Down Memory Lane for June 29

Aug. 14, 1986

“I’d like to go out the same way I came in,” says Frances Thornton, Rappahannock’s first and only public health nurse, who retired last month after 36 years.

And that meant without fanfare, fus or hoopla. When her friends and peers planned a retirement party at Panorama, she declined to participate.. But the organizers were insistent — after all, she’d outlasted nine health directors, nine sanitarians and seven clerks in her 36 years on the job.

“I don’t think many people in this county really know how much she did,” said Mary Botts Quaintance, former elementary school principal and teacher who worked with Mrs. Thornton to improve the health of Rappahannock’s children. “Her duties went far beyond those of a normal public health nurse.”

Frances Thornton had grown up in the county. Except for three years at Madison College and another three at UVA, she’d spent her life in Rappahannock. She had established relationships with many of the local people. “It would have taken someone else 10 years to learn what she knew when she started,” said Mrs. Quaintance.

She stayed in the classroom for a year and half until Rappahannock County organized its first public health service.

In later years, this school health program was dropped, largely because parents had been educated by Mrs. Thornton into taking care of their children’s medical needs, according to Mrs. Quaintance. “I really think Frances did more for the two schools than any regular school nurse would have. Of course, we never needed a school nurse because we had her,” the former principal said.

Camp Hoover, President Herbert Hoover’s weekend fishing retreat, was open to the public last weekend, coinciding with the former president’s August 10 birthday.

Sponsored by the National Park Service, “Hoover Days” was part of the many scheduled events taking place during the park’s 50th anniversary celebration this year.

According to Park Ranger Tessy Shirakawa, “President Hoover was looking for a weekend fishing camp that was, one: close to Washington and within a 100 mile radius, two: had mountains, forest and streams with fish, and three: no mosquitoes.”

Located southwest of Big Meadows, the camp is situated on the Rapidan River where the Mill Prong and the Laurel Prong merge, creating a perfect habitat for President Hoover’s coveted native brook trout. “The president loved to fish for the native brook trout and had an extremely fast wrist,” Ranger Shirakawa added.

June 20, 1974

Dr. Jerry Martin and Dr. Werner Krebser plan to open a full-time medical clinic in Rappahannock County’s seat in Washington. If their request for a use permit is approved by the Town Council next month, which seems likely, construction on the new building will begin about the middle of July. The doctors hope the clinic will be ready for patients by November.

Krebser and Martin met when they both worked as family practice physicians at Culpeper Memorial Hospital. Dr. Krebser has lived in Rappahannock, near Flint Hill, since 1965. Soon after coming to Culpeper last summer, Jerry Martin and his wife Mary Beth bought the Emmie Allen place, also near Flint Hill. Dr. Martin still practices at Culpeper Memorial, while Dr. Krebser practices at Old Dominion Medical Clinic in McLean.

Part of the reason they decided to start the Rappahannock Medical Clinic is that both of them admit “We love the country and we’d rather live here.” They also recognized a need for a family practice clinic in Rappahannock, particularly one that would emphasize preventive medicine. “It will be a general practice clinic, but we’ll specialize, in a way, with regular sub-clinics,” Jerry martin said. At this point, Dr. Martin and Dr. Krebser plan to host sub-clinics for ‘well babies” (infant check-ups}
, family planning and other areas of preventive medicine.

Sperryville residents made it clear to representatives of the Highway Department that they want “an improved two-lane road, not an expressway”when work on Route 211 through the village is completed.

The Highway Department hosted a second public hearing last Wednesday on the location and design of “improvements” to Route 211 from the end of the Washington bypass to Shenandoah National Park. Route 211 is considered “an arterial route” by the Highway Department and as such is “conceived to supplement the Interstate Highway System.” The Highway Department’s policy is to make each arterial highway in Virginia a four-lane divided facility.

Chairman of Rappahannock’s Supervisors, Pete Luke, represents the Piedmont district that includes Sperryville.

Luke noted, as he had at the meeting in January, that the village of Sperryville with its tourist-oriented shops constitutes the highest density business district in Rappahannock County. “So the members of the Sperryville Community Group opposed the bypass plans that would take the traffic away from the shops. It was our feeling that people from the metropolitan area didn’t come all the way out here to travel on an expressway. They came to buy apples and baskets and cider in a small town in a rural area.”