Favorite thing: Mechanicsville may not look like it clung to its small-town roots very well on seeing the development passing through on Route 360. The landscape may have changed, but the people here are slow to change to a suburban bedroom community like the West End in Henrico County. One example is the Southern hospitality displayed by my friend Nat and his family. Whenever I come over for a visit, I can expect at least one glass of sweet tea and a comfortable seat, like the one in the picture. Many times, Nat invites me to have supper with him. It is easy to say yes to that because he cooks very well and he lives close to where I work. Nat is an example of typical Mechanicsville hospitality.
Fondest memory: This is not exactly a fond memoury, but a notable one. Camp Hanover is located in still-rural (for the moment) eastern Hanover County. It opened for the express purpose of hosting church retreats. In late October, 1981, my church youth group went on a retreat here. I wasn't keen on it for two reasons; First, I didn't like all the programming (inside Knox Lodge- pictured) they did with us as opposed to just letting us have fun (I still don't understand the purpose of that at treble the age I was then); Second, the food was the worst I had up that point and I didn't have worse until 3 years later when I tried the cuisine de Buddy's Place in Amelia on the way to Grandma's House. The definition of a retreat is an action to get away from the daily routine. On coming home, I needed a retreat from the retreat.
- Religious Travel
Fondest memory: This is a typical Christmas tree at my house. Until 1989, we always had Christmas in South Boston or Virgilina. So, there were never any nights here anticipating the arrival of Father Christmas. This photo was taken before many of the presents were wrapped and stowed underneath. We were traditionalists on when to open presents. Some folks did it on Christmas Eve. We waited until 6 or 7 on Christmas morning especially when my brother was into it. Every Christmas since 1989, the family a tradition of making the following breakfast menu:
quiche lorraine (with American ingredients)
hot fruit bake
Recipes to come soon.
Originally, this was the kind of early-morning breakfast my parents would make after they and a bunch of friends would come back from a dance. Mama's old Christmas tradition of having oysters at breakfast fell by the way when she married Daddy whose system couldn't tolerate oysters (apparently, mine can't either).
Some folks in the USA like to have only turkey at Christmas meal and others say it is a holiday for the hams. At my house, all interests are accommodated. Besides that, we have stuffing, green beans seasoned in fat back, parsleyed potatoes, hot rolls, cranberry sauce, and congealed salad.
Fondest memory: Skate America was a roller skating wrink which had been around for a good little while. It was one of the only remaining wrinks in the Richmond area, and was quite a bit of fun. When I was younger, I used to go skating every Thursday night. I loved Skate America, because I could go, meet up with my high school friends and enjoy watching them bust their tails. My mom skated professional at one point in her life, so I guess I could say she taught me well. Skate America reminded me of the show Happy Day's. It just had the mood of a fun hang out spot, where couples could get together and skate the night away. If you have never been skating, Skate America was the place to go. It was an experience you wouldn't forget, and to top it all off, it had a good little snack bar to cure your craven for food during the night. Unfortunately the wrink was sold to an older woman who just recently decided to close it and sell it over to the Salvation Army. The building will now be used as a Salvation Army storage.
Favorite thing: Over the years, I have made quite a number of friends of diverse backgrounds and I'm just talking about here in Mechanicsville. The pictured friend Keith lost both of his grandparents (my former nextdoor neighbours Bob & Ruth Lamb) in 2003. The photo was taken in July, 2003 as we took a break from loading what items didn't sell at the estate and tag sale. I met Keith when his grandparents moved in during the summer of 1985 and we have been friends since then despite differences in our tastes for food and music. The friend in the other half of the frame, Lee, is farther apart in age, but we're more alike in terms of interest. We missed meeting each other on at least one earlier occasion, but we finally did meet in November, 2004.
Charlie's Barber Shop
Fondest memory: I didn't really know what category to put this because Charlie's is still very much in business. I put it under "fondest memory" because Charlie's is a throwback to simpler times. In fact, it has been there since 1931 and is still there despite these styling salons. I don't like the salons because they charge you more money for the same haircut and they put stuff in your hair that makes it smell like fruit salad. There is an old barber pole, an antique cash register, and always good conversation.
Fondest memory: In the city, and even some suburban communities, a good neighbour is hard to find. In some places I've been, folks live next door to someone for 10 years and don't get to know them. In Mechanicsville, folks know their neighbours. In all my years in Mechanicsville, there are no better neighbours than Bob and Ruth Lamb. When nobody was at my house, they would collect our newpaper and mail, and watch over the house in general. When they would take long trips to Washington state, I would do the same thing and mow the yard, giving the appearance of business as usual. Sadly, within a space of 4 months in 2003, both Bob and Ruth died. I hope the next occupants of that house will be even 1/10 as good neighbours as were the Lambs.
Fondest memory: There was no way MY high school graduation night could have been normal. On 12 June 1987, I graduated from Lee-Davis High School. The ceremony took place at the Mosque (the name of the theatre has since been changed). Graduates, in those caps and gowns (whoever came up with that costume for graduates should be publicly flogged) assembled in the basement. It came up a bad cloud and put out the lights (and air conditioning). There were no windows, it was hotter than a $2 pistol, and it was as dark as a dungeon. This delayed the proceedings about 45 minutes, but it seemed like an eternity down there.
Lee-Davis High School
Fondest memory: I went to Lee-Davis High School from autumn 1984 through to spring 1987. I have enough memories of my high school years to fill the Library of Congress. Suffice it to say that I got my share of grief from teachers and classmates, but I gave as good as I got. (If you don't believe me, ask Mr. Eshleman.) I keep contact with a fair amount of friends I knew in high school to this day.
Windy Knoll Farms
Fondest memory: I had trouble deciding whether to put this under "fondest memory" or "shopping". Anyhow, Windy Knoll Farms is a Christmas tree farm in rural Hanover County, just outside of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This isn't just some fly-by-night Christmas tree lot, this is a tree farm. You go there, they lend you a saw, you hop on a tractor-drawn trailer and go out there amongst the trees, pick the one you want, cut it down, stow it on the trailer and ride back with it. As you pay for it in the little white house, they put your Christmas tree in a machine that shakes down all the loose needles. Finally, they wrap it up in a compact mesh bag for easy transport home. After Grandpa Terry died, the Christmas tradition was to celebrate it here rather than in South Boston and Virgilina. So, we would get a live tree. Live trees have their pros and cons. I like the scent of a live tree, but despite the best efforts, needles fall onto the floor and they need to be looked after.
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