Batteaux

The 28th annual Batteau Festival is underway as participants float, paddle and pole their way from Lynchburg to Richmond on the James River. It is something I have wanted to participate in as well as photograph but until today hadn’t been able to do either. Today, the boats hit the half-way point, marked by a festival in the town of Scottsville, where they where they will spend the night.

The Lynchburgers

As a non-native to the area, I have wondered for quite some time what makes a “Lynchburger” a “Lynchburger.” Is it location? Connections? Experiences? Or something else? For the latest installment of our monthly photo page, I did a portrait series with some people who grew up and still live in the Lynchburg area and asked them a few questions. I included their ages and the street(s) on which they grew up next to their names.

Corey Snyder – 26, Pine Drive, Sleepy Hollow Road
Corey Snyder grew up off of VES road before moving to the Timberlake area. While many of his friends were eager to leave, Corey has remained satisfied in Lynchburg, believing that life anywhere is what you make of it.

“I’m lucky in that I’ve had the same group of friends every since elementary school. We’ve all stayed good friends. But I constantly get this thing from people who aren’t from here, they ask me where I’m from. They say, ‘you just don’t seem like you’re from Lynchburg.’ … I don’t really know what that means.”

Deborah Jefferson – 58, Winston Ridge Road

Deborah Jefferson was among the group of students who were transferred to E.C. Glass when Dunbar High School shut down. She left for a number of years but ended up returning, never forgetting her home.

“In our community everybody took care of everyone. By the time you got in trouble in one place your parents already knew by the time you got home. It was about the community raising and instilling morals and values in you here.”

Kennith Revis – 68, Clay Street

Kennith Revis learned the ins and out of Lynchburg as a youngster, making connections that eventually took him from selling newspapers to selling real estate. Now in Forest, he has a wealth of knowledge about the city’s past.

“I love it. Lynchburg is a gold mine. There’s hidden treasures everywhere around Lynchburg. There’s just so much history here, it goes way back.”

Tina Brown Paige – 28, Campbell Ave, Citadel Street, Polk Street

Moving several times in her youth, Tina Brown Paige learned first-hand how different communities function throughout the city. She now uses that knowledge to connect with and teach children in Lynchburg.

“I definitely experienced that close-knit type of environment, where you have your neighbors looking out for your house, you’re looking out for theirs. You know your neighbors, you know the people that are surrounding you, and they kind of become like family.”

Donna Weringo – 51, Dawn Ridge Drive
Watching Lynchburg grow and develop around her as a child in the Timberlake area, Donna Weringo now loves showing visitors all the amenities of her hometown.

“They’ve got just about anything, I think, that you could need or want here. There’s indoor recreation, there’s outdoor recreation around. And if it’s not right here in the city it’s within a short drive.”

Mabel Cofer – 87, Graves Mill Road

Growing up just across the Bedford County line, Mabel Cofer said there wasn’t much to do except go to church. She made many long-lasting relationships there as well as during the time she spent working for Blue Buckle in Lynchburg.

“I wouldn’t know what to do to live any other place. I have real nice friends. What I would most hate to leave would be my friends. They’re so good to me.”

Henry Thaxton – 89, Linden Avenue

Henry Thaxton described his childhood home off Boonsboro Road as the neighborhood clubhouse, with an open-door policy for friends to stop by. On school days, he and his siblings would catch the trolley at the turnaround on Peakland and take it downtown and then up 5th street.

“I’m not a person who likes the big cities. Back in the 50’s, I would guess the population was around 40,000, in the city itself. I like the small-town feel of it but if you knew where to look you could find everything you could ask for.”

Megan Davies – 27, Columbia Avenue

Megan Davies says the level of personal connections between Lynchburgers makes it a special place but points out the downside as well: although connections around town can serve as a support network, they can also make it hard for newcomers to feel included.

“I never really looked at Lynchburg as a college town and now I feel like I’m starting to view it a little bit more that way, as Liberty seems to be growing and since Randolph-Macon went from being a women’s college to co-ed. Even though we have so many here it never felt that way for a while.”

Shelly Moore Davis – 47, Fillmore Street

Raising two children after a divorce, Shelly Moore Davis found great value in the dependability of the communities in Lynchburg she had already grown to be part of.

“Lynchburg is a wonderful place to raise a family. Lynchburg offers just enough to really have a sure footing when raising a family. And to really know the happenings around you and how it will affect your children.”