's teeth on strings. Ha ha, right?

Dan Needham took me seriously and went on Etsy and found someone who made rotten teeth jewelry. No, I'm being serious! Her name is dethany67 and she thought the whole thing was a wonderful lark. She told me when she was talking with friends, they asked her what project she was working on and she exclaimed "Rotten pirate's teeth!" So she's clearly a Surgeon's Journal kind of vendor. I got 100 of them and put them up for $3 each or 2 for $5 and sold about a dozen of them. Not exactly a profitable proposition. In fact, I didn't even break even.

That wasn't all I had, though. Someone had contacted me via email two weeks before the event asking about buying one a chopped hand business card holder - the kind I use in my display. I used to make when I had a company that created gory Haunted House props and products. (What? Isn't that everyone else's dream job too?) The emailer found photos of it on my vanity web page and wanted to know if I still made them.I told him that I didn't, but I had a dozen of them that had been created back in 1996 and I could paint one of them up and sell it to him for $35.

He didn't go for it, but I thought I'd paint them up anyhow and bring a couple to Put-in-Bay to try and sell at the Pirate Fest. (The card holder on my surgeon's table fascinates the kids. You'll see that shortly.) None of those sold, but Trish really liked it, so I gave her one to thank her for making space for my rotten pirate teeth and severed hand card holders. So much for my line of find pirate surgeon products! (I'm just ahead of my time.)

The next booth set up along the line of displays concerned pirate weapons. Dan Curtis was the primary weapons display guy during the weekend, although Mark Gist lent a hand here and there by running people through proper cannon firing drills and procedures. Dan explained the various weapons and their uses, a topic of which most kids can't seem to get enough. He even showed one young man how to fix a bayonet to his plastic automatic machine gun. You thought that little orange thing at the end of those guns was a safety mechanism to make it easy for people to see that the thing was a toy gun, didn't you? Now you know what it's really for!

The cannon drill
Photo: Mission
Trish setting up the goods
Dan and his weapons table
Photo: Michael Colosimo
Dan defending golf cart row
Dan affixing a bayonette to a gn
Photo: Mission
Dan puts a bayonet on a machine gun

Mark Gist explains navigation
Photo: Mission
Mark Gist explaining navigational equipment
Behind and slightly offset from Dan's weapons display table was the cooking and navigation booth. You might wonder how these two things go together. In fact, they don't really. Except that Jennie Gist was a part of cooking display and her husband Mark was explaining the navigational equipment when he wasn't running the kids through cannon drills.

Jennie, running the cooking tent
Photo: Marci Kroska
Jennie Gist maintained the food table
The great thing about the cooking display is that there was always food there. Ty and the business association had generously supplied us with whatever foodstuffs we requested for breakfast and lunch for this weekend, so the provender was resplendent. Lots of fresh fruits, some cheeses and breads and a soup that Kate Bagley had cooked which I was unfortunately not able to sample. (It contained meat.) However, it was so warm that I was pretty content with the fruits and so forth. In fact, one of things sailors did when they reached land was overindulge in things like fruits. According to period authors this resulted in many fluxes (diarrhea) and fevers, which resulted in many clyster syringes full of treatment.

Mark and Jennie at their booth
Photo: Mission
Jennie explains cooking, Mark navigation
Mark guards the cooking implements
Photo: Jim Shipley
Mark guarding the cooking implements
Kate cooking soup
Photo: Mission
Kate Bagley prepares soup

The surgoen off in space
Photo: Sos Boss
The surgeon, off in space somewhere...
This brings us to the surgeon table. Naturally I could write a whole chapter about the surgical table because I was there most of the day. However, that would be sort of annoying for everyone but me. (Although it doesn't help me to rein my description in when everyone takes all sorts of photos of the table and my equipment. Not that I am complaining about this. Not at all.)

One of the really great things about Put-in-Bay for me is that I get a whole large table on which to set up my tools. So I can really spread them out and make them look more interesting. I usually bring as much stuff as I can to this event for this very reason. I like seeing the tools set out in groups by function and it makes it easier for the tourists to ask questions. This is yet one more reason I consider this a wonderful event.

I am forever trying to get one overhead shot of the tools, but it never quite fits. So you get two again this time.

Surgeon Table right
Photo: Mission
The cutting and similar surgical implements on my left.
Surgeon Table Left
Photo: Mission
Bleeding, irrigation, dental, shaving, apothecary etc. on my right.

New needles
Photo: Sos Boss
The surgeon's PC needles (in the cork)
Although these tools appear regularly in my Journals, people are still interested in seeing what has been added since the last time they saw the display. This time it was leeches and Italian instruments.

