Colonial Williamsburg is a Living Museum depicting Colonial America, before and during the American Revolution. Some other examples of living museums in the US are Jamestown Settlement, Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village. I grew up in the David Morton House, next to Christiana Cambell's Tavern, till I was 8. This was only possible because my father worked (still does) at CW Foundation. Employees can apply to rent certain historic houses in the museum. It was cheaper for us to live in that house then rent or buy outside the museum. I had a unique childhood living in the Museum. I had my 20th century wardrobe and my 18th century wardrobe. My older sister and I went into work with my father a lot (this was before CW changed their policy on kids in the foundation). As a child I thought this was a completely normal thing and that all American children lived this way, half in the past half in the future. It was mind blowing when we moved to the suburbs later.
Please Ask away! I have some really funny stories and a unique outlook on history in general. I have attached proof and some other fun photos of me as a kid dressed in my colonial outfits.

Proof: Me holding a picture of my father, sister and me (I'm being held by my dad), The picture I'm holding, Here are some of my favorites

P.S I no longer live in VA. I've been living in New England for a long time.

Edit:Got to walk the dog! I'm having so much fun!!! I'll answer more questions when I get back.

Because you asked Meta

I will apologies ahead of time. I am very dyslexic and when I get tired or been typing to long my grammar gets bad! So hold on to your socks grammar nazi it's going to get rough. Also I know I'm a teacher, teachers can have learning disabilities too.

Wow! This has been great! So many memories, got to reconnect with a childhood friend! So awesome, but alas I must got to bed for my eyes are bleeding from reading so many comments. (Also the things on my ears are tattoos.)

Comments: 1515 • Responses: 45  • Date: 

pookinponub752 karma

I heard a story on NPR about a black man who played the part of a slave and said he couldn't count the number of times a white child would ask his parents to buy him so they could set them free. Any experience with this?

ewoktuna455 karma

OH Man, yeah some of the stuff that is said to you will blow your mind. I think it's a rule that when people go on vacation they leave their brains behind. The worst I got was sexually inappropriate things said to me. However, I have black friends who got some pretty ignorant stuff said to them.

sirborksalot345 karma

I presume you responded to the sexually-inappropriate comments by charging him with lewdness and sending him to the stocks?

ewoktuna282 karma

Oh man! Should of done that.

agolightly73 karma

"Sexually inappropriate things" - but weren't you no older than 8? That person likely had all kind of fucked up noise in their head long before they left for vacation.

ewoktuna139 karma

No this is when I worked there during my college years.

5cprip405 karma

I went to Matthew Whaley and was in the same grade as your sister - your mother was our school art teacher and my father was a balladeer in the taverns, Small world!

ewoktuna278 karma

YES!!!!!!! I'm going to tell both my mom and sister about this. My older sister lives in New Zealand now. She's going to love this.

ZeGoldMedal230 karma

I go to William and Mary and run through the CW regularly (you just got me all nostalgic for school. Man I can't wait for August). Thanks for making me nostalgic. Couple of questions:

  1. What policy does the CW have on children (you mentioned that it had changed in you post)?
  2. I saw you posted elsewhere that you are a teacher. Do you feel living in the CW motivated you to become a teacher?
  3. What is the weirdest thing you've ever seen in Colonial Williamsburg?

Thank you for your interesting AMA!

ewoktuna501 karma

  1. Back in the day, it was- are you an employee? Do you have a child? Well, come bring them to the costuming department once a year and have them fitted for their wardrobe. Now they only have volunteer programs (for any children, not only employees)called Junior Interpreters. It's a really great program!
  2. I have to say my mother, grandmother and great grandfather are probably the reason I teach. I come from a family of teachers and I see it as one of the highest and prestigious callings. However, I know CW is why I have such a great love for history.
  3. It has to be what people say. Best one is a husband and wife looking at some Red Devin Cows (breed with horns). The wife says "Why do they have so many bulls in one place?" Her thinking being only bulls have horns (which is false). The husband starts laughing at her and says "Damn, you're stupid. Those are moose."

lugarshz181 karma

I've heard that the CIA uses colonial williamsburg as a kind of practical field training ground for agents headed on assignment to foreign countries. Practicing how to follow people, dewdrops, and the like. Did you ever witness this?

