By Kevin Roberts
Sorry I’ve been sparse in my blog postings, I’ve been quite busy in my job at Minute Man. It’s good work that I’ve sincerely enjoyed, but it is quite dense work. I’ve been frontline since my training ended, and to be honest this is my first real deal 9-5 job. Between running multimedia presentations, training in period firearms, and authoring my own set of ranger talks, I have been neglecting this old blog. Without further ado, here is a kitten on a leash.
I’ve been settling into my digs at minuteman quite well. While the honeymoon and giddiness of the first couple weeks have cooled down into a routine, it lets me get a better understanding of what life will be like working park service.
It can get pretty varied at MIMA, and my usual work week involves a day in colonial garb in the Hartwell Tavern, followed by a day on the North Bridge, and the rest filled with time at minuteman.
The tentpost of a Hartwell tavern visit is one of our weapon demonstrations, where a ranger puts two blanks down range through a reproduction land pattern “Brown Bess” Musket. I’ve actually been training in the 1764 Manual of arms, which is the same drill used by both the British regulars and the colonial militia on April 19th, 1775. I’ll give a link to a pictorial guide here, but the idea is to get a large body of soldiers reloaded and firing in the same 15-20 second interval. I’m nowhere near that point yet, but I’m hoping to get my historic firearms certification soon.
The next day will often be a day at Minute Man visitor center, which is where I spend the Lion’s share of my time at MIMA. The big draw here is a 25-minute short film with immersive side features, like a light-up matte painting of the old Boston skyline or the North Church. My contribution is mostly providing directions and organizing large groups of visitors to make sure things aren’t horrifically gummed up. Usually I am the guy who runs into the theater and pushes the button to get the show moving.
The North Bridge is probably my favorite post at MIMA. It’s a nice shady spot with a lot to talk about and do the pointing ranger thing (just look up the facebook group “rangers pointing at things,” it is a well documented phenomena) I especially like giving ranger talks, which are semi-formal lectures in which a ranger (or in my case, ranger-adjacent) interpreter will regale viewers with their own research in a talk that ranges from 20-40 minutes in length, based on viewer engagement. I like to think I give a mean North Bridge talk, and I think I take guests a little off-guard with my really personable and semi-informal presentation style. The facts are all there, but the big lesson I learned at my last job at the House of the Seven Gables is that a lecture with no visitor rapport is forgotten by the doorstep. I don’t think people come to a hallowed historic site and expect to learn by laughing at a goofball in a boonie hat, but I’ve had repeat visitors remember me and come out to visit Ranger Roberts (as an aside, that has a heck of a ring to it.)
I’m enjoying my time here so much that I was a little shocked that when I filled my timesheet, I saw my end date is a mere month away! I knew I was in trouble when a visitor asked me how long I’ve been here, to which gave the usual answer “I’ve been here since May,” and I noticed people have stopped snickering when I said that.