Lives of the Village – Ruth Lewis

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Lives of the Village – Ruth Lewis

Jan 20, 2023

From Motorcycle Chains to Crochet Chains

Back in 2006 to about 2012, you could find me rolling down Old Baltimore Road on a Honda Shadow motorcycle with a trike kit on it, alongside my husband, who sat front and center on a big ole Harley!  In those days, we made many trips together and even participated in Rolling Thunder, a breathtaking experience in which we rode with over 1,000 bikers to D.C. There were so many levels of riding experience within the group. Many were seasoned riders, but there were quite a few inexperienced ones, too. One ride in particular changed our lives and made us decide to put an end to this chapter of our lives and sell our beloved bikes. We witnessed a rider in front of us who lost his way, which resulted in a collision with a couple of riders directly behind him. We also had several biker friends that got into accidents or even passed away due to motorcycle accidents. Though we missed the “wind in our hair” for a while, it was time to part with that way of life and start our next chapter in the beautiful valley, Draper, Virginia.

 The Pattern of My Life

A little about me to “hook” you in—my name is Ruth Lewis.  I am a lifetime Pulaski County resident and a Draper resident by heart. My husband, Sam, is a Vietnam veteran. He is from Eden, NC, and relocated here to find work.  We met in 2004 and got married in 2006.  I was a secretary for a pest control company for 35 years until my retirement. Sam was lucky enough to retire a couple of years ahead of me. He is a blessing in my life! Between us, we have two daughters.  Cheri lives across the road from us, and Anna has just relocated to Bluewell, West Virginia. We have seven grandchildren ranging in age from 8 to 32 years old, and one great-grandchild that has just turned 2.  We also have two fur babies. Miss Daisy Duke is our Yorkie.  She just turned 11 on the 9th of this month. We are given such pleasure by this small creature!  Also, we have a Shih-Tzu, Miss Maggie Mae.  Maggie just celebrated a birthday in October.  She is our senior resident at 16 years of age.  She experiences lot a lot of health issues, including a heart murmur.  She does well for her age, but I know that her time is limited.  We are doing the best we can to give her the best quality of life.

Since we retired, we love to travel a few times a year to veteran reunions and Pigeon Forge (my happy place).  In 2022, we attended 2 veteran reunions in Mobile, Alabama, and Kokomo, Indiana. I even got to mark a visit to The Ark and the Creation Museum off my bucket list on our way to Indiana this summer! If you ever have the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting each of these spectacular places, but Draper is the perfect place to live.  It’s country living at its best while still only being a couple of miles from the interstate.

The “Thread” Between Draper and Me

We made the best decision ever to move back to Draper from Dublin 6 years ago. This country life suits us both well. We love walking on the New River Trail during the nice weather and even have a permit to drive our golf cart on the trail for when we’re missing the “wind in our hair”. There is nothing prettier than the trail following Claytor Lake. Have you ever gone on the trail in the early spring before the trees and plants start to bloom and the leaves start to grow? It is beautiful! We have driven as far as Foster Falls on the golf cart.

Our yard is the perfect place to view an abundance of deer, possums, raccoons, and even a big ole’ bear that periodically visits.  The bear loves raiding our hummingbird feeders (we can’t get them far enough off the ground)!  We also have two outside kitties, Kit-Kat and Kit.  Both of our feline friends are here every morning at the break of the day for their breakfast. I sometimes wish I could let them inside, but Miss Daisy Duke will not tolerate that move!  Daisy sits on the back of the couch for hours at a time, quietly watching for anything that moves, so she can bark and run the varmint off.  Daisy despises the many deer that seem to congregate in our yard.  Absolutely no tolerance!

Hooked on Draper

Draper is home, with many fond memories of special times, such as very heated croquet games in our side yard—absolutely playing to WIN! I was lucky enough to have older neighbors that dearly loved me as a child.  Aunt Lizzie Collins had two children that were sisters that came to live with them when I was about 7 to 8 years old.  Also, family members that would visit each summer had a daughter about my age.  I remember Aunt Lizzie making an old-fashioned bonnet out of feed sacks for each of us kids.  The fabric was blue with little red roses in it.  I also had a feed sack dress.  While I can’t exactly remember the color, I know I had one.

Some of my earliest memories are going to buy goods at the Mercantile and seeing them cut the brown paper off a roll, wrap the purchase, and tie it with string. I also remember many years of collecting the mail in our tiny post office box. And there was a small building located on the Mercantile property that housed a barber shop. The barber was an older gentleman by the name of Ed Bailey.  This is where I got my first-ever haircut!  My hair was long and somewhat curly.  The tears would flow each morning when it was time to comb/brush it.  So, it was cut short. I understand that Mr. Bailey had a crowd in his little shop on Saturday nights.  This was a time of recounting the events of the week, getting a haircut (if needed), and tasting the drink of the evening.

I can also remember walking down to Kirkner’s little store, just below the waterspout.  I would go down there and get candy and always stop at the spout for a drink of cool water.  Back then, everyone would drink spring water and not give it a second thought.  Now, with all the rules and regulations, you are told to boil your water. That fresh, crisp water was so refreshing!  In my 73 years on this earth, I have never seen the spring to the waterspout run dry.  But Kirkner’s wasn’t the only candy stop in Draper! I also remember walking from the old Draper Elementary School across the road to buy root beer barrel candy after school.  It was never ever out of stock! I used to watch Tea Room Brown from the school window picking his pears from his tree in the front yard.  He had a tin bucket on a long pole with a cord attached.  He would put the bucket under the pear and pull the cord and the pear would fall in the bucket and not onto the yard, so he did not bruise them.  Very ingenious idea. As a grade school child, I was truly fascinated! It was said that Tea Room actually had a small tearoom on his property close to his house at one time; thus, his name.

Stitching It All Together

“So how did a retired secretary and grandma with a passion for riding motorcycles start crocheting shawls?!” You might be wondering. My grandmother taught me to crochet and knit when I was a child. So, it seems that I have always known about this nearly lost art.  When looking for a hobby this past winter, I found a pattern for a pocket shawl and then tweaked it to suit my needs.  And then, almost like Forest Gump, who started running, I began again to crochet. One shawl, another shawl, shawls for friends….I was addicted!!!  I wanted an outlet for my creations, so one day I approached the Mercantile manager, Lisa Harrison, and Brian Gardner, Director of Healing Arts.  It was a wonderful matchup. On Saturdays, you can find me at The Draper Mercantile.  I show customers how to crochet and I also sell my shawls. Each shawl is different, which gives me the opportunity to be creative. I am having a blast with this new family.  I am very grateful for the opportunity to share my time with them.  I cannot say enough good things about the young people that work at the Mercantile.  They are definitely precious!

I appreciate telling you a little about my life, my fond memories of Draper (as it is and was), and my crochet efforts! Anyone that knows me, knows that I am having fun bringing back and showing off my crochet hobby.  There is so much out there that is going to be a lost art unless wedemonstrate it to the younger generation! What art form do you want to see preserved?

Until next time,


By the way, the model for my pocket shawls is our oldest granddaughter.

Written by:

Ruth Lewis

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