Retirement Community Hosts 2 Major History-Themed Events

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How Cross Keys Village traveled from the 1860s to the 1950s in less than a week.

Civil War Dance at Cross Keys Village
We learned about the forgotten fad for jewelry made of human hair, lace accessories and gloves, and how seldom one’s few changes of clothes ever got washed.

Through a scheduling coincidence, Cross Keys Village was the setting for two history-related events of considerable interest recently. On Monday, July 14, a selected group of Residential Living visitors had the chance to listen to Ike and Mamie Eisenhower, as interpreted by talented William and Sue Wills. Currently in their 18th year of bringing to life the stories of 33 different presidential couples, the Wills have appeared together on stage in 35 of the 50 states. So adept are they at what they do that many forgot after a few minutes that they were watching performers and not to the 34th President and First Lady. William and Sue Wills have written the engrossing dialogue themselves (not to mention the costumes, which they also made themselves), and the audience was moved to tears by the intensity of their portrayal.

On the following Saturday, July 19, Cross Keys Village hosted the Victorian Dance Ensemble, a group of living historians who share a love for the grace and beauty of mid-19th century dancing. As the performing troupe of the Civil War Dance Foundation, they offer educational and commemorative performing arts programs related to the Civil War and Victorian eras. The historically accurate group Dearest Home, a local favorite, returned to Cross Keys Village to provide the musical accompaniment for this exceptional afternoon, which was attended by more than 180 people. Dance numbers alternated with fascinating tidbits about social life in the midstate in the 1860s. We learned about the forgotten fad for jewelry made of human hair, lace accessories and gloves, and how seldom one’s few changes of clothes ever got washed. The dancing itself was far removed from any romantic Vienna waltz: partners often danced side by side, facing straight ahead rather than facing each other. Near the band, a “caller” would often recite the upcoming dancing moves, as for square dancing but in a more “proper” way. For a savory finish, the Campus Inn, Cross Keys Village's sit-down restaurant, offered historically accurate specials that night, including a very popular Steak and Potato Pie with Skillet Cornbread. No matter which side of Americana sparks your fancy, history is always in the air in the Gettysburg area, and Cross Keys Village is happy to commemorate our local heritage.

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Oliver Hazan
Cross Keys Village - The Brethren Home Community
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