Bill: Anybody on the Eastern Shore is not very far from the water, no question about that. … We farmed land on the seaside. … It wasn’t much difference in the farming part of it, except sometimes, in the spring of the year … when it’s time to drag off white potatoes … and we’d be working over here [near New Church] and it would be nice, warm, and we’d get through here and go over there [to the seaside] and sometimes, it would freeze you to death –
Lee: [The wind] coming off the water?
Bill: Coming off the water, yeah. Makes all the difference in the world.
And then, when we used to grow potatoes years ago, we’d plant sorghum after we dug the potatoes, just for a soil conditioner … it would help the soil – and by September that was up probably six foot tall. And we’d go in there with tractor and disk, and disk it down and sow it in rye for a cover crop for the winter.
And years before we had tractors with cabs on them, back years ago, it was so bad – the mosquitos and biting flies were so bad, the only way you could stay on there would be wrap up everything you had except your face – overcoat, whatever – you know, just save your face. And then they’d fly in your mouth and nose. You couldn’t stay out there, the mosquitos were so bad.
Lee: This was all over the Shore?
Bill: Well, this was on the seaside.
Lee: The marshes?
Bill: On the seaside, yes. Next to … the creeks and all this. They were bad here [near New Church], but not like that. And tomatoes … you were picking something, the help – they’d have to wear long-sleeved shirts, wrap up or the mosqitos would eat you alive.
That’s why I never wanted to live near the water. Never had any desire to. It’s pretty and all that. Of course, it’s different now. You can spray and whatnot, take care of that sort of thing. Wasn’t any spray then. Wasn’t even mosquito spray [to spray on your arms].
From an interview with Bill and Audrey Davis, summer 2010.