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)

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...]


Annual Harbor for the Arts Festival Begins Friday

Arts Festival includes a plain air painting competition.

Arts Festival includes a plain air competition.


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)

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


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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FEATURE: Up the Creek Without a Paddle


July 14, 2014

Living on the Eastern Shore, bounded by water on two sides, makes owning something to float on a necessity. I have this little kayak, a short, round, cute little tub. Not a streamlined kayak, just a little basic kayak. Used it every so often, not too often. After a long, painful trip out to the Barrier Islands a few weeks ago, I realized that my paddling days were not so enjoyable any more.

I also have another boat, a small aluminum rowboat. Has been sitting in my backyard as an ornament for years, slowly turning into a planter. So a few days ago, I decided to purchase a real, small outboard engine at a local marina. Next day I was ready to head out with my new toy. Eureka! It felt like having my first car, after riding a bike for years. Freedom!

Started out early to avoid the searing afternoon heat. Made it to the boat ramp just fine. Backing up took (quite) a few tries. The boat ramp looks much wider close-up when on foot. (Note to self: Should practice backing up in my driveway — and remember, turning left means the bloody boat turns right!)

Slid the boat off the trailer without any problems — even remembered to tie it up before I parked the car. Tried to lower the motor into the water. Where on earth was that little gizmo Tom showed me at the marina that I had to pull out first? Ten minutes later — oh, this one! (Note to self: Things look different when viewed standing on land behind the boat.)

Then tried to start the motor. Pump … Choke … Pull … Again. Took a few pulls (Why did it only take ONE at the marina?) And then the motor stopped. Again — see above — nothing, just a few sputters. Ten minutes later — Success! (Note to self: Do NOT stand on the gas supply hose while trying to start the motor!) [Read more...]


Eastern Shore Lavender Farm Gets National Attention

Blue Skye farm as featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Blue Skye Lavender farm as featured in Martha Stewart Living magazine.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Wave normally does not publish promotional press releases from afar, but this one caught our eye as exceptional. We congratulate Lisa McPherson on her successful and growing Eastern Shore start-up.)


July 12, 2014

Blue Skye Lavender, a 13.7-acre lavender farm near Modest Town in Accomack County, is featured in a nine-page spread in the current edition of Martha Stewart LivingFounded by Lisa McPherson in 2008, Blue Skye Lavender caught the attention of the magazine in 2013, and a camera crew spent two days on the farm last June capturing its natural beauty and the 1,200 lavender plants that dominate the farm’s landscape.

McPherson uses the lavender she grows to produce elegant confections and bath products. She distributes her products in North Street Market in Onancock and in the Washington DC area.

The business started as a series of happy accidents. “Six years ago, I wanted to plant some lavender to deter deer from eating my plants and trees, so I ordered 300 lavender plants from a West Coast nursery. They sent 3,000 plants by accident, so my daughter and I rounded up some friends and got to work,” McPherson said.

The Shore’s wind and sun were hard on McPherson’s fair skin, so she mixed lavender extract with sugar and created a soothing skin balm. “One day, I noticed my daughter spooning this lavender skin balm out of the jar and eating it,” said McPherson. “I just about fell out of my chair. Then I started thinking about it and realized that lavender might be a nice accent in candy, so I started making nut brittle with a lavender accent.” [Read more...]

‘Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie’ Is the Best!

July 12, 2014

At the Wave’s request, longtime Monroe Avenue residents Dolores and Stefanie Somers are sharing a recipe known as “Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie.” Dolores says the recipe was popularized by Bisquick, but no matter — it really is the best coconut pie ever!

 Impossibly Easy Coconut Pie

2 cups milk
¾ cup sugar
½ cup Bisquick
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
4 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla
1 cup coconut flakes

Lightly grease pie pan.

Mix all ingredients except coconut flakes in blender or food processor.

Stir in coconut flakes.

Pour into pie pan and bake 50-55 minutes at 350 degrees.

No need for a pie crust — the pie forms its own crust!

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Washington Post Discovers Eastern Shore (Again)

Washington Post photographer Jay Westcott captured this image of Custis Pond in Savage Neck Dunes -- near Cape Charles but missed by most tourists and quite a few residents.

Washington Post photographer Jay Westcott captured this image of Custis Pond in Savage Neck Dunes Natural Area Preserve — near Cape Charles but missed by most tourists and more than a few residents.

Cape Charles Wave

June 30, 2014

In August 2012 the Washington Post sent travel writer Becky Krystal to the Eastern Shore, where she discovered then newly opened Hotel Cape Charles, as well as Brown Dog Ice Cream, and gushed over both of them. Two years later the Post has discovered the Eastern Shore all over again, this time through the person of Andrea Sachs, who appears not to have read the yellowed clippings of her colleague’s story.

Ms. Sachs’ upbeat account in this past weekend’s Post will no doubt bring even more tourists our way – especially those looking for something new and different. She writes:

Travelers familiar with the extrovert to the north, Maryland’s Eastern Shore, will be surprised by Virginia’s subdued and understated character. Maryland is the lazy man’s summer retreat: Simply follow the dancing crabs to your stretch of sand or pot of seafood. Virginia’s section is more mysterious and challenging. You have to work for your water views, your beaches and your summer requisites.

That’s the first hint that this travel story will be different. The second comes when Sachs, overnighting at the Exmore Holiday Inn, asks a question. As she tells it:

On the drive to my Exmore hotel, I’d passed a sign for Silver Beach, imagining a sparkling strand with sand spun of the precious metal. When I asked a Holiday Inn employee for information about it, she had none. Instead, she directed me north to Chincoteague (done it, and didn’t want to repeat it) or south to Cape Charles (on the itinerary).

Imagine – a travel writer who purposely skips Chincoteague! Instead, Sachs highlights the following: [Read more...]


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