Showing posts with label Botetourt. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Botetourt. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

My Music Teacher

I learned that my elementary school music teacher passed away recently. Her name was Mrs. Tingler, and she taught music from the time I was at Breckinridge Elementary School until I left there in sixth grade.

She did not instill my love of music in me - that honor belongs to my father, who has always sang and played the guitar. But she did impress me with the variety of music available, and opened my eyes to many different types of instruments.

She would bring in drums, bongos, triangles, recorders, tambourines, and other such instruments and hand them out to students to play.

Some of my favorite songs we sang were Senor Don Gato, a song about a cat, and Goodbye, Old Paint, a song about an old pony. Sometimes I call my husband "Old Paint," and he always looks at me funny when I do that.

Once Mrs. Tingler took me and another student to other elementary schools to sing. I also played the flute during the songs. The only song I recall that we sang was Morning Has Broken, but I know there were others. It was a big deal to be pulled from class to go around to other schools, riding in Mrs. Tingler's car from place to place.

A while back, I connected with Mrs. Tingler on Facebook and was able to thank her for her influence in my life. I am glad I was able to do that.

I don't know if students still have music at the elementary school level, what with the focus on STEM learning and teaching to tests. But hearing the sounds of young folks playing instruments and lifting their voices in song has to be one of the greatest delights of life.

I hope every young student has a Mrs. Tingler in his or her life at some point.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Thursday Thirteen

Today, a little local history:

The county's first "fast food" joint, circa 1973.

The Cavalier Burger was one of Daleville's first "fast food" places. It started about 1972. The building is still there, but now it is a pet grooming facility. We always laughed about the "chicken shakes" you could purchase at the Cavalier Burger.

This is what Fincastle looked like before the trees all grew up, probably in the 1980s or earlier.

This is a barn floating down the James River during the Flood of 1985. The flood wiped out the communities of Eagle Rock and Cloverdale and the Town of Buchanan.

The second Botetourt County Courthouse, which burned in 1970.

The "old jail" structure and water tower beside the courthouse. The courthouse would be off to the right of the photo. 

The county's first real strip mall, built approximately 1986. It was anchored by Winn-Dixie, which remained until about 1998 or so, and a Peoples Drug Store, which turned into something else and ultimately ended up a CVS. This mall still stands but it houses a Dollar General Market and few other small things.

The community of Eagle Rock, circa 1895. The town had several hotels and was a bustling area with mills and a tourist trade. President Grover Cleveland fished in the James River nearby.

The James River and Kanawha Canal was the brainchild of George Washington, who started it, sort of, but did not live to see it through. The canal was supposed to go all the way up the James and eventually connect with the Ohio River to the west. It ends in Eagle Rock. By the time the last lock was built, railroads were becoming the thing, and eventually the tow-path along the river was bought up and turned into a rail line.

The Roanoke Hollins Stockyard, circa 1970, has been around for about 60+ years.

The Breckinridge Mill is a reminder that long ago, local mills ground flour and such products came from local farms, not far away.

The City of Roanoke, known as Big Lick long before the railroad came, would never have become a prosperous railroad town if some Botetourt County folks hadn't had the initiative to encourage the railroad to "go that-away" instead of taking other routes.

The state bought out and removed the Truckstop at Exit 150 on Interstate 81 about 10 years ago. The truckstop started around 1962.  This picture was taken in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

This is a document signed by Patrick Henry. It and many like it, signed by other founders of Virginia and the United States, can be found in the Botetourt County Courthouse, where they are preserved, protected, and kept under lock and key by the county clerk.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 667th time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday. Or so sayth the Blogger counter, anyway.

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Last American

Yesterday, my nearby town lost one of its great characters. Because I value his family's privacy, I will only refer to him as Bobby, but everyone who is local will know of whom I speak, and at the end is a video that will identify him fully.

Bobby was 90, as best I can tell, when he passed away. He served as the town's mayor several times. He was great friends with everyone, and as far as I know, he hadn't an enemy in the world.

I met him when I was 20 years old. I worked at a law office in town, and Bobby was friends with my boss. But it was because I was "James Arthur's" wife that my acceptance was immediate. Bobby also was old friends with my father-in-law, Jimmy, and I heard many tales about their adventures at hunting camp, a secret place somewhere over on Bald Mountain in Craig County.

Bobby was the kind of guy who had a story for everything - because he'd done so much. He greeted me with a hug whenever I saw him and would immediately ask about my husband and the rest of the family. As time passed, he wanted to know about my nephews, too. He never forgot to ask about them.

Bobby lived in my nearby town all of his life. He was born in 1930, and he lived in the small community before the time of vehicles, before telephones, before, well, most things that we now take for granted.

He grew up in an America that doesn't exist anymore. He grew up in a time when all he needed to know took place within walking distance of his house, and if he needed to know more, he read the newspaper (and didn't proclaim it "fake news" if he disliked what he read). 

Around 2005, Bobby wrote a book about his life, a memoir, if you will, of simpler times. Copies may still be available at the Botetourt County Historic Society. I cannot find my copy, which makes me sad because I'd like to quote from it. If he signed it for me, I may have put it away with my other autographed books, and they're in a closet that I can't reach. 

His book held so many stories, though! For example, his father rescued a young black child during the winter, and the boy grew up with Bobby (who was white). There was something about skunks. And a story about a coffin. The hunting stories, too, seemed to always elicit gales of laughter from the men as they stood around talking and reminiscing.

Bobby attended school in town, spent a year at Greenbrier Military School, and then volunteered for the Army. 

According to a Roanoke Times story from 2005, he also worked for the Atomic Energy Commission. The paper reports that Bobby said this: 

"I witnessed the first H-bomb explosion in the middle of the Pacific in 1952," . . . "I was 40 miles away at sea, and you couldn't look at it with the naked eye. It was humongous, something you just can't describe. That island where they detonated the bomb is no more."

Later, Bobby worked as a deputy clerk for the Botetourt County Circuit Court and then went on to work for Appalachian Power. He didn't lay lines - he negotiated rights of way. He was still working for Appalachian the last time I spoke to him, which was last summer, even though he officially "retired" in 1993.

The book Bobby wrote came about because he had all of those stories in his head and putting them on paper seemed like the thing to do.

He also wrote letters to the editor of the local newspapers. Here's one from 2018:

I once belonged to the NRA back when it was what I considered a hunting organization. When it became more political, I dropped out. I tried to explain to the calls I got from NRA my feelings, then and only then was I left alone (no more calls). I was told by several friends and NRA members, "once the anti-gun people get their feet in the door, we would all lose our guns." I simply cannot buy into that theory.
I would suggest we outlaw automatic weapons and bump stocks, have a buy-back system, give them all to the military and very special units of law enforcement, we could avoid a lot of mass killings. In addition to the above, we should keep arms out of the hands of the mentally unstable that show any signs of aggression. This should help keep the peace.
We certainly cannot continue to allow people to be slaughtered, most especially our precious children. Arming teachers is not a feasible idea.
Raising age limits from 18 to 21 to purchase automatic weapons is only showboating at best.
NRA, please become a hunting organization again. I will gladly rejoin.
BOBBY _____
I thought the world of Bobby. I know there are hundreds of people who can write a better description of Bobby than I can, people who were closer to him and knew him better. To me, though, he was, first and foremost, a decent and kind human being. Given the things that are going on today, I think he was probably among the best people I have ever known. I consider his America to be gone with him now, and we are faced with new problems and villains to overcome, and a totally different country. I hope Bobby will look down and give us guidance as we make tough choices.

Here is part one of a talk with Bobby, part of the Virginia History Exchange. There are four parts, and the rest can be viewed there if desired.

Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Catawba Furnace

These are the remains of the Catawba Furnace. You can see it from the road near the cement plant. The furnace was originally built in 1830. It operated for about 20 years then went out of service until the Civil War, when Tregedor Iron Works put it back into service for a short time. By 1865, it was no longer a working iron furnace again.

I had not visited this furnace for at least 15 years, and it has fallen in significantly in that time span.

This is from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources website:

"This cold-blast charcoal furnace was built on an unusual round plan in 1830. It ran on water power from the Catawba Creek. The original Catawba Furnace consisted of one stack and many wooden buildings situated on 10,000 acres in Botetourt County. In 1863, the property included a corn mill, saw mill, stable, granary, coal shed, blacksmith and wheelwright shop, managers house, one frame boarding house, six cabins for laborers, an office, sheds, and an ore washing machine. Although abundant coal was found on the property of Catawba, the furnace was never converted into using coal or coke. Pig iron was hauled from Catawba Furnace over twenty miles of rough roads to Buchanan and the James River and Kanawha Canal, where it was loaded onto barges to be sent to Richmond. Difficulties in transportation limited production after the Civil War. Pig iron from this furnace was so valued that it sold for as much as $60 per ton, and was transported (in small quantities) to Boston, and all the way to Maine. A large part of Catawba Furnace collapsed in the 1930’s when vandals removed two of the arch lintels."

