Labor of love, one stone at a time
All photos by Chris Green
Last Saturday, with a warm February sun shining through a powder blue sky, there was a moving event aptly anointed by Pat Giles as a “labor of love.” It began with a large crowd gathering in the parking lot of Headmaster’s Pub — most of them descendants of families whose homes were lost and lives disrupted by the formation of the Shenandoah National Park.
They greeted each other with warm hugs, back-slapping all around, smiling broadly — all waiting for the signal to haul out. You could slice the anticipation with a knife.
They drove from the parking lot, a convoy of more than five-dozen people doubling-up in cars and pickup trucks that, worthy of a sheriff’s escort, rolled onto highway 211. They were headed for a farm in Old Hollow where stone mason Darryl Whidby — who will now set out to memorialize their ancestors — was greeted with resounding appreciation.
Whidby was asked to help volunteers select the best stones for the “Chimney Memorial”, which he will help construct in memory of the displaced families on a site donated by Russell Jenkins, the owner of Thornton Orchard.
Upon arrival at the farm, adults and children alike clambered aboard a farm trailer that navigated a steep mountain incline. Two lines were formed on the rise and stones passed down, from hand to hand, and loaded onto trucks and trailers.
Branches and bushes, brambles and small trees were cut to make way for the assembly line. Stones were also selected with permission (thanks to parishioner Wayne Baldwin) from the nearby Thorntons Gap Primitive Baptist Church.
Thereafter, messages and photos of the event flooded the Blue Ridge Heritage Project site. Mention was made that in attendance were descendants from the Atkins, Dwyer, Baldwin, Weakley, Yowell, Frazier, Pullen, Rutherford and Fletcher families, just to name a few.
Thanks went out from organizers and participants to Rappahannock County Supervisors Chris Parrish and Mike Biniek for their help moving stones and support of the project — and to Bill Fletcher, for his hard work and funding to make the memorial possible.
According to Missy Sutton, the memorial’s maestro organizer, the project is on track to have a dedication ceremony by the end of April. The event was inspiring, to say the least. I’m beyond moved by the effort of those who are making the silent voices of so many heard. What an amazing tribute, and as an outsider looking in I was honored and awed to observe this incredible intimate history taking place.
The commemoration will no doubt be one filled with great emotion, as well it should. And thanks to Bill Henry, who is orchestrating this eight-county effort — a number of memorials now in place, others about to be placed.
All you need is love
Fans of British Invasion-era music will be thrilled that the Hearthstone School is once again hosting a Valentine’s Dinner & Dance benefit concert, offering Beatles music galore — the “All You Need is Love Event.” Featuring local musicians Grass Fed, who perform their own unique style of the Fab Four, there will be an amazing Italian buffet, including desserts. Saturday, Feb. 18, doors open at 6 p.m., music starts at 7. Adults $25, children 18-under $10. Family package $65. Highway 211 west of downtown Sperryville.
Golf for Rapp
Rapp at Home is an amazing non-profit here in the county www.rappathome.org that provides services and programs for the county’s aging population. Taking inspiration from a network of “villages” around the country designed to help seniors age more comfortably in their homes, they wish to to apply the model to Rappahannock County. They are having a fundraiser — a golf tournament called Home in One — and while it’s not Pebble Beach, the nine-hole Schoolhouse Nine Golf Course in Sperryville offers splendid greens and views, and of course Headmaster’s Pub is in close proximity. Rapp at Home is looking for sponsors, raffle item donors, volunteers, and of course golf registrants. The event will take place April 21, rain or shine. If you have a treasure or service you’d like to donate, want to sponsor the event, volunteer, or play golf, please get in touch with Lindsay Sonnett at Lindsay@rappathome.org or the Rapp at Home office: 540-937-HOME (4663).