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ous serpents to bite him, assuring his congregation that they could not harm him.” A copperhead got him twice on his right hand, a rattlesnake once on his left: The preacher “of the ‘Holiness’ persuasion” died in short order. Not prone to restraint, Brisbane wrote that such “distressing events” were based partly on “ignorance of the construction of the universe.” When we thought that earth was the be-all and end-all—“with sun, moon, stars all revolving around it, the ruler of the universe sitting directly overhead,” he wrote—it was easier to think that said ruler might reach down with a divine antidote to the snake pizen. But now we know our universe better than that. It contains “thirty thousand million suns, some of them one million times as big as our sun” and so “it is unreasonable to expect the Ruler of And they thought Cleopatra was in da Nile. so vast a realm to suspend laws that He has made, or personally to interfere with the effects of snake poison.” It’s a Handling snakes in a religious ceremony is front-page shame Anderson never brushed up on news when the snake gets the upper hand, as has haphis Copernicus. pened about 100 times in the U.S. since the practice years ago Without a law barring snake hanbegan about a century ago. The Code of Virginia makes dling, ran the other article in The Post, it a Class 4 misdemeanor to “display, exhibit, handle or use any poisonous or dangerous snake or reptile in such a manner as to Jonesville cops were powerless to prevent such perilous theater. But they endanger the life or health of any person.” Kyle Daly, in an April 2007 spoke out against it. Sheriff R.F. Giles story on the website, wrote, “We can only imagine the lawless, reptilian frontier that Virginia must have been before that particu- called the demonstrations “out of reason for enlightened Christians” and lar decree was handed down.” But we don’t have to imagine it. On October 8, 1936, The Post, out of Big Stone Gap and Appalachia, car- slammed them as “harking back to the dark ages.” A physician also decried the ried two front-page stories about snake handling following the venompractice, and the mayor of nearby St. fueled demise the previous week of the Rev. T. Anderson, a “faith preacher,” in Jonesville in Lee County. The daily papers had made “quite Charles said they would allow no more demonstrations like the preacher’s. The adoo” over the matter, the story said. Such adoo, in fact, that New practice’s heyday was over by mid-cenYork’s Arthur Brisbane, whom his friend and publisher William Rantury, but it persists today, illegal or not, dolph Hearst once called “the greatest journalist of his day,” dedicated in pockets of believers. Not so all the his syndicated column to it. Brisbane wrote that Rev. Anderson, “in a demonstration of faith intended to prove divine power, allowed poison- handlers. Go tell it on the mountain.

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p e n n y P o s tc a r d s BY G r ac e A l b r i t to n

Military Memories With all the events this year surrounding the 150th anniversary of start of the Civil War, it’s easy to get yourself into a, well, martial kind of mood. These postcards got us feeling appropriately militant— without any of that pesky military discipline.

 The Cavalryman, Charlottesville Sent by Margaret M. Grove, Charlottesville War is no laughing matter, and this painting by Civil War-era artist W. L. Sheppard features a suitably grim-looking cavalry officer in Confederate uniform—although he appears to have misplaced his trusty horse.

Augusta Military Academy, Fort Defiance Sent by Tina Shafer, Fort Defiance


Under the headline “Big Sensation is years ago Promised,” Staunton’s Augusta County Argus reports that at the upcoming meeting of Virginia Polytechnic Institute’s board of visitors, charges will be leveled against some of the school’s stewards and its president, Paul Barringer. The beef? That cadets harbored in their rooms a woman from Roanoke who is said to be “well known” there, and that Barringer knew of her presence and did nothing. Even a legislative inquiry into the “alleged scandal” is predicted. Students and teachers deny knowledge of an “impending sensation,” but it has been the buzz in Richmond for weeks.


In a strategic mission that will indelibly insinuate years ago Virginia’s Good Neighbor Policy in the common worldwide psyche, Governor and Mrs. J. Lindsay Almond Jr. and 81 other representatives of the Old Dominion depart Norfolk on the Moore-McCormack ocean liner Brasil for a 30-day cruise of the Caribbean and South America, reports the Danville Bee. Destinations on the grueling outreach effort will include Rio, São Paulo, Buenos Aires and San Juan. On behalf of the people of Virginia, the Almond party is carting along tobacco, country hams, peanuts, textiles and photos as gifts for their hosts.


At a meeting of the Gloucester County board of years ago supervisors, Sheriff William Gatling avers that the food prepared at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital for inmates in the county jail is “slop,” reports the local paper, Glo-Quips. Gatling has said his dogs eat better than his inmates. Supervisors see this as another move in Gatling’s months-long campaign to have a kitchen added on to the jail. Gatling also says he can whip up a breakfast for just 30 cents, compared to the hospital’s 49. But Chairman Burton Bland is more worried about complaints that sheriff ’s cars are being seen outside the county. Gatling exits the scene.

Send unique postcards, along with an explanatory note and 8 1/2 -inch SASE, to Virginia Living, Postcards, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, Va., 23219, and get a free one-year subscription if your entry is selected. (Send at your own risk.) I l l u s t r at i o n B y r o b u l l m a n

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Augusta Military Academy may have closed its doors in 1983, but this dress parade reflects the discipline of the students and the beauty of the campus, showing that Augusta men knew how to march well and look good doing it.

Virginia Military Institute, Lexington Sent by Ann Kusek, Annandale Responsible for producing some of Virginia’s finest military minds, this postcard reflects the beauty of the Virginia Military Institute campus at sunset—a surprisingly dreamlike quality for a school that employed the likes of Stonewall Jackson.

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Virginia Living - October 2011  

The October 2011 issue of Virginia Living is the tastiest yet, featuring our favorite pairings of cheese and wine, with every crumb and drop...

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