Tell Us Your Favorite Things

by Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Editor

Richard Johnstone
Richard Johnstone

Based on childhood reminiscence and family lore, I’m pretty sure that the only time my grandparents went to a movie theatre between 1939 (Gone with the Wind) and their demise late in the century was in 1965, when they went with my family to see The Sound of Music, with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. They loved that movie. They loved it so much, it seems they never felt the need to go to another movie ever again. My mother loves that movie, too, to the point of owning a copy of it. My wife and daughter both love the movie as well, with the soundtrack being one of the few records my wife owned as a child.

The point is, The Sound of Music — the movie and the songs, especially My Favorite Things — is, you guessed it, one of my family’s favorite things.

What are your favorite things? Cooperative Living wants to know. And, no, we’re not looking for “Best Place in the Commonwealth to View Raindrops on Roses,” and there’s no category for “Best Set of Whiskers on a Virginia Kitten.” And there’s not even a category for “Brightest Virginia Copper Kettle,” much less “Warmest Old Dominion Woolen Mittens.” So turn off My Favorite Things, put away the soundtrack to The Sound of Music, and put on your thinking cap. We want to know your favorite things, in 10 absolutely random categories selected by our magazine staff on a totally unscientific basis.

The only thing these categories share is an unapologetic passion for Virginia. So share with us your preferences in 10 “best of” categories, and we’ll share the results of our third annual “Reader’s Choice Awards” in our August 2006 issue.

Send us a postcard, a letter, or an e-mail (to our managing editor, Bill Sherrod, at bsherrod@odec.com) listing your name, address, and phone number, your electric cooperative, the number or name of the category(ies) in which you’re voting, and your selection in each category to: Reader’s Choice Awards, c/o Cooperative Living, P.O. Box 2340, Glen Allen, VA 23058-2340. Or, you may vote online by clicking here. By whichever method you choose to vote, the deadline for entries is May 1.

Without further ado, the categories are:

 1) Best Virginia Antique Shop

 2) Best Virginia Musician or Band

 3) Best Virginia Crabcake

 4) Favorite Virginia Lake

 5) Best Virginia Hiking or Biking Trail

 6) Favorite Virginia NASCAR Driver

 7) Favorite Virginia Author

 8) Best Virginia Pick-Your-Own Produce Farm

 9) Best Virginia High School Spirit

10) Most Admired Virginian

 You may vote in any or all of the 10 categories, but please put each vote on a separate sheet of paper, or in a separate e-mail. All your votes can be sent together.

To prime the pump, and perhaps please a few readers and rile up many more of you, I’ll share some of my picks in these categories. I will add a caveat, though: This is only my spur-of-the-moment, knee-jerk response to these categories, and there are many, many other worthy Virginia people and places that deserve votes, so PLEASE GET BUSY VOTING!

My initial reaction would be to vote for:

 1) Almost any antique shop on Route 11 in the Shenandoah Valley.

 2) Ella Fitzgerald (remember, we never said the people had to be living!).

 3) The Island House Restaurant, in Wachapreague on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

 4) One of the “mountain” brothers (or are lakes feminine?), Smith Mountain Lake, or Mountain Lake.

 5)  Almost any trail (strike the word “almost”) in Highland County.

 6) Either of the Burton brothers (it’s definitely brothers in this case, unlike my uncertainty in number 4), Jeff or Ward of South Boston.

 7) A close call. But I pick Annie Dillard over Tom Wolfe, by a wolf’s whisker.

 8) Ashland Berry Farm.

 9) A tie between Central of Lunenburg High School and Bath County High School. The love of these communities for their high school football teams is legendary.

10) The late Thomas Cannon, a retired Richmond postal carrier of modest means, who lived in near-poverty in order to give away virtually all that he had to help those in need.

Okay, okay — I know … I chose more than one winner in several of the categories, so it may seem unfair that we’re asking you to choose only one winner per category.

But please, send us your votes in these 10 very-Virginia categories. And before you begin playing the song My Favorite Things again, remember, we DON’T want to know the best place to see wild geese flying with the moon on their wings, or the best mountain peak to experience snowflakes that stay on your nose and eyelashes. And, no, we’re not looking for the best place in our beloved Commonwealth for crisp apple strudels or schnitzel with noodles.

Nor, for that matter, are we looking for the best place to find a silver-white winter melting into spring … In fact, it’s hard to even remember the last time we had a silver-white winter here. And speaking of winters, I imagine being curled up in a cushy armchair next to a roaring fire, with a good book and a cup of cocoa, alternately reading, sipping the warm chocolate, and looking out through a frosty pane on snow gently whooshing down on a rolling white landscape. Now THAT would be one of my favorite things.

So, please, look at our list, and send us YOUR favorites!


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