View Full Version : The Great Grate Gig

February 19th, 2016, 09:27 AM
From the gig journal, October 2009:

John H. Grate was a past Commander-in-Chief of the Ohio Grand Army of the Republic and the last Civil War veteran of Portage County. Saturday, October 10, 2009, the town of Atwater had a celebration in his honor. There was a breakfast at the fire house, a parade, a flag raising, a period costume contest, craft show, Civil War living history (hosted by the 6th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry), and later, a dinner and military ball.

Part of the day's obsequies included the rededication of the John H. Grate Memorial. This is a six-foot slab of stone standing on the lawn between the courthouse and the Congregational Church. I don't know why a rededication was necessary. Do dedications expire? Can they be lost or defiled in some way? How does that work?

Plainly displayed by the courthouse driveway there is a sign stating that it is unlawful to bring any shootin' irons or dangerous ordnance onto the premises. Yet, there were reenactors with muskets and pistols walking all over the place. There was even a WWII vintage antitank cannon. Is that not dangerous ordnance? How does THAT work? Maybe they called up the Pope and got a dispensation.

At 5:00, we drove to the Atwater First Bap to set up our sound equipment for the ball. They put us in the gymnasium that adjoins the church and social hall. This is a large, old gym with a wooden floor that would be ideal for dancing, were it not for the large bulge in the center. You need your sea legs to walk across there without staggering. When the women wearing their five-foot hoop skirts hit that bulge, it was gonna be something to see.

Dinner was served at 6:00. It was mostly pulled pork, sweet potato "thang", baked beans, and corn bread. It was a high-adequate church dinner.

The dance started at 7:00. About eighty people came to it. Most of them joined in the Grand March. After that, their numbers gradually dwindled. By 9:00, most of the men had left. Tess explained to the crowd that it was OK (and actually authentic for the period) for women to dance with each other. Then she told them she would teach them the "Maltese Bransle", a medieval dance that, in Civil War times, would have been much too risqué to perform in public. Well, those women had a roaring good time with that dance. I didn't know Baptists could cut a rug like that. Jody thinks maybe these weren't the pizenest kind of Baptists.

We played "Good Night Ladies" at 9:40. Home and dry by 10:30.

Abstractor of the Quintessence
Order of the Digital Grail