Charles PayneWhen we think of Fluvanna history, we think of people like “Texas” Jack Omohundro, the Timberlakes, and other notables who designed buildings, fought in battle and blazed trails. Few ever mention those who came after, growing up in humble beginnings in rural Fluvanna. They were trailblazers of a different kind, who made sacrifices, withstood trials and faced obstacles. A woman named Chris was one of those people who is rarely talked about, but who made a significant impact in the lives of those who knew her.

In his book titled Chris, Charles Payne talks about Chris and her unique journey through life as a single mother and a woman who made it in a male-dominated world when it was difficult to do so.

“Chris was an extraordinary woman – a product of the Great Depression who had unflagging determination to improve her life and a can-do attitude,” said Payne. This inspired him to write her story.

The book opens around 1910. Payne sets the scene with the innovations, economy and society of that time, and the marriage of Chris’ parents in 1911. Chris was related to the Perkins and Morris families in Fluvanna.
Payne would not give too much away about his story, including Chris’ last name, where in Fluvanna she lived, or his relationship to her, but he did say the family suffered many hardships during the Depression.

“Chris had several siblings and during those years they suffered life-shattering losses and deprivation. They lost everything they had, forever altering the paths of their lives, and death stalked them,” said Payne. “Remember also, in World War II women did many men’s jobs. Chris was tall, slender, pretty, outgoing and kind hearted, but she was also fiercely tenacious and brighter than she or anyone else realized until her accomplishments began to be noticed.”

A product of the Greatest Generation, Chris overcame tragedy, hardships and deprivation and used her remarkable talents as a master mechanic in the auto industry. Later she became a successful businesswoman. Stories were written about her accomplishments in the Richmond Times Dispatch. Chris was one of those pioneers of a different kind from Fluvanna.

It took Payne three years of research, digging through records and interviewing people, and checking eyewitness accounts before the book was completed.

“The most challenging task of writing Chris was how to organize the material and decide what to include or omit,” he said. “But what I enjoyed the most about writing Chris was discovering the answers to many questions, filling in blanks and connecting dots to reveal causes and effects. Most of all, I enjoyed getting to know and understand the Fluvanna folks whose lives I explored.”

Payne takes a different approach to the format of his book and brings Chris’ story to life. The recorded history is not told in dry facts but through recreated moments in time and directly by those who witnessed it.

“Let’s face it, bare facts of history are dry and impersonal. Dramatizing the actual events that shaped the destinies of real people brings history to life in a way that engages us at a personal level. That gives us understanding. By reflection we may even gain a little wisdom, and just maybe we will enjoy the process,” he said.

Chris allows readers to experience life on a personal level as it was then, and to see how much or how little we have changed for the better or the worse,” said Payne. “We can come to appreciate the qualities of people who lived in the past and emulate them. We can also identify their deficiencies and avoid them.”

Payne served in the Vietnam War and practiced law for 46 years. He has written fiction, non-fiction and poetry. For more information about Chris, contact Charles Payne at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .