Blue Ridge, Two Kids: Tales of a Roanoke Dad

Illustrious Roanokers, Part 3: Dr. Charles T. Pepper

Following the pattern of loosely interpreting “Roanoker” to mean someone who has influenced Roanoke’s development, let’s consider…  Dr. Charles T. Pepper (1830 – 1903) A doctor and pharmacist from nearby Rural Retreat, Dr. Pepper is renowned for his greatest medicinal creation: a concoction of herbs, roots, and… you guessed it… carbonated water. This beverage would…
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Wet and Wicked Weather in Western Virginia – Part 1

Wet and Wicked Weather in Western Virginia – Part 1 Roanoke is my adopted home, not my birthplace. I am, however, a proud native of the mountains of western Virginia, despite the time I spent down in the flatlands in that other city that starts with an “R”. When we moved to Roanoke, one fact…
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Illustrious Roanokers, Part 2

Next in the list of illustrious Roanokers is someone who was actually not native to Roanoke, but critically important in its growth. Let’s meet… Mr. Frederick J. Kimball (1844 – 1903) Mr. Kimball was in a literal sense the man who put Roanoke on the map. A life-long railroad man, Fred was one of the…
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The Fruit of the gods

The Virginia woods abound with wild edible treasures, and here is one of the most common, most delectable… and most finicky: The American persimmon – native to eastern North America – has been called the “Fruit of the gods”, perhaps because as it develops, its character shifts as wildly as a temperamental Greek deity. Before…
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Illustrious Roanokers, Part 1

Here’s the beginning of a series that features illustrious Roanokers of history. Typically these people are commemorated by street or place names that are familiar to us. So, let us begin with… Doctor, Colonel, and Governor William Fleming (1727 – 1795) Immortalized by the high school that bears his name, the honorable William Fleming was…
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Cornmeal, Whiskey and Gourmet Fungus

This summer, on a not-quite-whim, we turned a large chunk of our backyard into a cornfield. It wasn’t quite a whim, because we knew we wanted to expand our garden; however that hadn’t materialized by June, when we took a family trip across the western border to beautiful Monroe County, West Virginia. There we found…
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Up From Slavery

Up From Slavery Tucked away in Franklin County is a memorial to the humble roots of a great man. The Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy marks the birthplace of a man who inspired a generation of African Americans emerging from the horror of slavery. It also celebrates Booker T. Washington’s own personal journey…
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Unidentified Flying Objects

My kids are about the least likely in the state to become addicted to video games. That’s mostly because their dad and mom aren’t into video games, and we’re fine with keeping things that way. Growing up in the earliest era of gaming, I managed to stay clean even through college, and by that point…
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Reptiles in Roanoke

Both of our kids have been interested in reptiles for a while. Our older son is more predisposed to the extinct variety. He fills notebooks with dinosaur drawings and has gotten quite knowledgeable. Just the other evening after dinner, he was chatting with me about one of the stories he wrote that involved a stegosaurus.…
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American Indian heritage in Roanoke and our home

My kids have been fascinated by the American Indians for years, stimulated by a combination of books, trips, and artifacts. The Indians’ deep connection with nature, their resourcefulness, and the sad story of their vanished way of life seem to strike a chord with my kids, and usually lead to deep conversations. All the Indian…
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