ORAL HISTORY: Questions for David Mitchell

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

April 14, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days.  A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave.  All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)

David Mitchell speaks April 12, 2001

PART 4

[Audience]: “What are you doing now?”

I do odd jobs.  I cut grass.  Mrs. Restine was the first person I cut grass for and I did it up until she died.  In fact, I bought my first lawn mower in 1959 and I’ve been cutting grass ever since then.  I don’t go out and look for work, it’s just a few people I do it for.  As I told the man the other day, I don’t want to go out and them tell me I need to get a license.  It’s a charitable thing mostly.  This young fellow [indicates Clarence Smaw] over there, he helps me out at church.  He’s retired from the railroad.  He said he noticed at the church anytime they needed somebody to do something, they always called on me.  He said, when I retire, I’m going to help him.  So he’s been 100%.  This other young man [indicating James Braxton], he’s at the church, we’ve been pals for many, many years.

We used to go out once or twice a year for a day, just the three of us.  The driver was the only one who knew where they were going.  Sometimes you could change your mind, but nobody would know because you were the only one who knew where you were going.  Like what happened to him, he was going to work on a Monday morning and we were out on a Sunday run.  He said, isn’t it something, I’ve got to come right back up the road tomorrow and go to work.  He worked up in Delaware.  Well, I was heading up that way, so when I got in Delaware, I turned and changed my plan and went to Baltimore.  I didn’t want to go over the same route he was going to go over!  We would just have a lot of fun riding, talking, and stopping with no particular place to go and no time to get there.  We used to do it quite often, but after my son got sick and my wife’s mother got up in age, she had to look after her.  We haven’t been out, but we hope someday soon we will be.

I had a fun experience with Herb Lovitt.  He and I used to have a little talk about different things and I would disagree just to get him wound up.  He got a little upset one night, got a little rough. I was riding with him — one night I would drive carrying us to work and he would drive the next — I said to him, “You wait until we get home and I’m going to tell you something.”  He was very quiet all the way home and he didn’t know what was going to happen.  So I got out of the car and just said, “So long, Herb, have a nice day!”  And he was shocked. [Read more...]

ORAL HISTORY: David Mitchell $.50 Short in 21 Years

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

April 7, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days.  A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave.  All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)

David Mitchell speaks April 12, 2001

PART 3

There was a company that came down called Union News; they took over the concession part of the building.  They served all the meals, at the counter and in the dining room.  They gave me a job as the dish and linen to the ferries and I did some custodian work also.  I did that until the ferries stopped running.  The last day out of Kiptopeke, I put the linen on the boat, turned the key into the secretary and left, not knowing if I had a job.  As I was leaving I thought about the badge I used to wear, Badge 39, and I wanted to keep it as a souvenir.  So I went back down and asked the lady for the key and said I left something in the laundry room.  I went and got the badge and came back to give her the key and Mr. Forrest was in there.  He said, “David, tomorrow morning I want you to bring some linen down to the Bridge.  Get all of it out of the linen room and bring it down there.”  I said, “I didn’t know if I had a job.” He said, “Oh yeah, you’re one of those who didn’t want your severance pay and wanted a job instead, so you got a job.”  I said, “Fine,” and I was happy about that.

I started working down there in maintenance.  I started off as custodian there.  I had to go across the bridge and pick up the trash from the islands and South Plaza, clean up, and come back.  And one day, Mr. Anderson, who was one of the people who worked in the office over there, told me Mr. Forrest was looking for a good man to work in the administration building — there was mostly women over there.  He told Mr. Forrest, “Now there’s a good man for you right there!  He comes in looking like that every day.  Clean and neat.”  Mr. Forrest said he wanted me as soon as possible, so I got off the truck and went over there.  I worked there from 1964 until 1966. [Read more...]

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NHS Students Construct Cabinet for American Legion

Northampton High cabinetmakers (Photo courtesy Dave Steward)

Northampton High cabinetmakers (Photo courtesy Dave Steward)

By JOE VACCARO
American Legion Post 56

April 7, 2014

Despite being one of the oldest Posts in America, American Legion Post 56 had to literally restart from the ashes of a fire that completely consumed it decades ago when it was located in Cape Charles. The past few years have seen a transformation within the Post, including not only an internal structural change but also a collection of items and mementos that reflect the proud military service of its membership.

