08 February 2010

Romantic Rogering

Not so recent poster - Photos from Colonial Williamsburg

Recent Snowfall

Williamsburg Hipster

The Golf Foxtrot and I are big fans of the 18th C and all things from it sans consumption and open sewers. I get misty when I sit down to a colonial table with pewter chargers, tankards of ale and rich Welsh Rarebit by candle light. It ain't the food at Grammercy Tavern but it's fine comfort food and it's a fun way to connect with the past.

I've seen a number of print and television ads for Colonial Williamsburg lately and I was reminded of a recent interview. I've been interviewed a lot recently and they're always the same. The journalist has the story written before we talk and they come to me for quotes to support their story. And they all bring up the hipsters in Williamsburg.

"Don't you just hate the whole hipster thing in Williamsburg?" they would ask me. And I kept wondering what the hell they were talking about. All I ever saw in Williamsburg were the reenactors. And bad ones at that. I thought there could be some attraction to the furniture making and pottery but never could I recall seeing a hipster in Williamsburg, VA.

I finally figured it out. But I love Williamsburg (Virginia not Brooklyn) and a few years ago the Golf Foxtrot and I started staying in their colonial houses. Not a hotel. But a private home on site complete with working fireplaces and a built in romantic factor thanks to four poster beds and naughty 18th C literature we brought from home with lots of rogering.

At night, open fires on the street are tended by reenactors who answer questions in and out of character. The wood pops and embers crack in the night sky and your clothes pick up the smell of smoke - - Only to be reminded of the smell later in the night when you pull your sweater off over your head. You have to call for someone to build your own fire but they arrive quickly and are polite and sense you want 'em out fast once the birch takes and ignites the oak above it. "Another tankard of ale m' lord?" the Golf Foxtrot asks.

It's so romantic you don't need Valentine's Day. It could be any day or night and isn't that the best way?

It will be readily evident to all that I never have never - - nor will I ever - - see a dime from the folks at Colonial Williamsburg. Dinner at the hotel is not what it used to be. Chownings went from a charming restaurant to a snack bar. The visitors are more Disney than delft.

Even the pottery barn, a favorite growing up, has been reduced to a tourist trap with South West Indian art and black light paintings. Oh, it breaks the heart and easily depresses. But grab a bottle of cheap port on the way back to your lodgings, have your fire built, hear your floor boards creak as you make your way to the bedroom upstairs with a candle and all the bad goes away very quickly as you reenact a little history of your own.


susan said...

I worked at Colonial williamsburg for 12 years [in Colonial costume] and I still have friends who work there as costumed interpreters. I have friends that earn time and a half tending the cressets after working a full 8 hour day. There are some very cool, smart, funny people working at CW. Isn't "cool, funny and smart" a good short-cut to "hipster?"

Yes, it used to be better. The Rockellers turned off the spigot and told CW that the admission & endowments had to fully fund operations.

In my time, I rogered in the boxwoods, and behind the smokehouse. Have at it, man!

Kent said...

I live 20 minutes from Williamsburg. You've already discovered a well-kept secret...the colonial houses. Christiana Campbell's is the best of the taverns, but the real food is at the Fat Canary and Blue Talon in Merchant's Square. I hoped you stopped in at R. Bryant's, the Peninsula's last remaining "trad" store for men. They also have a smaller store, Classic Cravats, in the Henry Street Shoppes. Williamsburg has made more than a few concessions in the name or self-preservation, but it's a long way from being Disneyworld. ;-)

tintin said...

susan- I worked as a historical interpreter one summer at San Agustin Antiguo.

The story was the Rockefellers came to St Augustine in the 30's and offered the town all the money they wanted to restore and operate a colonial village downtown. St Augustine told them to get lost. And so they went WBurg.

That's the story anyway. If you know anything about St Augustine, you'll know it has a ring of truth to it.

Kent- I'm a fan of R. Bryants. Have a tie and did have a pr of 34" cords from there. Still have the tie though.

I agree Wburg is light years from Dworld but the visitors have turned into people who show up in a dirty tee shirt and a $20 bill and they don't change either.

Kent said...

I forgot to mention, the whole idea of a "Williamsburg (VA) hipster" strikes me as a contradiction in terms. Are you sure you're not thinking of NYC?

tintin said...

kent- I swear this is how stupid I am.

When I was being interviewed and a reporter mentioned the hipsters in Williamsburg...I thought he was talking about Williamsburg, VA. I do not want to admit how long it took me to figure out the Williamsburg they were talking about was in Brooklyn.

When I joined the Army at 19, I heard NCOs talking about all the politics going on. I wondered why so many NCOs were involved in the presidential campaign. I shit you not...I was and still am very naive.

Brummagem Joe said...

tintin: give old WB a break....sure it's a tiny bit Disney but this is America for godsake and when you're handling hundreds of thousands of visitors each year the process has to be a bit mechanical.....I've stayed at the Inn many times on business and at more modest establishments years ago when I took the family and the place is a jewel......I love the all gardens, the beautiful simplicity of the homes and wonderful mix of picket and neo classical fences....at least half the experience of visiting WB as it is with say Sienna is visual and nothing to do with trinket stores

RHW said...

Took my family to CW over spring break a couple of years ago and stayed in a suite at the Williamsburg Inn. We LOVED it. Walking distance to the village and down to W&M, Fat Canary, Christiana's, ghost tour, it was all so much fun.

I too brought back that Colonial bug and hand built a vegetable garden in my back yard complete with paths of crushed oyster shells, and I picket fence.

I'd love to take my lovely wife back there for a romantic weekend in a private residence. She's more a fan of the beach though.

My youngest's 5th grade with take a 4 day class trip next year to CW and I'll go along with her just as I did two years ago with my oldest.

CW hipsters...dang I thought finally there's be something I could really belong to.


Chico said...

I'm at the WB Marriott at a conference reading this with my best collar roll. I had the french onion soup at the Blue Talon yesterday for lunch. Timely post for me.

I live in Newport News just down the road and I find ANY excuse I can to come to the 'burg and Duke of Gloucester Street.

will279 said...

Very sorry to read about the current state of affairs in CW. I used to visit my mother's family in Richmond as a child in the 50's and 60's and loved to go there. Would always buy myself a tri-cornered hat and clay pipe and feel very authentic. Went back in the 70's while stationed in Yorktown - don't ask - and bought a gimel ring for the gf in NYC. It was silver with two litte hands that opened and closed together. (The last I saw of it was when she threw it at me towards the end of our relationship.) I saw the changes beginning when I took my kids there 15 years ago, but at least you could now buy a drink in a restaurant. Ah well, sic transit......

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Four years as an undergraduate... I've been back a few times. The last was a few years ago. Can't find my way around these days. Used to be the best time to get a drink on the patio at the Inn was during the Grand Illumination. But back then, most of the bartenders were friends or fraternity brothers. 'Nuff said.