What’s In A Name

A part of Abingdon, Va.

Who’s in the mood for a little history lesson?  Okay, so you don’t like history. I don’t either, but please, hang around a bit before you click, “exit.”  So, I’ve been thinking of this off and on now, for some time.  The more I thought of it, the more I needed to research the issue.  Then, the Olympics came along taking place right in England.  It all helped me decide to just put this down on paper, and get it out of my head.  Now, there are three other States in the Union other than Virginia that are known as Commonwealths: Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Massachusetts, which means they too may have towns and cities with names connecting them to England.  But, I will stick with the state of Virginia, because this is where the first settlers set up shop.  Yes, Christopher Newport guided his ship, the Susan Constant, the larger of the three ships on to these shores in 1607 with three separate groups of people.  They then, set up a colony at the expense of The London Company – naming it Jamestown.  What am I talking about?  I’m talking about so many towns in the State of Virginia, having the same names as towns in England.  As I searched, I found this list – the exact as Great Britain:

Abingdon;
Bath;
Bridgewater;
Bristol;
Chatham;
Chester;
Crewe;
Gloucester;
Halifax;
Isle of Wight;
Lancaster;
Lincoln;
Norfolk County;
Oxford;
Plymouth;
Portsmouth;
Salisbury;
Suffolk County;
Southampton;
Wakefield;
Winchester; and
York County – All Virginia.

In Hampton Roads there are also communities (developments) named after English towns:

Bradford;
Birmingham;
Worcester;
Sheffield;
Manchester;
Liverpool; and
Leeds.

Now, as I dug a little deeper, I realized there are also a host of streets in Hampton Roads clearly named for their English connections. Here are just a few:

  • Botetourt Street – named for Lord Botetourt of Gloucestershire, England; appointed Governor of Virginia in 1768;
  • Captain Newport Circle – of course after Captain Christopher Newport;
  • Governor Berkeley Road – William Berkeley of Middlesex, England and Governor of Virginia from 1641 to 1652, as well as 1660 to 1677;
  • Christopher Wren Road – Sir Christopher Wren, highly acclaimed English Architect.  William and Mary College named the building in honor of Wren after a Reverend, one of the college  professors, wrote that the building had been modeled by Sir Christopher Wren;
  • James Blair Drive – Born in Scotland, but later ordained to the Church of England. He traveled to the New World with a mission to revive the church in the Virginia Colony;
  • Sir George Percy – an English explorer, author, and early Colonial Governor of Virginia.  Notice, this is simply the person’s name: no street, road, place or drive after the name.  Many streets in this area are noted this way.

Lastly, there are the weird named streets that I myself questioned their origin. Such as:

Pettus Ordinary;
Padgett’s Ordinary;
Matthews Grant;
Chanteraine Close;
Hague Close.

These names, left me scratching my head and wondering where the heck they originated.  Now, since I have no degrees in Toponymy, I continued to scratch my head until I found this little blurb – “Place names in the United States are often taken from the European nation that first colonized the land.”  Then to seal the discussion, one day as I read Charles Dickens Great Expectations, there before my very eyes – a street named “?? (I don’t remember the first part of the name) Chase.”  Suddenly a light bulb went on.  “Uh huh!”  This, in turn, shone a light on the statement on Europe colonizing the land.

There are many more street names that I could have listed, but I didn’t, because I wanted to keep this interesting.  Therefore, this ends our little history lesson for today.  I also, just need to add – as an African-American, you might think none of this would interest me, since at these particular times, my people were contracted slaves.  But, I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – to bury ones head in the sand, makes that person as narrow-minded as their captors. If you found this at all intriguing, please leave a comment.

Images courtesy of Google Earth
Information via Wikipedia

Never Forget

Today we commemorate another Memorial Day, and although this is the unofficial beginning of summer, this post will not be for that reason.  It is to honor the men and women across this country, living or gone on who have served in the military or is serving today.  Is there someone in your life who wears this honor?  We must never forget them, because each one made or is making a sacrifice to fight for this country’s freedom – it could have been the giving of their time or the ultimate surrender.  Regardless, we must always remember, and show our appreciation.  Thinking back to the early days of our country is cause for even more celebration, because without what those men gave would put us at war among ourselves – a country divided.  But, nevertheless, I’m certain somewhere along the way we would have gotten on course.  However, lives would still have been lost to accomplish the goal.

Unlike third world countries or communistic governments, we here in America are blessed with many freedoms, and it’s because of each man, and woman who unselfishly gave of themselves that helped to keep those liberties in place.  Living in the area I do, makes me even more aware of those forfeitures, because if you listen very carefully when driving along the streets and highways, you can here the foot soldiers making their way through the woods on the way to their nearby camps in Yorktown, Jamestown and Williamsburg.  Or at Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia, a Fort identified as a strategic defensive location, and used present day as a training facility, up until 2011 when it closed.  Therefore, from the Revolutionary War to Korea to Viet Nam to the Gulf to the Iraqi War, thank you all for your noble service, either for someone else’s independence or our own.  I will never forget.

Petunia-The Runaway Pit

Waiting For The Dog

A few days ago the story of Petunia hit the airwaves; did you hear it?  This is a true tale of an American Pit Bull lost for eight years who recently got herself found in rural Yuba County, California.  The remarkable invention of the Microchip Implant assisted in her recovery, even if it did take all that time.  Petunia ran from her home in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and last week managed a return there.  In case you’re wondering, this County sits somewhat North in Virginia and encompasses a portion of Fredericksburg.  I take it, when Petunia began heading west she continued to follow that straight line.  Dogs are unbelievable aren’t they when it comes to this type thing?  I’m recalling the Husky, who traveled twelve miles, round trip, to the local PetSmart to steal a rawhide bone.  We never, ever give them enough credit for their hidden intelligence.  My husband tells a story of his beloved Sargent.  As a child they moved from Rockaway, New Jersey to Hibernia, New Jersey; five miles away.  Sargent, very familiar with Rockaway, considered that and no other place, home.  One afternoon a neighbor from the old block called to advise, the dog lay in front of the old house, whining and crying.  Why?  He considered it home.

