Welcome to the new look of easternshorebrent.
Last year, through a series of events major and minor, including the passing of everybody’s best buddy, Gil Dunn, I ended up in possession of several hundred old copies of my local newspaper.
There were 17 boxes of them. The boxes had been stacked in a barn for decades. Some boxes were more exposed to the elements than others.
I grew up with the Bay Times. Beginning weekly publication in November 1963 – not too long after the first edition of me – the Bay Times was the newspaper of record around our little piece of the Eastern Shore.
When I was a kid, there was also, of course, The Queen Anne’s Record Observer. The Record Observer seemed more focused on our ‘up-county’ communities. Before ninth grade, I had not yet started going to school with the offspring of white collar Centrevillians or Sudlersville farmers. Until then, those places seemed far away from what I knew: the dual lanes of Routes 50 and 301 between the Bay Bridge and Queenstown, the enclaves of Kent Island and Grasonville watermen, and the working marinas of Kent Narrows.
The Star-Democrat? Good lord. That was published clean down in Easton or someplace. A thirty minute drive. A whole different place from where I lived. Hell, we used to take Sunday drives to Talbot County that seemed so long, I’d get carsick until the old man would stop at Drug Fair and buy me some comic books.
They’d make me feel better.
Until I tried to read them in the moving car.
Anyway, there was no way I was ever going to know anybody who might wind up with their picture in The Star Democrat.
All three of those newspapers are still in business, and that says a lot in a world that has witnessed the death of so many hometown papers in recent years.
It’s nice to have them around.
Anyway, I’ve been going through these boxes of old newspapers. Some issues, I have several good copies of, while others were so deteriorated none could be saved.
Some were a little buggy.
Most of them had something worth sharing.
Let’s start with January.
In January 1963, The Old Point Correctional Camp, “A Kent Island landmark since 1938” and “a bunch of shacks” of a “totally inadequate nature” closed after completion of a modern facility in Church Hill, an institution that still functions today as the state of Maryland’s Eastern Pre-release Unit.
My grandfather used to work at Old Point and he retired from the Pre-release Unit. After I posted this article on Facebook, I was contacted by several people whose family members had also been employed at Old Point. One friend used to play in the ruins of the old camp and remembers finding old tokens of some type there. Another friend called the site “haunted.” My buddy Phil said it was always a good spot to catch a bushel of oysters, and Frannie wanted to know if my monkey made it out with me when I escaped.
I guess that’s something of an ‘inside’ joke.
On Page 2 of the January 23, 1965 issue of the Bay Times, there’s an article about a 120 mph car chase between state police and a sailor driving a stolen vehicle. Originally spotted by Trooper Wallace Mowbray, a beloved local who was murdered eleven years later in a tragic and cowardly ambush, the sailor wheeled past a roadblock, but was stopped by a blown tire that sent the swiped car into a guardrail. He ran off into a snowy woods and was found several hours later hiding in the locker room of Sudlersville High School, his feet swollen from frostbite.
COME BACK TOMORROW FOR PART 2 OF BACK TO THE BAY TIMES