Rendezvous: When the Present is an Anachronism

Rendezvous: When the Present is an Anachronism

by Rickey E. Pittman

Historic Fort Washita, located just outside of Durant, Oklahoma, on the first weekend of April, is the yearly host to what is known as a “Fur Trade Rendezvous.” The year I went, an estimated 15,000 visitors, including bussed in high school students, viewed and sampled the wares of the 30-35 vendors and observed the 150 plus campers of the rendezvous. Vendors (who like to call themselves traders or sutlers) and campers all had one thing in common: everything they wore, used, sold or traded, ate was made, done, or prepared exactly as it would have been before 1840. Canotte Basket I felt like an anachronism, walking about in my modern dress, listening to their conversations and interviewing them about the rendezvous experience. Except for the cars I could see in the background at the Fort’s entrance, I felt I had been transported into an 1840 frontier village. I have always been a lover and student of history, but I learned much more than I expected and intended. What I observed in the people of this rendezvous was not a quaint infatuation with the past, like one might have when he or she dresses up like General Grant or a Southern belle for a costume party. I felt like my body and face had been slammed into history. Those who participated in the rendezvous have an intensity that is both charismatic and jarring. They not only know and love history