More than 50 airplanes lined the taxiways of the Stafford Regional Airport, located a few miles across the Rappahannock River from the historic City of Fredericksburg VA. At the start of the 39th annual Air Race Classic on Monday, June 22, the paved areas and the Terminal Building bubbled with excitement . A group of young girls from Alabama, along with their adult leaders, watched with enthusiastic interest as each plane took off. Some of them dreamed of one day flying in this race.
My husband and I were among the spectators. Because I was born in the old Mary Washington Hospital near the edge of the Rappahannock in Fredericksburg and because I spent my early years exploring the town, I was especially excited that our adventurous daughter, Alicia, was part of the race that started nearby. After all the planes took off, we decided to go to Fredericksburg and visit some of the places I remember from long ago.
We strolled along Caroline Street and peered through windows of the many antique shops that were not yet open. The Griffin, a bookstore where I've had several book signings and even an art show once, featured signs for its "retirement sale". Sad, but that's the way it is in the world of books. Sammy T's where we've dined in the past was not yet open for the day. We looked at the menu posted near the door and went on to the Visitors Center to learn about area art galleries. Because it was Monday, none of them were open that day. Next, we ambled down a side street to Sophia Street that edges the muddy Rappahannock.
Everything is old in that part of Fredericksburg. We paused at the back of the old Lafayette School that when I attended still had floors stained with blood from usage as a hospital during the Civil War. It's now a library, and I wondered what the floors are like. As a first grader, I walked 12 blocks from our home located in the block next to the entrance gate to Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington). Sunken Road where thousands of soldiers died during that war is the street by the college. Along the way to school, I walked past the Confederate Cemetery and Kenmore, famous from Revolutionary War times. My mother loved Kenmore, and I went with her when she served tea to visitors during Garden Week. We drove past the house I lived on Franklin Street. It was like I remembered it but smaller. The house next door looked the same, but the street itself appeared much narrower with houses closer than I remembered from the eyes of a child.
Since none of the restaurants on Caroline Street were open during mid-morning hours, we went into Goolrick's Pharmacy and ordered drinks and salads. A sign said the business has been in operation since 1867. The chrome and red stools along the counter brought back memories of childhood days when I ordered ice cream cones there and sat on similar seats.
Memories from my childhood were both sad and wonderful. I loved my friends and remember now that most were children of college professors. How depressing it was for me when my family moved away, and I had to leave them and the comfort zone of my hometown.