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ROSENDALE >> For many, weekends are a time to play a round of golf, watch football, go out with friends or just relax. But for Don Beale, and his wife Hella Beale, many weekends are spent recreating the battles of the 1770s and 1780s, when America won its independence from Great Britain.
The Beales are Revolutionary War re enactors who have amassed an enormous collection in their more than 80 combined years of recreating the past.
Local residents may know Don Beale, 66, as a retired seventh grade social studies teacher at Highland Middle School, or from the Burning of Kingston re enactment where he portrays British General John Vaughan, who led the burning of Kingston in 1777.
Beale said he fights for the redcoats because his British roots run deep. His father, an American, fought in the Royal Air Force and his mother was a bomb spotter as a teenager during World War II, he said.
He said his re enacting story began back in 1959 in his native White Plains, when preservationists hosted a re enactment to raise money to move a historic Revolutionary War headquarters threatened with demolition.
took me down there, and they had two recruiting booths one for rebels and one for the King men, he said. ran right to the Union Jack and signed up, and it took 40 years for me to ride from recruit to general.
In the years since he said the quality of equipment and uniforms has improved incredibly
was looking at a picture of myself back in that era, he said. equipment was awful, I had a modern shotgun in the first year and the uniforms were pitiful.
about as accurate as we going to get, he said.
those days we wore something close, he said. those days are long gone.
He said his British cavalry officer Revolutionary Wary uniform, complete with white knee breeches, long socks,
a vest named a waistcoat and a scarlet red coat, fits very tightly to the skin.
a while you learn to sit differently to make up for where the stress points are, he said. no stretch fabric, if you don sit the right way you feel it.
you sit with a sword, you realize you have to learn how to do things differently, he said.
But after man years he always comfortable in 18th century clothes, he said. just as comfortable in as you are in your clothing.
And he said he makes sure never to wear his spurs inside. would be tearing a hole in the floor, he said.
His many uniforms are just part of the gear that goes into an accurate portrayal of a British officer.
In the field of battle he carries gear that includes a sword, a rifle, a white linen haversack, a tin and blue cloth canteen and a cartridge box.
His collection of swords includes reproductions and originals like a German hunting sword, he said.
was used because it was easier to get around with, he said.
He said much of his equipment, including his muskets and rifles, were made by either him or his wife.
As he spoke, on a chair next to him in the sunroom was a long handmade smooth bored musket he said was often used by officers for hunting.
He said smooth bores were popular because they could load faster and we easier to clean.
In his living room was a smaller smooth bore musket called a carbine that was often used by cavalry troops because it was easier to use on horseback, he said.
Then there is his collection of bayonets, like a giant 26 incher one that fits on an officer rifle and an intimidating 18 incher, a smaller but equally intimidating bayonet that fits in a small compartment in the bottom of a sporting musket.
Soldiers used their bayonet to drive troops off the battlefield, he said.
Beale said he made several portions of his uniform, like his handmade leather knee guards. Revolutionary War re enactors often have to make their own clothes and equipment, he said.
not like the American Civil War re enactment, where there are webpages where they can go to and get outfitted in uniform at the click of a button and have it be at the house in a week, he said.