ewoktuna232 karma

WOW! I had not heard or seen this before (I guess they're doing a good job).

disney_badger176 karma

Did you find that a lot of modern day luxuries were denied due to your living situation?

ewoktuna324 karma

Very good question. The house we lived in had 20th century amenities (electricity, running water, plumbing) but we had to make it seem that it didn't. The house had three floors. The lowest floor was like a basement (mostly underground). This is where we did most of our living (Kitchen, washer/dryer, dinning room, Tv/living room) because it was where the visitors (tourists) couldn't look in. Our 2nd floor was all show (period furniture, no electronic appliances) This is where visitors could look in. The 3rd floor was our bedrooms ( i shared a bedroom with my sister).

savedabol104 karma

Did you ever find yourself spending time on the 2nd floor? Just reading or recreating?

ewoktuna244 karma

Yes, my sister and I would have friends over and dress them in our colonial clothes and have tea parties out in the garden. However, I was scared of our 2nd floor because we had these two paintings we call the Ancestors. They are of my mother's great great grandparents and they scared the loving poo-poo out of me. (My mother in a Masshole and has a direct line to the mayflower.) We are talking scary puritan paintings.

fiveguy77 karma

Do you have a photo of "the Ancestors"?

ewoktuna75 karma

I wish I did they were terrifying.

SunCrushr53 karma

Direct line to the Mayflower eh? We might be distantly related then. My 13th great grandfather was William Bradford. Then again, thousands of people can say the same thing. BTW, I visited Colonial Williamsburg in the summer of 1989 when I had just finished up 5th grade. Were you there at the time?

ewoktuna45 karma

Yup! I was 5 years old.

seawest_lowlife159 karma

Were you home schooled? Are there people who have lived there longer, into their teens and such?

ewoktuna322 karma

No I went to our local public school, about 500 kids (I have a picture of it in my proof). The school was right next to the governor's palace (right on the edge of CW) Almost all of the kid's parents work for the foundation (CW has over 1,000 employees) we all thought this was normal. On a side note, I used to get carriage rides to school.

ewoktuna215 karma

And Yes! There is a lot of legacy going on at CW. I'm talking about grandparents, parents and sons/daughters all growing up and working there. It is very normal for employees to work there for over 30 years. We call them the newbies.

wordodd77 karma

Did you go to Matthew Whaley?

ewoktuna101 karma


rebelipar42 karma

Did the kids tell a story about a ghost in the attic when you went? That was the cool thing to do when I was in 1st grade there.

ewoktuna61 karma

Yes the ghost of Mathew Whaley, and when we had Colonial Day the gym teacher dressed up as the ghost. So twisted.

elliechristine116 karma

Hi! I'm a student at William and Mary and I just wanted to say thanks for clearing up some of these questions! I had wondering if the off limits buildings were for show and now I know normal families live there. Where is your favorite place to visit in CW? Also love your username.

ewoktuna138 karma

You're welcome. Also, congrats for going to the second oldest college in America (Damn you Harvard!!!). I LOVE ( like Pee-Wee-Herman marrying fruit salad kind of love) The Cheese Shop! Best Sandwiches in the world! Also I love driving on the Colonial Parkway and swimming on the beach. However, the best is the brick yard. I used to work in the brick yard and the Talbots in Merchant Square has all the bricks I made on the facade. (Side note, almost lost my toes in the brick yard, so those Talbots bricks have something extra in them.)

ntlord85 karma

What's your thoughts on that guy from SF that bought that mansion (Carter Grove?) in CW and let it fall into disrepair?

ewoktuna134 karma

That is the worst thing that has happened. That place is very dear to me for so many reasons. My father would take us out there every weekend because he had animals housed on the property (this is when CW still owned it). We would go down on the beach and collect fossils and sharks teeth. We would also go hiking on the property, climb trees that had huge bouncy branches and pick daffodils. I have been privileged in the fact that anytime I want to visit my child hood home it has been unchanged and will always be so, but this place I can not and that makes me very sad.

skarface683 karma

Tell some stores?

ewoktuna448 karma

My favorite is when my family moved out to the suburbs near Jamestown. The day we moved in my sister and I didn't go to school to "help" my dad unpack. In the afternoon all the neighborhood kids started to come home. Our new home was on a cul-de-sac so all the kids started to play baseball. My sister and I went out to join them and instantly made friends. However, when dinner time rolled around all the moms and dads started to call the kids into their homes. So we all decided to meet up after dinner. Well, being good CW kids my sister and i start hiding all the toys in bushes, behind rocks, and a porch near by. All the kids watched us and were like WTF, why you doing that? My sister and I tried to explain, "We need to hide them so THEY don't see. If THEY see we get in trouble." Totally freaked out the other kids. However, my sister and I were used to hiding our toys after we played outside so tourists wouldn't see our modern things. CW actually gave us designated hiding places for bikes, grills, trash cans and all and any outdoor stuff. If you go to the backs of the houses you will see theses fenced off, enclosed places, peek in and you'll see the future.

redyellowand80 karma

Thanks for answering all of these questions!

Do you have any "historical skills" most people today don't? (ie spinning, etc)

Also, dumb observation but you look like an adult version of Felicity from American Girl and that makes me happy idk

ewoktuna129 karma

LMFAO!!! When I was an interpreter almost every little girl holding an American girl doll would run up to me shouting Felicity! I would sit down with them and say I'm not Felicity, but I know her and is there anything you would like to tell her? I can tell her for you. Also I was a kid when Felicity became an American girl doll. They had a big ta-do in CW and put on a televised play. My sister was Lizzy her friend. Also I remember the actress who played Stephanie from Full House came. We got a picture with her, good time had by all.

moskoismycat74 karma

Did you ever get tired of yelling HUZZAH?

My boyfriend works at CW making reservations, but hopes to move to a position that utilizes his history degree soon. He gets mad when we drive up there (We live in Newport News) and I yell HUZZAH at him every time I see a sign for the restaurant.

ewoktuna149 karma

I WILL never get tired of screaming HUZZAH!!!

ewoktuna256 karma


acusticthoughts73 karma

Did tourists constantly flirt with you?

ewoktuna248 karma

When I was a child, NO! However, when I was in College I worked at CW during the summers and during those 4 years... yes! A lot of flirting (mostly unwanted). My favorite story was when a I was 20 a troop of boy-scouts collectively tried their one-liners out on me (they were all probably 11 or 12).

Thickensick139 karma

"Mind helping me out with my Poontang Badge?"

ewoktuna167 karma

I wish they had used that one! Theirs were more like... "BOOOOOOBIES!!! they're cool." (they were 11)

lYossarian65 karma

Are natives depicted at Colonial Williamsburg?

ewoktuna102 karma

not as much as Jamestown. By the time period Williamsburg is depicting (1690-1780's) most Native Americans had moved out to the Piedmont areas (central VA).

lYossarian60 karma

Is there any way the locals are expected to speak? Do you adopt an accent or a formal way of speaking?

ewoktuna135 karma

NO!!!! Thank goodness. At Plymouth they all have to stay in character (accent, no modern knowledge of technology and so on). At CW Reenactors do that and they usually are representing a specific historical person. The Interpreters are the ones you will main see and interact with. They are like guides to the past. They wear the clothes and know the history but they are allowed to acknowledge the present.

Frajer59 karma

Did you ever like go to the mall or something in period dress and get made fun of?

ewoktuna141 karma

LOL! If you have ever gone to Williamsburg VA you will always see people in period dress going to the grocery store, running errands, getting a beer after work. technically you're not allowed to wear the costumes outside of the museum, they are property of the foundation and very, VERY expensive. However, everyone does it. The most taboo thing you can do is work somewhere else in the costume without getting permission. (this is mostly the case for reenactors doing stuff on their own time.)

ewoktuna154 karma

So Yes, I wore my colonial outfits A LOT! I thought of them as my "work" clothes. When I was really young I just thought of them as my clothes. I would often mix and match centuries. Plus it was the 80's and 90's, so a lot of leggings, puffy shirts and bonnets for me.

Cifems54 karma

Have you ever read Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix? Or watched M Night Shyamalan's The Village? (not recommended)

ewoktuna80 karma

When I saw the Village It really, really reminded me of home.

Zcrash90 karma

Did your home also have a stupid plot?

ewoktuna119 karma

Only for the ghost tour.

poryphria46 karma

Student who goes to W&M here, lived in the dorm closest to CW. I just wanna say thanks for making an awesome place even more awesome. Funniest thing you've ever seen while you lived there?

ewoktuna62 karma

The runners on DOG street. A group of men would wake up at 7am (when we would be getting to work) running in speedos. Got to get up early to catch the worm;)

ewoktuna136 karma

Here's another funny story. Once, while interpreting outside of the windmill a family rushed up to me. Please tell us more about that pig in the field. We have never seen such a fuzzy pig and my children want to know more about him. The only animal out in the field was a sheep and she was a ewe.

flaming_sousa43 karma

Alright, I live really close to CW and have gone there alot. But there is one thing I have to know. How the hell do you deal with the horse poo everywhere? Do you get used to it or have a trillion air freshners?

ewoktuna74 karma

LOL! Wow, you see this is a huge joke in my family because for almost 30 years my father has worked with the animals directly. I grew up mucking, feeding all the animals there. I loved farming so much I even went to a farming high-school in Vt. So for me that kind of stuff is just life. Also it's authentic to the time period. Just be thankful CW doesn't go all the way and make it like it used to really be in the 18th century. The road went all the way up to the buildings (no sidewalk) and it was a foot deep of mud and crap (human and animal).

mixdkinkster8342 karma

Just wanted to say thank you for the AMA. My friend's father is/was an officer in CW. I think he was the sheriff or deputy. I cant remember. I lived in Yorktown for 4 years and always ran around Williamsburg soaking up.the history. I miss that place.

ewoktuna31 karma

Yeah CW locals! and Historic VA!

Kawaiidesu34336 karma

I live in the David Morton Shop. I did an AMA awhile back. The David Morton House is a guest house now, like a hotel.

ewoktuna40 karma

Yeah, I'm hoping one day to rent it out for a weekend and relive my childhood.

mjolle33 karma

Quite an interesting subject to do an AMA on!

My question would be, do you and your family seem to appreciate modern things more, or take them less for granted, when you've grown up seeing how it was "in days of yore"?

Thanks for the AMA!

ewoktuna61 karma

Wow! Great question. I think it has impacted me in the way that I really don't like living with too many things and have always tried to be self-sufficient. I was brought up raising animals, growing our own food and knowing how to make things by hand. I love pickling and making jam, knitting and having a garden still. Also everyone in my family is obsessed with history.

lb1230 karma

I got lost in the maze when I was 5 and thought I was going to die.

Any thoughts on this?

ewoktuna46 karma

My friends and I used to jump over the brick wall that separated Mathew Whaley school from the governors palace, hide in the maze hedges and throw rocks at the visitors walking through. Thought it would make them think it was haunted.

lizzardx29 karma

AAAAH Do they still have that general store (on mainish street) that sells the kick ass (old fashion) ginger ale and cornbread? That was my favorite part of Colonial Williamsburg.

ewoktuna33 karma

YESSSSS!!! and the best sugar cookies and hot cider around!!!!

KailuaGirl29 karma

Have you ever been to Green Field Village (in Dearborn, MI)? If so, what did you think?

My husband and I grew up often visiting GFV and when we went to Williamsburg last year we were actually disappointed. I think our biggest complaint was not being able to tour the houses without a tour group and when we did tour a house we were pushed through too fast. I understand they probably have to run it this way due the volume of tourists, but GFV is much more laid back and enjoyable.

ewoktuna31 karma

I have never visited GFV. However, your complant is heard a lot because the ticketing system at CW can get a little confusing. The thing is Duke of Gloucester Street is owned by the town (free to public) However the buildings and activities are owned by the Foundation. So anyone can walk through the town but to partake in the "museum" You have to buy certain tickets. Also the Visitor center, and museum buildings (where exhibits are being shown) are on the edge of the museum so are often over looked (which is sad). If you get a weekend pass, you would have a lot to look at.

hlfempty6928 karma

What happened if/when people broke character?

ewoktuna67 karma

I have never seen a reenactor break character, they are so dedicated.

ajhoffman25 karma

Hi! Another W&M student here. I was wondering, first, if you went to William and Mary. Secondly, I was wondering how in tune to the goings-on at the college everyone else in the town is. Considering that the student population actually takes up a really large percentage of the overall population in the town, it intrigues me to know what you all think of us.

