Lawyers, Guns & Money

When I lived in New York a few years back, I took a road trip through Virginia and Pennsylvania. I wrote a guest post on Krystal Wade’s blog a couple of weeks ago about my adventures with the Amish. You can read about it here. Today, I’m going to share a bit more.

Our next stop is the town of Woodstock, Virginia. The night we arrive happens to be the last night of the county fair. Amid the cattle auctions, amusement rides and stalls selling something called ‘funnel cakes’ are two large buildings that read ‘Exhibits’. Inside are stalls set up by the various shops and businesses of the town advertising their services. And in the middle of all these stalls are the local church stalls. The Baptist church has adorned theirs with large yellow placards containing quotes from God (exactly who recorded these quotes is unknown). Examples include: “God says: Don’t make me come down there” and “God says: Evolution? You’ve got to be kidding.” (I was just curious who it was God said these words TO? Who was this mysterious transcriber with a direct line to heaven?)

Anyway, I must have missed those quotes in religion class.

Then there is the Catholic Church’s stall, which is raffling guns – one an antique Civil War gun and the other a modern hunting gun.

Obviously, it’s a case of if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

The strangest thing of all though is the looks we get from the locals. It’s not that we’re dressed that differently to them or look that different, they just seem to have built-in radar for outsiders and their glares unearth uncomfortable memories of Deliverance and Southern Comfort.

The next day, we stop off in New Market. New Market’s claim to fame is that it’s the site of an infamous Civil War battle in which students of a nearby military school (the average age of whom was eighteen) faced an advancing northern army, and won. My friend, New York Lawyer, Neal, wants to see the Hall of Valour, a museum that was erected near the site of the battle. Stopping at a large building we presume to be the museum, we go in and ask if it is, in fact, the Hall of Valour. The guy behind the desk replies ominously, “You don’t want to be going there.”

“Why’s that?” Neal asks.

The guy shakes his head. “Just don’t want to be going there.”

A quick tour of the museum tells us why.

It turns out that our gruff host is the owner of this museum (and all the items within are his private collection) and, impressive as it is, it’s sole purpose seems to be to act as a stern rebuke to the mainstream Hall of Valour located nearby. The war is referred to as the ‘War between the States’ or ‘The Great Conflict’ – never the Civil War. One exhibit featuring John Brown (who in the town of Harpers Ferry, just across the border, has a plaque commemorating him as a hero) refers to him as a ‘cold-blooded madman’. Other exhibits talk of the South’s right to decide its own fate. It becomes clear that for some the ‘great conflict’ is indeed far from over.


13 thoughts on “Lawyers, Guns & Money

  1. The part of Virginia you visited is different than the part I live in. Next time you visit the states you should check out one of the civil war reenactments–no I never have, but I hear they are interesting.

    Oh and “funnel” cakes are the BEST THINGS IN THE WORLD.

    We are going to the fair this weekend. 🙂

  2. Hahaha…I’m laughing with you Derek. I live in Culpeper Virginia, where all the really cool people have concealed weapons permits (including me). And you know how it is with this war stuff, on your side of the pond the south still wants its other 6 counties back and the north just wants to be left alone to enjoy them. Nobody wins and nobody forgets.

  3. Just sounds like home, never ending feud about bugger all! Men and their gripes, but thanks for sharing. Looking forward to the next installment 🙂

  4. You are so right, the ‘great conflict’ is far from over. I’m originally from the Midwest, where I’m pretty sure they think it’s still going on. Also known as the Bible Belt, where everyone has a direct line to Heaven.

    But come on, you had to love the funnel cakes… 🙂

  5. Nice post Derek. I was born in Charlettsville Virginia, but it was a totally different type of place. (University of VA is there, where my dad was in school.) Now I’m a “Hoosier.” (What people who live in Indiana are called.) Interesting note: The “Hoosier” nickname came about during the civil war when people would call “who’s there?” at the sound of someone approaching.

  6. Krystal, CG, David

    I never knew so many of my Tweeps were Virginians lol

    And yes, Kelly, the funnel cakes were awesome. They’re like massive donuts covered in sugar!

    tattoodevil13, you’re absolutely right, the similarities are striking. You’d like to think that time would heal, but for some, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

  7. Derek, Another great post! I relocated to Virginia from Connecticut, but I was somewhat prepared as my mother had grown up in Richmond. Yes, the ‘war’ is alive and well here, but the funny thing is that in the northeast we basically forgot about it unless we had to take a history test. I’m in Yorktown, part of the ‘historic triangle’. Not everyone is the stereotypical good ole’ boy, but I have learned that there are times it is better not to speak. Not. One. Word.

  8. I have friends in Arlington, VA who’ve joked that they’re waiting for the South to rise again so Northern Virginia can break off of the rest of Virginia, just like West Virginia did during the Civil War.

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