Sunday, October 27, 2019

Vacation, 2019, part 2: "Maritime Heritage" Road Scholar

Heron over Cedar Island Marsh at daybreak
Crisfield is at the southern end of the Maryland portion of the Delmarva peninsula -- where Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia come together.   The town is 4 feet above sea level. The marsh is not far from anywhere.

 It was disconcerting to come into town Sunday afternoon to find half the streets closed!    The full moon, high tide, and a nor'eastern swamped the streets on Saturday night.   We drove very carefully.    The motel was on slightly higher ground and did  not flood. 

This banner provided a warmer welcome.

 Here is the official description of  the Road Scholar program. Charlie Petrocci (photo, right) created the program more than 20 years ago. He is the coordinator for the 10-12 sessions held each year.  (The rest of the time he is a fisheries consultant (former Peace Corps, National Park Service, National Fish & Wildlife service) and has many scholarly papers and research projects to his credit.)

There were 23 in our group., from as far away as Colorado to as close as Maryland and northern Virginia.  Four of us were P.E.O.s -- Grinnell, Iowa; Denver (two); and me.

The Tawes Museum (Crisfield Heritage Society) was our classroom base for the week.  Watermen's Inn restaurant down the block from the museum provided breakfasts and two of the dinners.

Monday morning:  classroom, history of the English settlement of the Chesapeake Bay region.

"downtown" Tangier
Tangier harbor and marsh
Monday afternoon:  ferry boat to Tangier Island, with lunch on the island.  That was the last day of the tourist season.

Tangier is over the state line so it's part of Virginia, but because Crisfield is the closest harbor that line is blurry -- except when it comes to state marine fisheries regulations!  The watermen and the DNR rangers know one another well.   Tangier has been losing land area and population for years.  There's still a K-12 school, though. The Class of 2020 has *one* student.
Tangier natives speak with a distinctive accent.  This YouTube video is one of many.  The young man who took us (by golf cart!) from the dock to the restaurant said, "We had a hoi toide this weekend." (That's "high tide.")
 We were back in Crisfield for dinner. The evening speaker was former mayor Kim Lawson. (That's a male Kimberly -- remember, it used to be a masculine surname (like Beverly and Evelyn).)  Mayor Kim is a great spokesman for his hometown and told us about the economic challenges in the region.   

Tuesday another local, Tim Howard, took us on a walking tour of Crisfield.  We went into the last crab processor in town, MeTompkin.

Female crabs have the Capitol Dome on their undersides. Males have the Washington Monument.

After learning about local seafood we had it for lunch -- prepared by a local chef and caterer. 

That afternoon Eddie Somers, who grew up on Smith Island and recently retired from the Coast Guard, to explain the array of crabbing and oystering equipment.

I can't remember what they do with the crab shells but here's a photo of oyster shells.  A lot of Crisfield's reclaimed land is on an oyster shell base.   
There was a little free time before supper. Stevens needed to get some supplies at the drugstore, so we did that -- and then stopped at the Crisfield Public Library  (I'd mentioned municipal finances after Mayor Kim's talk. He asked how I knew about such details and I explained I'm a librarian. He said we had to see the new library, which he helped secure funding for.)  It's a beautiful building! A deck right off the adult reading room (top photo of the collage) takes advantage of the waterfront location.

Wednesday was another boat ride -- this time to Smith Island. It's much like Tangier:  crabbing for 200 years, land eroding, children leaving.
The rain began as predicted but we intrepid Road Scholars were prepared with umbrellas and rain gear.  (Stevens waited at restaurant while we had our guided tour.)

The seas were a little rough for our ferry ride back, but Stevens was a happy camper.

That afternoon, back at the museum in town, Smith Islander Janice Marshall told us about the lives of the watermen's wives.  She also showed us (up close!) how to pick a crab -- her fingers flew!

Thursday morning: the rain had blown over and the sun shone.  In the morning Tim took us on a bus tour of Crisfield beyond the downtown waterfront.  We all enjoyed the Ward Brothers workshop.  Barbers by profession, the Wards had a gift for carving decoys -- some 25,000 of them! The workshop was two wings (one for carving, one for painting) with the barbershop in between as you can see from the gable.

The Ward Brothers 

Thursday afternoon was free time. Stevens and I drove 30 miles north to Salisbury where we toured the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art.  It showcases not only the brothers' artistry but also has a   displays of decoys showing their history and how they vary from region to region.  Other wildfowl artists' work is exhibited.

No rods, no wires -- just wood. The swans balance on one left foot. The hawk balances on a wingtip.

We also went to the Littleton Dennis Teackle house in Princess Anne.  Construction began in 1802 and with a center section and symmetrical wings. Teackle made and spent several fortunes in agriculture and industry. He lived in Washington, DC, most of the time while his wife supervised this house. Her extensive correspondence remains.  The house was subdivided into apartments in the 1950's. Renovation   (More information here.)

Thursday evening was a summary of the week with passport signing. Our Road Scholar passports go back to Elderhostel days.  This was #37.  (We've met several RS "centenarians"--one man had been to more than 150 programs!)

Though there was a final group activity on Friday (a tour of the Coast Guard station) we chose to leave after breakfast.  I wanted to avoid the Baltimore and Washington morning and afternoon rush hours.

The next post is about the last leg of our trip.

1 comment:

Libby in TN said...

Received my "Best Of" magazine yesterday and we are already perusing it for possible trips.