On February 19th The Fort Boonesborough Foundation held it’s third installment of the Fireside Chats.
The evening started with a bowl of brown beans cooked over an open fire and served with all of the trimmings. It was one of the best of “the Frontier Fare” meals - maybe because I love brown beans.
With stomach’s full, there was time for a brisk walk outside in the balmy evening air, or a stop at the Transylvania Store. Then at 6:45 everyone was seated and it was showtime.
And what a performance it was. Albert Roberts portrayed an 18th century doctor. And “Doctor Albert Roberts” was quite the humorist. He doesn’t bill himself as a humorist - but he should as he brought a ton of laughter to the blockhouse.
He begins by talking about and demonstrating the tools of his trade. You could see the audience begin to grimace a bit as he described some of the procedures. Some even begin to gasp or turn away. That’s when Robert’s humorous side takes over.
Robert’s knows much about the 18th (and early 19th century). He asks for audience volunteers to help him with his demonstrations. I’ve seen his presentation several times at different venues - but it seems Fort Boonesborough brings out the best in these performers.
His favorite subjects are children. They are up to try anything and can easily laugh at themselves. He also asks for a “Surgeon’s mate” and received help from Larry Ginter - both a re-enactor and member of the Foundation. It was the surgeon’s mate who had the job of holding down the patient in the days before anesthesia. Again Robert’s humor surfaces as someone in the crowd asked about anesthesia. With a completely straight face, the good doctor, quipped that he had never heard of this fellow called Anesthesia - did he live in these parts.
It was a clever way to teach - and touch on some of the more indelicate subjects associated with medicine. I was laughing so hard that it brought tears. He covered topics like musket ball removal, brain surgery (from being whacked with an Indian war club) broken bones and early dentistry - which simply put - was the removal of teeth.
His question and answer period was also quite lively as the audience had quite a few questions. Unlike some of the other first person performers - who answer questions about the person they portray Albert Roberts is asked everyday questions about surviving illness in an age before “modern medicine.” It is hard to fathom with the knowledge of germs and hygiene that we have today that the Doctor gave his instruments only a rudimentary cleaning - mostly to combat rust.
If you have a chance to see “The Doctor” Albert Roberts, it is definitely a top program. His schedule is available at his blog Tempus Fugit . Both he and last week’s performer Mad Anne Bailey will be appearing at Blue Licks State Park on March 12, 2011.