Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Faces of Culpeper ...... scenes of summer and school begins!


If we mark the end of summer as the time when kids go back to school, then here we are!  However, we still have some hot days and good times ahead.  I have to admit that this particular blog is a bit of a hodge podge of Culpeper scenes and faces, but fun for me none the less.  I have, as usual, met some really great people.  I think the best thing for me to do right now is jump in.

I have a total of eight grandchildren and four of them are in the area.  I love to take them to the parks and so I have a bit of a soft spot when I see a grandpa and grandchild out having a good time together.  This is Collis Garrett who is a life long resident of the Pepper and his grandson.  Collis retired from Coca Cola clear back in 1986 and has been a sign painter ever since.  One thing I know is that this guy is a good grandpa!

A sure sign of summer is the annual lemonade stand that pops up somewhere.  These kids were quite the entrepreneurs.  I stopped and bought a cup complete with a slice of lemon.  I am pretty sure that it was the first cup they sold.  Gracie is their babysitter.

I have mentioned before that my wife and I try to be at Yowell Meadow Park by 7am each day for a walk.  What I have not told you about yet is a Culpeper Crowley tradition that my son started.  It is our Saturday Morning Breakfast Club.  Every Saturday morning he and I go to IHOP with his 3 year old daughter for breakfast.  She calls it "Going to the breakfast office."  The three of us are the core group but lots of Saturdays we are lucky enough to have another grandchild or perhaps a mom, a grammy, or an aunt or uncle join us. After breakfast we head to a park so the kids can burn off some energy. Lately we have been going to the Mountain Run Lake Park to feed the geese, ducks and fish.  It was on one of these trips that I ran into Shunette Henson and her preschool kids.  She has a small and personal preschool she calls, "The ABC Learning House" and it is right here in the Pepper.  When I called to her on the pier to ask her about taking the picture she knew right away who I was and had seen my blog.  I love it when that happens.  She had her group out on a field trip to the park.  She was teaching them as they observed.  I enjoyed watching that!

Further around the lake this group was set up with food, fishing poles, chairs etc. to enjoy a day in the shade at the park.  They were very relaxed and having a good time.  They are the Hamiltons and the Staats. 

Lately I have seen some signs that slowly but surely we are seeing new building growth in Culpeper.  Here, for example, are some men who were working away on the new Suntrust building which is near Target and Martins. 


I saw this guy working on this house and I could not help but humming, the Drifters and James Taylor's song, Up on the Roof.   "When this old world starts getting me down and people are just too much for me to take.  I climb way up to the top of the stairs and all my cares just drift off into space.  .....Up on the Roof."  Somehow I don't think he was humming the same song.  If he was, it was in Spanish.  I wonder how that sounds!  However, it is encouraging to see how many houses are being built by the 
K Hovanian Company right now.  A fair number of them have sold signs.

This next person is Nicholas Rodrigues and he is the owner of Pipe Workz which is a plumbing company.  When I needed some plumbing assistance I looked for a local plumber and found Nicholas.  It was my lucky day.  He was fast, efficient, personable and reasonable.  I would certainly recommend him. 


Culpeper County Public Schools has a program for parents the day before school starts.  I live very close to Culpeper High and Middle Schools.  In fact if I had a good enough arm I could throw a baseball over the conservation area (I call it, "the bog") and into the tennis courts.  I got wind of this program and since I am always looking for Culpeper faces, realized that there would be a cornucopia of Culpeper residents (Peperheads) at this event.  Interestingly enough, I asked everyone from parents to school staff to kids what the official name of this event was.  Seriously folks, no one knew.  They unanimously said that it had "something to do with parents meeting the teachers day.....or something like that."  So I will use that catchy title and call this section of my blog:

Parents Meet the Teachers Day

This was much cooler than I anticipated and a lot of fun for me.  If you have read my profile then you know that I am a retired educator....42 years in public schools.  All but six of those in administration.  So I love these events.  I almost always enjoyed meeting the parents.  I will tell you in all honesty that there were a lot of great people there.  Lets face it.... everyone who attended had a commitment to good education and the well being of their children.  Let's meet some of them. 

The very first people that I ran into in the parking lot were the Ellis family.  They were friendly and on their way out having already met with their son's teacher.  The son is Jacob and he is entering one of those "tween" grades.  He is a sixth grader and so new to the middle school.


Next I ran into Patricia Ruffner and her two kids, Andre who is in the eighth grade and Makayla who is entering the sixth.  The kids were very polite and best of all, Patricia had seen my pictures! 

This dad is Darren McMeans with his two children and a friend of his daughter.  Look how great the soft sunlight looks highlighting their hair. :)  This crew includes Kyle who is in the second grade, Shana who is in the seventh and her friend, Hayley Kisiel who is also in the seventh. 

