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North East Memories

Eva Brooks Campbell

A hurricane came ashore near my home in Maryland once. The water at high tide came into the land quite a ways. Our house was rather large and had a coal shed at the back nearest the river. The water came in to our backyard and under the coal shed. What a strange feeling to see the water slowly coming closer and closer. The neighbor came in his boat to his back door and tied up to a pear tree growing by his back steps. This also looked strange.

When there was no storm, Clara, my youngest child, and I used to walk down between the swamps to admire the yellow water lilies and the cattails and Joe Pye weed growing there. Then, on to the river to sit on a bench a fisherman kept there and watch the tide come in. Sometimes we’d take food and have a small picnic. The children enjoyed seeing the fish come in at herring run time. It was quite fascinating. They came up small streams and large, and people came from quite a distance to dip net them. Too bony for me and I feared for my children, so I cooked bigger fish.

If the winter was really cold and the rivers froze deep enough, there’d be ice fishing. This was a source of worry for me, as my oldest son enjoyed it. To sit on a box beside a hole that had been made by sawing through the ice and fish, with usually a cold wind blowing up the river, seemed just like torture to me. But I loved to walk alongside the river, which flowed into the Chesapeake Bay.

We knew the lady who at one time had lived in the Turkey Point lighthouse and kept the light. During times of thick fog, she had to make sure the big bell rang all night. The lighthouse was ten miles from town, so she and her family had a big garden, fruit trees, and a couple of cows. The fence posts were of cement. The view was fantastic, where four rivers met. The house had a lovely front porch, with a cherry tree nearby. Now there’s only deer and summer people, the house long gone, as are the barn, chicken house, and fence posts. It’s lovely there, but no longer interesting, just all filled in, grassed, with a couple of benches. It’s nice, but nothing as it once was.