The weather on Friday was still tolerable. A little rain late in the day but not very cold. I ran around most of the day in short sleeves and I know people thought I was nuts J. But for the short amount of time I was actually outside, I was fine. This would change over the weekend.
First order of business on Friday was to pack everything up, put on as much of my 1860s stuff that I could comfortably drive in and head for Gettysburg. I had an appointment at the Victorian Photo Studio for a wet plate sitting. If you ever want a period photo done and are in Gettysburg, visit here; they are so nice and do such wonderful work. I chose a wet plate and a digital. I came home with the tintype and a CD with a scan of the wet plate, a color and sepia version of the digital image and copyright release.
The plate would be about an hour before I could pick it up, so I went over to Carolann Schmitt’s office to visit for a short time. Carolann is the proprietor of Genteel Arts and produces the Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Conference in March every year. As an aside, this conference is wonderful and I highly recommend attending if you have the chance. It worked out that she was getting ready to go to lunch with her husband, Don, and a friend, and she invited me to join them. We went to Café Saint-Amand, just up the block. I have come to really like this little café. I first discovered it when my friend Nancy and I went to Gettysburg for Carolann’s corset class. I wasn’t very familiar with Gettysburg then. Then when I started visiting more often and meeting up with Carolann and other friends for lunch this is the place we always go. I look at it as “our” place J.
After lunch I went to pick up my image. By this time they had a full house in the waiting area. Next stop Needle and Thread, of course. Needed to pick up some ribbon for my ball gown bodice closure and then headed to Maggie Koenig’s to visit as she would probably not be out for the weekend and I would not have a chance to see her. She had a house full. Since she was not going to a ball that night she was babysitting and Colleen Formby was there getting a fitting for her new dinner dress for the conference in March. So a full day of visiting completed I headed out to the Eisenhower Hotel to get ready for a ball.
When I first planned this trip, I had not planned to attend a ball. My friend in West Chester was to take a Tae Kwon Do belt test that evening and I had promised to attend. But she postponed the test leaving the evening free. And since I was going to be there late I decided to stay at the ball hotel that night as well. The Eisenhower Hotel is ok, a little run down and about five miles outside of the Gettysburg. They provided a special rate for those attending the ball and it saved me from driving in my ball gown. I decided to attend Joy Melcher’s Civil War Lady ball because other friends where attending and it was about half the price of the others that night.
I arrived at the Eisenhower with plenty of time to change and do the hair.
Since I didn’t have time to make a new ball gown, I had to settle on whatever I had that fit. So the Madame Paul-Sigisbert Moitessier dress returned to Pennsylvania
Lori Martin and Anne Hawley were also attending the ball and staying at the hotel. They came to my room to visit for a bit before dressing and then came back with their husbands, Bob and Vince, to help me lace up my bodice. Vince, being a veterinarian actually did the lacing. Then down to the lobby for pictures before attending the ball.
We received a nice gold and white button that said “150th”, which served as your ticket and dance cards (gentlemen’s included pencils).
Punch was provided during the ball. The dance masters were members of the Victorian Dance Ensemble. Three sets were planned; but we only got through the majority of the second and one dance of the third. I only danced, or walked, once, the Grand March. A woman that wanted to participate was also without a partner and asked me to walk with her; it was fun and always a great chance to see all the other dresses. I didn’t dance the rest of the night, but enjoyed listening to Beck’s Philadelphia Brass Band immensely.
The band was wonderful, the venue was great and there were some beautiful gowns. That said, I’m not sure I would choose this ball again or stay at the Eisenhower. The hotel, for me, was too far removed from town. I think I would prefer to stay closer to “the action.” The ball was ok…but I think there may be better and more authentically planned balls for that weekend. I found the inability to complete the dance card and spending more time explaining the dances than doing them disappointing, even when I wasn’t dancing. And again, the distance from town was not too my liking. I understand the Civilians of Gettysburg ball on Saturday at the Lutheran Theological Seminary Refectory is nicely done with experienced managers and dance masters. And the proceeds go to Land Conservancy of Adams County.
The after ball party was at the Lincoln Diner. It is a real 24/7 diner off the square in Gettysburg. A big hit with the college kids. We went in full ball attire and I thought it strange that people looked at us strange: you’re in Gettysburg and you’ve never seen anything like this? Then back to hotel to rest for a full day Saturday.
To be continued...