During the year 2000, were making our way around
Virginia, each issue visiting a small town and meeting some of the folks who make up the
heart of electric co-op country. On this years seventh stop, well be...
Down Home in Lively by Lisa Valdrighi, Contributing Writer
Download in PDF Format Steeped in Southern hospitality and rich in history, this community epitomizes life in
Most visitors to Virginias lower
Northern Neck unwittingly overlook the tiny town of Lively. Spanning just a mile in its
commercial section, the village is steeped in Southern hospitality and rich in history.
Its often said passersby can pass through the town in the blink of an eye. But
the sleepy little town, where treasures and friendly smiles are abundant, deserves a long
Mrs. Katy Bush, who retired on June 1, had
served as postmaster in Lively for 30 years.
Mrs. Katy Bush, known simply by many as "Miss Katy," handed out smiles
every day for 30 years at the Lively Post Office. A fixture in the tiny town, she retired
as postmaster on June 1. Bush moved to Lively with her husband, Eugene, in 1956 and raised
four sons in the quiet, carefree neighborhood.
"Its the caring that people have for each other [that makes this town
special]," says Bush.
For three decades, shes been a source of information for locals and come-heres.
The town post office, a hub of activity, is where townsfolk can find out all the latest
In fact, says Bush, some people think she knows everything.
Hanging above Livelys main drag is the
towns new time and temperature sign. The sign was purchased with funds raised by the
towns annual Christmas celebration. Next on the improvement list are "Welcome
to Lively" signs and an extension of the sidewalks.
"A lady came in one day and said her neighbor was miffed at her," explains
Bush. "Someone had died in her neighbors family and she didnt know it.
She told her neighbor she would have said something if only she knew and her neighbor
said, Well you should know; youve been to the post office, havent
Such is life in small-town America, and Lively is the epitome of that.
The town has just two restaurants, a few shops, a local swimming pool, and a club that
hosts bingo on Friday nights. In a time of hustling and bustling, big city development and
commercial boom, Lively is a throwback to a quieter, peaceful way of life.
But as Bush explains, its the people that make Lively and every other country
town across America like it special. According to Bush, the population of the town is
difficult to determine.
"So many folks living outside of town call their home Lively," she says.
Phyllis Jernigan (right), manager at The Perfect
Touch, shows off some of the fine home accessories and gift items at the store, which has
been located in Lively for just over a decade.
"It used to be," says Butch Jenkins, local proprietor and county
supervisor, "that people right here in the town limits, so to speak, called Lively
home. But now people as far away as a mile or two say they live in Lively."
The post office has just 396 boxes, and since the town is not incorporated, an exact
resident count is hard to determine.
Livelys a kind of Norman Rockwell town, where folks can still leave their doors
unlocked, stroll with their dogs late at night, and let their kids walk to the corner
"Its just easy here," says Phyllis Jernigan, manager at The
Perfect Touch. "Theres not a lot of traffic. Its real safe with nice old
buildings and great people."
Jernigans shop is one of the must-see stops along a tour of the town. Located in
the old Lively Oaks manor house, built in 1686, it offers an array of gifts, home and
garden accessories, and gourmet foods.
Epping Forest Antiques has been in the Jesse
family for three generations. The business was founded by current owner Louise
Jesses grandmother in the dining room at Epping Forest.
Located next door is Epping Forest Antiques, founded 45 years ago by Louise
Jesses grandmother in the dining room at historic Epping Forest. She is the
third generation Jesse to operate the shop. She and Jenkins operate the antique store in
conjunction with an estate sale business.
Jesse is the daughter of the former owners of Epping Forest, the birthsite of Mary Ball
Washington, mother of George Washington. Located just a mile northeast of town, Epping
Forest was built between 1780-1800. The original structure includes a full basement, above
which is the birthing room where historians believe Mary Ball may have been born.
Many of the Ball family graves are located just east of Lively at St. Marys White
Chapel, founded in 1669. One of the oldest and most interesting churches in Virginia, the
present building was constructed in 1740. Mary Ball Washingtons father was a member
of the vestry.
The home of Robert O. Norris, former state
senator, is undergoing renovations. It is located in Livelys commercial district.
Also still standing in Lively is the home of former state senator Robert O. Norris. The
towns name evolved from a farm in the Norris family, the Lively Oaks Plantation,
founded by Thomas Norris in 1817. The heart of the town has shifted over the years. Its
original post office was Lively Oak, established in 1833. It was moved to a nearby
village, Bellwood Mill, in 1889. Belwood Mills Post Office, its spelling changed, became
Lively Post Office in 1896.
The town was once home to a car dealership, egg businesses, a pool hall and several
barber shops. Today, the towns main street features an antique shop, a bank, several
specialty shops, a drugstore and physicians office, an insurance agency, a
homebuilder, a real estate office, two restaurants and a long-standing grocery store, John
The pool hall is no longer in operation, but avid cue-handlers can still enjoy a
billiard game at The Corner, a restaurant and watering hole in the heart of the town. A
white frame building once operated as a Texaco station, The Corner dates back to the
1920s, when it first operated as an ice cream parlor. Gradually changing over the years
from a general store to a family restaurant, it has become the towns meeting place,
with clientele including county administrators, supervisors, teachers and auto mechanics.
