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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tangier Island, MD - way cool!

John Smith stopped by Tangier Island in 1608. Watermen still live on the Island, but being a crabber is a tough profession. Streets are narrow and there are few cars on the Island. Transportation is primarily by golf cart, walking or bicycle. A ride to the mainland is $40 per person. Most residents don't leave the Island very often.

Tangier Island is an island in the Chesapeake Bay. It is 1 mile by 3 miles and has 3 ridges of higher land...the rest is salt marsh. Years ago the population was 800, but as time passes, the population dwindles. The main occupation for 40 years has been as a waterman, harvesting crab and oysters and fishing.


The "buy boats" are beautiful and are used to pick up the crab or oysters.

Crab pots organized for he next run.

These sheds are watermen's "man caves". They work from the shall shed daily, but some have been known to have Lazyboy chairs and other "luxuries". 

The salt marshes are beautiful and cover the largest portion of the land.
The water table is high, so graves are partially above ground.

This was one of many cemeteries in the main part of town.

This woman's husband had died recently and now lies outside her kitchen door with vegetables newly planted around his grave. He would love the vegetables!
If you are a Park, Pruitt or Crockett, you are one of the few families on the Island. There are only a few more family names. Most can trace their ancestoral roots to the Island back 300 years. Their culture and manner of speaking is unique as their own version of English.  The language is like a southern cockney filled with idioms. When residents talk to tourists they slow down and talk English more similar to our speech. If you listen to the watermen talk, you have a hard time following the discussion. Phrases are typically reversals, such as when you missed an opportunity - they might say "looks like you came too soon". Family ties are extremely strong and religious values are paramount. Tangier is a dry Island, with no liquor of any type sold or served.

Cemeteries are everywhere and anywhere. Many people have tombstones in their frontyard. Residents are allowed to bury their family outside the kitchen door! As just said, one woman did exactly that and had her grandson bring in some potting soil and plant some vegetables around him..... while we were in Tangier.

The government built a new school......and medical center. The doctor who visited every Monday died of cancer and now Inez Park Pruitt is the Physicians Assistant caring for the residents. (She is Mr. Park's daughter. Mr. Park owns the Marina.) This morning at 6AM what we thought was the fire alarm, went off. It was the signal to all those who need to assist with evacuation come to the aid of a woman with chest pain. She was medivaced to a hospital on the mainland. Hope she was OK.

The Parks Marina is the only Marina, so we thought we would go there! Ruth called Parks Marina and Mr. Parks told her he would be glad to help us in, as long as it was after church. He arrived in his suit and tie to greet us and tie up our boats. Mr. Parks told us the temporary minister ( the minister died...seeing a pattern?) and the temporary minister could have done minor surgery in church on Sunday. Mr. Parks only fell asleep twice!

Mr. Parks asked that we come into the Marina after church. He met us in his suit and tie to help us into the Marina.


Mr. Parks cares for their 30 cats. 6 live in the house. He doesn't like them, but cares for them for his wife of 59 years.

Miss Anna Parks (named after Mr. Park's Mother), then Crawdad on the dock.

Not the lap of luxury, but clean enough!

I am a cat lover and I was thrilled to see a number of cats around the Parks' residence. We were told the Parks feed 30 cats. The cats were neutered 3 weeks ago. The Humane Society came and trapped all the cats on the Island. Now the cats sport a trimmed ear and the females exhibit a shaved belly. Good news in this cat over run environment.

The Island is dry. Mr. Parks told us he had never had a drink. Liquor isn't available on the island. Lots of other things are not available either and a ride on the ferry will set you back $40 per person. The only grocery store has very little available. If you like vegetables and fruit, you had better learn to live without. None in the store.

Not the best meal we have ever had at the Chesapeake.

Cute Victorian house that is a restaurant, bed and breakfast.
The local restaurant, The Chesapeake, was not good. Perhaps others were better, but after the poor meal, we mostly ate on the boat!

We rode our bikes and hiked on the Island and found the local people friendly, but we would have stopped at Tangier Island just to see Mr. Parks. He is quite a guy. Tangier Island is a slice of how life used to be....in the 30's or 40's.

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