Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fort Scott Adventure

While I was visiting the grandchildren, my daughter and I took a chance on a very cool day to travel into the little town of Fort Scott. There were a couple of attractions there which held great promise for the young ones and, I'll confess, the older ones as well. First, we explored a used book store on the square. It was a musty place--all scented with old pages of adventure. Carina and I went through all the Dorothy Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, and Helen McInnes, hoping to find any new books they had written...but, of course, they hadn't, so we contented ourselves with finding a few we didn't currently own.
The children each bought a couple of treasures as well, choosing from a huge selection of youth-oriented books. I showed Zaya "The Forgotten Door", and "Ozma, of Oz". Mim was happy with Berenstain Bears--"Go Fly a Kite and Life with Papa".

We puttered around for quite a while, waiting for a clerk to show up, but he never did. There was a discussion among the shoppers over whether we should look for him, but nobody wanted to go down the rickety stairs into the dark, dank dungeon of a basement, lest we stumble into the opening of one of our books.
Still. The guy didn't appear. Finally, we found a sheet of paper, made an invoice of our purchases and left the money to cover them on the desk. He called later and apologized for being gone, saying that he had been quite sick and had stepped out for a moment.  So we avoided the flu.

Mim is a history fanatic like her grandfather Turtle, so she talked us into visiting the Fort. We roamed around every building looking at exhibits and getting our exercise for the day.
Thankfully, the sun shone brightly, warming up what had begun as a cold, cloudy, cheerless day.
Every building on the square was either a restored original, or a replica with authentic furniture.
What surprised us the most about the barracks was the size of the bunk beds. They seemed shorter than usual, and were about twin bed width, but two soldiers were assigned to each level, so they slept four men. There were around fifty men assigned to each of the two rooms upstairs, and four officers slept in a small room in the middle. Even they had to sleep four to a single bunk bed.
The sign said the barracks had to be cleaned regularly and the mattresses re-stuffed with fresh prairie grass every week to control the population of bedbugs which feasted on the soldiers every night.

There was a bakery, a guardhouse, an ammunition building, and cannon garages. The officers' houses had backyard gardens, garages for the carriages, and even a little storage shed; it looked like an ancient version of backyard suburbia.
The stables were huge. Dragoons need horses.
Their stalls were empty, but a large wooden horse on the wall gave the children some idea of the animal's size.

Mim insisted we watch the video in the main museum's mini auditorium, but that proved too much for two of us. (Zaya didn't mind sitting for another thirty minutes). Not that the film wasn't well-enacted, but it was more history than we wanted to endure in one afternoon, so we dragged the younger ones away and headed back to the house, where we thoroughly appreciated the central heat, running water, and mattresses without bedbugs.


Carina said...

I have a new appreciation for supermarkets and queen-sized beds.

aftergrace said...

What a great place to visit. I agree with Mim and Turtle-I love History!