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.