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Saturday, December 10, 2016



It has long been a bone of contention with Eastern Shore natives that they have to contend with “come heres”. They have a good argument in that people come here from off the Shore because they like the life style, the climate and the amenities. But the problem lies in the fact that as soon as they get here, they treat the locals like a bunch of bumpkins and try to change things. Before the Bay Bridge was opened in 1952, the Eastern Shore was fairly isolated.

I remember my grandmother telling me that the Depression went over Salisburyvirtually unnoticed. We had everything we needed without outside help. She said the only difference was that more men showed up at her back door asking for some work to do so they could earn some food.

The Eastern Shore had plenty of things to eat that are grown right here on the Shore. There were fish aplenty wherever you wanted to go to get them. The Atlantic Ocean was bountiful, as well as the many rivers and streams for fresh water fish. My grandfather used to go to Roaring Point down by Nanticoke and fill a bushel basket with rock fish in a half hour. I never saw a can of cat food until I was grown. All our cats were fed fresh fish.

For those who chose to hunt their food, there were deer in the forests. Rabbits and squirrels also were a staple in some families. In the spring and fall the Atlantic flyway sent enough ducks and geese over the Easter Shore that you could get all you could carry home any time at all.

The late Bill Phillips from Party Line on WICO grew up in Caroline County. I once heard him say that he never saw any money growing up. When it came time to go back to school at the end of summer, his mother used to go to town and barter eggs and butter for his new school shoes. Everything else he wore, she made. Many a farm wife had their husbands bring home feed sacks from the farm supplier in identical patterns. Many times she would accompany him to make sure he got the right pattern. From these feed sacks, she made her dresses, curtains, bed clothes, shirts and what ever else she needed.

What we had here on the Shore was enough to sustain the population. With the BayBridge and now the Bridge-Tunnel, we have lost forever that feeling of independence we knew for so many years.


Anonymous said...

I remember my grandmother grew broiler chickens, about 800 or so, which was a lot of chickens back then. The feed was delivered by Eagle Mills, in Pocomoke, and she always asked that the feed bags be the kind of cloth with the patterns on them. She made dresses, curtains, tablecloths and other items. She also had about 30 laying hens for eggs. We would gather eggs all week, sort and clean them and on Saturday my grandfather would take them to town to sell. That egg money was about the only real cash I ever saw until I was about 9 or 10 years old.

Anonymous said...

Aah, The good old days.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in West Virginia and the same things applied. We all took care of each other. We raised our chickens, cows for milk, pigs for meat and lots of wild life. We are very proud people. I guess that's why we are called RED NECKS. Here on the shore we are called SHORE Billys. YES and proud of it.
When we got married and my husband insisted we move to Salisbury where he was raised I couldn't understand older people wanting to tear down the Bay Bridge...It didn't take long to understand why!

Anonymous said...

Mom used to go to a store down the street across 50 from the current SPD & buy really old chickens.Probably retired laying hens 3 or 4 years old maybe?They made outstanding chicken & dumplings.The dressed weight was at least 10 pounds.Too tough to fry & eat but fantastic in a slow cooker.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Joe for continuing this stories of the Eastern Shore and country living that George started by you giving him that opportunity. They bring back a lot of good memories and of a lot of challenges I had to overcome. Again my appreciation.

Anonymous said...

I am a native of the Eastern Shore (specifically Wicomico County), meaning I was born here and have lived here my entire life. When I converse with my friends who are also natives, we all agree one the things that disgusts us the most are people who move here from New Jersey, Baltimore, New York, PA, etc., live here for a year or two and try to act like they have lived here their entire lives. They will never truly fit it and they stick out like a sore thumb.
If you move to the Eastern Shore, relax and don't drive like you are on some beltway around DC or New Jersey. Allow more that a half car length when you follow someone who is driving the legal limit. Don't try to change the Eastern Shore into some major metropolitan area.
Don't criticize open land and farming. Don't pretend you know the history of the area when you don't. In general, don't try to change the things that we natives have enjoyed our entire lives. Take life a little slower. If you do these things, you are more likely to be accepted and respected.
And yes I have good friends who have moved here from areas of Baltimore, PA, etc.

Anonymous said...

wonderful memories. wish we still had most of that independence we had back then...