Hitting the ‘Back Roads’ with Bob Brown and Bill Lohmann

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Book Back Roads

I have been wanting a copy of “Back Roads: People, Places and Pie Around Virginia” featuring photos by Bob Brown and narrative by Bill Lohmann, both with the Richmond Times-Dispatch, so for my birthday my step-dad presented a copy with the inscription, “Happy birthday to our ultimate ‘back road’ traveler.”

Bill Lohmann dedicated one of his RTD columns to this work of art from these two friends, writing remembrances in his comfortable story-telling style that has made him a favorite for years (see Lohmann: Bob Brown still focused on work and fun):

It doesn’t amaze me so much when we’re driving down a winding back road in the hinterlands of Virginia that I can’t even find on a map and Bob Brown matter-of-factly says that just around the next bend, there’s a terrific little diner that serves the best breakfast (and outstanding pie at lunch).

Or just over that hill coming up, on the right, next to a giant oak and across from a swinging bridge, there’s a pawn shop where he once found a great deal on a really old pocketknife. Bought it for $10 and later traded it for a small Harley. Or something like that.

No, what amazes me is when we walk into these places and people know him.

Brown and I have been gallivanting around the countryside – when we can get away with it – since I arrived at The News Leader 25 years ago. I like to tell people we discovered early on that we were a good match because we shared the same ambition: to stay out of the office as much as possible.

The visual imagery of Brown and the verbal imagery of Lohmann. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I actually talked with Bob Brown about this book — I believe it was when we were at the U.S. Senate debate at the Greenbriar in July 2014 — and how much I have always enjoyed his photos from around the Commonwealth. It is a delight to now have “Back Roads” to read and linger over the words and pictures. Now if I can catch up with these two and have them sign it….


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