Rappahannock News - - COUNTRYSID­E - CHRIS GREEN chris­[email protected]

‘Rappa Hang On’ to flick­ing corn ker­nels

Rap­pa­han­nock res­i­dents Lois Snead and Carolyn Tholand Thorn­ton took their au­di­ence back in time dur­ing Rapp at Home’s pop­u­lar Lo­cal Voice Se­ries.

Carolyn is the widow of Philip Lee Thorn­ton, of the orig­i­nal Thorn­tons of Thorn­ton Gap, and an al­ways wel­com­ing face vol­un­teer­ing at the Food Pantry. Lois is a 95-yearold Rap­pa­han­nock Force of Na­ture, also filled with sto­ries of lo­cal lore.

Lois is one of the founders of the Dried Flower and An­nual Trin­ity Epis­co­pal Church House Tour, which over the years has raised thou­sands of dol­lars to ben­e­fit the com­mu­nity and fur­ther Trin­ity outreach. She spoke of ini­tial ef­forts by the group to sell dried flower ar­range­ments at Wood­ward & Lothrop at Seven Corners, where they were set up next to the plas­tic flower sales dis­play.

They sold out briskly, as cus­tomers fa­vored their dried flower ar­range­ments, un­til sub­se­quently the women re­ceived a let­ter from

the pres­i­dent of Wood­ies dis­invit­ing them from fu­ture en­gage­ments as they had taken away so much busi­ness. And that is how their Trin­ity Dried Flower and House Tour was born.

Lois is the widow of Judge Rayner Snead, who was the brother of Dr. John Snead, both well-known and well­re­spected Rap­pa­han­nock men. To laugh­ter in the room, she shared her mem­o­ries of rais­ing “sheep and chil­dren, in that or­der.”

She’s a proud grand­mother, great­grand­mother and in­deed has 17 great-grand­chil­dren. Lois met Rayner at the Univer­sity of Mis­souri where he was in a World War II naval aca­demic pro­gram and she was a stu­dent. Lois was one of the first women in the Agri­cul­tural Pro­gram at “Miz­zou.”

Lois talked of the churches in Wash­ing­ton. There were four: Methodist, Bap­tist, First Bap­tist and Epis­co­pal. She, be­ing Epis­co­palian, went to the Epis­co­palian church and Rayner, be­ing Bap­tist went to the Bap­tist Church, which his fam­ily helped es­tab­lish.

She spoke of each be­ing given 25 cents for the col­lec­tion plate when she and her brothers went to Sun­day school. She du­ti­fully con­trib­uted, but her brothers ran down to the lo­cal gen­eral store (now Kevin Adams’ art gallery) and got penny candy in­stead.

Lois re­mem­bered char­ac­ters in the county like Jim Bill Fletcher and his far-reach­ing in­flu­ence as a pow­er­ful at­tor­ney. She good-na­turedly laughed that Jim Bill most likely was in­stru­men­tal in hav­ing her at­tor­ney hus­band, Rayner, nom­i­nated as the youngest judge in the his­tory of Vir­ginia, prob­a­bly, she said, to keep him from ab­sorb­ing any of Jim Bill’s busi­ness.

She re­counted fond mem­o­ries of Mary Botts Quain­tance, prin­ci­pal of the ele­men­tary school and her un­usual way of cor­rect­ing the stu­dents, “My son,” tells Lois, “took an ear of corn to school and flicked the ker­nels at girls. ‘Ray’ said Quain­tance, ‘if you like corn so much, push this pile of corn one at a time across the floor with your nose.’ He never took an ear of corn to school again.”

Carolyn talked of Dr. Snead, Rayner’s brother, and of his wife, Pinky, who would be work­ing in the small doc­tor’s of­fice in their home. Carolyn told the story of some of Dr. Snead’s “just plain tired” pa­tients, over­worked by too many chil­dren and house­hold de­mands. “Pinky” he’d call out, hol­ler­ing across the room, “give her some of those green pills. Now I’m not go­ing to charge you for these pills, but I want you to take one ev­ery four hours.” (The pills were place­bos).

“Dr. Snead was part psy­chi­a­trist,” Carolyn ex­plained. Dr. Snead charged $5 a visit, not con­sid­ered a lot at the time but he al­ways said he’d rather have cash than money owed to him on the books.

Carolyn shared fond mem­o­ries of the for­mer Wash­ing­ton Ski Area in Har­ris Hol­low and the ski team. “Lois’s kids and I skied to­gether, gave lessons, and helped keep the place up,” she said.

She spoke of fox hunt­ing in Rap­pa­han­nock: the hunt break­fasts and hunt balls of­ten held at Mrs. Slaugh­ter’s house in Flint Hill. To laugh­ter she re­galed the room with sto­ries of Rap­pa­han­nock fox­hunters, wildly gal­lop­ing over hill and dale, heav­ily forested woods and deep pas­tures, not a man­i­cured trail in sight as of­ten found at other re­gional hunts:

“Some­times the whips would throw a jacket over a barbed wire fence and that’s what we would jump. We were known as the se­cond most dan­ger­ous hunt in the world, Gal­way in Ire­land was first. Heck we’d tear down moun­tains at break­neck speed. We were known as ‘Rappa Hang On.’”

She also told of the 25th an­nual La­bor

Day Mixed Dou­ble Hand­i­capped Whis­tle Cup Ten­nis Tour­na­ment of Rap­pa­han­nock. “We just called it the 25th be­cause we couldn’t re­mem­ber how many years we’d been hav­ing the tour­na­ment,” she laughed.


Rap­pa­han­nock res­i­dents Carolyn Thorn­ton (left) and Lois Snead re­gale a well at­tended Rapp at Home Lo­cal Voice Se­ries with col­or­ful sto­ries of grow­ing up in the county.

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