Let’s set the scene. It’s a beautiful Saturday morning and my children let me sleep in a bit, which means 7:30 a.m. in our house. I walk downstairs to get some coffee started and make a bottle for my baby, only to open the cabinet and realize we don’t have any ground coffee. Ooof. Strike one.
Plan B. Check the coffee maker for yesterday’s coffee, throw some milk in it and make do. Strike two. The coffee maker (which ALWAYS has leftovers) is completely empty. So, my brain moves on to Plan C. Pack my kids into the car and drive up the street to buy some absolutely necessary joe. Strike three. One quick look out the window and I sadly remember my husband has taken our only working vehicle to a disc golf tournament for the day, leaving me stranded with a 4-year-old and a 4-month-old sans caffeine.
Looking back, I am slightly ashamed to admit that in that moment I did not hesitate for a second to download a food delivery app and consent to pay more than $15 for coffee to be delivered to my door. I’m certain that if we all sat down and thought about the modern conveniences we enjoy every day, the list would be endless. One such convenience, recently brought to my attention, was actually quite surprising. Y’all, when it comes to getting dressed every day, I had no idea just how good I have it.
From the beautifully constructed buildings and structures to the period demonstrations and jargon, it’s clear the interpreters at the Living History Park in North Augusta, South Carolina, take their work seriously. So, when I showed up for a visit in my jeans and sneakers, the lyrics to Sesame Street’s, “One of these things is not like the other” came to mind. But, worry not. Living History Park chairman and Olde Towne Preservation Association president Lynn Thompson kindly offered to help me blend in on my day at the park. Almost half an hour later, with assistance from a seasoned historical interpreter, I emerged dressed in my period wear ready to discover this historical gem in South Carolina’s Thoroughbred Country. I’ll never take a sundress and sandals for granted again.
The purpose of the Living History Park is to preserve the heritage and character of North Augusta and the surrounding areas while also creating a space for visitors to experience history firsthand through demonstrations of colonial life. As we toured the park and visited with many of the interpreters, I wasn’t just taken by their knowledge and skills, but also their enthusiasm to share them. Even more impressive, everyone who gives of their time and energy to exhibit at the Living History Park does so on a volunteer basis. They do it simply because they love to, and that authenticity came across in each presentation that I had the privilege to witness.
One of the demonstrations I experienced involved making biscuits and seeing them bake in a huge beehive oven. I also visited with a toymaker and a seamstress working a massive loom. I learned about the art of hair preservation and gifting. Yes, you read that correctly. In colonial times, hair was considered a very thoughtful and personal gift.
I attempted to write with a quill and ink, which is not nearly as easy as they make it look in Harry Potter movies, people! Did you know that back then, you had to pay to receive mail versus sending it? I also sampled some period cuisine—sausages, cheese and even some chocolate cookies—to celebrate my attempt at colonial furniture making, which is completely fascinating!
Throughout the year, the park puts on demonstrations for school groups and hosts several major events, including “Colonial Times: A Day to Remember,” held each year on the third weekend of October. Check the calendar for special event happenings.
You’re also welcome to visit the park any day of the year from dawn to dusk and simply walk around the buildings or have a picnic on the grounds.
Before I left, I told Lynn I thought my 4-year old would absolutely love spending the day at the park, running around and experiencing all of the demonstrations for himself. She agreed and told me to bring him anytime, as long as I promised not to reveal the great secret of “Living History”—that he would learn something.