I grew up believing a good neighbor was many things, but was always a person you enjoyed spending time around and who could be counted on to readily share a bit of their personal wisdom, knowledge about life in general and experiences - and who would always have a unique new way to look at details of the everyday experience.
Martins Ferry resident Sue Weigand is definitely one such person.
Every time our family members spend an afternoon with her at Fort Henry Days we leave having learned or experienced something new about life in the Ohio Valley.
This month's spotlight “HEY! That’s my neighbor” honoree, Sue Weigand, sees a glimmer of interest in history and lets newcomers to Fort Henry Days get their own sense of passion by involving them in the encampment games and activities and in the on-field happenings. Here, Weigand is surrounded by her husband John and their children Nikki and Ian.
Sue Weigand, Fort Henry Days Grand Encampment coordinator for 2011 fires her flintlock rifle during a previous “battle.”
Sue Weigand makes bread during various reenactments.
Yorkville resident Giovanna Loccisano, about 9 years old at the time of this photo - now age 16 - continues to join in the community of reenactors who bring Fort Henry Days activities to life each Labor Day weekend.
Weigand is one of those rare individuals who can make just about anyone feel comfortable while in her company no matter how busy she is at that particular moment in time - or what century in which she happens to be spending her day.
The simple explanation for this odd reference to time: Weigand is an avid re-enactor who loves sharing her love of history and of life in this region with others and thoroughly enjoys immersing herself in reenacting opportunities such as the annual Fort Henry Days Grand Encampment at Oglebay's Site One.
She often splits pieces of her everyday life between the hectic world of 2011, and the American Revolutionary War era of historical reenactments.
Seamlessly moving from a rustic Colonial American lifestyle to the hectic doings of life in modern day USA, she balances components which were central to living in this region in the late 1700s and which remain as such to Ohio Valley area residents in 2011.
Several years ago she offered to share the reenacting experience with my daughter, Giovanna, As a parent, I watched in awe as our then young daughter, Giovanna - then about eight years old - literally jumped at the offer to don period attire and step into the shoes of a colonial frontier era child's life for an afternoon.
Weigand and others had assured me it was no trouble to pull together correct clothing items for her to wear onto the field as part of a group of children who made their way into the fort ahead of an anticipated Indian attack.
Her view of local and national history and the people who experienced it all was forever changed. It had come to life.
The re-enacting experience is something Weigand has shared with other family members, particularly her son Ian.
"I really love doing this stuff. One of the best things about the Fort Henry Days experience for me is I have the chance to talk with people of all ages and backgrounds who may not have had any previous opportunity to look back at who we were as the people who called this area home a couple hundred years ago," shared Weigand.
She has long made it a point to encourage any hint of interest in history she sees among youngsters who visit the encampment.
Her willingness to take a child in hand at a time when she is already busy attending to organizational details of such events, yet makes them feel a very special part of the activity, is not something to soon be forgotten by child or adult.
She has often been that pivotal point on which a child's initial interest in history first finds its feet, often growing into a full blown passion for reenacting and the history and life lessons and first-hand experiences can provide - whether for an adult or child.
I first met Weigand while being introduced to what I, as a feature writer, was going to need to know to come up with some 1500 words and photos for annual feature stories set to run just before Fort Henry Days activities literally came to life on the grounds of local parks.
This year's approaching event is being organized with Weigand continuing to serve as coordinator.
"If anyone is interested in supporting or participating in Fort Henry Days, there are many things we will be needing help with before and during the weekend of Labor Day. Anyone interested is welcome to contact us through the Fort Henry Days page on Facebook," she offered with a smile.
Her life skills are many, and her willingness to share that wealth with others knows no bounds. All she asks of any person as compensation for taking the time to share details of our nation's frontier era history is a small glimmer conveying of genuine interest.
She is passionate about the importance of sharing this information with others in order to keep it accessible to future generations, but like most who come to take part in this and similar events, they revel in the chance to bring alive our nation's history, but understand not everyone shares their interests or passion for this experience.
What had gotten her connected with reenacting in the first place?
"A small mention in a local newspaper announcing an upcoming reenactment project was soon to get underway caught her eye when the Fort Henry Project and Fort Henry Days activities were just beginning to take shape, and volunteers were needed."
Loccisano can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org