ORAL HISTORY
‘To Think Daddy Sold the House for $20,000!’

"One of the prettiest houses in town": Randolph Avenue home was built c. 1945 and purchased by the Wendell family c. 1958 for $20,000. The home remains in the family today. (Wave photo)

“One of the prettiest houses in town”: Randolph Avenue home was built c.1945 and purchased by the Wendell family c.1958 for $20,000. The home remains in the family today. (Wave photo)

September 2, 2014

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. 

1990 Interview of Virginia Fitzhugh conducted by Virginia Savage

PART SIX

VIRGINIA SAVAGE:  There’s a house [southwest corner of Randolph and Peach] owned by Ham Hamilton.  He was married to a Whitehead [from Townsend -- two doors east of Miss Iva].

VIRGINIA FITZHUGH:  They’re related in some way.  You know you can’t talk about anyone around here, Virginia, because everyone is kin!

You know, I found that early!  When I came to the Eastern Shore I found out in a hurry you don’t talk about anybody because everybody was kin!

That’s where Carrie King lived for years [before she built her house].  Yeah, she lived there for years and years, Carrie King.  Now who built it, I don’t know.

Now which house is that?

Where Ham Hamilton lived on that corner.

Tazewell and Peach.  Then Carrie built the house up Randolph Ave that the Wendells now live in.  And I think she must have built that about 1945.  You know, in about 1958 we bought what was the Dr. Lynch house, the Dr. Moore house before that, we didn’t pay but $7,500 for that house.  And the Wendells bought Aunt Carrie’s house not long after that and I don’t think they paid but $20,000 for that and that was one of the prettiest houses in town.

Dr. Lewis Belote, the dentist, only paid $20,000 for the Moore house.  [Jack Moore house on Bay Avenue.]  And that came right from Elizabeth.  Because you know when Joan wanted to sell it, she wanted $100,000 and Elizabeth had a fit.  She said, “My Lord, my Daddy sold that to Lewis Belote for $20,000 and I think left the piano in there.”  [Bobby Rittenhouse has it.]

And that was thirty years ago, because I think Wade was about two years old when they moved into that house, because I kept him during that period of time.  He and Jake were buddies.  So that was about thirty years ago, they paid $20,000 for that house.  Isn’t that amazing!

Elizabeth said she just couldn’t get over it.  To think Daddy sold it for $20,000. [Read more...]

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Big Renovations at Cape Charles Christian School

Former Presbyterian Church sanctuary is

Former Presbyterian Church sanctuary will become a multi-use event space for everything from conferences to weddings.

By TAMMY HOLLOWAY
Cape Charles Christian School

August 25, 2014

Cape Charles Christian School is beginning its sixth year with exciting physical, educational, and administrative changes. “If you have driven by the corner of Tazewell and Strawberry lately you have seen a lot of action taking place both inside and out,” said Gwen Coghill, CCCS Board member. From the outside additional parking sets the stage in the front of the school but the exciting part occurs when you open the doors of the sanctuary of the former Presbyterian Church of Cape Charles, built in 1925.

The renovation will bring new life to the former sanctuary while maintaining and respecting its historical bones. The space is being transformed into a multi-use event space that will serve as the school’s fellowship hall as well as host anything from wedding ceremonies to meetings and conferences. An exciting component to this project is the unveiling of the magnificent stained glass windows that have been shielded by a protective plexiglass for years. The school will launch a fundraising campaign this fall providing donors with a chance to dedicate a window in honor or memory of someone significant to them. “Take a drive by one evening and you too will witness this glorious site,” says CCCS Board Chair John Burdiss. [Read more...]

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A Trip to the New Chiropractor (Needles Included)

A little neck manipulation — and then come the needles.

By SARAH GOLIBART
Cape Charles Wave

August 18, 2014

It’s not every day that you find yourself shirtless in a room with a man who recently moved from the Dominican Republic. Now, don’t jump to conclusions! I was receiving acupuncture treatment from Dr. Greg Stern, Cape Charles’ newest acupuncturist and chiropractor.

