Friday, June 25, 2021

Post 149: Growing Up Blue Ridge Shores, Louisa, Virginia

A Story of Blue Ridge Shores…

We first heard of Blue Ridge Shores that I can think of was around 1965ish from my grandparents, Doug and Louise Jackson. They had purchased a home in the new community in Louisa County, Virginia and in the summers my mom and dad would pack up the car with 3 kids and all their stuff and we would drive from Alexandria to Louisa, Virginia down 95 South. 

You know the song, "Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go..." (sing along)

Friday, June 25, 2021 9:45 AM Arriving at BRS

We did that drive very often and I do remember the aunts and uncles and ALL the kids (AKA cousins) ALL landing at G'ma's house and everyone sleeping all over the place. Kids on the floor, and their parents were scattered about. Cousins EVERYWHERE. We loved playing at that house and Grandma ruled the kitchen with an iron rolling pin. There was always a lot of laughter. And giggling. That was from G'pa.

We kids played on the rocks between Grandma's house and the Pettit's house. And I got to go fishing with my Grandpa there. And I learned to love gardening from my Grandpa. Homegrown strawberry fields forever.

This was Grandma's House

Then my parents bought a small yellow summer house on Fairview Drive. So now my parents would pack up the 3 kids, the cat and the dog and all their stuff and do the 95 South drive and we had our own home to go to for the summers. (Try driving with kitty litter being used.) Eventually, other aunts and uncles bought homes too. Close enough to walk to easily, and we did. Often.

And we got to know the neighbors, remember the Breezes? Oh Pearl and Francis, and Willie and Lula, and of course, Stoney.

All the crazy things and stories over the years, so many - here are a few:
  • Family croquet in the yard.
  • My dad breaking a leg while playing football with the family.
  • All of the 4ths of July celebrations and fireworks lighting up the night sky. Say a lot of "Ewww and Ahhhs" here. Wide eyed kids mesmerized by all the colors and wonder.
  • And the awful bands at the 4th of July celebrations and dancing on the tennis courts while the adults congregated on the hill above.
  • My mom running and WINNING a the 4th of July foot races.
  • The lady baseball player who lived up from us practicing her fastball and it zipping by my windows and the LOUD smack of it landing in her friend's mitt.
  • The skunk family deciding to come out and visit during a big croquet match. 
  • My cousin riding her bike singing at the top of her lungs, hitting gravel and biting the dust while her "crush" drove by and her underwear and pjs flying up in the air.
  • The hurricane that took out the dam and the most horrible summer of damn mosquitoes that followed. (by the way, this was Hurricane Camille)
  • Digging up worms, going fishing, cleaning the fish and then cooking and eating the fish.
  • Using a small blue plastic boat to catch fish in the kiddie pool area with my dad.
  • Wondering if you swallowed watermelon seeds, if you would grow a watermelon inside of you...
Eventually, on August 8, 1969, we moved from Alexandria, Virginia to Blue Ridge Shores for good. It was a GREAT childhood. The Louisa school system was culture shock coming from Alexandria at that time but summers were grand. My mom was known as "Momma G" and flipped burgers and sold fries and candy at the concession stand. I had unnumbered adopted brothers and sisters because EVERYONE called my mom, Momma G. 

The juke box blared over the speakers while we baked in the sun. The Beatles were IT! And the Rolling Stones. We spent the whole day at the beach and many evenings too. We swam to the big raft and dived off to swim back, rinse and repeat.

Somebody I know very well blew up frogs too with fire crackers. Poor amphibians. Several frogs had shortened lives after being repeatedly tossed out into the water and swimming back to the shore, ever more slowly after each toss and eventually sinking into obscurity or depending on their size, gulped down by a fish.

The memories of snow sledding down the hill above the beach and riding the bus to school were epic. My brother, Donnie bouncing over the back seat of the bus to the seat in front of him was hilarious. Of course, my other brother Dave, doing the Evil Knievel on his bicycle off the marina into the water is not to be forgotten either.

The church at the back gate was started with the help of my whole family. It actually did have its first meetings at the "concession stand" with Reverend Petty. Then a bunch of people all helped to build Blue Ridge Shores Baptist Church right at the back gate.

Summer was when all the families from Northern Virginia and Maryland (mostly) would come on the weekends and for vacations and many friendships were started. Learning to ski was a top priority. 

George Anderson and Nathan Bozarth at the Main Beach, early 70's. Unknown name for the girl and unsure if the guy on the swing is my older brother.

So we kids grew up, started high school and started -gasp- dating. If you had a boat, you were AWESOME. A great memory is of the Olsen brothers skiing behind our boat and the older bro would start off double skiing on 2 skis with his younger bro holding his waist then climbing up on his shoulders, then Chuck would drop one ski, and around the lake we would go. Pete and Arthur Olsen, the twins would take turns climbing up the skiing Chuck.

Getting Gas at the Marina, Warren Sutherland's Boat, early 70's

So life moves on and we grew up. Then we started getting married. And buying our own home(s) at BRS. And then life changes in its various ways sometimes included moving away. But I still love coming back to Blue Ridge Shores. I still have family there so visiting is a to-do list thing.

Recently, while visiting my mom this spring, my aunt and I went for a walk about. We did all the remembering of who lived in that house and what happened here and there. How she met her husband at the beach. How I met mine. We walked up the hill and around a couple of the streets and almost anywhere and everywhere there were things to remember and point out. And seeing -wow- all the new homes, renovations, and additions.

BRS Main Beach 2021

We talked of all the people we knew, many who are now gone, some of the bad stories of bad events too. Thankfully there are not as many of those. 

And just recently, my brother, my mom and sister in law and I went for a boat ride around the lake with the Becketts. It was a nice view of the lake from the water to see all the changes too.

The Main Beach water view June 25, 2021

Second Beach

Velina G, Tim B, Dave G, and Peter B

Peg-Leg Blue

My Mom, Kelly B and "Louie, Louie, Louie - Louieeee"

Louie wanted to say hi to the geese. They weren't agreeable

And wouldn't you know when we got back to the main beach, there was a group of kids at the marina on bicycles and my brother mentioned to them that he used to ride his bike off the pier. Well, we got a great laugh when one of them did it too.

So the kids that were kids when I was a kid, are all grown up now much like the trees that tower over us as our views have changed in the lots all around BRS. And their kids are looking at the lake with the wonder that we did.

It is quite the varied history of Blue Ridge Shores and the experiences of our life stories. Some people have come back to spend their summers much like they did with their parents, while some kids have taken ownership of their parents homes and carry on with their own family traditions. Others have moved on with their lives elsewhere. 

Nonetheless, BRS will always be a warm and fuzzy memory of my childhood as an awesome, safe and great place to grow up. And maybe for you too. And your kids.

Side note on my BRS Paintings: 

Painting of Blue Ridge Shores Main Beach painted in 2020 - see the post here.
Painting of Blue Heron at Blue Ridge Shores version 1 2021 - see the post here.
Painting of Blue Heron at Blue Ridge Shores version 2 2021 - see the post here.
Wood Plaque of Blue Ridge Shores Main Beach the Early Years (link coming soon)

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