We live by two mottoes “ If we don’t go, we won’t know” and “Expect nothing; Be prepared for anything.”
This philosophy has allowed us to meet people of all types in all situations. Our stories are sometimes born out of conversations with the general public (which is typically VERY rich in storytelling content) but sometimes they are born from our own personal experiences. Either way, Scottie Myers can spin a yarn to entertain or share a story with purpose … one that teaches or causes one to pause and consider.
What leads to many of Scottie’s best stories is our habit of going most everywhere in our 1860s period attire … out to eat, church, around town, meetings, etc. We have loved that our period attire invites questions from strangers who simply must ask, “Why are ya’ll dressed that way?” To which we always reply, “Because it opens conversation with new friends like you.” It gives us an opportunity to talk about history … our favorite topic.
We love it especially when young people want to approach. They are curious, but a little stand-offish. I’ll admit it….we dress funny, and children are curious and at the same time, a little unsure. Little girls are fascinated with my big dresses. Young boys, with the Colonel’s sword or handsome uniforms. For this reason, we often travel with small gifts that we share with them … maybe a lady's fan for the girls or maybe some 1860s replica currency for the boys. Anything we can do to positively engage them we believe plants a seed of interest.
Scottie and Tammy, Jacksonville, Alabama Cemetery portraying
General John and Mrs. Septima Sexta Middleton Rutledge Forney
When you have an authentic 1860s wardrobe, storytelling skills AND you have absolutely no qualms about first-person portrayals of deceased persons, you are likely to be invited to a myriad of places. Take this cemetery for instance …
For the last three years, Colonel Myers and I have portrayed General John and Mrs. Septima Sexta Middleton Rutledge Forney (a dilly of a name, right?) during Jacksonville, Alabama’s Historic Cemetery Stroll.
First of all, we LOVE old cemeteries. If we pass one during our travels across the South, do hold on. Colonel Myers will hit the brakes causin’ your new bonnet to lunge forward from your head. Anyway, to actually be in, or perhaps I should say AT one of Alabama’s most notable cemeteries AND portray this influential couple was a thrill for us!
Talking always in first-person, Colonel Myers presented a chronicle of General Forney’s life before the War, as well as his business propositions upon his return home to Jacksonville as a wounded war hero. General Forney lived out his remaining years as a farmer and civil engineer, instrumental in the design and building of city utilities in and around Jacksonville and Anniston. He was interred next to his wife, Septima, in Jacksonville’s beautiful City Cemetery, September 1902.
Two fascinating facts about General Forney and his wife that we like to highlight during our portrayals:
Septima waited thirteen years before accepting Mr.Forney’s proposal of marriage
Both of Septima’s great-grandfathers were signers of the Declaration of Independence: Edward Rutledge and Arthur Middleton, both of South Carolina.
Author’s note: Scottie and I haven’t decided if Septima’s long-awaited decision to marry Mr. Forney is a testament to his patience or her personal mantra of “no hasty decisions.” Either way, following their marriage, they had five children.
And, I am in absolute awe of Septima’s maternal and paternal Founding Father lineage. I too, would proudly wear those Patriot’s middle names!
Scottie Opens the Huntsville Ballet’s World Premiere of The Letter,
as U.S. Senator Jefferson Davis
Colonel Myers made a lifetime and unlikely friend with Huntsville Ballet Artistic Director Phillip Otto, when Phil invited Scottie to open Phil’s world premiere ballet of The Letter. During a chance meeting in North Alabama, at the Battle of Decatur reenactment, Phil and Scottie hatched ideas for how a reenactor could add context to the times and set the stage for this unprecedented ballet based on the American Civil War.
Performed in Huntsville’s Von Braun Center, Colonel Myers took the first spotlight at center stage and addressed each night’s sell-out crowds portraying Mississippi Senator Jefferson F. Davis resigning his senate seat before the U.S. Senate Chamber in 1861.
Otto’s originally choreographed ballet was centered on Civil War soldier Sullivan Ballou’s love letter home to his wife, Sarah. Ballou’s love letter, first made famous in Ken Burns’ Civil War series, is an eloquent and intensely personal note written to his beloved wife just one week before he was killed in the First Battle of Bull Run. The now-famous letter was written in July, only months following his enlistment, but sadly was not mailed. The letter was found among his personal affects following his death.
Being invited to open a world premier ballet is probably the greatest example of what great things can happen when you “expect nothing, but are prepared for anything.”