Berryville Old Book Shop, Complete with Cat

Archie and Boomer and the Magic Shop

By Claire Stuart

There is a certain aura of magic around particular types of old bookshops. It’s no wonder that so many stories feature bookshops inhabited by witches, wizards, ghosts, and time travelers. The Berryville Old Book shop has that atmosphere — and the requisite bookstore cat as well.

I made my way along a narrow aisle flanked by some stacks of books that had not yet been shelved. I took a wrong step, blundered into them and sent books cascading all over the floor. To my astonishment, a small book of Calvin & Hobbes cartoons slid out of the pile. I had been looking for it for years.

A gray-bearded gent in a beret, holding a cat in his lap (and looking a bit like a wizard), nodded his head sagely and uttered one word:  “Serendipity!”

Archie Justice, retired from both the U.S. Army and the government, has been in the used book business for 16 years. Boomer, the cat, arrived as a stray kitten 11 years ago. She lives in the shop and often lounges in the front window, observing the passersby who stop to observe her.

The shop’s primary specialty is history, especially military history. There is also a huge section devoted to children’s books, and an amazing assortment of just about everything else.

“My wife filled in during the week when I was still working,” he explains, “and she’s more interested in children’s books.”

Justice says that he always loved books. He collected books on World War II and military history and was constantly on the lookout for books on the subject at yard sales, auctions and estate sales. Anyone who has looked for special books at sales knows that books are usually sold in boxed lots. You can’t pick out the ones you want, and you end up with a lot of books that you didn’t want. So, it is a natural transition to open a bookstore!

If you are looking for popular fiction, you will probably not find much here. With the exception of the children’s books and a big selection of paperback mysteries, they concentrate on non-fiction. What you will find is a wealth of factual information on just about any subject you can imagine. They do not stock romances, business or computer books.

It’s easy to lose track of time browsing through histories, ancient and modern, of wars, arms, battles, leaders and tyrants. Pick a country or a region, whether it is China, Britain, Australia, Europe, Mexico, Africa, the Middle East. Read about soldiers, spies, explorers, the U.S. frontier, Black history and Native Americans. Check out the extensive section on Virginia and West Virginia history, including Civil War, individual county histories and even family and church histories.

The gardener can visit classical English gardens, learn to make a rock garden, learn all about roses, tulips, or rhododendrons. Cook (and eat) around the world with cookbooks from just about everywhere. Nature lovers will learn about bats, mice, fish, identify trees or caterpillars. There is a whole section just for birds. There are sections for cats and dogs (“I keep them separated!” Justice notes). Browse art, architecture, chess, music, boats and trains.

The whole back room is dedicated to children’s books and a section of paperback mysteries. Children’s books run the gamut from vintage and classic to recent, with fairy tales, science, biography, rhymes, picture books, early readers, Dr. Seuss and Nancy Drew.

The shop also sells online through Abe Books, an aggregate bookseller that reaches around the world. Justice says that they offer only about a quarter of their stock online because Abe Books takes a cut of the sales, and the booksellers have to compete with each other for low prices.

“If there are 100 copies of a book on Abe, some books sell for a penny plus the shipping charge! The seller makes a few cents profit on the shipping. It’s not worth the bother. But if I have something like the history of some little county in Ohio, it probably won’t sell in the shop, but it could sell online.”

The shop buys some libraries and collections, especially military history, Virginia history and vintage children’s books.
“You still have to be selective,” said Justice, “unless you have a stadium to put them in!  You pick out the ones of value. That’s not necessarily monetary value but rather something you think someone is going to want to read. Anything we think we can sell. There’s only so much space in the shop, so you have to make judgments.”

Justice reports that they give a lot of books away, donating to the Blue Ridge Hospice thrift store and library book sales.  They recently donated 100 books to the elementary school.

“If there are any illiterate children in Berryville,” Justice laughed, “don’t blame us!”

Berryville Old Book Shop, 7 East Main Street. Open Wednesday through Saturday, noon to 5 pm; Sundays noon–4. Other times by chance Phone: 540-955-7070.

Do it Yourself Ideas 

By Karen Cifala

I have to laugh because my stepdad Bob, who is 85 and a former structural engineer, always has a jury-rig for something in his house to work around day-to-day obstacles. There is a hook to adjust the TV on the wall to his view liking. There’s the composition book where he records all of his bills that come in so that he doesn’t have to go through so much paperwork again to pay the bills.

