Could ‘Factory Man’ Still be a Catalyst for Eco-tourism?

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Tom Hanks will produce ‘Factory Man’ mini-series for HBO – Roanoke Times (09/16/2014)

Only about half of the business books that I have started, I have also finished. Books about business can be the driest fare around but, luckily, Factory Man is one of the good ones.  Beth Macy, a Roanoke journalist, did an amazing job relating the history and ultimate effective extinction of the furniture industry in this area.  It goes a long way towards explaining why we have so much infrastructure here without the obvious foot traffic to sustain it.  That seems to be leveling off, though population numbers are still continuing to decline.

Everyone here was abuzz when Tom Hanks bought up the rights to Factory Man for an HBO mini-series; however, that was three years ago and the project still shows as “in production” on imdb. It is unclear as whether the bulk of filming, should it ever get started, would be here (in Bassett) or in Galax, or a little of both. We still have our fingers crossed.

Today, Bassett is a little community on the river waiting to be rediscovered.  The Smith River does not run through it as much as the town itself is wrapped around its banks.

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There is a burgeoning interest in kayaking the Smith River. There are also trout in the Smith.  Smith River Outfitters has been running excursions down the river and Hamlet Vineyards has created some events for combining a trip to the vineyards with a trip on the water.  Papa’s Pizzeria is a restaurant on a picturesque road in Bassett that has a great outdoor patio right on the Smith.  It has the unique position to cater to river traffic.  All they would need would be a a little kayak parking and a path up from the river.  With elbow grease and luck,  it could really be an enhancement that could cause a noticeable increase in eco-tourism in the area.  Property values there, in my opinion, are still undervalued (see MLS). This could just be my experience with development in Texas talking but, if and when the ball ever does get rolling for Bassett to emerge as a river excursion destination, it is poised to gain momentum quickly.

I realize that that is a big “if” … that there are quite a few “ifs” in there, actually.  But I do still have my fingers crossed that this project will bring people in to see Bassett.  All it will take is the right person to see it.

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Another Roger Carroll Mural and the Great Goblin Gallop 5K

While looking up information on muralist Roger Carroll, I found a link to an archived WDBJ 7 article about how he had also painted murals at Druid Hills Elementary School. I immediately recalled a mural that I saw there when I ran in the 2014 Great Goblin Gallop 5K.  The article said that “he tried to make the indoors appear like they’re outdoors.  The theory behind that is if the children feel less confined, feel good about where they’re at, they’ll just naturally do better.”

Druid Hills is the name of one of the neighborhoods in Martinsville that, along with its neighboring community of Forest Park is known for relatively pricier homes surrounding a private community lake called Lake Lanier.  The annual Great Goblin Gallop is put on by Henry County Parks and the run really is beautiful.  Continue reading “Another Roger Carroll Mural and the Great Goblin Gallop 5K”

Murals at Spencer Penn Center

One of the nice things about living on the west side of Henry County is that it is very close to the Spencer Penn Center.  The Spencer Penn Center was an area school until sometime around 2004 when it was slated to be closed and was instead converted into a community center by local residents and alumni.

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The Spencer Penn Center

It really is a beautiful place with a baseball field out back, a paved walking trail, a “wild” walking trail, pretty gardens, lots of arts and exercise classes and a library.

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The Garden in front of Spencer Penn Center

There’s even a little free library out back by the playground and the baseball bleachers.

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Free Little Library, Playground and Bleachers at Spencer Penn

The walking path runs around the Mary Jordan Ball Field and is a good, level path.  This is a safe area where anyone can walk without fear and the quiet country surroundings mean that you are more likely to hear birdsong than cars.

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The Mary Jordan Ball Field

I’ve already blogged about the Charles & Rose Hylton Library there, though I didn’t mention that it has a active reading program for kids.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

And something else that rarely gets mentioned is their collection of beautiful murals.  Per Mary Jordan, Director of Spencer Penn, the murals are the work of Mt. Airy muralist Roger Carroll. The longest stretch of murals is a chronological storyboard that begins shortly before the office and ends at the end of the hallway just outside the auditorium.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

Light conditions in the hallway are not optimal for photography, so I’ve brightened these photos considerably.

