Thursday, January 10, 2013

It's Pony Time!!  My Visit to the Library of Congress Archives for Media at Mount Pony.
Winter Comes to the Pepper....Christmas and All.
I love the winter season!  It never gets very cold here and even though no snow has stayed on the ground yet.....we have had beautiful snowfalls.  Andrea and I spent a good part of December in California with my middle son and his family, but came back before Christmas and celebrated with my two sons who live in this area and their families.  Just before I left for California I received a call from Cory O'Dell  who invited me up to Mt. Pony to see their Christmas tree.  So when I got back I called him right away to get a picture of the tree.  When I got there I had the bonus of a personal tour.  I had never been there before.....shame on me.  It is fascinating.  Long halls and halls of doors and each door leads to a work place where restoration, preservation and cataloging takes place or a vault of old films and old recordings....I mean really the oldest in existence.  I met the people who worked there and who labor on our behalf to save this part of our history.   I had a great time.
This blog is a bit all over the place, but who cares?  In this blog I also have pictures of people preparing for Christmas downtown and a touch of winter.  First, let's jump in at Mt.  Pony!
As the song goes......boogaty, boogaty, boogaty shoo.....It's Pony Time!!!!

Here is the Library of Congress for media, right outside of Culpeper.  It is officially listed as located at Mt. Pony.  It actually is located on and in Mt. Pony since the building goes a long way underground.  Here are located the archives for media such as movies and recordings.  The building was built around 1963/64 for an entirely different purpose.  This is where Congress would have been relocated had there been an nuclear attack or some other disaster in Washington DC.  Later it became the repository for the back up supply of actual money that the United States would need to restart the economy if some disaster occurred.  When it was no longer needed for either of these uses, it was purchased by David Packard and donated to the Library of Congress.  Up to that point, there were several places around the country where bits and pieces of what would become the total collection were housed.  Having this facility allowed the Library of Congress to centralize everything under one roof.  The experts who now staff this part of the Library came from all parts of the country and  gathered in Culpeper to create, restore and shepherd this amazing collection.

Here is the Christmas tree in the foyer at the Library of Congress, Mt. Pony.  This is Cary O'Dell who is the Assistant to the Advisory Boards.  Cary, like so many others who work at Mt. Pony came to Culpeper because of his job.  He is an interesting guy and provided me with a great tour of the facility.

This Christmas tree is a lot of fun.  It is decorated with ornaments of many of the big stars of film.  On the very top of this tree, the angel is Shirley Temple.  

On this part of the tree is Elvis, Fred Flintstone and Arnold Schwarzenegger among others.

Top to bottom:  Marilyn Monroe, Laurel and Hardy, and James Dean.

This is typical of just one of the many many rooms at Mt. Pony.  The shear volume of movies and other films that are maintained here under very exacting conditions is breath taking.

This is George Willeman and he is the manager of the Nitrate Vault.  As I understand it, very early films were made from nitrate.  They are very volitale and so have to be kept under very specific conditions.  George told me that two weeks ago an early Hoot Gibson movie from the 1920s had been donated to them and it came to him to restore.  It is called Superstition and had thought to be lost.  George is holding a film from1918 that they just received.  It is the original film of Little Orphan Annie.  It is in terrible condition.  You can see that this kind of film rusts.  Because it is one of a kind, George is going to make a concerted effort to save some, if not all of it.  I wish him good looked like a goner to me.  Before Mt. Pony was designated the as the site for saving all of these films, they were stored in a vault at Patterson Air Force Base in Springfield, Ohio.  George along  his wife moved here in 2007 to work his magic.

Many of those who work at Mt. Pony are the best in the United States at what they do.  This is Ben Harry who is an audio transfer technician.  He made a point of telling me that he worked on the presentation of the saved materials and not the restoration of them.  Ben moved here three years ago from New York.  He is married and he and his wife have four children ages three through nine.  

