"Rendezvous – stay healthy it's a family affair"…

Stepping back to yester-year; I wondered what it would be like to have lived 100 years ago?

How did they dress, what did they eat, how did they stay healthy. Was life really all that different? I finally got the chance to experience it for myself.

It all happened when my mom and dad got involved in a black powder
gun club. Of course, when grandma and grandpa get involved so does
the rest of the family. So I thought I'd share one of our family
weekends at a rendezvous with you.

The ultimate dress-up get together… 

The participants dress ranged from Annie Oakley to mountain men;
Indian braves and squaws. It wasn't limited to just adults, this
was a family affair. Some came as simple farmers while some came as
elaborate fur traders down from the high country. Prairie dresses
with matching bonnets or buckskin dresses and moccasins, all were a
sight to see.

In the fall months out came the Pendleton wool capotes and
leggings. Capotes are a type of woolen coat made by the traders.
With large raglan sleeves and a fringed hood to drain off the
pouring rain, they were very warm against the biting winds of the
plains. The leather shoes were treated with mink oil to keep them
from soaking up the water.

Getting ready for the trail shoot we always made sure to have plenty of patches, balls and caps. Tucked away in our pouch were strips of jerky neatly wrapped to keep out the dirt. We all made sure to take our vitamins with breakfast. Energy was one thing you can't run short of during the long, cold days.


The primitive camp would consist of…

Tee-pees, army tents and campfires lined up several rows and
sometimes encircled the main campfire. All modern day trailers were
in a separate area to preserve the atmosphere. Indian flute music
wafted through the air as the children romped through the grass
playing tag.

Trader Row usually was a single row of larger tents set up by the
merchants to sell their wares. You could buy anything from rabbit
furs to beautiful dresses, wool coats and pants. Ball pouches,
trail bags, powder horns and more were available. Gun boxes and
blue speckled plates and coffee cups adorned the planked shelves.
Plenty of gun supplies, camping gear and of course the sugary
treats for the little ones were available.

Guns and no roses…

The most primitive type of gun used at the rendezvous was called a
flint lock. This is the type my dad shot. The flint lock used
priming powder, a piece of flint and a lead ball.

When the flint struck the metal containing the priming powder it
created a spark. Once that spark hit that powder it traveled down
and ignited the powder inside. This propelled the lead ball out
towards the target.

I tried it once, scared me to death! The lag time between pulling
the trigger and igniting the powder made me flinch. This is one
reason it's not a very accurate rifle.
My mom shot a 45 caliber ball and cap percussion gun. This is what
you see on the movies. She loaded it using a patch, ball and a
ramrod. She taught me how to load it by pouring the measured
amount of gun powder in first. Placing the muslin cloth over the
muzzle of the gun; the ball was put on top and a ramrod was used to
shove it down and seat it. Then it was time to place the firing
cap, aim and shoot at the target.

It was really cool how the powder was carried. I had seen them on
TV but never in person. They use real cow horns. They are hollow
and after the tip is cut off make for a funnel like device. The
other end is capped off with a cork like plug. Put a leather tong
on it and drape it over your shoulder for carrying on the trail.

The shooting contest takes place on well planned trail.

We shot at animal shaped targets made of thick steel hanging
against the creek bank for safety. It looked and seemed pretty
easy. Safety gear and rules were a must. After all this was a
family affair. The kids excelled at this sport and loved the time
they got to spend with grandma and grandpa.

It wasn't as easy as it looked. As with any sport, it took
practice. You needed to know your weapon. The feel of it, how it
shot; you had to be one with your gun. I'll never forget winning
one of the contests. My family to this day gives me a bad
time…why? As I took aim at the target and squeezed the trigger, I
closed my eyes and hit the target at 50 yards. Yes, you read that
right…I closed my eyes. They still laugh at me in disbelief!

After a long trail shoot, the tent never looked so good.
Our feet hurt, we were hungry and cold. A soft cot, warm sleeping
bag and hot bowl of stew were worth waiting for. After filling our
bellies with grub, hot coffee, a shot of juice and a little music,
it was off to Trader Row.

The rendezvous really wasn't all about the competition. It was
about community. Seeing old friends that you hadn't seen in awhile;
reminiscing about the family and what had gone on since the last
visit. It was about imagining what life was like back in the day.
Sharing research on the way they lived, got sick, recovered, even
died. They didn't have vitamins back then; they did have medicine
men and herbs, but not everyone did.

Sometimes we think we have it hard today with our luxurious beds,
comfy stylish clothes and shoes. Our buildings have air conditioning and heaters. Now I really appreciate my cooking, my vitamins, the family doctor and hospitals.

In the summer it's hot out there, and in a prairie dress…well,
they may look beautiful, but they are heavy and HOT! Those pointy toe high heel lace up boots? They are killer on your feet, especially on a
gun trail, are you kidding me? Imagine walking miles on the prairie
in those with wool socks no less!
And for the guys…those handsome men in buckskin shirts all
fringed up with matching pants! They look awesome, they are
durable, but holy smokes…after awhile, they stink! They are hot,
they are cold…practical they are not.

Although it was a fun, safe activity for our whole family; I think
I'll just stay in this century with my air conditioned or heated home, my
comfortable car and Little House on the Prairie with Laura Ingalls on TV.

Here to Serve,
Carla J Gardiner


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