Today was my first day as a Docent, leading costumed tours through the historic Rosson House here in Phoenix. It’s the same thing I did in Colonial Williamsburg, but I don’t get paid. Oh well, I wanted to do it. The costumes are not historically accurate, but very cute– floor-length black skirt, white blouse, and a ruffled white pinafore with a picture of the Rosson House embroidered in black.
I shadowed a delightful Docent named Maggie to learn the ropes. She has been a Docent at the house for 27 years, so I got to learn some juicy tidbits. For instance, Dr. Rosson died of gastroenteritis at the age of 47, but he had taken out large insurance policies shortly before. There have been rumors–either that he committed suicide or was poisoned by his wife, Flora. Who knows? That’s part of the fun of being involved up-close-and-personal with a historic sight. You get to see and hear things the average tourist doesn’t.
Two fun incidents happened during the tours today. First, a little boy asked if the house has ghosts. I asked, “Are you worried about that?” He nodded solemnly. His father then proceeded to tease, “Look! I just saw one peeking out of the turret!” It took some persuading to get the little boy to enter the mansion. I had to tell him that I never saw any ghosts there, and anyway, they only come out at night.
A different guest wasn’t so shy. The TV show, Antiques Roadshow, is coming to Phoenix soon, and an antiques appraisor had arrived early to do some sightseeing. He was very knowledgeable about the furnishings, even going so far as to point out, “Hmmm, a Wooton desk.” That’s a large desk that swings open to show innumerable cubbyholes. As the sales brochure from the period says, “You can close it up and wheel it onto your yacht.” He he. Maggie said in all her 27 years, no guest has ever told HER that it was a Wooton desk.
All in all, a very pleasant afternoon, stepping back into 1895.