PA Trolley Museum 2010

November 28, 2010 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

Another post that is a ‘little’ late. It has been a very busy Fall.

On the weekend of September 11-12, the PA Trolley Museum near Washington, PA hosted the annual Antique Truck Show. As is customary,28th Division, 110th RCT, K Company,set up a WWII living history display as part of the show. As I have noted before, this is a nice venue for a living history display, particularly for our purposes. During WWII, trolleys were an important part of the urban landscape and the primary means for a lot of people to get around. The museum has a variety of very nice old trolley cars, including some that are beautifully restored.

The annual antique truck show adds another element as well, since many of these vehicles were in use on the homefront during WWII. We saw a number of very nicely restored examples over the weekend. Also, in the visitor’s center, there was also a very nice HO scale model of the Southpointe area (Pittsburgh vicinity) which featured trolleys run from overhead wires, just like the real thing.

The museum is very reenactor-friendly and makes a point of making us feel welcome. The location is also very close to any number of stores and eating establishments, which makes it convenient to grab a bite when the crowd is gone.  The only downside to the event was that it was only a one-day affair. Last year was an all-weekend show, but that was due to the fact that it was the museum’s 50th anniversary. This year nothing much was going on Saturday and we spent a lot of down time. Sunday made up for that, however, and we had good, enthusiastic crowds.

Another interesting feature was a birthday party for a WWII veteran in the picnic area beside our camp. According to his daughter, this gentleman, Mr. Bill Smith, had been assigned to General Eisenhower’s headquarters during WWII, and had seen many interesting things as a result. This included the liberation of a Nazi death camp and, in a separate instance, the rescue of a five-year old boy. In the latter, the young boy took Mr. Smith to see his dying father, who was apparently a German officer. The dying man asked Mr. Smith to find a home for his son, who was about to be orphaned. Mr. Smith did so and the German gave him his Luger for his kindness. The family still has the pistol.

It was a pleasure to meet these folks and I made a point of speaking to Mr. Smith and thanking him for his service. I think these kinds of interactions are one of the greatest perks of doing living history. WWII reenactors have been very fortunate to be able to do so over these years, but the brave  men and women of that time are fast passing away. We need to savor the opportunities we still have to speak to and thank them.

And, in this way, I spent another good weekend reenacting. Beats a great day working hands-down.


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