Personality Profile

Personality Profile

Lonesome Dove Meet “Sophie”

By: Meg Mullery Admit it. Spotting a celebrity is fun. A “meh” day turns exciting when you realize the familiar dude ordering a latte played Owen Wilson’s buddy in that movie about crashing weddings. Not so in the village of Middleburg in rural Virginia where the sport of celebrity sightings is as common as the sport of polo. This tony enclave for the horsey set boasts a plethora of restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, wineries and upscale hotels, all serving as a magnet for the rich and famous for decades. Jackie Kennedy could be spotted attending church in Middleburg and on horseback galloping through fields following a pack of hounds. Elizabeth Taylor shopped at the local Safeway when married to Virginia’s beloved Senator John Warner. Last year, the Boss himself cheered on his daughter, Jessica Springsteen, an equestrian show jumping champion and Olympic medal winner, at a prestigious horse show. One exception exists. While generally adopting a blasé attitude toward celebrities, catching a glimpse of long-time resident Robert Duvall provides the jolt that enhances your day and makes you want to call a friend and say, “Guess who I just saw.”  Mr. Duvall, fondly remembered for his award-winning portrayal of Texas Ranger Gus McCrae in Lonesome Dove, is much like Gus. Gracious. Feisty. Funny. Genuine. Mr. Duvall’s unique status notwithstanding, recently Middleburg’s typical insouciance toward celebrities has been subsumed by the excitement and anticipation of a sighting of another sort. Meet Little Yellow Sofa. Named “Sofia”, at first glance she looks like just another pretty couch. But scratch her upholstery and discover a Little Yellow Sofa imbued with a certain je ne sais quoi combined with an aura of gravitas and, yes, even mysticism. Little Yellow Sofa, silently, mysteriously and randomly, manifests herself in absurd settings. She makes cameos at the…

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Personality Profile

Rick Boyd – Man about Town

By Bob Tagert We started the Old Town Crier in January 1988 and almost every month since we have written a personality profile about someone who makes Alexandria click. During that time period we have brought to life somewhere around 408 individuals. Just when we think we have run out of folks to write about, someone pops up. That is the case of longtime friend Rick Boyd. Writing about Rick is more of a cruise back down memory lane over the past 34 years. Ride with us as we listen to one of the guys who helped make it all happen. Rick Boyd is one of those guys who likes to get things done. Since I first came to Old Town in 1977 I frequented the relatively new restaurants along King and Union Streets. It was during this time that I began to run into Rick working at the different establishments. I asked Rick how he got started in bartending and then managing. “Well, he began, it all started with my dad when I was a kid. My dad was a martini drinker, so he taught me. I got to the point where I would chill the glass, pour about an ounce of vermouth in the glass and swirl it around, pour it out, then pour the chilled gin into the already seasoned glass, and two olives. I guess after that bartending just came natural to me…I would be making drinks, seven and sevens (Seagrams Seven whiskey and 7Up) and such, for the crowd. When I went to Virginia Tech, my roommate was a bartender in town and when I went to see him he told me to get behind the bar and help…and the rest is history.” When Rick graduated from Tech with an accounting degree he realized that…

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Personality Profile

The World Through the “Camera Eye” of Scott Dicken

By Lani Gering Many of you loyal readers will recognize this guy. His photos and writings have been appearing on the pages of the Old Town Crier every month for the past few years. This month we took the time to interview our resident travel columnist, Scott Dicken, author of Take Photos, Leave Footprints. I met Scott several years ago when he was a single guy reporting to one of my BFF’s after transferring to DC from London. She was working in the DC office of the UK-based Crown Agents at the time. We have since become friends as well. Being a Brit, he has that charming accent and wry sense of humor that most English people possess. He is definitely a good guy to invite to a party! As I have gotten to know him and his beautiful wife Ashton on a social level, I find their adventures quite entertaining and I thought you all might like a bit of insight to his love of travel and what inspired him to establish his travel blog, TakePhotosLeaveFootprints.com. OTC: Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired your love of travel. SD: I grew up outside of London. My summers typically incorporated the family’s annual vacation, and throughout the year, my friends and I organized weekends away whenever low-cost European airfares and hostels afforded us the opportunity. It wasn’t until a month-long expedition circumnavigating Iceland when I was 17 that the travel bug truly bit hard. This led to month-long trips to South Africa and Chile in between university semesters. I wanted my career to include travel opportunities, and that decision resulted in me moving to Washington, DC (which explains my predominantly English writing style, but occasionally Americanized spelling and grammar). Now with an American wife in tow, my job…

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Personality Profile

Niamh O’Donovan – A Force to Reckon With

By Lani Gering Arriving in the United States from the village of Ballinhassig in County Cork, Ireland on August 22, 2002 and landing in sunny California with her former husband – a Navy Captain – this Irish beauty decided to make Alexandria her home after living the “military wife life” traversing the nation. She tells me that when they arrived in Alexandria and she took a drive down King Street with her two very young sons she literally had the kind of “Aha!” moment that you hear about people having when everything just seems to click. She says that Old Town is the closest place she’s found that reminds her of home. She loves the history we are surrounded with as well as the diversity of the people who live in this area and the energy created by being so close to the Nation’s Capital. Speaking of energy…Niamh is full of it. Between her gig as the General Manager of O’Connell’s Restaurant & Bar (OC) in Old Town, two very active teenage sons (Conor and Brody) and her three rescue pups (Billy, Daisy and Lady Piper) she is constantly on the go.   I met Niamh before she took the helm as General Manager at O’Connell’s while watching Ireland play in the popular Six Nations Tournament that was being aired in real time at the restaurant. That particular morning she was selling raffle tickets benefitting the newly formed Alexandria Youth Rugby league. I will venture to say that there probably wasn’t a single person who didn’t buy a few from her. She’s a very convincing sales person to say the least. With her wild curly brunette hair, Irish lilt and larger than life personality she stands out in a crowd. Niamh grew up in a family business, the Laurel Wood…

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Personality Profile

Vicki Moon – A Woman With A Way With Horses & Words

By Meg Mullery Middleburg author Vicky Moon spent more than a decade researching and writing about a pioneering African American woman’s career training horses. Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop Had a Way With Horses chronicles the grit and determination of the first African American woman in the U.S. to make it in the white male dominated world of elite horse trainers. Born in 1920 in Charles Town, West Virginia, Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop discovered her love of horses and ultimate talent as a trainer by hanging around the Charles Town Race Track from a very young age. Vicky Moon is no stranger to the equine and race track worlds and the political workings of Washington, D.C. As a child growing up in Florida, her mother owned race horses. Vicky herself competed in horse events on the show jumping circuit in Florida and beyond before moving to Washington, D.C., to cover equine sporting events for the Washington Post. Her passion for all things equine brought her to Middleburg, where she was again living, surrounded by her beloved horses, and continuing her writing career. Vicky Moon’s unique knowledge and dedication to research provide a story of a fascinating African American female horse trainer put in the historical context of gender discrimination and the civil rights movement. Vicky Moon has a way with horses. And words. MM: When and how did you discover Sylvia Rideoutt Bishop? VAM: I love to chat people up, and will talk to anyone. One day about 15 plus years ago I was standing in line for a coffee at a gas station/McDonalds in Marshall, Virginia and struck up a conversation while waiting my turn. Somehow the man in front of me told me about his “Aunt” who was a race horse trainer in Charles Town. I could tell he was a horse person. I already…

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Personality Profile

Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane with Marc Miller

By Bob Tagert Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane with Marc Miller As you are probably aware by now, this issue of the Old Town Crier marks the beginning of our 35th year. It seems like a long time ago that we printed our first issue, but sometimes you run into some people that makes it seem like it was yesterday. That is the case with Marc Miller. One afternoon last month we were at our usual spot for an early evening libation…the bar at Landini Brothers restaurant, and as we were engaged in casual conversation, a young man a few seats down from me asked, “Hey, didn’t you tend bar at the Fish Market restaurant a while ago?” I said that I did and was reintroduced to a customer from 35 years ago. “I thought you looked familiar,” he proclaimed. This is how I met Marc Miller and relived my past for a few moments. I met Marc a week or so later at the Fish Market to interview him for this article. As we both noted, the restaurant has changed a bit since those early days in Old Town. The Anchor Bar is now the only bar downstairs at the Fish Market. Back when I met Marc there were four bars on the lower floor and the restaurant consisted of three buildings extending all the way to Union Street. I worked the Sunquest Bar which is now a dining room on the first floor. Those were the days when the big schooner of beer was king and probably comprised 85 percent of alcohol sales back then. Although the schooner is still served at the Fish Market, most beers are of the pint sized and the back bar has way many more choices than 35 years ago. Naturally we…

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Personality Profile

The Stars Have Aligned for Alexandria’s Kevin Peck

By Lani Gering The Stars Have Aligned for Alexandria’s Kevin Peck Have you ever had everything come together for no apparent reason than kismet? If you have, you are very lucky. After many years of being in the business of film production with some professional acting thrown in, event planning and production, restaurant management, and all things food service related including bartending and catering, Kevin’s worlds collided at the first event he was pulling together at his latest gig as Restaurant and Catering Manager at Café 1823 on the campus of the Virginia Theological Seminary here in Alexandria. First of all, I had no idea that the campus had a restaurant and pub that “regular” people can frequent. Guess it really is a “best kept secret”. The day I conducted the interview for this column was the day before the event and Peck admitted that he was a bit on the nervous side. Said event was a reception and unveiling event for a TV Pilot Episode, Being Van Vlack, that Kevin has a role in as Maurice, the agent to the main character, Van Vlack who is a journalist who is drugged and goes off of the rails (think the guy from the movie Network) and lots of intrigue ensues. At the time this event was booked, Peck had no clue that the reception was for the unveiling of a production that he was in and that the people who booked it had ties to his old high school. The unveiling went off beautifully with the food, the venue and the company enjoying every aspect of it. Compliments abounded for Kevin and his team. Not every day your acting career combines with your catering career. I have known Kevin since the mid 90’s. We met at the now defunct Fleetwood’s…

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Personality Profile

Which Witch is Which?