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Hallway Mural and Spencer Penn

If there is a trick to getting better photos in a hallway with light constraints, I’m all ears.  I wouldn’t mind taking these photos over and over until I do them some justice.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

I don’t remember what was on the walls of the schools that I attended.  I grew up in Texas and I’m fairly certain that we just had single color brandings of our football team’s logo.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

The history does end at the Civil War but, in fairness to Spencer Penn, the wall space ends there too.  I love the idea of the murals and I wonder what pieces of our history would have been selected if there had been room for more.  The Spanish American War, maybe.  Henry Ford, almost undoubtedly.  The moon landing. Would they have nodded to the tobacco industry? The textile or furniture industry? Which wars … WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf Storm, Iraq? Which people? Martin Luther King, Jr. is an easy choice.  What about Jonas Salk? The Suffragettes? Hemingway and the Lost Generation? It’s fascinating to me to think about. What and who contributes to the definition of “American” after 1864?

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

But there is one mural at Spencer Penn that is my absolute favorite. The mural below of Spencer Penn “back in the day” is in what they call Alumni Hall.  Mary tells me that this is from a photo in the 1940 school annual.  The school kids and cars were possibly added. There is a lot of love in this painting and you can feel it. This is a big mural – maybe, say, eight feet tall or more.

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Gymnasium Mural at Spencer Penn

Spencer Penn is a vital community center and I hope that you give it a visit, even if it is just to their website.  There is always a membership drive on and they can always use funds.

For more information, please see the following links:

 

A Little Love for the Charles & Rose Hylton Library

I love the local Spencer Penn Center.  There’s a lot there to love but one of my favorite parts is the Charles & Rose Hylton Library.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

I have a card at all of the local libraries but this one is my favorite.  I discovered Karen White’s “The Sound of Glass” here.  I also got started on Carol Miller’s Moonshine Mystery series here, reading “An Old-Fashioned Murder: A Moonshine Mystery“.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

The thing to note about Carole Miller’s Moonshine Mystery series is that they are set here locally.  Moonshine is still a big thing around here but that’s another post for another time. I had just finished the first book in the series, “Murder and Moonshine“, over the weekend and decided to pop over to Spencer Penn to see if I could pick up “A Nip of Murder“, the second one in the series and the only one I have left to read. (They read fine out of order).

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

As I understand it, the library got its start with donations from local residents (and still actively receives a lot of donations).  That translates into a lot more Debbie Macomber novels than dusty classics which, to me, is a good thing.  (Nothing against the classics but there’s nothing wrong with exploring new novels either). These are books people have read because they wanted to rather than because they thought that they ought to, so there are a lot of good choices for fun reads.  The span of genres is pretty impressive too.

As it turned out, I got distracted by another book that’s been on my “to-read” list for awhile and completely forgot about the book that I was looking for.  “The Alice Network” is a historical novel about a female spy ring in WWI that was released this past June.

So I’ll have to wait to finish the Moonshine Murder series.  But I swear that I’ll read it next. (Full disclosure: That might not be true.  Anne Mott Davidson’s “Tough Cookie” has been flitting around my desk, under my desk, or near my desk for a week demanding to be read. )

P.S. There is usually a cart outside the door of the library with used books for sale.  I almost always browse the cart with the result that I have, at about any given time, a stack of books to read.  Paperbacks are fifty cents a piece. Hard backs are a dollar.

P.S.S. I also buy used books from Amazon with my Amazon points.  And those books will generally end up on the cart I mentioned above after I’ve read them.

P.S.S.S. There is also an adorable book store, Books & Crannies, in Uptown Martinsville that we try to visit occasionally because we want to support local businesses too and, well, it’s a bookstore.

My point is that that cart in front on the library is very active and I’m not the only reader around here that donates, buys, and checks out books on a regular basis. If you’re local, you should check it out.  And go inside and sign the visitor’s log.  You might leave with a new favorite author.

Are we friends on GoodReads?

my read shelf:
Beth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

my to-read shelf:
Beth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (to-read shelf)

The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville

I had started this year hoping to really get in some local hikes but, as they say, the best laid plans oft go astray.  I did succeed in finding a fantastic local hiking group connected to the Reynolds Homestead, The Homestead Hikers, and joined them on their inaugural hike for the 2017 year – The Silverbell Trail.

The Silverbell Trail is a short boardwalk trail that joins the Uptown Connection Trail in Martinsville just off of the Dick & Willie Rail Trail and ends, somewhat abruptly, at Church Street, across the street from the YMCA. Even in January, when all of the leaves are on the ground and a coat is required, this is a beautiful trail.   Continue reading “The Silverbell Trail – A Walk Through Martinsville”

Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition

Every year, just before the leaves begin to make a serious effort to start changing (we’ve got about two more weeks for that), the community of Spencer throws an annual community fair.  2017 marked the 81st annual fair.  The local Ruritan Club Building opens its doors from 10 to 6, serving up huge bowls of Brunswick stew, plates loaded with fried chicken, and homemade desserts. Continue reading “Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition”