Making it all happen . . . for the kids

Mark Raiford

When my father decided to move his family from Vienna to Rappahannock County in the summer of 1973, a weekly stop at Hackley’s Store was definitely on this 10-year-old boy’s highlights tour.

A cold Coke and oatmeal pie was the perfect treat on a warm summer’s day! I remember being duly impressed when I saw a young teenager by the name of Stan Settle working in the store.Whether loading feed in a customer’s truck or packing up some of Graham Hackley’s homemade sausage, he seemed to be Mr. Hackley’s right hand man.

The job, or torch if you will, was eventually passed to Stan’s younger brother, Phil. Soon after Phil went on to better things the Blevin brothers, Brian and Winfield, came along to fill the opportunity Hackley’s store provided.

By no means was Hackley’s the only source of employment for the young men and women of the county, but even Graham couldn’t have imagined the Rappahannock of today. All one has to do is take a stroll down the Main Streets of Sperryville or Little Washington to see the transformation that has taken place over the last 45 years.

Poke your head into any business around the county and you’re sure to see the friendly and familiar face of a local school kid hard at work. The Corner Store “Complex,” Williams Orchard, Knit Wit, The Happy Camper and Before & After, where my daughter and a few of her friends work, are just a handful of local small businesses making a huge difference in several young lives. Cheri Woodard Realty even employs summer interns.

Unlike the changes we see in our neighboring counties, ours has been gentle and well thought-out. We owe this fact to the current and past leadership of this county. Temperate growth, both economic and developmental, does not happen by accident or mere chance, it is a result of forces working together.

And if our past is foretelling of our future, I believe we can comfortably embrace new, well-thought-out ideas and work together to accomplish great things that will enhance our wonderful county for generations to come.

To quote William Burroughs, “When you stop growing (gently) you start dying.”

The writer lives in Castleton

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