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The spectators you meet at events...


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stonewaller

Although I agree with what some of you are saying about kids and video games. A lot I disagree with. I don't know if the younger generation here in the uk are different to that of the US, or if I just haven't run into the same characters, but at more events than I can count, I have had young kids absolutely enthralled to see the items depicted in the games and with a huge amount of knowledge about them. obviously as with anything you get the know it all's, but never arrogance. I find it inspiring that there are children from a very young age have such a desire to thrive on learning about these things, for whatever the reason. They are the future educators to be passed the baton. I for one will fully admit that if it weren't for saving private Ryan/bob when I was a teenager, the medal of honours and call of duties, I would probably never have been the way I am now, honouring and interacting with the men of the 29th division, and personally attending and organising countless ceremonies in Normandy and the uk for those who lived and died in the war.

Just my 2pence

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Well you will all be happy then because I worked on the NEW Call of Duty doing the uniforms !!!

Things will look real good this time ..and no more WW2 game .

Just lots of Special Forces and Vietnam .

Not to mention ice and underwater .

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Well you will all be happy then because I worked on the NEW Call of Duty doing the uniforms !!!

Things will look real good this time ..and no more WW2 game .

Just lots of Special Forces and Vietnam .

Not to mention ice and underwater .

 

Maybe I should start playing again, sounds like a collectors dream game!

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Its up there !

check out the SOG guy on the cover ............

But back to all the even more weird people at events that make the people who reenact look like choir boys .

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I don't know if they ever caught on that under old Army organization of the 19th century, various geographical areas were called "departments".
In all fairness, I can understand where they were coming from. The whole “Department” thing – while historically accurate – is confusing as it has no modern connotation at all.

Speaking of signs and the context, I was at a large public event last year was when I set up my field table with a basic ‘field press center’ display where I was trying to type out a real story about the event for a real magazine (and I’ll NEVER try that again, nobody would leave me alone to type). I had a simple wood sign with the word, “Press” on it. I had full insignia on for a war correspondent and had a typewriter and writing stuff around me. You cannot imagine how many people came up and said, “What does this sign mean?” and others pushed it thinking it was an instruction to press it, and many of them were ticked because nothing happened when they pressed the sign! I used the same sign in my recent "ETO Press Area" tent display at the entrance of the tent or hanging in the back. It’s context was fully understood then.

 

Been thinking, maybe a third thread is needed, “The insane things re-enactors do or say to the public at events”?

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In all fairness, I can understand where they were coming from. The whole “Department” thing – while historically accurate – is confusing as it has no modern connotation at all.

Speaking of signs and the context, I was at a large public event last year was when I set up my field table with a basic ‘field press center’ display where I was trying to type out a real story about the event for a real magazine (and I’ll NEVER try that again, nobody would leave me alone to type). I had a simple wood sign with the word, “Press” on it. I had full insignia on for a war correspondent and had a typewriter and writing stuff around me. You cannot imagine how many people came up and said, “What does this sign mean?” and others pushed it thinking it was an instruction to press it, and many of them were ticked because nothing happened when they pressed the sign! I used the same sign in my recent "ETO Press Area" tent display at the entrance of the tent or hanging in the back. It’s context was fully understood then.

 

Been thinking, maybe a third thread is needed, “The insane things re-enactors do or say to the public at events”?

 

 

You have to remember that the "press" now is called the "media" so many have no clue what the "press" is. :w00t:

 

Scott

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Great thread! I was a War Between the States reenactor for a little over 10 years. I can echo many of the comments. We had a few standard replies:

 

Spectator: Is that a real gun?

Private: No Ma'am, it's an illusion.

 

Spectator: How much do you get paid to do this?

Private: $11 a month.

 

Spectator: Are you hot? (always asked after a summer battle with a river of sweat rolling down your face)

Private: No Ma'am; wool breathes.

 

Had a guy at a local event wearing a denim vest over a plaid shirt, suede kepi, cowboy boots, blue jeans and carrying an old shotgun fall in on the end of the front rank in the middle of a battle. He had just stepped out of the crowd and moved into line. That'll stop a reenactment in its tracks! He was escorted away so fast I can't even remember if his kepi was blue or gray.

 

For years I organized our unit's school program. We would do a school presentation about once a month. During one presentation I was accompanied by a new member of our unit. I always liked to take the kids outside in good weather and form some of them in rank and file, march them around and simulate firing by company, rank and file. After this was done at this particular program we had some time so the kids just gathered around us and asked questions. I'm answering a question and here comes a 10 year old kid through my line of vision carrying an 1853 Enfield 3 band musket! My "helper" had let him carry it off and was currently giving out paper rounds loaded with 60 grains of black powder to the kids from his cartridge box! I about soiled my uniform. I was able to gather them all up before Little Johnny got powder burned...

 

Thanks to all of you who have served, and continue to serve, our country. We all owe you a debt we can never repay...

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Garandomatic

I figure I'm lucky to still have my WWI 37th DIv. Purple Heart. We do an event every year at the school I teach at. While I don't reenact, I collect, and usually have quite a few of my trustworthy students in uniforms (2o including me last year), we usually cover WWI-Vietnam. Had this stuff in my classroom, kid must have picked that poor thing up a million times. Got a case for it now...

 

You forgot the "silent bystander"; sometimes a young kid, sometimes an older man.

He doesn't ask any questions, he just eyeballs you and what you have on display ...... for quite a loooooooooong time.

It makes you wonder if either his batteries are dead or he's waiting for a moment you look away to grab something.

 

Erwin

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HoovieDude

Have to chuckle reading through these stories. The common theme I hear with the " Your'e wrong, and I know more than you do" types reminds me without a doubt of Recruiting!!! Wasn't a day in 3 miserable years of it, that I wasn't told by someone,usually multiple someones, they knew more than me about the Army, it's daily life, history, and current options than myself, and I was wrong :lol: :lol:

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Garandomatic

The "Vet that tells you you are wrong" crossed my path once. I am a sculptor among other things, and participated in the design of a lifesized WWII soldier for a WWII memorial. The director of the memorial was a Korean War vet and told me that everything was wrong and that "they didn't wear anything like that when he was in." Statue is a few kinds of incorrect because of it. If I was THE sculptor in charge, mighta been different. All I sculpted was the equipment.

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In all fairness, I can understand where they were coming from. The whole “Department” thing – while historically accurate – is confusing as it has no modern connotation at all.

Speaking of signs and the context, I was at a large public event last year was when I set up my field table with a basic ‘field press center’ display where I was trying to type out a real story about the event for a real magazine (and I’ll NEVER try that again, nobody would leave me alone to type). I had a simple wood sign with the word, “Press” on it. I had full insignia on for a war correspondent and had a typewriter and writing stuff around me. You cannot imagine how many people came up and said, “What does this sign mean?” and others pushed it thinking it was an instruction to press it, and many of them were ticked because nothing happened when they pressed the sign! I used the same sign in my recent "ETO Press Area" tent display at the entrance of the tent or hanging in the back. It’s context was fully understood then.

 

Been thinking, maybe a third thread is needed, “The insane things re-enactors do or say to the public at events”?

 

"I had a simple wood sign with the word, “Press” on it. I had full insignia on for a war correspondent and had a typewriter and writing stuff around me. You cannot imagine how many people came up and said, “What does this sign mean?” and others pushed it thinking it was an instruction to press it, and many of them were ticked because nothing happened when they pressed the sign!"

 

Maybe they thought you were a display mannequin and it was your "push to talk button" :rolleyes:

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"I had a simple wood sign with the word, “Press” on it. I had full insignia on for a war correspondent and had a typewriter and writing stuff around me. You cannot imagine how many people came up and said, “What does this sign mean?” and others pushed it thinking it was an instruction to press it, and many of them were ticked because nothing happened when they pressed the sign!"

 

Maybe they thought you were a display mannequin and it was your "push to talk button" :rolleyes:

 

Met a British Veteran at Omaha Beach back in 2006, he walked straight up to our jeep, put his finger on the "Press" sign and said with a wide grin on his face "What's supposed to happen now?"

