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The Old Mountain Road

July 28, 2009

To understand the sheer delight that will undoubtably  ooze through this post, it helps to know my license tag is “Bak Rdz”. Back Roads, that is. The Old Mountain Road (Rt. 640) and the inviting little spurs that take you off down some of the few remaining gravel roads in central Virginia are a treat for back road adventurers.

I was on a mission this past Saturday hunting for two things.  The first was fresh corn from one of the vegetable stands that sell fresh produce  along the roadside this time of year. If you see one, stop to look, even if you don’t think you need vegetables.  You’ll probably find a little sign posting the prices and a coffee-can with a slit cut in the top that says, “Honor System,” for your payment.  Just seeing such extensions of trust will do your heart good.  Somehow, Louisa County has kept its sense of rural community ethics in this modern world…and perhaps these  vegetable stands are a small, unassuming way of initiating newcomers and passing tourists into the way we live together here.

Well, I found the vegetable stand and then was on my way to Kersey’s country store in Inez to find the second item on my list.  I had been in the day before and spotted an old butter churn among the antiques that line his top shelf and hang from  every post. I had looked at it and told Mr. Kersey that I just had to be sure it would work for a demonstration piece for the hearth cooking guild before I bought it.  (You can watch the hearth cooks at work on the events page of  www.louisahistory.org) . After bit of quick 21st century online research, I had decided it would do nicely.

I walked back into the store Saturday and nodded to the gentleman who was seated in one of the chairs Mr. Kersey must keep for neighbors who drop into the store just to sit a while and talk.   Mr. Kersey greeted me with a smile and said, “I said to myself last night that  if that lady from the historical society comes back in and wants that crock, I’ll just give it to her.”  And so I left, churn in hand (and an old brown and white pickle crock I couldn’t resist,  just for me!)

More another day about the Old Mountain Road itself.  It’s history includes the story about Jack Jouett’s ride along the western portion of the road in the dark of a June night in 1781.  Of course, he wasn’t just out for vegetables.  He was desperately trying to reach Monticello to warn then Governor Thomas Jefferson of a British raid intent on capturing the governor and his friends.  Of course, if one of you readers know the story, let me know and you can post the story instead!

Elaine Taylor, the Programs Director at the Sargeant Museum

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