Little Johns Sarsaparilla Root Beer's unique bottles come from across the world. The unique bottles can be brought back to the Battle of Selma year after year to be refilled. -- Chris Wasson

Re-enactments open opportunities

Published 9:49pm Saturday, April 30, 2011

Toys, souvenirs and ice cream and candy, no, it’s not a day at a concert, but instead what can be found at the Battle of Selma.

The little tents litter the field, just on the outskirts of the skirmish, selling unique, time-period specific memorabilia.

Mary Whisant, owner of The Paper Lady, has been selling at re-enactments full time for about 25 years and said the lifestyle has become a true joy.

“I love it,” Whisant said. “I love coming out here, I love camping and putting up with the elements, whatever they might be and I just love the people. Everybody comes by to visit me, I don’t have to visit them.”

While The Paper Lady sells corsets and sewing products, other stores, like Little John’s offer a more refreshing selection for the hot day.

“We have root beer, lemonade and cherry fizz,” Little John’s Mel Theisen said. “We have been coming back here since about 1988. The show has gone up and the show has gone down, but we have a lot of loyal customers since we have been coming.”

The shop offers the old classics and unique bottles from across the world that can be kept and brought back year after year for refills.

“Ever since we have started they have brought bottles back since they are refillable,” Theisen said.

“They have been coming back 15-18 years, which is pretty great.”

With such a tight knit community traveling from one re-enactment to another, the dynamic of a civil war reenactment vendor is kind of a unique one according to Chuck Johnson of Row Creek Suttler.

“You meet people from all walks of life,” Johnson said.

“Whether it is people from the construction industry, professionals, lawyers, doctors and so forth. Most people involved in the hobby are just a unique bunch of people.

“I have met a lot of friends here through the years… We are all sort of a family. We are all in competition with one another, but we are all still friends.”

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