This is a very specialized film projector.  I think I better stick with that description.  When I was in high school I worked at a movie theater in Boise, Idaho.  The projectors were nothing like this one. 

This lady is the face of the Library of Congress at Mt. Pony and also the voice you hear when you call to make reservations.  Her name is Jenny Paxon and she came here from Ohio. She lives in Redwood Lakes..... I don't know where that is.  She is the proud owner of a dog and two cats.  She told me that she is really enjoying Culpeper.

This  is a rather lovely atrium that is right in the middle of the building.  Staff members can take a break here or eat their lunch or something that gets them out of their offices.  All work and no know. 

This fun lady is Dyanne Holt.  You can tell by the uniform that she is "Officer" Holt.  She is located at the security desk as you come in the building and makes sure that everyone has a valid reason for being there and then provides them with a pass.  She has raised her family.  She told me that she is a direct descendant of a Culpeper Minute Man.  Pretty cool!!!

That is it for now about my visit to Mt. Pony.  I hope everyone will get a chance to go there.


Before we left for California, Andrea and I went downtown to find a new nativity and to take a couple of pictures for the Culpeper Times.  It was bustling, especially in the specialty shops.  It reminded me of the song "Silver Bells"  where it says, "Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile....."
As always I met some pretty neat people.

While visiting all the fun Christmas stores in Culpeper, we stopped at Designer's Choice.  There I met this mother/daughter team who were perfect for a blog picture with all of the Christmas displays that are found in that store.  The daughter is Candice Southard and she is a realtor at Remax here in the Pepper. Her mom, Mary Lou Phillips, is now retired.  Their family moved here in 1988 and so I think they qualify as old timers.  To steal a line from certain TV commercials, but wait.....there's more!  They moved here from Fairfax which is where we moved from, and Candice attended Robinson Secondary School ("Secondary" because it houses grades 7-12....about 4200 students) until they moved here in 1988.  In 1989 I went to work at Robinson as an administrator!  Okay, so it is not THAT great a coincidence, but I thought it was pretty neat and was something we had fun talking about.

My wife had wanted to check out the "new" store on Davis Street  which features old time candy.  That store is called, "Found and My Secret Stash."  It is two stores in one space and there is so much more than candy , although there is a great variety of that.   This is Allison Haught who is the owner.  She opened the store in February and it is a lot of fun!  You owe it to yourself to drop in.

This is out of order.....but, what the heck.  I was cruising through some parking lots on Black Friday afternoon.  I knew that all the eager beavers had completed their shopping hours ago, but  I thought there would still be some people taking advantage of the bargains.  I entered the Kohl's lot and there was Linda Hoffman with two BIG sacks of bargains.  When my wife shops "really good sales" she comes home and says, "Crowley (she calls me that rarely, but almost always in this situation) you are not going to believe how much money I saved you."  From the looks of things, Linda saved herself a bundle.  In talking with her I learned that she owns the "Bonnie Reb Boot Shop" and discovered that they do shoe repair.  One hour later I took a pair of dress shoes in for new heels.  Linda has five children and 16 grandchildren.

And now for the big finish.  I stopped at the Christmas tree lot on the corner of 29 and Ira Hoffman and found this family happily engaged in looking for a tree. The little guys were having a ball darting in and out of the rows of trees and it was a bit like herding cats to get them together for a picture. This cute family of Jason and Amie Davis includes: Jason Jr., Makayla, Zachary and Benjamin.  Jason is a chimney sweep by trade and his business is Davis Chimney Service.  If you have a wood burning stove or fire place then you need to get in touch with him right away. I had a chimney fire once and if there had not been several inches of snow on my roof, I may have had a disaster.  That was all I needed to employ a chimney sweep once every year.  This is the guy to call.

That's it for now.  Don't forget to check out my "snapshots" in the Culpeper Times.   If you would like to comment or connect with me for any other reason you can email me at: