The sixth annual Chesapeake Bay Day, sponsored by the Mathews Maritime Foundation, was held recently at Thomas Hunter Middle School in Mathews. Ninety-seven sixth graders walked through the history, environment and maritime heritage of Mathews County during this yearly event.
The students had an opportunity to tong for oysters and examine crabs and eels brought in by waterman Kevin Godsey. Tidewater Soil and Water Conservation District’s LaVerne Calhoun, Carl Thiel-Goin and Rene Moring demonstrated how yard runoff pollutes the water, and Susan Thomas of Mathews County Planning and Zoning stressed the Resource Protection Area and the need to protect the bay.
Tidewater Oyster Gardeners Mike Sanders, Bobby Mason and Doug Goodman explained how oysters clean the water, while Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 66 members Tom Edwards, Ted Broderson, Ken Lee and Eileen Koch demonstrated the proper use of life jackets.
“Shipbuilding Tools and Traditions” allowed students to seal a seam using a caulking mallet and iron, cut lumber with a two-person crosscut saw, and plane a board. Photographs taken 80 years ago, when these skills were common, were displayed. MMF members Dave Machen, David Montgomery and Dave Mortimer demonstrated the skills and monitored students as they put their hands to the tools.
Weaving a story of travel by steamboat from Norfolk and Baltimore to Mathews in the late 19th century, the students learned about the cargo transported between the wharves and the hazards of such travel.
Costumed interpreters Jim Warren and Mary Lee Andrewskiewicz of the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service’s 4-H program, guided the students along Mathews’ shoreline in a narration of “Steamboat Days.”
Students also learned that steamboats were owned by the railroad companies and their routes traveled imaginary paths up and down the bay.
Mathews County Sesquicentennial Committee members Wally Sterling, Morgan Pritchett and Walter Scott Hunley presented the “Water and the War” featuring John Yeats Beall. They talked about Fort Nonsense and shared actual Civil War artifacts.