WHY? —–I guess we should begin there. Why make a film about an old house. At first glance there certainly isn’t anything remarkable about it.
First glances can be deceiving.
When I first participated in a living history event held at Musee de Venoge in 2015 there was…. something…about the place. Don’t ask me to describe it. I really can’t.
Perhaps it was the location. The place is picturesque. That is, once you factored out the busy highway to the front and the storage facility screened by a line of trees on the next property over.
No; location wasn’t the reason.
Maybe it was Donna Weaver and her group of volunteers. Turns out they had literally moved heaven and earth to save this building.
I guess that was the spark of it all.
The results of their efforts were everywhere. You saw it in the fully furnished and restored home. You felt it in the enthusiasm with which they welcomed visitors and participants.
But there was……. something…… more. I just kept sensing it.
Yes, material culture is intriguing. All those “ye-olde-timey” things are pretty nifty. But, I’m a story teller. Stories are about people. Material items are merely set dressing to the soul of a story.
It finally boiled down to two things: Who were the people that once lived here using those nifty things? And WHY was I so drawn to this place???
Thanks to Donna’s willingness, she shared a series of letters she had published. They were penned by Jacob Weaver. He was the original owner of Venoge Cottage.
That’s when light started to go on in my senior citizen cranial brain pan. This was a place where once lived dreamers. The letters told it all.
Too often we become lost in this fallacy. History is only worthwhile of remembrance if it is created by demi-gods. You know…those figures from the past immortalized in the marble and bronze statues you see in front of courthouses and in government capitols. (On a side note you really have to feel sorry for those things. For eternity they are destined to be frozen in some heroic and uncomfortable pose.)
History is not their exclusive domain. History is the story of all of us, no matter who we are.
The people who lived here were not those grandiose statues. As Charles Dickens describes the Cratchit family in his classic A Christmas Carol “There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not a handsome family; they were not well dressed…. their clothes were scanty…. But they were happy, grateful, pleased with one another and contented with the time.”
The more I immersed myself in those letters and in each subsequent conversation with Donna, the light in my dim brain reached full illumination. This was a story about firm believers in dreams and how those dreams can inspire us all.
This is a film about following your dreams. Those dreams will involve risk taking, consequences, and coming to terms with choices freely made.
I’d be lying to you if this part of my attraction to the place was left out…… This is also a love story.
This brief film is not only the story of Jacob and Charlotte Weaver, Donna and her late husband Tom and an old house saved from incineration. This is the quintessential American story. This is a tale of everyone who has ever had the courage to dream.
Now if the traffic in front of the site would just go away….