This past weekend Alyssa and I attended our first EAIA annual meeting which was held in Hyannis on Cape Cod. For those not familiar with the EAIA, it is the Early American Industries Association which is an organization that celebrates the trades, crafts, and tools that were a part of American history and have made an impact in all our lives. We were members for a few years, but this was the first event we attended…and now we can’t wait for next year’s events! Below and in some upcoming posts I’ll try to recap some highlights from this years events which kept us busy.
You can learn more about the EAIA here
We started out our day with the introductory/orientation film and then an interesting talk by Peter Follansbee who is an expert on 17th century woodworking and quite the interesting character. He talked about his own background, interesting changes at the plantation over the years and research into traditional woodworking of that era.
After that program we were free to explore the plantation and/or take part in some other behind the scenes tours.
My wife and I had been to Plimoth many times over the years, and some of my classmates from NBSS worked at the museum so I did not have high hopes for this part of the event, but I was happy to see some programs and behind the scenes events where I learned some interesting new information. We also got to have lunch ‘Like a Pilgrim’ eating some food prepared as it would have been back in the 17th century — so some traditional turkey, vegetables, desert, condiments, utensils (or lack thereof — I missed my spork), and table manners.
In the Plimoth Maritime Workshop we took part in a lecture on 17th century Shallop boats, how they were used in the colony and how the plantation recreated some of these vessels, issues that came up during construction and how they fared on the open sea.
I love to see this sort of behind the scenes workshop — to see how they setup, how they work, what tools they use etc.
The pungent smell of pine tar on the rigging from the Mayflower II which was in drydock was quite strong, but added to the ambiance — though folks with asthma did not agree with me on that.
We had great weather all weekend. We also took part in a private tour event where one of the curators explained how the plantation uses experimental archaeology and character interpretation to explore the mindset and problems of the time period and also to try and answer some of the questions we have about the times given the incomplete records that survive. Who would have thought that thread + textiles specifically spun to recreate a 17th century coat would help improve sutures used in open heart surgery?
The livestock on the plantation were quite used to humans and friendly; no animatronic squirrels like at Williamsburg (*wink* to my friends at CW with that old joke)
There were also numerous demonstrations from folks working in the historic trades — blacksmithing, woodworking, pottery, textiles, cooking etc.
If you’d like to learn more about Plimoth Plantation or plan a visit of your own, check out their website here.
After dinner and an ice cream social for first time attendees we took part in the annual ‘Whatsit’ session. Folks try and stump the other tool enthusiasts with their recent finds — or figure out what that oddball tool your late relative left you in his will was actually used for. Not surprisingly there is not as much demand for a brass button polisher or ox training yolk as you might think.
It was a beautiful day filled with back to back events. Stay tuned for a bit more on woodworking at the Plimoth Plantation and Day 2 and 3…