Down Memory Lane for April 12

Oct. 18, 1990

Virginia Department of Transportation crews are working overtime to repair secondary roads in the county’s western end destroyed by flooding early Saturday morning.

County maintenance supervisor Ron Marshall estimated that “50 to 60 miles” of roads will need to be repaired as a result of the rains. The extent of damage runs the gamut, Marshall said, from roadways stripped completely down to bedrock to others needing merely a surface regrading to repair erosion. Of the county’s 214 miles of secondary roads, about 25 percent received some damage.

There were no injuries reported as a result of the flooding, which began around 3 a.m. Saturday after heavy rains had been falling for several hours. Sperryville weather watcher Dennis Wingfield reported that the rain begin shortly before midnight, and fell at the rate of one inch an hour until about 4 a.m.

His rain gauge recorded a total of 4.17 inches of rain during the storm.

About two dozen people left homes near the creeks, particularly in the hollows at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where steep hillsides poured torrents of water down into small streams, which quickly flooded. Sperryville, Castleton, Washington, Flint Hill and other fire companies patrolled the roads, urging residents to low-lying areas to leave before the water rose and cut off their escape routes.

Meanwhile, long before television, video, compact disc and cassette recordings, there was radio.

Before audiences sat down to watch TV favorites like “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Father Knows Best,” radio shows captured the family audience and kept them spellbound nightly.

Those were the days of “The Shadow,” the alter-ego of Lamont Cranston, private detective; those were the days before anyone saw Tonto with the Lone Ranger as they too were radio characters, their voices booming into living rooms across the nation as family ears listened and radio audiences sighed, gasped and cheered their heroes to victory.

Those old radio days were the days when the audience was as important as the show. Long before canned laughter and closed circuit television, the audience provided the background for acts like Lulu Bell and Scotty or Abbott and Costello or The Lone Ranger. Their participation was cued by station direction, completing each act.

Dick Pierson has a collection of over 20,000 recordings beginning with the first recordings in the last 19th century. His Amissville-based library houses musical favorites of several eras.

Dec. 15, 1999

Amidst rumors of bankruptcy and being fed up with the town of Washington, Peter Kramer will put his building on Gay Street up for sale by auction on Dec. 18 at noon. Kramer has set a minimum bid. If that bid is achieved, the building will sell on that day. The building boasts a $100,000 a year rental income, has nine commercial rental units and a loft apartment.

Squashing the rumors, Kramer says “the biggest motivation is to get Case (his four year old son) a house and some land, a place for him to run and play.”

Kramer is married to Elaine Kramer who runs Talk of the Town, a boutique gift shop, in the building to be auctioned.

The Rappahannock News queried Kramer as to why he is holding an auction to sell his business as opposed to a real estate agency. He replies, “I have sold property before by auction. I like it as a marketing tool. It’s a true representation of the market that day. It’s the way stock and bonds are sold everyday. The process is misunderstood. It’s used to settle estates. It’s used as a way to move properties through ports. People are afraid of it.”

“There are up front expenses to having an auction that may not be recouped if the thing doesn’t sell.”

It is hard to believe but Rare Finds has been here since 1991. Eve Willis an interior designer, and Stew Willis, a physicist, bought the property approximately a year before opening from a local family.

Rare Finds specializes in gifts and decorative accessories. Co-owner Willis says, “We always tried to have a wide range of things as low as $10. We hope people don’t look at the expensive items first and run out the door.”

The shop has expanded over the years. What used to be an apartment is now retail space. And for Christmas, the emphasis is on candles. But Willis says, “The gifts that we have all year are good gifts for Christmas.”

Rare Finds is located on Main Street next to The Country Cafe and post office.