The Corner is known for its king-size Buster Burgers and Thursday "Shrimp
Just down the street is the towns other restaurant and local hangout, The Oaks.
Nancy and Marty Carter purchased the business two years ago. Over its 40 years, the
business has been operated as Lively Drugs soda fountain and as a pizza place before
becoming a casual, family restaurant, known for its ribs and steaks.
Kim Robinson assists a customer at Lively Drugs.
The drugstore and adjacent physicians office have been located in Lively for over 40
Lively Drugs and the adjacent physicians office, now CMG Family Medical Center,
have also been fixtures in the town since the late 1950s. Although the medical office has
changed locations and names, the faces of the doctor and nurses have remained the same.
Dr. Norman R. "Rocky" Tingle still makes housecalls and late night checks
on patients, just as his father, Dr. Norman R. "Jiggs" Tingle did some 40 years
ago when he opened the Pierce-Tingle Clinic in downtown Lively.
The spirit of volunteerism is also evident in the towns volunteer rescue
organizations. Amazingly, Livelys one volunteer fire department has 45 volunteers;
its rescue squad has 38 volunteers.
Both organizations are supported solely through donations and fundraising. The Upper
Lancaster Rescue Squad, which was established in 1983 and operates its four units out of
an 11-year-old building, raises its money through spaghetti dinners, bake sales and small
The Upper Lancaster Volunteer Fire Department, which opened a substation in conjunction
with the rescue squad in nearby Ottoman several years ago, was established in 1948. With
six fire trucks, including a brush truck, two pumpers and two tankers, it hosts the annual
Lively Firemens Festival every August as its major fund-raiser. The event draws
thousands to the tiny town for a parade, arts and crafts, childrens rides,
homecookin and street dance.
Artie Ransone, president of the Lively Community Association, has been a fixture
in Livelys commercial district as an owner and manager of several businesses there
for over 25 years. He came home to Lively to run his family business, and in 1997, started
his own, Window Direct.
"I refuse to work in the city," says Ransone, who lives just two miles from
his store. "With my family property here and my mom here, I wouldnt be anywhere
else. Someone who just moved here said to me the other day, everyone is so friendly
The Corner, in the heart of Lively, is a popular
after-work gathering place for the locals. Friends meet at the tiny restaurant to discuss
the days events and local politics.
The Community Association, which began as the Lively Businessmens
Association some 30 years ago, has evolved into a community organization, sponsoring the
towns annual Lively Christmas celebration, with a parade, town tree lighting, live
Nativity and visit from St. Nick. Money from the event is used for town improvements. The
association recently purchased a Lively time and temperature sign that hangs over Main
Street. Plans for future improvements include extending the sidewalks up and down Main
Street and purchasing Welcome to Lively signs.
Patricia Lewis, former chairman of the Christmas project, believes Lively has a
great deal of potential because its a wonderful place to live and work.
"Others may not share the same view," says Lewis. "But having grown up
in Lively, its always been home. And I think its a wonderful benefit to be
able to live and work in your hometown, where everybody knows everybody."
If You Go...
visit to the village of Lively would be complete without stops at The Corner
(804-462-5700) and The Oaks (804-462-7050) restaurants, favorite gathering spots of
the locals. The Corner, serving up the famous kingsize Buster Burger, and The Oaks, with
its casual family dining, are two of the best places for information and directions to
points of interest.
Historic sites include Epping Forest, the birthplace of Mary Ball
Washington, mother of George Washington. The home is located a mile-and-a-half northwest
of town on Route 622 and is privately owned. Louise Jesse, whose family once owned the
home, now operates Epping Forest Antiques (804-462-7960) in Lively. The business
was established in 1953 in the dining room at Epping Forest by Jesses grandmother.
Another historic site not to miss is St. Marys White Chapel,
at the intersections of Route 201 and Route 354 just east of town. The original church was
built in 1669, and the current building was constructed in 1741. St. Marys Parish
united with Christ Church Parish in 1752. Tombs of the Ball family, ancestors and
relatives of George Washington are located there. With an outdoor information center, the
church is open for tours on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. For large groups or private
tours, call 804-462-7371 or 804-462-5908.
Other points of interest, not open to the public, are Fox Hill
Plantation, built in 1761 and added to in 1803, and Lively Oaks, a pre-1817 Tidewater
Be sure to also visit The Perfect Touch, a unique gift and home
accessories shop, located in the old Lively Oaks manor house on Route 3. The original home
was built in 1686. The store, which carries everything from gourmet foods to garden items,
is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
St. Mary's White Chapel
The town hosts several major events during the year, the first of which
occurs this month. The annual Upper Lancaster Volunteer Firemens Festival,
featuring a grand parade, arts and crafts, music and food, will be held on Saturday, Aug.
26. Continued favorites are the carnival rides, raffles, mudbog and street dance from 8
p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday night. New to this years festival are lawn mower races. The
feature parade heads down Main Street Lively at 1 p.m. All activities are held at the
Another festival not to miss is the annual Christmas Parade and Tree
of Lights sponsored by the Lively Community Association. This years Lively
Christmas celebration, featuring an afternoon parade, live Nativity, visit from Santa
Claus, childrens shopping area, homemade soups and baked goods, and community tree
lighting, will be held on Sunday, Dec. 3.
To reach the village of Lively, follow 360 east from Richmond, in Warsaw,
take Route 3 east and go approximately 20 miles.