Posted by: beachchairandabook | July 12, 2019

The Season of Discovering Delmarva


When words are sent out into the world, where (and when) they land is anyone’s guess. In March of this year, I received a query related to a blog post I had written more than three years ago. The subject was Colbourne and Jewett, the African American-owned seafood packing house in operation until the mid-60s  in the town of St.Michaels, Maryland. Could I come to St. Michaels for a short interview at the Maritime Museum? Skepticism set in; in the wild wasteland of trolls, scammers and hackers, before flying blindly into the heady air of unexpected good news, I logged on and did a quick Facebook search.

As it turned out, the request was for real. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to St. Michaels that day. However, my contact with the regional news anchor was the good fortune that allowed me to check another item off of my list of intentions. Near the top of that list was the opportunity to research, write and talk about local history. (Just not on camera). I made suggestions of sites to feature. We shared information and coordinated dates and times. I spent days in the Maryland Room of the Easton branch of the Talbot County Library. Even with all I knew and learned, my participation could not be enough. Who better to tell the story than the people who kept their community’s history alive? Under no circumstances would I show up like a historical “carpetbagger.” 🙂 Fortunately, for every project, I knew somebody who knew somebody. Each link joined another in the chain to became a perfect storytelling connection.

On a cold March morning in Easton MD I joined members of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society to film a #DiscoverDelmarva segment on  the town’s Hill Community. The Hill is said to pre-date Treme in New Orleans as the oldest free African American community in the United States. That morning I was nervous. I was going on camera. Would fear cause me to forget everything I knew? Additionally, I don’t like having my picture taken. Every one turns out like a wanted poster or makes me look like I’m channeling Sleepy or Dopey. That day I was convinced that I looked and sounded like both. But the opportunity won over my discomfort. And there were three other people who had great stories to share.

Another, equally as chilly spring day found #DiscoverDelmarva and me in Oxford, MD. This segment featured John Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church and Preservation Society. Slightly less nervous, I shared information on Downes Curtis, Oxford’s legendary African American sail maker.

My most recent #DiscoverDelmarva opportunity came in Unionville, a town founded by 18 United States Colored Troops veterans of the Civil War. These men came home from the war, built a town, a school and a church. The 18 and their descendants are buried there. On the historic hallowed grounds of St. Stephen’s Church and Cemetery, a lifelong resident of Unionville told its story.

The year is a little more than half over, but for me this experience has been a highlight of 2019. If last year was the #great2018, this one is shaping up to become the #divine2019. In my past blog posts, the word serendipity shows up a lot. And with good reason. Just like the Three Princes of Serendip, I’m “always making discoveries by accident of things which I was not in search of.” Come back often – the discoveries are endless.

Posted by: beachchairandabook | March 17, 2022

Yock – “A Bowl Full of Soul”

I don’t remember the first time I heard about yock – that the dish contained broth, soy and noodles was enough to add it to my must-taste list. When Cambridge Maryland’s Groove City Heritage Festival sponsored a yock cook-off, I missed the chance for a first taste; I was in Chestertown for Legacy Day, another Eastern Shore festival created to honor and celebrate the region’s African American culture and history.

When my interest turned into an article, for research I spoke with Veronica Taylor, Executive Director of the Groove City Black Heritage and Cultural Heritage & Culture Group and yock champion. Click on the link below to learn about its origins, including Ms. Taylor’s historic recollections, and the unique cultural blend, variations, and evolution of this “bowl full of soul” throughout Virginia’s Tidewater area.

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