Tag Archives: Fredericksburg

The Free Lance-Star prints my letter to the editor.

My letter to the editor about conspiracy theories was also published by The Free Lance-StarYou can find it right here.

The Free Lance-Star is a leading regional news source with more than 65,000 weekday readers.  I’m always especially pleased to see something I’ve written appear here, because Fredericksburg, Virginia is my college town.  🙂

Thanks yet again to the newspaper’s editorial staff for allowing me to share through this important source of news and commentary in northeast Virginia.

See you at the Grammys.

So I’m a little bit of a weird guy.  I had this absolutely vivid dream the night before last that I was a world-famous singer-songwriter.  And I stopped into my old college town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, where all of my school’s deans and professors came out to greet me and invite me over for coffee.  I was a celebrity.

The reason I was in Fredericksburg was to record a new version of my latest big hit at a local church — this time it would be a gospel version of the song. (Think of U2’s Rattle and Hum album.)  This song, which had been my most popular ever, was called “My Girlfriend Got Eaten by a Gator.”

Here’s the thing — I SWEAR I can remember it perfectly.  It’s stuck in my head.  I was humming it all day yesterday.  If only I knew how to write music, I’d write it down and go all the way to the Grammys.

Update — sorry for not posting a trigger warning for any unfortunate souls whose girlfriends were, tragically, eaten by gators.  My bad.


Photo credit: The Howard Gospel Choir performs at Kulturama in Stockholm.  US Embassy Sweden, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Free Lance-Star publishes my letter to the editor about mandatory school prayer.

I’m so happy today to see my latest letter to the editor (about mandatory prayer in the public school classroom) appear in the pages of The Free Lance-StarYou can read it online right here.

In addition to being the newspaper for my college town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, The Free Lance-Star is a leading regional news source with more than 65,000 weekday readers.  I’m quite grateful to its editorial staff for allowing me to share my perspective there.


This was a present from an old friend from Fredericksburg — a colonial stoneware candleholder. I used to sell these from time to time from the gift shop of The Rising Sun Tavern living history museum there.  (Yes, I was indeed one of those character-interpreting tour guides — I was “the tavernkeeper’s son” and I was better at it than you’d guess.)

This thing is really damned neat.  I love it.  It brings back memories of working summers and weekends as a college student at a job that was a lot more fun than most others.




Monument to Mary Washington, Frederickburg, VA, circa 1912

So I found a historical photo that was too good not to share.  What you see here is the grave of Mary Washington, George Washington’s mother, in my college town of Fredericksburg, VA.

It ought to look a bit strange to my college friends who remember the site.  What is now known (officially, anyway) as Kenmore Park/Memorial Park was a popular walking destination for students at Mary Washington College.  (This is the site of “Mary’s Rock.”  And if you partied downtown and walked back to campus, chances are you walked past it.)  This site is just off Washington Avenue.  The Gordon Family Cemetery was behind the obelisk.  (The cemetery is pictured at left here — see the low wall — as this picture is looking northwest.)

Look at how small and sparse then trees were in 1912.  (They were pretty big by the 1990’s.)  This is part of a group of public domain images here at Project Gutenberg.  They vary in quality, but some of them are pretty neat.



You know what would be the perfect weekly Sunday morning trip?

A little Fredericksburg, VA, side street with a used bookstore, and indie comic shop, and a diner where you could get tons of coffee and omelettes.

The diner would have wifi. The comic shop owner would be a chill, affable local dude you could shoot the breeze with about the medium, or about current events. The used bookstore would sell a worn, dog-eared pocket dictionary so that you could learn to finally spell the word “omelette” correctly the first time. (I might just tear out that page and carry it in my wallet, along with the page containing “Pennsylvania.”)

And the entire street would be a block from the Rappahannock River, so you could take a stroll afterward.



Throwback Thursday: Mary Washington College’s “Campus … Drive?” (1981)

The photo below ought to give pause to anyone who went to Mary Washington College when I did in the early 1990’s.  That is indeed Campus Walk back when it was Campus Drive, a legitimate roadway for the Town of Fredericksburg.

I have no idea when it was closed to automobile traffic and the walkway was created.  The photo dates from 1981.  (I am using it here with permission from UMW Special Collections; it comes from the Simpson Library’s Centennial photo database.)

It’s weird though.  Campus Walk was a focal point of college life, especially its social aspects.  It was where you said hello to a lot of your friends and exchanged news and plans, in the days before the internet and cell phones.  And it gave the small campus an isolated feel that was kind of cool.

I’d heard about it being a road when I was a student, though.  I worked at The Rising Sun Tavern museum downtown, and a couple of the other tour guides were women who had graduated from Mary Wash in the 1980’s.  They had some vivid memories of young men from town (and Marines from Quantico) hollering at them as they drove through.  I can see how that might have occasionally gotten awkward.



Guerrilla poetry at Tenleytown, Washington, D.C.

This is Tenleytown, in Washington, D.C.’s Northwest, just a couple of blocks from a campus of American University — where I almost went to school, instead of Mary Washington College in Virginia.  I even (somewhat hilariously) received “honors admission” there.  (I was never actually a true “honor student,” even in high school, because my grades in math and science were fair at best — and anyone who knew me at age 18 could tell you that I was not exactly the brightest bulb in the socket.)

I remember being pretty excited as a high school senior at that admission letter.  American U. was my first choice; I was only seduced away to small-town Virginia by a generous financial aid package from the good people at Mary Washington.  (Yes, young people, Fredericksburg was indeed a small town in 1990, even if it now looks like downtown frikkin’ Fairfax.)

It was freaky sipping coffee in Tenleytown and pondering some other parallel-universe me who lived and studied and partied there as a kid.  (Where would I have bought my comic books?)  Most people don’t think about string theory when they travel, but I am both a science fiction fan and a really weird guy with a lot of time on his hands.  (Where is that other Eric right now?  Is he married?  Is he writing?  Is he equally irritated by Star Wars obsessives, the religious right, Orwellian language, people who push “healthy snacks,” the dumbing down of America, “fun-sized” candy, and the gradual decline of “The Walking Dead?”)

Anyway, Tenleytown a pleasant neighborhood with a brisk, college-town vibe to it.  DC consistently surprises me by how friendly its people can be.

I left some poetry mini-books beside some news-stands on Albemarle Street, a cross-street with Wisconsin Avenue.  The stands alternately inform readers in Greek, Spanish, Chinese and English about how DC’s most deplorable resident has most recently embarrassed our country.  (I admire the Spanish-language papers’ predictable special antipathy for the president.)  No matter how sad the news is, this town will not let you hide behind a language barrier.

Am I nuts, or does that Best Buy look like it was designed with the Watergate in mind?  I keep wondering if that is someone’s idea of an obscure joke.









A poem about Civil War photos of Fredericksburg

I’m linking here to Poets.org and Eric Pankey’s 2014 poem, “Three Mathew Brady Photographs.”  The poem describes historical photos of Fredericksburg, Virginia and neighboring Chancellorsville — I thought it might be of interest to my alumni or old neighbors.