Good Job Old Sturbridge!

This was a wonderful way to escape the isolation.

For reasons that are well understood, we haven’t had much of a social life these past four months. When the weather caused us to punt on an outdoor get-together for Father’s Day, I mentioned to our daughter Faith, that Old Sturbridge Village was planning to reopen in July, and maybe we could plan a short get-together at home, and a trip to OSV.

We began watching the weather for a break in the heat. OSV was opening, but attendance would be limited, buildings would be closed, masks and distancing would be required. The thought of walking around in 95°f (35°c) heat wasn’t all that appealing. Finally, when it seemed the heat wave wasn’t going to end, we picked a day with a forecasted high of 85°f (29°c) albeit with a chance of rain and thunderstorms.

OSV requires tickets, and you buy tickets for particular entrance time slots. We wanted to enter between 10:00 am and 11:30, but I thought we might have a problem. My wife and I are members, and Faith is a member, but they are separate memberships. I emailed OSV to ask if we would be able to get tickets together. That’s when I started to be impressed.

I received an email reply in less than 45 minutes. The OSV staff member answered my question, told me it would be no problem to enter both sets of information and thanked us for wanting to visit, and she gave me a phone number to use if I needed more help!

When we arrived at OSV, I continued to be impressed. The entrance path was clearly marked with arrows on the sidewalks and with signs. The people at the entrance instantly made us feel welcome. The woman who took our tickets gave us the information sheet of the day’s events, explained how things were going to be different and reminded us of some of the village’s attractions like nature walks along a few short trails. We are a family that loves to walk, so that was a welcome reminder.

The houses in the village were closed, but the historic interpretation by period dressed artisans and instructors were conducted outside. We had a wonderful discussion about “what it was like to become and be a lawyer in 1830.” We had a demonstration by and a nice discussion with a tinsmith who was making lanterns, a cooper who was making milk buckets and we watched and learned from two blacksmiths – blacksmiths, in period costumes, wearing masks, working at a forge in 85-degree heat – these people are truly dedicated.

We hiked through the woods, around the mill pond, along the river and we crossed both covered bridges on the property. We even had lunch.

We don’t normally eat while at OSV. I’ve explained in previous posts that Faith and I normally stop at The Thai Place for dinner. The Thai Place is the GPS target we used for years when my GPS couldn’t find the entrance to OSV. As we walked around the corner of Bullard Tavern, we could smell the French fries. The outdoor dining area wasn’t crowded so we decided to have lunch. Again, arrows and signs clearly indicated the circuitous path through the cafeteria that would keep entering folks from brushing near exiting folks and lines and dots on the ground helped us to remain at a safe distance. Servers and cashiers filled our orders and accepted payment from behind protective shielding, but you could feel their smiles behind their masks. Again, we made to feel welcome.

Some people complain about wearing masks, staying six feet apart, and having servers and cashiers behind plexiglass. It’s important to understand a few things about all that, and our experience at Old Sturbridge village is a great example to support that explanation.

First, it’s the law. OSV opened under the requirements of the State of Massachusetts for historical and cultural sites and must comply with those regulations.

Second, OSV wants to keep their staff, members, and guests safe. That makes total sense to me. I mean how many blacksmiths, tinsmiths and coopers are there? Also, if guests start getting sick, the State will surely shut the village (or your local restaurant) down. No one fully understands the way(s) this virus is transmitted, but most experts agree that wearing masks and staying six feet apart impedes that transmission.

Third, and perhaps the hardest to understand, people are different. While we could have removed our masks when we were clearly six feet away from other people, some people might still be afraid. Wearing a mask is no great hardship and if it keeps others safe and makes them more comfortable, I’m happy to wear one.

I applaud the way in which Old Sturbridge Village planned their reopening and the steps they took to make it possible for us enjoy our visit. I applaud the communication we have received as members and – I need a synonym for applaud that is even better – I applaud the talented, dedicated, and friendly staff.

I look forward to the future when our visits will be unencumbered by requirements due to this virus. I will certainly still be a member at that time.


