Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Letter from Our Own Correspondent - Wytheville

We spent the ride to Wytheville, Virginia, practicing the pronunciation of the town's name. At first, our driver had misread the map and kept telling us to be on the look-out for 'Waynesville'. When we got that straightened out, we pronounced it phonetically, so that the 'Wythe' part almost rhymed with 'wife'. That was nice, because it put me in mind of the dim, hidden moor of Wuthering Heights. But it turns out that Wytheville is pronounced like With-ville. That was not as nice. But we practiced all along the green slopes there, filled with creamy patches of violet wildflowers.

Wytheville's Main Street is not as nice as Sparta's. It doesn't have even one pretty, sweet spot, and Sparta had a dozen. All that Wytheville had that caught my eye was a big office supply building, which looked interesting, not least because a giant, 20-foot yellow number two pencil was perched over the front door, and that was closed, to top it all off. For the rest, there was one window full of karate trophies; a group of girls dressed for dance class and their moms trying to herd them from the dance building to their cars; and though there were some other businesses, nothing was sharp enough to stick out. I just remember dust and boarded windows.

Except for the Bollings Wilson Hotel. There was a historical marker next to it. This was something owned by the family of the second wife of President Woodrow Wilson. She was born in 1872, the daughter of a local judge, right in Wytheville. I'll bet she was so smart. I remember from US History (and by the way, I made a 5 on the AP test) that after Woodrow Wilson had a stroke shortly after World War One ended, she basically took over the running of the country for his remaining months in office. I just like to think of that little girl growing up in these mountains, where everything feels fresher and clearer, and how she made it all the way to the White House.

The Hotel is nice, at least the first floor, but the brick on the second floor looks unstyled and boring and faded. A lot of old, crisply dressed people were seated outside, I guess having their afternoon tea. Some traditions never die.

So we walked down Main Street, and then took a right on Fifth Street, walked two blocks till we reached good old Franklin Street, and took that back to our starting place. Franklin Street, by virtue of being two blocks removed from Main, is already just fields of waving flowers and grass spilling brimful and leaning sideways to knock gently on our knees, and small trees bent in playful contortions bordering them. It was so beautiful I am sure I shall remember it for the rest of my life!

As we drove and walked, we did see some of the nice houses that the fancy people having afternoon tea must inhabit. I think they could do something about their dusty Main Street and clean it up a bit.


  1. Main Street in Wytheville may be a little “dusty” but there’s plenty going on. There are 23 more retail and professional businesses in Downtown Wytheville today than just a year ago. The opening of the new Bolling Wilson Hotel is a sign of the great things that are rolling out in the next few months and years. For entertainment, there are weekly concerts at The Listening Room and the Old Stage Jam. You can enjoy great food at Graze on Main, the 1776 Log House, Flourz Sandwiches and Skeeter’s. There are quirky shops like The Farmer’s Daughter, Hannah’s Attic and Roberts’ Country Store. There are plenty of gift shops like Petals Wytheville, Coulter’s Florists and Wythe Yarn and Gift. The summer festivals like the week-long Chautauqua Festival and the After Hours Concert Series offer great entertainment. Downtown Wytheville is also home to the best 4th of July Celebration in Southwest Virginia. Preliminary work has already started on new sidewalks and plans are underway to rehab 22 downtown storefronts. Dusty? Yes, but that dust is just evidence of the serious revitalization that is underway. Check out the changes on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/downtownwytheville.

    1. Thank you for your comment, my first ever!!!!!! How exciting. Good luck with Wytheville. I hope as you revitalize that you keep the beautiful green grasses on Franklin Street!!!!!!