Monday, February 03, 2020

Happy Birthday, Botetourt!

Saturday, Botetourt County held the opening event for its 250th birthday. The event was charming and totally Botetourt County in its tone. It was inclusive, patriotic, and it spoke to both our past and our present. The 250th anniversary committee, comprised of Donna Vaughn of Eagle Rock, Lois Switzer and Angela Coon, both from Fincastle, and Wendy Wingo of Blue Ridge, did an outstanding job in coordinating not only this effort but also in helping me put the county's 250th celebratory magazine together.

The program for the event.
Inside of the program.

The event was held at the Lord Botetourt High School auditorium.

It was a full house. By the time the event started, it was standing room only.

Brent Watts was master of ceremonies. He is the Chief Meteorologist at WDBJ7.
The Sheriff's Department and Botetourt County Fire and EMS Departments presented the flag, and Boy Scout Troop
211 of Daleville led the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Teresa Hamm, right, sang the National Anthem

Students from Cloverdale and Troutville Elementary Schools sang patriotic songs.

Virginia House of Delegate Terry Austin gave a speech. He used to be a member of the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors.

The combined choirs of Rising Mount Zion Baptist Church and Lapsley Run Baptist Church rocked the house.

The Anniversary Address by the Honorable Malfourd "Bo" Trumbo, retired Circuit Court judge and former Virginia State Senator, addressed the county's history and explained how we really are, as Robert Douthat Stoner named his book, "The Seedbed of the Republic."

David Austin & Friends sang the 250th Anniversary Song, which they wrote. The song is called "Where My Home and My Heart Meet."

This is the cover of the official 250th anniversary magazine.

There were additional displays in the cafeteria, along with punch and birthday cake. The magazine wasn't given out until the end, because the Sestercentennial Committee didn't want people leafing through the magazine during the event ceremonies. I gave out the magazine and many folks asked me to sign a copy. Because I was busy I didn't get to see the other displays in the cafeteria.

I thought this was a very good event and a great start to our year-long celebration.

Happy birthday, Botetourt!

Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Crazy Quilt - 1885

One of the more interesting aspects of my life as I have lived it is that I see a lot of things and am asked a lot of things. Usually I don't know the answer. I am smart because I know I don't know the answers and so I look things up or seek answers. It is what it is.

Anyway, recently I was asked to look at a crazy quilt at the Botetourt County History Museum in Fincastle. The reasoning was that because I am a Firebaugh I would have some idea about quilts donated by Firebaughs.

The quilt has a date of 1885 on it. I am not that old! I'm afraid I am not much help with this particular query.

Apparently this particular quilt was made by Boozes or Zimmermans, both familiar names to the area. I am taking a guess at that because of the Bs and Zs on the quilt.  I suppose it could be Bolton. How it ended up being associated with Firebaugh I do not know, although the Firebaughs and Boltons are related.

An old card, created probably in the early 1990s, indicated the quilt was donated by Firebaughs and there was a question as to whether or not it was created/made or otherwise involved with Willie Firebaugh who was a daughter of a Major Firebaugh (CSA), so I suppose that is where the inquiry came from.

The piece is very delicate but exquisitely sewn. I am not a person familiar with quilting nor do I know much about textile work, but I can tell fine needlework when I see it. This included what looked like embroidery and other types of needlework as well as simply quilting.

I suspect this piece needs to be reviewed by a textile historian.

Here are photos:

Friday, December 21, 2018

End of an Era (?)

Today is the day that the editor of The Fincastle Herald, Ed McCoy, steps down from his 34-year journey as the news guide for the county. He began working for The Herald in August, 1984, and I started freelancing for him in October, 1984.

So we have known each other a very long time, and over the years I like to think we have become friends. He's grown a bit more libertarian in his thinking as he's aged and I've grown a bit more liberal, so sometimes our political discussions can be entertaining, but they were always thought-provoking.

My first article for Ed was about making apple butter. His criticism of the story was this: it's great writing, but there isn't any "you" in the story. None of my personality came through.

