Down Memory Lane for March 12

April 3, 1975

Mrs. Mabel P. Lillard has been appointed postmaster of the Flint Hill Post Office, it has been announced by Francis X. Biglin, Regional Postmaster General for the Eastern Region of the U.S. Postal Service.

Mrs. Lillard was one of 21 postmasters appointed in the Eastern Region States of Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

Jim Bankston has assumed the duties of Game Warden for Rappahannock County, just in time for the opening of trout season. His appointment was effective Monday, March 31.

He is a native of Arlington, but traveled extensively with his family when his father was in the U.S. Air Force, spending seven years in a rural area in Texas. He is a graduate of George Mason University and attended George Washington University. He served four years with the U.S. Navy and is married to the former Joanne Greffenstette.

Jim succeeds former Warden Irvin L. Kenyon, Jr., who has taken a post in wildlife management, still under the Virginia Commission of Game and Inland Fisheries.

The home of John J. Dwyer near Flint Hill was entered sometime last week or weekend and guns valued at $1,400 plus other items, including antiques, silver, etc., were taken. Trooper W. A. Buntin investigated the theft after Mr. Dwyer discovered the entry. Dyer judged the loss to be in excess of $2,500, said the trooper.

Nov. 24, 1983

In May of 1929, a tornado spun through Rappahannock, twisting around Red Oak Mountain and touching down as well as Rock Mills, Laurel Mills and Ben Venue. Weather conditions causing the tornado originated farther south in Virginia, where the tornado touched down at a place called Rye Cove, demolishing a schoolhouse and killing most of the children in it.

As the tornado crashed northward into Rappahannock it retained its terrible fury, but by the odd circumstances peculiar to tornadoes, only four Rappahannock people were killed, and only one child. Other children and teachers were thrown and flown across the fields, scattered on the rain-soaked ground in a scene of terror and desolation that must have gripped the hearts of all who rushed to their aid.

“The teachers had stuck to their posts like captains of sinking vessels. The wind picked them up and dropped one in the cornfield and the other in the orchard with a boy pupil near one and a girl pupil near the other. The only outright fatality was that of Marshall Hawkins. He was struck by a door and his body was found within the foundation.

“Marshall’s brother, Felton, was blown in the cornfield and fell not far from Mrs. Browning. Both were rendered insensible, but Felton came to first. Nearby he saw a woman lying a short distance away. He made his way to her and succeeded in rousing her. Then he led her back over the hill into the village.

Night came early on August 30, 1979. Storm clouds darkened the sky and lightning provided the only light in the hot, moonless night. By 8 p.m. it was pitch dark and rain fell in heavy sheets on the Rappahannock countryside. Within an hour, local people knew that the already-swollen streams and rivers were not containing the deluge. Water started to spill over in low spots between Sperryville, at Rock Mills, Slate Mills, in the F. T. Valley and towards Culpeper

In Sperryville, along the highway and up in the river hollows, a hundred people left their homes and stood at high spots in the village, many of them seeking shelter at the Corner Store. Before the Thornton raged through Rock Mills it left its banks as it twisted around Fletcher’s Mill. Gene and Virginia Wood, who had been visiting, returned home to find their home at the old mill unreachable by car. Friends watched as they left their car within yards of their home and started across the little bridge over the Thornton. They were never seen alive again.

Jan. 5, 1994

Most people in Rappahannock county know David “Scratch” Clanagan as a musician. He plays guitar and is the lead singer with the gospel Group Free Spirit. Not only does he have music in his soul, he also has art in his soul.

Mr. Clanagan had always enjoyed painting as a child, but had never been serious about it until two years ago. In that brief period of selling his painting. During 1992, sold 15 paintings, and in 1993 he sold seven. Most have been sold by him personally, but some have also been sold in galleries. He shows his work in the Framecraft Gallery on Main Street in Warrenton, and at the Corner Gallery on Main Street in Front Royal.

His favorite subjects to paint are barns and mills. Mr. Clanagan has no formal training in painting, but he does have two mentors who are more and happy to help him in any way they can: Dan Lewis and Laurie Marshall, both members of the Middle Street Gallery in Washington.

For the second year in a row, Four and Twenty Blackbirds restaurant in Flint Hill has been included in the Washingtonian magazine’s prestigious list of 100 Very Best Restaurants.

“It is exciting to be included on the list because we have been here for such a short period of time,” said co-owner Vinnie DeLuise. The restaurant has been an enormous success since its opening in April, 1990. It is also quite an honor to be included in the list because of the distance from Washington D.C.

In early September more than 3,000 letters from the White House went to craft artists across the United States. Peter Exton, a woodturner living in Herndon and formerly a Rappahannock County resident, received one of the official documents.

“I didn’t open it at first,” Mr. Exton said. “I had no reason to be getting mail from the president. I thought it might be a new and more clever way to get a Visa card.”

The letter contained an invitation from Ann Stock, White House social secretary, to participate in celebrating the “Year of the American Craft.” The craft artists were asked to donate original works of art that would decorate the White House Christmas Tree. The ornaments will become part of the collection that is used every year at the White House.

“My ornament is based on the great star of Bethlehem and is made from holly, the whitest wood, with a walnut center,” he said.  

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