Dear Steve, Here is the report from the 1840s. It is always pleasing to see that customers still manage to come forward year after year to have their portraits made. I am concerned about next year when my apprentice, Doug may or may not be with me to lend a hand. His strength and support have made the set ups and break downs much easier to handle than doing them by myself. But that's months away, and I hope to have him right there with me at Olustee. He's soon to graduate from high school and who knows where he will be during reenactment season next year.
There were hundreds of people selling all kinds of goods from tents to tricorn hats and the like. I bought a plaid vest, a studded tack belt and believe it or not, Dutch wooden shoes. They are comfortable to stand in despite their inflexibility and remind me of my own character. They have a strong arch support and are much more enjoyable to wear than one would suppose.
The tent village was about a mile long and a half mile wide. There were approximately 1500 rendezvouers camped in wall tents, tepees and all other forms of canvas lodging. The wood smoke form oak fires was sweet and pungent as well as the smell of cooking meats and sausages. Seeing hundreds of people dressed in buckskins and fur pieces as well as calico shirts and dresses was quite colorful. The weather was crystal clear and very warm, even for a Florida winter.
My jobs kept coming in a steady flow. Walking the entire encampment from stem to stern was tiring but profitable. I took many pictures away from the wagon in the people's camps. At one camp where I have done the family portrait for fifteen years they insisted Doug take the picture and that I pose with them as family. That was very flattering.
Sunday morning I woke up early and the sea fog was everywhere. I woke up Doug and we started breaking down the equipment immediately. We were packed and rolling down the highway by 8:30. We stopped for breakfast at Buddy-Freddy's, the restaurant chain. It seems so odd, I taught both of those brothers my first year of teaching in Plant City. However, they no longer own the chain.
When I arrived home I found the old toilet in the front house had been left running the whole four days we were gone. The handle sticks if one doesn't jiggle it correctly. I can hardly wait to see what the water bill will be. The refrigerator was making noises from a slipping compressor belt and I had one of those end of an adventure let downs.
That's all the news up to the moment. Tonight I will be in the darkroom developing negatives from the Brooksville Civil War event as well as the new ones. Then it will be night after night of printing pictures until they are all done and ready to mail. It's a big undertaking but fills an artist need I have as well as contributing a few dollars for the summer.
Take care, my friend and write when time permits. Pictures I'll send in the days to come since I took my digital camera as well as the antique ones. -Fritz