National Geographic : 1938 Jul
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE above them, and "Shenandoah' seems in deed the "Daughter of the Stars." West of Shenandoah National Park are the Caverns of Luray. A Civil War veteran developed them; though almost a cente narian, he is still active. He had noted the constant clear, cool air of limestone caves. It filters through porous rock, is never stag nant, contains little dust and few bacteria. About forty years ago the old soldier built a wind tunnel from the cavern to his home. Huge electric fans, pushing cool air into the big white house, keep it at 70 degrees on hottest days. In winter the clean air from the caves, heated, warms the house. Warrenton is one of the Piedmont towns famed for horses and fox hunting. Social ites in pink coats ride fine horses to hounds, while farmers, who never appear in society columns, go fox hunting on mules. WALL STREET IN WARRENTON "Behind this house is Wall Street," a broker's clerk said. "That sign on our little lane once marked Wall Street in New York. It was borrowed, brought to Warrenton, and put up as a joke. Most customers of the office have been wealthy investors with estates near by, though farmers occa sionally bought a little stock. "Once in a while someone who saw our sign, 'Member of the New York Stock Ex change,' asked what we paid for cattle. Country folk have often read the ticker for hours as if they owned hundreds of shares on a rising market." Not far away is country almost un touched by the 20th century. Once I fol lowed a man who rode a mule through the woods with saddlebags of corn. We came to an old water mill, built so long ago that giant oaks stood on the earthen dam of the millpond. I was allowed to open the sluice gates, watch tan foam on a mossy wheel, hear the rumble of meshing hickory teeth, feel hand-hewn timbers shake be neath my feet, and grind a little corn. Traveling northeasterly toward Washing ton, I passed the scene of the Battle of Bull Run, where southerners, in '61, first convinced the North that victory would not be easy. At Great Falls of the Potomac, on the Virginia side, I saw a small boy hook a catfish almost as big as he was. In a big house near McLean lives a man who calls himself "Skippy's daddy." "Sometimes," he said to me, as the comic strip character might have talked, "I get to dreamin' an' thinkin' about days when I was a kid. An' I can dictate Skippy's dia logue for two or three weeks ahead. There was criticism of the first Skippy prayers, but people seem to like them now." I remember one: "Oh Lord, give me strength to brush my teeth every night and if Thou canst not give me that strength, give me the strength not to worry about it." Old stone piers of Chain Bridge, part of the road to Washington, were being rebuilt to carry a higher, wider span above the wildest floods. Instead of continuing to Key Bridge and crossing to Georgetown, I went to Alexandria. This was George Washington's home town when Mount Vernon was his farm. Alex andria is near enough to the Capital to be its suburb; yet these neighbors are almost as different as if they were a continent apart. Architecturally, Washington changes as it grows. Alexandria, treasuring, even adding to its colonial atmosphere, guards a few old cobbled streets as if the stones were gold. "OSCAR" HAUNTED A SPARK-PLUG WORKS Years ago I used to pass a spark-plug factory in Alexandria that had been a cot ton mill before the Civil War. One day it was closed. When I had last seen it, its dark old weathered walls, pierced by win dows with broken panes, rose several stories above weeds in its littered vard. One eerie sign of life remained, a dummy known as "Oscar," said to be a murdered watchman's effigy, seated by a window. On a Sunday afternoon, beside the broad new Memorial Highway that sweeps into Washington, I saw the old building once more. It was gleaming white; windows were glazed again; stately pillars lifted a portico above its well-kept lawn. Oscar sat in a cupola above its gabled roof. That old factory had become a colonial-style apartment house. Incredible thousands have crowded into the Capital to staff the growing bureaus of expanding government. They must have somewhere to live; and little escapes the architect, on roads near Washington. INDEX FOR JANUARY-JUNE, 1938, VOLUME READY Index for Volume LXXIII (January-June, 1938) of THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE will be mailed upon request to members who bind their copies as works of reference.