­We want to hear from you — comments, opinions, suggestions. Submit those items by:

We reserve the right to edit for grammar, style and length, with a 250-word maximum for acceptance.

January 2018

Bill Sherrod, Editor


I interviewed Mount Laurel resident Diane Brown, a former officer with the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office, for a Crossroads article on Mount Laurel, Virginia, published in the November-December 2017 issue of Cooperative Living.With Ms. Brown’s permission/approval, I’m writing this letter.

Ms. Brown’s sister, Hattie Brown, 48, was last seen on May 16, 2009, at a Sheetz gas station at the intersection of Rt. 501 and U.S. 58 in the Riverdale area of South Boston in Halifax County. On July 7, 2009, Hattie Brown’s fire-gutted car, a silver 2003 Volkswagen Jetta, was discovered in a remote field on farmland in the Hyco community of Halifax County. Despite efforts by both law enforcement and the family to find Hattie Brown, no resolution has been reached regarding her disappearance.

In 2016 there was an official declaration of Hattie Brown’s death; a Celebration of Life in her memory was held on Aug. 20 at Bethel Grove Baptist Church in Mount Laurel/Clover. She was divorced and had no children.

“My sister served in the U.S. Army from September 1980 until her retirement in June 1998 as Sergeant First Class. She served as a drill sergeant and was the first female in her unit to be a paratrooper. She served in Desert Storm, worked in border communication, received the Kuwait Liberation Medal and earned three Bronze Stars,” Diane Brown says. “She was also featured in a New York Times article about women [in the military]. She was a great cook, loved to read a good book and had a lovable, warm personality. She cared for everybody.”

Ms. Brown remains hopeful that her sister’s disappearance will be solved. She says, “The case will be solved, there is no doubt in my mind. I have a strong belief in God and do a lot of talking to Him.”

There is a $25,000 reward for any information leading to the whereabouts of Hattie Brown, and the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator(s).

Ms. Brown is asking anyone who has any information, no matter how seemingly insignificant, to contact: The Virginia State Police 1-800-552-0962, Halifax County Sheriff’s Department 434-476-3334, and/or Halifax County Crime Line 434-476-8445.

— Audrey T. Hingley, Contributing Writer, Cooperative Living


In the November-December issue of Cooperative Living, on page 14 of the “Christmas on Tangier” article, the inset photo is actually an image of Robert Reed Downtown Park on Chincoteague Island, decorated for “Christmas by the Sea.”

— Kay Gelletly, Chincoteague Island


Contrary to the claims of Trevor Berwick’s letter in the October issue, scientific theory is not fiction. There never was a sailor on a ship called the Pequod who said, “Call me Ishmael,” nor was there a great white whale named Moby Dick, nor did Herman Melville mean us to think so. That is fiction. A scientific theory is quite another thing.

The aim of fiction is enjoyment, or perhaps a kind of enlightenment. The aim of theory is truth.


A theory in science purports to tell us how some part of the world goes. Some theories do that; they are the true ones. Some do not. About some theories we may, at any given time, be unsure whether they are true or false. Scientists put these theories to the test. That is what experiments are for.

The theory that human activities are driving global warming may be true or it may be false. Some think we do not now have enough evidence to say whether it is true or false. But fiction it is not.

— Norman Melchert, via email


I’m writing in response to the October Mailbag letter whose writer was appalled by Margo Oxendine’s method of ladybug disposal, as described in the August Rural Living column.

I am also a Virginian, born in Bath County, and I’ve lived in numerous locations inside and outside the state. I would suggest that before giving advice on how to dispose of ladybugs, you travel back to Bath County in October and November HistoryMystery when the leaves start to fall, especially after a cold night and on a sunny afternoon, when we are inundated with ladybugs, and see how successful you would be by gently putting a 3x5 card under all the ladybugs to take outside and when you open the door, more ladybugs swarm in.

In June 1991 my husband was painting outside one morning, came in for lunch and when he went back, he could not continue, as our house was covered with ladybugs that had been dumped on us.

These non-native ladybugs have not been beneficial for our garden plants. They may not eat fabric or household items, but they do bite, stink and stain where they leave a squiggly trail. Our front porch ceiling, back porch siding and all areas of woodwork are covered with their stain that is difficult to remove without serious scrubbing.

Every fall we are burdened with these nasty ladybugs and my husband has to sweep up thousands from his shop and outbuildings, as I do the same on my porches.

— Nobel Byer, Warm Springs


Editor’s Note: In the November-December issue of Cooperative Living, Jesse Meadows of Lyndhurst requested readers’ assistance in identifying an antique tool that he had found in Pennsylvania years ago. We received dozens of responses to Jesse’s request for help. Writers offered several different possibilities, ranging from a candle-wick trimmer to a device used for splitting cedar shingles. The correct identification, we think, was offered by many readers: an ice pick patented by Ethan Rogers of Cohoes, New York, in 1885.

Below at left is the photo Jesse sent that was published in the November-December issue, and next to it is the patent drawing for the tool.