Ever mindful that Post 56 evolved from a well-known supermarket that was once a gas station and car dealership, the Post’s leadership, under the skillful direction of Commander Dave Steward, has made great efforts to preserve Post history. More important is the effort to preserve the veterans’ stories and the culture of the Shore where the veterans reside. [Read more...]

ORAL HISTORY PT 2:
David Mitchell As Milkman, Baseball Pitcher, Cook

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

March 31, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days.  A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave.  All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)

David Mitchell speaks April 12, 2001

PART 2

It didn’t last long before Mr. Gladstone got a car and started delivering milk in a car.  And we put milk on all the ferries that ran here in town.  I remember there was the Princess Anne, the Pocahontas, the DelMarva.  Finally, they got the Northampton, the Accomac, and the Old Pointe Comfort, and the Elisha Lee.  Anyway, we used to put milk on those ferries when they were running in town, especially the Princess Anne, Pocahontas and DelMarva.

I had a scary time once when I went on there to put some milk on one of them.  I didn’t have much time to go up to put the milk up in the kitchen (I always had to carry it to the kitchen).  On the Pocahontas, of course, they had a big dance floor there in the middle of the boat.  You’d go up there and people would be dancing and I’m going through with two carries of milk, zigzagging trying to get to the kitchen.  And the boat blew the horn to leave and I couldn’t get off!  I ran down the steps and the boat was about 10 feet away, the guy grabbed me because I was coming so fast I guess I would have run overboard if he hadn’t grabbed me to stop me.  And they just ribbed me all the way back.  Told me I had to wash the dishes, had to paint the deck.  They just told me everything.  I was scared as I could be.  But, anyway, I went over and came back.  That was the only time that it ever happened.  I found out all they were doing was needling me, giving me a hard time. [Read more...]

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REVIEW: Odd Couple Brought Us Together for a Night

Seated Left to Right:
Mellisa Stein as Olive Madison
Fran Loper as Renee’
Susan Kovacs as Sylvie
Joanne Dean as Mickey
Sherri DeMarino as Vera
Christy Iversen as Florence Unger
Travis Handy, Stage Manager & Stage Hand
Standing Left to Right:
Kevin Schwenk, Hair & Make up
Victor Abrahamian as Manolo Constazuela
Clelia Sheppard, Director, Set Design & Decor
J.P. Pare as Jesus Constazuela
Rachel Attenberg, Stage Hand
Not pictured:
Chris & Walt Rool, Photograhy
Richard Spano, Lighting Tech
Rob Colls-CCC Renovations, Set Construction

By WAYNE CREED

March 29, 2014

The play The Odd Couple premiered on Broadway at the Plymouth Theatre on March 10, 1965, and later moved to the Eugene O’Neill Theatre where it closed on July 2, 1967 after 964 performances and two previews. Directed by Mike Nichols, the original cast starred Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison and Art Carney as Felix Ungar. The Nichols show produced Tony Awards for Walter Matthau as Best Actor, as well as Best Author for Simon, Best Direction of a Play for Nichols, and Best Scenic Design for Oliver Smith. In 1968, the film version, starring Matthau and Jack Lemon, cemented the iconic characters of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger. In 1970, the television show starring Jack Klugman and Tony Randall forever wove Oscar and Felix into the American consciousness.

The beauty of theater is that it is never static, whether it is recreating the Oresteia Trilogy, or Hamlet, or The Sound of Music. There’s always something new, a different angle, a new way to be fresh. That is just what we saw this last weekend with the Palace Theatre’s brilliant production of The Odd Couple: Female Version. Great productions always start at the top, and Clelia Shepherd’s vision, wit, and charm created the perfect pallet. The production had a firm, even pace, allowing each actor the room to breathe and find their space within this rather daunting script.

This version of the Odd Couple differed from many I have scene, due to its visual brilliance — the actors literally popped on the stage, and the credit for this goes to one of the most talented and underrated artists on the Shore — the Palace Theatre costume mistress, Vera Miller. After every show, I always tell myself, there’s no way she’ll ever be able to top that, but somehow she always does, whether it is pitch-perfect historical such as Oliver or Piece of Eden, or the flat-out brilliance and style of Seussical the Musical. Here, once again, her eye was spot on. Working with Ms. Miller, Kevin Schwenk’s great work with hair and make-up truly lent an air of authenticity to the show.

The beauty of the Odd Couple is that it plays to America’s greatest theatrical strength — the ensemble comedic cast, and that strength was exploited to the fullest by Ms. Shepherd. The heart of the Odd Couple is the friendship and camaraderie that exists among the characters, especially when they meet for the weekly card games. In the female version, poker is exchanged for Trivial Pursuit, a savvy twist by the author, opening the door for numerous one-liners and zingers. [Read more...]

