Category Archives: Ask

What’s the Oldest Business in Charlottesville?

Today I got my hair cut at Staples’, picked up some carpentry supplies at Martin, and had lunch at Riverside, and that set me to wondering about which local business is the oldest.

Martin Hardware seemed like a good place to start. They were founded in 1893. But Timberlake’s, as their sign informs all who pass by, was established in 1890. Keller & George promotes their 1875 founding in radio ads. My insurance agent, Hanckel-Citizens, was founded a few years earlier, in 1872. After half an hour of thinking about this and googling around, I can’t come up with any older local business that’s still running, without interruption, and hasn’t been bought up by a larger business.

Now, of course, my curiosity is piqued, and I have to imagine that I’m overlooking something. Do you know of a business that’s older than Hanckel-Citizens?

Where Can I Find Healthful Food?

Wright's Dairy-Rite
Lunch at Wright’s Dairy-Rite, in Staunton. Not healthful. But…damn. That’s good eatin’.

I’ll be moving in a few weeks (only a quarter mile, but moving is moving) and that means a few days during which it won’t be practical to do any cooking. I’m looking for some healthy restaurant options for lunch and dinner. Part of what makes restaurant food delicious is that it’s slathered in butter, loaded with salt, etc. Can you suggest any better options for eating out?

Whole Foods’ prepared foods seem to be pretty good. Bodo’s is always a great option, between their bagels, soups, and salads. Sticks is spot-on, with their lean meat, veggies, rice, and simple sauces. What other places am I missing?

Surviving a Power Outage with Sanity Intact?

Reader E.B. writes:

“How we survived without power” has been a hot topic in my workplace the last few days, as it has been for many others, I’m sure. While we all (by now) know the obvious things (batteriest, kerosense, wood for the stove, etc.), I’ve heard some good suggestions that I wish I’d known about and/or never thought of in the first place (for me, it was to have a french press coffee maker). What are some ideas for things to have on hand, recipes, tips for entertaining children, etc?

I know I beefed up my preparedness list last weekend, adding candle holders, hand sanitizer, and Sterno.

Organic Vegetable Seedlings?

Green TomatoGiven the climbing price of food, I’m looking to expand the household vegetable garden this year beyond the seeds that we planted back in February. We’ve looked around, but the few places we’ve checked are devoid of organic labeling. Organic isn’t a particularly big deal to me in the food that I buy, but the stuff that grows in my own garden I like to keep away from the ol’ Miracle Grow. Can anybody suggest a nursery in the area where I could stock on up tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, etc?

Remember 1970s Horror TV Shows?

Fellow local history buffs, albeit those a bit older than me, might be interested in this note from Sean Kotz:

Where were you on Saturday nights during the witching hour in the 1970s? Well, there is a good chance, like a lot of Virginians, you were watching your local horror host. This summer, Horse Archer Productions is brushing back the cobwebs as we film the new documentary, “Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition of the Old Dominion.” We will be charting more than 40 years of Virginia’s television history by talking with hosts (former and current) as well as fans to create this just in time for Halloween. In fact, we’re very interested in involving you, and are currently planning a Charlottesville area taping for fans, so if you remember Slime Theatre or Cobweb Theatre or any Virginia host or show, contact us at And go to the website to learn how your stories, memorabilia, and memories can be part of this movie.

I’m always glad to see efforts to document recent local history. John Hammond Moore’s excellent “Albemarle: Jefferson’s County, 1727-1976” peters out in the 1950s, Moore presumably figuring then-recent history would interest few. Here’s hoping somebody takes on the task of updating it soon.