Ivan Henry found and directed me to an Italian company called Medievaldesign that made some 15th century reproduction surgical instruments. One of the great things about the surgeon's role is that the instruments didn't change much between the 15th and mid 19th centuries, so you can get away with an awful lot. I got several scissors, a new cauterizing iron and some needles from this company. New scissors and leeches
Photo: Sos Boss
Some new scissors & a leech jar

I was quite keen on the needles because my needle display kit (which is on the black board seen in the photo above left) is modern - the needles are made of stainless steel which wasn't used until 150 years after the golden age of piracy. The period Italian ones are hand-made steel and are all stuck in the cork in the photo.

eBay allowed me to procure a couple of other scissors that looked remarkably like what appear in some period surgical manuals and you see those in addition to the Italian ones in the photo at right. Last, but certainly not least was the leech jar and linen pad needed for leech application. You can read all about the use of leeches in my June 2012 Surgeon's Journal article.

Perry Soldier at Surgeon's Table
Photo: Michael Colosimo
Mission and one of the soldiers from the Perry's Monument
Before moving on in our stroll down the row of displays, I thought I'd give a few "stories from the field," as it were. (I can't really tell you stories from the field from other displays, because they aren't my field. Surgery is my field. See, that's how it works.)

One of the soldiers from the Perry's Monument came over to my surgical table and started talking about their display. He noted that they had some of the same tools as I did. This is because there is one well-known maker of reproduction surgical equipment and most surgical reenactors get their tools from G. Gedney Godwin. The soldier did note that my collection was much more extensive than theirs, however. What can I say? It's what I do - skulk on eBay snapping up old surgical junk.

The other story had to do with the Beach Brothers fly that I was using. Since it was actually a tent and not a fly at all, it started to sag. A lot. Like onto my head. Someone suggested that I put a cross bar in the front and then tie the eyelets to that to keep it from sagging so much. So, with the help of Kate Bagley and one of my scalpels, we cut little lengths of rope and snagged one of the random pieces of Beach wood that was lying around and improved the sagging fly situation tremendously. (And people think I'm kidding when I warn them that those scalpels are really sharp.)

Mission holding up the surgeon fly
Photo: Michael Colosimo
Holding up the roof of the surgeon fly.
Slicing a piece of rope with a scalpel
Photo: Sos Boss
Slicing a bit of rope with the scalpel

Looking down the row
Photo: Sos Boss
Looking down the row
Next on our tour d'displays was the writing table. Actually, I'm not sure that's what it should be properly called, but that was what was going on there. Regular readers will recall that Mary Diamond introduced writing as her latest period skill for presentation last year. She was writing Letters of the Marque for the kids and it had worked so well than that she decided to do it again this year. (At least I figure that's what happened. She didn't actually tell me this, so I am just extrapolating from the available data.)

Mary had been positioned to my left, which you could probably figure out by looking at the angle of all the photos I took of her display that I have included here. Letter to Mission
Photo: Mission
In addition to writing Letters of the Marque, Mary was also writing regular letters, like the one you see here at left. She wrote that for me during a slow moment. It is just a basic bit of chit-chat as would have been common during this period in time. (Yes, I know you can't read it because I had to shrink it down so much to fit it here. Trust me, it is chit chat.)

These sorts of letters were actually quite common during this period in time. They were the contemporary equivalent of Twitter or posting on someone's FaceBook wall, with the exception that if they were went to a person sailing on a ship, they might take a year or more to deliver. (Imagine your Twitter postings taking a year to reach their audience. Maybe you'd think a bit more about the content of your tweets instead of sending inane things things like "Hey, I'm driving to th-*smash*.")

Mary showing maps
Photo: Mission
Mary explaining her maps
Some people had actually talked about starting a period-style letter writing campaign on the Pyracy pub, which, like so many other ideas that require coordination and effort, never happened. However, it led me to post a humorous set of rules for writing in period style for the participants that eventually became Instructions for Writing in 17th/18th Century Style on this website. (So it wasn't a total loss in my book.)

Mary had also come up with a set of maps and large documents between this year and last, although I don't know if she made them herself or got them from somewhere else. She may have gotten them from William Red Wake, the Mercury Quartermaster. In addition to doing whatever the heck it is that a Quartermaster does, William creates draughts of ships and maps in his spare time. He's talented like that.

For the most part, however, Mary was engaged in writing much sought-after Letters of Marque. A Letter of Marque gives you the 'right' to plunder ships of nations at war with the country issuing the letter, so they are much desired by pirates. In fact, pirates were known to carry fake or out-dated Letters of the Marque just to try and escape being sentenced as pirates.

