• Over 10,000 expected for Kalamazoo’s 40th year of Living History

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    This weekend the Kalamazoo Living History Show will celebrate its fortieth year.  As in recent years, the owner, Leslie Martin Conwell, is anticipating over 10,000 in attendance.  Over 270 artists, craftsmen, exhibitors, and vendors of ware will set up at the Kalamazoo County Expo Center on the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds 2900 Lake Street, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  The show is from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on  Saturday March 21 and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, 2015.  Admission is $7 for one day or $10 for both days and free for children 12 and under when with a parent.

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    Whether you are a Living History participant, antique collector, steampunk, or just like fun, historical collectibles, the Kalamazoo Living History Show, the largest, indoor living history event east of the Mississippi, is an event that is well worth the trip with hundreds of booths to shop for crafts, art, clothes, jewelry, books and other pre-1890 living history supplies.

    There will be hundreds of folks dressed for the period from Native Americans and frontiersmen and women to military men from the Civil War and earlier.

    This year the show’s them is “Rangers Lead the Way – The American Ranger Tradition” and the featured speaker will be Lieutenant Colonel Danny Davis, Ph.D. Retired.  Lieutenant Colonel Davis will speak on the rich history of the American Ranger from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War and beyond.  Tim and Terry Todish will be presenting on “wilderness Warriors of the French and Indian War.”

    Additionally the Bush Native American Drum and Dance and the SouthEastern WaterSpider Drum groups will be performing traditional Native American music and dance.  So you don’t need a modified DeLorean to drop back in time a century or two this weekend and check out the beautiful costumes, crafts, and cultural exhibits at the Kalamazoo Living History show!

    For more about John N. Collins, find him on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook.



  • Featured ImageThe gentlemanly sport of 1860s base ball

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    Base Ball without the gloves
    Base Ball without the gloves

    Back in 1860’s when the sport was young the name of the game baseball was two words, not one.  Though some did wear gloves, many base ball players thought it unmanly to do so.

    In 1860 the game was played by Beadle’s Rules which is used by many members of the Vintage Base Ball Association.  The fellow with the bat at the home plate was called the striker.  It was the pitcher’s responsibility as a gentleman, to pitch the ball as close to the center of the home base as possible so as to present a hittable ball for the striker.  The pitch was generally an underhand throw, much like pitching a horseshoe.

    Pitcher Michael Page following through
    Pitcher Michael Page following through

    While there were no penalties to the pitcher for a bad throw, there was no room for deception.  If a pitcher were to put a foot beyond the pitcher’s plate (15 yards  from the home base) or were to start a throw without completing it, a baulk would be called and all men running bases would be entitled to advance one base.

    Later rules, such as in the 1867 Haney’s Base Ball Book of Reference used by The Greenfield Village National Base Ball Club, allowed the referee to warn the pitcher that he must throw hittable balls if the pitches were not hittable.  If the pitcher continued to throw an additional three unhittable balls, the striker would advance to the first base.

    At the end of the game the teams line up and shake hands
    At the end of the game the teams line up and shake hands

    Similarly, in the 1860 rules, there was no penalty for strikers to pass up good pitches but to swing and miss a pitch was considered a strike and three strikes were an out, ending the batsman’s turn.  In addition to giving more power to keep the pitcher honest, Haney’s also allowed the umpire to warn the batter if they were not swinging at hittable balls.  On subsequent hittable pitches, he would call a strike if the striker didn’t swing.

    By Beadle’s Rules a striker with a successful swing was called out if an opposing player caught the ball on the fly or after only one bounce.  By the time Haney’s rules were printed, fair balls had to be caught before the first drop in order to be considered an out though foul balls caught on the first bounce were considered outs as those were harder to catch, being out of the normal playing field.

    The Douglas Dutchers Base Ball team
    The Douglas Dutchers Base Ball team

    For some anachronistic, summertime fun don your Victorian garb and check out an 1860s style base ball game at Greenfield Village, and other venues or join one of the many Vintage Base Ball Association clubs and take a swing at it yourself!

    For more about John N. Collins, find him on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook.



  • ‘Emotions’ by Zoe Fellerer

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    "Emotions" ©2015 By Zoe Fellerer
    “Emotions” ©2015 By Zoe Fellerer

    Zoe Fellerer is a young artist from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area and the daughter of the Mardi Gras photographer, Herb Fellerer.  Her piece “Emotions” is beautifully symbolic.  It is said that “the eye is the window to the soul” and her eye, stark in black and white in this work, sheds a rainbow of colored tears.

    Colors are often used to represent different emotions.  Green is related to envy and envy certainly can bring about tears.  Sadness is thought of as being a watery, teary-eyed blue.

    Yellow is often thought of as cowardly, but all experience fear.  Fear, when it cripples us from action, can bring us to our knees in tears.

    Reds and oranges represent a fiery rage.  Rage, when it burns within us, can bring us to tears.

    Purples are the color of royalty.  The kings and rulers of ancient times wore purple.  Those that rule over us are to do so in care and concern for those for which they care.  When it becomes ruling out of privilege, self-righteousness, or simply a love for power, those that rule bring oppression, grief, and sorrow to those over which they rule.  It is said that when Pilate, the ruler, had Jesus, the Messiah, brought before him:

    “1 Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4 Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. 5 Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! 6 When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him,” (From John 19 in the King James version Bible)

    In His final moments of life before His crucifixion and resurrection, He wore a crown of thorns.  The crown was a representation of royalty yet it was a crown of pain and sorrow and He wore a robe of purple so show His royalty as He was condemned to crucifixion by His own people whom He had healed, loved, and forgave.

    The rainbow is said to have a been a sign that God gave to Noah after the Great Flood as a covenant to the earth that He would never again destroy the earth by flood.  Even so the death and resurrection of the Messiah was the sacrifice and sign of God’s love of His creation.  It was a commitment that Man could receive forgiveness of sin through that sacrifice of the Son of God.  The resurrection of His Son gave hope to mankind that we may, one day, participate in that resurrection.

    In the church, Mardi Gras follows the celebration of the Birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and precedes the time of Lent when the celebration is set aside and the church prepares to honor the mourning of the Messiah’s death followed by the Easter celebration of His resurrection.

    Ms. Fellerer’s work of art is both a beautiful representation of the rainbow of emotions that bring sorrow and yet a reminder that in that rainbow of sorrow, God promises the Son will rise again and the light of His love will shine in our hearts as we welcome Him in.

    Many thanks to Zoe Fellerer for this beautiful work of art and may the many colors of our sorrows in this Mardi Gras season be turned to joy.

    For more about National Art Examiner, Pastor John N. Collins, find him on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook.  Be sure to let him know your thoughts on his articles!



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    British soldiers line up at the bicentenial of the Battle of New Orleans
    British soldiers line up at the bicentenial of the Battle of New Orleans

    This past weekend in Louisiana, the final battle of the War of 1812, The Battle of New Orlens, was celebrated by living history reenactors from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.  The Battle of New Orleans was fought in Chalmette, Louisiana.

    On June 18, 1812, President Madison signed a declaration of war due to British agitation including blockading American ships, impressing Americans into serving in the British navy in the fight against Napoleon, and inciting Native Americans against the citizens of the U.S.  After winning many battles, the British entered Washington D.C. and burned down much of the city, including the U.S. Capital building, the President’s Mansion,  and the Library of Congress and all its books.  This was in retaliation for the destruction of private property on the north shore of Lake Erie.

    In November 1814 the British fleet in the Gulf of Mexico, led by General Edward Pakenham and reinforced by ships and troops who had been in the war against Napoleon, set sail for New Orleans.  They invited pirate captain Jean LaFitte to join them and guide them through the difficult waters to New Orleans.  Instead he stalled them and sided with the Americans, providing his knowledge, men, and weapons to defend the city of New Orleans.

    Being warned of the attack, Lousiana Govern Claiborne sent word to General Andrew Jackson.  General Jackson and his men arrived in New Orleans on December 2nd, 2015.  In December, General Jackson’s men fought to delay General Pakenham’s advance and built an earth wall at a point where the land land was blocked on one side by swamp and on the other by the Mississippi in Chalmette between the British and American forces.  Meanwhile British troops continued to arrive until they numbered around 11,000 men, more than double the men under General Jackson.

    On the eighth of January, 1815, General Pakenham implemented a rather clever plan, using ladders to scale the wall in the early morning fog.  Unfortunately, the fog had cleared along the wall leaving the forces in plain view of the American troops on the wall.  Additionally, when the men arrived at the wall, due to an oversight in planning, they had no ladders to scale it.  General Pakenham and his second in command were fatally wounded in the battle and, although he ordered his third in command, General Lambert, to fight on, the British retreated after his death with over 2,000 men lost in the battle.  Ironically, the Treaty of Ghent ending the war of 1812 was signed December 24, 1814, two weeks before the Battle of New Orleans.

    The reenactors of the battle set up camp, provided military and civilian demonstrations of the of the era to thousands of visitors in addition to staging multiple battles over the weekend.

    For more images from the reenactment check out the author’s photo album.

    For more about John N. Collins, find him on TwitterInstagram, Youtube, and Facebook.  Be sure to let him know your thoughts on his articles!