Stories, photos, videos: Distractions galore focused on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia--and in Delaware, too!.
Secrets of the Eastern Shore presents a Month of Fun Days!

journeys: The Laundryman

At a time when prejudice against Chinese immigrants ran rampant, how did laundryman Lee Fong become the toast of the town in Cambridge, Md.? That heartwarming story is here.

Who Knew? Black Gold!

The epicenter of the Great Delmarva Oil Craze was itty bitty Parsonsburg, Md. Pretty much everyone--experts, too--thought our little peninsula sat atop giant reserves of gas and oil. Read about that wacky time here.


Slowly but surely, gorgeous golden sunlight gives way to the fury of a storm "steadily sweeping on, like a host on a doomed town." Poet William Henry Babcock (1849-1922) captured that kind of day perfectly in "On the Worcester Coast." Read the poem here.

road trip: Savage neck!

While on the way to some sweet dunes and a gloriously uncrowded beach, you will be traveling through the landscape of Thomas Savage. At the tender age of 13 he was ordered to go live among the strange Indians of a then brand New World. Free book excerpt here.  

Print Dream: Your Room Makeover Helper 

When this lockdown business started, Jill Jasuta Photography and I expected sales of her popular framed, metal, and canvas prints to dry up for a little while. But it turns out that lots of folks are spending their stay-at-home days with paintbrushes in hand, redoing rooms and creating new home offices. Put down the brush for a sec and do some window shopping here among lovely Delmarva scenes to liven up your walls and shelves. We can ship no problem, or maybe even deliver to your home if you're not too far from Cambridge, Md.

hog wild 1: Aunt Harriet

In 1875, a writer visited Hog Island, Va. and met a woman known by all as "Aunt Harriet." She ranked as  "the prevailing genius, oracle, and general authority" of the place, "and it is worth sailing twenty miles any day to meet her." More about Harriet Doughty here.

Hog Wild 2: Descendant

The Barrier Islands are "the greatest work that Mother Nature has ever done." So says Rick Kellam, whose family roots on the islands go back six generations.  He led a video tour of the islands that you can watch here--six minutes.

hog wild 3: presidential

After winning the presidential election of 1892, the first thing Grover Cleveland did was take a trip to Hog Island, where he ended up playing marbles with local kids. That and more charming tidbits from that trip here.

hog wild 4: Avian Invasion

On a strange and dreadful night in February 1900, a gazillion birds launched an all-out suicidal assault on the Hog Island Lighthouse. No, really--they did, and there was nothing the keepers could do to keep them at bay. Story of that Hog Island Hitchcock episode here.

the reel deep dive on the barrier Island

The Barrier Island Center in Machipongo, Va., is a fabulous little museum devoted to telling stories about the famed spits of land that lie in the ocean off the coast of Virginia's Eastern Shore.
BIC has put together (often with the help of big-time documentary director James Spione) a series of films that are usually available only in the museum's screening room or by purchase. But all five films are now freely available on the internet for the duration of these crazy pandemic days.
• First up is "Our Island Home."
• Hunting and carving take center stage in "Spirit of the Bird."
• The next one has a self-explanatory title: "Watermen."
• Here, you can visit "The Last Hunt Clubs."
• And here is one devoted to fascinating local foodways: "Welcome to the Table."
If you enjoy the films, here is where to make a thank-you donation.

journeys: Sam and Emeline

Our peninsula was home to a slew of incredible journeys on the Underground Railroad. I wrote a book telling 32 of those true-life adventures, and here is one of my favorites, set in Upper Delaware. Read about Sam and Emeline Hawkins here. The guy in the photo, Samuel Burris, is one of several heroes in the story.

Get Reel: Meet Harriet

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center outside of Cambridge, Md. has also put the film it showcases to visitors online for free during these pandemic days. "Soldier of Freedom" is 17 minutes long--and it's very well done. Watch it here.

pastime: Diamond Days

A few months back, I spent a wonderful hour with the exhibit "Friends & Rivals: Baseball on Delmarva" during a visit to the Nabb Center at Salisbury University. I am happy to report that you can now visit that exhibit from the comfort of your internet connection. Lots of great old photos--check it out here.

reel life:  Story of Luna

If you ever watched the original "Planet of the Apes" from 1968, you'll remember the mute (and scantily clad) character of Luna. But did you know that actress who played that role came from Berlin, Md. Or that she won the Delmarva Poultry Queen Talent Contest at age 11? Here's the back story.

virtual champs: top Facebook posts of April

• An album of photos during constuction of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel
• Arriving at the freshly remodeled Tolchester Beach Resort, 1909
• The old F.B. Culver Store in Tyaskin, Md., 1967
• A scene from the Chincoteague Pony Swim & Auction back in the early 1900s.
• You may well have walked in the footsteps of the man at the bow of the boat in this fabulous photo from 1880.
• The best high school graduation portrait ever ... and whatever happened to that girl from Delmar, anyway?
• Meet the life-saving hero of the "other" Smith Island, the one in Virginia.
• The grandfather who poured warm mussel juice to ease a child's earache. If you read the comments you will see that I screwed up and used a photo of the wrong kind of mussels. My bad!
Get yer clams and oysters from Hancock's Place in Chincoteague, Va.

book REPORT!

Some of you may recall that I was finishing up a guidebook to the fun annual events and parties on the Delmarva Peninsula when this #2$%@$! virus showed up.

Publication is on hold, for the obvious reason that no one is having events these days. The book will be ready to go when we get some clearer idea about when things might return to a semblance of normalcy.

Here is the cover so you have something to look forward to. And have I mentioned that there are three other Secrets of the Eastern Shore books in the marketplace? I would be happy to send you one by mail, but it would also be great if you chose to support your favorite independent bookstore on Delmarva by asking them to mail you a copy!


I hope you find some interesting stuff in the stories and videos that I collected for you here. Please feel free to forward this issue to anyone you know who might find it interesting. And please stay safe and healthy while getting ready for a post-lockdown life. See you in June!
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