Historian and Author Tom Perry's thoughts on history and anything that comes to mind.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Patricia Ross Dedication To History

At the Bassett Heritage Festival in September 2009, I found myself sitting beside Anne Marie Ross Freeman and Fran Ross Snead selling our books. On the other side of the two ladies mentioned was their mother with the tables for the Bassett Historical Center. A lady unknown to me approached us all and spoke loud enough for all four of us to hear inquiring if these three young people were Pat’s children. Without a blink of an eye, I rose and answered affirmative to the question, much to the chagrin of the real daughters of Patricia Ross, and the laughter of their mother and later their father and fellow raconteur, Paul Ross. People leave their mark on the word in many ways. Patricia Clay Ross has left a mark on my life by her support of my multiple book projects giving me a research home that I drive over one hundred miles round trip to use the facilities of the Bassett Historical Center that she is Director. She is the mother of two teachers/authors mentioned above and one grandson at this writing. When she retires, she will have led the effort to expand what I call “The Best Little Library in Virginia,” the Bassett Historical Center. For all these reason and many more, the Henry County Heritage Book is dedicated to Patricia Clay Ross. (Photo courtesy of Steve Shepherd.) – Tom Perry, Chairman, Henry County Heritage Book Committee.

Henry County Heritage Book Release December 21

With stories from as far away as Paris, France, and Hawaii, the Martinsville and Henry County Heritage Book is here. Usually, these books take years to complete, but this book came in under one calendar year due to the work of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee and the ability to do the book digitally.

The Henry County Heritage Book will be at the Bassett Historical Center. Those who pre-ordered the book may pick up their copies beginning December 21 at noon. Please bring the receipt you received from the committee when picking up your book to make the process go quicker. Mail order copies were sent from the printer.

Those interested in purchasing a copy of the book may buy it in person at the Bassett Historical Center. Post-publication cost is $75 with all profits going to the library. Credit card orders are available at www.freestateofpatrick.com/hchb. There are limited number of post-publication copies available.

The 400 page 9x12 hardcover book is the first Heritage Book completed on Henry County and Martinsville. All profits from this book go to the building fund of the Bassett Historical Center.

This book is the result of a year of work by the committee and those who submitted stories. The book was available for review for over six months at the library. There will be no second printing of the book. It was the responsibility of the submitter to make sure their stories are in the book and correct. These books usually take years to complete, but this committee finished the book in under a year. Perry would particularly like to note the efforts of Anne Copeland, who scanned and formatted all of the stories and photographs so that this book could be submitted to the publisher in digital format, which drastically reduced the time of publication.

Members of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee worked for free and are as follows: Chairman, Tom Perry; Secretary, Elva Adams; Treasurer, Betty Scott; Daphne Stone, Debbie Hall, Cindy Bingman, Joel Cannaday, Teddy Compton, Janet Fentress, Joan Frith, Mary McGee, Jean Matthews, Peter Ramsey, Avis Turner, Laura Young and Beverly Lipford-Yeager. At the Bassett Historical Center members are Patricia Ross, Anne Copeland, Sam Eanes, and Cindy Headen.

If your family or organization is not mentioned in this book, don’t complain, sit down, and write the story (500 words and one photo or 1000 words and two photos if your family was in Henry County before 1800.) Send it to Tom Perry at freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com in MSWord format with photo scanned at 300 dpi. Contact Perry about requirements. There will be no reprint of Volume One.

The Library will be closed December 24 and 25 for the holidays. The Bassett Historical Center is a branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library and is located at 3964 Fairystone Park Highway, Bassett Virginia 24055. Contact them at 276-629-9191 or baslib@hotmail.com .

Credit card orders are available at www.freestateofpatrick.com/hchb

Bassett Historical Center 3964 Fairystone Park Highway Bassett, VA 24055

Contact Tom Perry, Chairman of the Henry County Heritage Book Committee at the following for more information: freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Letter To Tom Joyce

Earlier this fall Tom Joyce of the Mount Airy News wrote a letter full of vitriol aimed at the Virginia Tech Football team after Joyce’s alma mater James Madison defeated the Hokies, who were playing on five days rest after losing a close game to Boise State. Since that time the team from Virginia Tech has one eleven games in a row that included defeating every team in North Carolina (UNC, NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, and East Carolina) and winning the third ACC Championship in four years and four out of six since joining the league.

