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Warning: 'The Sopranos' were here
From New Jersey to Virginia: HBO series makes references to Culpeper and Fredericksburg

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Date published: 4/24/2007

By CATHY DYSON

The HBO series, "The Sopranos" has featured every dirty word in the book at least once, but Sunday's episode had two references we thought we'd never hear on the show.

Fredericksburg and Culpeper.

The mentions came between story lines about a bookie who got whacked 25 years ago and a current mob member who might face the same fate if he doesn't keep his trap shut.

Here's how it went down.

Tony Soprano and Paulie Walnuts were driving south on Interstate 95, from New Jersey to Florida, when a voice on the radio suddenly announced, "96.9, Classic Rock of Fredericksburg."

Then, the two wiseguys started talking about previous trips through our fair state, when they stopped at a dive in Culpeper called the Havenaire. They got beer, a bucket of ice and some "hillbilly whores."

The two decide to take a trip down memory lane, then discovered the Havenaire has been replaced by a corporate Marriott.

Now, before you folks in Culpeper ask, "What's wrong with this picture?" we'll tell you.

There isn't a Marriott and there apparently never was a Havenaire.

"Never heard of it," said Belmont Worman, a volunteer at the Museum of Culpeper History.

"I'm sure they made that up," said Bill Chase, a Culpeper County supervisor who's quick to point out that his son owns the oldest hotel in town, the Lord Culpeper Hotel.

The woman who answered the phone at the Chamber of Commerce giggled at the notion that Culpeper would be mentioned at all.

But she acted like she was in the witness protection program and didn't want to give her name.

The people at WWUZ-FM, the Fredericksburg radio station, which is owned by The Free Lance-Star Companies, were thrilled with the publicity. An HBO producer contacted General Manager John Moen at a Las Vegas convention last April and asked if the show could use the station identification.

"Which I thought was terrific," said Moen.

A rather curt spokeswoman at the HBO offices in New York said she couldn't comment on why places in our area were put on the map by "The Sopranos." The show's writers have gone because "we're kind of done," she said. "Just say HBO strives for geographic authenticity."

At least in terms of cities, towns and well-known interstates. But when it comes to names of real businesses in one of those places, well, "fuhgeddaboutit."

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com