Finding Treasures to Preserve History in Talbot County at Tharpe Antiques

The Talbot County Historical Society (TCHS) is a fairly well-known institution. Its gardens have provided a colorful backdrop for weddings and family photos, its walls house memorabilia of Eastern Shore living, it even curates one of the oldest frame buildings in Easton—dating back to roughly 1790.

The Historical Society has a great weight on its shoulders: to preserve the nuance that is Eastern Shore living while also performing community outreach. These sorts of endeavors do not come cheaply and 25 years ago, in order to generate more revenue, TCHS opened Tharpe Antiques.

“We are a consignment shop,” says DeeDee Wood, Manager at Tharpe Antiques. “Our inventory is about half decorative arts and half antiques.”

What’s unique about the store is that it is operated as a non-profit. “What that means is that when people consign an item, and it sells, half goes to the Historical Society and they keep the other half,” Wood explains. “The half that goes to the Historical Society can be deducted on their taxes.” If someone wants to donate an item instead of consigning it, they can take the full tax deduction.

Indeed the store is brimming with eclectic and interesting pieces. “Our biggest seller is crystal,” Wood goes on to say. “We have Waterford at 50% of retail. We also have Victorian furniture, unusual ceramics, and Satfforshire figures.”

They have expanded in the two years that Wood has managed the store. They now have a section of books for sale as well as an entire room dedicated to doll houses.

One thing Wood is particularly proud of are the lectures Tharpe hosts once a month, March through November. “I noticed people seemed to have a lot of questions about antiques,” Wood says. “So I had the idea to have lectures on a variety of subjects, involving antiques.”

Some lectures this year worth noting are: Mary: Queen of Scots: Her Lacework and Embroidery where an actress performed live as the famous queen, discussing her talents and a bit of her intriguing history; Fiestaware: One Woman’s Tale of Her Parent’s Employment in the 1940s Fiestaware Factory, where a very knowledgeable local antiques store owner discussed her memories of her parent’s employment at the factory; and the extremely popular Halloween lecture, Haunted Antiques. This lecture included the stories behind the world’s most haunted antiques like the Hope Diamond and Myrtle’s Plantation Mirror.

These lectures have served to provide significant outreach to the community offering a place for people to learn about antiques and the history. Another educational outreach program offered by the TCHS—and partially funded by proceeds generated by Tharpe Antiques—benefited students at Easton High School who are in AP Human Geography.

“Students were taught how to distinguish between Neo-classical, Neo-Gothic and Modern Architecture and how to connect architecture with art, poetry and history,” Wood explains. “They were exposed to college-level lectures and visited College Park where they saw college classes, toured a college campus, and were briefed by College Admissions personnel.” All those involved agreed this program was a resounding success.

It is a hefty thing, preserving one’s culture. And as our world spins at a faster and faster pace, it’s nice to know that in one corner of our small town, there are people working to record and maintain what’s special about living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Tharpe Antiques is open Tuesday through Saturday 10am-4pm—closed Sunday and Monday.

Recording Easton and Beyond at Sweetfoot Studios

At first glance, Easton fits neatly into the iconic idea of small town America. Its main street’s architecture is welcoming and pleasing to the eye. You know all the shops well and perhaps the shop owners—you may even have gone to school with one of them or your kids are in school together. There’s a unique sense of camaraderie that comes from living among a lesser populous, of shared experiences and shared sorrows.

As typical as Easton is, it is also a town that holds surprises beneath its proverbial hat. In the nooks and crannies, one can find a culture that seems more suited to a big city, or at least, a bigger town.

I found myself in one of these crannies recently and to my surprise—and honestly delight—it was in the form of a full-scale recording studio located in downtown Easton.

Now I already knew—as most Eastontonians do—that our little berg has a great artistic community; there are talented musicians, gifted artists and writers. But, little did I know that one of these artists came together with a friend, and fellow musician, to open a recording studio called Sweetfoot Studios.

“Sweetfoot Studios was founded in April of 2012,” says Shea Springer, the studio’s owner and operator. “It was originally run by me and Kentavius Jones. We conceived it as kind of a joint project space.”

But as time passed, Springer was spending more time there, taking on much of the work that came in the door. At the same time, Jones was finding other projects that were taking his attention and time away from the studio. So it was that four years ago, they mutually agreed that Springer would take the reigns and be the sole manager of Sweetfoot Studios.

“I do a range of work here,” Springer goes on to say. “From full band recording; to singer-songwriter work where people bring me just a demo and I’ll help them put together a band of session musicians. I do a lot of live, location recording, where I’ll go and record concerts; and then I have people come to me to do voice over for video or soundtracks for movies.”

