Vienna, Virginia is a small, historic town. In this week’s installation of the Orion Magazine/Living on Earth feature “The Place Where You Live,” high school student Emma Hastings describes why Vienna is special.
GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth, I'm Bruce Gellerman. This week: another installment in the Living on Earth/Orion Magazine series “The Place Where You Live.” For more than a decade, Orion has invited readers to put their memories of home on a map and submit essays on their website. And now, we’re giving them a voice.
[MUSIC: Edward Sharpe & The Magentic Zeroes “Home” from Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeroes (Rough Trade Records 2009)]
GELLERMAN: History doesn’t have to be something that's happened long ago or far way…sometimes it’s as close as our front door.
HASTINGS: I’m Emma Hastings and I’m from Vienna, Virginia. I’m a High School sophomore. Vienna is a great town. It’s got a lot of history, it was founded in the mid-1800s - a battle of the Civil War occurred there… it’s just a really great place to live.
And, when I think about Vienna, I think about the Freeman Store, because it sits on the main road of the street and because I had so many great experiences there. My father would love to bring us there - he actually told me that when he read this he cried in nostalgia for those times, and they were really important times in my life.
[MUSIC: Pat Metheny “Slow Hot Wind” from What’s It All About (Nonesuch Records 2012)]
On warm, pleasant days in the summer, my father would take me and my siblings down to the Freeman Store, a more than hundred year old general store that was founded by Abraham Lydecker, an outspoken supporter of remaining in the Union during the Civil War. Now the building is a museum, run by a woman whose husband was mayor of Vienna for decades.
In the refurbished, two-room wooden building, surrounded by old artifacts behind shiny cases, we would gleefully pick out different type of colorful candies from large, glass jars with ornate, metal lids—jawbreakers, tootsie rolls, gum drops, and, my personal favorite, dyed and flavored rock candy. We’d take them outside, struggling to climb far up enough the trees to pluck sour apples from their branches. My favorite thing to do - although my brother and sister both hated it - was slip down into a little, smelly, perpetually polluted stream and jump from rock to rock, trying to make it from one end to the other without letting a foot plunge into the murky water, an unfortunate incident my dad jokingly called the “soaker”.
Sometimes, we’d bring flashlights and creep down into the huge storm drain tunnels, exploring a little deeper each time. I learned a lot from activities like these, and many others that could only have taken place in my unique, friendly, history-rich town, Vienna, Virginia, which has been and continues to be a huge influence on my life.
GELLERMAN: Emma Hastings lives in Vienna, Virginia. And we want to hear about “The Place Where You Live.” To find out how to submit your essay for the Orion Magazine -Living on Earth series, visit our website LOE dot org.
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