From the Virginia Tech ImageBase:
Built in 1888 and torn down in 1944. Contained 60 rooms, with a ballroom, a dining room, a billiard room, a system of water works, hot and cold baths, and other facilities of the day for the comfort and pleasure of the guests.
When I was an undergraduate at Virginia Tech, in addition to the science courses I took each semester, I'd often take a class in the Art Department. Drawing, watercolors - a photography class in the Architecture Department - I always took them with an incredibly talented friend who was majoring in Art. One of my favorite memories from those days was when our watercolor instructor, Ray Kass, would take the class out to Yellow Sulphur Springs to paint. I remember on one of the first days of class when Kass told us to paint and paint like crazy, and that we'd then throw away our first 100 or so paintings. I remember how remarkably freeing that was - to just paint, fast or slow, it didn't matter - we were just told to paint. After that, we start over, and begin painting again.
But the reason for this post is only indirectly about watercolor class, and painting at Yellow Sulphur Springs. It's really about friendship, rich friendships - and how when artist friends and music friends stay in your life, that it is a very wonderful thing.
On the Yellow Sulphur Springs property, there used to be a bowling alley, dating back to the 1870s, all in wood - the walls were braced and in decay, the lane warped, but at the end of the lane the wooden pins were perfectly placed - as if someone were expected to show up at any moment with a ball and try to knock them all down. One could only imagine the games that were played on this tiny open-air bowling alley, tucked away in the folds of Montgomery County, Virginia.
But back to friends and friendship...
Last September when I was staying with my Father for a longer than usual visit, my artist friend began scanning in, and posting on Facebook, photographs from our undergraduate days at Virginia Tech. As I struggled with the care of my father (and even more so, with my own impatience), periodically I'd get 'tagged' in another photograph - bringing back memories of a simply near-perfect time in my life. Those photographs carried me through the visit - and I ended up joining in, finding photographs from those days that were stored safely in my father's home.
One photograph that I scanned in and posted on Facebook was one of the bowling pins sitting at the end of the bowling alley at Yellow Sulphur Springs - as well as one of a longer view of the alley itself (above). Shortly after this time, another friend - my music friend and occasional contributor to this blog (the "3D Sound" category) - also joined Facebook and saw this image. It seems that he had taken a photograph of me taking a photograph of the bowling pins - and scanned in his image and posted it on Facebook. He also wrote about this, in his own blog 3Dsound: Draggin' the Line - you can read his post here.
I love this story, and I love my artist friend that led me to this place - and my music friend for joining me on an autumn day to capture these images of a special place. My artist friend said that the bowling alley is long gone now (she's still in touch with Ray Kass). However, the Yellow Sulphur Spring website says that the spring is 'still flowing and mineral rich' and still surfaces in a gazebo in the middle of the property. For me, this place will always symbolize an abundance of flowing riches - mineral and otherwise.