Over the course of Sweetfoot’s life, it has influenced young, burgeoning musicians, too. A few years ago, Springer and friend, Mike Elzey got together and formed a sort of music camp for area young people.

Elzey is a guitar instructor based in Cambridge with a studio in Easton, and after meeting Springer thought it might be a good idea to bring in some of his students to see the studio, so they could see all the steps that are involved in recording an album. “I thought Shea would be a great mentor for the kids,” Elzey explains. “So we arranged for a tour of the studio.”

Not long after the tour, Elzey and Springer teamed up and began meeting with the kids once a week. “The students would come in and they would learn how to play together as a band,” Springer says. “At the end they got together and recorded a song or two.” Out of that camp was born a few area bands that still play together today.

Springer grew up here, and as such, felt the weight of small town living. “In middle school and high school there wasn’t anywhere for kids my age to go,” he explains. “It was a constant source of lament for us.”

However, he and some of his friends found an outlet in a local music store that hosted concerts in the store. “That’s where everybody went when we were in high school,” he goes on to say. Around the same time a coffee shop in Easton began hosting open mic nights—creating another outlet for he and his friends to express their creative sides.

“Those two places made a huge impact on me and everybody my age who plays music today,” says Springer. “That is something that sticks in my mind and makes me want to contribute back into the community now that I am in a position to do so.”

Talbot’s Miss Fire and Little Miss Fire Promote Fire Safety

Fall is firmly upon us. The days are crisp, the trees have begin their slow march to slumber, shedding colorful leaves and we just set our clocks back an hour leading to early nightfall.

It is during fall, or more specifically, on that Sunday when some get that extra hour of sleep—those without young kids, that is—that we are supposed to change the battery in our smoke alarms. This is a fact that may not be widely known, but there are two local young people that are helping to spread the word about that fact and many others regarding fire safety and prevention.

beauty-queensKatelynn Cherry, a 10th grader at St. Michaels Middle High School, and seven-year-old, Isabel Ochse from Saints Peter and Paul Elementary School are this year’s winners of Miss Fire Prevention Delmarva and Little Miss Fire Prevention Delmarva respectively. And their hope is to let everyone know the importance of not only fire safety, but the importance of supporting our all-volunteer fire departments.

“My main issue is that people need to support the volunteer fire departments,” says Katelynn. “There is a lack of volunteers and the number fire emergencies are growing.”

Isabel wants to bring awareness to what the firemen do for us: “Firemen are very brave,” she says. “It takes a very special person to put others first.” She goes on to say that they run to the danger where others would run away.

Both Katelynn and Isabel will be participating in local parades and appearing at events around the eastern shore hoping to garner attention and support for area firehouses.

Katelynn will be at an event at the Waterman’s Association where they will be handing out free smoke detectors. Isabel will be in Easton’s Christmas parade and she recently made appearances at the Veteran’s Day Parade in Laurel, DE and she handed out flyers during Waterfowl about fire prevention.

When Katelynn isn’t focused on fire prevention and safety she is studying classical music at Peabody Preparatory through John’s Hopkins University, she is in 4H and she is a Girl Scout. Isabel likes to act in plays at Chesapeake Children’s Theater, play with her friends, draw and color. “My biggest pet peeve is having to clean my room,” she explains.

Both Katelynn and Isabel are bringing attention to an issue that deserves more discussion—the need to support our volunteer fire force. Katelynn put it rather succinctly: “What would you do if no one showed up to put out your fire?”

Get Ready: Classic Cars Thanksgiving Parade in St. Michaels

St. Michaels is a village that prides itself on its history. It is the town that fooled the British, after all and its main street is lined with colonial and Victorian houses converted into retail shops.

So it is fitting that a town so aware and proud of its history is set to open a museum that honors the past, albeit a more recent past, in the form of the Classic Motor Museum.

Located on E. Marengo Street, the site is also home to one of the oldest structures in St. Michaels—The Pinkett House—which serves as the museum’s office and welcome center.

Visitors will soon be able to stroll through the newly Amish-built barn filled with 18 to 21 classic cars that will rotate, so the collection will be updated on a regular basis. “We are looking to have pre-WWII vehicles, some post WWII, with the last third comprising of specialty cars like corvettes, mustangs—cars from the 1960s,” explains Tad duPont, the current Museum Coordinator.

Many of the cars that will be on display at the Classic Motor Museum will be rolling down Talbot Street on November 19 starting at 10:30 AM for the third annual Thanksgiving Day parade. “It will be themed like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade,” duPont goes on to say. Spectators are invited to visit the museum—the endpoint of the parade—to get a closer look at some of the beautifully restored vehicles.

