The curiosity of the Northern Neck
Thea Marshall takes a look at what one author has called "Curiosities of the Northern Neck"
Life is filled with curiosities, even on the Northern Neck. Well, if you find that hard to believe, there's a whole chapter in a book called "Virginia Curiosities," and it's devoted to the Northern Neck, and I protest, kind of.
The author, Sharon Cavalier, her name a bit of an oddity itself, lists many things we just take for granted here on the Neck, like Stratford Hall and George Washington's birthplace monument. She does mention the outdoor bath facilities at the Hope and Glory Inn in Irvington, and she points out that, in the town, there's a dentist's office whose front portico is adorned with a pair of ten-foot tall toothbrushes in place of pillars, though she does neglect to mention the towering replicas of corkscrews that greet you at the entrance to the winery across the road.
The author also cites a ferry trip as a curiosity. Well, maybe, but it's also one of the last free rides most of us will ever get. It's a charming boat trip that takes its passengers, one or two cars at a time, across the Corotoman River from Lancaster to Ottoman and back, and even if you have no business in Ottoman, well, it's one of life's more simple pleasures and speaking of pleasures, the author writes about Northern Neck ginger ale.
Well, another small protest. It's not a curiosity, but rather the Northern Neck's version of a drink almost as satisfying as champagne, and then there are the ha-has. Well, not so odd when you need to separate your garden from the livestock and create a ditch to do the job, elegantly, of course. The most notable one on the Neck is at Stratford Hall.
Also at Stratford Hall, the author remarks that it retains a Camelot quality of its earlier days, and about that I say, absolutely. By now, I guess you've gotten the idea that I probably like this book and I do, especially her chapter on a favorite eating place. It's called Rocket Billy's and it's in White Stone and Mr. Billy refuses to tell anyone what the rocket part represents, but he's glad to share his cooking results, probably the area's best crabcakes and yes, finally I agree, it is a curiosity.
This eating establishment is actually an 8 x 16-foot trailer on the side of the road, gussied up with red, white and blue awning. It's mostly take-out, but when the weather is nice, or maybe not, you can eat at a picnic table or two and enjoy the view of Route 3, also known as Rappahannock Drive. Cavalier tells us that Billy has more anecdotes than menu items, and he loves to tell about the VIPs who pick up lunch there, quote, "I look up at this guy and said hey, you look like Roger Mudd, and the man looked up and said, 'Ha, that's funny, I am Roger Mudd.'" And the book is "Virginia Curiosities."
This is Thea Marshall.