As I drove last along Glebe Road in Easton last week, I smiled when I viewed a farm field filled with geese. Though an unseasonably hot day, I felt buoyed by the sight of birds that portend cool, comfortable temperatures and festive occasions marked by celebration of animals that fly and swim.
Of course, I’m referring to the upcoming Waterfowl Festival, a three-day event during the second weekend of November focused upon conserving the Eastern Shore’s wildfowl and our way of life. It’s one of my favorite times in a town that has been my home for 40 years this month. Oysters served steamed or fried or raw add to the inviting and friendly ambiance that pervades this 46-year-old tradition.
And I should not forget OysterFest on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Tasty occasion.
And I would be remiss indeed if I didn’t mention our national holiday of Thanksgiving when a turkey and its delicious accessories grace the tables of American homes. For me, this holiday on the fourth Thursday of November is the best of all. Turkey is a real treat for me; to eat it alongside family and begrudgingly share the legs–what an incomparable delight. No gifts need to be exchanged; only goodwill and good cheer.
The significance of animals in the identify and culture of our American states interest and amuse me. I think of the pelican in Louisiana, the grizzly bear in Montana and the bison in Kansas. I could go on and on. In our increasingly urbanized country, we continue to pay reverence to animals—and often use them as the centerpieces of local and regional events.
Our region exemplifies a cultural affinity for birds and bivalves. Did I forget blue crabs?
I visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) the past Friday to watch the beginning of the restoration of the historic 1889 bugeye Edna E. Lockwood, the last of the log-hull bugeyes afloat. This log-hull restoration will take about two years.
What I watched for a few minutes was a crew of five, led by Michael Gorman, CBMM’s boatyard manager, shaping 130-year-old loblolly pine logs to replace the existing nine-log hull of this National Historic Landmark. As someone who is neither a boater nor woodworker, I appreciate, however, the history of a boat built in 1889 on Tilghman Island by John B. Harrison. I also marvel at the planing and shaping of huge logs that will give new life to what folks around the museum simply call “Edna.” It’s as if they are referring to a revered family member.
I observed something else: a new shipwright and three apprentices working with Michael Gorman in undertaking a project that will change their lives, if not their resumes. This project, open to the public, will enable the last working oyster boat of its kind, to extend her life and her significance to the thriving oyster business that once characterized the Eastern Shore.
It’s not far-fetched to view the restoration of the Edna E. Lockwood as a living history project. Even for landlubbers like me, a project like this one provides a glimpse into a foregone era. Edna, operating primarily out of Cambridge, last dredged or “drudged” for oysters in 1967.
I recommend that readers with an interest in the Shore’s commercial oyster industry and its socio-economic history visit the maritime museum and its showcase project. You can even ask questions.
(For full disclosure, I am a member of the museum’s Board of Governors)
When I read last week about the proposed construction of the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton—known simply as Memorial Hospital to many of us—I had mixed feelings. I am pleased that a new hospital catering to modern medical and logistical needs is again on the front-burner. As a neighbor a block away from the existing hospital, I am concerned about the future use of this South Easton property, once vacated by the hospital.
I was happy to read that hospital officials plan to convene a diverse group of people to discuss and plan the future use of the existing campus. Lack of a sensible plan would lead to haphazard development of this valuable property; few can dispute that opinion.
I hope that hospital officials, obviously preoccupied in planning and financing a new facility, will look to Annapolis, specifically the Murray Hill community, where the Anne Arundel Medical Center once stood. The planners did an excellent job in designing a thoughtful plan for a community that blends in nicely with the adjacent neighborhood. Simply, the residential community that sits on the former hospital footprint represents good, rational planning.
The Washington Street corridor received a terrific boost through the creative, well-designed redevelopment of the former McCord’s Laundry by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. I hope it provides a catalyst for the development of the hospital property.
Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.