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giconceptsjw

All of these stories of the people at public events are so true. I set up big displays at public events 3 times a year for 20 years so I’ve seen it all. I never stopped being completely blown away by some of the things people do & say.

 

BTW, film sets can be nearly as bad as public events. Most of the time cast & crew know not to mess with props or weapons but sometimes you get the occasional freak. They also make random comments that border on the galacticly stupid. I once worked on a show about a US submarine that rescued American & Filipino civilians from capture by the Japanese. Unfortunately, they needed about 20 kids under the age of 10 for one of the scenes so the kids were allowed to run amuck on the set until they were needed. I brought the weapons which included 2 Thompsons, several ’03 Springfields and a few Type 99 Arisaka rifles. I had an assistant with me but both of us were called away from our prop/weapons table for a complicated shot. In the 10 minutes we were away from the table, the kid’s parents had allowed the kids to use all of the weapons as toys. The kids had picked up little rocks and pieces of gravel to stuff down the muzzle of the guns. They said they couldn’t find any bullets so they thought if they shoved rocks down the barrel and pulled the trigger, the guns would shoot the rocks out. Also, they ran out of small rocks so they stuck the muzzles of the rifles in the dirt and mud and again thought if they pulled the trigger, the dirt would shoot out. The kid’s parents did nothing to discourage any of it and saw nothing wrong with what they were doing. They also became outraged and defensive when we asked why they allowed their kids to do this. Unbelievable.

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"Galactically stupid", indeed.

 

This is why I'm no longer active in reenacting, BTW. At least for the most part.

 

Because, quite frankly, I likely would have hit someone. Hard.

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  • 7 months later...
Our Black Drummer boy (we were a Confederate outfit) was asked why he was hanging out with 'racist klansmen' so many times he took to telling people he was an 'undercover brother'. (It was hilarious I assure you).

 

 

Laughed so hard I nearly gave myself a hernia when I read that! Quality!

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What about the little girl holding her daddy's hand watching you?

 

I saw this happening at an event and eventhough I felt so sorry for the little girl, I had to laugh.

She was eyeballing a guy all dressed up in camo and with a blackened face.

He - being the friendly type I guess - smiled back at her ...... it was like the Fire Department left for an emergency!

The poor thing got spooked by the white teeth in that black(ened) face apparently.

What a sound ... an air raid warning didn't make so much noise!

 

Erwin

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Was peeling tatties (that's potatoes) at an event, and this woman looks at me for a minute or two, then says "they didn't do that back then, did they?"...

 

"They didn't eat cheese back then"....

 

"where did they get the petrol from?...

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Theblackbox

This thread made my day. I am not a reenactor myself, I have several friends who are however. These stories allways crack me up and I fully understand the anger and frustration. I did several displays with WWII gear and I have to say 'Galacticly stupid' is the best to description I have come across in a long time.

 

This one time I was displaying two mannequins at a local show, an American and German one. After a while an strong-bodied young Phillipino looking guy comes walking by, black hair in Steven Seagal style, dressed in a leather jacket. He sees my display and walks straight up to the German mannequin, completely ignoring the "Please ask, then touch' sign and tries to pull out the K98k bayonet out of it's scabbard pretty violently. I allready got to him to ask him to stop what he was doing. But before I could say a word, the whole mannequin topples over. I could barely catch the helmet in time and with the other hand I stopped the mannequin from hitting the ground. But at least mister Seagal had achieved his goal of pulling out the bayonet, observing it with magpie eyes and asking me why I had not sharpened the blade yet, it would be more effective in stabbing people that way. I barely kept my nerve and told him that ruining an original item for the purpose of stabbing people is not what people normally think of. I snatched the bayonet from his hands and put it back in the scabbard. Later that day he was skulking by across the road, constantly eyeballing me and the bayonet while talking to fellow "gangbangers" on scooters. They did this several times.

