A visit to the Chesapeake palace

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 29, 2004

My chauffer, Andy Damaini, dropped me off in front of the huge beautiful building that stood at least six stories high, bright, colorful, imposing. It was the first time I had seen the new City Hall and I will admit I was impressed. Such grandeur and beautiful grounds; it must have near broken the hearts of the taxpayers when they first saw the plans for the edifice and pondered the cost. One of the several elevators whisked us up. Andy had found a place to park and joined us, to the mayor’s office on the sixth floor. What a spread that was, each of the top officials had a suite to themselves that together took up the entire floor. Topnotch furniture, drapes, carpets, etc, like you’d see in a movie about the lifestyle of high corporate officials. Where were we?

Chesapeake city hall, that’s where, to do one of Andy’s TV Roundtable Talk shows. It was a rare opportunity to visit that mayor in his office, one that he will vacate in June after 26 years serving the citizens of Chesapeake as member of council or mayor. He is hanging it up so he can spend more time with his family, away from the noise of politics. Bill – William Ward insisted we call him that – graciously ushered us into his suite. I could almost imagine our mayor, Dana Dickens, drooling with envy when he first visited the Chesapeake mayor’s business pad. I did… it was like being in Town Bank’s operation center in North Suffolk. After the citizens of Chesapeake had choked down the cost of it they now surely point to it with pride. I wonder if Robert T. Williams, our North Suffolk mover and shaker can top it when he spins off his new city, or accepts Suffolk’s plans to relocate our city hall up there. While old Suffolk is very centrally located, it is not where the majority of exciting growth is happening.

Bill Ward, former history professor, admits he will miss holding the reins; it has become a habit, but has no solid plans for a long life beginning July 1. He’s not a fisherman, not a golfer, has seen most of and enough of the world, and he was at a loss to spell out his days ahead. There is one granddaughter to grab his attention, but that will have to come sometime after he remembers he doesn’t have to go to work. He and Andy Damiani go back a long ways, have followed the same kind of political trail, and they exchanged a few of those &uot;do you remembers&uot; near the end of the interview. It was fun to listen.

Email newsletter signup

n n n

Later that evening, like Daniel, I entered what I mistakenly thought would be the lion’s den. I accepted the cordial invitation that appeared as a Letter To The Editor in the News Herald, suggesting that I could benefit from more education about the organization, Sons of Confederate Veterans. They were pussycats, 151 members, friendly and handshaking, even purring. There I met old friends from the Chuckatuck Ruritan Club and others I had met for business and other reasons. And I did get an education; I learned that it is for reasons known to them important they honor their ancestors for the parts they played in the history of our early, troubled nation.

I was saying wrongly to myself that anyone born and raised in the south must have had an ancestor that fought in the Civil War of 1860 – 1865 that took place during the &uot;reign&uot; of President Lincoln. Not so when I reflected upon my grandchildren aged 10 to 32 and born and or raised in the south, surely they came from northern stock, as did I. While I doubt that anyone could keep perfect record of the names of early soldiers, names of battles, and dates, they do a great job of keeping track and honoring their ancestors. I can’t name my great-grandfather.

But in my history lessons I do remember the name Crittenden, a road in Chuckatuck and also a senator from Kentucky who attempted to push a compromise through the nations Senate in 1860 that possibly could have averted the Civil War. But even back then politicians, in this case the Senate, decided that war was far more necessary than sanity and they rejected the compromise. Fort Sumter and the successful battle of Bull Run followed closely. Generations later the Sons of Confederate Veterans honor three flags – the American, the Commonwealth of Virginia and the Confederate. They know why.

Robert Pocklington is a resident of Suffolk and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be contacted via e-mail: robert.pocklington@suffolknewsherald.com