This Month In
The name Lafayette keeps popping up in Richmond. Whether it’s the name of a city street, restaurant or lawyer, all most people know of Lafayette is that he was a Frenchman who came here to defeat the British.
Lafayette has become a national hero in the United States; memorabilia have become treasures. In 1824 he visited Richmond as part of a tour. An invitation to a dinner and ball and a pair of fine white kid lady’s gloves mark that event. They are on view at The Valentine Museum in Richmond beside an enormous portrait of Lafayette painted by Edward F. Peticolas (1757-1834).
My husband, children and I cluster around a wigmaker watching her pull strands of hair through the mesh of a wig base. She points at the head-shaped wooden stand holding a finished wig. “This is a wig block,” she explains. “That’s where we get the term ‘blockhead.’” She goes on to explain the economics of Colonial wig making, noting how one’s wig could say much about one’s social status.
Our family steps out of the tiny shop, enthralled by what we learned — about history, language, and economics. And all this at only one building in the acres of grounds comprising Colonial Williamsburg.