Friday, August 30, 2013

Poet Laureates of Virginia

True beauty is never fleeting, which is why poetry

demands thoughtful reading - as well as the gift of time.[i]

On Saturday, September 21 at 1 pm the Massanutten Regional Library’s Main Branch is offering a public program featuring Sofia Starnes, the current Poet Laureate of Virginia.  Virginians and the Commonwealth, one of a few states to so honor poets, have a long history of providing encouragement, community, and support for poets and for those who enjoy reading poetry.   The umbrella for local poets and poetry readers is the Poetry Society of Virginia, established in 1923 and in its 90th year.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Harrisonburg Guards Part 2

The Harrisonburg Guards (continued)

The following account found in the August 1879 issues of the Rockingham Register newspapers provided a glimpse of the lighter side of Guard duty.

The Guards’ Encampment at Rawley Springs[i]

            Coinciding with the first load of watermelons in early August 1879, about thirty “boys” of Harrisonburg went to Rawley Springs for a three-day encampment.  The Rawley Springs, about 12 miles west of the Courthouse, was a popular resort known medically for its fortifying and curing iron water and recreationally for its many diversions.  On Thursday, August 7, - a “delightfully cool day, - the boys left Harrisonburg in good spirits” for their encampment.  The newspaper reported that “the journey to Rawley Springs was passed in joking and laughing, and repartee, it affording the boys special amusement to observe the physiognomy of toll keepers [along the Rawley Pike and they] would approach or drive through without either ceremony or pay.”   When they arrived at the Dry River crossing at the entrance to the Resort, the Company was greeted by the Rawley Springs brass band under the leadership of Prof. Schoff of the U.S. Naval Military Academy Band. The Guards marched to the Springs to the especially composed “Harrisonburg Guard Quickstep.”  A multitude of fair ladies on the verandahs of the Virginia, Baltimore, and Washington Houses greeted the “boys” with applause.   Major Pitman, the manager of the Resort, and Mr. Carey and Mr. Lee, the clerks, welcomed them and showed them to their accommodations at the Washington House.  In the evening at the “customary dance” in the large ballroom, the young men had a chance to obtain introductions to the ladies.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Harrisonburg Guards Part 1

Picture of the Harrisonburg Guards between 1886 and 1900 from collection of Massanutten Regional Library.

The Harrisonburg Guards

The following article focuses on the Harrisonburg Guards but also presents a picture of the region transitioning from the destruction of the Civil War and the confinements of Reconstruction to the creation of a new social order.  The portrait of Harrisonburg in 1877 shows a relatively prosperous, tolerant, and forward-looking segment of the South.  The Guards Unit may seem to be a relic of the past, yet the formation of the unit reveals an engagement in the new South and the re-formed Union.