Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bits and Pieces of Culpeper, Virginia

It seems like a long time since I have blogged here.  Maybe that is because it has been a long
time.  I have quite an eclectic group of shots and people this time.  One thing is for sure.... there is no shortage of interesting people here in the Pepper. 

Just a note of explanation....  I have been asked several times why I refer to Culpeper as "the Pepper"  and not "the Peper" which would match the spelling of the town's name.  It seems self evident to me but, I use "Pepper"  because that is how the second half of the name is pronounced.  I think that "Peper" would cause confusion and that many people may pronounce that as "Peeper."  Love it or hate it, that is my thinking.  Pepper, Pepper, Pepper!!

Soooooooooooooooo..... since this blog is all about the faces of people here in the Pepper...let's get busy.

I think that one of the hardest parts of moving into a new town is finding the health professionals
that you can trust and are comfortable with.  I have had a few issues and so I have quite a team of
doctors in Fairfax.   We are continuing to try to find doctors in this area or nearby. I have one that I really like in Charlottesville and now we have a dentist right here in Culpeper!  She is Shannon Butler and is the second from the left in this picture.   From the left is Mona Jenkins who is a Dental  Assistant and a bonafide native of the Pepper.  Then of course is Dr. Butler and then Melissa Carroll who is the office manager and also a native.  Finally the person on the far right is Laurice Toker who is the receptionist.  My wife was referred to Dr. Butler and had excellent experiences with her and her staff.  Finally this week I decided to give them a try.  They were so nice!!!!  They were so professional!!!!  I am sure there are many others here in town, but this is the practice for us.   

It seems to me that one of the most popular places here in the Pepper is at the red box machines.  Knowing that, I laid-in-wait at the one at Walgreens to capture  someone in the act of renting a movie.  The first guy there told me that he "hated" having his picture in the paper.....  Hmmmm, I wonder how many times he has been featured in a newspaper.  However, that is fine with me....I would never want to put someone in the Culpeper Times who did not want to be there.  Robin Amos who is featured here was getting a movie for her kids.  Robin has her own business  as a  bookkeeper (I just noticed that "bookkeeper" has three double letters right in a row!) for some small businesses.  That job allows her to have an office in her home and maximize the her time with her two girls, who by the way, attend Emerald Hill Elementary.  While Robin and I chatted she often looked over my shoulder at her car.  Finally, there was some noise there and I turned around to see two of the cutest faces ever pressed up against the windshield of the car.  I could not hear exactly what they said, but it had to be something like: "MOM!.....come on!!"
I have to admit that I am attracted to people with large personalities.  Just look at Laurie Brown and you can tell she is one of those people.  She cuts my wife's hair and my wife told me that I would like Laurie and should include her in my blog. Andrea was right.   When I went over to take the shot, the whole shop came to a stand still and most of the people watched what was going on.  Laurie who is the manager of the Hair Cuttery located next to the Tropical Smoothie did not miss a beat.  She has four kids ages 4 to 14, runs this shop and is still smiling.  Oh....she is a lifelong resident of Culpeper.
 Yowell Meadow Park is an amazing place.  I have long contended that if I just pitched a tent there and waited,  I could get way more than enough pictures to fill 20 blogs.  When I first started doing my "Faces of Culpeper" blog I prepared a rather extensive piece on the Yowell Meadow Park.  I included pictures of the beautiful surroundings as well as the people who were there.  To date it has remained my most popular blog.   For example last week, after more than two years, it received 45 hits.  The picture above shows a classic reason why.  My wife and I try to walk at Yowell every morning. So often something interesting is going on somewhere in the park ....and this was at nine in the morning.  As we approached the tennis courts I could see something pretty interesting and unusual happening on the basketball courts.  Two men were going through a Kung Fu fight with slow motion.  I, of course, had to find out what was cooking.  First, on the left is Eric Conto who grew up in Culpeper and now works at Culpeper Wood Preservers.  He has a wife and four kids ages 5-14 that I think about it, that may require a little Kung Fu training to manage. The other man is Sifu (a title of respect that means "teacher") Gordon Wicks.  Gordon is from Sperryville, but works at the Culpeper Regional Hospital.  He is located at the Powell Wellness Center and is a personal trainer.  This is the cool part:  Gordon teaches at Yowell three times a week and anyone is welcome.  AND....the best part is that it is free!  He teaches Qigong which is breathing control and he teaches martial arts.  He is at the tennis courts every Monday and Wednesday at 6 p.m. and every Saturday at 8 a.m.  Check it out!
 It is amazing to watch this lady walk these four dogs.  They all stay directed and they mind her!  I see lots of people whose dogs are dragging them along for a walk, but not this lady!  It is probably because she is a professional.  Joanne McCleary is a dog trainer plus she specializes in obedience show training.  She also offers training in behavior modification.  These are her dogs and the shepherd on the left is a therapy dog.  The little black guy on the right closest to her is very old and blind in one eye, but he fits right in with the others.  Joanne has kind of an "all purpose" dog business.  If you would like to contact her write to:

This is Amanda Christensen who, as you can see, is into kayaking.  I have been acquainted with Amanda ever since her parents moved in next door to us about four years ago.  Amanda works at Micron as a manufacturer's technology trainer for photo lithography.

This is Amanda and her friend, Daniel Budd.  


I recently discovered the store called,  "Natural Harvest."  It is in the strip mall on Route 229 directly across from the Dominion Skating Center.  Because the strip mall is mostly empty, it is easy to assume that Natural Harvest is not open......but it is!!  They have a wide array of healthy products and locally grown and raised produce and meats.  Much of what is available is gluten free, allergy free etc.  For the customer who has difficulty finding food that they are not allergic to, this is the place.  They also feature a kind of tea called MTO Kombucha that is made in Orleans, VA.  It promises to improve you health and body functions in many ways. 
This store is owned by Gregg and Erin Hoffman who are natives of Culpeper.  Their store is cool, but more importantly it is unique in its healthy offerings.  You really owe it to yourself to stop by, get acquainted and see what they have that interests you. 
One of the things I enjoy doing during spring is dropping  by the big tent/greenhouse  at Meadows Farm Nursery to see the tremendous array of beautiful flowers.  This is Barbara Burger and she has worked at the Meadows Culpepper Nursery for the last fifteen years.  She knows everything you need to know about plants and flowers and is kind of an institution here.  This year she has moved to a brand new Meadows outlet at New Baltimore.  I was just lucky to have stopped by on a day that she was helping out in Culpeper.

As I walked near the pavilion in Yowell I heard a guitar and a clear voice singing full out.  I asked the young man if he would mind an audience.  We talked about our backgrounds....I was the singer with the Fabulous Chancellors in the 60s (Google:  Fabulous Chancellors 50s, 60s, 70s.... or ITunes) and  he is in the early stages of his career.  Whitney Blanchard has recently moved here from Texas.  We talked about old rock n roll songs that we both know.  I was impressed with his knowledge of  songs from back in the day.  He asked me if I knew "Earth Angel."  I sure do!!!  He started singing it and I joined in on harmony.  It was a very cool moment..... two men about 45 years apart singing a rock classic.  I have sung before thousands of people many times, but this time it was for no audience at all..... just me and Whitney singing a song we love.... "Earth Angel, Earth Angel, will you be mine........"

 I was at the Windmill Heights Garden Center and met this gentleman  whose name is Mason Hutcheson. It turns out that Mason is the original owner of the business and that  he has fairly recently passed it on to the younger generation.  He told me that he came to Culpeper in 1957 as a 4H Agricultural Extension Agent.  He said that he has been growing plants for fifty years. Mason seems to be a true Southern gentleman.  When I asked if I could take his picture he said I could but that he would have to keep moving and watering these hanging plants.  I guess that makes this an action shot.


 When I encountered this group of women walking, I knew right away that they were something special.  Just check out all the happy faces and enthusiasm.  They call themselves, "Culpeper's Lovely Lady Lumps."  They are in training for a walk to support a cure for breast cancer that will take place in October.  This is not just any walk, but a SIXTY MILE walk and, "the boldest breast cancer event in history."  This is truly a great cause and at this time there are 16 members in their group and all  support it.  From the left are Dawn Bender, Tiffany Hampton, Leslie Henry, Mona Bender, Jennifer Bender, Jessica Arnold and baby Ashlynn Hampton.  They are such a positive group.  Mona is a four and a half year survivor of cancer and they are rallying around her.  Their goal is to raise $40,000.  I believe they have raised $6,000 so far.  As a twenty nine year cancer survivor myself, I encourage you to join them in their effort and make a contribution. You can contact,

That's all for now folks!  Be on the lookout.... I may appear when you least expect it and ask to take your picture.  Be sure to watch every week for Rich Crowley's Snapshot of Culpeper  in the Culpeper Times.  If you have comments or suggestions, be sure to share with me.