I watched this tableau play out during Opening Day at the Maryland Yacht Club one June in the late 1950s.
Delaware as well as pieces of the states of Maryland and Virginia occupy the peninsula that separates the Chesapeake Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. It was built from silt carried down from the Piedmont Plateau over the millennia. Flat and featureless, it was fertile farm land. Its occupants used their boats to fish for crabs and oysters in the months with “r's” and carry produce grown there to Baltimore during the rest of the year.
Plantations dominated the Eastern Shore during antebellum days. Hariett Tubman and Dred Scott were both born their and escaped slavery to make their marks on American history.
Several rivers, notably the Northeast, Chester, Wicomico, Wye, and Choptank, as well as major creeks such as Worten and Onancock, make deep cuts into it. We explored them all during my years sailing with the Sea Scouts from the Baltimore Yacht Club.
As a group of teenaged boys we were frequently mistaken as a “gang.” Local toughs, thinking that their turf was threatened would sometimes come after us. Fortunately, we were better organized than most gangs and acquitted ourselves well, especially on the road between Gratitude and Rock Hall. I remember several occasions when we had beer cans thrown at us from passing cars. Actually, I thought it was right friendly of them. The beer cans were usually full.
Yes, the Eastern Shore wasn't just a tidewater region, it was full of backwater towns. In fact, I discovered that if I wrote a check on the Eastern Shore, it wouldn't clear my bank for several months.