78 comments

  1. One of my great memories of visiting with Dan and his wife,from here in the UK, was my stopover at OSV on my way to Windsor Locks. What a wonderful resource for the US to guard its heritage. I stayed overnight at Waltham and ate at a Thai restaurant. I bet it wasn’t the same one as mentioned here, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up not far from OSV (Worcester) and visites a couple of times (didn’t need reservations, they were happy to get customers). Haven’t been in years, wait, decades, and the place has grown in buildings and popularity. Thanks for a very nice story. And, I agree, while masks are an interference in social norms, , it’s no problem wearing them n

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the interpreters was describing the early years. In the first year, he said they only had 81 visitors for the season! It has grown, even from my first visit, and they are planning to add a new wood shop. It will be built on site using period techniques.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Proof positive it is possible to live within the boundaries of our new reality. Glad you were able to get out and about. OSV is a place I’ve always meant to visit and haven’t. I love the mere idea of it…. in cooler temps of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful place, Dan! I believe I’ve only seen this place from your trips around Christmas, so it was nice to see the green landscape, bridge, Faith near the river, the tinsmith’s lair, etc. in the throes of summer. I’m only wondering why there wasn’t a photo of the french fries…

    I will also applaud OSV and their dedicated efforts to keep its visitors safe. I applaud every business that has done this during the pandemic. If only everyone would wear a mask and stay apart without complaining, we would be in a much better state.

    Enjoy your Monday, stay cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. We gobbled they fries before there was a chance to get a picture. I think there’s a lesson in how they managed this opening. Also, they automatically extended out memberships for the time they were closed. These guys just do things right. I know they would like more people, but it was fun being there with a small crowd. Introverts, what can I say…

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s peaceful, even when it’s crowded. There’s a lot of room to move around. I worry that Christmas by Candlelight will be hard for them to stage this year. It’s very important to their fundraising, so I hope they can make it work. If they have it, we will go,.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great tradition to spend Father’s Day at OSV. I’m glad it was open and you felt so welcome to be there and they kept everyone or tried to keep everyone free from germs and the dreaded Wuhan Corona Virus. I’m so ready for a vaccine and I hope it has better efficacy than our current Flu shots do!

    I don’t imagine there were so many laws and regulations in 1830 as there are now so passing the bar if there was one then was probably a whole lot easier.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We were so happy to hear that they were opening. We knew it would be easy to keep our distance, but we didn’t know it would be so much fun.

      I thought the same thing about the laws, but the guy explained that the well established lawyers would have started knowing British law and the had to keep up as Massachusetts developed new laws. They also had to know the growing body of US Federal law. He explained that lawyers (just out of school) would be apprenticed to an established lawyer and that they did a lot of that reading and research. It was expensive snd very time consuming.

      I’m looking forward to a vaccine, but I don’t be first in line (when available to the general public) for a rush-job.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We should be proud and pay tribute to the people who go above and beyond to make life better for others. So we celebrate them, we applaud what they are doing. You celebrate them by sharing you experiences with others and the joy they instilled in you is passed on. The ripple effect. Does that make sense?

        Liked by 1 person

  6. How wonderful that you were able to get together with Faith and tour OSV! The staff at OSV certainly did their homework and created a safe haven for their staff and guests alike. Hats off to all those who have OSV up and running.

    Beautiful area in the summer and you got some great shots. I tried to pick a favorite, but I like them all.

    We live with lots of inconveniences in our daily lives. Wearing masks and staying at least 6′ apart is hardly a blip on the radar. People need to wake up and smell the coffee while they still can……before they end up on a ventilator!

    Nice post to start the week off Dan. Thanks for the tour.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Ginger. It has been interesting to see how different places approached reopening. Some seem to have tried to spend as little money as possible. Some don’t seem to care about the people (staff or customers). These guys really got it right.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I worry that my OSV posts might get old. I try to mix them up, and I think I shared pictures I haven’t shared before (at least some). I figure there’s always someone new here and this is a story I love to tell.

      I hope you have a great week!
      Stay safe.

      Like

  7. Wonderful posting, Dan. It is good to see such compelling evidence that it is possible to venture outside of the house safely and see some really cool things. I seem to recall visiting Old Sturbridge Village on school trips during the mid-1960’s when I was growing up outside of Boston. I don’t remember too many specifics, but I do recall being enthralled by the artisans at work, especially the blacksmiths. I smiled when I saw your photo of Faith at the edge of the water–that is probably where I would have been too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OSV is a common school field trip, Mike. I could watch the artisans all day. Last year, I watched the cabinet maker slice a wide board in half (lengthwise) with a handsaw. I though of the mess I would make if I tried that. The blacksmith was explaining how hard it is to make a 90-degree bend without cracking the piece or ending up with a weak angle that will surly break. It was fascinating.