Tyrod Taylor, who has won more games than any quarterback in Virginia Tech history, was the ACC Most Valuable Player, Dudley Award Winner for being the best college football player in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Taylor holds almost every passing, rushing, and offensive record for quarterback in the nearly 120-year history of Virginia Tech football. More importantly, he is a model citizen, who spends his time in the community doing service not because of a criminal record (He has never been arrested.), but because that is the person he is. He is just like another ACC Most Valuable Player from Virginia Tech, Brian Randall, who led the Hokies at quarterback to their first ACC Championship. The son of a preacher, Randall was a class act, who never got in trouble and worked in the community. What Joyce and all those jealous of the success in Blacksburg, who talk about thugs and bullies and think Virginia Tech football is only about Vicks is that there is a Brian Randall and Tyrod Taylor for every Vick. There are always two sides to every story.

Frank Beamer, born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, has led the Hokies to eighteen straight bowl games and is the second among active coaches in wins behind only Joe Paterno at Penn State. He has led the Hokies to seven ten win seasons in a row and twelve ten win season since 1995. Frank Beamer also started a literacy program in his mother’s name, which takes money from a “White Out Game” every year that puts books in school libraries throughout Virginia. Beamer’s football team generates millions of dollars in economic benefit and even some for Mount Airy I bet for those who travel on I-77 going back and forth to Blacksburg for home football games. It is hard to imagine that some of those people do not stop in Mount Airy to enjoy the Mayberry effect.

It is human nature and especially for newspapers to focus on the negative of Mike Vick’s problems with the law, but even that has changed this year as Vick has tried to put his life back on track on and off the field with the Philadelphia Eagles. While Vick might be a better player than Taylor or Randall, but he is not a better person, but even that story may have a good ending. Often in lifestyle wins out over substance. Some people believe that playing dress up is a better way to teach history, but they like newspaper reporters, can be wrong.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Night The Music Died

It was thirty years ago today that any hope that Sgt. Peppers band would play again ended with the murder of John Winston Ono Lennon outside his home at the Dakota Building just off Central Park in New York City. He left England in 1971 and never went back again, never went back again due to his immigrant status and the attempts by the U. S. Government to deport him mainly by the paranoid Nixon Administration, who gave him way more credit than he deserved.

I missed hearing about Lennon’s death by minutes that night of December 8, 1980, as I went to bed just before Howard Cossell announced it on Monday Night Football. The next morning I stopped at Theodore Guynn’s on my way to Surry Community College and Theodore told me John Lennon was dead.

I first met John Lennon in Augusta, Georgia, when my cousin Ann Green, a Beatlemaniac, exposed me to the music of the Beatles in the 1960s. She loved John the best and I spent many happy times with her listening to Lennon’s nasally voice. I remember particularly liked Hard Days Night. Today, she if fighting cancer and loathes any talk of her misspent youth with the Fab Four, but then she did. She later bought me a Lennon-McCartney Songbook when I started playing the guitar at age thirteen that I still have sitting on the piano right now. Every once in a while I will open it and sing to myself horribly off key some tunes such Nowhere Man by Lennon or another his tunes such as Day Tripper.

While Paul McCartney is my favorite Beatle, I listened to Lennon and his solo work. I particularly liked Mind Games and Walls and Bridges. Imagine is a great album and Double Fantasy, his last album, yes I had the vinyl, and to paraphrase Lennon I was it spinning “round and round” many times before I heard of his death that bleak December day.

I had just turned twenty only a month before and was into my second year at Surry Community College, where I had my eye on a Yadkin County gal that I would soon start dating and fall head over heels in love with. I made her “Love Tapes” that had John Lennon songs on them. Out the Blue from Mind Games comes to mind along with Woman and Starting Over from Double Fantasy.

