Winston-Salem man transforms yard into Revolutionary War playground

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Eric Spaar fires his replica musket during an 18th century living history demonstration at his home for Redeemer School third and seventh graders. (Walt Unks/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Gunfire echoed across Sherwood Forest on Thursday as students in a backyard learned about life during the time of the Revolutionary War.

It was Eric Spaar firing off Brown Bess, of course, and it fit right in with the campfire cooking potatoes and the sunlight filtering through a tent on a cool spring afternoon. (Brown Bess is the nickname of the British Army’s muzzle-loading musket from that era.)

About 20 students, seventh-graders from Redeemer School, made butter, ground corn and learned how to do the Virginia reel in Spaar’s backyard. Students in the third grade had visited earlier.

“Every year it gets bigger and bigger,” Spaar said. He used to take all his Revolutionary War stuff over to the school, but finally decided it was easier to bring the children to his home.

Sarah Lindsay, bent over the fire and a frying pan full of sliced potatoes, said it was nice to “cook potatoes with homemade butter on the homemade fire.” She likes to cook, she said, and would have liked doing that in olden times.

Meredith Brown, who was helping out, wasn’t so sure. If she had never cooked any other way, she said, it might be fun, “but now it would be a little boring.”

Spaar belongs to that rare breed of re-enactors who are into the Revolutionary War. He’s a Redcoat. He liked to fire the gun every now and then, but didn’t give advance notice because he got a better reaction from the kids that way, he said.

Spaar’s brothers are re-enactors too.

Ian Creech, one of the students, said that grinding corn was fun, but the dancing? Not so much.

In fact, some of the boys had to be more or less drafted, and some of them didn’t want to hold the girls’ hands during the dance.

Jeanette Brown, one of the mothers on hand, said the timing of the event was just a convenience.

“It is not a Revolutionary Easter,” she said. “The kids were out of school tomorrow and it was a good time to do it.”

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