Day 523: Nitty-Gritty

Laetitia and her group toured several of Richmond’s museums in the morning. Included were the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and the Old Dominion Railway Museum. Intrigued by Susan’s conversation of yesterday, Laetitia headed off in the afternoon across the state to Bland, Virginia. It’s a small community of about 400 people located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Its proximity to the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway make it a great place to live if you like the outdoors. But, as Susan concluded yesterday without really knowing, Bland is somewhat lacking in exciting things for young people to do.

Laetitia was taking her group to a bluegrass music concert in the evening, so she gave the group some time on their own in Bland with a designated meeting time later and then found a local tavern that was having happy hour. Laetitia sat at the bar within earshot of a table of men about her own age. From their conversation, she gathered that all were unmarried and employed, but not well paid. They mostly talked about their big plans for success and how they’d scored with local women or would do so in the near future. Some of the recounted amorous episodes seemed to Laetitia like they might have been embellished with details that were more wishful thinking than fact. However, she was seeking material for a limerick, so she didn’t care. Limericists have no ethical requirement for truthfulness.

Franklin’s story especially garnered the group’s admiration. He had actually enticed a local girl to go with him for a weekend in Virginia Beach. Though Franklin’s lurid account of the weekend was enthusiastic, he let slip a few details that suggested that when his fairytale came true it was actually a bit more real than he expected. His conversation engendered the limerick of the day.

The aim of young Franklin from Bland
To make love on the beach in the sand
Turned out to be gritty
It is such a pity
Things didn’t quite go as he planned.

Day 522: Bland Plan

Laetitia began the day by going to Kitty Hawk, the barrier island where the Wright brothers made their pioneering flight. Then they visited Nags Head and Cape Hatteras National Seashore before driving along the south side of Albemarle Sound on the way to Richmond, Virginia.

They stopped for lunch at a small café in Ford, Virginia. Laetitia’s booth was close enough to the soda fountain to overhear the conversation of two teenage girls who were perched on stools there. What emerged from the conversation was that both girls found life in Ford rather boring. One of them, Susan, was dramatically bemoaning the news she had just received that her parents were moving to Bland, Virginia. If there was any place on earth more boring than Ford, Bland must be it, she concluded. Of course, she hadn’t been there yet, but its name was certainly suggestive. Laetitia didn’t need to wait until happy hour today. She already had a limerick.

Young Susan was constantly bored
With life in the village of Ford
But when her folks planned
To move on to Bland
She simply went out of her gourd.

Day 521: Old Trap

Laetitia and her group left Rich Square and headed northeast toward Merchants Millpond State Park. The millpond was constructed in the early nineteenth century to provide waterpower for gristmills and a sawmill. Later other businesses were established in the area, and it became known as Merchants Millpond. Laetitia’s group went canoeing, following a marked route through the cypress trees that afforded excellent views of wildlife, including alligators. Later they moved on to Dismal Swamp State Park, where they went kayaking among the cypress trees and hiking on the extensive boardwalk trails. That afternoon they headed in the direction of Albemarle Sound and arrived at Camden, where they were spending the night.

Several local residents at the next table in the bar where Laetitia went for a pre-dinner drink were talking about the history of a nearby community called Old Trap. The gist of the conversation was this: Europeans settled the area that is now called Old Trap in the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century there was a church, and by the time of the Revolutionary War there was a store. The town’s location close to sea level just north of Albemarle Sound made a watermill impractical, so a wind-powered gristmill was built in the area for grinding grain. The local store sold liquor by the drink. Wives in the area often were irked when their husbands stopped to drink at the store instead of coming directly home from the mill. They called the store “The Trap,” and after it had been around awhile, it became the “Old Trap.” Laetitia condensed the conversation into the limerick of the day.

A small store that had liquor on tap
Very soon became known as “Old Trap”
A name that derives
From the disgruntled wives
Of the men who stopped for a wee drap.