Life in West Denton in the 1920s, on Choptank River, Caroline County, Maryland
Below is text from the cover, title page, and introductory pages of Bridges To My Maturity, Delightful Memories of What It was Like to be a Young Lad in the 1920s Along the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, by George W. Swartz.
Digitized, edited, and prepared for re-publication by CCHS volunteers Dave Ellis and Don Barker.
See all of our republished stories by George Schwartz about West Denton here.
** **Bridges To My Maturity
Delightful Memories of What It was Like to be a Young Lad in the 1920s Along the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland
George W. Swartz
BRIDGES TO MY MATURITY
Copyright 1983 by George W. Swartz
Printed in the United States of America
by The Brethren Press, Elgin, IL 60120
Cover design by Kathy Kline
Illustrated by Kermon Thomasson
Special photo credits:
pp.16 (top), 24, 30 (top) — Chesapeake Circle by Robert N. Burgess, Cornell Maritime Press, copyright 1965
pp.64, 71 — The Country Store — The General Store of Yesterday by Elmer L. Smith, Applied Arts Publishers, copyright 1977
pp 80, 82– Model T Times, No. 145, May-June, 1973
[image] George W. and Avis N. Swartz
This book is dedicated to my first family of my boyhood days — Mother, Dad, Sister, and Brother, and other relatives — whose love and care made my early years happy ones; and to my second family of later years — Wife, Children, and their relatives — particularly my wife whose love, support, and help have made it possible for me to have a happy and successful career and a meaningful retirement.
Chapter One The Drawbridge 13
Chapter Two Across the River 19
Chapter Three Activities Along the River 25
- Commercial Activities
- Recreational Activities
Chapter Four Truck Patch Experiences 41
Chapter Five The Canneries 45
Chapter Six The Oil Storage Yards 53
Chapter Seven The Blacksmith Shop 59
Chapter Eight Our Country Store 65
Chapter Nine Experiences With Our Model T Ford 79
Chapter Ten Other Experiences 87
Chapter Eleven The Two Big Fires 95
Chapter Twelve My Schooling 101
Chapter Thirteen My Church Experience 107
Chapter Fourteen My Life at Home 111
Chapter Fifteen Interesting People; Interesting Stories 117
Chapter Sixteen The Past Was a Prologue 123
[Note: ** indicates illustration included with the text. We omitted from digital publication all of the drawings except map, as they were simple cartoons and not specific to West Denton or the Chesapeake Region. We also omitted photos of bay watercraft, vehicles, and store appliances that were not specific to Denton.]
The Denton Drawbridge 9, 14 **
A Typical Schooner 16
Map of Denton 18 **
Map of West Denton 20 **
The Deck of a Schooner 24
Boy Leading Mule Unloading Fertilizer 26
Typical Steamboat Wharf 28
The Author Watching Steamboat JOPPA Leaving Denton 28 **
Fishing with a Pole; Fishing with a Drop Line 32
Crab Fishing 35
Fireman and Boy During Fire Company Practice 38
Sugar Peas Being hauled to the Cannery 46
Buggy Used Around the Cannery 48
Oil Storage Yards 54 **
Blacksmith Puts Tire on Wagon Wheel 61
Boy Operates Bellows for Blacksmith 62
Interior of a Typical Country Store 64
Our First Store Cash Register 67
Lot Upon Which My Dad’s Store was Located 69
Another View of a Country Store Interior 71
Author as a Small Boy Dispenses Gasoline 73
1917 Model T Ford 80
Front Seat and Floor Board of a 1917 Model T 82
The Big Fire in West Denton in 1918 96 **
The Knotts Store Building 100 **
Our Home 112 **
The Songs Sung by Grant Roe 118 **
The Old Choptank River 130
FOREWORD Page 9
Many of my childhood experiences were centered around the old drawbridge (pictured above) that crossed the Choptank River at Denton, Maryland. This old bridge, now replaced by a high arch bridge, inspired me to think of it as a symbol — a symbol of the many bridges of learning and experiences that I crossed in the process of growing from childhood to maturity. Some of these learning experiences came about from the activities centered around the old drawbridge itself, while others came from the community surrounding it. Most of the opportunities for such experiences no longer exist and it seems only sitting to write about them, thus preserving them for my children, grandchildren, and other interested people.
George W. Swartz
INTRODUCTION Page 11
Everything grows or matures. People mature — physically, mentally, spiritually, culturally, in their relationships to others, and in many ways. Crops mature and have to be harvested. Cities and towns grow… in size, influence, and in importance. Growth toward maturity is a never ending part of life, from birth until death.
How difficult it is to determine, to visualize, to capture, to record all of those factors that contribute to one’s growth. And yet, how interesting it is to see that this growth takes places among the young in the same manner in this century as it did in the last, even though times have changed and conditions are never the same.
We are told that more changes have taken place in the twentieth century than in all of the other periods of recorded human history combined. As I reflect back to the ’20s and compare living and working conditions then with those of today, it almost seems impossible that we have advanced so rapidly in short a period of time. Even more fascinating is the fact that this progress took place right under the noses of many of us who lived during this era who are still unaware of such phenomenal change.
Much has been written about the Colonial days, the period during which our nation was getting a firm foundation, and the early pioneer days, but perhaps not enough has been written about the way of life within our own twentieth century.
As a young lad in the ’20s, I had a number of unique and varied experiences which do not exist for youngsters today, just as the pioneer youngsters experiences that did not exist for me. As I have grown older, now retired from regular employment, I have this constant urge to record some of these experiences, for whatever they are worth, especially for the benefit of my two sons and my granddaughters. Lately, I have regretted that these kinds of experience of my own parents and grandparents were available to me only in very limited form. In fact, my granddaughters might even find it hard to believe certain things were as they were in the ’40s and ‘5Os before they were born. That would be the basis for another book, or perhaps my sons will want to write about these as they get older.
Thus, this book is dedicated to my family, as well as to others who might want to hear how things were in what some like to call “the good old days. (The good old days????.. before bathrooms, electricity, automobiles, interstate highways, airplanes, radio, TV, etcetera….)
George W. Swartz
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