Sunday, July 30, 2006

Too Big For Their Britches

Studies show that the average man in the Civil War era stood 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighed 147 pounds. Since then, the average man has grown 2½ inches and packed on an extra 44 pounds. For anyone trying to walk a mile in his ancestor's shoes, that means a tight fit.

Don Hotchkiss, a civil engineer in Las Vegas and a descendant of Civil War veterans, is an avid Civil War re-enactor. Early on, he and his brother tried to sleep in an exact replica of one of the old tents.

It was too small, Mr. Hotchkiss said. He is six feet tall and stocky. His brother, a police officer in Phoenix, is thinner, but 6-foot-2. The tents were made for men who were average size then. “In the past 145 years, we’ve ballooned up,” Mr. Hotchkiss said.

At a recent meeting of a Las Vegas chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, eight burly men crowded into a library meeting room. All had experienced the equivalent of the Civil War tent problem.

“At the re-enactments, all the directors, all the costume directors say the re-enactors are just too darn big,” said George McClendon, a hefty 67-year-old retired airline pilot. [Link]

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