I was born and raised in Winchester (Handley High, class of 1996). I grew up on North Loudoun Street, between two old houses converted into apartments.
I have been reading your blog for the past couple months and I've just finished your book, Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. I have to say your book exposed me to a side of Winchester I was only vaguely aware of. I became a little aware of some of the the culture you talk about but was largely insulated from it because I went to the Catholic private school before I started at Handley. At Handley they do a pretty damn good job of segregating out the "smart kids" from the "rest" they have a rigid caste system down better than the Hindus. So my only interaction with the average Winchester working class was limited to physical education class. I sure as hell never associated with anybody in my neighborhood.
I look forward to reading more about Winchester on your blog. I may disagree with your political sympathies, but you are one helluva writer. Keep up the good work. I look forward to more blog entries and hopefully a few more books.
Good to hear from a fellow Winchesterian. One who did not live on Stewart Street, or Washington Street or one of the other "right streets." Yes, it is easy to be insulated in America from other classes. Which was sort of the point of writing the book.
And yes, Handley has always sorted out the kids from "better families." I myself was put in the slow learners class in the fifth grade at Virginia Avenue School -- mainly because I had just moved into town from the country -- and later put on the "industrial arts track" at Handley, which meant that you spent your life in metal shop class and picking up trash on the lawn when deemed necessary. Handley is a holdover (hangover) from the old Southern class system that refuses to die.
Since the book came out, it's been interesting around here. Many of the self-appointed "finest families" have taken it upon themselves to let me know there is no class system in Winchester or America. One woman told me that "Anyone can become a millionaire in America. All they have to do is work as hard as my great-great-grandfather did after the Civil War." I wanted to add that it must have been traumatic for ole grandpops, because no one in her family has done a lick of work since.
Anyway, I am surprised at the number of conservative websites that have given the book good reviews (I mean Free Republic fer godz sake?) Which goes to show that it is not necessarily politics that obscure our common values as Americans, but rather politicians.
In art and labor,