|Like The Queen
Whatever happens to strike my fancy, but surely some sort of fiber content.
That post was such a treat, like dipping into a well-written Southern-flavored novel. Makes me want to read the whole thing - you will write it someday, won't you?
"Lordy that was the friendliest woman I ever met and she set the tone for me. I never came into Essex County after that without expecting everyone I met to just hug me to bits and pieces."
Thank you for sharing that delightfully delicious snippet from your past. I was just hanging on every word!
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Saturday, May 19, 2007 Ooo this is one Ge-Or-Ge-Ous Saturday. Crystal clear air with a hint of coolness slipped in overnight and thrust off the blanket of grey clouds that had smothered Friday’s temperatures back down into the 60’s. Golden sunshine slanting through the forest is igniting all the green into something beyond color - more like emerald fire shimmering with gold dust. I can hear my pet bald eagle keening as he spies a tasty morsel in the bay. An army of beautiful iris stands at attention along the back of the garden looking as if they would march up and chivvy some sweat pea or peony into blooming a little straighter, a little sooner, a little fuller.
This is a perfect day for a wedding. Good thing, too, since I hear there are a number of them going on around the county. We will be going to one of them this evening. The groom is a cousin and one of LD’s high school chums. The bride is the grand daughter of Teddy Acree - just about one of my favorite of the old time King and Queen dames, the first I met, way back in the olden days when I was a girlfriend.
BD has brought me many great gifts over the decades, but one of the grandest and longest lasting has been his capacity for just getting up and doing something - often something adventurous - and taking me along with him. Long, long ago, the first time I went out with him, in fact, I noticed he had an old American Flyer bike. Heavy tires, no gears, but sturdy enough to fall off a truck and keep on rolling. Within a month or two he’d scouted out another one and bought it for me for the grand sum of $10. I kept it at his house because I officially lived in a dorm. (ha!) We tooled around Richmond on those bikes, exploring, shopping ... I remember one time he brought home, from the lumber yard out on Broad Street, some shelving boards across the handlebars of his. He was the first person I knew, other than Europeans in old newsreel type educational films, who used a bike as transportation. (yeah, I am that old) We actually rode those bikes from The Fan out to Governor’s Antiques - way out by Poll Green Road - back before the 295 by-pass was built - to buy a boxwood flute with ivory rings. Yep. The real thing. He has it still, in his flute cabinet.
That first spring we were together, though, he suggested we might like to ride those bikes down to Tappahannock. I was absolutely floored at the idea of riding a bicycle 50 miles. Not in a race. Not some sleek thing with narrow tires. Just getting on our bikes and pedaling on down the road till we got somewhere. It was an enchanting idea and one June morning we started off.
In part it may be because I was a girl, in part it may be just because I was young, but there were huge portions of my city that I’d never explored. I had no idea there even was a Richmond-Henrico turnpike that slipped behind the old State Fair Grounds and across Chicahominy Swamp, but that was the first turn we made as we wheeled east on Laburnum Ave. Chicahominy Swamp is a huge wet area that has been full of dead tree skeletons all my life. Obviously the ground once supported a forest because the trees grew big enough to become a ghostly stand, but climate changes and perhaps, the asphalt carpet of suburbia has put an end to that. In fact, most of the dead trees have fallen now, to be replaced by different, and more people tolerant, wetland flora. One day nobody will even remember that once there as a huge wetland forest in Henrico County.
We took back roads through the countryside, stopping at the Studly store to get a soft drink. I grew up in a family where sodas were considered a serious luxury item. You got one for your birthday or maybe if you were in a restaurant. One didn’t just stop at a little brown box of a store and dig one out of a chest cooler because it tasted good and the day was hot.
From Studly we went left on the Williamsville Road to cross into Hanover (pronounced with a breathy “h” and sort of tossing off the last syllables of each word - “Hhhahnovah Chaounteh”) on the Nelson’s Bridge Road, across the Pamunkey River. Deep into Old Virginia we pedaled, north towards Mangohick where we once again began going east on Rt. 30 - at least for a little while before heading to Mitchel’s Millpond, along a road that wrapped around the eastern tip of the pond. I remember vividly wanting to get naked and go swimming. I don’t remember if I did. I’ll have to ask BD.
From the millpond, where I can still remember feeling fresh, it was a long stretch up to Beulahville and across the Mataponi into King and Queen, where we stopped at the Newtown Post Office and Store, where I remember feeling a little tired. That’s where I first met Teddie Acree - grandmother of today’s bride.
Teddy was the first person I’d met from “down ‘round here”; decidedly Old Virginia, kinfolk or something as good as; connected, and well acquainted with all the family lore. I was only 19, visibly younger than BD, and just a girlfriend to boot, with a decidedly suburban background and no connections whatsoever. But Teddy Acree ( somehow I can never say just her first name, which was a nickname anyway. Officially, she was Mary Evelyn Turpin Acree.) just opened up that gigantic warm heart of hers and sucked me in like so much frosty lemonade on a hot summer day. I can still see her wide round eyes and gleeful smile as she cried “Cuhz’n Edw’d! Land sakes, chile! Whuht-chew dewin down here and who’zziss?”
Lordy that was the friendliest woman I ever met and she set the tone for me. I never came into Essex County after that without expecting everyone I met to just hug me to bits and pieces. She was the postmistress and store keeper and besides, that end of King and Queen, up around Newtown, is Turpin Country. Teddy loved to laugh and tell stories and Teddy loved get-together and Teddy gave the grandest parties with always the same invitation: You Are Invited to come Dancing on the Green in King and Queen. How I loved to go to her parties. She always had Clinks Fauntleroy on the guitar and sometimes Peter Bundy on the fiddle and you stayed till the wee hours. I took little baby LD to his first party when he was only a 3 months old, because babies just got plopped on big beds upstairs when Teddy Acree held a party. Her husband had a big farm along 360 and, though much quieter, had a heart that could match hers for tenderness and loving. Their three sons were as wild as rabbits and just like Teddy while their daughter, Biddy, had that same soft gentleness as Old Jack.
And today it’s Biddy’s daughter who’s getting married. Of course folks around here are all saying Caroll Lee’s daughter is getting married, because Caroll Lee is as vivid and colorful as his mother-in-law ever was. But I will be remembering Teddy this evening, and how wonderful it was to be welcomed as if I were the most important person she could ever meet, way back when, in girlfriendhood, when BD and I rode bikes from Richmond to Tappahannock.
Lawsee - 35 years ago. posted by Bess | 1:17 PM