The Rumsey Experiment

The Rumsey Experiment

Shepherdstown, WV is 250 years old. That is a long time. All year we have had many events ongoing in celebration. I have had a hand in a couple of these events and as a photographer have been out and about with my camera. Shepherdstown, WV is a beautiful old town in the Shenandoah valley. The original buildings make up the bulk of the town which is 4 square miles of the original plat while the surrounding area which we also call Shepherdstown extends several miles into the area.
The Colony of Virginia began issuing Valley land grants in the 1730s. In 1734, Thomas Shepherd was granted 222 acres (898,000 m²) on the south side of the Potomac (then called the Potowmack), along the Falling Spring Branch (now known as the Town Run). From that tract he selected 50 acres (202,000 m²) and laid out a town. Naming his town Mecklenburg, he petitioned the Virginia General Assembly for a charter, which was granted in 1762. Thomas Shepherd was the sole trustee, owning the town and being responsible for its government. A second charter, which allowed for self-government, was granted by the Commonwealth of Virginina in 1794. In 1798, the corporate limits were extended and the name was changed to Shepherd’s Town. After the American Civil War, the town’s name was officially contracted to Shepherdstown. (Quoted from Wikipedia)
Shepherdstown has a University, Shepherd University , an orchestra, lots of fine eating, great shopping and still maintains it’s original historic flavor. There are strict building codes and the use of neon signs, the presence of MacDonalds, 7 Elevens and the like are forbidden. At least within the 4 square miles that make up the original town. There are many old homes , old trees, lovely gardens and we collect our mail from the post office here in town. For more information about my wonderful town please visit
To celebrate Shepherdstown’s 250th I was involved in my poetry group The Bookend Poets’ publication of a commemorative publication, “In Good Company”.
Here are my two poems.
The long ride then over two lane roads
In the top down two-seater with the rumble seat in the back
Where I got to sit
Singing whatever I could
As a kid
With Auntie
Driving I’m sure quite fast
And my brother riding shotgun
Oh do stop that noise
We pulled up to what I remember now quite well was
The old pharmacy, my first time here
In Shepherdstown, 1952
And that was just the beginning.

And the second poem is:


Shepherdstown, small as it is, has an orchestra.
A town of historic homes
And alleyways with old chicken coops
Wooden garages and a town run.

From upstairs, the edges of the tin roofs wade
Across the sky, stepping unevenly
Like the sidewalks aged into disrepair
And there’s the bebop of the train whistle moan.

The cry of the dogs calling their news.
We had a few town dogs before leash laws arrived.
They’d hang out on main street
Sit where they pleased..greet you,hang out in class.

The main street parades and the local middle school band
Playing past my window, make me run to look,
Most people don’t know that small town type life.
It’s a good life to me, special.