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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
Charles Town, West Virginia
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March 28, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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March 28, 2012
 

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SECTION Wednesday, March 28, 2012 f Youngster's illness puts aunt into action Some pigs get new digs OUt&about Thursday's talk is all about James Rumsey Spring's sweet smells One of my favorite authors, Margaret At- twood, said, "in the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." I'm totally with you on that, Margaret, and lately with all that sap rising I've not only smelled like dirt, but also Wmdex and furniture polish as I've gone about the yearly ritual of spring clean- ing. I started the process this year with the out- side, gathering up all the dead brown leaves that were smothering the emerging tulips and daffodils. The unseasonably wann tempera- tures had me down to a T-shirt in quick or- der, my jacket hanging on the fence post. The cats, Jake and Otis, joined me in the back- yard, frisking after an early butterfly or" dash- ing up the trunk of the curly willow tree and hiding in the branches like some kind of jun- gle cat. They nibbled on the newly emerging lawn -- maybe as a spring tonic? -- throw- ing up once they were back inside, adding to my cleaning chores. Tackling the back porch is the least favor- ite part of the process, dismantling the pile of chairs and a picnic table under the tarps, along with numer- ous flowerpots and garden tchotkes, in- cluding a plastic pink flamingo. This is when I discov- er that the wooden bench could stand a fresh coat of white paint, but also that several contain- ers of herbs happi- ly made it through the winter. The front window box is finally cleared of Christmas greenery, long since turned brown, and pan- sies fill the void. When it comes time to turn my attention and back muscles to the inside of the house, the first order of business is to throw open all. the windows to get rid of the winter funk. Dust mop in hand I quickly gather up enough cat fur to build another animal and as I shake the mop from the upstairs porch I hope the neighbors aren't blinded by the dust storm and label me a terrible housekeeper. Outains get taken down and washed; the windows re- ceive a little elbow grease so the sun comes through unimpeded. The rugs are gathered and shaken from the back porch, the cobwebs are cleared from the comers and I'm thinking that there's still a lot Of spring remaining to take care of the messy closets and the even messier basement. I'm going to need a junk hauler, but the guy down the street said he has a buddy with a truck who's in that line of work. i. Lunch is a quick bag of microwave pop- corn and I remember the springtime foods my grandmother used to cook up as an anti- dote to all that heavy food eaten through the winter. She called her tonics "good for what ails you." Top on the list was dandelion -- the tender greens bathed in sweet and sour bacon dressing. She also favored sassafras tea and rhubarb. You put some rhubarb and a ton of sugar between two pie crusts, cut yourself a generous slice and you' re ready to clean two houses. But at the moment not even a slice of rhu- barb pie will give me a boost. I turn on the hot water in the tub, squirt in some bath stuff and a handful of Epsom salts then ease my sore carcass into all that 'comfort. Smelling like dirt has its attraction, but so too does the sweet aroma of lavender. --Nancy Luse writes from Frederick, Md where her corner of the worm is a little neat- er and cleaner. TOP: This work is by Catherine C. Critcher, who lived for decades in Charles Town. Trained in Paris, she taught painting at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington and created portraits of powerful contemporaries such as President Woodrow Wil- son and George Marshall. ABOVE: The museum has on display two wedding gowns worn here in the 19th century. LEFT: Jane Rissler, the curator of the Jefferson County Museum in downtown Charles Town, shows off a penny farthing bicycle from the late 1800s, one of the museum's larger items and one that tends to fascinate young visitors. ABOVE: A Washington descendant gave the museum this condolence letter penned by George Washington at Mount Vernon in 1799. PHOTOS BY ROBERT SNYDER az O A Charles Town museum brings together gems - from a poignant letter from George Washington to aged bikes and children's toys, delicate 19th century wedding gowns, Harpers Ferry-made guns and much more CHRISTINE MILLER FORD nal letter written by George Washington Spirit Staff in which he shares his thoughts on the death of his younger brother, the man for ~/~rchie Bunker's armchair, whom Charles Town is named. the ruby slippers worn in Written to his former aide-de-camp , -]--~ 1939's "The Wizard of Oz' Colonel Burgess Bail on Sept. 22, 1799, ~andthousandsofothertrea- the beloved former presidents letter sures line the Smithsonian's Museum of reads in part: "I was the first, and am American History, but there's no need now thelast, of my father's children by to drive to D.C. to see incredible pieces the second marriage who remain. When from our nation's past. I shall be called upon to follow them is Open again after its annual winter known ~y to the giver of life. break, the Jefferson County Museum is At the time he penned the letter, Wash- home to an astounding collection of ar- ington was still fit, but a sudden illness tifacts, archives, paintings and photo- that December would end his life at 67. graphs that shed light on the history of The museum also has an artifact re- the area - and its ties to presidents (both lated to James Buchanan, the president revered and not), abolitionist John Brown widely regarded as the nation's least ef- and others who played key roles in turn- fective. On display is a gown belonging ing points in American history, to his orphaned niece, Harriet Lane Bu- "We don't want our museum to be a chanan, who served as first lady for the secret," says Jane Rissler, a Jefferson never-wed Pennsylvanian. County native who left retirement last Another attention-getter is the stout year to become the museum's curator. Visitors, for instance, can see an origi- See A-urIC page C7 O ROBERT SMITH Jonathon and Kristen Eyler, of Shepherd- stown, recently finished taping an episode of "Wheel of Fortune. The episode will air na- tionwide June 7. ROBERT SMITH said Johnathon. "We decided to go as Spirit Staff a couple." SHEPHERDSTOWN -- More than Traveling to the nation's capital, 11 million people watch Wheel of they were soon competing with 50 Fortune daily, other couples in multiple rounds of And Johnathon and Kristen Eyler, simulated games. They made the top of Shepherdstown, are set to have it 25 list, but Johnathon didn't think the one better. They'll appear on the 37- odds were very good of making the year-old game show on June 7. show. The couple, who were married Dec. "My wife did fine. I didn't think I 15, 2010, earned a once-in-a-life- did very good," he said. time spot on the nationally syndicat- The CSX worker and his soon-to- ed show after Johnathon, a member be-spouse went home and waited to of the Wheel Watchers Club, received be contacted. A letter arrived about an email in August asking if he would six weeks later indicating they had like to audition at the Beacon Hotel in been picked to compete against a pair Washington, D.C. of newly wed c()uples for the shows' "The email invite was for me, but also said 'if you want to bring your spouse, you can try out as a couple,'" Creamy French pie deserves a try. CHRISTINE MILLER FORD Spirit Staff CHARLES TOWN - If the sight of peach blossoms in re- cent weeks has you craving, there's no reason to wait for a taste Of your favorite summer- time fruit. Make aquick trip to the supermarket to pick up a can of peaches and a handful of 'other ingredients and you can put together a French pie that's creamy, quick and fla- vorful. You'll love the way the al- mond and vanilla complement the peaches, and the glaze "newlyweds week." makes the pie a treat for the eyes as The new parents -- their son. well. See WHEEL page C6 Enjoying peaches as often as possi- I , Nothing can beat a just-picked peach, but a creamy dessert with canned peaches is a winner, too. Related stow, Page C4. ble is a time-honored tradition. From their earliest days of cultivation in Chi- na from 2000 B.C. to when the Native See PEACHES page C6 ( e