Stewpid Kwestions?

by Mark Tully (reprinted with permission from The Colonial Chronicle)

Are the "dumb questions" we often get really all that dumb? I had an experience last season [1995] that made me realize that perhaps it is WE who are missing the point.

While at an event, minding my own business, a young tourist lad asked me if the fire blazing away in front of a camp was "real". As usual, I scoffed and was about to blurt out a witty comeback, when the lad's father stepped up and quickly added, "he means is it authentic -- is it the way THEY did it?" I looked at the oversized fire pit bristling with camp irons, tripods, iron skillets, coffee pots, pokers, trivets, fireplace tongs, a coal shovel, bellows, and a HUGE iron grate sagging under the weight of half a dozen thick, sizzling steaks. I had to sheepishly tell them "no" (just for the record, it was NOT my unit's camp that was in question). As the conversation progressed I also revealed that the muskets, tents, uniforms -- in fact virtually everything in the encampment were not "real", but modern reproductions.

Moral of the story: I think that often the public's questions are legitimate, but in all of their excitement the questions are perhaps not phrased as well as they could be. So, the next time someone asks you if your musket, tent, food, or fire is "real", substitute the word "authentic" and see if you can answer "yes" with a straight face (and clear conscience)!

NOTE: This article originated as an internet posting I sent out to the "Revwar List" last year. It was picked up and published in Phil Weaver's The Colonial Chronicle, and subsequently appears here.

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