Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 08:18:14 EDT
From: "Phyllis C. Petree" <ppetree@CABELL.VCU.EDU>
Subject: WHTMOSN
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>

Last night, my friends from the gym took me out for a going away outing/party. Until we left, I had no idea whay we were doing or where we would be going. As my friends put it, we wanted to do somthing a little different and we wanted it to be a surprise. here's What Happened to Me On Saturday night.

I arived 30 minutes late, having written down that we were supposed to meet at 3:15 - apparently the assembly time was 2:45. After I apologized profusely, we headed east on I-64, driving like a bat out of hell. More about this later. Oh, and we were riding in a Chrysler mini-van, the one whose back door sometimes pop open & rear seat comes loose dumping passengers during collisions, even minor fender-benders.

I still don't know where we're going but notice that the naviogator in the front seat is refering to a brochure for Shirley Plantation as she gives directions to the driver. With my keen grasp of the obvious, I figure out what the first part of the afternoon will involve.

We arrive at Shirley, a beautifully maintained colonial house built in 1738. It's still owned by the decendents of the Hill & Carter families who received the original land grant from the King. And is still a working farm. The family still lives on the 2nd & third floors or the house, which sits about 100 feet from the James River - the Main Street of colonial times.

The tour is interesting, but brief. Our first guide is "different." Either he was on quaaludes or had over-mastered the idea of a theatric pause. The group fell silent waiting for the tour to begin. There was a long pause, then Mr. Guide began talking s-l-o-w-y, with long pauses between sentences. Like he was running at 8 megahurtz. By the second room, I wanted to shake him.

He did point out some interesting things about the house. The parlor had spigots for hot & cold running water by the fireplace. The servants used these to clean china & silver between seatings for dinner, since the 2nd owner had 18 surviving children, & meals were served in 3 seatings.

We also learned that the artist who did the family portraits would spend slow periods painting bodies and backgrounds & then would stick the head in later when he found a subject. I asked if his decendents went on to found the National Enquirer but, alas, no one but the man standing beside me heard the question. He thought it was funny. The artist was also limited to one size head and one face, so everyone looked alike except for hairstyles & whether the head & body sizes matched.

In the dining room, our second guide took over. Not only did he talk at a normal speed, he had beautiful blue eyes. He showed us he panes in the windows where newly engaged women of the family have scratched their initials with their engagement rings. A practice that started in the late 1700's when a daughter of the family became enagaged to a man who was a notorious gambler & playboy. She was suspicious of the stone so went to a pane of glass in a south window where she scratched her name. The initials are there, and it was a good story, but I wonder if that's what really happened. The two west-facing windows have other names or initials, including those of the current daughter in residence whose became engaged early this year.

In the library, the guide shows us a needlepoint fireplace block that people used to shield themselves from the heat & light from the fire if it became too intense. He also told us that the phrase "mind your beeswax" came from this time. Supposedly people used beeswax on theit faces to mask smallpox scars, which seems probable. But as they sat by the fire, the heat could begin melting the wax, causing it to drip on their clothes & leaving the scars exposed. Someone sitting with them would notice the melting & would whisper to the wax-wearer, to "mind your beeswax." Sounded a bit apochryphal to me.

After a brief walk on the grounds & a visit to the gift shop, we headed east on Highway 5 to Indian Hills restaurant for dinner...

-- -- Phyllis

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 08:30:58 EDT
From: "Phyllis C. Petree" <ppetree@CABELL.VCU.EDU>
Subject: WHTMOSN 2
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>

We resume or bat-out-of-hell driving practices to ensure that we make our dinner reservations and arrive in plenty of time.

The restaurant is in a restored farmhouse that looked to have been built in the mid to late 1800's. And the food was wonderful. Most of the foods on the menu were things that were proabaly served duing colonial & antebellum times (beef , quail, ham, venison, chicken) though the preparation was definately modern.

I had blacked shrimp & scallops in a <toe-MAH-toe>, basil, cream sauce, over spinach linguine. My friends had beef tenderloin & crabcakes. The food was heavenly.

If any of you are ever in this area, it will be worth a drive east on Highway 5 to see some of these restored plantations, to stay at some of the B&B's along Rte. 5, and to eat at Indian Hills.

At about 7:45, afetr we had lingered over coffee & desert, we pile in the van to head back to Richmond.

-- -- Phyllis

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 09:04:25 EDT
From: "Phyllis C. Petree" <ppetree@CABELL.VCU.EDU>
Subject: WHTMOSN 3
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>

For our drive back to the city, we decide to stay on Rte. 5. It's shorter than the I-64 route, even though you can drive 65+ mph on I-64.

It's a beautiful drive. This is a fairly two-lane road, with huge old hardwood trees that grow close to the pavement & arch over the road. Even though it's still daylight, the trees, make it dark for long stretches. There are few houses along the road, except for a few other cars, the road seems deserted.

