On April 20th, 2018, the Queen Anne’s County Waterman Association and Grasonville VFW Post 7465 hosted a Waterman’s Story Swap, an event designed to celebrate the history and cultural heritage of the men of the Chesapeake Bay.
The audience awaits the beginning of the Story Swap.
Harry Davidson & Shea Springer opened the show.
HARRY DAVIDSON is a native Kent Island Eastern Shoreman, a waterman, and an ecological activist, with a great interest in saving the menhaden fish, a critical link in the Chesapeake Bay food chain. Harry’s music captures the essence of his love for the bay and the lives of watermen, and the songs on his CD, Songs of the Chesapeake Bay, tell the waterman’s story through that music.
SHEA SPRINGER downplays his role in Harry’s work, but Shea is a talented and soulful musician, and I know how much Harry appreciates him. Shea is the owner-operator of Sweetfoot Recording Studios located in Easton, where he’s recorded and played with a number of artists across various genres. http://sweetfootstudios.com/Harry’s granddaughter Jess Jacklin, who attended the Story Swap, is working on ongoing movie documentary Waterman, about her grandpa, his music, and his environmental mission. Waterman has won a number of awards, including best documentary short film at last year’s Chesapeake Film Festival. Maryland Public Television premiered the 14-minute version of Waterman on Wednesday, April 25th at 9:00 pm, with one repeat scheduled for Saturday the 28th at 8:30, as part of Storyline series. Check out Watermanfilm.com for an opportunity to help Jess realize her goal of making Waterman into a full length film.
GEORGE O’DONNELL comes from a long line of watermen, and grew up on Winchester Creek, not a mile away from Grasonville VFW Post 7464, where the event was held. George worked on the water for over 20 years, served as Judge of Orphans’ Court for Queen Anne’s County, and twice as County Commissioner. He was founder of the Queen Anne’s County Watermen’s Festival and oversaw the MD Watermen’s Monument project at Kent Narrows. George is currently the Fisheries & Boating Customer Relations Manager for Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
From Left to Right, seated:
For the last fifty years or so, SONNY SCHULZ, along with his late wife, Betty, and their three sons, has owned and operated Fisherman’s Inn, a Kent Narrows landmark since 1930. Sonny served as Queen Anne’s county commissioner, has been a leader in regional economic development, and has supported too many philanthropic projects and causes to count. But before all that, Sonny had been working on the water since the age of 12.
CHARLES BRYAN was born on Marshy Creek in Grasonville in 1932, Charles has been working on the water since he was a kid. He’s seen and done and caught it all. He’s oystered and crabbed, eeled and fished nets, caught muskrat, worked on oyster propagation for the state of Maryland, and ran fishing parties for over 40 years. Charles has participated in every one of these story swaps; he’s our good luck charm.
Both sides of EDDIE GRIMES’ Eastern Shore family has worked the water, and Eddie has followed the family tradition his whole life. Though he’s always loved clamming most, from the C&D Canal to the Virginia line, Eddie has labored at whatever task it took to make a buck. Eddie has dedicated his life to working on the water, and he says he can’t imagine having done anything more fulfilling.
JOEY SADLER’s a 5th generation waterman, at least. At 8 years old he worked fishing parties for $5 per day and culled oysters for a dollar. Joey bought his first boat at 12. He feels privileged to have learned alongside his dad and his grandfathers, and says that one of the essentials for success on the water is an understanding spouse. Joey is the owner and captain of Captains Pride Charters.
CALVERT ‘BUTTERBALL THOMPSON is a big guy with a big heart who’s always been there for his fellow watermen, as well as his community at large. Butterball comes from a family of watermen, boat builders, and marina operators. He’s well known for his strength and his work ethic, and he’s famous as a champion competitive anchor thrower. Butterball is among the strongest watermen ever known.
WARREN BUTLER started his career as a waterman after serving in the Army during the Korean War. A lifelong residence of Grasonville, Warren remembers as a little boy when the crabbers loaded their daily catch on trains that would take them to Love Point to be shipped out on the steam boats. Primarily an oysterman and fishing party captain, Warren also worked for 10 years as a patrol boat capt at Aberdeen Proving Grounds.
ROB NEWBERRY grew up on the water, and he’s been up and down and all around the Chesapeake Bay. Rob is a graduate of The Chapman School of Seamanship with a master’s upgrade on his captain’s license. He’s oystered, clammed, and crabbed in his career, and today Rob is a charter fishing and hunting guide. Rob is the Chairman of the board for the Delmarva Fisheries Association and the capt of Jim Dandy Charters.
When CLARENCE GRAHAM was a little boy, his family worked on a Kent Island farm owned by Harry and Janet Breeding, and when Clarence’s family moved to Dominion, Miss Janet convinced Clarence’s reluctant but agreeable mom to let him stay, which he did until the Breedings passed away years later. Clarence treasures his memories of those early days. Clarence learned to oyster from his brother, and hand-tonged for about 20 years. In the 1980s he started driving a crab truck for George Hill, and found a job he loves and still performs today for Clark Seafood in Chestertown.
Easternshorebrent moderated the Story Swap.
Troy Wilkins, President of the Queen Anne’s County Waterman Association took questions and stories from the audience.
Billy Benton, Dickie Coursey and David Baxter displayed natural and man made artifacts watermen have found while working on the Chesapeake.
After the Story Swap, the watermen mingled with the crowd.Captain Montro Wright & Butterball
Butterball, Jody Schulz & Sonny Schulz
Butterball Thompson & Vicky Thomas
James Thomas, Warren Butler, Clarence Graham, Jen Barrick & Josh Willis
Clarence Graham & Warren Butler talk to a friend
Sonny Schulz socializes.
Jess Jacklin, Harry Davidson & Shea Springer
Queen Anne’s County Watermen’s Association’s Christy Wilkins & Brooke Horney
Author Marcia Moore signs books for fans.
Author Nancy Taylor Robson discusses her book, Course of the Waterman.
The crowd took advantage of the social hour after the Story Swap:
Some of the displays:
The audience anticipated:
And our panel of watermen delivered:
Storytellers Sonny Schulz, Charles Bryan, Eddie Grimes, Joey Sadler, Butterball, Warren Butler, Rob Newberry, and Clarence Graham
The officers and members of the VFW.
The Queen Anne’s County Watermen’s Association & President Troy Wikins
Harry Davidson and Shea Springer.
QACTV’s George Harvey
DJ Eddie Hitt, the Hitman (https://www.facebook.com/edward.g.hitt?fref=search)
Dickie Coursey & Billy Benton & David Baxter
And always remember to tip your bartenders – even if you’re not drinking.
Photos: Christy Wilkins / Queen Anne’s County Watermen’s Association, Jess Jacklin, Debbie Sadler, Lisa Bedard, Marcus Thomas, Karen Sadler & http://www.captainspridecharters.net/
Special thanks to the Kent Island Bay Times for always supporting local watermen, writers, and the community at large. Support your hometown newspapers! http://www.myeasternshoremd.com/qa/bay_times/
Books by Brent Lewis are available on Amazon.com
Remembering Kent Island: Stories from the Chesapeake and A History of the Kent Island Volunteer Fire Department published by Arcadia Publishing & The History Press: