Richmond Local Custom Tips by matcrazy1 Top 5 Page for this destination
Richmond Local Customs: 43 reviews and 70 photos
PROUD OF THE SOUTH
The Stars and bars flag of the Confederacy was similar to the Stars and Stripes flag of the Union. Thus, the commanders had problems to distinguish their troops from those of the enemy. That's why the different flag was adopted. Thus, it became the most well-known of the Confederate flags: the two crossed bars with the 13 stars (the Southern Cross) like in the included photo taken in the Haversack Store of the Museum of the Confederacy. The flag was called The Confederate Battle Flag. This flag has become the generally recognized symbol of the South.
I got to know later during my trip that unfortunately Neo-Nazis, racists, skin-heads and the like have adopted this flag and desecrated it by their acts. They have no right to co-opt this flag! Maybe, that's why some Americans feel offended looking at this flag. The confederate flag also symbolizes slavery to Black community of the USA even now. In reality, it is a flag of honor, designed by the Confederacy as a banner representing state's rights and Southern culture. It is still displayed in the South. I saw this flag put in front of right many houses throughout the South during my trip.
Later on during my trip, I met a young guy in a T-shirt with this flag on its front and writing on the back:: "If this flag offends you that means you need a history lesson". Enough said...
VCU MEDICAL CENTER
The Museum of the Confederacy (modern building and old White House of the Confederacy) is located at the heart of Richmond's downtown, in the shadow of tall and modern building of Virginia Commenwealth University (VCU) Medical Center (on my picture).
The Museum announced recently that it might move out the downtown area because the hospital could expand. That got local attention. I can't believe it. I am sure that local community will never allow anyone to move jewels and must see activities out of downtown. Well, later on during my trip I saw some houses (mainly old, wooden cabin logs) moved from their original locations to... touristy downtowns of cities, but never in the opposite direction. My opinion is: Do not move it, please!
Click onto the link below, please.
VILLAGE IN TOWN OF MECHANICSVILLE
There are a few suburban communities around Richmond which are in reality part of one large area (greater Richmond). But, for some historical reasons, they are unincorporated communities and belong to neighbouring counties of Henrico and Hanover (north of the James River) and Chesterfield County (south of that river).
Nat's hometown, Mechanicsville belongs to Hanover county and, what a surprise! It looks more like a village than a town with total population of 30,464 (2000).
Oftentimes, the BEDROOM COMMUNITIES (places where many people live by night, but work in the nearby larger city), are a different world both politically and culturally from the inner city. Business areas are located along main roads. The rest, that is residential areas look like on my picture :-). I found it very nice and relaxing. Let's hope they can preserve it forever!
URSZULA AND NAT
I was always treated very well by natives in Richmond, Virginia and the South. I was surprised by very, very nice welcome wherever and whenever I came. Natives always wanted to speak with me and were interested who I am, what I do in their city, town or village and why I visit it. They usually started the conversation with simple southern version of "how are you" which sounded like "hi do?". I could write a book about their warm, very warm welcome and their hospitality. It was extremely nice. I am speechless...
It started in Richmond where Nat (b1bob) welcomed us (me + Urszula = matcrazy0, my wife) like we were his brother and sister. Shortly we became real, not only virtual friends... Later on during my trip Nat helped us a lot many times sending very helpful faxes and e-mails to my hotels/motels with his suggestions, advice and directions to various exciting points of interest. My trip would be much less interesting and I would skip many, many places without his help. Enough said... Thank you, Nat, my friend.
Now, I only worry whether I am able to do the same for him during his trip to Poland. I will try, no doubt about that.
7 STARS ON THE FIRST CONFEDERATE FLAG
My first meeting with history of the Civil War took place just in Richmond, when I visited the Museum and the White House of the Confederacy.
I noticed very fast that this difficult period in American history is still described and judged in many ways by Americans, often in different way than official historical sources. I found it very interesting. Later on I noticed that especially folks who lived for years in the South have different opinion than I could find in books.
Let me share some differences and ask some questions with no simple replies.
Was it really civil war?
Many folks, I was talking to in the South, undermined the official name of this war. They called it either the War Between the States or sometimes the War of Northern Aggression. Well, civil war is by definition a war fought by different groups of people living in THE SAME country (like the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1939). Indeed, the war 1861-1865 was a war between two independent states: old Union (the United States of America = the North) and new Confederacy (The Confederate States of America = the South) which had own government, had a foreign policy, sent ambassadors (Great Britain was one country which recognised the Confederate States of America).
I cannot agree on the thought that the civil war was not really a civil war but a war between countries. According to the constitution of the United States the Southern States had no right for secession.
I checked text of the US Constitution from 1860 and it didn't expressly lay out any guidelines for secession. Thus, I think, there is nothing in it to prohibit secession. A union is, by definition, always voluntary - the act of choice and a free association. Am I wrong?
SCOTTICH FLAG IN RICHMOND
In Richmond area I saw various, often unknown for me flags put by homes of the natives. These flags showed usually the roots or maybe just sympathy of the natives. This one on my picture is the Scottish Rampant Lion flag. It's the Royal Flag of Scotland now only used by the monarch.
Well, in contrast to the West I didn't find any flag of Poland in the South. When I looked in southern phone books, l saw that almost all the names were Anglo-Irish, which was very different from the West (and North as well, I am sure), where they were Spanish (Latino), Polish, Czech, German, Italian, Swedish, Greek, Armenian, Lithuanian etc. Only a few European nationalities were rarely found, like Dutch or French.
It seems that the West (and the North) is the land of immigration, the south traditionally is not. My question is why?
BLACK SPIDERS FOR HALLOWEEN
When I was walking along Monument Avenue I saw a house with the front decorated in black spiders and cobwebs. There were orange pumpkins put on the ground, too. It was the first Halloween decoration I ever saw. I got to know what is this annual celebration in American life almost three weeks later, in Austin, Texas...
This is a year where Halloween fell on a Sunday. Some jurisdictions, for religious reasons, had the TRICK OR TREATING (when kids knock on doors on Halloween night and folks give them candy) on Saturday, 30 October. The decision was left up to each individual community instead of from on high in Washington or from a state capitol.
ON A CAR BUMPER
I saw many signs of upcoming presidential elections in Richmond although it was three weeks before. Right many cars had bumper stickers with names of presidential candidates: either Bush or Kerry.
At the gas station in Mechanicsville I asked a guy where to buy or get them? He replied that they were available in local Republican and Democratic party office and asked me many questions. Nice guy and conversation, however a little bit difficult for me. His English was not like the English I heard out West a year before. He sounded a lot like "b1bob".
In Richmond and generally in the South more people put up signs for Republican candidates. It seems that Richmond was a more conversative than liberal city. However, even in the South, the cities are more friendly than Democrats largely due to high black populations and rich Northern transplants (locally derided as "come heres"). The cities of Richmond, Charlotte, Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans supported Kerry even as their states (and nearby suburbs) went heavily for Bush. The city of Richmond, for example, voted 56-44% for the Kerry-Edwards ticket. (We saw just as many, if not more, Kerry-Edwards posters and stickers as we did Bush-Cheney ones along Monument Avenue). Hanover County, where "b1bob" lives voted 71-29% for Bush-Cheney and Nat's polling station voted even more solidly Republican than the county average.
ON MONUMENT AVENUE
Most houses along Monument Avenue have elevated (at least 1-2 ft; 0.5 m) ground floors like this one on my picture. Is it because of high risk of floods? Well, James river flows a little bit to south. There are sometimes heavy rains and rarely coastal hurricanes make a direct hit on Richmond.
13 STARS ON THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
As I already stated I was told different opinions and views on the Civil War.
One of my basic questions was: why did southern states secede from the Union? Was slavery the reason?
Official history books usually cite slavery as the cause for the secession and war. President Abraham Lincoln was chosen in November 1860 and he wanted to ban slavery wheras the southern states wanted to keep it.
I was told in the South that slavery was a factor in the War Between the States, but it was a secondary factor. Slavery was getting to be cost prohibitive. The advent of the cotton gin made picking cotton more efficient without having to pay for the upkeep of the slaves. Even if the slaves didn't earn money, plantation owners had to pay to keep them in working order. Even if the South won the war, slavery would have probably disappeared before 1900.
The real reason of the secession was really the cotton trade. Because of soil and climate, cotton would only grow in the South. Because many of the congressmen were from the North, they made U.S. trade policy with other countries (as it relates to cotton exports) that put the cotton farmers at a distinct disadvantage. The South took that for a number of years and decided in 1861 they were not going to take it anymore so, one by one, the Southern states began to secede from the Union. Slavery was used as the rallying cry up North because most Americans, both up North and down South, were illiterate in the 1860s. Whereas most couldn't get their arms around the finer points of the cotton trade, they could understand slavery. It's just an opinion, but one that makes sense when you set aside the emotion of the debate.
Read the speeches to Georgia legislature of:
- Alexander H. Stephens, future Confederate Vice-President here
- Robert Toombs, future Confederate Secretary of State here.
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