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March-April 2020

Bill Sherrod, Editor

KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

I read the February issue of your magazine and wanted to thank you for this excellent issue of your periodical. I enjoyed and got a lot out of the articles on the Lost Generation, Beacon of Hope, Sweat Equity and Vint Hill Station — well, the whole issue for that matter. Keep up the good work!

Ed Boesch, Front Royal, Va.

READER PRAISES FEBRUARY COVER STORY

I write with reflection and praise for the February 2020 cover story articles by Steven Johnson: “On the Outside, Looking In” and “Our School, Four Counties as well as Segregation to Preservation.” It is with deep reflection and remorse that there was ever a need to write about such things and with praise for him in capturing the story of incredible sacrifice paid by those involved simply for the purpose of a free education. I commend those that are involved for their preservation efforts to never let this be forgotten in the chapters of Virginia history.

Mitch Orndorff, Winchester, Va.

A DIFFERENT OPINION ON FEMALE EMPOWERMENT

I would like to address the reader who wrote the letter “Mixed Messages of Female Empowerment” in February’s Mailbag column. That reader is extremely wrong. Empowering doesn’t mean not asking for help. Margo Oxendine requesting lawn help can’t be compared to our young go-getter Genevie Boarman.

One is in her 20s and the other is in her 60s.

Margo is doing the job she is skilled at, writing, and she is obviously at the age where she is smart enough to know when she needs assistance.

Robin Hottle, Middletown, Va.

VINT HILL ARTICLE BRINGS BACK MEMORIES

I retired from the Air Force in 1983 and moved to Fairfax County to work for a defense contractor. The large number of retired generals and admirals living in the western reaches of Northern Virginia ensured that the Vint Hill Commissary had the best meat market in the area. It made the monthly trip worth it, while being a pleasant day’s drive.

I’d almost forgotten about this until I read your article in the February issue on Vint Hill.

Richard D. McDowell, Msgt, USAF Ret., Pungoteague, Va.

 

RADIO OPERATER TUNES IN MEMORIES OF THE PAST

Howard Zehr’s story, in the February issue, revived sweet memories of my dad, a life-long ham radio operator. As a young child in the 1920s he constructed audio and video transmitters and receivers. His engineering career plans were dashed when Great Depression bank closures wiped out his diligently-saved college fund. Jobs as radio operator on Great Lakes freighters and at airports in the early days of air mail and passenger flights fostered his love of communication and wanderlust.

He had a “ham shack” (small cluttered room) wherever he lived. It was an untidy nest of gauges, headphones, metal containers, glass vacuum tubes, variegated wires, and a sleeping cat. The rhythmically-clicking, arcane telegraph key was the centerpiece. Walls were papered with QSL postcards that confirmed two-way contacts from nearby and exotic places, a great resource for teaching geography to his kids. This room was his late night escape from a mundane day job in an electronics shop. He also belonged to a large fraternity of radio operators who had plenty to discuss over the airwaves or at ham fest gatherings.

In his latter years, he remained alert, social, and humorous. When his physical condition required professional care, he moved into a facility that encouraged his radio hobby and permitted the erection of a thirty-two foot antenna outside his window. He regaled other residents with ham radio history, famous contacts, and anecdotes. When he peacefully passed to heaven, he was seated at his radio equipment table. Fortunately, in this digital age, there are more ham radio operators than ever to continue reaching individuals in a warmly personal way, just as my dad did.

— Lois Rogers, Front Royal, Virginia