In Vintage Inspiration

Trains and Troops Reenactment

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William and I spent the weekend in Strausburg at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania for their annual Trains and Troops tribute. This was my first time at the event (and Wil’s first reenactment ever!) and we had a great time. If you’re anywhere near the museum, I highly suggest making the trip to visit. I was blown away! The WWII displays are only set up for this special themed weekend but you can still see, touch, and take a ride on real trains year round!

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Typically, WWII reenactments revolve around military impressions and skirmishes, so I loved that this event had a lot of civilian displays. My job as a civilian reenactor is to basically walk around and provide an authentic ambiance for the general public. Not a bad gig if you ask me! That may sound like a no-brainer kind of role, but when you take reenacting really seriously, it takes months (even years!) to study and put together an authentic impression, and actually have an understanding of who you’re representing. I’m slowly collecting and sewing my way to a really authentic WWII era wardrobe.

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The table commemorating the All American Girls Professional Baseball League was definitely one of my favorite displays. If you’ve seen the movie A League of Their Own then you’ll recognize the uniforms!

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I’ve never been on a train before, so to experience a 45 minute ride through the Amish countryside in a Victorian parlor car, pulled by a real coal burning steam locomotive, was something that put a smile on my face for the entire weekend. Wil and I rode twice in a row because we loved it so much!

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After shoveling “coal” in the children’s exhibit, Wil decided he’s not cut out for the back breaking labor that powers steam locomotion. Train Firemen: we salute you.

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Wil is definitely interested in reenacting now and wants to research some WWII photographers and journalists and maybe put together an impression based on that. I liked my college/canteen girl impression, but the farm girl stuff is what I relate to most. Though if Wil and I are going to start reenacting together, I think a reporter and a messenger would be a really cute couples impression. We’ve got some time to think about it before our next event in January so we’ll see what we come up with.

Have you ever been to a WWII reenactment? How about a railroad museum? Pretty neat if you ask me!

xo
Rochelle

  • Nadine

    I envy all your possibilities to reenact in the States! πŸ™‚
    And: Wil’s new haircut is perfect! Don’t they just look sooo spiffy with such a good cut?! Way to go πŸ™‚

  • Lora Eberhardt

    I went to my first (but certainly not my last) reenactment this year in Rockford, IL. Luckily I was introduced to reenacting by an amazing group of people who are SO helpful and just all-around nice people.

  • Wow, that first picture is so breathtaking! And those tattoos are super rad, are you going to get one?!?!

    I love you and Wil together and I am so glad that you guys are doing reenacting stuff together. Coolest dates ever!

  • That looks like such a fun weekend. There is a rail museum here in England in York that is well worth a visit. They don’t host re-enactments to my knowledge, but they do have special events where you can experience the steam trains working, and all the period details are original and beautifully preserved. There is also a “Santa Express” steam train near me where you can go at Christmas and have a short ride through the countryside in a lightly restored steam train (original leather seats, luggage racks, etc.), you get wine and mince pies and a present for the children. It’s like being in an Agatha Christie film and if you suffer with romantic leanings (as I definitely do!), it’s a fabulous thing to do. It’s all run by volunteers and they must really love it, because as you have noted, shovelling coal is very hard work!!

  • What a fun event! I love things like that.

  • The Rockford Peaches! Woo hoo!! I’m a peach πŸ™‚ What great photos and a lovely weekend. I like your nice new tam πŸ™‚

  • This looks like so much fun! My husband and I thought about getting into reenactment but we had a few experiences with some not so nice people that caused us to give it up. This really makes me miss the idea though.

    • I’m so sorry you’ve met some people who discouraged you from reenacting. That’s awful. I’m lucky that I found a group who’s really supportive and encouraging. Maybe in the future you’ll find some people worth getting involved with πŸ™‚

    • Aw girl, don’t get discouraged by those jerks! Seriously not worth anyone’s time. Usually they’re either A.) Feel threatened or jealous because they’re not “special snowflakes” and don’t want to share reenacting with anyone which is so dumb because more the merrier! and B.) They’re loaded and roll around in so much money that they don’t value any human’s worth therefor stick their nose up at everyone.

