A couple of weeks ago when “I dreamt I went to Manderley again,” perhaps I didn’t dream it at all. Perhaps I actually went. At least in my mind.
Such is the opinion of Jill Stockton. Until last week, Jill and I had never met but we have had several very enjoyable phone conversations since I started writing a weekly column in The Mount Airy News last year. Starting with the very first one in which I whined about how hard it was to make friends in Mayberry. Jill gave me some very sage advice. Having come to Mount Airy from Minnesota a half century ago, she had some perspective on the subject.
During our first chat, I also discovered that Jill is a horse person. She told me that she taught riding lessons in Mount Airy for many years. According to Jill, it was so long ago that when she started teaching hunt seat jumping in Mount Airy, there were only three English saddles in Surry County, two of which were hers. I still don’t know who had the other one.
We hadn’t chatted in a while until I wrote the “Back at Manderley” column a few weeks ago. By the way, I am so happy I got to use that opening line again. It just never gets old. Anyway, Jill rang up and asked me if I had ESP or had ever felt that I might be psychic. Well, that was a conversation starter.
The answer to both questions was no. In fact, I’m not particularly perceptive about things I have actually experienced, much less things I have not.
The Manderley column, in case you didn’t read it, was a totally absurd recounting of a dream I had about horse shows. Absurd because it involved an equestrian Tour de Surry in which I (in the dream) became, through a completely nutsy set of circumstances, the reigning senior eventing champion at the Copeland Invitational Horse Show and third place winner at the Dobson Open horse shows, events which I assumed existed only in my sleeping brain.
Not so, said Jill. Turns out much to my surprise and probably yours, those horse shows actually existed back in the day. Well not by those names exactly but even Miss Cleo mucks up the details sometimes.
Jill informed me that back in the early ’70s, she had won first place in the Copeland Ruritan Horse Show on an off-the-track thoroughbred, a black horse named Leaper, and she had the trophy to prove it. Not only was the Copeland Horse Show not a figment of my imagination, it was won by an OTTB, my horse of choice. Kind of sends chills up your spine, doesn’t it? As rare as English saddles were in Surry County 50 years ago, I would imagine thoroughbreds were even rarer. Jill still remembers the heat on the day, with a high of 104 degrees and sure enough, the trophy is still sweat-stained. Whether the sweat originated with Jill or Leaper, she has no idea.
The Dobson MYF Horse Show was an annual event that went on for many years and Jill showed me a program from the 14th one. It was quite an event with loads of sponsors and tons of classes and it lasted for three days. It took place at Surry Central High on the athletic field, and Jill had another off-the-track-thoroughbred there who was too big to fit on her horse trailer so she walked him the two miles to the show.
Also, Jill explained to me why the finals in my dream were held in Greenpoint, a part of Brooklyn I am unfamiliar with. I had said in the original piece that I had no idea why my subconscious had so specifically chosen Greenpoint. Brooklyn, yes. I lived there for decades. My daughter was born there. Brooklyn had its own dream-worthy logic but why Greenpoint? Jill said it’s because winners of the English classes of local horse shows went on to compete in Greensboro after winning in Surry. So Greensboro = Greenpoint. Again, I think Miss Cleo has done worse.
Getting goosebumps yet? I am. Perhaps the Mount Airy News editorial board would like to make use of my newly discovered psychic abilities for a regular feature in the paper, perhaps as a companion piece to “You said it.” We’d call this one “You haven’t said it yet.” Of course, I would need to take periodic naps in the newsroom since the answers only seem to come in my sleep but I’m sure that shouldn’t be a problem.
Best part of this whole story. When Jill and I met last week and she told me all this, she presented me with her Copeland trophy. She said she was downsizing and she felt it would mean more to me at this point and I think she’s right. I was so touched by her generosity and will treasure the trophy. I now have a ribbon from a horse show I competed in while awake and a trophy from one while I was asleep. Won’t be long until I need a trophy room.
I’m sure the good folks of Copeland feel better that even though their reigning senior eventing champion was snubbed by the New York division of the Surry County Equestrian Association, he now has a trophy, even though the horse on the trophy is wearing western tack. As Jill told me, there weren’t many English saddles around here back then. Even on the trophies.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699 or on Twitter @BillColvard.