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Williamsburg, VA, evening of day one…

December 4, 2008

I was chomping at the bit to actually get there. On site. Where the action was. Husband must endure a great deal, apparently.

After we checked into the hotel and picked up our tickets, it was off to the Visitor’s Center to have our tickets validated. And as far as I was concerned, begin the Great Adventure.

By booking our tickets through WHMA (Williamsburg Hotel and Motel Association) a discount is applied both to the hotel price and to the ticket price. We chose a Historic Triangle Package ticket. This gave us unlimited entry into 5 attractions for 7 days. The places were Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Battlefield and Yorktown Victory Center.

Shuttle bus transportation around Colonial Williamsburg is provided through the Visitors’ Center (VC). It is a set of two bus lines (red and blue). The red line picks you up at the VC and drops you off at the Palace Stop where you can either walk a scenic trail into the Historic District or take the blue line bus to various stops within the district. The red line runs until 5:00 p.m. at which point the blue line continues to run until 10:00 p.m.

You can also choose to walk directly from the VC into the Historic District. You cross a bridge in your walk that has plaques on it that say “From this point in time, women were not allowed to vote,” or “From this point in time, everyone you know either owns or is owned by someone.” The side of the bridge that comes back into the VC is in the reverse. It’s a true picture of “walking back into time.”

Since it was about 3:30 and most of the trade shops closed at 5:00, we elected to take the bus directly in. The trade shops that are open display the colonial flag of the period to let visitors know they are open. Our first stop was the cooper shop.

A cooper makes barrels and buckets, of all sorts and sizes. The cooper in 18th c. Williamsburg only made barrels for the town’s residents to use in household tasks or for outlying farm needs. However, a cooper near a port town would have specialized in the business of making barrels for shipping needs, especially tobacco which was Virginia’s main export at the time.

The cooper also spoke on the practice of apprenticeship. I kept looking at my boys and thinking about how in that time frame, my two oldest would be near consideration for apprenticeship. Choosing your trade had as much to do with your interest as your health and skill level for particular trades. A slight boy would not be considered for the blacksmith trade any more than a particularly strong boy would be considered as a tailor.

Orphans without funds were placed as apprentices as young as 6-8 years old. It was the social care system of the day to place them in a home where at least their care was provided and a trade was learned for future support. Apprenticeships were of varying numbers of years, based again on the trade’s skill level.

After this presentation, I told the boys to think about what type of apprenticeship they would like to have after we had gone through the week’s trade shops. I’ll blog about some of their answers later.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. December 5, 2008 12:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing the details of your Williamsburg trip, Elle. It’s still a pipe dream for us, but your account is making me really want to go.

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