The pirates clambor for letters of the marquePhoto: Mission
The pirates want Letters of Marque
Pink pirates get Letters of Marque
Photo: Mission
"What makes you pink pirates deserve a Letter?"
Captain Jack and his Letter of the Marque
Photo: Mission
Captain Jack shows off his Letter

Bryan at the Pirate Facts Table
Photo: Mission
Bryan at the Pirate Facts Table
The last (or actually the first, depending on which way you were going) table in the display row was Bryan Brubaker's Pirate Facts and Legends Table and the Kid's Booth. At the 2012 May Santa Maria Event, these two things were combined, so I am combining them again here. I don't know how Bryan feels about this, but since he seems to be being absorbed into the Sos Boss collective, it only makes sense.

Bryan's table had several framed legends, facts and stories about pirates, all set upon the Mercury standard. (You can see the head and tops of the wings of the Mercury standard in the photo at left. Bryan must have liked the standard so well he wanted to be able to see it right side up rather than let the public have a glance at it.)

His newest addition to the Pirate F&L table was a silver skull mounted on a mug. (Where was that mug when I needed it?) This was to represent Blackbeard's skull, which was supposedly plated in silver, although this sounds awful fishy to me. (Heh.)

The Kid's Booth was mostly manned by Carla and Becci that I saw, although Bryan also appears to have pitched in as can be seen below center. Notice the stuff on the table there at the Kid's Booth? Guns, hand cuffs, swords... there was probably one of those plastic dry cleaning bags and an electrical plug with no cover on it as well. It was a curious sort of Kid's Booth, I think, although I never heard the actual presentation. It is even more curious in that most of the photos I took were of adults at the Kid's Booth. (Probably because of the hand cuffs.) However, we do find Flapjack the monkey on it (below right), so I guess that makes it all right. We will hear more of Flapjack's adventures in a later chapter.

Kids Both CustomersPhoto: Mission
Carla & Becci - Kid's Booth
Bryan and Becci at the Kid's Booth
Photo: Mission
Bryan and Becci manning the table at the kid's booth
Becci with kid at Kid's Booth
Photo: Mission
An actual kid at the kid's booth

Clint explaining the Haul Away Song
Photo: Sos Boss
MD explains a rope puller's motivation
Last on the stops along the pirate reenactment tour was the Beach Brother's Gibbet. This has proved to be quite the popular attraction since it was first brought to the Military Through the Ages event in Chicago in March this year. I remarked quite extensively on the oddity of a gibbet's appeal in the May 2012 Santa Maria Pirate Weekend Journal, so I won't do that again. Much. (You have to admit, it is strange that people would be so attracted to something used to encapsulate the bodies of slain pirates until they completely rotted away as a warning to others. Birds pecking away bits of their flesh. The stench of tarred, rotting flesh. OK, that's enough.)

M.A. d'Dogge had actually added a new wrinkle to the gibbet routine since I had seen it in May. (Or maybe he had done it there as well and I just hadn't seen it. Either way, it was new to me, so it will be new to most of you.) He now the participants Clint inspects the ranks
Photo: Sos Boss
M.A. d'Dogge examines the troops for proper pulling

pulling up the gibbet on cue. The 'cue' was the word 'Joe' as sung in that splendid piece of classical music called "Haul Away Joe."

What? You never heard of that splendid piece of classical music? That's OK, I never heard of it either until M.A. d'Dogge explained to his pulling crew that they were all to pull together when he sang the word. The lyrics went something like "Now you can haul away, haul away, haul away JOE!" (If you can't quite imagine the tune, try to call to mind that classical 70s tune "We Will Rock You" by Queen. Got that in your mind? OK, you can forget that because it sounded almost nothing like it. It was more of a sing-songy rhythm that fit the lyrics.

The pullers haul away Joe
Photo: Sos Boss
The Olympic Gibbet Team hoists another victim
If it wasn't the best musical accompaniment ever created, it seemed amuse the rope pullers. Although I noticed that the first person in line (usually a pirate) seemed to do most of the pulling regardless of whether the rest of the team hit their mark by pulling when the word 'JOE!' was sung or not. Still, the results gave the pulling team satisfaction, as you can see here.

Once the gibbet was at its maximum height, the Beach Boys did something else I hadn't seen at the Santa Maria event - they threw stuff at the person in the gibbet. As M.A. d'Dogge explained it, the crowds at gibbeting events threw stuff like rotten produce and dead animals at the gibbitee. Since there were no coeds to impress (mostly) with his skunk puppet, Billie was giving it to kids to throw at their brothers, sisters or parents who were inside the gibbet.

I also noticed that sometimes it took a LOT of people to haul away Joe. For example, the woman in the cage below center must have been feeling a bit insecure about her diet at seeing the crowd that was required to pull her two feet into the air. On the other hand, it sometimes didn't take quite so much effort, as we can see in the example of the little pink pirate hauling away below right. Maybe they were hauling away Lob that time.

