Special Feature

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Who Knew…

By Lani Gering Well….stupid covid (can’t bring myself to capitalize the word) put a couple of cogs in the Old Town Crier wheel this month. Just as we were finalizing the Personality Profile interview, our interviewee was hit hard by the virus and we had to reschedule for next month. In the scramble to get all of the parts to our designer – who, by the way, also got hit with it the weekend before our deadline – we had to come up something entertaining for this space. And what is more entertaining than knowing that there are really important things in August that many of us have never celebrated. I consulted calendar.com/united-states and who knew that there are 97 said celebrations I had never heard of. Obviously there are several things to celebrate on the same days. I picked the following since one is pretty self-serving and the other for the good of the order: National Lazy Day – August 10th If you have been very busy with work or school lately, and you just need a day to relax and do nothing, then August 10th is the perfect day for you as it is Lazy Day! A day to do no work, no house chores, and to just sit down and enjoy your favorite TV show, read your favorite book, or anything you want, just as long as it is a lazy activity. The best part is that you don’t have to feel guilty about it because this day is a celebration of laziness! Like many unofficial holidays, the origins of National Lazy Day are unknown. However, it sure seems to have become a popular day with people, probably because who doesn’t like a day that allows them to be a couch potato. Why Being Lazy Can Be Good. Even…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Happy 273rd Birthday Alexandria!

Alexandria, founded in 1749, has a fascinating history, and many of its historic buildings are still preserved today. During its long history, Alexandria was a tobacco trading post, one of the ten busiest ports in America, a part of the District of Columbia, home to both the largest slave-trading firm in the country and a large free-black community, a Civil War supply center for Union troops, and a street-car suburb for Federal workers. Alexandria was also the hometown of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, Jim Morrison and Mama Cass. Much of present-day Alexandria was included in a 6,000-acre land grant from Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, which was awarded to Robert Howson, an English ship captain, on October 21, 1669. This land overlapped a 700-acre patent that had previously been issued to Dame Margaret Brent in 1654. The Howson tract extended along the Potomac River, from Hunting Creek on the south to the Little Falls on the north. The grant was made by authority of King Charles II in recognition of Captain Howson’s bringing 120 people to live in Virginia. Less than a month later, Howson sold the land to John Alexander for 6,000 pounds of tobacco. During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, plantations were established along both sides of the Potomac River and settlement began to spread further into northern Virginia. When Fredericksburg was founded in 1728, it was the northernmost town in Virginia but was still located in the tidewater, where tobacco production was profitable. By 1732, Hugh West had established a tobacco warehouse on high bluffs overlooking a small but deep bay, at what is today the foot of Oronoco Street in Alexandria. Philip and John Alexander farmed much of the surrounding land and Hugh West oversaw the warehouse along with a ferry and…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

A Brief History of the Artificial Poppy

By Lani Gering Each year around Memorial Day, Veterans of Foreign Wars members and American Legion Auxiliary volunteers distribute millions of bright red poppies in exchange for contributions to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans. The program provides multiple benefits to the veterans and to the community. The hospitalized veterans who make the flowers are able to earn a small wage, which helps to supplement their incomes and makes them feel more self-sufficient. The physical and mental activity provides many therapeutic benefits as well. Donations are used exclusively to assist and support veterans and their families. The poppy also reminds the community of the past sacrifices and continuing needs of our veterans. The poppy has become a nationally known and recognized symbol of sacrifice and is worn to honor the men and women who served and died for their country in all wars. In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. Madam Guerin, who was recognized as “the poppy lady from France”, sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy sale prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy sale, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City…

Continue Reading

Special Feature

Erin Go Bragh- “Ireland til the end of time”

We here at the Old Town Crier love everything about St. Patrick’s Day including the history. We try to print this important information every year in the March issue and I am sure we  have missed a few but we think it’s important that our readers know that it is more than just a day for a parade and swilling green beer! BTW, there will be no parade in Old Town Alexandria this year and no self-respecting Irish person drinks green beer! Just Sayin’!   A Bit of St. Patrick’s Day History   St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.   On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.   The First Parade   The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.   Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.   In 1848, several New…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE OLD TOWN CRIER!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE OLD TOWN CRIER! These last couple of years have been a bit trying and as hard as it may seem we all have something to be thankful for every day. On top of the blessings we enjoy with a roof over our head and food in the fridge we are thankful for all of you readers and advertisers – without you we wouldn’t be here! Contributors Thanks: I’m grateful for, in no particular order, mashed potatoes, vaccines, caregivers, medical personnel, my family, more mashed potatoes, second helpings of everything, yoga pants, a wealth of friends, and the best family a girl could ask for. – Lori Welch Brown, Open Space I am thankful and grateful to be living in the greatest nation in the history of our planet. – F. Lennox Campello, Gallery Beat I’m thankful for the health and good fortune of my precious family and friends. This year I am especially grateful for my new Chiweenie puppy, Max, who lightens every day. – Miriam R. Kramer, Last Word I’m so thankful for good music and good art and the people that create it. I’m also thankful for all the kindness people have shown me over the last year. Whether it’s from friends, family or a random stranger on the street. It’s always nice to see the good in people shine through. – Ron Powers, High Notes July 2021 marked the beginning of my 25th year with Crier Media Group.  Bob, Lani and I met in 1996 when the Olympic torch was coming to Alexandria.  They asked if I, a then-ACVA Board member would write a one-time only article recounting the event.  It is from that experience A Bit of History was born.  I am thankful a chance encounter has proven successful; for Bob and Lani’s giving me the time and…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Stingy Jack – The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern

Stingy Jack – The Legend of the Jack O’Lantern Halloween is a mix of ancient Celtic practices, Catholic and Roman religious rituals and European folk traditions that blended together over time to create the holiday we know today. Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity and life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Halloween has long been thought of as a day when the dead can return to the earth, and ancient Celts would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off these roaming ghosts. The Celtic holiday of Samhain, the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day and the Roman festival of Feralia all influenced the modern holiday of Halloween. In the 19th century, Halloween began to lose its religious connotation, becoming a more secular community-based children’s holiday. Although the superstitions and beliefs surrounding Halloween may have evolved over the years, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people can still look forward to parades, costumes and sweet treats to usher in the winter season. One of the most popular activities surrounding the celebration is carving jack o’lanterns. People have been making jack o’lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed “Stingy Jack.” According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn’t want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would…

Continue Reading

Featured Post, Special Feature

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within

WANTED: MOM…Apply Within By: Caroline Simpson Job Title: Mother. Requirements: must be willing to work overtime for no additional compensation. Necessary Skills: patience, fortitude, and super-human ability to multitask. Salary: none but must be able to provide monthly (at least) payments to clients. Travel: yes – lots. Benefits: bedtime and the one day a year that it is all about you! Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!  If I was in charge, I would recommend you for a promotion and a raise, your service over the years has been remarkable.  However, since I do not play the CEO role in this family, I will take this opportunity to honor you by giving you an inside look at my new plans for this holiday. In all seriousness, Mother’s Day is an important holiday.  Allow me to provide a bit of the history for you.  The tradition dates back as far as the Greek Empire and their Annual Spring Festival; various religions and spiritual groups dedicated a specific day in May to celebrate the Mother Mary, Mother Earth, the Mother of All Deities, etc.  England expanded this honor to not just religious mother figures, but to all mothers, and the United States made it the celebration it is today about 150 years ago, when Anna Jarvis, mother and homemaker, decided that there were days for men and days for children, but there just was not a single day devoted to mothers alone. Anna would be proud.  Today, Mother’s Day results in the highest volume of telephone traffic over any other day of the year, restaurants are more crowded on this second Sunday in May than any other holiday, and, of course, Hallmark card sales increase dramatically. Well, this Mother’s Day, I want to do more than just buy a card.  I know that nothing…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Memorial Day and the Buddy Poppy

Compiled by Lani Gering Memorial Day and the Buddy Poppy In the World War I battlefields of Belgium, poppies grew wild amid the ravaged landscape. How could such a pretty little flower grow wild while surrounded by death and destruction? The overturned soils of battle enabled the poppy seeds to be covered, thus allowing them to grow and to forever serve as a reminder of the bloodshed during that and future wars. Madam Guerin, who was recognized as “the poppy lady from France”, sought and received the cooperation of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. early in 1922, after the Franco-American Children’s League was dissolved. The VFW conducted a poppy sale prior to Memorial Day, 1922, using only poppies that were made in France. In the 1923 poppy sale, due to the difficulty and delay in getting poppies from France, the VFW made use of a surplus of French poppies that were on hand and the balance was provided by a firm in New York City manufacturing artificial flowers. The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States was the first veteran organization to promote a nationally organized campaign for the annual distribution of poppies assembled by American disabled and needy veterans. In 1924, the VFW patented the name “Buddy Poppy” for their version of the artificial flower. Buddy Poppy proceeds represents no profit to any VFW unit. All the money contributed by the public for Buddy Poppies is used in the cause of veteran’s welfare, or for the well-being of their needy dependents and the orphans of veterans. Following the 1924 sale, the VFW believed it would stimulate local sales if the poppies they used were assembled by disabled veterans in hospitals within their own jurisdiction. The 1924 encampment of the VFW at Atlantic City granted this…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Special Feature

Spring of 2021 is the Big One

Spring of 2021 is the Big One Courtesy WLWT Channel 5 Brood X (aka The Great Eastern Brood), a group of periodical cicadas that emerge every 17 years, will tunnel out of their long dormancy and take over the area. This is the same buzzing and massive brood that became the soundtrack of the summer of 2004, their cacophonous mating song loud enough to drown out a passing jet plane. We’re talking billions of cicadas across 15 states – In addition to Virginia, Maryland and DC, Brood X will also emerge in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia. That includes the major metropolitan areas of New York, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and others. There have been several questions about the cicadas. Here, we will answer some of your most frequently-asked questions. WHAT IS BROOD X? Let’s start from the beginning. In 2004 — a year when Tobey Maguire was still the reining Spider Man — the red-eyed Brood X cicadas last emerged, leaving behind billions of baby bugs. These baby bugs, heirs to the infamous 2021 Brood X, burrowed underground for 17 years, sucking moisture from the tree roots. Now, after 17 years, it’s their turn to shine. Now adults, they’re ready to come out of their slumber. Periodical cicadas, as they’re known, spend most of their lives underground. In the spring of their 13th or 17th year (in this case 17th), they will emerge synchronously en masse. Amorous males attract mates by rapidly vibrating drum-like tymbals on the sides of their abdomen to produce sound. They’ll shed their exoskeletons, attach themselves to branches, mate and lay eggs before dying off in about six weeks. The hatched nymphs then will drop off…

Continue Reading

Arts & Entertainment, Events, Special Feature

The History of the Holiday

The History of the Holiday St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years. On St. Patrick’s Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage. The First Parade The first St. Patrick’s Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army. Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called “Irish Aid” societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums. In 1848, several New York Irish aid societies decided to unite their parades to form one New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Today, that parade is the world ‘s oldest civilian parade and the largest in the United States, with over 150,000 participants. Each year, nearly three million people line the one-and-a-half mile parade route to watch the procession, which takes more than five hours. Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Savannah also celebrate the day with parades including between 10,000 to 20,000 participants. No Irish Need Apply Up until the mid-nineteenth century, most Irish immigrants in America…

Continue Reading

View More