Tomorrow is my brother-in-law’s, birthday. J’s brother. We met R and D, his wife, in Fredericksburg this morning. Fredericksburg is a quaint, but gentrified, city about halfway between Richmond and Washington. They live in Leesburg, to the west of Washington. So Fredericksburg is a good mutual rendezvous point.
Did I say Fredericksburg was gentrified? That is understating it. The housing prices have been bid up astronomically. There are the ubiquitous converted loft apartments. The downtown has been given over to antique stores, restaurants, and boutique shops. We ate at a restaurant called “Foode”, located in a converted bank building. Truthfully, it had lots of charm.
Across the street from “Foode” is St George’s Episcopal Church. The building with its distinctive steeple can be seen in pictures of Fredericksburg from the Civil War era. The area was of critical importance to the Union’s strategy to capture Richmond, the Confederate Capital. Volumes can and have been written about Fredericksburg in the Civil War. I will stop here.
R has his 76th birthday tomorrow. We had a lovely gathering, fully enjoying the overpriced, but satisfying food. A plate of eggs scrambled with cheese and squash was about $9. Not bad, all in all. $3.50 for a cup of coffee epitomizes the mark-up.
I volunteered to take a group picture for a lovely Muslim family out for brunch. A lesbian couple was not at all reticent about holding hands as they strolled down Princess Anne Street. Just typical scenes of our time.
We checked out a kitchen shop that had a nice selection, including Lamsonsharp forged knives, an American brand in the quality knife market. There were cutesy hand towels with sayings like “I’ve lost my mind. I think my kids took it.”
After the kitchen boutique, we browsed through an antique shop. It was the usual collection of soft drink bottles, furniture, Mid-Century Modern paraphernalia and fussy china. The stereotypical African-American racist kitsch, think Aunt Jemima, from the early part of the Twentieth Century, stood out among the kiosks in the store.
We drove home on U.S. Route 1, a road running roughly parallel with I-95. It was a storied road running from Calais, Maine, at the U.S./Canadian border, to Key West, Florida. There were restaurants and “tourist courts” running the entire route. Today it is all-but deserted. The restaurants were iconic brands like Howard Johnson’s, Hot Shoppes or Stuckey’s. They are all gone now. The tourist courts were the precursor to the motel. They consisted of a grouping of two room cabins, a bedroom with a bathroom. You can still see them, always repurposed to something else like antique shops and always, always shabby and run down, lost time in frame or brick. To take Rte 1 is a relief from the madhouse of traffic that is I-95. One can’t help but wonder what it was once like, back in the day.
Given I have had very little sleep in the past couple of nights, I was an even less enthusiastic traveler than I usually am, which is to say, I wasn’t thrilled about going, but I went. I very much like R and D, I just don’t feel like traveling much any more. I drove a lot in much of my working career. Going somewhere other than to Church, AA, or the Y has little appeal.
When we got home, I took a nap. Now I am writing, watching an Army Signal Corps newsreel from World War Two, dealing with Operation Market-Garden, the failed airborne invasion of The Netherlands in September 1944. This was the subject of the book and film, A Bridge Too Far.
Now I’m watching a segment about DDT, which 75 years ago, was a wonder substance. Now we know as a damaging and dangerous compound, affecting the survival of birds. Then DDT eradicated disese-carrying mosquitos.
I had a phone call from my elder son. He left his gruelling and unsatisfying job and, at age 43, is discerning a new career. We are having lunch tomorrow.
That’s about it.