Maryland's Vanishing Lives

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JHU Press, Oct 1, 1995 - Architecture - 232 pages
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On Weems Creek in Annapolis, a grandmother operates one of Maryland's last swing bridges from her office tucked under the span. In his Baltimore workshop, a member of the Boulmetis family keeps the tradition of hat making alive in a city that once was among the hat-making capitals of America. Corny and Wilbur Messick of Bivalve will likely be the last of their family to make the graceful wooden tongs that watermen use to harvest oysters. The Day Basket Company in North East makes baskets the way it has since 1876, with local flitch-cut white oak softened in a wood-fired steam box. The state's only working one-room schoolhouse survives in the lower Chesapeake Bay - on an island that is slowly disappearing. And Baltimore's "Arabbers, " reminders of a vanished horse-and-wagon era, still sing their chants in a few old neighborhoods. For more than two years, John Sherwood roamed Maryland's small towns and city neighborhoods, traveled Appalachian back roads, and sailed the Chesapeake looking for people whose work or way of life recalled the state's rich and varied traditions. Maryland's Vanishing Lives is Sherwood's vivid account of the people he met on those journeys. In this collection of sixty-six short profiles, illustrated with memorable photographs by Edwin Remsberg, Sherwood preserves for posterity the lives of Marylanders who hang on to values and skills that are quickly disappearing. Working in a country store or an old-time movie house, on a small tobacco farm or a weathered skipjack, Sherwood's subjects interest us as people, as stubborn survivors who have watched - sometimes defiantly, sometimes wistfully - as the world moved on. They invite us to reflect on how dramatically lifehas changed over the past fifty, or even twenty, years. They remind us of the human costs of consolidation and modernization. Theirs are often poignant stories of what happens to family businesses and ordinary folk in the face of new technology, suburban sprawl, franchise outlets,

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About the author (1995)

John Sherwood is managing editor of Rags, a sailing magazine published in Annapolis, Maryland. He has been a reporter for the Washington Star, and Baltimore Sun, and the Miami Herald. Edwin H. Remsberg is a freelance photographer whose work appears regularly inn regional and national publications.

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