~ Submitted by Stephanie Keep, aka Lydia Fitch, Keeper of the Fitch Tavern
On Thursday, June 16, 2022, I went on vacation. Not a normal vacation, perhaps, but it was still a break from every day.
I donned layers and layers of beautifully made clothes, made sure my elbows and hair were covered, and made my way to the Job Lane House in shoes that lacked a designated left or right foot.
There, I assumed my eighteenth-century persona, Lydia Fitch, wife of tavern-keeper Jeremiah, and spent an absolutely lovely day teaching each and every third grader in Bedford about seventeenth-century clothing.
We talked about how despite the stereotypical image Pilgrims did not, in fact, wear black. We discussed the pros and cons of flax linen and wool, the ingenuity of tying hair up in a coif so that mothers and daughters could limit their arguing over tangled and dirty hair (some things never change), and came to understand just how Lucy Locket could have lost her pocket.
Easily my favorite part of the day was when my own third-grade daughter walked in and saw me, “MOM? What are YOU doing here?” (There are so few opportunities to really surprise our children these days, aren’t there?)
But as I reflected on the day, another subtler joy settled in—the joy of having been in the moment. Look, the world is bananas. We all feel that in our bones and read it in our Twitter feeds. Most days I feel embarrassment and sorrow, shame and outrage at the actions and decisions made in my country. When I was Lydia, I got a break from the turmoil of modern life. I didn’t look at my phone (except once, when an eagle-eyed third-grader chided me, and rightfully so, “The Pilgrims didn’t have phones!”) and I didn’t dwell on a glass-half-empty America.
I was in the moment with these kids, these diverse, curious, wonderful kids, who represent a future we can’t imagine.
I’m not suggesting that seventeenth-century America was a bastion of civil rights and justice—of course it wasn’t—but sometimes, it is nice to take a vacation from the world’s problems, even if it means aching feet.