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ORAL HISTORY: Delivering Milk by Horse and Wagon

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

David Mitchell today (13 years after his remarks transcribed here). Photo courtesy Marion Naar

March 24, 2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days.  A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave.  All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)

David Mitchell speaks April 12, 2001

PART 1

I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and I left there at the age of five and came to Cape Charles.  I lived with my aunt and uncle, Jesse Mitchell and Sally Mitchell.  My uncle worked for the town back in those days.  He used to haul garbage, and the garbage dump was over where the Coast Guard housing is right now [Washington Street east of Sea Breeze apartments].  Used to be the dump pile.  They had a horse and wagon they used to haul garbage with.

I always loved having my own money, so at an early age my Uncle Jesse had me working.  He used to do a little gardening and he would sell butter beans and tomatoes and stuff from his garden.  And he would take orders from private homes to sell butter beans and we had to help shell them and so forth.  And, of course, he would give us a little bit for helping and delivering.  My aunt used to wash laundry for families and she did some housework also.

When I was about 12, Mr. Gladstone had a dairy.  I know a lot of people are familiar with Gladstone Dairy over on the other side of Washington Avenue.  His father had strawberries and stuff.  I didn’t know that much about his father, but I did know Paul Gladstone.  I used to watch the cows and they would graze along Washington Avenue.  They had fields along it, but no fence.  So I happened to be out there playing one day and he came by and asked me if I wanted to keep the cows from going out in the street.  He’d give me something for doing it.  Well, I was playing anyway, so I told him yes.  So I would just throw a rock out and make them go back and then I would continue to play.  I’d see them come over again and I’d throw and make them go back.  And I guess he must have seen that I was faithful in what I was doing, so when I got a little older he gave me a job at the dairy. [Read more...]

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An Even Odder ‘Odd Couple’ Opens 3/21 at the Palace

JP Pare, Victor Abrahamian

Christie Iversen, JP Pare, Mellissa Stein, Victor Abrahamian

March 17, 2014

Unger and Madison are at it again! Florence Unger and Olive Madison, that is, in Neil Simon’s hilarious contemporary comic classic: the female version of “The Odd Couple” coming to the Historic Palace Theatre. Performances are Friday, March 21, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, March 22 at 8 p.m.; and Sunday, March 23 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 adults and $5 students and are available at the box office immediately before performances.

Olive, like her original male counterpart, is divorced and living in cheerful chaos in her New York apartment. At Olive’s invitation, the suicidal Florence, newly separated from her husband, moves in and is soon finding comfort in cooking, cleaning and fussing until Olive is almost reduced to a nervous wreck. It becomes clear that the patterns of their disastrous marriages are already re-occurring.

Instead of the poker party that begins the original version, Ms. Madison has invited the girls over for an evening of Trivial Pursuit. The Pidgeon sisters have been replaced by the two Constanzuela brothers. But the hilarity remains the same. Taking the stage at the Palace Theatre for these performances are Fran Loper, Mellisa Stein, Joanne Dean, JP Pare, Christie Iversen, Victor Abrahamian, Susan Kovacs, and Sherri DeMarino.

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ORAL HISTORY:
Tragedy on the Ferry, Capt. Evans’ ‘Retiring’ Wife

Pocahontas ferryboat steamed between Cape Charles and

Pocahontas ferryboat steamed between Cape Charles and Norfolk, captained by Bill Evans.

March 10,  2014

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Cape Charles Historical Society has for more than a decade been recording oral histories of the area’s earlier days.  In 2006, Bill and Jan Neville interviewed the late Capt. Bill Evans. A grant from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities enabled 15 interviews to be transcribed, and the Historical Society has made this one available for readers of the Wave.  All the transcriptions may be read at the Cape Charles Museum.)

Excerpts from a March 31, 2006, interview by Bill and Jan Neville of Ferryboat Capt. Bill Evans and his wife, Grace. 

PART 5

I don’t know if this is right or not, but I call the Pocahontas, the Princess Anne, the DelMarva, I call those the ferries.  And then the Elisha Lee and the Virginia Lee and the Maryland, I called them steamers.  But I guess they are all technically steamers. I thought these were diesel engines and that they didn’t run on steam.  Were they coal fired? [Read more...]

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