Then there is the refrigerator door seal that has lost some suction, and he has tilted it back a bit with blocks under the front. Now it really slams shut good. Who cares if the Jello always comes out a little tilted. The 300 or so egg cartons downstairs hold at least 3,600 golf balls that need to be stored as well. All of these ideas are a creative way to satisfy these conundrums.

Whether you are having difficulty turning door knobs, or putting on your socks, we all have our way of working around day-to-day obstacles; some more practical than others. Here are some tried and tested, creative and funny workarounds that you can share with your family and friends.

Mobility and Personal Care

  • For user-friendly crutches, use pipe insulation to make additional padding on crutches to avoid bruised ribs and make softer grip areas.
  • A plant hook screwed into a dowel to fit your hand will make it easier to carry plastic bags.
  • Use hiking poles to improve balance and reduce strain on knees.
  • Use those pink sponge curlers to slip over eating utensils or toothbrushes for an easy-to-grasp handle.Remember soap on a rope? Take an old nylon stocking and drop the soap in it, and then tie to the shower head or grab bar for easy access.
  • Tape an emergency kit on the wall where it is highly visible — include important documents such as DNR, an aspirin, nitroglycerin, info on meds and allergies, doctor’s phone number, and other people to contact.
  • Having difficulty holding small objects? Glue and attach a nail clipper to a 3-4 inch long 2 x 2 inch wood. Add a popsicle stick to the arm of the clippers and duct or electrical tape. On one side of the wood block, glue an emery board to block of wood — then figure out the best way to attach to the counter. That’s where your ingenuity has to jump in.


  • Make light switch pulls that make it easier to turn lights on and off by drilling a small hole in the light switch and inserting a ring of some sort (like a key ring), and tie a string with a cork attached.
  • Install cord lights in areas around the house to help guide the midnight rambler or motion-activated lights and touch-on lamp switches.
  • Glue a piece of plastic tubing to a clothes pin and attach to a glass so you have a no slide straw holder that stays in place.
  • Sticky notes everywhere always help with reminders of everyday health and hygiene chores, as well as appointments.
  • Replace the purse with the 1982 Fanny Pack to keep both hands free.
  • Rubber bands around a glass or jars can create a no-slip grip.
  • Use foam tubing around doorknobs to improve usability.
  • Keep a magnet on the refrigerator to grab small things with. This helps improve dexterity when trying to pick up hard-to- grab items.
  • Keep frozen peas in the freezer as ice packs in a pinch.
  • For those card sharks that have a hard time holding all of their cards in their hands, cut a section of a pool noodle and slice the section in half lengthwise so it lays flat on a table. Then cut a 2-inch slot in the top of the noodle to hold your cards; like a dominoes tray holder, but for cards.

Another idea would be to turn plastic ice trays upside down to hold your cards. Make a picture of your remote, tape it near the TV, and detail the instructions on it so you don’t have to call your kids.

It can be hard sometimes for people to admit they can’t do something or that they need help. Why not enlist the grandkids to help with some of your good ideas and make it a fun and creative day together?

Karen Cifala is a SRES realtor for Remax Roots in Berryville, VA. You use a specialist for your health care needs, why not to sell your home? She can be reached by email at or by cell phone 303-817-9374.

Stone’s Chapel, Steeped In Clarke County History

Story and photos by Betsy Arnett

Larry Hardesty began cutting grass at the cemetery next to Stone’s Chapel when he was thirteen years old. Fifty some years later, he is cutting the cemetery’s grass again. However, his pay has dropped considerably. Back in 1960, he received $8. Today, as president of the Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association, he does it for free.

“The gas for the mower costs more than I got paid back then,” Larry laughs.


In the late 1950s, the cemetery was in rough shape. According to Larry, it was covered in berry vines and even had a couple of locust trees growing up between headstones. The cemetery was a “community cemetery,” made up of mostly family plots. The families, who were not necessarily members of Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church, were responsible for maintaining the cemetery. As families died off or folks left the area, the cemetery fell into disrepair.

To care for the cemetery, M.W. Jones and several other remaining family members formed the Clarke County Cemetery Association in 1958. At the time, several plots were surrounded by wrought iron fences. Most of the families agreed to sell the fences and donate the money to the Cemetery Association. Today, the only plot with its original wrought iron fence is the Jones family plot.

Larry became president of the Cemetery Association in 1993, when his father who had been president for many years, passed away.

Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church closed in 2000 and, over the next several years, the building began to deteriorate. One day in 2009, Larry met with the guy who then cut the cemetery grass to discuss removing some brush. “We were standing in front of the Chapel,” Larry remembers. “I looked up through one of the tower windows and thought, ‘I never noticed that ceiling was blue.’ I realized I wasn’t looking at a ceiling. It was sky. The tower roof was missing!”

Larry called the Shenandoah Presbytery office in Harrisonburg the next day. Using money remaining in Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church accounts, the Presbytery reroofed the tower and made other repairs, including treating the floors for powder
post beetles.

When the church first closed, the Presbytery had offered it to the Cemetery Association, but wanted to put too many restrictions on the property’s use. After the Cemetery Association turned them down, they put the property up for sale but had no takers. In 2010, Reverend Thomas Rhine, the Presbytery’s representative, approached Larry with a proposal. If Larry could form a nonprofit organization with an endowment fund sufficient to care for the Chapel, the Presbytery would give them the Chapel, no strings attached. The Cemetery Association was dissolved, its remaining assets transferred, and Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association was born.

“I thought once we got the nonprofit formed, transferring ownership would be quick and simple,” Larry recalls. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The only deed recorded for the Chapel was in 1793, when Jacob Stone and his wife Barbara conveyed the property jointly to the “trustees of the Lutheran and Calvinist societies.”

Long before the Stones conveyed the property to the Lutheran and Calvinist churches, it had been a place of worship. By 1785, a log structure stood on the site, known as “Steinkirche” by the area’s German-speaking Lutherans. The earliest recorded reference to Presbyterian use of the Chapel was the appointment of Reverend J.C. Leach by the Winchester Presbytery in 1824 to preach at “Stone’s
Meeting House.”

The cornerstone of the current brick chapel reads “1848” but it is uncertain exactly who built the building. Most likely, construction was a joint effort between Presbyterian and Lutheran congregations. Anecdotal evidence suggests that bricks for the chapel were fired at the Glendale plantation just across Old Charles Town Road.

As the Lutheran population of Clarke County dwindled, Presbyterians became the exclusive users of Stone’s Chapel. By 1888, when Stone’s Chapel Presbyterian Church was formally organized as a separate congregation, the chapel was presumed to belong to the Presbyterians. However, no new deed had been ever recorded.

In order for the Shenandoah Presbytery to transfer Stone’s Chapel to the Memorial Association, they first had to prove they owned it. “The Presbytery had to go to court and have a judge determine that the chapel belonged to them,” Larry says. “Then they could give it to us.”

In November 2012, two years after agreeing to the transfer, Stone’s Chapel Memorial Association received the deed to the chapel. Since then, the Association has been raising money to restore the chapel. Fundraising efforts began with soliciting donations from former members and friends, including passing a collection plate at chapel events.

So far, a new roof has been installed, mortar on the back of the tower repointed, water damage to the interior plaster repaired and the interior repainted. Larry estimates that there is another $80,000 worth of repairs needed, including repairing and painting the windows, repointing the bricks, and a new electrical panel.  “That doesn’t count repairs to the cemetery,” Larry notes.

On September 10, the Memorial Association held a benefit concert with Kevin Dunn, an Elvis tribute artist, at John Enders Fire Hall. Larry hopes that the event will raise awareness about the chapel, as well as some needed funds. The Memorial Association would like to lease the chapel to a congregation, continuing the building’s traditional use as a place of worship. However, they need to install a bathroom, which will entail digging a well and installing an alternative septic system. In the meantime, the chapel is available for daily event rentals.

The public will have two opportunities to see the chapel this year. The Memorial Association’s annual Fall Gathering is Saturday, September 24, starting at 11am. Following a short program, there will be a potluck luncheon. A main dish will be provided. Everyone is invited to bring a salad, side dish or dessert.

In December, the chapel will host its 4th annual Candlelight Christmas Service on Sunday, December 11, at 6:00pm.

For more information about Stone’s Chapel and these events, visit

Betsy Arnett is an historic preservationist, writer and award-winning photographer. She is the current chair of the Clarke County Historic Preservation Commission and lives in Boyce.

Scoping For Deer

As the Crow Flies

By Doug Pifer
Since the beginning of June, we started seeing a doe and fawn in our fenced upper hayfield again. Often we saw the doe and fawn together in the field. Many times we saw the fawn in there alone. Sometimes we looked out in time to watch the doe jump the fence to join her fawn.
Whenever the doe cleared the fence, the fawn always ran up to her. It would nurse and then run about in circles. But when the doe jumped out, the fawn stayed inside the fence. Would we have another fawn living full-time on our field this summer, too, we wondered? The mother, a small doe, looked and acted very much like the deer that stayed in our hayfield last summer and fall. Having lived inside the paddock from the time she was a fawn until just after the big January snowfall, the little hayfield deer evidently decided this was a safe place to give birth.
This year, in July, a tractor passed close by our fence while cutting hay in the neighboring field. I watched the startled doe run across the field with her equally scared fawn scampering close behind her. The doe sailed over the fence, but the spotted youngster pulled up short, too big to squeeze through the woven wire and unable to jump out.
In early August the man who cut our field saw the fawn run back and forth inside the fence, well away from his tractor. Then the fawn hid in the thick trees growing among some rocks in the middle of the field.
In the meantime, I’ve decided to update my long outdated optical equipment. The deer have been great subjects for me to watch through my new Vortex Viper HD spotting scope. What a difference it has made! I added an attachment to mount my cell phone to the eyepiece so I could take pictures on the phone through the scope.
By sheer accident, I took a series of close-ups of the deer on the “live” phone-camera setting that recorded the flick of a tail, twist of an ear, or turn of a head. In one frame the fawn runs back and forth inside the fence while the doe grazes peacefully on the other side. These first blundering efforts at cell phone photography through a spotting scope were crude at best. Still, they represent moments in nature in a unique way.
As a life-long observer and illustrator of deer, I’m still learning new things about them through the spotting scope. Yesterday after a downpour, several deer came out into the field to graze, I zoomed in on a doe nursing her tail-wagging, late season fawn. The hungry fawn’s head-butting efforts nearly knocked the doe off her feet. She terminated the nursing by deftly stepping over her fawn’s back, leaving it with a “milk mustache.”

What is a Medicaid Qualified Annuity?

Aging in Place

By Karen Cifala
Being the bearer of serious news is always hard, especially when the subjects are about aging, money, and death. Oh, and I forgot, taxes. I want readers to know that I am NOT always this somber — sometimes you have to just shake your head and smile. As cartoonist Roz Chast reminds us in her graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, life can be full of heartbreak, denial, guilt, and just plain stubbornness, and no matter what you do, it never feels like you are doing enough to make things better.
I love meeting new people with new ideas that might actually help someone. I recently met Tim Procita from Northwestern Mutual at a NAS (Network for Aging Support) meeting — meets once a month at Westminster Canterbury. He piqued my interest in this thing called a Medicaid Qualified Annuity. Tim says that this type of annuity can get around the Medicaid threshold of having assets of $2000 or less, and is designed to prevent the healthy spouse from becoming destitute. I thought, Wow, this Medicaid Qualified Annuity might be a perfect tool for spouses like my mom and dad.
Here is a good example of where a Medicaid Qualified Annuity might work for a couple: One spouse needs to be in a long-term care facility or a nursing home, and the other is relatively healthy and can still live alone. This annuity can help preserve their joint assets without having to pay out-of-pocket for the spouse that needs care. Sounds too good, right? Read on. Once the spouse is admitted to the long-term care facility, the Medicaid Qualified Annuity can be set up, making the spouse in the care facility eligible for Medicaid.
To make it clearer, consider this: A couple has $250,000 of CD’s at a bank, and the wife has $100,000 in an IRA, and they jointly own a car and house. The joint CDs and IRA would be rolled over into the Medicaid Qualified Annuity, subsequently taking the care facility spouse’s name off the CD and IRA. In most states the purchase of an annuity is not considered to be a transfer for purposes of eligibility for Medicaid — it is considered a purchase of an investment. This makes it a “non-countable income stream,” and as long as the income is in the name of the healthy spouse, it doesn’t create an issue. Easy, right?  Read on: There is always a hitch somewhere.
There are 4 qualifiers that make the investment into the Medicaid Qualified Annuity a Non-Transferred annuity:

The annuity must be irrevocable, and you will not have the right to take the funds out.

You must receive back at least what you put into the annuity.

If the annuity is purchased with a term, it must be shorter than your life expectancy.

The state must be named the remainder beneficiary up to the amount that Medicaid paid on the behalf of the other spouse.

