Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mining the Past

About a year ago a friend stopped by and asked me if I wanted to make a book with her. I jumped at the chance. Ann Foley had already done four local history books and was ready to do a fifth. I was cranking out a novel as usual. I will probably never stop that particular activity and I wasn't that enamored with the idea of writing a non-fiction book, but I am always open to new ideas, and so I said yes.

We started out by searching out some Library of Congress photos of cannery workers because Dorchester County just about fed the whole world in WW2. Well, that was really interesting and it woke the inner newspaperwoman who had been sleeping for quite some time!

It just so happened that I was writing a story about a cannery girl in trouble. Check it out in my latest novel Vienna Pride! Just looking at those Depression-era photos taken by government-subsidized photographers supplied detail after detail for my own book.

The next thing I knew, we were interviewing people who had lived and worked in the area for years. There was the farmer who carved world-class decoys. There were ladies who picked crabs down in the necks. There was the entrepeneur who had a half-dozen places of business and held down a full-time job at the DuPont factory just across the state line. There were boat builders and watermen Everywhere we looked, we found photos of the past and stories to go with them.

Are we finished? Not by a long shot, but we are working on the book during weekly meetings when Ann drives the 40 miles from Elliott Island to meet over lunch and scan the images of the past in Dorchester County.

If you have an unusual Dorchester story or a photo you would like to see included in this book tentatively titled Voices From Down Below, please give one of us a yell and please, keep on the sunny side. Terry

PS: This post's photo is of Sam Jones store in Church Creek. This old man's place of business was reputed to be the worst-kept store around, and it is easy to see why.

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