Now more than ever, we need a break -- an occasional respite from our everyday lives. Yes, a "daycation," a day spent away from the office or job site, and away from chores, just to relax and play. Once again this summer, we are taking one day a week to suggest a nearby escape. Enjoy!
Old Sturbridge Village began offering stagecoach rides for the first time this year, which seemed like a good hook for a daycation.
But it turns out that the stagecoach was at first operating only on weekends (starting Sunday, though, it goes daily). Perhaps I should have checked the website before making the trip. Other than a few new features -- a riverboat ride and clock gallery among them -- it wasn't much different from the Old Sturbridge Village I had been to in the fifth or sixth grade.
Which turned out not to be so bad. There's a lot about Sturbridge Village and its 40 buildings and 200 acres that I didn't remember. In fact, other than the bus ride, lunch and the chance to be out of school on a school day, the Sturbridge Village of my field trip didn't make much of an impression on me. With a rather lacking attention span, the particulars of early-19th-century life didn't hold much interest for me at the time. Now it does, and there's a lot to take in at Sturbridge (or "OSV," as its literature refers to itself). At the first stop, you learn that a typical rental house of the 1830s could fit up to 10 people and cost $24 a month to rent. After that, you stop in at the meeting house of the Quakers, the small but influential minority in town.
Take the time to look for things, and almost every stop has something of interest. The printer's shop has, of course, printing presses, but it also has a file of copies of old documents. Ads for ringworm cures, penmanship courses and a petition for slavery abolition give some indication about everyday life there.
The bank doesn't look like much at first, but near the window is a copy of "Bicknell's Counterfeit Detector," a periodical that alerted banks about phony bills. Considering the variety of currency (each bank issued its own notes), keeping up with all the fakery was a full-time job.
For the most razzle-dazzle, go to the blacksmith shop. Sparks flew about as blacksmith Rob Lyon hammered at a glowing hot trivet. All the while, he talked to the small crowd about his work on historical movies and the financial realities of being a preservationist blacksmith.
I was surprised to find that the folks working around the village aren't exactly re-enactors. They dress the part of 19th-century farmers, spinners, etc., and often do their jobs, but they don't speak in character. They speak hypothetically, as in: "If I were really a 19th-century farmer, I would do this "
Surprised, but not necessarily disappointed. It means you can ask questions in 21st-century language without getting responses like, "Pray tell, sir, what do you mean?" If it's strict re-enactment you want, Mystic Seaport does some of that, and they're hard-core about it at Plimouth Plantation in Plymouth, Mass.
The OSV staff members seem to know their stuff. Questions about the number of yards of yarn spun per day, the financial standing of the Congregational minister, and the process of making nails all received quick and authoritative-sounding answers.
Except for a flat-screen TV in one of the buildings that played informational videos when there was no staff member to answer questions, I didn't see many signs of modernization.
They serve food there; the fare is limited but not too costly as these places go. Its gift shop, like all museum gift shops, is a little pricey.
Make sure to carve out some time in your schedule if you go. It took me about three hours to get through the village, and I was moving at a good clip. And check the website ( www.osv.org) for special events.
Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $6 for children 3 to 17 and free for children under 3.
Contact William Weir at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a video and photos of a "daycation"at Old Sturbridge Village, visit www.courant.com/osv
For a full guide to past 'daycations' around the region, visit www.courant.com/daycationCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun