Waverly Cotillion looks back at the 19th century

Neighbors

March 30, 2000|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HISTORIC WAVERLY Mansion was the setting for the Waverly Cotillion, a 19th-century re-enactment ball, held Saturday in Marriottsville.

Guests began arriving at 7 p.m. and were greeted by Howard County employees Ann Combs and Barbara Lett attired in fancy ball gowns.

Those who attended were free to tour the mansion and help themselves to refreshments. Food and drink were elegantly displayed in a dining room lighted by candles and the old kitchen area.

Hot artichoke dip, vegetables and dip, cheese squares and many desserts, including cheesecake and carrot cake, were featured. Punch, lemonade and coffee were served in glass cups. The ball was open to the public and attended mainly by history buffs who wore Civil War-era clothing.

Steve Bockmiller was dance master. Bockmiller, dressed in an Army officer's dress uniform, has been calling dances for about eight years. The dance was held in a tent behind the mansion.

The Roeder Quadrille Band performed period music.

Bockmiller announced the dances and explained the steps before each one. The first dance, the formal Grand Military Set, is usually the initial dance at a 19th-century cotillion. Next, guests waltzed to "Prima Donna." After the exhilarating Snowball Reel, many were winded.

"It's lots of fun and pretty good exercise, too!" said Stefania Good of Harrisburg, Pa.

Good, Bockmiller's dance partner, became interested in a period dance after seeing a Victorian dance demonstration. She has been taking classes for four years and attends re-enactment dances in the area.

"It's quite fun," said Good, a registered nurse.

In the slower paced Schottische, two couples dance together. The first set of dances ended with a rousing polka that left many of the guests rushing for the refreshment tables.

Bockmiller said dancing was the main form of socializing in the 19th century.

"You didn't have to have a situation as elegant as this for people to get together," he said. "A lot of people would clear out a barn and have barn dances. You didn't have the movies, television and things like that."

Bockmiller has been a re-enactor since his teens. And he has found a way to enjoy his hobby and make a little money, too. He regularly assists in re-enactments and dances in the area.

Bockmiller works for the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning.

This was guest Kevin Rawlings' second visit to Waverly. He attended a historical event a few years ago.

Rawlings, of Sharpsburg, often attends living-history events.

"I do more living history than I do re-enactments," he said. "A good percentage of the people that are here are what we call `living historians.' "

He said, "They do a lot of research into not only the types of clothing, but also the time period, as far as what their character would have been doing leading up to the [Civil] War."

"A number of us have a lot of different people we portray," said Rawlings, dressed as a military officer and who also portrays Santa Claus and interprets how people viewed Christmas during the Civil War.

The four-hour event was organized by Lett, special events coordinator at the county Department of Recreation and Parks, and her staff.

Reading program

Lisbon Elementary School is participating in the Keys for Reading program, sponsored by its business partner, the Frederick Keys minor league baseball team.

Each child who reads four books between now and April 28 will receive a ticket for the Keys game May 23. Participants will be recognized on the field during a pregame ceremony.

Wildlife

Join the Wildlife Achievement Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America on Saturday to clean up the banks of the Upper Patuxent River.

Meet at 8: 30 a.m. at the chapter house on Mullinix Mill Road.

Bring gloves, rakes and shovels, and be prepared to get dirty.

IWLA will provide commemorative patches and lunch for participants.

Information: Bill Kelly, 301-253-5009.

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