An annuity is a contract with an insurance company in which the owner pays a certain amount of money to the company and the company sends the owner a monthly check for the rest of his or her life. With the Medicaid Qualified Annuity, I believe whatever monies left in the annuity account upon the death of the “healthy” spouse are bequeathed back to the state. Really? Whatever for?
The easiest answer is that the state Medicaid program that is paying $10,000 or more to the care facility for the other spouse would like some money back, and Medicaid will be reimbursed up to the amount of the Medicaid paid for either spouse. Henceforth, the state is the “primary beneficiary” for the Medicaid Qualified Annuity and the family heirs are second in line.
I asked Tim why everyone wouldn’t do this if it’s such a good thing.  One reason people don’t take advantage more often is that there are a couple of downsides. One downside is that a Medicaid bed must be available to the care facility spouse (which are sometimes limited and have waiting lists); also Medicaid dictates where and what kind of care will be received by the “in care” spouse.
Even though this article is designed to introduce you to a very powerful planning tool for spouses, it has to be used in the right circumstances. To get the full picture and to truly identify your personal needs, consult with an elder law attorney before making any decisions. They will be able to help you strategize and help you make the best decisions for you and your spouse before you fall off the moving sidewalk called life.
Thank you, Tim Procita, for introducing me to this helpful planning tool. Tim is a CFP/CLU Financial Advisor, and works hand-in-hand with many of the elder law attorneys in our area. Feel free to contact him at Northwestern Mutual by phone (304) 671-4551 or by email
Karen Cifala is a realtor for Remax Roots in Berryville.  Contact her on her cell 303-817-9374 or by email should you have any real estate questions or just want to suggest another article to write about. 

Hats Off To The Women’s Club of Clarke County

We often hear it said that things were simpler a hundred years ago. In some ways, that’s true. Parents didn’t spend time each day driving kids to soccer and dance and extracurricular activities. Households didn’t spend upwards of $400 a month for cable, cell phones, internet, and other connectivity. And the list goes on.

On the other hand, if you got an infection there was no access to antibiotics; if the breadwinner in the family — usually the dad — died, there was no social safety net. There were no income and few service programs to assist the elderly in their final years, for which most people didn’t live long enough to qualify for anyway.
Yes, life was simpler because everyone knew the hand they’d been dealt, then lived with it.
A lot has changed over a century.
One constant has been the Women’s Club of Clarke County. The club may have changed over the years to adapt to the needs and cultural changes of the times, but their motto and purpose has remained consistent: “Not what we give, but what we share.”
Like many effective civic organizations, it combines elements of a social group with a commitment to service, like the scholarship fund started in 1931 which continues today.
In these odd political times, we hear talk of American Exceptionalism — the idea that the United States is somehow different than all other nations of the world. The conversation typically focuses on individualism, manifest destiny, and other concepts that, in fact, we share with many cultures worldwide.
What often gets overlooked is how social and service organizations are woven into the fabric of life in America. History shows us we didn’t invent these organizations, but we adopted them and innovated them to an extent that now nonprofit groups and social organizations from around the world look to the U.S. for ideas on how small groups of concerned citizens play such special roles in our daily lives. As life has become more complex, their role has become even more essential.
The Women’s Club of Clarke County is a treasured example. The group celebrates its hundredth birthday November 1.
We’d like to say Happy Birthday and thanks to the club. And while we’re at it, thanks to everyone who stays involved in community life with the group of their choice. Giving of ourselves, learning about the world around us, and sharing with others — that’s something we can all truly be proud of.

