On 23rd September Mr. Mew and I jetted off to Chicago to a WWII event in Rockford Illinois. This was a huge excuse to meet up (for the very first time) with 2 friends from Facebook who’s friendship became so great that I felt like we were long lost relatives.
Unfortunately for everyone else I had over done the drama of my diva bride role at Goodwood Revival the weekend before so ended up with Laryngitis and lost my voice. I was mortified as I was supposed to be singing and performing in Illinois and felt like I was letting a lot of people down. Don and Stephanie did their best to put my mind at rest and were so incredibly generous and sweet to Richard and I.
I couldn’t have been the best company with sniffles, coughing fits and temperature, but everyone made us feel so welcome and the event itself was spectacular. Based at an open air museum in Rockford, there was a large wooded area where camps had been set up and a few trenches dug throughout. There also a huge expanse of ground with around 7 old wooden slatted buildings ranging from homes to a hospital and church. There was also a large straw barn, water tower and stable block and a street with a blacksmith, cafe, bank and shops. This street was also where a battle reenactment took place!
Certain groups were stationed in the houses including the WACs in the old hospital. In the central grass clearing there were more army tents set up and towards the barn/ stables were a few vintage military stalls.
It amazed me that some things you can get over here are quite expensive (OTT 1940’s swing ties £20 and up) but over there you were looking at the equivelant of £5. Apparently civilian fashions in South America in WWII were muted colours of grey, navy and black; not like the glamorous pieces in Hollywood films I innocently thought were factual. People seem to be more into the military side of things and civilian are only lightly touched upon. Even then, they tend not to go for the garish ties that I love (hurrah for Mr. Mew who snapped up 2!).
One of the best parts of the weekend (other than the wonderful hotel room that aided my poorliness) was a right on top of a Sherman tank through the woods! Richard sat astride the great gun barrel and I batted away branches with 4 others right on the very top of the tank. It was a wonderful feeling and you got a great view of people’s camps.
On the first day I was only well enough to stay for 2 1/2 hours before retreating back to the hotel and to bed. We had been up for 24 hours with 3 hours sleep after that, so needed rest! The next day we went to the event early and even got to visit the Rockford Museum – Home of Sock Moneys and the Rockford Peaches Baseball Team!
We got to meet the apposing team (well, 2 of) when enjoying a rest in the woods. They get the uniforms specially made for each girl, don’t they look authentic?! We missed the game itself which was a shame, but greta to meet the girls.
I loved seeing their cavalry horses, which is something we don’t see in British WWII events. Of course the Polish and Germans used horses at the beginning of the war (including other countries). It was a wonderful site, although strange seeing Americans dressed as German soldiers. On speaking to an Iraqi veteran about this, I was informed that the Germans had actually taught the American armies battle techniques, how to march and fight in the 1700’s and that some of their ancestors had been German.
On the Sunday, just before leaving, Richard and I decided to go for a stroll in the woods. It was gorgeous and we spotted some Chipmunks! There were also a couple of baby squirrels that had obviuosly fallen out of their nest as they were too young. They kept following our shadow until 1 climbed up on Richard. Weirdly enough this isn’t the 1st time this has happened to me! Stephanie and Don didn’t believe us when we came back with the excuse that we had been attacked by baby squirrels…Until they saw the evidence…!
Richard and I would like to say a HUUUUUGE thank you to everyone for making us feel so welcome, despite being unable to perform or speak much. I promise that I will make it up to you all and will be back…fit and healthy!!!