Day 527: Mad Money

After leaving Culpeper, Laetitia and her group stopped to hike on Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Afterward they drove along the Skyline Drive, joining the freeway near Front Royal before proceeding to Winchester, Virginia, their evening’s destination.

A city of 26,000 residents, Winchester has several museums, and Laetitia and her group went to two of them: the Stonewall Jackson Headquarters Museum and the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley. Some happy hour gossip about a local housewife who replenished the “butter and egg” money she kept in her cookie jar in an interesting way was the source of the limerick of the day.

The talk of the town of Winchester
Was a crusty old housewife named Hester
Who went nude to a bar
And with coins filled her jar
Before the cops came to arrest her.

Day 526: Teen Queen

Laetitia and her group began the day by visiting several Civil War battlefield sites in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania and later stopped at the Chester F. Phelps Wildlife Management Area to do some bird watching. Their destination for the evening was Culpeper, Virginia. A young George Washington surveyed the original town site. Today, its proximity to Washington D,C. has made it a bedroom community for government employees. On arrival, Laetitia took her group on a walkabout through the town’s historic district. They passed by an Art Deco Theatre under renovation. As they were looking at it, a local resident gave its history. It began life as the Pitts Theater in 1938 as a venue for vaudeville shows and movies. It closed in 1993. In 2008, a community group saved the building from demolition and raised funds for its restoration. When it reopens as the State Theatre in 2013, it will serve as an education and performing arts center.

As Laetitia was leading her tour group to their hotel, a majority of the group wanted to browse in some of the downtown shops. A conversation in a clothing store between two high school girls about an acquaintance named Susan Knepper and some of their materialistic male classmates was the source of Laetitia’s limerick of the day.

The teen boys all shunned Susan Knepper
And treated her just like a leper
‘Til they learned she’d a car
And her dad owned a bar
Now she’s the teen queen of Culpeper.

Day 525: Cuckoo Miscue

Laetitia and her group left the Blue Ridge Mountains and headed northeast across Virginia. They spent much of the day at the Green Springs Historic Landmark District, a 14,000-acre area dotted with dozens of fine historic rural manor houses surrounded by woods and agricultural land farmed in traditional ways. Afterward they went to Cuckoo. The town’s appellation is not a pejorative description the mental state of the community’s residents. It was named for a tavern that figured prominently in the Revolutionary War. The eighteenth century Cuckoo Tavern was so named apparently because it had a cuckoo clock. The timepiece was a great novelty because it was the only one in the area.

Most Americans are familiar with the famous ride of Paul Revere because of Longfellow’s poem, but few know about Jack Jouett, whose similar ride prevented the British from capturing Thomas Jefferson. Jouett was a 27-year-old captain in the colonial militia who was at the tavern on June 3, 1781 when he saw 250 British dragoons and mounted infantry led by Colonel Banastre Tarleton. He correctly surmised that they were heading to Richmond to capture Jefferson and the Virginia legislators. Jouett rode all night on back roads arriving in time to warn them and allow them to escape. The original tavern building is gone.

After a walkabout in Cuckoo, Laetitia brought her group to their hotel in Louisa. The cocktail lounge where Laetitia went for happy hour was poolside. When she mentioned that she and her group had just come from Cuckoo, the bartender told her about a young Cuckoo resident named Jeannie who scandalized her hometown at a previous happy hour. She and her friends had too much to drink and were more unrestrained than the folks back home thought prudent. Laetitia chose the episode as the topic for the limerick of the day.

At a plush poolside bar lovely Jeannie
After drinking her seventh martini
Shocked the town of Cuckoo
When she shucked robe and shoe
And dived in without her bikini.

Day 524: Dante in Flagrante

Today’s destination for Laetitia and her group was the Dante Music Festival. Not as well known as Tanglewood, Ravinia or Aspen, the festival attracts dozens of professional musicians and music students to the mountains of western Virginia each summer. The program features master classes, workshops, and a plethora of classical music offerings performed by the festival’s faculty and students. Apropos to Dante Alighieri’s association with The Inferno, Liszt’sMephisto Waltz and music from Gounod’s Faust are de rigueur in each summer’s program.

Dante was the headquarters of the Clinchfield Coal Corporation until the last coal mine in the area closed in 1959. The thousands of tourists who flock to the area every summer for the festival give the community a significant economic boost. Laetitia and her group spent the day attending festival musical events. The buzz around the bar that evening when Laetitia had a drink before meeting her group for dinner was about a festival groupie named Jen. She seemed to have a penchant for musicians and sometimes even musical groups and shocked the town when she was caught in flagrante delicto with one of the latter. Her story provided Laetitia with the limerick of the day.

In her black Cadillac Escalante
Jen once had a cellist andante
But when she had a trio
Allegro con brio
It shocked music circles in Dante.