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February 2007

2007 Calendar of Events

March 30-April 1 Heartland International Tattoo Living History, DeKalb, IL
April 13-15 Living History Joliet Public Library, Joliet, IL
April 15 Unit Dues are Due!
May 18-20 Re-enactment at Naper Settlement, Naperville, IL
June 1-3 Living History at Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, Milwaukee, WI
July 6-8 Re-enactment at Lake County Discovery Museum, Wauconda, IL
July 20-22 Re-enactment at The Grove, Glenview, IL
August 10-12 Living History at United Methodist Campground, Des Plaines, IL
September 7-9 Re-enactment at Dellwood Park, Lockport, IL
September 28-30 National Re-enactment, Mill Springs, KY
October 19-21 Re-enactment at Dollinger Farm, Minooka, IL
December 1 Christmas Party

Remember that you can always find more event details and directions at the unit website, http://www.64thill.org/events/. We also have info on several Civil War dances/formal balls held throughout the year in the area.

It's Almost That Dreaded Time of Year Again

I'm sure you've all already seen the TV commercials reminding everyone that tax season is swiftly approaching. I hate for this to be another harbinger of doom for you all, but 64th unit dues are also, er, due, April 15th as well. Fortunately, though, you don't need to wrack your brains over piles of paperwork or be afraid of being audited, just send your payment to our lovely and ever-friendly unit treasurer, Dianna Bierman. It is $15.00 for families, $10.00 for individuals, with an extra $9.00 per person for insurance (which, I should add just to make sure it's abundantly clear for everyone, is NOT optional. We want everyone to have fun and stay safe so you must have insurance in order to participate. Sorry, guys, but that's just how it goes.) Before April 15th please send it to the following address:

Dianna Bierman
1121 Westshire Drive
Joliet, IL  60435

Thank you, and I hope the IRS is a kind to you as Dianna can be.

Woo-hoo! New Members!

The 64th would like to give a big howdy-doodie welcome to our newest members Nick and Brian Beckman! Welcome to the club, guys, and we hope that you enjoy yourselves within our little band of misfits.

A Word of Thanks

Diana Gough and her family would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all of you who were kind enough to send your condolences regarding her teenage grandnephew, Dakota Johnson's, death on January 30th from abdominal cancer. As you may or may not know, Dakota had a long and difficult fight and was well loved by all that were fortunate enough to have known him. He is survived by his parents, Daniel and Heather Johnson, and his little brother, Dawson. If you wish to still send your condolences, please send them to Diana's sister, Dakota's grandmother, at this address:

Cindy Morris
891 Southwest Street
Galesburg, IL  61401

Update on Carl

Just to let everyone know Mary Gutzke got an email from Carl Stahl recently letting her know that he is now currently out of Iraq and is in Kuwait awaiting an eventual return to Germany where he'll be on a 30 day leave. He's scheduled to be shipped back home in April so please keep up sending your letters and emails to him! He may be out of harm's way but he still needs our support and friendship to get him safely back home.

Military Elections

Congratulations to the winners of the 2007-2009 military rank elections!

Captain Scott Gutzke
1st Sergeant Bruce Malesh
2nd Sergeant Tony Lobello
1st Corporal Mike Gyorkos

Thanks to everyone who participated in the voting process.

Door's Open
By Ken Gough

(Before you read on, Di told me I must reveal that I wrote this after a frenzied search for the TV remote that came up empty. Don't worry, though, they've finally been located and all is again right with the world.)

The '07 season is right around the corner. Have you thought about what you're doing this year? Are you going to do living history or show a display with demonstrations? The two aren't the same, you know.

This question reared its ugly head last year. Before I go any further let me say the issue was NOT with any member of the 64th or anyone who was a guest of the 64th. This is to head off the howls of indignation I can already hear.

Let's take a closer look at the two:

Living History:
This is to teach about history by placing yourself in a set or to create a set using existing objects or structures. This is only half of it. Now you must talk about and do the things you are attempting to teach in first person. This can be as simple as sitting in front of a bush or the front part of a period dwelling and knitting a pair of socks.

