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You Are There 1948: Communities Can!

Communities Can

The latest installment of the History Center's You Are There series is now open.

 It takes you back to 1948, shortly after the Ball Brothers Company opened its Community Canning Center to provide expert advice to the public. Help a group of Muncie-area women prep their produce, learn more about the process, overhear the latest news of the day and hear about stretching resources to feed a family in post-war Indiana. 

In the content room, you’ll find the interesting history of the Ball Corporation, information about the history of food preservation, eating foods according to season, 1940s kitchen safety and the canning process, and cookbooks and Ball Blue Books over time.

Open through Aug. 12, 2017

Presented by Ball Brothers Foundation 

Meet an Actor

Cheryl Fesmire

Actor Cheryl Fesmire has been working in our Museum Theater department for six years. “I am so excited and thrilled to be using my abilities as an actor for interpretation,” says Cheryl. “Bringing history to life, the research, the camaraderie we have here is all wonderful. I love theater and do a lot of work in community theater, so this is a great opportunity. My work here has continued to be the best job I have ever had. I learn something new every week.”

Communities Can! is interesting and exciting to me because I like the idea of women working together as these women did,” Cheryl says. “I love the history of this and all the difficulties and joys of life after the war.”

The actors in Communities Can! will give guests an idea of how the war impacted the country and local communities and how women had to redefine their roles in society.

“Women were learning another set of skills if they didn’t already know how to do these things,” Cheryl says.

Cheryl’s past roles have included Indiana First Lady Mrs. Jennie Ralston in You Are There 1913: City Under Water and a feisty temperance lady in You Are There 1920: Busted! Prohibition Enforced.

About the Costumes 

We work with ReVamp in Los Angeles to design the clothing for the actors in most of our You Are There spaces. You’ve likely seen their reproduction vintage clothes on TV, stage and the big screen – most recently in The Hateful Eight, Django Unchained and American Horror Story. We talked to co-founder and designer Annamarie von Firley about the process and about the costuming for You Are There 1948: Communities Can! 

Cheryl Fesmire in costume

“What I like about working with the History Center is that every project invites me to immerse myself in a story,” says Annamarie. “I get to study historical photos and pick out the clothing detail captured in a moment in time long past.” 

Annamarie works hand-in-hand – and back-and-forth – with IHS Museum Theater Director Daniel Shockley. He provides her with the historic photos and the backstory. She sends him images of silhouettes she matches to the photos. Dan selects from those and chooses a color palette. Annamarie sends swatches, and he selects what would work best to create his vision. He sends her the actors’ measurements, and she gets to work drafting patterns that are both historically accurate and a correct fit for each actor. 

“These women were housewives and their older daughters,” Annamarie says of the 1948 characters. “Many of them might have made their own clothing from these very patterns I have. If they did make their garments, they may have very well have made their aprons.” 

Dan and Annamarie took care not to coordinate the aprons with the outfits that the women would be wearing. “It is unlikely that any woman would have an apron that matched any ensemble,” Annamarie explains. “It would have been worn in the home with whatever clothing she selected for the day. You will note that the younger, unmarried women aren’t wearing aprons. It is unlikely they would have an apron or housedress. This would have been a part of a trousseau prepared for marriage.” This kind of attention to the fine points is essential to the authenticity of the space.