This family is actually doing what you are supposed to do at this event....they are meeting with a school staff member.  They appear to be having a great time doing it.  They are the Odham-Ford family and there are three kids representing the eighth, sixth and K-1 grades.  This is our first glimpse of a person who actually works at the school in this blog and to be honest, I tried to not bother the actual teachers with picture taking.  They had far more important things to do.   But I do have to comment that I respect teachers very very much.  Our future is in their hands as they teach our children.  I have heard that the teachers in CCPS are very dedicated.  This person is Kristine Helme.

This lady simply made my day.  She informed me that she is a "follower" of my blog.  That means she always reads it.  We had never met.   She also reminded me that it had been two weeks since I posted and so I hustled right home and started loading this.  She is Krista Mosby and her kids are: Sophia who is in the eighth grade and so in her last year of middle school; Sam who is entering middle school in the sixth grade and Carter who is in the second.  I saw lots of second grade boys yesterday and that makes me believe that the second grade will be hoppin this year.

I really wanted to get a picture of some high school kids in the hall near their lockers, so here's that picture.  These handsome guys were joined by their moms. 

Mr. O'Brien's classroom was nearby and he graciously let me take some pictures while he talked to kids and their parents.  He teaches social studies including the ninth grade honors course.  First we have Nisha Morton and her mom Mrs. Morton. Their third grader, Xavier Morton was also there.

I admired the way Mr. O'Brien related to the parents and kids alike.  Here we have Carson Levy who is a ninth grader and his mom Suzanne Levy.

I took one last pass through the cafeteria before I went to the Guidance office.  Things had begun to slow down, but there were still people coming in.

I decided to wrap my visit up in the school counseling or guidance office.  I have mentioned before that I retired from Fairfax County Public Schools last October.  I taught for three years in Idaho before coming to Fairfax.  While in Fairfax County I was a school counselor for three years, a Director of Student Services (Guidance Director ) for 26 years at three different high schools and the for the last nine years of my career I was the Coordinator of School Counseling for the approximately 730 counselors in that system.  So in addition to the kids, my real love in schools is guidance and counseling.  I dropped in to see John Bridges who is a middle school counselor and who was meeting with the Curro family.  From the left Doreen, Joseph and Richard and of course John Bridges.  He certainly is a positive guy! 

So that was an evening well spent!  I put my camera away and headed for home.  I did not even get off the school grounds before I saw this group changing a tire.  Well, to be honest, Ryan McCormack was changing the tire and he had a covey of supervisors.  I just knew there was a story here so I stopped.  They told me that the car belonged to Adam Hughes and that he was an awesome teacher (they must have repeated that "awesome teacher" part ten times) and that "they" (read that as Ryan with bountiful supervision) were changing the tire for Mr. Hughes.  In my mind I could just imagine Adam sprinting from his car to the building and explaining to the principal that he had a flat tire and the principal rolling her eyes.  OK, Mr. Hughes, old is the proof and you can take it to the bank!!!! I know it did not happen that way, but it is more fun version than having him there in plenty of time which no doubt was the way it came down.   AND I am sure that you are a great teacher and certainly one who engenders loyalty.  By the way the supervisory crew consisted of Debbie and Caitlyn McCormick and Ryan's friend, Lacee Zones (a name with star potential if there ever was one!).  I think that Ryan must be a good guy!

That is it for this time.  Be sure to tell your friends about the "Faces of Culpeper" blog.  If you would like to comment, or make a suggestion, or give me ideas for future blogs, just contact me at:  You will need to actually print this address on your email...for some reason you cannot just click on it.

By the way, if you are in one of these pictures and would like me to email you a copy just let me know.  No charge, of course.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Faces of Culpeper ...... Summer in the Pepper

                                               Hot town summer in the city
                                               Back of my neck gettin dirty and gritty
                                               Been down, isn't it a pity
                                               Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
                                               Lovin Spoonful

  My Granddaughter and I beating the heat with
 a Tropical Smoothie

   It has been beastly hot so far this summer here in the Pepper.  We have had record highs and I don't think anyone has thought it has been much fun.  I decided that since I spent time out talking to people when it was freezing last winter, that it would be interesting to go out in the community to see what some of the people do to avoid the heat.  Hmmmm that presented a problem...if people are avoiding the heat then they are not out where I can see them doing it.  Did that make sense? Still  I moved bravely on.   I was out there with my camera mostly alone on the really hot days.  So I looked inside as well as outside to see what was cooking (no pun intended).   Here is how it went:

I had given up on finding even a single person out and about on one of the 98 degree days and  so headed over to UPS to mail a package.  As I drove past Starbucks a lady was lounging on the chairs out in front.  It was 98 degrees mind you and she was enjoying life as though it was 70!  I had to find out about this person who was so comfortable in the heat.  She is Cindy Wenzel and she has been a trainer at Golds Gym for the last three years.  She has done lots and lots in the world of physical fitness from teaching gymnastics to teaching taekwondo to being a massage therapist and on and on.  She is very interesting AND she did not think it was all that hot.   Oh, did I mention that she is a graduate of Culpeper County High School and so a genuine native?

Reassured that people were outside I headed down the road and found Rose and Mark at the gas station where they were just making sure that all the fluids were proper in that big ol red Dodge pickup of his.  They are brother and sister, by the way.

I decided I would wait until early in the next morning to see who was out. It seemed that  one way people were avoiding the heat was by doing what they needed or wanted early in the day before the real heat hit.  Sure enough here was Wendy, at the park by 7 am to get her run in.

And Martin doing sit ups for crying out loud!!!  Tummy looks good, though.  He has worked at Masco Cabinets for the last 20 years. 


A little later I found Steve standing in the shade making calls on his cell phone.  I commented on the scooter or bike or whatever and he told me his friends had just given it to him for his birthday.  I, on the other hand, am lucky if I get a card or even an email on my birthday. 

I have made note in this blog before about how people feel about their dogs in this town.....possibly a tad over the edge in some cases.  Guess what I found?  When it gets hot the groomers at Pet Smart get busy.  No one wants their dog to get too hot so with their hair!  Here are Julia and Mary making these dogs comfortable.  These two have such great personalities that they could even work for a dentist, but they are lovin what they do.

Nothing to do with the heat but this pretty girl and her dog were doing some serious shopping and I could not resist shooting these two great faces. Adriana is holding her dog, Daisey.

I guess I better admit it right now.....I am a 7-11 junkie.  I usually make my way there every day for a Big Gulp and sometimes a lottery ticket.   On hot days I might go two or three times.  Sooooo, with that as my frame of reference, I was absolutely sure that on these 98+ days there must be a line in front of the soft drink fountain and the Slurpee machine at 7-11.  I will admit that I only went three times (and each time got a Big Gulp for myself), but no one, zzzeeeeeroo, nada, peeps were getting drinks or Slurpees.  What is wrong with you people?   So the third trip I decided to hang around until someone showed up to get said drinks.  I stood around for twenty minutes with my camera and Big Gulp waiting....... no stalking, by the soda machine.  I was seriously starting to get strange looks. I told the clerk I was giving up.  Just as I turned my head to talk to her, there was a rush on the Big Gulp machine....well two people came but that constituted a rush in my book. 

This is Steve who works for Republic Services.  This guy is a lot faster than he looks. He slipped in, got a drink and was over to the counter before I realized that he was just who I was waiting for and he had a drink in his hand.

This is Melissa!!!!  Yeah!!!! Getting a Big Gulp! Whoopee!!  I knew she was out there somewhere....I just had to wait for her.  She is a good soul.  She is a home care provider and works for the Rappahanock Service Board. 

I pondered where else people might be on a scorcher?   I had the answer.... Dairy Queen having ice cream.  I zipped over there and sure enough there were people at four of the tables.  However, not a drop of ice cream had been ordered.  Well, it was the lunch hour and there were lots of hamburgers and fries.  I  knew that people really came in droves at night for ice cream but I left for a few minutes and came right back to find Jojuan White, who works for the state police department, proving me right once again!  People do get Dairy Queen to cool down.  As you can tell she was a great sport.

On Saturday I checked back downtown and discovered these three old timers just outside the post office sitting in the shade where it was a bit cooler.  The two on the right say they have been friends for forty years. All three are Culpeper natives.   Shhhhh, we are going to ignore the sign or at least they are.

I have wanted to go into Janal Leather ever since I moved here.  Well, this was my opportunity.  This is Janice Kraus the owner of the well air conditioned store.  They have lots of cool stuff like cowboy boots and jackets etc. 

I also went to the famous Farmers' Market right across from the depot.  Here is Stacy Geppert and her girls talking with Al who has a goat dairy.  He has quite a variety of cheeses for sale.  Stacy says they are wonderful.....

Well.....seems that everyone was handling the heat in their own way, but mostly by staying inside  and/or avoiding the serious heat.   However, in addition to the heat refugees,  I found a very neat man I want you to see and meet.  The other day I was driving on 29 right by McDonald's when a big car pulled up next to me.  I glanced over and the driver waved which is a bit unusual.  I waved back and then took a moment to look at his car.  WOW! It was a 1983 Cadillac!  That is back when a Cadillac was a Cadillac.  This gentleman has taken such great care of this car that I would dare say that he has taken loving care of the car.  I was just going to the middle of town, but I drove clear over near Merchants Tire just to jockey to be next to him at the stop light and ask him to pull over for a picture.  What a sweet guy he is.  He is:  Reverend Marvin E. Jackson, Sr.  and he is a Baptist minister.  He represents his position well.  It was my honor to meet him.



The Culpeper Times will be running one of the pictures from my blog and my comments every week.  We are calling it,  Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper.  Be sure to look for it.  This lady arranged for our association.  Her name is Anita Sherman and she is very cool.  She is the editor of the Culpeper Times. 

Well that is it for this time.  Be sure to send comments, thoughts, questions, suggestion etc. to me at:

PS  If a picture of you appears in my blog and you would like a copy be sure to contact me at the email above and I will send it to you absolutely free.