I tensed as he pushed the third needle into the muscle of my right shoulder. About seven more needles were waiting to puncture my back, hands, shoulders, and ears. Surprisingly, it didn’t really hurt. According to Dr. Stern, acupuncture isn’t supposed to cause pain, but instead promote healing and well-being.

“Dr. Greg,” as he’s called, was treating my shoulder for an injury I received almost two years ago in a bicycling accident. I fell while riding downhill and dislocated my shoulder. I partially tore my rotator cuff and immobilized my arm. Eight months of physical therapy has almost fully restored my arm’s motion, but left my deltoid useless and without sensation. The deltoid is a very crucial muscle involved in arm movement. Dr. Greg chose to focus on my shoulder injury for my acupuncture and chiropractic treatment. [Read more...]

ORAL HISTORY: Parsons House Fire Was ‘Worth It’

House

Parsons House burned c. late 1970s. The five dormers were lost along with the Chippendale railing around the upper porch and the slate roof. The house is now the Chesapeake Bay View Bed & Breakfast.

August 18, 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.CLICK to read previous oral histories in the Wave.)

1990 Interview of Virginia Fitzhugh conducted by Virginia Savage

PART FIVE

VIRGINIA SAVAGE: Where was the Fitzhugh house?

VIRGINIA FITZHUGH:   Right there on the corner where Shrieves lives [southwest corner of Randolph and Peach].

The yellow house on the corner of Peach and Randolph.  And that’s where you started housekeeping.  Did Mr. Fitzhugh build that house?

No. That house was built by Dr. Kellam, the doctor that was in Cape Charles.  And Mr. Fitzhugh bought it from him.

Now the house next to that where the Johnsons lived now. And the next house was Harold Smith’s. 

That’s right.  That was a boarding house.

That was an old Federal type building there [torn down in the '80s].  Do you remember when the Mack buildings were built?

Yep.  They were built late.  I would say ’30s or ’40s.

Do you remember when Mr. Parsons built his house on the beach?  Mr. Russell Parsons . . . Miss Alice Parsons.  The one the second floor burned probably during the late ’70s.

I don’t know how old I was when that was built.

That was such a gorgeous house.  What a calamity that it burned.  [The five dormers were lost, the Chippendale railing around the upper porch and a wonderful slate roof.]

Listen,  it was worth it.  They got so much money back, because it had gone perfectly terrible and they didn’t have the money to fix it.  But how in the world they got so much insurance money — it’s like an almost entirely new house inside.  I tell you, Virginia, Miss Alice Parsons had property but I don’t think she had much cash.  Because she was a working woman.  She had all those apartments up over where Harold Smith had his hardware store.  And up there where the Eastern Star was.  [Parson building on Mason.]  See they had apartments up there.  They owned all these big houses at the end of Tazewell. [Read more...]

Pat Parsons Pens Memories of Bygone Cape Charles

Author Pat Parsons has nearly finished her book about growing up in Cape Charles (Wave photo)

Author Pat Parsons has nearly finished her book about growing up in Cape Charles, entitled “Before We Were Quaint.” (Wave photo)

By DORIE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave

July 28, 2014

When Pat Parsons left home 59 years ago to attend Radford College, Cape Charles was far different from now: a bustling railroad town with a ferry connecting to Norfolk. Now Parsons has nearly completed a book of memories of those bygone days.

During breakfast earlier this year at the Cape Charles Coffee House, Parsons mentioned to proprietor Roberta Romeo that she was writing vignettes of growing up in Cape Charles in order to share her memories with her grandchildren. At Romeo’s urging, Parsons read one of her stories to her. Recognizing a talented writer, Romeo immediately urged her to publish a book, and promised to sell the book at the Coffee House. And so it soon will be.

The Cape Charles that Parsons writes about in the 1950s was the hub of commerce for Northampton County. Schools were segregated, with white children attending the big old school at Central Park while African-American children crossed the hump to Cape Charles Elementary, now often called the Rosenwald School.

Schools and churches were central to the life of the town, and folks came from all over the Eastern Shore to shop in Cape Charles. There were grocery stores, clothing stores, and a business district filled with bustling shops.