A Red-Shouldered Hawks’ Nest

By Doug Pifer

We’ve been watching a number of live cams of hawk, eagle and owl nests online. But it’s even more exciting to watch a pair of raptors nesting live from our own home.
Our property is part of the home territory of a pair of red-shouldered hawks. They seem to go about their business undisturbed by us. They use our pasture fences as hunting perches. Sometimes they just rest there with their buff colored breast feathers fluffed out. During the past six months we’ve grown used to hearing their calls and seeing them fly by with their black and white checkered wings and black-banded tails.
Towards winter’s end we noticed the hawks became more vocal. Sometimes they perched next to each other. They soared together, diving at each other and calling. My wife started saying they must have a nest nearby.
We learned the whereabouts of the nest in early March—it had been before our eyes all the time. We saw one hawk fly up to another one perched on the limb of a very tall sycamore that adjoins our property. Through the kitchen binoculars I saw them briefly mate. As they sat together afterwards, it was easy to see the male hawk was slightly smaller and trimmer than his mate, although they were colored exactly alike. It would be hard to distinguish them unless they were side by side. Both had the bright rufous patch at the bend of the wing that gives them their name. They had matching raptor expressions with short, hooked bills and piercing dark eyes.
Focusing the binoculars for a better look, we suddenly spied the nest right beside them. It was a cluster of surprisingly small twigs and branches about the size and shape of a big mixing bowl, hidden in the crotch of the sycamore among its white mottled limbs.
In the weeks since, we’ve heard them call repeatedly from the tree. If my chores take me into the nearby fields they often protest. The other day through the binoculars we saw fresh greenery lining the nest, absolute proof that the nest was active. Many kinds of birds, including raptors, carry fresh greenery to line their nests throughout the time they incubate their eggs and feed their young. Nobody knows exactly why.
Later that evening we observed the nest through the spotting scope. Dark raptor eyes peered from the softly feathered face at the nest in the big sycamore tree. Once I saw her gape her mouth, opening bright yellow behind the dark hooked bill, and call out.
My wife looked through the scope and saw the pair switch nest duty. One flew up to the nest and the other soon flew off. Another time one hawk flew off the nest and down into the dense cedars. Was it after prey or more evergreens to line the nest?
We expect to learn much from “our” nesting hawks.

Grist for Locke’s Mill

By Wendy Gooditis

At our dinner table, it has always been a favorite pastime to go around the table and share memories. On an average day, the question is about recent memories: “What was your favorite part of the day?” All answers are permitted, and often there are more than one happy memory being shared and stored away in the vault of family history.

On holidays, with more chairs filled and more generations conversing, the questions are often “What was Thanksgiving like when you were little?” These memories set us all on the inviting path into the past, down which we travel together, exploring many side trails along the way.

With my own parents, I still ask many questions about their own histories; fun ones like, “What kind of car did you learn to drive in?” And serious ones like, “What do you remember about the Great Depression?” The answers are often educational, sometimes surprising, and always fascinating.

A favorite memory of my father’s is one he has told me often and vividly enough that I feel I have lived it, too. He describes how, as a very young child in small-town Alabama, he used to be allowed to visit his father at the grist-mill the family owned for some years. My father describes the all-consuming sensory experience: the flour dust hanging in the air and giving every object an otherworldly pallor, the warm smell of grain against grinding stone, and most enthralling, all the sounds which made up the deep thrumming of a grinding mill, a noise almost more felt than heard, rising from feet through belly up spine to vibrate rhythmically in the ears. The tireless splash of the sluice driving the rattling wood-against-wood of the gears, turning the weighty, whirring grindstones.

I love to think of my father as that little boy, perched on a sack of corn meal, watching his father tend his mill through the flour-dust fog.

So when I got the chance to go see/smell/hear the wonderfully restored Locke’s Mill on a grinding day, I accepted with alacrity. For me, an antique mill gathers the several threads of history of locale, human ingenuity, and lifestyle in one irresistible spot. Who were the people who searched for the right spot on the right stream and decided that enough people needed a mill to make it worth the huge undertaking of building one? How on earth did those people know to order millstones from somewhere in Europe where the hardest stone could be had, and just how long did it take those stones to arrive, and by what conveyance? And stepping forward through the decades, at what point did the job as miller originally embarked upon from necessity or inheritance change to career choice and gradually to lifestyle?

The patient and wonderful owners of Locke’s Mill and the recently rebuilt miller’s house answered my many questions with enthusiasm and justifiable pride. I was charmed to be permitted to explore the entire, beautifully restored building – new siding, restored windows, some new plank floors. Most of the old timber structure is original, but a major huge beam and a couple of stout supports are new, though they are as gorgeously rustic as their aged neighbors.

The flume and sluice (which divert part of the mill stream to turn the mill wheel), the mill wheel itself, the fantastic wooden gears are all sturdy, meticulously restored, and functioning as they should. I stood and watched the rye grain pouring in and the rye flour pouring out and thought about the life of a modern-day miller in a small, antique mill.

The good news is that there is a living to be made still, thanks in part to the modern sensibilities which draw people to organic and locally produced consumable products of all sorts. The current millers entered mill ownership sideways. They thought they were buying a beautifully-sited spot on the river, from which to base their passion for kayaking with groups of friends. How heavenly to end the day on the banks of the river which had provided the day’s enjoyment! The property happened to have a run-down old cabin — oh, and an abandoned mill.

