Category Archives: entertainment

“the show is coming!”

They used to have tent shows – did anybody tell you about them, the shows that would come to the Eastern Shore?  … They’d come with movies and actors on the stage and that sort of thing and set up the tents, and they would come at strawberry-picking time, because that was the first time in the year that people in the neighborhood had a little cash. The pickers had made some money, and it cost ten cents to get in.

One of them was O.L. Sykes – the name on the truck.  The other one was Al Moore.  I don’t know where they came from or how far they went, but you’d hear they were down the county.  The show is coming!  So you knew pretty soon they’d be up in Birdsnest.

Some of the movies … were silent still, and they’d put the words on the screen.  Both black and white came.  The black folks sat on the right-hand side and the white folks on the left-hand side.  But all under the tent together, and while they were under the tent, both sides  – when the words came onto the screen, you didn’t have to know how to read when you were real little, because those who could read would whisper to their neighbor what the words were saying, and you could hear in unison maybe 40 voices whispering what the words were up on the screen.

And almost all of them were old western shows that they had.  I don’t remember any of the actors but it was a marvelous thing to go to those tent shows.  They’d take them down on Sunday and move up the road a ways farther and set it up again.

They’d sell Cracker Jacks after the movie was over, turn on the lights, and then some would get up on the stage and act and dance and tell the corniest jokes and encourage people in the audience to come up and do tap dancing or any old fool thing, but it was a wonderful show.  Those places were packed every night.

From an interview with Ridgway Dunton, summer 2010.


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“everything we did was outdoors …”

I played every sport in high school. I didn’t have to work out, because I was in shape.  Like they do now?  We didn’t work out.  I was hard as nails, ’cause … we worked all the time.

I played baseball.  I played football.  I played basketball.  I did a little boxing.  … I played all the sports, but we worked that in.  I’d play baseball and then walk home from school.  There ain’t no way to get home; we walked home.  Ain’t no bus to take us nowhere.

When we played football, we didn’t have no money to buy uniforms.  The school didn’t buy no uniforms. We had, I think it was five helmets and we didn’t have no shoulderpads.  We used sweatshirts.  We put on about three or four sweatshirts.  They knew – ’cause the backfield had helmets and one or two on the line – they knew what plays we were going to make because we’d have to switch our helmets around. And the football field at the end of the game – it looked like a rag field, because they’d grab you  and you’d lose your sweatshirts.

We did have baseball suits though.  I don’t think we bought our uniforms.  …  But basketball we played – we didn’t have no gyms … we played on the dirt.  We played outside.  That’s why we played in the spring of the year.  I mean, it was dirt courts.  We played tennis too.  Tennis … [the school] didn’t have no sport of tennis; [but] you could play tennis.  I used to like to play tennis.

I don’t know why they didn’t build any gyms, but we played outdoors and everything we did was outdoors, so I guess they thought that’s where we were supposed to [play].

From an interview with Bev Fletcher, spring 2010.

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on horses and mules

Everett: [We had] horses mostly.

Franklin: Mostly horses. They were cheaper to buy.

Everett: Work ’em six days a week and then we’d ride ’em on Sundays.

Franklin: That was a pleasure. We’d go to church Sunday afternoon and we’d ride the horses that morning, that was going out to Beaverdam Church, and build fires in the wood stove. That was a pleasure.

Audrey: What was the name of that horse? He used to come see me on a horse.  That was before we were married.  I’d hear this horse going bump, bump, bump … and I’d look down and here he’d come on that horse.  It was white with grey.

Franklin: We called it the grey horse.  It was mean as a dog.

Audrey: I lived how far from you?

Franklin: Twelve.  Twelve miles, I guess.  … I’d go through the woods and that kind of stuff. Probably eight miles, something like that.

Lee: And horses were cheaper to buy?

Franklin: Horses were cheaper than mules.

Lee: Why?

Franklin: I often wondered why myself, but a good pair of mules were worth twice as much as a pair of horses.  One thing, horses were more plentiful.

Everett: Mules were dumber, I think.  They go on and do their work, where a horse is getting around it somehow or another.  I remember when I was a child, the old horse there cultivating the corn – and he’d get to the end and see he learned that it was hard to hold the handle, the collar, and he’d put his foot over the chain.  You had to go down there and unhook the chain and put it around.  He’d get time – he’d kill time and he’d get to rest up.

Franklin: That’s the only rest they got, when they made a turn.  Each end of the field, they’d slow right down and make a job of the turn. That’s when they got to rest up.

from an interview with brothers Everett and Franklin Holland & with Franklin’s wife Audrey, fall 2009.