Many programs and movies are out about his life and earlier this year I watched two films about the Cretan who killed him. Everyone from PBS to Fox News has aired documentaries and even a few dramas since what would have been Lennon’s seventieth birthday. Hard to believe he would have been that old, but Julian, his oldest son by his first wife Cynthia is my age and Sean his son with Yoko Ono is 35.
John’s politics were I think a bit naïve and he seldom really knew what he was talking about like many celebrities. Paul continues to stick his foot in his mouth as he did insulting George W. Bush’s lack of reading when the former President’s wife and mother were involved in literacy programs and I don’t think you get out of Yale and Harvard Business School without reading, but that is another blog.

John Lennon had a gift when it came to writing a song and he went from the amazing studio effects of I Am The Walrus to the stripped down sound of Watching The Wheels. It is fun to IMAGINE what might have been. No doubt many of us would have seen a Lennon-McCartney World Tour before THE END came. Paul McCartney, who I have seen numerous times in concert over the last ten years always sings a song he wrote about Lennon after his death called Here Today and I have seen him get choked up doing it. He also sings songs such as Help, but not as the Beatles did it, but as John first played it for him a slow piano ballad. He will end these songs with Give Peace A Chance even if John was naïve; it is not such a bad idea to hope for.

When a man who sang about peace lost his life due to violence when he was the happiest he had been in years it is a lesson from Lennon we should all learn. “Some are dead and some are living. In my life I’ve loved them all.”

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

First Saturday Civil War Programs For 2011

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission is pleased to announce programs for the upcoming year. The commission formed by Historian Thomas D. “Tom” Perry started programs in 2010 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War in Patrick and Henry Counties in Virginia and Stokes and Surry Counties in North Carolina forming partnerships with groups that are involved in serious study of history and the War Between The States that began in April 1861. These programs will center at the Bassett Historical Center over the course of the four year commemoration of the war that was fought from 1861-65.

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission will host First Saturday Programs at the Bassett Historical Center beginning on February 5, 2011. These programs will be on the first Saturday of each month going from February through May to start. All programs are from at 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Library is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

February 5, J. E. B. Stuart and His Brothers Go To War.

March 5, Civil War Genealogy Workshop

April 2, Stoneman’s Raid with Tom Perry and Chris Hartley

May 7, Patrick County Virginia in the Civil War

Tom Perry, a leading authority on J. E. B. Stuart and the Civil War will lead all programs Perry is the author of over a dozen books on regional history and J. E. B. Stuart. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Virginia Tech, where he studied under noted historian James I. Robertson, Jr.

The first program will concern Confederate Major General J. E. B. Stuart and his brothers William Alexander and John Dabney Stuart, who all served in the war effort in different ways. William ran the saltworks in Saltville Virginia during the war, one of the few sources for the vital element of salt for the Confederacy. John served as a physician in the 54th Virginia Infantry mainly in the Army of Tennessee.

The second program will be the annual Civil War Genealogy Workshop conducted by Perry every year at the Bassett Historical Center concentrating on how to find an ancestor in the war using Perry’s research on Patrick County Virginia as an example.

The third program will concentrate on George Stoneman’s 1865 Raid, which came through all four counties covered by the regional commission in April 1861. Author Christopher James Hartley will join Perry to discuss his new book Stoneman’s Raid 1865 published in 2010 by John Blair Publishing of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Hartley, a graduate of the UNC-Chapel Hill is the author of Stuart’s Tarheels: James B. Gordon and the First North Carolina Cavalry and works in marketing for Blue Rhino Natural Gas.

The fourth program will cover Patrick County Virginia throughout the war concentrating on the home front, the various regiments from the county that served and J. E. B. Stuart, the most famous person from the county in the war. Perry presents this program each year to the 11th graders at Patrick County High School.

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission will began scanning material from the Civil War such as letters and photos from the four counties. This material will be placed at the Bassett Historical Center. Anyone with materials they wish to share should contact Tom Perry to set an appointment at freestateofpatrick@yahoo.com.

The J. E. B. Stuart Regional Civil War Commission is not associated with any other Civil War Commission. The sole purpose of the group is to promote serious history of the time period by giving educational programs and preserving the material from the war in the regional history library, the Bassett Historical Center in Bassett, Virginia, a branch of the Blue Ridge Regional Library.

Visit www.freestateofpatrick.com or www.bassetthistoricalcenter.com for more information.