Washington column for May 3

Beauty of Rappahannock County

Caledonia Farm 1812 innkeeper Phil Irwin, left, got to check out this 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, one of 25 ever built, with classic car consultant Simon Kidston, who was in town last month to help shoot a TV series episode at the inn and around the county.Jan Clatterbuck | Rappahannock News
Caledonia Farm 1812 innkeeper Phil Irwin, left, got to check out this 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, one of 25 ever built, with classic car consultant Simon Kidston, who was in town last month to help shoot a TV series episode at the inn and around the county.

Not only do residents and weekend visitors enjoy the breathtaking mountains and pristine scenic beauty of Rappahannock County, but also filmmakers.

Simon Kidston, co-founder of Kidston S.A. (an independent “boutique” advisory firm for motor car collectors around the world) was in town last month working on a TV series entitled “The Private Life of Cars,” which aims to unravel the history of rare, valuable automobiles. The producer is London-based Mark Stewart Productions (a company founded by the son of Scottish racing legend Jackie Stewart).

“We chose the Goering Mercedes for this first episode as we thought it had a fascinating story,” Kidston said in an email from his home in Switzerland. “The car belongs to an anonymous collector who lent it to us for filming. We chose Rappahannock as a backdrop for its natural beauty.”

The series will air later this year on American and European networks, Kidston said, and the car has now returned to high-security storage on the East Coast.

The car is a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, one of 25 ever built, Kidston said, and one of the most sought-after classic cars in the world. It was originally built for the second most powerful man in Nazi Germany, Hermann Goering, head of the German Luftwaffe.

The car features extravagant two-seater roadster coachwork by Mercedes (the body style most prized by collectors) but uniquely, the body is reinforced by bulletproof steel sheets in the doors, a bombproof floor and a steel panel which can be raised behind the seats – much like James Bond’s Aston Martin 30 years later. The car also has inch-thick bulletproof side windows and windshield. It is painted Luftwaffe blue and was nicknamed “The Blue Goose” by U.S. troops.

The car was driven by Goering as his personal transport from 1937 until the end of the war in 1945, when it was seized at his home in Berchtesgaden by troops of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, who brought it to the U.S., where it has remained ever since. The blue leather driver’s seat still bears the imprint left by the corpulent Goering.

By the way, although it weighs 6,000 pounds, Kidston says, it drives beautifully.

‘Into the Woods’

Rappahannock County High School’s Drama Club presented its spring musical, “Into the Woods,” at the RCHS auditorium Friday night and a matinee on Sunday. The full-length musical by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine was a hit with Saturday’s sellout crowd. The cast, ranging from freshmen to seniors, returning actors and first-timers, and the high school band and chorus, made it a play one will never forget.

The story weaves together the fairy tales told to generations, all of them including a journey into the world of the unknown, the world of the imagination. They tell of mysterious men, tree spirits, curses, wolves and witches; of princesses and extravagant festivals of hens and harps, giants, beanstalks and countless fantastic things. In all the stories, the storyteller takes you where you fear to go – then leads you home before it turns dark.

The play adapts this technique to the stage, and director and drama teacher Russell Paulette cast the production perfectly. Bravo to all involved in the RCHS production of “Into the Woods!”

Celebration of life

A Celebration of Life in memory of Lewis Wayne Jenkins will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday (May 5). Family and friends are invited to 20 Piney Run Lane, off Old Hollow Road in Sperryville. For more information, call Linda at 540-987-9225.

Rappahannock’s ‘Old Guard’

At 3 p.m. on May 20, the Rappahannock Historical Society sponsors the dedication of the Civil War Trails marker, “The Rappahannock Old Guard,” at the county Visitors Center, 7 Library Road. The historical society is especially interested in having descendants of the 6th Virginia Cavalry, Company B, participate in this event. Company B was an all-Rappahannock unit and played a major role at the Battle of Cedarville of May 23, 1862. The last names of some of those men who served include Brown, Burke, Eastham, Pullen, Grimsley and Wood. Please contact the Rappahannock Historical Society with questions (540-675-1163 or rapphistsoc@comcast.net) during its hours of operation, which are 11 to 5 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The herons have landed

A detail of one of Geneva Welch’s heron series, found at her gallery on Main Street in Washington.Geneva Welsh
A detail of one of Geneva Welch’s heron series, found at her gallery on Main Street in Washington.

Geneva Welch have been collecting studies of the herons on her pond at different times of the day and evening, which led her to paint a series of oils recording her memories. One of the paintings now at Geneva Welch Gallery depicts the heron fishing. Welch said she noticed he was mostly eating minnows, but occasionally he brought up a frog, thus inspiring her to also paint frogs on the frame. In the painting that is one of her favorites, the water shimmers in a reflective pool and sun is almost directly overhead as the heron searches for his gourmet meal. Stop by Geneva Welch Gallery, 341 Main St., from 11 to 6 Thursday-Monday (10 to 6 on Saturdays).

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