(Story continues following excerpt below)

lf600 [Read more...]

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Annual Harbor for the Arts Festival Begins Friday

Arts Festival includes a plain air painting competition.

Arts Festival includes a plain air competition.

By ANGELLE BARBAZON

July 28, 2014

Beginning Friday, August 1, artists from around the world will get a dose of small town America. And small town America (in the form of Cape Charles) will get a dose of global art. The Harbor for the Arts Festival will not only host dancers, musicians, actors, puppeteers and visual artists from around the world, but create an environment for those artists and the community to truly engage with art and each other. The event runs August 1-17, offering free, live art and performances scheduled throughout.

August 8-10, and August 15-17 will be especially art-soaked weekends, filled with concerts, exhibitions, performances for children, and even yoga in the park.

The festival’s line-up includes artists from London, Canada, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Ghana, Italy, and Sweden, among other places. The five workshops will feature Experimental Film Virginia, Gaga Movement Language, Interactive Sonic Arts, Techniques in Charcoal and Improv/Sketch Comedy. [Read more...]

A Piece of Railroad History Returning Friday

Pennsylvania sign board as shown on Barge 605 is coming home. (Photo: Eastern Shore Railway Museum)

Pennsylvania sign board as shown on Barge 605 is coming home. (Photo: Eastern Shore Railway Museum)

By BILL NEVILLE
Cape Charles Historical Society

July 17, 2014

Friday, July 18, at the Town Harbor the symbolic return of a piece of Cape Charles railroad history will occur. An early 1900s yacht will enter the harbor displaying on deck a 20-foot-long name board with the word “Pennsylvania.”

These boards were attached to the side of the pilot houses on the old Pennsylvania Railroad barges that have been a part of the harbor scene in Cape Charles since the 1880s.

The name board will be crossing the bay on the yacht Mar-Sue following the early route of the barges from Port Norfolk on the Elizabeth River to the harbor in Cape Charles. The event was made possible when Cape Charles Historical Society member and railroad enthusiast Jim Curtin of Chesapeake offered this piece of history, which has been in his possession for decades, to the society last March. [Read more...]

ORAL HISTORY: More Monroe Avenue Houses

104 Monroe Avenue, built c. 1923 by Miss

104 Monroe Avenue, built c. 1923 by Miss Lina Taylor but known by most locals as the Bull House, where schoolteacher Ruby and husband Ryland Bull lived for many years. (Wave photo)

July 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. CLICK to read previous oral histories in the Wave.)

1990 Interview of Virginia Fitzhugh conducted by Virginia Savage

PART FOUR

VIRGINIA FITZHUGH: When we lived on Randolph Avenue, Miss Lina Taylor lived across the street from us. And when Daddy built [on Tazewell and Pine] down there, she said that town was so lonesome up there that her neighbors had moved, she bought a piece of property and built on Monroe Avenue.

VIRGINIA SAVAGE: I love that house. And she would be pleased to know that the stairwell is back in it and it’s no longer two stories. Did she have a family?

She had Gordon Ames and Winton. Now, Gordon, you remember Cary Ames? Well, that was one of Miss Taylor’s sister.  See that double house in back of us, Miss Taylor built. She sold that house to Dixon, that’s on the corner where the B&B is now. Mr. Dixon was a painter, paper hanger.

Now that’s always been referred to as the Dixon house. He’s the one that turned it into two apartments then.

That’s right.

Because when I first came over to the shore, you had to go up a back staircase to get to Bond Disharoon’s apartment.

And Miss Taylor built that big, brick double house in back of ours, where Ruby Bull lived; they lived there for years. That’s right, the Schrecks were living in one part. Then Miss Taylor died and Marie married and went to New York and they sold that house to Ryland Bull. See, Ryland lived up the street in that double house that’s across from Ethel May [500 block of Monroe]. And he sold that and bought the double house of Miss Taylor’s. Cary Ames was the daughter-in-law. the son was Gordon. He built the house they lived in. [Read more...]

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