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Monday, June 16, 2014

Rich in the Stockade

Here I am in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, when I was about ten years old. If I don't look particularly happy, there was a reason.

I have borderline traumatic memory of this trip. Amongst the authentic buildings, crafts and costumed actors, the venue also offers a traditional stockade, which guests can choose to try if they wish.

Most of you are familiar with the stockade in which your head and hands are secured in a wooden restraint (see the example below) . It was a pretty simple matter to stick my head and hands through the stockade and slip them out again.

A traditional stockade.
However, there is another stockade in which a prisoner's ankles were secured.

In my questionable wisdom, as I wandered on my own around Colonial Williamsburg on a late afternoon, I decided to try out the ankle stockade.

Somehow, I got stuck.

I was a little guy at the time, and though it seems as if anyone could slide their feet right out of the restraint, I couldn't. Perhaps, being small, my foot was at an odd angle. 

I just knew I was stuck.

I tried to reach forward and lift up the stockade, but my arms were too short. I was afraid that if I leaned forward too much, I would fall off the small bench I was sitting on and somehow break my ankles. 

At first, I just sat there and pondered my predicament. A couple of people walked by, but I pretended as if everything was fine.

This is the same ankle stockade I tried
out in Colonial Williamburg. Borrowed
from another blog.
But it was getting dark, and my parents were expecting me to meet them. When you're a kid, asking for help from strangers because of what you perceive as your own stupidity is...well...humiliating.

Ultimately, though, I had no choice. I had to gather my courage and call out to a total stranger and admit I was trapped. To make matters worse, the stranger I had to call on was a costumed actor. He kind of looked like Ben Franklin, I thought.

He stared at first, unsure what I was trying to say. Apparently, just saying, "I'm stuck" wasn't enough for ol' Ben. He stared as if I were speaking another language entirely.

I pointed at the stocks, "Could you let me out?"

It was as if he'd heard his cue. Instantly, he was in character, chattering with a Colonial English accent and skittering over to me, "Why certainly, young man! You've done your time!"

I was the only one there to see his performance. I waited patiently, but I really wanted to ask him, "is this really necessary?"

He lifted the stockade and I was free.

I mumbled a quick "thank you" and rushed off to find my parents, and leaving ol' Ben to fly a kite.

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