By Janet Payne
Janet Payne is the retired fine arts coordinator of the Stafford (VA) County Public Schools.
This article originally appeared in the International Review of African American Art, volume 16, number 1, and is reproduced here with the permission of this publication.
When Mary Downing Hahn writes a book, she works along steadily until that magic moment when the characters develop their own voices. Whether it's a mean-mouthed boy who is hiding family secrets or a girl who is terrified of the ghostly presence haunting her small step-sister, this author's characters tell their own stories both believably and intriguingly.
Carolyn Owens (Reeder) knew she wanted to be a teacher when she was 12 years old. A book lover herself, she taught a nearly 9-year-old boy how to read because he had never learned in school. She grew up to teach 4th, 5th, and 6th grades, eventually going full circle and becoming a reading specialist for primary grades. She was born and grew up in Washington , D.C.
To open a book illustrated by Floyd Cooper is to be drawn into a world of warmth, bravery, and joy. His drawings are as essential as the text itself in illuminating the world of childhood, often of the Black experience.
He was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1956. Early on, his family lived in the projects and had little money, but his mother was able to give him a sense of self-worth that he has carried with him always. She also shared stories with him, helping to build his imagination.
A daughter of union organizers, Mary grew up in Greenwich Village and while only a teenager sang backup for the legendary Pete Seeger. Today, her clear, warm vocals on songs written by Seeger and Bob Dylan remind us of the softer aspects of 1960s social struggle. "If I Had a Hammer," "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and "Blowin' in the Wind" are still favorites for youth groups.
With Google's now infamous detailed photos, it's rather easy to see how a town is laid out today. But what about 50, 100, or 150 years ago? Where are the maps that show how the towns and counties grew through the years? One excellent source of information, the Sanborn fire insurance maps, is available online to our patrons at no charge.
By The Daily Star—10 August 1921
In an advertisement on the second page of this issue it will be noted that all trespassers on the grounds of Chatham Manor between the hours of sunset and sunrise will be there at their own risk. Watchmen employed by the architect and contractor declare that ghosts invade the domain during the midnight hours and five individual watchmen have tendered their resignations after staying at the historic mansion one night. The watchman on duty Tuesday night declares that a stumpy black figure, accompanied by a grotesque shape in white passed within a few feet of him at midnight. He fired a double-barreled shot gun at them point blank and was greeted by a hollow guttural laugh as they continued their rounds about the manor. This was too much for the guard to stand and he left the premises for good. Another watchman relates that he saw three women in white roaming around the estate exactly at 3 a.m. a few mornings ago, while others tell of strange noises and strangling sounds.
Every year, the Memorials Advisory Commission recommends to the City Council the names of up to five citizens deceased for at least five years who have made outstanding contributions to the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Commission relies upon public nominations to determine which individuals to place on the Wall of Honor. Files of information on the honorees are available in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library's Virginiana Room.
There are Fredericksburgers living today who well remember the carnival activity of Scott's Island. Most of those interviewed had difficulty pinpointing the exact dates of its beginning and end; however, judging from a handbill from the 1920s, the emphasis appears to have centered around Saturday night.