I learned to deal with that by coming up with entertaining ledes to articles (that's the opening sentence to non-newspaper folks) and then going on mostly with "just the facts." I tend to be a just-the-facts kind of writer but Ed did bring out the best in my work. He was a good editor and I learned how to give a story life under his tutelage. He taught me as much as any of my professors at Hollins. Maybe more.

Stories that I remember best include one about two sisters who played basketball, which I started out with, "It must be the Tootsie Rolls," because the two girls ate the candies before games, going up in a hot air balloon, a series I wrote in Craig County about the state of the community over there and what would happen if a county went bankrupt (something that looked very likely at that time), a story I wrote about the Social Services Angel Tree that ultimately brought in $15,000 in donations, a story about the possibility of Nestle' bringing a water bottling facility to the area, and oh gosh, I wrote so many I can't possibly remember them all or pick out a best one. There were literally thousands of them.

Ed challenged me to go beyond my comfort zone, sending me on stories I'd have preferred not to write. (I never did like to write stories that tore at my heart, the ones about sick people or people fighting the tough fight against an illness or whatever.) I wrote them anyway and always did a good job with them, usually better than I ever thought I would, because I had Ed to talk it over with before I started the article. Once I had the slant, which in the early days I often needed help finding, I could move forward and create a moving piece.

As I aged and felt more comfortable with my talent and work, I turned down stories occasionally, mostly those that involved children at the schools because I became ill every time I entered a classroom. Finally, I settled into what seemed to be my forte', government writing. That suited my "just the facts" style and allowed me to feel like I was contributing something to the community by educating them about what is going on in their county.

My editor and I had many long discussions about what was going on in Botetourt. We argued with the county over Freedom of Information Act issues, and we discussed in detail how and what we should write. We profiled person after person and multiple businesses - you can find copies of the article I wrote and he edited and published hanging on the walls of many businesses in Botetourt. Just last week someone I'd written a story about told me they had the article hanging on the wall of their home. I'm sure there are just as many with his byline hanging on the walls of businesses and homes, too.

Ed and I both love history and I wrote many pieces about the multitude of historic legacies Botetourt County has to offer, as did he and other writers. Ed actually turned a series of stories about the Civil War into a magazine/book and he gave me kudos in his preface for my help over the years, which I greatly appreciated.

When I was 10 years old I said I wanted to be the editor of The Fincastle Herald. That apparently was not to be - health issues kept me from applying for his position this time, and previous opportunities never came about when I could manage it - the last one being shortly after my mother passed away in 2000. After that the newspaper, like so many others, fell upon difficult times and I was lucky to freelance for the paper for as long as I did (I stopped in 2016, although this past September I filled in for a week while Ed took a 10-day vacation.).

However, Ed gave me the opportunity to cover the county, and the chance to fill the paper with my byline, and I will always be grateful to him for that. Because he believed I could do it, I can call myself a professional writer.

Thanks for allowing me to be a freelancer for The Fincastle Herald, Ed. May your retirement be filled with lots of hunting and good times.

Ed with his camera (2016)

Ed received a proclamation from the Board of Supervisors for his long service to the community on 12/20/2018. Pictured from left: Steve Clinton, Mac Scothorn, Ed McCoy, Billy Martin, Ray Sloan.

Ed with Supervisor Mac Scothorn. Ed called Botetourt County a great place to work, full of
beautiful lands and wonderful people.

I had to laugh because even though today (12/21) is technically Ed's last day of work, yesterday he was still taking notes like a good reporter at a meeting. (I confess I do the same.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Fincastle Marketplace

For the last decade or so, Historic Fincastle, Inc., has put on a home tour and a Fincastle Marketplace (craft show) in early December. This year it was Saturday, before the snow.

Here are pictures of the craft show and some of the crafters who offered up quite a variety of goods for folks to purchase.

Donna Henderson (left) with her baked goods, cookbooks, and other items.
Dorothy Etzler Barnett with her wood-burned ornaments. (She's my cousin.)

Teresa Reed, hiding behind a tree. (She's my friend.)

Some of Teresa's work. Santas painted on pelt boards.

Teresa's big Santa.

Some items for sale.

More cool stuff for sale.

Pottery by Karen Wright, my friend!

Work by Allie Hogan, The Rustic Wagon. Very pretty decorations.

Karen Wright with some of her pottery. I purchased a butter dish.
The amount of talent out there is amazing. When I go to these shows I am always thrilled at the creativity of people around me. So cool.