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One Woman's Opinion

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Fun at the Fest

by Mary Wakefield Buxton
Urbanna, Va.— In spite of cold weather and  wind off the Rappahannock River that drove to the bone, my two days of short stints manning the Sentinel table at the Oyster Festival was lots of fun. Readers came from far and wide to say hello. Many locals also stopped by to check in. It was delightful to hear remarks that this column has generated throughout the years.

There was a lot of laughter. “You’re too liberal,” I heard from someone. This amazed me after all I have written in opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s gargantuan 2000-plus pages of so called “health reform,” which in my mind is  better named “Government Power Grab.”

The way I see it most people are neither “conservative” nor “liberal,” but a combination of a little of both. I am in a particularly conservative mode these days but who could blame me with this free-spending Congress, the likes that we have never seen before? They think “the rich” will pay for all their new expensive programs. Congress has put us trillions of dollars in debt over the next 10 years. I hope we can locate a lot of “the rich” to foot the bills. But I have an odd feeling it will be our poor children and grandchildren who will be stuck with the debt.

“You’re too conservative,” I heard from another reader. More laughter. You just can’t please everyone. But I mentioned that I believe I was the first columnist in any newspaper in the entire commonwealth to openly call to open VMI to qualified women in 1988. Hardly what one would have expected of a conservative.

Just sign me up for limited government, individual freedom, opportunity and the right to be responsible for myself. I also support rights of dogs to enjoy this world just as we humans do. And cats.

And so on, stimulating discussion and new friendships. And then it happened out of the blue. A lady who said she was from Bethpage marched right up to the Sentinel table and declared, ”I agree with every word that you write, Mary!” That’s when I began to suspect that I was on Candid Camera.

Capt. Dick Simon came by to tell me about a huge beech tree in his back yard that had several sets of initials carved in the trunk ending in “T.” It’s a mystery who carved them. He hopes someone might know and call him.

A lady, nee Nancy Carneal, shared a memory of General “Chesty” Puller. She once lived in Saluda and told me she would walk each day to the post office with her toddlers in a stroller. A fine gentleman would occasionally join them and treat them all to ice cream at the E&H that once stood at the site of where 7-11 is today. He called the row of houses along Gloucester Road “Toddler’s Row” because so many young mothers lived there. She would later learn the kind gentleman was none other than the General. “He died before I could get him to sign my book, ‘Marine,’ ” she said sadly.

Bill Grove, the son of Dr. Grove who once practiced medicine in Saluda, and his wife, Mary, a pair of retired lawyers who moved to Florida several years ago, came by to say hello. They have moved back to Richmond so that she can be near her mother.

A writer, Brad Parks, who has recently moved with his wife from New Jersey to Christchurch, introduced himself to me. His debut mystery novel, “Faces of the Gone,” is being published by St. Martin’s Press next month.

Brad comes to the art of writing mysteries from years of investigative reporting with the Washington Post and other newspapers. When he saw the field of reporters shrinking each year with a corresponding drop in newspaper subscribers, he decided it was time to strike out on his own and start writing novels.

He gave me a bookmark blurb for his new thriller: “Four bodies, each with a single bullet wound in the back of the head, stacked like cordwood in a weed-choked vacant lot. That’s the front page news facing Carter Ross, an investigative reporter for the Newark Eagle-Examiner. The victims never knew each other. But Carter soon learns they have a connection. It puts him into a great story—and an ambitious killer.” (They are always the worst kind.)

All in all, duty at the Sentinel offered a most exhilarating two days of conversation. Thank you one and all. ©2009

Mary Wakefield Buxton’s new book, “Middlesex Memories,” is now available at the Sentinel and area book stores.

posted 11.19.2009

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