Hello Friends and Family,

1975 - Showell, Maryland

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

My boxes of slides and thus my scanned copies are not always in chronological order — thus this week we go back a few years. The time was when I was still living in Minnesota and working for Control Data. I had a business trip to Baltimore so (after the business was completed) I rented a car and took a personal trip to visit my extended family on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Most of my mom's family still lived in the area and they were excited to welcome me back — and decided on a full-blown family reunion.

Obviously, this a photo of a young me. I am standing in front of my great-grandfather's former home which had been inherited by my grandmother (his only daughter) when he passed away and sold to a non-relative when she passed away. It is still standing and is now used as an office building by an architectural firm.

This is another photo of my great-grandfather's house, only a bit farther away. When it was built, it did not have indoor plumbing or electric lights. Those upgrades were added later — I do not remember before the modernization.

I also recall that my great-grandfather had a boat called "The Sweet Lady". I don't remember ever going fishing with him (but I may have when I was quite young) but my Uncle Whitey took me fishing quite a few times. The boat was powered by an outboard motor and when we would come back, he would put it in a barrel of water (secured to the rim of the barrel) and run the motor to flush out the saltwater.

Here is still another view of my great-grandfather's house, this one from the other side. It was quite a large house for such a small family — just him, my great-grandmother (who died when I was quite young such that I don't remember her at all), and their only daughter, my grandmother (until she married and they moved to their own house).

Back in 2000, my mom asked me if I could make a Christmas card for her (I was already doing my own) using a couple of photos. The first was a very old shot of her grandparents' (my great-grandparents') home from about the same location as the previous photo. Here is the resulting outside of the card.

For the inside, we used a different photo of them in a mock snowball fight — quite cute, I thought. My mom absolutely loved the resulting Christmas card — I did too and so did all the folks to whom she sent this card.

One of the things to note is the amount of snow on the ground in this picture. The Eastern Shore does not get much snow anymore. Global Warming? Or just the climatic variations of the Earth over time? Who knows?

The same house from the other side. Note the driveway in the foreground. One might expect it to be made of rocks, asphalt, or concrete. Nope, it was composed of oyster and clam shells. Maryland is a major source of seafood and the locals certainly enjoyed it too — whether purchased at a store or harvested themselves. So what do you do with the empty shells? Throw them on the driveway for better traction.

Also, notice the screened-in porch. That was a favorite place for my extended family to gather to sing songs and play games while enjoying drinks and snacks.

Just barely visible to the right of the big tree was a smokehouse. Prior to electrification, this was where meats were preserved for later consumption. I recall that when my grandmother moved into the house after her father died, the repurposed smokehouse housed a freezer where she kept popsicles and other frozen treats for all of her grandchildren. She also always had mini-cakes and cookies in the kitchen pantry. Guess where I got my sweet tooth.

Next door is the house I think of as Granny's house. After she moved next door, she sold it to my Uncle Jack and Aunt Betty Mae — so it remained in the family for a long time.

By the way, this is the house that I was born in — I believe I have told that story in an earlier LAHP — perhaps you recall it. On this trip, I slept in my birthing room — not many people can say that, as an adult, they slept in the room in which they were born.

The house is still standing and occupied by a construction company. The upstairs is now rented as an apartment.

This is Granny's backyard with a couple of her great-grandchildren visiting. The back of the house also has a large screened-in porch and was used similarly to that on her father's house.

Further back stood a barn used for horses. We kids used it for hide-and-seek. The upper level stored straw for the horses — the bundled straw provided great hiding places.

To the left, between the two outbuildings was a path that led to an outhouse — a two-holer. When we kids were playing outside, it was easier to go there than to run inside to either house.

Behind the two barns, my grandmother and great-grandfather grew corn, beans, and other produce. There was also a grape trellis with fruit-producing vines — we kids would grab a couple when hungry. Additionally, there was a chicken house back there where they could raise "biddies" (Eastern Shore term for baby chicks) to adulthood and the frying pan.

Just a hundred steps or so from Granny's house was the Showell Post Office. Granny would often allow me (as the oldest grandchild) to fetch the mail for her.

Next door to the Post Office was Mr. Davis' store. As I recall, he did have a small collection of penny candy for when kids came by. And Granny always made sure we had a few pennies when I went for the mail. The building is still standing but the Post Office is now closed.

This house stood between Granny's house and the Post Office. I don't remember the people who lived here even though we often walked on the edge of the property to get to the Post Office or the softball field. This house is no longer standing.

And here is that softball field (amid crops). The property was owned by the volunteer fire department and there were leagues that played fast-pitch softball on a regular schedule. My Uncle Ed has a favorite story about me and this diamond. I used to play a softball game here all by myself (sorta). I would stand at the plate, then swing at an imaginary pitch then run to first. Then I would steal second — and later advance to third then run home with a slide — SAFE! I barely remember this but I think his memory is accurate.

Here we see the refreshment stand which was right behind home plate. The sides opened up and food servers would sell hot dogs, peanuts, and soft drinks to the fans who came to see the softball games.

The small structure at the top was for the official scorekeeper. My Aunt Ellen often served in that capacity and would let me climb up there with her. Note the light bulbs above the window — that showed balls, strikes, and outs for the fans. The scoreboard in the previous photo showed the score, inning by inning. Sadly, the field and structures are all gone now — only the memories (and my couple of photos remain).

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com