Editorial: Disappearing heritage
If you are 20 years old and a native of Gloucester County or Mathews County, many of the things you grew up with, landmarks that shouted "Gloucester" and "Mathews" or ways of life that identified our heritage, have disappeared.
Think about it.
The Kenney Building at Botetourt Elementary School. The Lee-Jackson Elementary School that stood on the site of the new courthouse in Mathews.
The crab dredging boats pounding out to the Chesapeake Bay in the frigid dark mornings of December, January and February. The men hand-tonging for oysters in York River and Milford Haven. The power boats patent-tonging for the same in local waters.
And most recently, the pound nets, gone or nearly so.
These were the things we grew up with.
If you are a newcomer to these counties, you are making every effort to learn about the place you now call home. You have sampled every seafood restaurant, eating oysters and clams and shrimp and fish. Ask where this came from. Many restaurants buy all local seafood when they can; but they cannot always do so.
Your new home may be sitting in a former cornfield. Your child’s school may be one that popped up after the population explosion in Gloucester 30 years ago. And did you know about the two-lane Coleman bridge? The ferries that once carried cars across local waters?
Heritage: it is worth celebrating, because it cements the connecting tissues of the local lifestyle and documents what has passed.
Residents new and old have several chances to celebrate this heritage over the weekend. One opportunity comes at the now-venerable Guinea Jubilee, which has carved itself, in more than 30 years, a large niche in the wall of local history. In Mathews, the county’s salty ways will be showcased by the Mathews Maritime Foundation on Saturday at Horn Harbor Marina.
Restless to get out? To taste excellent crab cakes? Hear great music? And learn more about your Hometown treasures? These venues will provide worthy reminders of the way it was and a good time, too.