20th century

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 9:25am
Teetotalers and Moonshiners Exhibit at Howell

“Now the temp’rance army’s marching,
Wives and sisters in the throng,
Shouting ‘Total Prohibition’
As we bravely march along!” - from the Temperance Army song

Did you know it was never illegal to drink during Prohibition? The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, also known as the Volstead Act, made the production, sale, and transport of intoxicating beverages illegal but said nothing about actually drinking the stuff. It contained some exceptions, too. For example, a doctor could prescribe medicinal whiskey to his patients. The production and distribution of liquor, once handled by legitimate businesses, became the province of criminal gangs. Can you say, Al Capone? Respectable folk patronized illegal speakeasies. New York City alone had an estimated 30,000 speakeasies! As organized crime grew, and drinking gained more social acceptance, support for Prohibition waned, and in 1933 the 21st Amendment repealed the 18th.  

Virginia was ahead of its time, banning alcoholic drinks more than three years before national prohibition was enacted was enacted in 1920. Learn more about this fascinating period in Virginia’s history, including the long-lasting effects still felt today. With support from the National Alcoholic Beverage Control Association, the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control, and the Virginia Distillers Association, Howell Branch will host the Library of Virginia's exhibit, "Teetotalers & Moonshiners: Prohibition in Virginia, Distilled," June 11 - July 21, during regular library operating hours.

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 9:38am
Cover to The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir

A small boy found a jersey with a lightning bolt on the front hanging in the basement rafters. With this jersey, he was transformed into The Thunderbolt Kid. Like other superheroes, The Thunderbolt Kid could leap tall buildings with a single bound and do other daring deeds that kept the World Safe For Democracy. But The Thunderbolt Kid could also vanquish idiots with a single blazing thought.

Bill Bryson was born in the middle of the century (1951), in the middle of the country (Des Moines, Iowa), in the middle of the Baby Boomers. But before he was The Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson was – a paperboy.

Bryson has also written many seriously funny travel memoirs. A Walk in the Woods is a personal favorite, but all of his works are enjoyable. In a Sunburned Country has Bryson traveling to Australia, a country that “has more things that will kill you than anywhere else,” and I’m a Stranger Here Myself, where Bryson returns to America after living in Europe for 20 years.

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 12:43pm
The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History by Jason Vuic

The Yugo was a small car made in the former nation of Yugoslavia that survives in the American consciousness as the ultimate automotive failure.  Poorly engineered, ugly, and cheap, it survived much longer as a punch line for comedians than it did as a vehicle on the roads.  The story of how this particular car became the most hated vehicle in the U.S. is a comedy of errors detailed in Jason Vuic’s book, The Yugo: The Rise and Fall of the Worst Car in History.  A bewildering array of capitalist hucksters and impoverished communists desperate for revenue collaborated to create the Yugo, and what could have been a great international relations victory of the Cold War was ruined the moment consumers and auto critics actually got to drive it. Vuic examines the many failures of the Yugo venture and the people involved with a keen journalistic eye and a razor-sharp wit, making this a great read for anyone interested in automotive history or 1980s nostalgia.

Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:30am
If you like Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse other book matches here.

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Drafted against her will to serve the regime of Vladimir Putin as an intelligence seductress, Dominika Egorova engages in a charged effort of deception and tradecraft with first-tour CIA officer Nathaniel Nash before a forbidden attraction threatens their careers. (catalog summary)
 
Read the second book in the Red Sparrow trilogy, Palace of Treason. The third, The Kremlin's Candidate, is to be published on February 13, 2018.
Mon, 01/08/2018 - 8:23am

By Janet Payne

Janet Payne is the retired fine arts coordinator of the Stafford (VA) County Public Schools. This article originally appeared in the International Review of African American Art, volume 16, number 1, and is reproduced here with the permission of this publication.

In 1996 on one of my many visits to the Hampton University Museum, I had the opportunity to see the recently acquired Countee Cullen collection. As I viewed the familiar names of African American artists, I noticed an artist unknown to me—Palmer C. Hayden of Wide Water, Virginia. Could that be the same Widewater in Stafford County where I am the fine arts coordinator? How could this be? My research on the Stafford-born artist Palmer C. Hayden began in this moment.

Thu, 11/09/2017 - 10:36am

"That two battalions of Marines be raised consisting of one colonel, two lieutenant colonels, two majors and officers as usual in other regiments, that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken that no person be appointed to office or enlisted into said battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea." (Resolution of the Continental Congress, 10 November 1775.)

November 10 marks the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress passed a resolution calling for the creation of two battalions of Marines to serve the new nation. Each year in Marine posts throughout the world, traditions such as the birthday ball and the cutting of birthday cake continue, bonding generations of warriors together as they celebrate their shared brotherhood.

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 1:31pm

When Mary Downing Hahn writes a book, she works along steadily until that magic moment when the characters develop their own voices. Whether it's a mean-mouthed boy who is hiding family secrets or a girl who is terrified of the ghostly presence haunting her small step-sister, this author's characters tell their own stories both believably and intriguingly.

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 1:08pm

Award-winning author Russell Freedman takes readers to important places and times with his true stories of courage in hard times. Pick up one of his books, and you may find yourself face to face with Abraham Lincoln, dancer Martha Graham, or Chinese philosopher Confucious. Talk about an excellent adventure!

Tue, 08/22/2017 - 1:55pm
The Last Lynching in Northern Virginia: Seeking Truth at Rattlesnake Mountain

The charred remains of Shedrick Thompson had not yet been cut from the tree from which he had been hanged before the controversy over his fate began. Thompson’s 1932 death was ruled a suicide by white authorities in rural Fauquier County, where Thompson lived and died. However, the local Fauquier population, white and black, knew that he had been lynched and his body torched. Thompson was the prime suspect in the severe beating of Henry and Mamie Baxley, a prominent local couple and Thompson’s landlords, who were viciously attacked in their home while their young son slept in the next room. Henry was knocked out cold by his attacker, and Mamie was dragged from the home and marched in the dead of night across several fields and into the woods where the assault continued. After the attack, Thompson vanished, most likely into the nearby foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains where he had grown up. Despite numerous manhunts, his whereabouts would remain a mystery until two months later, when he died at the end of a rope on Rattlesnake Mountain.

Thu, 08/10/2017 - 10:41am

For years, Anita Lobel shied away from many memories of her childhood, and she had good reason to do so. Born in Poland just before World War II, Anita’s father ran a chocolate factory and the family was rather well off. Her mother had furs and jewels and employed servants to help with the housework and the children, including a beloved nanny, Niania. All that was soon to change when the Nazis marched into Kraków.

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