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Day 8: Friday, November 4, 2022 – St. Michaels

The Maryland Blue Crab is the state crustacean. The claws of the females have red tips on them. On the underside of the female is the top of the Capitol Building The underside of the male crab has the Washington Monument.


St. Michaels is a harbor town. It is on the water but near the forest which is ideal for shipbuilding. We docked at the maritime museum. There are boats, buildings and explanations about crabbing, oystering, and hunting etc.

Ten generations of families live in St. Michaels. The town maintains a year-round population of 1,000. St. Michaels is hopping in the summer with 500 boats docking in the largest marina in the Chesapeake.

This continues to be an active harbor with 20 shipwrights who are busy building, repairing, and restoring ships.

When a person decides that he no longer wants to have a boat (perhaps at age 98), it is common for them to donate it to the Memorial Day sale.

There is a lighthouse called Thomas Point House. Lighthouses had a similar appearance and tried to look different than a house. This lighthouse has a light containing a Fresnel lens that has a series of prisms and can be seen up to 20 miles. If there was fog, a bell was rung manually every 5-10 minutes until it lifted. A lighthouse tells sailors to stay away; do not come here. A shoal is a pile of rocks. Stay away from a shoal is the big rule of boating.

A lighthouse keeper and an assistant lived there. No women could stay in the lighthouse. The keepers were allowed one weekend a month to leave. A supply ship delivered goods once a month. Also, boaters were grateful and stopped by to give food.

There was a recession in 1812. Fewer boats were no longer needed. A canal from the Chesapeake Bay to Delaware Bay connected Baltimore to Philadelphia and opened up economy in 1840-1850. The economy in St. Michaels was always around boatbuilding.

In the Battle of St Michaels in 1813, the British came to destroy ships and the ability to build ships. Tradition says that they hung lanterns high in the treetops, and the British ships shot over the trees. They are known as the town that fooled the British. A cannonball entered a home, and it is known locally as The Cannonball House.

Boats categories are named for their function. There are two big celebrations when constructing a boat. Keel laying is the first celebration. Splashing is the next celebration when the boat first enters the water. A plank owner is someone who was on the boat for its first voyage.

A buy boat or deck boat comes to take oysters off the boats and bring them in. Sometimes, the oysters were so high that the boom would not come about. By law, watermen cannot oyster unless under sail.

Bugeye is a Scottish term and is a two mast schooner. There is one remaining and is listed as a National Treasure. A star boat is for racing and made famous by the Kennedy family.

Log canoe racing occurs every weekend in June and July, morning and afternoon on Saturday and again on Sunday. To be a crew on a log canoe is a 18-year-old rite of passage.

St. Michael’s Parish was founded in 1672 as one of the Chesapeake Bay area’s original “water churches” for the Church of England. Congregants arrive to the church in boats. The English crown levied taxes on the colony payable on the feast day of St. Michael. September 29, became known as St. Michaels.

After the Revolution, it became an Episcopal Church since there would be no Church of England. The baptismal font is a gift from Queen Anne shortly after she ascended the throne in 1702.

Scrapple is a traditional regional dish of pork scraps and trimmings combined with cornmeal and wheat flour, often buckwheat flour, and spices. The mush is formed into a semi-solid congealed loaf, and slices of the scrapple are then pan-fried before serving. Rob said that it sounded like a hot dog. Thankfully, we were never served it.

We crossed The Honeymoon Bridge. It was given that name from the last silent movie made called The First Kiss which starred Fay Wray and Gary Cooper. It is a lost film.

Hotels are very expensive here with the Inn at Perry Cabin leading the pack at $1,000 per night in the summer. Alternatively, there are many Bed and Breakfasts housed in fisherman cottages in the historic district.

In 1972 a Historic Commission was formed to preserve the historic homes. If not, they would have been leveled long ago.

Frederick Douglass was from the Eastern shore of Maryland. He was a slave to Thomas Auld near St. Michaels. Douglass was very smart and learned to read which was against the law. He ran away to the North. He helped others escape and told about the condition of the slave.

After he had escaped from slavery in 1838, Frederick Douglass became a well-known orator and abolitionist. He wrote an autobiography in 1845, but because he was a runaway slave, its publication increased the chances that he would be captured and returned to slavery. Douglass left his wife and three children and went on a speaking tour of Ireland and England to remove himself from immediate danger. He spent four months in Ireland and they treated him very well. He observed them as slaves without masters. This was prior to the potato famine.

His autobiography entitled The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave was published in 1845. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a eye opener concerning slavery, but it was written by a white woman. But to hear a first person account from a slave was quite another thing. It was REMARKABLE!

The Columbian Orator is the first book Douglass ever owned. This book taught him oratory skills. He first spoke in Nantucket. When questioned about his schooling, he said that he graduated from the Institution of Slavery and carried his diploma on his back.

Thomas Auld was dying and was bedridden. The press were here at the home of Dr. Dodson’s house now called The Reconciliation House to record the event.

Douglass wanted to show Auld who he had become after he was free of the constraints of slavery. The rest of the world had gotten to know the elder statesman, the Victorian gentleman, the United States Marshal; this was the moment when the man who ran away and the man who returned finally came full circle.”

“Frederick,” Auld said, “I always knew you were too smart to be a slave. Had I been in your place I should have done as you did.” Douglass replied, “I did not run away from you, but from slavery.”

Douglass moved to Rochester, NY to start a newspaper. He supported woman’s suffrage and was a friend of John Brown. Most say the civil war began on April 15, 1961 but it truly started in Harper’s Ferry on October 16, 1959.

Douglass was a friend of Lincoln. He met with Lincoln to discuss three grievances concerning the black men who fought with Washington: equal pay, black officers, battlefield lynching (war crime).He also had questions about the Emancipation Proclamation. The Constitution isn’t a flawed document nor a dead letter because we can can add amendments such as the 13th, 14th, 15th concerning the right to vote.

Frederick Douglass was the second most photographed person after Abraham Lincoln. In the newspaper, they would publish who you voted for. Only two people voted for Lincoln in St. Michael’s. The state was divided about slavery.

“If someone’s star is higher, he was awake when you were sleeping.” This statement from Douglass meant that he outworked you.

“The government is a three legged chair. Each leg needs to be in balance: soap box, jury box and cartridge box.”

Even though slavery ended in Maryland and the USA after the Civil War, segregation still existed for another 100 years. However, segregation wasn’t practiced on boats when they were on the water. They all worked together but once they returned to port, whites had to moor on one side and blacks on the other side. We have come a long way but there is more to do. Let people be people!!!

I don’t drink so I arrive at happy hour already happy. My drink of choice is tomato juice. For some reason they put plastic stir sticks in the glass. I don’t know what I am supposed to be stirring. The next night I asked the bartender to refrain from putting straws in my drink. (It’s unnecessary AND environmentally unsound.) He poored my drink and his co-bartender comes flying across the room and puts two stir sticks in the glass before my bartender could stop her. So the next night, I get the James Bond treatment but instead of “shaken not stirred” I have “tomato juice, no stirs”.

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