 

Applying for 'Galacticly stupid' was an American tourist a friend of mine ran into. He reenacts Celtic and Roman. Once at an event he and a few other were cooking above an everyday wood and branch fire. She came walking up to him and asked if the fire was real? (I see a few of you can relate to this) Baffled by this question he replied 'Yes of course' and to everyone's amazement she reacted by sticking her hand into the flames, burning herself! What followed was a tirade in which she swore that she was going to sue him. After this she left them standing, mouths wide open not knowing what just happened.

 

Another common returning feature is the middle-aged Dutch ex-conscript who spend a month or so peeling potatoes and scrubbing the latrines. He refers to every weapon being either an Enfield, an FAL or Uzi and considers himself an expert in weapons and combat situations.

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TheGrayGhost

Great list, made my day!!!

 

I always liked the study then interrogate individuals. These are the ones who would read all your signs and then ask for specifics off of the signs just to make sure you know what you are talking about.

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  • 2 months later...
willysmb44
Great list, made my day!!!

I always liked the study then interrogate individuals. These are the ones who would read all your signs and then ask for specifics off of the signs just to make sure you know what you are talking about.

That kind of behavior I can understand. I’ve seen plenty of re-enactors who don’t have a clue about what they have and I’m sure the public picks up on that.

I’m doing Armed Forces Day with my Desert Storm group for the very first time, I’m sure I’ll come back to the forum on Sunday with lots of stories. I’m already dreading the questions we’ll be getting about doing such a “modern” (relative to the other time periods that will be represented there, anyway) impression, and I’m sure plenty of people will be playing claw machine with our gear as the active Army folks will let them pick everything up and the public will likely not realize our stuff is privately owned. I brought this up with one of the guys on Sunday when I was helping him get the top on his M-54 truck for the event. He said, “You might be pleasantly surprised” at the reaction we’ll get. I said, “yeah, we’ll see about that, I guess…”

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Here's a role-reversal for ya:

 

We had set up an indoor WW2 display as part of a military appreciation tent at a pro golf tournament. A National Guard unit had contributed a Humvee for outdoor "excitement" with a couple of male sergeants and two female privates. The male sergeants were doubling as the hole flag holder, since the flag was done as the American flag. In golf, the caddy turns the hole flag upside down to prevent distracting the golfer during his play. Well, of course you can't allow the American flag to touch the ground, so the process would be that the caddy would turn the flag over to one of the NG sarge's for care during play. This left the two female privates alone to answer questions from the public about the Humvee.

 

So of course we took advantage of the situation.

 

They had been given an info spec sheet that listed the usual stuff - engine displacement, top speed, fuel tank capacity, mileage, etc. We, having dealt with the public before, started peppering them with mundane questions that weren't on the sheet, but could be answered by studying the vehicle and exercising a little common sense. 1. "How many lugnuts does it have?" 2. "Why are there so many?" 3. "Does it have any guns?" 4. "How far will it go on a tank of gas?"

 

The sergeants got a laugh out of watching the two girls squirm a little.

 

Their answers:

 

1. "A lot." (We counted 33; 10 on the inner circle, 23 on the outer)

2. "So the wheel doesn't fall off." (Our suggested answer: "To evenly displace the weight over a greater area... so the wheel doesn't fall off.")

3. "No." (Our suggested answer: "Only what you carry in your hand or in your holster.")

4. "Um, let me check on that." (We had to point out that the mileage and fuel capacity were on the sheet. All they had to do was the math.)

 

I will give the girls props though. After they got a little self-confidence from our field test, they were much better at inviting people to come see their truck and explaining it.

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  • 1 month later...
willysmb44

I did a display on the 4th of July and had some odd experiences I hadn’t had before. I had this setup of Desert Storm stuff, more layouts were on each side, I had a 5-ton truck right behind me and I was wearing a full combat load with vest, helmet and all the stuff that goes with it.

the4th007.jpg

I had a woman come up who clearly wasn’t firing on all cylinders. She was listening to me talk to another re-enactor about how the M-249 fires really fast and I mentioned it’s much easier to control than a Tommy gun due to the weight. So, she immediately points down to my M-16 and M-249 and asks how much a Tommy gun weighs. Thinking she didn’t know the difference, I said, “Well, neither of those are Tommy guns, but I know that one weighs –“

She yelled out, “I KNOW THESE AREN’T TOMMY GUNS, but how much does one weigh?” :blink: I just sat there for a moment of pure silence and thought of some really clever and downright rude things to say but thought better of them. I pointed to my pals with their WW2 stuff and said, “You should go over there and ask some of the guys there. I’m sure one of them brought one.” She then spun and stomped off. The other spectators standing around at the time all made comments about what they would have said in my place and that I was far too kind to her.

