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Pirates of Paynetown 2009 - Bloomington, IN

Mission by a spinning wheel
(Photo: Michael & Kate Bagley)
Mission the surgeon pricks his finger on his
new medieval medical tool.
Being the not-even-remotely -medical journal of the surgeon Mission who journeyed to the far off lands of Indiana for the Pirates of Paynetown event taking place at the Paynetown State Recreation Area on Monroe Lake in Bloomington. Containing complete details of the things he could remember when he started writing a week after the actual event, which ain't much... Thank God for photos that remind him of what happened at the event. (He'd have written a journal, but the motel didn't have internet. Yeah, that's it.) Focusing on the particulars of the two battle engagement for which there are tons of pictures as well as information on various other activities.

Chapter 1st - Friday - Discussing some of the particulars of the trip in the hot rod through the wilds of northern Ohio and Indiana and detailing some of the snazzy cars seen at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana which has nothing whatsoever to do with piracy. From there, relating details of Paynetown and the pirate infestation there. Discussing the further particulars of arriving just in time for dinner (actually that about says it all), helping the Thatchers set up camp and sitting around chatting and drinking rum.

Mission in the Caddy XLR (Photo: Mission)
Mission in the hot rod. Doesn't he just think he looks so cool?

(Photo: Someone, somewhere, USA)
Actual photograph of the trunk of a Cadillac XLR.
Michael Bagley/Micky Souris had invited me to Paynetown last year, even though he didn't actually go to the event. (I tell myself this is because I didn't go, which is probably a complete lie.) When Michael brought it up this year, I decided that since it was a nice close event I'd check it out. Fortunately I didn't have to bring any gibbetted skeletons to transport, which meant I didn't have to bring the truck. (For more on gibbeted skeletons - and who wouldn't want more on that - see the Bucky and Becky pages.)

As a result, I borrowed the hot rod to get there. (See photo above.) The hot rod is the ultimate medical tool, because you are probably a doctor if you own one. The only drawback to the hot rod is that, like most sports cars, it was not designed to transport anything; it was designed to look cool. This means almost everything must be shoved into the passenger seat and secured. (As cool as convertibles are, any small, light, loose items in the passenger seat are not going to remain in your possession long. Stopping every few miles to go and retrieve items really increases your drive time.)

Another plus in my mind was the opportunity to see the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museum in Auburn, Indiana. I had first come across this museum about 20 years ago when I was working at a job in Defiance, Ohio. Being a big fan of the Auburn Boattail Speedster, I thought it would be an interesting place to visit if I was ever headed that way. This trip seemed to be the perfect chance to head that way. Further research revealed that the museum was hosting an exhibit of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's artwork and that made it a cert. So I took Friday off work and headed for Paynetown via Auburn.

For some reason, I had the impression that the museum had a dozen or so cars. Auburns, Cords and Duesenbergs were very expensive cars in their day. So to see several of them together was something. The first room of the museum seemed to confirm this impression. It was the old factory showroom from the 20s and 30s. I was pleased to find 20 or 25 cars of which I took loads of photos that I won't burden all you pirate-focused readers with. Then I discovered a back room containing some "notable" cars, like the extraordinarily rare Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing (below).

Orange Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing in Auburn Museum (Photo: Mission) Orange Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing close-up in Auburn Museum (Photo: Mission)

The upstairs proved to have five times as many cars! There I found several Auburn Boattail Speedsters, including the most beautiful blue and black one. (below) I wound spending two hours crawling around the place looking at cars and the art of Wright. (I again apologize for sounding like an automotive fanboy; I promise to start sounding like a pirate re-enacting fanboy very soon.)

Blue Auburn Boattail Speedster in Auburn Museum (Photo: Mission)

From there it was a fairly straightforward trip to Bloomington, Indiana. Accompanied by my trusty sidekick (strawberry peanut-butter flavored M&Ms...don't knock 'em till you try 'em), I got there about 4pm so that I could be just in time for the Bloomington rush hour. I think the last part of the trip took as long as the ride from Auburn to Bloomington. Once free of that, I made my way to the Paynetown park no thanks to the hot rod's built-in GPS system which was sure I had missed the turn miles ago. (It's a good thing the GPS voice was turned off. "Make a right turn at the next road." "You fool, you missed it. Make a right turn at the next road." "You don't listen very well! Make a turn..." etc.)

Tartan Jack
(Photo: Silas Thatcher)
Arriving at the campsite, I asked around until I found Michael and Kate Bagley who were camped near Mark and Jennie Gist, Ben Fridley, Rats and Tartan Jack. Tartan Jack generously agreed to let me stow my box in the tent he borrowed from Michael. So I unloaded my Mission officially-licensed period surgical box o' equipment into TJ's tent. Appropriately enough, he covered it with a long bolt of purple and blue tartan cloth. He explained that there was something about the blue that wasn't quite right, but since my knowledge and understanding of fabric is limited to almost none, I just smiled and nodded.