One notable car participating in the parade is a 1920 Buick. “It was one of the first cars to cross the newly opened Bay Bridge in 1952,” says DuPont. “We are excited about having this particular car because we can tie it into our educational programs.”

These education programs are another aspect of the museum’s mission. “The barn will have a library and an educational classroom,” he goes on to say. “We are looking to hone in on the history as well as the VOTEC concept of maintenance and repair.” Their hope is to pique the interest of the youth who visit, thinking that it might lead some of them to choose the art of classic car restoration as a vocation.

In addition to developing educational programs to benefit the community they are hoping to develop a fundraising arm akin to Christmas in St. Michaels. Once they are up and running they will operate as a non-profit. “After our operating expenses are covered we will donate a portion of our revenue to other non-profits in the area like CASA, the SMASH after school reading program, the food bank, and the community pool.” DuPont says.

For those interested in learning more about the Classic Motor Museum click here to visit their website. Once there you can learn more about membership opportunities as well as upcoming events.

Spy Chat: Sitting Down with St. Michaels Elementary’s New Principal Indra Bullock

Dr. Indra Bullock was raised by teachers, but she never wanted to be one growing up. She looked at the kind of hours her parents dedicated to their jobs and decided that she’d be an actress instead. But when her parents looked at her they did not see a burgeoning actress: “My parents said, ‘You were born to be a teacher,'” explains Bullock.

Not heeding their advice, Bullock decided to pursue a degree in acting. “About half way through getting my bachelor’s degree I decided I didn’t have the heart to follow it,” Bullock says. “I didn’t want to be 30 and bartending–I didn’t have that type of passion.”

She switched gears and majored in communications and graduated from Westchester University with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Communications and Theater. “After I graduated,” she continues, “fate brought me to be an English Language Learner tutor in Caroline County.”

That job was temporary, however, and after it had ended, she tried her hand at sales. “I absolutely was not cut out for sales,” she remembers. “A job opened up, and I was offered a provisional license and started teaching at Greensboro Elementary School.”

She found her place teaching and while she was at the elementary school she worked to get her teaching certification. “I had a passion for working with students and teaching English as a second language,” says Bullock. “So I applied for a competitive scholarship and was awarded my Master’s Degree in Teaching English as a Second Language.”

Teachers are required to maintain their certification and Bullock looked at her options and settled on taking a course in school administration. It seems fate was working in her favor again because she discovered that she felt connected to the role of administrator.

She was placed in Easton Middle School as the Assistant Principal and from there began working towards her doctorate. “Another scholarship program was offered to me and I took it,” she recounts. “I wasn’t sure I should because of all the work that was involved, but I am so very glad I did.” In addition to learning about administration, she learned about running schools as well as districts.

She completed work on her doctorate just last year and starting contemplating the role of principal, “Then the position here at St. Michaels Elementary School opened up and I interviewed, and I wouldn’t trade this position for anything in the world.”

Spy Moment: Creating Mini Masterpieces in St. Michaels

Last Saturday, September 17, parents shuffled their young children onto the lawn of St.Luke’s Church, rubbed their arms against the cold morning air and watched their little ones pick through brushes; grab a canvas and some paints; and pick an easel to create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

It was Children’s Art Day–a free event that has been hosted by the St. Michaels Art League for the last ten years. It’s intent is to make burgeoning artists feel like real Plein Air painters.

It clearly made an impression on some of the kids who came out to paint that morning. When one mini artist was asked what she liked best about the day her response was, “I liked painting on an easel and that I could paint whatever I wanted. I also liked the coupon for free ice cream from Baby Cakes.”

Why You Should Be Listening to Hannah Gill

First of all, Hannah Gill is an Easton native, but that is not the only reason you should be listening to her. She possesses this deep, soulful voice that is reminiscent of powerhouse voices (think Amy Winehouse) that came before her.

Not only is she a favorite of The Spy, she is garnering national attention and acclaim from media outlets like The Huffington Post and National Public Radio. She was even featured “live” on the New York Times’ Facebook page.

She is getting ready to embark on a new multi-city tour in September of this year, and will be slinging her unique brand of pop and rock with a bent towards contemporary blues and soul on the Avalon Theatre’s main stage on Friday, September 23.

This homecoming is exciting because she is so clearly poised to reach higher levels of fame and we locals get a chance to glow with pride at our small town girl who’s on her way to making it big. Check her out; you’ll be glad you did.

For more information and to buy tickets for the event click here.