      Faith is always drawn to the water’s edge :)

      Like

  8. You went on an adventure, and you took us with you – thank you! I know I would love visiting there in person, but this was great. Wearing a mask is not something any of us would choose to do, but if we are ever going to move beyond this virus it has to be done, heat or no heat. Stay well, and I hope you’re getting some time in your shop although I’m guessing it’s pretty darn hot in there if I base it on the temperature in my garage and barn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this, Judy. We have some cooler days in the forecast this week. I’m hoping I might be able to stain and finish my bookcase. I’m also getting ready to start siding the shed. If it cools down at night, the shop stays cool until about 1:00 pm. If it doesn’t cool down overnight, it’s yuck :(

      Liked by 1 person

  9. ‘you could feel their smiles behind their masks’–that was so wonderful to read, Dan. OSV really knew what they were doing when they opened up. I’m glad you had a good time. The sign with the chicken and pig social distancing—a good, fun way to get their point across. Have a great day.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s funny, Lois, but I swear you could tell they were smiling. They were so nice. I worked on a steam line, and it’s hard to be pleasant, especially when it’s hot out. The sign with the chicken and the pig just made me smile.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We were able to stay pretty cool, especially on the hikes. There quite a history to their covered bridges. I believe one of them was washed off its foundation during a bad storm many years ago.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The photos are great, Dan. It looks like a wonderful day enjoyed with family. I wish more people shared your outlook on masks and containing the virus. I have never understood those who have a total disregard for the well-being of others. Hope to see more photos as you venture out and about.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for your support as a member, for visiting during these unique times, and for writing this blog post. We’ve shared it with the rest of our staff. :)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hahaha – you know me well, Teagan. Our discussion with the tinsmith did include a few minutes on the tools he uses. On the other hand, there’s also the cooper. Maybe the Editor needs a milk bucket ;-) I have pictures of the other covered bridge and other pictures of this one. I’ll be sharing more photos later this week.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a great place to visit and encouraging to read how well it was run. Kudos to all of you for your good attitudes. I have such a problem with people complaining about masks and distancing. Of course now they’re complaining about things closing up again, but if people had behaved responsibly when the re-openings happened, things might still be open. It’s so frustrating and also dangerous. Thanks for letting us walk along on this delightful trip.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you could come along. It was a very good day. Outside, having fun like big people :)

      The precautions were easy to work into our day. I really don’t know what the fuss is all about.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Thank you for this virtual field trip through your eyes. There’s something about a field of sheep that makes me want to spread a blanket on the grass. And I understand Faith’s love for the water, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. What a wonderful tribute to OSV at their opening. I hope you sent your blog post to them. Really! I’m planning a visit to the Bennington Museum, and hoping the Eric Carle Museum opens soon. Looking forward your post on the Cooper. Our last trip to Williamsburg had us stopped (forever) at the Cooper because our son is Mr. Hands, like you, but with all hand tools. Great post, Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always announce my posts on Twitter. I tagged @oldsturbridge and they responded to that and they commented here. I’m glad they liked this post, too. I hope to be able to visit some other museums, maybe in the fall. I’m sure we’ll be back to OSV. Working with hand tools is a special feeling. You can feel the wood. I choose hand tools over power tools often, just for that feeling.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m glad they saw your Twitter tag! Hubby and I are planning a drive out to the Bennington Museum to see the Grandma Moses collection (again). I want to do a unit of study on her and her art at school. I wrote to the museum to tell them, and they want to help out! Even a virtual field trip. How cool is that? I love the saw mill at OSV. Nothing like the real thing.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. When I was trying to get a picture of the chicken, it seemed to want me to be more than six feet away. And, you’re right, I kept saying “I just want to get your picture” but it didn’t seem to be listening.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I remember going to OSV with my aunt when I was a kid. It was magical then, and probably more so now that we’ve all been cooped up for so long. Thanks for the photos and story. Made me smile and hungry. French fires…?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Hi Dan – well I’m glad I eventually got to your part 1 … what an amazing place – and how very sensible of them. They do sound like they need to be highly applauded and I’m glad you had lunch there … supporting them a bit more. Isn’t it a delight to be ‘well served’ … stay safe – Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Well that’s nice! I’m so glad they made accommodations easy and welcomed you so pleasantly. I love places like that. I’m especially missing places like that because the state fair is canceled.
    Thanks for sharing so much of your outing :)

    Liked by 1 person

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