Virginia Johnson

Red, White, and Blue Music

On July 4th, burgers sizzle on the grill, and cold drinks are passed around. Happy dogs play with frisbees, and sunburned kids finally climb out of the pool. In the growing darkness, fireworks begin to crackle and zoom overhead. At last a special song starts playing, and all the people get quiet as they remember the reason for the celebration.

When the American colonists declared independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, they were doing a very brave thing. They knew that there would be no easy way to make the words they put on paper real. The Continental Army would have to fight for the country's right to exist.

People made up new songs, often using old tunes, and sung them in the streets of America. These were full of pride and jokes about the British. There were lots of them! Some, like Yankee Doodle, are classics we still remember, and many songs told the war news, such as An American Frigate,* that tells the tale of one of John Paul Jones' battles on the sea.

Anita Lobel

For years, Anita Lobel shied away from many memories of her childhood, and she had good reason to do so. Born in Poland just before World War II, Anita’s father ran a chocolate factory and the family was rather well off. Her mother had furs and jewels and employed servants to help with the housework and the children, including a beloved nanny, Niania. All that was soon to change when the Nazis marched into Kraków.

Ellwood: A Crossroads in History

For more than two hundred years, this Spotsylvania farm has stood as a witness to Virginia history. Originally carved from land given to colonial Governor Alexander Spotswood, Ellwood willingly hosted two armies-that of the Marquis de Lafayette during the Revolutionary War and General Robert E. Lee during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863. However, in 1864, during the Battle of the Wilderness, Ellwood became the headquarters for Generals Gouverneur K. Warren and Ambrose E. Burnside.

Farmers Market Cookbook by Southern Living

Farmers Market Cookbook by Southern Living

Southern Living’s Farmers Market Cookbook has interesting, beautiful recipes that are not difficult for an ordinary cook to produce. This is to be expected as it is typical of anything from Southern Living’s magazines and cookbook lines. But what is different here is the book’s focus on vegetables, fruits, cheeses, and other foods that are available seasonally at local farmers markets. 

The Dancing Floor by Barbara Michaels

The Dancing Floor by Barbara Michaels

In Barbara Michael’s The Dancing Floor, twenty-something Heather Tradescant is taking the trip she’s dreamed of since she was a little girl—paying visits to great historical gardens in Britain. However, it’s a sorrowful journey as her hen-pecked but beloved father was supposed to be her traveling companion. They had planned it together, after all, and then he died unexpectedly. But Heather is determined to see it through, even if that means breaking into Troyton House to check out the garden. She is prepared with a camera and a notebook, but she is not prepared to be frightened out of her wits by something lurking in what might have been—and possibly still is—a sacrificial glade.

Eight Cousins, or the Aunt-Hill, by Louisa May Alcott

Eight Cousins, or the Aunt-Hill, by Louisa May Alcott

Meet Rose Campbell, a pretty, thirteen-year-old girl living in 19th-century Boston. Just orphaned, Rose is taken to live with relatives—rich and kind but fussy aunts who feel very, very sorry for her. They treat her as if she is direly ill and have her half-convinced of it herself. Rose really is drenched in self-pity until she gets a visit from her Uncle Alec.

Union Church of Falmouth: The Power of Preservation

When the storm destroyed Union Church’s roof in 1950, there wasn’t much to be done about it. It had not been used since 1935, after all, and rebuilding a church requires a committed congregation. But churches are centers of the community, and during its lengthy, active history, Union Church was established as an important part of Falmouth’s past--and America’s, too. So, in an effort to preserve what they could, local people bricked up the narthex (the front of the church) to house a few things from years gone by, including a bell and a pew dating to just after the Civil War. What we see today is a slice of the original building, but that building has quite a history and what was preserved will soon be shared at the new National Museum of African American History on the Washington Mall.

Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking

Craig Claiborne’s Southern Cooking

Legendary New York Times food writer Craig Claiborne wrote more than 20 cookbooks, but surely none could have been closer to his heart or his roots than Southern Cooking

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

"Irish businessman will pay large amount of U.S. dollars to meet a fairy, sprite, leprechaun, or pixie."

The ad was posted on the Internet. Indeed, it generated numerous fraudulent responses, but the person who placed it only needed one true lead for his purposes. He had studied all he could in the mundane world he inhabited, but he knew the important secrets of the Fairy would only be known by others of their kind. However, in Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, the Irish businessman posting the ad did not mention that he was stupendously rich—and rather young. In his mind, the latter certainly did not signify.

Mary Belle Holder, Library Volunteer Extraordinaire

Mary Belle Holder

Seventeen years ago, Mary Belle Holder wasn’t ready to stop working. She was only 76. So she decided to volunteer at the local library.  Read the Free Lance-Star article for more about our amazing Mary Belle!