We drive into Richmond through the edge of Church Hill & Chimborazo Park, areas that are <not safe> even during broad daylight. We continue down Main Street past the abandoned warehouses & into Shockoe Bottom & Shockoe Slip, with their trend bars and restaurants.

We stop once at a light on West Main Street then back up to look into the window of a new bar. One of us - not me - insisted that one of the men in the bar had something strange on his face. Since we were full of ourselves (& a few other things) by this point, we backed-up to stare pointedly. But never saw what Iris had seen.

When we started off again, we noticed that the street seems to have become incredibly bumpy - as if we were driving over a series of potholes. Then it dawns on us that, the street is fine but at least one of our tires isn't. We stop. Sure enough the left front tire is completely flat, its steel belt is exposed in many places. The tire has basically come apart. We're going nowhere until it's fixed. And we're stopped beside Monroe Park, a place that has been taken over by the homeless & drug dealers & where daylight muggings used to be common. It's now 8:15 & nearly full-dark.

Fortunately, one of my friends had decided to bring her cellular phone along at the last minute and 4 of us are members of AAA. We call AAA who assures that a wrecker will be there in 30 minutes or less but seems unconcerned that we are stuck where we are. Our wait begins.

-- -- Phyllis

Date: Sun, 20 Aug 1995 09:25:59 EDT
From: "Phyllis C. Petree" <ppetree@CABELL.VCU.EDU>
Subject: WHTMOSN 4
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>

45 minutes arfter out call to AAA, we've seen no sign of a wreck & no police cars. We notice that the pedestrian traffic has picked up in number & declined in quality. Some of them are down-right spooky looking. We call AAA back, the dispatcher is annoying vague and tells us it will be another 20 minutes. She still is unconcerned about the fact that we are in an unsafe area.

Then we call the VCU Campus Police who have joint jurisdiction over Monroe Park. Iris is the Asst. (Assoc?) Dean for Undergraduate Studies at VCU's Business School, a fact she mentions to the police dispatcher. She asks if the dispatcher could send a cruiser to at least drive by the area. The dispatcher agrees and within 5 minutes we have 2 cops sitting with us in their cruiser. We feel safe enough to get out of the car, which has become stifling.

The cops stay with us for a few minutes then pull over to a side street where they stop and begin what looks to be an arrest. A police van & a bicycle cop arrive, too. Then a Chrysler K-car pulls to a stop in fron of us. A blond man, wearing and gun, carrying hand-cuffs, & a flashlight gets out of the car and walks toward us. He badges us and we relax. He turns out to be a detective with the Violent Crimes unit of the Richmond City police. He waits with us until to tow truck arrives.

In the meantime, the VCU cops return and we stand on the sidewalk, accompanied by 4 policemen, but no tow truck. We chat with them, enjoy the nice breeze and wait. The Richmond cop, points out that the tire is only flat on one side (cop humor) but then shows us how bad the tire really is. The other front tire, while not flat, is nearly as bad. He tells us the front end is likely out of alignment and that had we driven the car over 50 mph, we were risking a blowout. We are suddenly even more thankful we took Rte 5, with it's slow speeds, home.

The tow truck arrives, cdhanges the tire, and we head home. I commented that they had promised me something different & had most certainly delivered. We all agreed that, even though we were not in the safest place when the tire went, it was better than being on a deserted stretch of Rte. 5, where there wasn't space to get the van off the road and no one nearby, or to have had the tire blow out on I-64 as we drove 75 mph in Chrysler mini-van that has a long history of being unsafe in crashes.

We arrive home safely - driving very slowly. And the very different, eventful evening ended.

-- -- Phyllis

Date: Mon, 21 Aug 1995 19:00:15 EDT
From: "Phyllis C. Petree" <ppetree@CABELL.VCU.EDU>
Subject: WHTMOSN 6
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <WORDS-L@UGA.CC.UGA.EDU>

The Monroe Park area is frequented by <characters>. While we waited for AAA (after the VCU police left & before the Richmond police arrived), we noticed a man standing at one of the entrances to the park. He was holding two large flashlights, one in each hand. He was shining the beams on down the ground on either side of his legs & circling the pools of lights on the sidewalk.

At first we thought he was trying to find something he had lost, then we realized he was looking everywhere *except* where he was shining the light and most often up at the sky. While this was probaly as mundane as someone indulging a slightly off-kilter fantasy or compulsion or even the beginning of a drug deal, by that time we were convinced that he was signalling aliens to come in for a landing.

He eventually walked away and, by the time he got near the middle of the park, turned off the flashilights. If the mothership landed it was after AAA got there & changed our tire.

-- -- Phyllis