Visitors wander into the dark thatched roof huts, stroll among
the Puritan’s sad raised gardens, and chat with carefully trained
re-enactors. Great thick volumes have been written about this living
museum, but nothing beats being there. Backed by enormous scholarly
research, every known detail of the early Puritans – from nails,
shingles and costumes, to seeds, animals and language – is on
display. There are no trash cans or Coke machines to distract the
eye. This is as good as reanimated history gets.
In Plimoth Plantation, the actors rigidly adhere to
17th century rules of dress and manner. They represent
authentic "pilgrims", those American founders cloaked in myth and
folklore. Kids, especially, are amazed to discover that these are
English men and women, newly transported, deeply religious, quirky
and earthy folk. William Bradford is there, ready to talk your ear
off about politics and religion. Miles Standish still drills his
crude little militia. Roosters and goats wander by.
In the reconstructed
Wampanoag family settlement nearby the interpreters do not role
play. They demonstrate Native skills in authentic garb, but speak
freely about their history with white settlers then, and now. We
watched a woman grill a cod on an open flame while another family
member burned the center of a tree to make a dugout canoe. Inside
the bark shelter with its open fire, we found the most comfortable
spot on the plantation.
We must go back. But first we need to read up. There are so many
questions to ask about the odd courageous people who founded this
portion of New England. Other settlers, with different goals and
backgrounds founded our New Hampshire coastline. But we know almost
nothing about their ways. Here in Plimoth, every Puritan is an
expert, and all you have to do is ask. --- JDR
Visit: Official Plimoth Plantation Web
All photos and text by J. Dennis Robinson
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