Washington column for Sept. 21

Bountiful (unplanted) gourd harvest

Sarah Latham sits among her bountiful and unexpected harvest of gourds. Photo by Susan Huff

At 96 years old, former Rappahannock News editor Sarah Latham normally leaves gardening to others.

She gets her exercise picking up the small branches and sticks in the fall from trees in her Amissville yard. She became fascinated this summer, however, by a surprise plant that sprouted in her compost pile. It soon proceeded to take over a corner of the yard, with 25 to 40 foot vines in all directions.

What on earth was it?

Wouldn’t you know the spreading vines eventually yielded more than 170 gourds, surely making Sarah the undisputed if not unintended Rappahannock County champion of gourd growers.

Sarah started working for the Rappahannock News in August 1956. She stayed about twenty-five yearsShe did not start as editor, of course, instead helping gather news and selling advertising. But it wasn’t long before she became editor. She did everything — you name it she did it — wearing many assorted hats. Sarah snapped photos, answered phone calls, wrote stories, set type on the linotype machine, traveled to Warrenton, Culpeper and Front Royal to solicit advertising, ran the press, packaged papers for mailing, delivered papers to post offices, handled the accounting, sent out the bills. She loved the job and did it well.

Of course, she had her helpers — usually there was a staff of 4. At one point, it was Sarah, Mr. Many, Emily Miller and Louie Miller, who was in high school. She would usually have a high school student working there and learning the trade. Sometimes she had a graduate from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., on the staff.

Sarah was one amazing lady that kept the news flowing in our community. Thank you Sarah for you dedicated long hours you gave to our newspaper. And enjoy the gourds.

Trinity Tom, et al.

Rappahannock News mascot Luna was awakened from a nap to model this silk scarf adapted from a painting by artist Ruthie Windsor-Mann. Photo by Ruthie Windsor-Mann

Annie: How about my advertising campaign? Let’s plaster these photographs of our scarf-wearing friends all over Vogue, Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair. Charities will be helped because the scarves will fly off the shelves.

Tom: Are you nuts? Both the Rappahannock News and the Trinity Times are helping to promote the scarves. It’s a well-known fact that they have a wider circulation than those other rags. The Inn at Little Washington is letting us sell scarves at their Sunday Farmers Markets, and Rare Finds has them. We have the Trinity House Tour coming up during the weekend of October 21-22. We are promoting on Facebook, Trinity website, and friends are helping to spread the word. Our outlets are far trendier than Vogue, Cosmo, which are all going down the tubes. To find out more, email: rpkscarf@gmail.com

Annie: Let’s still use our friends, but in the world-renowned Rapp News and Trinity Times…. By the way, aren’t you buying me a scarf for Christmas?

Tom: No.

Animal Farm

The RAAC Community Theatre presented a staged reading of George Orwell’s classic dystopian fable “Animal Farm” for three performances last weekend. Nelson Bond adapted Orwell’s novella into a script for seven actors who created over 15 characters, including pigs, horses, goats, birds, and sheep.

The theatre’s artistic director Patty Hardee explained that in a staged reading the actors are seated on a bare stage with their scripts before them on music stands. The actors use their voices, facial expressions, gestures, and interactions with each other to create the story and characters.

The story takes place on Mr. Jones’ Manor Farm where a group of exploited farm animals run off Jones and seek to build the newly named “Animal Farm” into a kind of Utopia — Utopia that is until power struggles arise in the barnyard.

Mike Mahoney, who directed Arcadia earlier this year, was the main narrator. Scott McMurtray, Carolyn Thornton, John Lesinski, and Celia Cooley — all veterans of RAAC productions — were joined by talented newcomers, Karl Brotzman and Peggy Emmling.

Patty directed the play and says she looks forward to working with all of these actors again. In fact, she has already cast many of them in the theatre’s upcoming holiday production of St. George and the Dragon at Christmastide.

Gift baskets

If you are heading to The Inn at Little Washington special market on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you will find a lot going on, in particular the Inn will be having a September Gift Basket giveaway. Contestants must be present for the noon drawing to be eligible to win.

These delicious items will be included in the September Basket give away at The Inn at Little Washington Special Market this Sunday.

The basket includes a 6-pack of cookies, housemade granola, rhubarb blush, cocktail syrup, peach jam and kosher dill pickles. Sounds delicious!

Also sample from the Paradise Springs Winery, Rappahannock Oyster Company, myriad vendors, and there will be the usual good old Bluegrass music and BBQ. All the more reason to take a country drive and visit their village market. I am sure you won’t be disappointed.


RappCats is kicking off its annual Cause for Paws raffle at the 2017 Rappahannock County Farm Tour and Festival, Sept. 23 and 24. Volunteers will be at Happy Henz in Rock Mills (150 Henze Lane). The prize is a romantic package for two, including dinner at The Inn at Little Washington and a one-night stay at the luxurious White Moose Inn.

Tickets are still only $5, or 5 for $20. RappCats will sell only 500 tickets, so the odds are very good. The proceeds benefit a good cause. All proceeds will be used to spay/neuter Rappahannock County cats. RappCats uses the funds mainly for homeless cats. Also, funds are used to spay/neuter the pet cats of local families who cannot afford to do so.

After this weekend’s county farm tour, RappCats will sell tickets through its website using PayPal. Tickets will also be available at the RappCats Adoption Center and from RappCats volunteers. Michelle and Gary Schwartz, formerly of Heritage House B&B, created the Cause for Paws raffle in 2006. Toby, their rescued pet cat and guest favorite, was hit by a car on Main Street. The Schwartzes decided to turn their sad experience into a positive by creating the raffle in Toby’s memory.

“Knowing that there were kind people in the county who rescued cats but couldn’t afford to spay or neuter them,” Gary says, “we created a fund to help.” They have raised approximately $20,000 in the elevenraffles held since 2006.

It has meant a lot for Michelle and Gary to help other cats through the raffle. “If everyone spays and neuters their cats, it will help to reduce the unwanted cat population in the county,” says Michelle. “Even if you are not a cat lover, please buy a raffle ticket and help us control the cat population. It will make your dog and the county’s songbirds very happy!”

RappCats is a nonprofit group that depends on volunteers and private donations. RappCats has the only state approved cat shelter in Rappahannock County. It is not associated with the county government and receives no public funds. For more information, call RappCats at 540-987- 6050 or email rappcats@rappcats.org.