The 12 Days of Winter Break : Turtle Doves

“Clack…Clack, Clack, Clack,” I heard as I  drifted back to consciousness. It was my girlfriend’s son, he was playing his video game, popping bubbles before they reached his castle, or something. Don’t ask. I don’t know. You have to be nine to understand.

“What time is it?” she asked the boy.

“Nine,” he replied.

Nine. Nine. This is a glorious sign of vacation. On a typical Sunday, I would be up at five or six in the morning, and reveling about sleeping in from my normal four-thirty. Even on vacations, I don’t normally sleep this late. It must have been the ghosts.

Ghosts of Williamsburg

We met our guide at nine Saturday evening. Joined by just one other couple, we were an intimate group. We walked down Duke of Glouster street, though the heart of the open-air museum. Each building was ready for Christmas.

We began at the Church, hearing the gruesome tales of its service as a field hospital during the Civil War. When the church was full of the wounded and dying, the doctors began doing surgeries on top of the crypts. Those crypts and the surrounding  ground turned black with blood and flies. The stench from the rotting limbs from amputees could be smelled blocks away.

The next house wasn’t as impressive at first glance. The small shop of a music teacher, the building housed two enslaved servants on it’s second floor. The teacher grew close to her servants over the years, and left the shop to them when she died. One might imagine how the rest of the neighborhood might feel in 1770, knowing that two free black homeowners lived next door.

In recent years, archeologist have discovered a grave on the grounds of the shop. The remains of two African-American persons were found buried face-down, one on top of the other.

While the spot between th eupper and lower windows isn’t very impressive, I can only say this and hope that you will believe me. The ball of lights wasn’t on the house when we looked with our naked eyes. We could only see it though the lens of our cameras. Also, even as I held my phone steady as I looked at the screen, the globe of white moved. It faded in and out and moved, almost playfully, across and up and down the building.

In addition to near-constant war with the local Native American communities, Williamsburg was terrorized by pirates along the coast. Perhaps the most terrifying was Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard.  When the pirate and his crew were finally captured, they ended their days in Williamsburg. Well, the crew were tried and executed in Williamsburg. Only Blackbeard’s head arrived in town, having be liberated from his body in his final battle with the authorities. As they awaited trial, Blackbeard’s crew stayed in the town jail.

Thirteen of the men were convicted of piracy. Each convicted pirate earned his own oxcart, where he sat on his own coffin. They were paraded through the town and brought to the river where they were hanged.

In the daytime, the town is much less spooky. In fact, the whole town was decorated for Christmas

And clearly, someone is my kind of anachronistic nerd!

When we finally got to the Statehouse, I did get goose bumps. I couldn’t help but think that I was standing in front of the building where Patrick Henry railed against the Stamp Act, declaring, “Give me liberty, or give me death!”

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