Over time, the lure of restoration led the owners to rebuild the old cabin into a modern, comfortable house, and then on to the revitalizing of the mill itself. It has been a labor of love, with the fascination for the highest and best use of a mill — namely, milling — gradually becoming a part of their lives, however unintended. Without seeking actual business, the millers found themselves with two good contracts for the regular production of organic flours. Because these contracts arrived on their doorstep of their own volition, it is the millers’ strong feeling that, on top of this existing income, there is plenty more demand out there for someone who wishes to make a living as a miller.

It occurs to me to reflect on a lifestyle trend which — as evidenced by the interest in organics and local production — is attracting people across generations. I know a couple from Bethesda coming up on retirement who want to invest in some land with which to give young organic farmers a place to start out. I know a young couple with two small children who are saving to buy a small farm and live off the grid. Will I get to meet a budding miller with an interest in living a simpler, rural life and contributing to the organic and local movement? I sure hope so.
NPR did a story about young people reviving the back-to-the-land and off-the-grid lifestyle. The story wound up with the statement, “This new generation of farmers have made farming cool again.”

And a paragraph from another story on living the simple life: “A central and exciting task for our times is consciously designing ourselves into a sustainable and meaningful future, from the personal level outwards. In envisioning what this future could look like, it is important to not be bound by old stereotypes and to instead see the realism and the beauty of simpler ways of living.” (HuffPost)

When I stood on the cushiony spring grass, gazing over the sparkling Shenandoah, hearing the splash and creak of the mill wheel behind me, I found it easy to imagine pursuing this endeavor. And so many people have work they do at home these days, and those hours of staring at a computer screen could be beautifully balanced by rewarding work in the mill across the driveway. Some enterprising someone is going to have the best of several worlds!

As you have probably gathered, Locke’s Mill is for sale, along with the modern miller’s house. It stands on 2.5 acres of beautiful riverbank with spectacular views of river and mountains. The house has three spacious bedrooms, three full bathrooms, huge windows, a stone fireplace, 6-burner gas stove, and on and on. Remember what I said about the best of several worlds? As if to satisfy that particular statement, the house has a simple modern sleekness that balances the mill’s rustic antiquity to perfection.

If you decide to be the next Locke’s Mill miller, I hope very much that you’ll allow me to bring my aged father to sit on a sack of grain in contemplation, once in a while on a grinding day.

Wendy Gooditis is a real estate agent on the Chip Schutte Real Estate Team with ReMax Roots at 101 East Main St., Berryville, Va.; (540)955-0911. She would be happy to answer any questions you may have about real estate, and can be reached at or at (540)533-0840.

A Legacy of Music And Harmony

After 32 years of service, Dwight and Catherine Brown bid Clarke County farewell

STORY By Edith Welliver
Photos by Jennifer Lee

At the conclusion of Berryville’s ecumenical Good Friday service, with a congregation from a number of churches present, the host pastor regretfully announced that Berryville will be losing the Rev. Dwight L. Brown of the Clarke County Parish of the Episcopal Church. Dwight with his wife Catherine will be moving to Moscow, Idaho, her hometown, when he leaves the full-time ministry for whatever adventures semi-retirement will bring. The three churches they have served — Grace Episcopal, St. Mary’s, and Wickliffe, all historic contributors to the spiritual and cultural life of Clarke County — have relied on the Browns for 32 years for leadership in a wide variety of community services.

The Browns came to this parish in 1984. Dwight, a New Englander, had graduated from Trinity College in 1976 and worked in sales and as a hospital chaplain for two years in Idaho, where he met Catherine. At Virginia Theological Seminary he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 1981, followed promptly by his ordination and their marriage. He served as an assistant priest for three years at Trinity Episcopal Church in Arlington, where their son Timothy was born.

By 1984, with his academic and practical preparation complete and with Cathy by his side, Dwight was ready to take the reins of his own congregation for this thirty-two year ride. In that time he has buried and married, baptized, counseled, confirmed, and shared the joys and sorrows of generations of Clarke County families. His daughter Elizabeth was born here, and both children attended Berryville schools. Today Timothy is a consultant with a firm in Austin, Texas, now on assignment with Boeing in Seattle, and Elizabeth teaches scuba diving in Hawaii, where her parents hope to join her when Idaho winters get too hard and long.