I had several kids camp out in the display area and would come between me and the display I was standing behind, as if that was their area as well. We blocked off the sides to keep it from happening but these kids just didn’t get that they were supposed to stay on the other side. I didn’t bother telling them to get back there. Most meant well and were nice. You should expect the normal reactions to thinking all your weapons are loaded and all explosives are live (but even as a kid, I would have known better than that). One, however, started to get on my nerves. He was old enough to know better, but he couldn’t stop yammering about what exactly he’d do in the military. Of course, he’d be front lines, bayonets fixed and would kill all the enemy, I’m sure like the video games hypnotize kids into thinking war is really like. He was so stoked I thought he’d mess himself, he was so wired. I knelt down (not easy to do with a full combat load on) and said, “Well, no, actually you’d go where the military says to go, and do what they say to do. You don’t tell the Army where you’re going, they tell you. It’s like how parents handle kids, the kids don’t call the shots, the grown-ups do. War is the same way”. He didn’t get it, of course. His parents soon showed up and he left but a Vietnam vet walked right up and said, “Son, you had to have served. Only someone who’d been in uniform for real would have explained it like that,” and he shook my hand. It was a good end to a trying experience.

I lost count past two dozen, but a constant stream of kids would come by, look at my M249 and my AR. Numerous times, they would point to each and with a look of anticipation would ask, "Can I have that?" Really, these kids really believe an adult is going to give them something like that? It appeared so. I couldn’t help but think of the kid in the 3rd Rambo movie, who kept asking Rambo is he could have everything Rambo had. It happened so many times, I started asking them if they thought I was really going to give them something like that. Each time I asked that, they'd just shrug their shoulders and wouldn't say anything afterward. It was as if someone briefed a large group of kids to say exactly the same thing and to react the exact same way when asked about their question. happened in the parade afterward as well, several kids would yell out at me, “Hey, can I have that machine gun?” I would have been backhanded into the middle of next week if I'd done that as a kid.

We all had a few people who didn’t get that we weren’t active duty Army, but that happens every year at that show and parade, even when we do WW2. I’m used to that, and those people do mean well. Still, getting the hug from the smelly 300-pound woman who was thanking me “for my service” (she had no way to know I’d actually served) creeped me out for more than a while.

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My contribution to "Is that real?"

 

Some years back we were doing infantry at an event in PA. After the battle, the public was allowed to approach the battlefield and speak with the re-enactors. Momma Smurf, Poppa Smurf and the Smurfetts walked up to our foxhole and asked the ultimate question, "Is that foxhole real?"

 

Dan, our unit leader, flowed right into an explanation... "Yes, this is a real foxhole. In fact, this foxhole was originally dug on Utah Beach on D-Day, 1944. After the battle moved inland, a French farmer dug up the ground around the foxhole and moved it to a barn on his property. There it sat for many years until it was purchased by a wealthy American collector who moved the foxhole to the US. Now, every few years he brings the foxhole out to one of these events. We dig out an area and he places the French foxhole in it. That is what you are seeing here."

 

To this Poppa Smurf replied, "See children, this is history!!"

 

Tom :lol:

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  • 6 months later...

This one has been covered by now I'm sure, but what about the ones that just immediately dismiss something as repro or fake after only seeing it from 5-10 feet away for less than a minute or two?

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That kind of behavior I can understand. I’ve seen plenty of re-enactors who don’t have a clue about what they have and I’m sure the public picks up on that.

 

You've got a point there, really I know a lot of us can't understand why some ask one or two particular questions about an item then just stare or wander off and I think it's partly because they aren't sure you know what you're talking about.

 

When the level of knowledge at reenactments is uneven, you can't blame people for being skeptical about your impression.

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