Which Witch is Which? Witches were perceived as evil beings by early Christians in Europe, inspiring the iconic Halloween figure. Images of witches have appeared in various forms throughout history—from evil, wart-nosed women huddling over a cauldron of boiling liquid to hag-faced, cackling beings riding through the sky on brooms wearing pointy hats. In pop culture, the witch has been portrayed as a benevolent, nose-twitching suburban housewife; an awkward teenager learning to control her powers and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil. The real history of witches, however, is dark and, often for the witches, deadly. Early witches were people who practiced witchcraft, using magic spells and calling upon spirits for help or to bring about change. Most witches were thought to be pagans doing the “Devil’s” work. Many, however, were simply natural healers or so-called “wise women” whose choice of profession was misunderstood. It’s unclear exactly when witches came on the historical scene, but one of the earliest records of a witch is in the Bible in the book of 1 Samuel, thought be written between 931 B.C. and 721 B.C. It tells the story of when King Saul sought the Witch of Endor to summon the dead prophet Samuel’s spirit to help him defeat the Philistine army. The witch roused Samuel, who then prophesied the death of Saul and his sons. The next day, according to the Bible, Saul’s sons died in battle, and Saul committed suicide. Other Old Testament verses condemn witches, such as the oft-cited Exodus 22:18, which says, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Additional Biblical passages caution against divination, chanting or using witches to contact the dead. ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ Witch hysteria really took hold in Europe during the mid-1400s, when many accused witches confessed, often under torture, to…

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Personality Profile

The One and Only Tim Bauckman

By Bob Tagert The One and Only Tim Bauckman This is a story about a local guy who didn’t go west (except for his recent trip to Sturgis, South Dakota), but instead, stayed in Virginia and created the iconic Tim’s Rivershore and Crabhouse on the Potomac. I had not been back to this riverside escape until recently when we went to hear our friend, George Brown’s band…Gottaway. As we arrived at 2:30 on a crowded Saturday and hoped for a parking spot near the restaurant, here comes Tim directing and he found me a spot. That is the kind of guy he is, “Whatever it takes”. After 28 years and three more restaurants, Tim is losing his lease. The restaurant sits comfortably on the shore of the Potomac River with the waves gently washing the rocky beach and the VRE and Amtrak trains speeding down the tracks on the other side. He has to vacate the property by 5:00 pm on September 30th. We have one more month to enjoy this classic get-a-way. Tim grew up in the Woodbridge area not far from his current restaurant. He attended Woodbridge High School and was a couple of years ahead of Lori Welsh Brown, our Open Space writer – small world. While furthering his education, Tim took an engineering internship at Georgetown University building new dorms. Unfortunately, while climbing down a ladder, that he didn’t realize had a rung missing, he fell through it and ended up hanging upside down. This incident was probably exacerbated by the fact that he was checking out the topless co-eds sunbathing on the roof of an adjacent building, but nonetheless, the accident blew his knee out and he spent the rest of the year on crutches. During that year he just hung out at the restaurant…

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Personality Profile

John Todhunter-Man of Many, Many Talents!

By Bob Tagert John Todhunter-Man of Many, Many Talents! Over the years, most of the personalities we have written about were folks referred to us or people we met around town. John Todhunter does not fit that mold as we have known him and his wife Holli for many years. It was fun to find out just how diverse this guy is. “After I got my degree at UC of Santa Barbara I went to work as a research fellow at the Institute of Molecular Biology. From there, a few years later, I came to Washington and took a faculty position at Catholic University and was chair of the bio-chemistry program,” he tells me. While at the university he did consulting for pharmaceutical development as well as receiving an NIH grant. “You know, you can’t live on a professor’s salary,” he tells me with a grin. From there Todhunter was appointed by President Reagan taking a position at EPA and handled all of the programs in the US for toxics, chemicals and pesticides. This position required Senate confirmation which, by the way, went smoothly-something unusual these days. While at the EPA he built relationships with pharmaceutical companies that were developing drugs and other products. After three years, Todhunter left EPA and started his own company. When he was with EPA, and since he ran the whole pesticide programs, he had to go out and meet with agriculture groups all the time and also developed a relationship with the Department of Agriculture. “I got to know some of the folks in the Department of Ag and I admired them – they had tough jobs.” At this time Todhunter had been doing this chemical thing for so long, he had an epiphany… “Agriculture is the basis for civilization, I thought…I really need…

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