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when a hundred dollars cash money at Christmas would last until Spring

Richard: I heard my father say when he was a boy – he was born in 1900 – when he was a boy, his daddy said if he had a hundred dollars cash money at Christmastime, he was alright until Spring – on a hundred dollars. Isn’t that crazy? Only thing they had to buy was kerosene …

Nora Lee: … flour, sugar …

Richard: …flour, sugar, and doctor bill once in a while, which was probably $5. I mean, when you’ve lived as long as we have … it’s just mind-boggling to see how far $100 goes now. I mean it’s weekly [now] …

We lived on a farm. We got our mail from Pastoria. … Dad let us go to the store most nights. The men always talked around the old country stove, and I’m talking during the ’30’s now, during the Depression, and us boys played Dead Mule and Lost Track and Hide and Seek and all the other games boys and girls play. So, it was a good life.

We didn’t have any money. Nobody had money.

Nora Lee: Nobody, so everybody was poor.

Richard: The store was two miles through the woods. I made many a trip out there with a dozen or two dozen eggs or a piece of fat meat to get mamma’s groceries, and if it was 15 cents leftover, you got what you’d call a due bill. The store master, the storekeeper, gave you this little piece of paper that – owed you 15 cents for a side of meat or a dozen eggs.

That was the hub, yeah. That’s how you – well, you bought everything you needed. You bartered for most of it with eggs or a side of fat meat.

On Saturday night [when we went into Parksley] … we got a quarter. Fifteen cents for the movie. And ten cents for an ice cream cone. Ice cream cone was about a nickel or a Coke or whatever, but it was ten cents to throw away. That was what we got. We got 25 cents Saturday night.

Nora Lee: That was the highlight of your week.

Richard: For working all week. And my job at home … As soon as the boys got big enough to do anything, the boys took over. My brother milked the cow. I never did have to milk the cow, but my job was tend to the woodpile. Keep the wood split and fill the woodbox up when I came home from school. So, that’s kind of quaint, isn’t it?

Of course, you’re talking about ten cents for a gallon of kerosene or fifteen cents or something like that. I don’t know how much a pack of cigarettes was then, but everybody smoked – well, most people rolled their own.

Nora Lee: Cheaper.

Richard: Gosh, a bag of Bull Durham was five or ten cents, and that was a right good size – would make a lot of cigarettes. … It has a string on it that you pulled the string and that tightened it up. When you pulled it open, you could dump it out in your cigarette. And some people, boy you talk about – they could roll a cigarette …

We entertained ourselves if Daddy let us have [time off]. Saturday afternoon most of the time was ours, and we boys – we played in the creek and swam and, like boys will do, did all kinds of throwing mud and mud baths and such as that. There really wasn’t anything real exciting that went on ’til Saturday night when we went to Parksley.

from an interview with Richard and Nora Lee Parks, summer 2009

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… and that’s the way she taught us.

Rhoda Dalby Young, 1935 (courtesy of the Dalby/Young family)

They had a two-room schoolhouse [in Westover, Maryland]. In fact, it had been a big two-room – a double one – but we had our school in one of [them]. The other was used for library books and special supplies. Miss Mary Wetsel – she was a Catholic – and she taught five grades.

I [started] the second grade [in Lower Northampton County] and had Ms. Hurt. … and that’s where I had my first little boyfriend. Billy … he gave me a little cage with a key on it that had a little bird in it, and you’d turn that and the little bird would sing. … But in the second grade Billy called Ms. Hurt one day, and he had a bracelet and it had “Rhoda Dalby” on it. His mother had bought it for him. He was asking her to fasten it for him, and she was all smiles there doing that. But anyway, he asked me if I wanted to wear it, and I said, “No, I don’t want to wear it.”

But anyway, going back to the one-room schoolhouse, there would be, as you go in the front, we had a bucket of water on the table in the back with a cup, and we had two little johns outside. That way was the boys, and that way was the girls, and I was in the second grade, so I was not in the first aisle as you came in.  That was the first grade.  The second was the second grade. And the last – there were not that many in the second grade, so the row was finished out with the third graders. 

And then there was a big pot-belly stove filled with coal, and they had a zinc thing around it to keep it from – the children from falling against it.  So, the other side, you went to the fourth on the far wall and then the fifth against that stove. 

She was fabulous. She was an old maid – Miss Mary – but she was sweet to us. There was a big blackboard in the back of the room and a long, like a church bench in front of it, so she would take grade one and maybe with grade one, she’d have a thing up there with birds. “How many birds? Did you see a Robin?” “One” or whatever, and that’s the way she taught us.  

And then, of course, we would progress and we three little girls would go to visit her in the summertime.  I remember, one year, she went across the country, and so we went and visited with her and sat and listened to her story about going across the country.  We were like that.  

…  Mother sewed, so we had little dresses, not many, but she made everything we wore.  We would go and visit up and down in Westover … everybody [would say] “those little Dalby girls” but we enjoyed life there.

from an interview with Rhoda Dalby Young, summer 2009

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