Questions, questions, questions. Jeff and Darlene Brosky of Upper Milford Township have answered numerous questions in their 24 years of historical interpretations of the American Civil War.
When doing a historical interpretation, everything must be period appropriate. Shoes, socks, shirts, pants, coats, hats, dresses, gloves and glasses must be as authentic as possible as to what was worn during the 1860s. Cooking equipment, plates, muckets (tin cup with a lid and handle), utensils, bowls and food must be authentic. Tents, bedding, rifles, musical instruments, artillery equipment and canteens must match the required standards.
Sometimes interpretations include their Civil War son, Donald Heminitz, 25. He became involved in re-enacting as a fife player at 11. Because of his age, he needed a guardian while away from home for events; Jeff, 60, and Darlene, 53, stepped forward and became his weekend “mom and dad.”
Jeff took Donald under his wing and taught him some Civil War basics.
“I told him to never go anywhere without his mucket and spoon,” Jeff said. “They can be used for bartering. For example, if you’re hungry and walk past the cook with a pot of soup on, you offer to bring her some firewood for a cup of that soup. Since Donald is a musician, he plays several tunes for a cupful.”
The Broskys became involved in re-enacting while visiting the Antietam Battlefield in Maryland and saw a group of interpreters. Jeff was looking for a hobby and decided this was it—something they could both do together.
Darlene usually portrays a cook and sometimes prepares meals for over 400 1860s soldiers and civilians. She and Jeff haul an authentic-looking stove, wood to stoke the fire, cast-iron pots, and whatever is needed in the camp kitchen. Her meals consist of homemade soups and stews, roasts, homemade breads, pies and a barrel of lemonade.
“Cooking is the fun part of re-enacting,” said Darlene.
Over the years, Jeff has portrayed an infantryman, an engineer and a quartermaster. Now, he transports the cannon from site to site and falls in to one of the six cannon positions at an event. Darlene also helps in the position of powder monkey when needed.
“So now we have a hobby,” he said. “It’s lasted for 24 years and we really like it. The Civil War occurred during a transitional period in history. A lot of changes happened in medicine, war tactics and artillery. And this is what we teach.”
Jeff and Darlene often visit schools and, along with other historical impressionists, set up whatever they can to teach the students what isn’t taught in a classroom setting. Different stations allow the students to try on uniforms, feel the weight of a rifle, hear the fife and drum music, and sometimes watch the doc “operate.”
When Darlene isn’t busy cooking or helping the artillery, she can be found volunteering at one of the following: Macungie Relay for Life, Women’s 5K Classic in Allentown, Making Strides for Breast Cancer, Zionsville Area Food Pantry or the Allentown Rescue Mission serving breakfast.
Editor's Note: Donald Heminitz, the Brosky's Civil War son, is the real-life son of Patch freelance writer Peg Heminitz, the writer of this article.