Living in a Time Machine
One such reenactor who I’ve enjoyed getting to know is author Kim Poovey. Kim and her husband Daryl reenact one to three and a half hours drive from their home in the Low Country of South Carolina, “day-tripping,” as she says, to reenactments. Kim portrays Emma Victoria Brown, who is the main character in her book, Truer Words. Daryl portrays a real person, John Wilkinson, a Confederate blockade runner. They make a stunning and elegant couple when they appear. They both love the Victorian era for its simplicity, gentility, morality and etiquette. They don’t go for the battles, but to socialize with other “civilians” who are like-minded.
Kim started reenacting fourteen years ago. It took Daryl a few years to join in. In the past ten years he’s been doing this, Kim says his accoutrements are more extensive than hers, filling closets with canes, jewelry, hats and gloves. She was surprised that he would choose civilian. Since he was a Marine in real life, she thought he’d go military.
History isn’t part of the background for either Kim or Daryl. It started in the 80s when they were stationed in Beaufort, SC, where history is the breath of life. “Reenacting brings history to life,” she says. “It’s a time machine to the 1860s. We travel back to recreate a historical event, to keep that spirit and memory alive.”
The elegance of the Poovey’s period clothing is legend among reenactors. Kim says, “When I wrote my character Emma, I wanted her to be filthy, stinkin’ rich! I wanted to wear her clothes! I was going to be living in fantasy; why would I want to reenact my own middle class life?” She has 20-25 dresses in the 1860s era with bonnets, hats, fans, undergarments, shoes, parasols, jewelry, all befitting filthy rich Emma. But her favorite dresses are from 1880s when bustles replaced the hoops. Kim first learned to sew in high school home ec. For many years she didn’t sew at all, until the reenacting became part of her life.
In addition to her portrayal of Emma, Kim has performed Jane Austin for paying audiences. It’s a gentile and accurate portrayal of the Victorian etiquette and lifestyle, where Kim escapes to nearly every weekend.