I can also recall a story of the canine with the earache.  He knew that each time this happened his owners took him to a certain building.  I don’t really think he understood the Veterinarian occupied that particular address.  But, when the workers came in that  morning, they found him waiting on the front porch.  Because, he understood, every time he went through that door the pain went away.  And finally, my all time favorite story.  My mother’s baby sister always lived within blocks of us.  In Brooklyn she lived three blocks away.  When we moved to Queens she picked up her family, and wound up four streets away.  Whenever my cousin or her brother got upset with their mother over anything they would run to my house.  My mom would find out the problem, have a talk with them and send them back home.  Some time during those years, my aunt decided to get a dog for the children.  Then, one morning, my mother headed out for work, and who did she find sitting on the porch?  Princess – my aunt’s dog.  My mother talked out loud to herself. “For crying out loud, the kids are forever running here, now I have to deal with you too?”

Our dogs do the dumbest things, and then, they show this intelligence.  It makes one wonder – are they thinking?  Of course, some breeds show a higher intellect than others, but it still leaves a person to ponder the thought.  This is why I say, they are as unintelligent as they are clever.  Now, what has been nagging at me is this: Eight years.  Did Petunia – every time she came upon someone who could rescue her – just take off?  Never allowing anyone the chance to get close enough to help?  Did she get herself adopted by some store proprietor/restaurant worker who provided meals each day, but that person never thought to take her to a Vet for scanning? Did she head directly to the west coast, sort of running through the colder, middle states?  Did someone pick her up and drive her there?  Then, when she did get herself rescued/found, did she decide – I’ve been out here long enough, it’s time to go home.  So the very next person who came along, she allowed them to catch up to her.  And, after all the inquiries, I’m still scratching my head – you want to know why? Petunia is the only one who knows, but is completely unable to answer any of these questions.

In any event, I’m so happy she got back to where she’s loved; to people who have hoped, for the longest time for her return.  As I watched the reunion, Petunia wagged her tail as she enjoyed being fondled.  Now, I know dogs run on scent, but eight years; do you really think she remembered or is it that her personality is a friendly one?  If that’s the case, however, I would still like to believe they had something to do with that because dogs, I think, pick up on their owner’s personality.  Lastly, since Petunia has aged a bit, I think I can liken her to a seasoned, and well-traveled adventurer – one who has earned the right to live out her golden years in front of a roaring fire or in the summer an air-conditioned sun room. Welcome home, pup.

Also, as I always do, I would ask that you scroll up to my FB Fan Page where I’d appreciate you clicking “like.” Thanks in advance.
Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Long Road Trips

As a child I spent lots of time on the road from New York to Virginia, and from Virginia to New York; occasionally on the train, but mostly by car.  I remember Rt. 301 before I95 ever came along.  In fact, other than Rt. 1, no other direct means existed.  I also recall that dreaded William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial (Bay) Bridge through Maryland, which by the way, has changed its appearance completely from the old days.  Along with that bridge came the Verrazano-Narrows and the Goethals.  Now, depending on what direction my father chose determined which of the later two spans we took. But regardless they are still what I consider nightmares of my youth.  In my first children’s book, I decided to give the main character, Lally Summers a fear of bridges – since she is very close to my heart.

Being a child, those excursions for me had the impression of the longest road trip ever, and unlike most people, I did them without siblings.  Therefore, my parents/grandparents didn’t have to endure the “Would you stop touching me?” scenario.  Because they were long for me, I used to play games like checking out the farthest scenery.  I would stand on the hump in the middle of the floor, in back – remember those – and peer through the windshield as far ahead as possible, marking a spot.  I’d watch the highway until we got there, and then, I’d begin again.  I did this until I wore myself out.  As an adult, my husband and I have made that same journey many, many times.  Occasionally, during his turn to drive I have found myself playing that same game.  Then, I’d realize what I had been doing and, I’d chuckle at myself.

Recently, we went to Disney World from here in Virginia.  We chose to drive, because we thought it would be fun, since neither of us had explored the land anywhere south of North Carolina.  As always the adrenaline rush, due to our excitement, shortened the ride down.  Now, although we had the best time – halfway through the week we could only think of our return home.  FYI: I would say from a bit south of Washington, D.C. all the way to the Rt. 4W exit off of I95, the scenery is completely unchanging.  Therefore, do yourself a favor, and fly.  You would think that as an adult I’d have a hint the games of a six-year-old, simply helped pass the long hours.  So, what does one do as an adult?

Talk about long hours in the car, we have many friends who have driven from New York/New Jersey to Florida where they split the driving, and make it in twenty-four hours.  But, as I go back and recall my childhood game – it simply tells me, I wanted to be elsewhere.  Being cooped up in that tiny space created a world of anxiety.  Now, with all that in mind, why would that same person long for, yearn a cross-country trip?  Fourteen hours from here to Florida is one thing, but three thousand-plus miles?  Solution: Find something of interest in each state; map out so many miles per day, and lastly, set aside three months at least to do it all.  What’s the old adage – It’ll cure the itch or….  Share your extreme car outings with me.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Bridge Information courtesy of Wikipedia