By the time we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express the sun had set and so Smithfield remains a bit of a mystery. It's one of those towns we have passed by a hundred times in the past but never stopped to see. From what others tell me, it is a farming community known for its excellent hams. But what has intrigued me most about Smithfield is its claim as the birthplace of the late actress, Ava Gardner. I know this because there's a prominent sign on the interstate encouraging travelers to visit the Ava Gardner Museum. We intend to visit the museum this morning and by doing so take away a bit of the mystery surrounding this community.
Actually, in my younger days I, along with a few million others, had a bit of a crush in Ms. Gardner. She was, after all, a beautiful, woman. I really can't comment on her acting ability since that was never an interest. I suppose I was a bit like Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, who after viewing her screentest demanded that the 18-year-old beauty be signed to a contract. In a telegram Mayer wrote, "She can't sing, she can't act, she can't talk, She's terrific!"
We expect to shake the dust of Smithfield from our feet by about noon, and then make our way via the back roads of North Carolina and Virginia to historic Williamsburg. We plan to spend the next four days there with our dear friends, the Lees, and get in touch with a few of our national roots. I'm looking forward to having a meal at Shields Tavern, a Williamsburg establishment dating back to colonial times. Our son, Ethan, who has an interest in the family genealogy, has informed Dear Diane that she is a direct descendant of the Mr. Shields who first opened the tavern. Maybe they'll give us a pint on the house.
It's now time to greet the rising sun and sample the hotel's complimentary breakfast. We have a busy day planned and will need nourishment. More tomorrow.