Twenty years of no ordinary people

By Edward Dolnick

Special to the Rappahannock News

This year’s No Ordinary Person marks a special milestone. This will be the 20th anniversary of the perennially popular show devoted to true tales from Rappahannock storytellers. The program comes to the RAAC Community Theatre on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5th and 6th, at 8 p.m.

The performance features five Rappahannock residents telling four stories — one story is a joint affair! The storytellers are Bud Meyer, a newspaper executive and novelist; Joyce Wenger, who spent a career in technology and research; Jim Northup, a park ranger and superintendent for three decades; and Mike Sands and Betsy Dietel, whose areas of expertise stretch from farming to philanthropy.

The stories cover a wide range, both geographically and emotionally. We venture from Hannibal, Missouri, smack in the heartland of America, to South Korea to the desert corners of the southwest, and we confront strangers as formidable as hard-eyed Mexican federales and as frightening, in a different way, as a large, loud, enthusiastic mother-in-law-to-be clad only in a towel and a diamond ring.

Joyce Wenger calls her story “South Korea Seen Through These Western Eyes.” Joyce eagerly took on everyday Korean life, from markets to bathhouses. She was young and adventurous and savvy when it came to navigating new cultures. Or so she thought.

Former Shenandoah National Park Superintendent Jim Northup is also No Ordinary Person. Courtesy photo

Jim Northup looks back at his long career as a park ranger, with a focus on days when things went bad in a very big way. The life of a ranger sometimes involves communing with nature and gazing at the scenery. But rarely. Jim’s “Ranger Tales” deal with murder on the Rio Grande and gigantic fires burning in Shenandoah National Park.

Bud Meyer grew up in a big family, where everyone was an athlete and a lifeguard and the most glamorous, most envied figure at the prom. Everyone, that is, except one member of the family. He calls his story “The Benchwarmer.”

Mike Sands and Betsy Dietel have been married a long while. But now — in a two-part story called “Never Say Goodbye” we hear both sides of a rollicking tale – they venture back to their courting days, when Betsy first encountered Mike’s mother, a whirlwind in human form.

No Ordinary Person is directed by Sallie Morgan, Lynn and Ed Dolnick, and Dick Raines, with special input from director emeritus Joyce Abell. All five storytellers will appear both nights. The RAAC Theatre is located at 310 Gay Street, Washington (tickets are $15 each). Reservations may be made through the RAAC website ( — click on Community Theatre. For those without Internet access, reservations can be made by calling 1-800-695-6075. Shows often sell out, so early reservations are recommended.

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