Fort Douglas Day: Civil War interpreter will bring passion to life

Published: Friday, June 15 2012 4:40 p.m. MDT

"You can't run, you can't eat," she said. A small weight gain of just six pounds can make fitting into the corset impossible.

The underpinnings, or drawers, made of cotton are actually open from "Africa to China," she said with a impish grin, because of the necessity to be able to cope with the heat that comes with the hoop skirt topped by numerous layers of petticoats. The more petticoats, the wealthier the woman and the fuller the dress. Crane then helped Jones into a "light" summer dress made of 8 to 10 yards of fabric.

To top off the outfit, Jones donned a hat. Such an accessory was critical to fashion back in the day.

"You just weren't dressed if you didn't have a hat going out," she said.

Counting fashion shows, other presentations to school groups and re-enactments, Jones said she participates in 20 events each year, and interest in them continues to grow, especially in the West.

For Jones, having the opportunity to educate the public about the Civil War is a privilege she says she cherishes, especially as a Southerner.

"The American Civil War was one of the most defining moments in our history. As Southern as we are, imagine how different our country would be if the South had won and how grateful I am that they didn't," she said.

Few people are well-versed in the complexities of the war, she said, and instead rely on inaccurate depictions commonly portrayed in movies. Jones said the a typical textbook  in secondary education seldom devotes more than a page and a half to the war and it is usually from the victor's point of view.

"Only 5 percent of Southerners owned slaves when the war first broke out. It wasn't all about slavery; it was about states' rights and wanting to be separate."

She said she hopes people get a little bit of that knowledge when they watch the presentations. Her efforts, she said, are rewarded by what is captured in the eyes of children, as boredom or dread transforms into enlightenment.

"It sparks something in them. If we don't educate our children, interest in the Civil War is going to die off. Who will carry on these traditions?"

E-mail: amyjoi@desnews.com

Twitter: amyjoi16

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