Monday, December 22, 2014

A Serendipity Christmas Gift - Lunch at Poplar Springs

Today was our last VA Happy Hikers Hike of 2014.

I found this park southeast of Warrenton, VA online. Diane had been there for a track meet with daughter Mary Jane. There were only 4 of us. The park is a gem with well marked wooded trails and a lovely lake. A clear chilly day. . . 

We warmed up quickly once we got on the trail. I told the story of my 
amazing visit 42 years ago to a 'mansion' not too far from the trail in Casanova. 

After college I taught in Warrenton, Virginia and thanks to my grandmother's network of friends, rented an apartment in an Antebellum home on Culpeper Street in Warrenton. My landlady, Mrs. Eastham Carter, felt an obligation to my grandmother to introduce me to the right people in town. She kindly included me when she visited her relatives and friends in Fauquier County, Virginia.

I lived in the apartment of Mrs. Carter's home on 115 Culpeper St. Warrenton, VA
1972 -1975

One evening we drove to Casanova and entered a long curving driveway to an impressive stone mansion. A butler ushered us in to an expansive hall that reminded me of a medieval castle. 
Our hostess was Jane Hall Cutler. 
At the time I saw her as an older woman, a friend of Mrs. Carter. I don't remember the lively conversation because I was focused on the ocelots climbing on the back of the sofa and on the balcony above us. 

On the way back to our home on Culpeper St. Mrs. Carter told me that her friend Jane had been a Hollywood screen writer and that her most famous movie was THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS, debuting Lana Turner (1939).

Back to the trail in 2014  -  Diane told us that a local resort, Poplar Springs, now had a restaurant and spa and it might be a nice place to have lunch after the hike.

How exciting to drive up the same curving driveway and see the same stone mansion that Mrs. Carter and I visited in 1972. 

Kathy, Diane, Marie

Jane Hall on the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1939

Jane Hall Cutler's aunt and guardian married Robert Randolph Hicks, son of Confederate Surgeon Maj. Robert Iverson Hicks. Robert Randolph Hicks had no children and built Poplar Springs in the 1920's. Mrs. Carter's ex husband, Randy Carter, was a nephew of Robert Randolph Hicks and grandson of the Confederate surgeon Robert Iverson Hicks.  Mrs. Carter an I lived in the home of Robert Iverson Hicks on Culpeper Street in Warrenton! His surgery was in the lower level of the house.

When I visited WARRENTON in 2012 while living in Alaska and never dreaming I would live in Virginia again, Hope and I had a tour of the Culpeper house by the current owners who who have restored the house. 

Soon after the visit in 2012 I found a blog written by the daughter of Jane Hall Cutler of Poplar Springs, Journeys through History . Robin Cutler is about to publish a book of her mother's life which includes her mother's experience as a young girl visiting Poplar Springs. I emailed Robin Cutler and recounted my strange memory of the ocelots (looking for confirmation that I wasn't making this up).

She wrote back and confirmed my memory. Her Blog filled in many blanks. 

This is a photo of Mrs. Carter's ex husband (Randy Carter) with Jane Hall in front of Poplar Springs.

On our 2014 December hike and and lunch at Poplar Springs the waiter gave us an envelope. It said RETURN TO POPLAR SPRINGS BEFORE JANUARY 31 2015 AND ASK THE WAITER TO OPEN THE ENVELOPE FOR A GIFT.
We returned and the waiter opened the envelope.
The gift was a night at the Inn. Jim and I began the celebration of our 40th year of marriage with a night at Poplar Springs on February 28th.

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