Tuesday, December 20, 2005
On this date, December 20, 1952, two men were sitting and drinking at a table in A. H. Zehmer's Ye Olde Virginnie Restaurant, Garage & Service Station on U.S. Highway 1 in McKenney, Virginia. The contract that resulted from that drunken evening would go down in history as Lucy v. Zehmer.
McKenney (pop. c. 400) lies in Dinwiddie County, about 25 miles southeast of Petersburg. A. H. Zehmer was a prominent local resident. The site of the restaurant/service station is now Ye Olde Virginnie Home for Adults, a 36-unit assisted living facility, at 20918 Boydton Plank Rd. (U.S. Route 1) in McKenney, on the corner of what is now Zehmer Ave. Map is here.
It probably didn't help Zehmer's cause that he'd been an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1948, the year the Dixiecrat revolution in the Democratic party came uncomfortably close to giving Virginia to Tom Dewey. The opinion in the case was written by Archibald Chapman Buchanan, whose second most-famous opinion upheld the Virginia miscegenation law as a reasonable means of avoiding "corruption of blood." Also on the panel was Kennon Caithness Whittle, a former President of the Virginia Bar who, as a trial judge, supervised trial of the Martinsville Seven, in which seven young black men were convicted and executed for the rape of a white woman.