Period Display:
This is where a person has artifacts and/or reproductions of period items arranged in a setting that may or may not be period. Some of the items on display may be used during open hours. The person running the display should be able to explain in depth how each item is used. Most often this is done in third person.

Now, don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this setup. If you think of it, the traditional "blanket display" that I, as well and many others, did as a matter of course is only display. A valuable one, but let's be honest. That isn't living history.

Now for the real heresy.

Listen up children, a little reenacting history lesson coming at 'cha. There will be a quiz.

Going back to the dark ages of reenacting. History got folded, spindled, and mutilated through the cowardice of husbands who knew they couldn't leave the wifey at home and still play with the guys so they created something called "Dependent Camp". Now this was the place where the wife, kids, parents, grandparents, and, in some cases, all of the above, would camp. Happy as a pig in...mud, they would sit around the campfire in their aluminum camp chairs cooking s'mores bathed in the harsh light of Coleman lanterns while wearing paper kepis or the infamous "camp dress" (try and find that one in Peterson's). To give the devil his due there wasn't what we could call an authentic camp at this time. Only a handful of re-enactors across the country had started to think in the terms of a period camp. The Farb vs. Authentic wars began.

Come the 80s and some bright wife plundered through all the junk her hubby had accumulated through the years and, low and behold, there's a wall tent and enough stuff here for her to put together something to show the public. Now she can play too. Thus, "Civilian Camp" was born. The aluminum chairs were disposed or covered with blankets, coolers were likewise covered or ditched into the woods. These early pioneers then busied themselves with cooking for "their company".

Spectators would now walk in confusion up and down growing streets of ladies with collections of cast iron giving off, in many cases, indescribable stenches. Remember dad, the coward? He wolfs down everything she cooks, often lubricated with lots of beer. All the time knowing if she's not happy, it's no more battle for him. Now in addition to the question of "Is that fire real?" came "Did so many women really follow their men to war?"

Fast forward to the 90s. Civilian camp is now so ingrained in reenacting that it begins to take on a life of its own. Men are now joining women in civilian roles. With a camp that has so many wall tents, dining flies, and billboard sized displays they take on the look of a fully rigged schooner in the teeth of a gale. "Deception Through Inference" is a term I've used to describe many of these displays. For example (I'll use something so false no one can think I'm picking on their impression).

Some bright civilian finds a dusty tome that a group of women in the PoDunk Soldiers Aid Society knitted socks for the army with each toe separated just like gloves. They put together a cute display showing what little information they have on the subject and sit around talking about these goofy socks.

Now John Q. Public came along and is regaled with this information to the point that he leaves thinking every soldier had a pair of these types of socks in his haversack. The people running the display didn't do anything false, -or did they? They had a true fact, but to make their display seem more important, they "inferred" that this happened more often that it actually did. The wrath of these people when challenged was last seen in biblical times.

This practice continued unchecked and now the courts (the real courts with judges, lawyers, and whooping cash fines) are involved and the liars..., -oops-, have free reign to do or say whatever they want with the threat of litigation to back them up.

Now we're in the 21st century and a whole generation of re-enactors have grown up in a hobby including a Civilian Camp full of these displays. Farb is now a four letter word and is heard no more. This concept is so set as to be untouchable. Few even question it anymore. And history takes a mortal hit.


For Sale by Mary Gutzke

I still have a couple of Civil War dressed for sale (cheap) and some accessories such as a bonnet, cape, and some children's toys in need of a buyer. The dresses fit approximately 6/8 (petite) but some can be lengthened a bit. Please inquire with Mary Gutzke for details and/or pictures: mgutzke@gmail.com

Ken's Clear'n out the House
By Ken Gough

The house is filling up to the point I'm worried a window will blow out or the floor will collapse. Help me out if you can.

Next Board Meeting

There will be no board meeting for February, so the next meeting with be March 11th and will this time be at the Bierman's house in Joliet, Ill. At noon there will be a potluck for all, and the actual meeting will be around 4:00 PM following a stitch 'n bitch session for the ladies and a game or round rolling for the gentlemen. For more information regarding, please contact me, Melina McVicker, at mcvicker@mc.net and I will try to get that info back to you as soon as I can.


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