      I had a very similar experience to yours and felt very discouraged, but as faith had it a few months later I met the most amazing girls that are now my true reenacting BFFs. I discovered that there were people out there who encouraged other reenactors and felt dedicated to help educate and just overall nerd out and have fun with the hobby. Now, when I see new comers I am fueled by the emotions I felt when I first started and channel that into making them feel warm and welcome and helping them with anything that I can do. You really should give it another shot, don’t give up for I promise for every person that sticks up their nose at everyone, there are 5 more people who are more than happy to be your friend and welcome you.

  • Woohoo!! I love the Strausberg Railroad Museum!! You have just been visiting all my old stomping grounds! Haha! Although, I have to admit, I’ve never been to the museum for this event (sad face). My experience with that place has more to do with taking my nieces and nephews there for their Thomas the Tank Engine (and then trying to console them when they burst into tears because real trains are loud and kinda scary…) But anyway! Great reenactment outfit! And it looks like a really fun weekend!

    • Man if I saw a life sized Thomas I’d probably be afraid too haha! But when I heard the whistle on the steam train I definitely giggled and smiled like a child. That’s not a sound you hear everyday and it’s pretty magical πŸ™‚ Come back to the east coast!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  • I’ve always wanted to ride on a train. So cute that you two are going to start reenacting together!

  • I love the creativity involved in reenacting. All the small details that make all the difference in an impression. I’ve never been to a WWII reenactment, but I’ve been to a train museum and I am just in awe of the detail and beauty of old locomotives. Thanks for sharing this!

  • Oh wow it looks and sounds like so much fun! I haven’t heard of any re-enactmens here in Australia, but I would love to go to one! I’m fascinated by history and this would really tickle my fancy. You look fantastic! And what a great thing that you and Wil can now do together too!

    You’re inspiring lady!

  • We went to Colorado a few years back and very much enjoyed riding a Steam Engine. :o)

    I think we’re more likely to find a Wild West reenactment here in Texas. A WWII one is top of my things to see/do!

  • Kim Campbell

    That sounds like so much fun. That is my favorite era too. Even more so now that I visited Pearl Harbor.

  • Oh that journalist impression sounds really awesome, and sounds so interesting! I’m glad you acknowledge how important civilian impressions are and that they take a lot of work. Currently this misogynistic ass who is Vice President in the HRS in the Midwest had the audacity to proclaim that civilians aren’t authentic and are a nuisance to reenacting. Boy, did I had to have the girls hold me back! Homefront life was so crucial to the war effort! Hopefully in a few years we will be able to see equally civilian/homefront impressions just as much as military impressions! Thank you for sharing, I hope one day I’ll be able to travel out East with the mister and attend a few events, they look like a lot of fun and there is no such thing as too many WWII reenactments.

    • Uhg Julia that’s awful!!! How can they seriously think that?! Sure there are some people who are “just civilians” and don’t understand that there was no such thing as just a civilian during WWII. But the majority of civilian reenactors know that EVERYONE had a job to do whether they wore a uniform or an arm band, or not. Yeah that would really make me mad too! p.s. I don’t know if you saw this article on facebook yet but it immediately made me think of you: http://historicallyspeaking.driftingfocus.com/2012/01/15/things-i-wish-reenactors-would-stopstart-doing/

  • What a terrifically special, awesome event (it’s so cool that you got to take your first train ride there!). As someone who credits no small part of her lifelong passion for the 1940s on seeing the movie A League of Their Own numerous times as a child (I was hooked from the first viewing – which happened at a drive in theater to boot!), I especially love that you share the display of All American Girls Professional Baseball League uniforms with us.

    β™₯ Jessica

  • I’ve ridden on that train! It was so neat! This makes me want to go back and revisit.

    Reenactments have always appealed to me. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to get involved in them with my husband, too. πŸ™‚

    • That’s awesome! Well if you ever happen to spot me at an event, please come say hi and we can chat all about reenacting πŸ™‚