On arrival in Berryville, Dwight inherited the care of an 1857 building, housing a congregation established in 1832. His predecessors had added a Sunday School chapel in 1902. Around that time the diocese established St. Mary’s as a mission church to encourage black congregants to stay in the Episcopal Church.

In the 1960s the diocese ended its mission relationship with St. Mary’s, expecting that the congregations would integrate. However, both churches have continued side by side, sharing Father Dwight’s ministry for weekly worship.
He also holds the service for an annual homecoming celebration for Wickliffe, a chapel that ceased having weekly services in 1918. The Grace Church Sunday School building gradually grew modest additions until, by 2002, Father Dwight’s worshiping families and program had grown to need a greatly expanded home. They succeeded in building the existing parish hall and office wing with a roomy parking area — space for more than Robert E. Lee’s Traveler, who was hitched to the post on the Church Street side of the lot.

The expansion continues for the dead as for the living. Grace Church is acquiring a neighboring house with a yard suitable for expanding the 19th-century cemetery. The plan is to create a columbarium to receive and memorialize cremated ashes.

When the Browns arrived, Clarke Parish had no Sunday School or Christian Education program. Cathy Brown, trained as an elementary school teacher with a Master of Education degree, initiated an active program. For well over 25 years, she taught, facilitated, and directed Christian learning for the church. She took many junior- and senior-high school students on a variety of ski trips, retreats, and missions. These included mission work trips to Episcopal Church camps in Virginia, Idaho, and Alaska.
The mission work locally helped Habitat for Humanity, and teams made trips to New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina and to Staten Island following Super Storm Sandy. Cathy took groups of teens across the country by train to spend a week on retreat at Priest Lake, Idaho. Another group spent a week whitewater rafting on the Salmon and Snake rivers.

She taught numerous Confirmation classes for teens and adults, led forty-hour famines, and coordinated countless fundraisers to finance trips and activities. As the Browns depart, Clarke Parish has a vibrant Christian education program, now under the expert leadership of Ms. Robin McFillen.

The community impact of the Browns’ three churches has extended well beyond the limits of their own buildings. As a senior partner in the Ministerial Fellowship, Dwight has enlisted the cooperation of other Clarke County organizations — religious and civic — in a whole list of projects: FISH food and clothing distributions, the Blue Ridge Hospice, the Stop-Hunger-Now program with Rotary, the Winchester Area Temporary Thermal Shelter (WATTS) with Ruritan and other churches, the high school baccalaureate services and the backpack ministry for school children on weekends and school holidays.

Several board members of the Josephine Museum attend St. Mary’s. Dwight serves on the Social Services Board. Grace Church offers interdenominational Lenten Wednesday noon services, at which Dwight, an able pianist, accompanies the hymns before luncheons in the parish hall.

Grace Church participates in observances of Good Friday, Thanksgiving, annual “pulpit swaps,” and other community events. An A.A. chapter meets in their building. The congregation of St. Bridget’s met there until they could build their own church home, and now the Church of New Beginnings meets in the Sunday School chapel weekly.
Grace Church sponsors a Boy Scout troop in addition to its own Sunday School, including an adult class that Father Dwight teaches. He visits frequently with elderly members at Westminster-Canterbury retirement community and on rotation with other clergy at Greenfield and Godfrey House.

Dwight’s ministry also connects Clarke County with the wider world. Nearby he has helped to promote the Episcopal Church camp at Shrinemont, and has met with regional church representatives as their dean. Far away, Dwight is a canon in a diocese in Central Uganda, where he has taken part in three mission trips and on three occasions has been able to bring their Bishop here. The Grace congregation has worked to provide safe water sources for several Ugandan villages. The concern now is to help the African and American churches understand each other’s cultural anomalies: We to accept their practice of polygamy, they to accept our gay relationships.

The Browns have given a great deal to Clarke County in 32 years, and there is more to come. On May 28, St. Mary’s will hold its annual Strawberry Festival, the day before Dwight’s final service at Grace Church. That afternoon, May 29, the churches plan a reception at 2pm for the community at the rectory beside Grace’s grounds.

On June 18, as part of the moving process, the Browns will hold a sale of the household surplus that they will not be taking along to Idaho. They will dedicate the proceeds from the sale to youth ministry.

Too soon, whenever Berryville hears the 1957 Harry Byrd chimes from the Grace Church bell tower, we will feel a sweet, sad nostalgia at the reminder of the music and harmony that Dwight and Cathy Brown leave us as their legacy.