Jack turned out to be a very chatty fellow and we talked for a while. He had come all the way from South Carolina for this event, which I thought was sort of funny. Usually it's we folks in the great, mostly dry mid-west who wind up driving 10+ hours to get to events on the coast rather than the other way around. It would be like someone from Florida deciding to attend an event in the chilly mid-western spring!

The Mercury Crew camp
(Photo: Tartan Jack's Collection)
The camp was a hive of activity the entire time I was there, probably because it was right next to the beach. I was to discover that people were always wandering through the camp in a casual, interested way, looking at the pirates and their campsites. This made me really want to play pirate, so I garbed up to fit in.

I had actually arrived at a most fortuitous moment - dinnertime. Jennie Gist said she had made more than enough and invited me to eat, which I thought was most generous. I dined on fresh corn, potatoes and garlic bread. I believe there was some sort of meat entree for all the carnivores, but I skipped that, of course. (I believe I am the only vegetarian pirate surgeon in history.)

Right: a re-enactment of Friday's dinner. (It's a proxy picture since no actual pic was taken.)

A view down one of the Paynetown streets
(Photo: Mission's Collection of badly lit photos)
So as not to be a total cretin, I tried to help wash up, but mostly just got in the way. Sensing this, I had a look around. The camp was packed with period sites - Lady Constance Thatcher reported that there were 35 tents and 150 re-enactors in attendance. The site was wonderfully located on a small peninsula poking into the lake; it was almost as lovely as the beach in Key West at Pirates in Paradise last year. Like Key West, it had beneficial shade-giving trees and a nice breeze coming off the water without having all the not-so-beneficial coral and Australian pine needles. (Well, ok, the Australian pine needles aren't so bad, but I can't resist mentioning them because the Fort Taylor park officials love them so.)

Left: No it's just on the street where you live...well, where someone lived...for a weekend.

The event organizers were Jennifer and Nathanael (below left). Someone told to me it went like this: Jennifer was brainstorming with a friend to come up with ways to draw people to the Paynetown State Recreational Area. (Jennifer worked at the Paynetown State Recreation Area at the time.) Her friend asked if any historical figures had lived there? No. Had any historical events occurred there? No. But they had a nice lake. "Oh, pirates!" her friend said. The other woman turned out to be Nathanael's wife and a re-enacting event was birthed.

The site was laid out with red signposts to indicate the streets, which I thought was sort of clever. (See Mr. Priddy and the signpost below center.) Even more cleverly, they didn't name any of the streets 'Arrr! Lane' or 'Me Bucko Road.'

Jen & Nathan, Paynetwon event organizers (Photo: Mission's Collection of badly corrected photos) Stephen Priddy (Photo: Tartan Jack) Krista Graves, Parasol girl
(Photo: Mission's Collection)

My reveries about the camp were interrupted by the much-awaited arrival of the Thatchermobile. This is a large RV that I suspect is designed to keep young children comfortable once they realize that camping in a tent may sound like fun, but the actual experience is a little different. (Or maybe I'm confusing their view with my concept of sleeping in a tent.) They proceeded to unload an astounding number of children ad tent poles and canvas from the EM-500 recreational vehicle and we set up one large, family-sized tent. (Below left - Silas guarding the home fort.) They also had a canvas fly they were going to set up, but I don't think they ever got to it.

I was enthusiastically greeted by Grace Thatcher (below center), who literally leapt onto me in a hug of enormous proportions. She then presented me a wonderful clay model of two baby leopards nestling with a mother leopard (below right) which is too cute to make any more comments on.

Silas Thatcher in front of the Thatcher's Tent (Photo: Michael & Kate Bagley) Grace Thatcher (Photo: Mission's Collection of badly corrected photos) Grace's leopard sculpture (Photo: Mission)

As it got dark, all tent-raising ceased so that rum-drinking could began in earnest. Kate Bagley/Souris showed up mumbling stories about zombies. Michael generously corrected her by explaining the dangers in this area weren't from zombies, they were from mad Amish folks. Sensing a marital disagreement over the true dangers of Paynetown, I chose to stay out of this one. Eventually I believe they compromised. You can read Michael's views on it in his 'Pirates of Paynetown' blog.

We all gathered around picnic tables in the central shelter on the peninsula and chatted. While the adults discussed movies and events (like Michael and Kate, below left), I wound up sitting at the kids table. Zach decided the best place to sit was on me. Since he's light, it wasn't a big problem. (Lady Constance was very solicitous is offering to remove him.) Seeing things like this, misguided people somehow think this means I'd be a good father. What it really means is that kids very quickly recognize someone who is as mature as they are. So we sat around and talked and tried the scientific experiment where you put bugs into the lantern to see what happens (below right). Apparently the kids still weren't sure after the first dozen, so they kept at it until the lantern was so full of dead bugs that the candle out. We probably should have kept records for future scientists.

Micheal & Kate at night in Paynetown
(Photo: Mission's Evening Photo Collection)
Grace Thatcher staring at lantern in Paynetown
(Photo: Mission's Evening Photo Collection)
Blurry lantern photo
(Photo: Mission's Collection)

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