As I left the Petersburg National Battlefield, about which I wrote last week, I turned right onto Crater Road. I did not have far to go before I found another site of historic interest – Blandford Church.
I pulled right onto the grounds of the extensive cemetery, drove around a bit, then parked near the church in order to get a photo. Unfortunately the photo turned out rather dark. (I am definitely getting a digital camera before my next trip.) It was evening time and the building was closed for tours for the day, but I later looked up the church on the internet and found some information.
The edifice, constructed in 1735, features fifteen Tiffany windows, one of which displays the Confederate Stars and Bars. A memorial service is held at the church every year on the ninth of June to commemorate the boys and old men who fought against a superior Union force as the Federals reached Petersburg before the main Confederate force could arrive.
30,000 Confederate dead, not to mention countless other people, lie buried in the cemetery, including British General William Phillips, who died while en route with his men to Yorktown. Actor Joseph Cotton, of “Citizen Kane” fame, is also buried there. Tours of both the church and the cemetery are available.
I had wanted to also visit Violet Bank, a house in nearby Colonial Heights that served as General Robert E. Lee’s headquarters during the Petersburg campaign, but, again, the time was getting late and I had to head up the road to Baltimore.
I reached Baltimore late that Saturday night. I had taken this trip in order to help celebrate my mother’s birthday. The next day I met up with several family members at an Italian restaurant in a private room. My mother was told that her children were going to treat her to a birthday dinner. What she did not know was that a total of 27 family members would be there as well. Several drove up from Virginia. A granddaughter flew in from Michigan. A niece and her husband flew in from Minnesota. (Every time I hear the name ‘Minnesota’ I can’t help but think of Jesse Ventura’s pronunciation – “Min-nuh-SOW-tuh.”)
The grand prize for distance traveled, however, went to another niece, who flew in from Washington – state, that is. I bet her arms were tired. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Before the day was over, my sister, Kay, who had very ably organized the event, invited me to bring our mother the next day to her house in Easton, a small town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. (Four years ago I wrote an article describing an historic site in Easton known as the Third Haven Friends Meeting House.) The relatives from Min-nuh-SOW-tuh and Washington state were going to spend the night with her and her husband. The next day we would meet and have lunch.
Shortly after we all met up we caravaned a few miles to downtown to a quaint restaurant called Masons, which is situated in a building that looks as if it were once a private mansion.
Masons is a Zagat-rated eatery that has been written up in several publications, including Travel Holiday and the Washington Times, to name a few. On the wall leading to the restrooms is a gallery of framed photos, some of which depict some of the notable personages who have dined at its tables, people such as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and actress Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman). In fact, when the movie “The Wedding Crashers” was being filmed in the area the cast often ate at Masons.
As we perused our lunch menus I noticed that meatloaf was one of the featured entrees. I thought to myself that there was no way that I was going to order meatloaf in a Zagat-rated restaurant. Meatloaf (a full bottle of ketchup, if you please) is to be ordered at Betty’s Diner or Mack’s Place, but not at a place such as Masons.
I decided to order something that sounded worthy of the restaurant. I got the grilled tuna Nicoise with some sort of ragout. The others ordered fancy-sounding salads or something equally as sophisticated.
My mother, however, ordered the meatloaf. Oh well, it’s her tastebuds. My brother-in-law, Bill, ordered the liverwurst sandwich. Oh well, it’s his tastebuds. I have to be in a very rare mood indeed to crave liverwurst. Very rare.
I asked Bill about his lunch choice and he replied that Masons makes the best liverwurst sandwich that he had ever tasted. I, in turn, declared to him that Masons, apparently, has the best of the wurst. Let’s just say that Bill does not appreciate a good pun, nor a bad one, either, it seems.
Everyone enjoyed their meals, including me. The tuna was good. I believe it was the first tuna that I ever ate that didn’t come from a 6 ½ ounce can. I don’t remember how it got started, but I believe someone got curious about the meatloaf. My mother offered that person a bite. It snowballed from there. Finally, I, sitting at the other end of the table, was offered a taste. At this point I need to remind you what I said earlier about a bottle of ketchup. Ketchup and meatloaf go hand in hand, sort of like Hansel and Gretel, Simon and Garfunkel, Frick and Frack. Well, you get the picture. This meatloaf, however, had not a spot of Heinz or Hunts on it, none whatsoever. Instead, according to the menu, it had a covering of mushroom au jus.
The next statement is not by any means meant to disparage Masons and their grilled tuna, which, as I already noted, was good. However, if I had had the chance to taste the meatloaf before ordering, I would have let Charlie the Tuna stay in the kitchen. Yes, I would have ordered the meatloaf – and told Heinz to stay in the kitchen.
After a leisurely lunch we then split up three ways. My cousin from Min-nuh-SOW-tuh and her husband drove south toward the Delmarva Peninsula and then to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, over and under which I once traveled twenty-some years ago. Kay and Bill drove my Washington-state cousin to the airport to catch a plane back to the left coast.
My mother and I ambled our way back up US 50 toward Baltimore, making a couple of stops along the way, about which I will write in the next installment.
Next Installment – Two Fallen Soldiers