Stories from our WebBoard
it’s taken me so long to get back to everyone, but things got busy at
work and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and compose my
thoughts. The Dunsmuir House Gathering and Games is located in Oakland,
CA. The Dunsmuir House is a Victorian Mansion built back in the late
1800s. You stroll under a canopy that serves as the front gate and then
lazily meander your way down the paved walkway to the mansion. Then, if
you want, you can mosey on down the same walkway to the carriage house,
passing pristinely kept glens along the way.
For the Games, the minute you walk in the gate, you run into the Gordon
Highlanders Encampment. These folks are from southern California and do
a reenactment of that famous regiment from the 1860 time
period----complete with a real gatling gun! (How do you spell that? My
dictionary was no help.) Anyhow, half of them are my own clansmen and so
I can’t walk past them that they don’t come right out and escort me
into camp where I must tell my entire life history since last they saw
me. They even come to the Buchanan tent, en mass, and present arms! And
our regent has to go out with the Buchanan’s Whisky bottle and dram
each and every one of them!
The next glen over is for the Clans! There were about 50 clan tents
there. The Campbell tent was set up right behind ours, and I traded good
natured insults with my friends there. We’d all go back and forth
passing hugs and bad jokes. “Look out! It’s those darned Campbells!”
to which they’d reply, “Aaaahhhggg! Turn off that loud tartan, you
Buchanans! You’re hurting my ears!”
The tent is my place, that’s where I shine the most. We keep six
claymores out there for people to hold and experience. That, naturally,
creates a safety issue. So I watch over them and teach history with
them. I get the biggest kick out of letting the wee lads hold the big
swords. They get all excited and run back to their parents jumping with
wonder. “I held the big sword! I held the big sword!” When I can
give them a sense of their heritage and they run off all excited like
that, well, I feel my life is complete. People come to me year after
year and tell me my presentation with the swords gets better and better.
Still further down and you get to the Mansion itself. Here is the main
stage and the food vendors. I have two I love the most. These vendors
look the other way when I walk behind their tent and order from the
back! Hugs and kisses are exchanged and loving gaffaws and the result is
that I never have to stand in line!
At clan march I carried the Buchanan flag. We always yell really loud
when the MC announces our clan so there’s no doubt the Buchanans have
arrived. (Our society president is a veteran, see? He always carries a
sword and salutes with it. On Sunday, just for a change, he carried a
golf club! The laughter was riotous.) At opening ceremonies on Saturday,
the Highland Mercenaries (the guys mentioned in my poems) fought an
especially ferocious duel for the crowd! The applause was thunderous!
Silly boys! They couldn’t go anywhere at the games that they weren’t
surrounded by 50 people wanting to know who they were and what they were
all about in their very stunning highland dress and big swords. Oooooh!
They bring our heritage to life in the most incredible way! (Yeah yeah,
okay. I better not get started here. I’ll go on forever.)
As you stroll further still, you hit all the vendors and the Athletic
competitions. Funny how you know when an Athlete turns a caber. You hear
the cheering all over the grounds!
There was an encampment of Roman Soldiers even! The Tenth Legion from
Judea dropped in to tell the story of Rome’s influence on Scottish
history. It’s funny, I’ll tell ya, to be looking at a sea of pipers
and men in kilts and from their midst walks a Centurion—complete with
chain mail and helmet with the broom thing on top.
If you can make it all the way down to the carriage house, you’ll be
surprised to find the bar open. Which is a good thing, because by that
time you need a drink. The musicians take turns performing down there so
you can sit and rest a spell. Seven Nations was there, as well as the
Wicked Tinkers and the Brown Sisters.
Then what do you do? Why you march all the way back to the front and
start down again! By the time you’ve done this three times, it’s 5
o’clock and time for closing ceremonies.
I had two guests that I marched around all day. They learned all about
their Scottish roots and were stunned that over the course of a day, I
might hug 150 people.
Oh goodness, I could go on forever. But this has been lengthy enough.
Thanks for putting up with my enthusiasms.
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