A boy throwing a skunk at his momPhoto: Mission
Teaching kids bad habits
Hauling away Joe a LOT
Photo: Mission
Hauling away a LOT of Joe
Not hauling away so much Joe
Photo: Sos Boss
Not hauling so much Joe

Speaking of kids, there were a ton of them at this event (gross weight). Kids always make for cute photos, so as a finish to this chapter, I am going to post a whole slew of photos of them from the weekend and make snarky comments if I can think of any good ones. (Or even if I can't.) We begin with what I know - a series of kids who were at the Surgeon's Booth.

The first photo is of a boy named Kyle whose parent's told me was visiting for the third time that day. The previous two times, he had been instructed by Carla and Kate Bagley, respectively. I don't know what they told him, but I think he asked me about every single instrument on the table. Some of them twice. If Kyle becomes a surgeon one day, I want none of the blame (unless he becomes famous and makes a lot of money, in which case I want a cut.) The second photo is of a boy who had actually had one of his fingertips amputated and I thought it would be funny to pretend to nip a second one. (What? You know what my sense of humor is like.) His mother's comment? "It'll be a lot cheaper than the first one was." The last pic is of a baby, who clearly wanted to check out my website as soon as s/he got home. (The baby is grabbing a business card...or twenty. Baby's dexterity = not so good.)

Boy pointing to scissorsPhoto: Mission
The Curious One
Nipping of a boy's fingertip
Photo: Mission's Camera
The Fingertipless One
Baby taking a business card
Photo: Mission
The Internet Surfing One

Carla battles Jack the Hook
Photo: Mission
Carla versus Captain Jack the Hook
Naturally there was lot of opportunities to see kids fighting. What would pirates be without fighting after all? (Who needs video games to get you all riled up when you can use bladed weapons?)

Carla posed for a hook battle with a young lad (with a goatee!) who was dressed sort of like Captain Jack in pink sandals. I wonder if this was a girl or boy?

Both Billie and M.A d'Dogge did a bit of impromptu sword fighting with a young man dressed like a cowboy. Yep, it was one of those epic swords fights from the Ole West. (Why he was dressed like a cowboy for a pirate event is not something I can readily answer for you. Both Billie and MD have Old West garb, so I guess it was appropriate.) Last, Jim Shipley caught a couple of kids kick-sword fighting just like the Chinese Masters do it. (Cue 'Kung Fu Fighting.')

Billie swordfighting with a cowboyPhoto: Sos Boss
Billie Beach sword fights with a... cowboy?!
M.A. d'Dogge sword fights the cowboy
Photo: Mission
Then M.A. d'Dogge takes on the cowpoke
Kids swordfight and kick
Photo: Jim Shipley
Pirates AND Ninjas

Kids pose with pirates
Photo: Mission
Who's posing with who here?
Kids and their wagon
Photo: Mission
"We shall call her...the Rhaydee Yo Flyoar!"
There were several photos of groups of kids, so I thought I'd post them all together. (Yeah, that is a pretty lame excuse for a group of photos. But let's see you try and sort and sift this stuff.)

A lot of these photos actually come from the costume contest which (interestingly) was for the adults.

Perhaps the most shocking grouping of kids arrived en masse on Sunday afternoon - the Scavenger Hunt! (See below right.) One minute we were all doing our presentations to orderly groups of people and the next there were a gaggle of children running and screaming into our area. (Because running with a group of kids isn't much fun if you aren't also yelling your fool head off while doing it.) Shortly after they arrived, something happened that I didn't quite catch and off they went running and screaming again!

Kids watching contestPhoto: Sos Boss
"Is that guy wearing a wig?"
Pink pirate with sword
Photo: Mission
"I am created Shiva, destroyer of worlds."
Sunday scavenger hunt
Photo: Mission
"We're heeeere!"

Peppermint Patty Pirate
Photo: Mission
Hmm...that style...
Photo: Composed by a maestro
"Hey Chuck! Do you my look is really that piratey?"
We'll finish this chapter with a bunch of little girl pirates. As I remember it (which is not frightfully well, I admit) playing pirate as a youngster was pretty much the purview of young boys. The world is a different place these days, as you see.

Below we have several girls, beginning with what I can only assume are three sisters dressed alike. (I thought girls usually preferred to dress differently? Especially sisters...) Next we have another shot of our little pink pirate hauling away Joe. Note that she has pink skull and bones on her dress! Piratey. Note also that she is pulling the rope the wrong way. Then we have a young lass affectionately carrying around Billie's skunk. (Look at the expression of the little girl behind her. Ha ha.) Last we have a pirate chick with a shiny silver lamé head scarf with the eye patch perched upon it just so and a fancy tattoo leg sleeve. Pirate fashion, Lady Gaga style.

Three girls in matching outfitsPhoto: Mission
Little girl hauling ropePhoto: Mission
Girl with Billie's Skunk
Photo: Michael C.
Girl with tattoo stocking

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