‘Histories and Mysteries’: Creative anachronisms for the present

By John Tole

historiesCover-12Want to know a bit more about the 250-year kaleidoscope of this place called Rappahannock County? Ever wonder where it all came from? Where it might be headed? Where you might be headed (wow, the eternal question)? Think that things are crazy now compared to the “good old days?” Feel like our surroundings seem too tranquil to be lumped into the circus that is life in general? Are your thumbs and eyeballs longing for respite from nonstop attention to personal communication devices? Need a break from deleting those scores (or thousands?) of emails?

Well … hold on to your britches, high-heeled sneakers, clod-hoppers, saddle-shoes, designer booties or even your neighbor’s polka-dot suspenders. There is a perfect answer to all your questions and anxieties: Take some time out for a slice of creative anachronism

The Rappahannock Historical Society has just published an anthology of essays, poems, stories, drawings and pictures on the heritage of our special corner of the universe. Add three new posters with images of the present and past of Rappahannock County, and the results are a dandy antidote for the many afflictions of modern life.

Yes, it’s a book: one of those nearly quaint informational devices. Libraries filled up with these things, but as electrons impinge, the printed word sometimes seems destined to go the way of the dodo bird. So, dear reader (yourself an endangered species), what could be more delightfully anachronistic for you than an ink-and-paper chronicle of people, places and events from the near and distant past? Mix this with a local historical society — itself, paradoxically, both a relic and a hope for the future — and you have an opportunity to hold a bit of the past in your hands. Maybe think of it as an instant heirloom.

The historical society’s new volume has a bit of it all: Native Americans, African Americans, German Americans, mixed-breed Americans, Yanks, Rebs, Revolutionaries, been-heres, come-heres, local characters, infamous personalities, land-deals, land-grabs, moonshine, cigars, wagons, railroads, churches, nightclubs, tanneries, charcoal production, stone-carving, even a real circus. They’re all here and more, including some outright foolishness. All discussed with a bit of wit and irony, sprinkled with a generous number of interesting images, and attractively packaged to tickle your visual and intellectual senses.

The three complimentary posters contain images of the present and past of the county, including one with former Rappahannock homesteads in what is now Shenandoah National Park.

A grand introduction and discussion and signing of the book and posters will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22 at the Washington Town Hall. Some of the book’s content originally appeared in the Rappahannock News, which will jointly host the event with the Rappahannock Historical Society.

These new items are perfect gift ideas for anyone with an interest in or love for Rappahannock County. They are also available at the Historical Society (540-675-1163 or rappahannockhistsoc.org), and will soon appear at other local venues.

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