My former college roommate Polly and her daughter Robyn and their elderly toy poodle Gilbert visited from Newport News last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I’d lost touch with Polly for about three decades but found her again on the Internet in 2004. Now, we see each other a couple of times a year. Naturally, I wanted them to see the local attractions while they were here.
Robyn is a crafter, so one of our activities involved visiting places where she could get fabric to line the purses she makes. Another activity involved visiting gift shops to see what merchandise of a crafty nature they carried.
For fabric, we went to Goodwill in Rocky Mount. Polly and Robyn were impressed how nice and clean the Rocky Mount establishment was. Robyn found lots of interesting clothes she could cut up into purse linings and a bunch of sweaters she’d unravel to recycle the yarn.
It was pretty late by the time we got home, so after supper, we visited Smith Farm
, the Brown place, and the local dumpster. Maggie
the border collie, of course, went along for the ride—and the run. (Gilbert, not a farm-type dog, stayed home.) At Smith Farm, I showed them the family graveyard on the road and my tombstone I’d bought in 2005 when Rhonda was running a special down at Add-A-Touch Monuments. (I can’t pass up a bargain, and I knew I’d need it eventually.)
After I'd parked my pick-up near the old cabin, we walked up the hill where the old Bernard cemetery is. William Bernard owned the farm before my grandparents did. He cut the little window in the cabin wall so he could sit by the fireplace and look at the place where his wife, Gillie Ann, was buried. My brother, who was born and died on January 17, 1941, is also buried in that little graveyard along with a cousin who only lived a few months.
Next day—Wednesday—was the biggie. We started our tour of the area with a short trip to Sandy Level to see a little church with a large bleeding-from-the-heart-in-full-color concrete Jesus that had lovely plants around it. A photo opportunity if there ever was one.
Of course, they had to see the Smith Mountain Lake
, so we took off for Westlake. On the way, we stopped at Bethel Church where my great-grandfather, John Reid Martin
, was an elder for many years. We visited his grave and poked around at other graves in the old cemetery. Some families, we noticed, had lost a lot of children while they were still babies.
First stop at Westlake was the Discovery Shop (think very upscale Goodwill with proceeds benefiting the Cancer Society), where we ran into my animal communicator friend Karen
. I asked her if Gilbert was afraid to stay by himself at my house. She told us he didn’t like the smells inside but he liked outside. She also mentioned that he was having gastric problems (Polly and Robyn had brought his medicine for that!) and his joints hurt.
After looking through the Discovery Shop, visited a new outlet and then the General Store
, which sells a lot of my books. After that, we headed for Bridgewater Plaza, but stopped on the way at the old
Hook-Powell-Moorman house near Hale’s Ford on Rt. 122. John Hook, from Scotland, ran a store and had been a Tory sympathizer during the Revolutionary War. We walked around the empty house, whose tin roof was blowing up and down in the breeze.
I told them about the story I’d heard from Dr. Moorman—how his grandfather as a young man had come to the area after the Civil War and stopped at Taylor’s Store, a few miles south. There he saw a young girl ride up, jump off her horse, and go into the store. When she mounted her horse to leave, he glimpsed her ankle and was smitten. He asked if she’d been “spoke for,’ and the answer was no. He decided to marry her—and eventually did. Their graveyard is on land that became Trinity Ecumenical Parish.
we picked up maps and tourist info from the Visitor’s Center
, tasted fudge in Gifts Ahoy
, browsed the Little Gallery
, and looked at all the voraciously hungry carp at the dock. We went to the new Goodwill at the Forum, where Polly and Robyn found more recyclable stuff (and I found a copy of the AP Stylebook
for only a dollar!), then across the bridge to the Bedford
side, but the place where we were going to eat was closed, so we came back to Westlake to Reds, Wines, & Blues
. From there we went to the Cottage Gate gift shop and then down 122 to the Booker T. Washington Monument
. We drove through the grounds but didn’t go in.
After a nap and supper, we listened to the tape John had made of his trial
when he’d been served with false warrants last summer by Mr. Redneck
down the road. I’d forgotten how funny it was until we were howling with laughter at Mr. RN’s testimony: “He didn’t shoot me, so I stood there. He didn’t shoot me, so I gave him the finger.” Hearing the assistant commonwealth attorney say that three shots were fired (when John was target shooting at our woodpile) but the plaintiff heard only one was pretty good, too.
Then Polly, Robyn, and I went to Polecat Creek farm to check on things and get the paper from the mailbox. To get there, we had to pass Mr. RN’s house. Upon seeing my truck, he hurried out of his garage to glare at us with his arms crossed. When we turned the corner, he ran further out to continue glaring with his arms crossed. We could hardly contain our laughter.
After checking the farm and collecting the mail, we made the requisite dumpster run and drove down to the public dock to look at the lake. We went past a gated lake neighborhood that I think looks like an army barracks, but the gates were closed. It would have been easy enough to drive over the shrubbery had we wanted to.
On Wednesday, we visited Smith Mountain Dam,
and an old cemetery in the Water’s Edge
subdivision where Mt. Zion Methodist Church once stood.
Next we stopped at Willow Tree Nursery/Gift Shop and the about-to-open Blue Ridge Cowboy (that was Simply Country a few weeks ago). Then we went back to Smith Farm where John opened the cabin so we could look inside. After lunch, we posed for pictures in the yard and in the road in front of the three redneck chairs
No sooner had they gone, than Mr. Redneck himself came past in his pick-up. The next day, a manure truck spent hours spreading manure on the fields across the road.
Ah, what Polly and Robyn missed. . . .
Labels: Franklin County history, tour