Down Memory Lane for April 2

June 26, 1975

“Now , I don’t know if I ought to say it for the paper or not, but they tell me that if a man chews ginseng he can take care of his wife, his mistress and another woman, too!” Rappahannock ginseng hunter, Burnam Atkins, looked a bit sheepish. He’d just disclosed that information to fellow ginseng hunter T. R. Baldwin. Baldwin made it clear that ginseng has other uses, too. “It’s real good for a sore throat. Just chew on a little bit.

Most Rappahannock ginseng collectors, if they don’t keep the roots for themselves, sell them through T. R. Baldwin. Baldwin makes arrangements with his “broker” in New York who comes down to pick up the ginseng, once Baldwin has accumulated as much as $2,000 worth. The broker’s visit is overdue. Baldwin has 200 pounds of ginseng roots on drying racks in a tin shed behind his service station in Sperryville.

Some of the ginseng Baldwin has drying he collected himself. He hunts for wild ginseng through the mountains and grows some in a patch. But much of the ginseng he’s drying now was brought to him by other ginseng hunters like Atkins or the “Cave Brothers” from Madison.

Country Manor Gift Shop west of Sperryville was burglarized early last Wednesday morning and an estimated $15,000 in jewelry and other merchandise were taken. Entry to the building was gained through a window apparently after midnigh. Investigation of the burglary by Trooper J. A. Watson continues. He has been assisted by G. F. Gregory, R. R. Montgomery and G. Slade.

The State Corporation Commission in Richmond has been asked by attorneys for the Rappahannock League for Environmental Protection to suspend execution of its order granting the Virginia Electric Power Company and Potomac Edison the right to construct a new 500 kv powerline pending RLEP’s appeal to the state Supreme Court. The attorneys, John F. Kay and Angus H. Macaulay, of the firm of Mays, Valentine, Davenport & Moore, at the same time filed their notice of appeal of the SCC decision.

Jan. 5, 1984

“Ready,” the screen flashes.

That word marks the arrival of the age of computers at Rappahannock National Bank.

Up until a few weeks ago, all checks and deposits at the bank were manually posted on bookkeeping machines, then filed by name, not, by account number. Most of those who bank at Rappahannock National like being identified that way. For some, it is even a source of pride when shopkeepers in the other Washington and its suburbs refuse no matter what identification is produced, to accept their checks because they aren’t stamped with numbers.

Check refusal — at least on those grounds — will soon be a thing of the past.“We won’t be posting checks or deposits in this building anymore,” explained cashier Mary L. Payne in an interview this week. “We’re going to data processing.”

Outside gray clouds spit snow as the thermometer dipped well below the freezing mark. Wind whipped around the corners of the old Sperryville farmers cooperative, slicing through overcoats and leg warmers and adding a chill factor that dragged the temperature down to near zero. Not the kind of weather for growing a crop.

But despite the arctic cold, inside the coop’s storage building delicate pale green plants inched their way up from hydroponically nourished roots, thriving in the dark and humid warmth of an artificial climate reminiscent of Virginia in the dog day evenings of August.

“We specialize in doing amazing things!” joked Witold Kuncewicz about the harvest. Wit has provided expertise in basic technology and marketing for his wife Dorothy endive “factory,” the first commercial production of this European delicacy in the United States. In January, “freshly picked, locally grown French endive — U.S.A.” from Rappahannock Fruit and Produce in Sperryville will be sold in 78 Giant Food stores.

For the Kuncewiczes, it’s the second step in a major undertaking that began six years ago. “We’ve been producing in an experimental chamber since 1981,” Wit noted, “The Inn (Washington’s famous French restaurant) had our endive in December, 1982.”

Feb. 9, 1994

Aileen Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Aileen Stores Inc., filed for relief under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code in a New York court in late January.

The company said the filing would not affect its Flint Hill plant which manufactures pants and skirts that are carried in the Aileen stores.

Bob Fadely, vice-president for manufacturing, in Woodstock, said the bankruptcy filing should have no effect on the Flint Hill plant. He said the plant is back in full production. “We have no plans other than to keep going with spring and summer merchandise,” he said.

He said there had been some layoffs at the plant “related to realignment or cost cutting needs, but not related to a reduced workload.”

Mr. Fadely said he expected the plant to continue with all employees working full time.

It’s hard to see how the town of Washington could have managed without the work Brad Fisher has done as town treasurer and member of the Town Council for the past 16 years. Up until about three years ago, he did the job on a volunteer basis.

Even though Mr. Fisher’s job as treasurer will end with the Town Council elections coming up in May, he has offered to keep things going until the new treasurer has been trained.

Mr. Fisher is concerned that there may not be enough candidates for town council for the town to continue as a separate entity. Without at least four members, the town would have to give up its town charter. However, he feels he cannot continue working in Maryland 50 or more hours a week and putting 20 to 25 hours a week into town business.

Mr. Fisher lives on Mt. Salem Avenue with his wife Dawn,. Their daughter, Tara, and son, David, both attend college.

Sperryville stonemason Ken Shankle spent a good part of last year on a scaffold high up on Jenkins’ Mountain setting stone for an unusual house.

The house, which overlooks the entrance to Gid Brown Hollow, is supported by structural stone pillars more than 30 feet tall. Stone walls flank the entrance ways and frame the garage. More than 300 tons of stone were used. The house seems to rise out of the ground rather than rest upon it.

The illusion is enhanced by the lack of visible mortar within the rock walls and pillars. Architect Robert Wilson Mobley, AIA, of Great Falls, admits the specifications were rigorous. “We didn’t want to see any mortar at all,” he said.

“We have done a lot of custom houses and I have used a lot of stone, but Ken is the best [stone mason] I have come across in 22 years as an architect,” said Mr. Mobley.

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