Thanks for the AMA!

ewoktuna40 karma

No, I did not go to William and Mary. When I was 14 I got the great opportunity to go to a farming school in VT. Ever since then I have lived in New England. Also I now live in an area with 5 colleges and the locals see the students as barriers to getting into their favorite eateries and parking places in town. I think that is how they see you guys. Trust me, they don't hate you as much as the hordes of visitors.

dashtyle24 karma

Crazy to see about half a thread about William and Mary! I love it. Any experiences with any of the haunted places there? Going to the maze is a great way to get a girl right in your arms :)

ewoktuna73 karma

Well, when I was little our house used to be on the ghost tour... scared the living hoo-ha out of me. My sister convinced me that our attic had a ghost in it. I pointed out one day that the only noises that came from the attack were pigeon noises. She changed her story to that our attic was haunted by pigeon ghosts. I believed her.

theftprevention21 karma

I'm a student at William & Mary too! I took the Ghost Tour when I first started going there, and still enjoy an occasional walk through CW.

  1. I used to work at the Bloom store (now Food Lion) on Richmond Road and would always see the "townies" come in wearing their colonial outfits going shopping. I didn't start until after you left, I presume, but I bet you came in there in wardrobe at some point, didn't you?

  2. Do you ever come back to visit?

  3. You mentioned in a comment that you had to hide your toys and everything. Has a tourist ever caught you doing something / in possession of something 20th century? While I'm on the subject, what's the most taboo or "bad" thing you've done with regards to the colonial impression you were supposed to be giving off?

  4. Did you know about this?

ewoktuna41 karma

  1. Yes I did go to it, but only when it was food lion. 2.Yes, my parents still live there. 3.I was a constant source of anxiety for my mom because I loved running around naked and I also had, what I lovingly called, barbie grave yards. I used to chew my barbies legs and arms off (because I chewed everything), cut their hair, and give them "make-up" (Sharpie pens). They did not look very good, but I loved them. I would go out to our yard (In CW), pop their heads off make little graves, place them in, bury them, put a stick in the ground to mark the grave and then place the head on the stick. I would spend a lot of time placing shells and flowers around them. My mom had a shoe box with "ewoktuna's barbies" written on the side and she would wait till I was done, dig them up and then put them in the box. I know many tourists saw this horrifying ritual many times. Also, I love that SNL Skit. Also was one with Britney Spears churning butter.

jonathanmorley14 karma

Going on honeymoon to Williamsburg soon, any places you would recommend to stay or visit in or around the area?

ewoktuna34 karma

GO to I would say if you have the money stay at one of the Inns!!! Fabulous! And For good-golly-molly go to the visitor center and get a good ticket that lets you go into everything. Get a weekly map (because they tell you the special events). Also go to Bucsh Gardens and ride some roller coasters! Have fun and buy some of their soap and candles (smell so gooooood). Plus if you see a big English man on an ugly bike that's my dad!

grassfarmer_pro10 karma

My wife and I visited Williamsburg for Christmas last year and loved it, and we are planning to go back again this fall. So:

Is there any part of the area that might be "off-menu", where it's a great place to see but it's not well advertised?

My wife and I spent 3 days there, bought passes, and got to see almost all the major attractions, but what would you recommend? Thx.

ewoktuna28 karma

Go to Jamestown, It is so beautifully laid out for the public. A GREAT MUSEUM. Also bike Jamestown Island, it is beautiful. Make sure you go to the mental hospital museum in CW, that's fun.

wouldbenicetochill10 karma

I love riding my bike through CW in the middle of the night. Is that frowned upon?

ewoktuna12 karma

No! DOG street is a public street. Just don't scream HUZZAH at the top of your lungs.

bibliofeel10 karma

You might be interested in the young adult book Past Perfect by Leila Sales, which is about a teen girl living at a colonial reenactment museum with a rival Civil War museum down the road. It's a great read for history nerds.

Since you mention you now live in New England, do you think New England treats its colonial past differently than VA? If so, is it for the better or the worse?

ewoktuna11 karma

Wow! Good question. I think not. But they definitely teach the civil war differently.