Thursday, January 15, 2009

Small Town Girl

Next week I'll have Earl Darlin' Staggs as the Meanderings and Muses Guest Blogger. As many of you may have figured out by now, I do dearly love Mr. Staggs.

I met Earl a few years ago at DorothyL and we've become fast friends. We both grew up in Maryland - Earl in Baltimore, and me in a small town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland named Cambridge, which is the home of my heart. While Earl and I were getting to know one another, sharing Maryland stories, I was also busy working on building a web page which is mostly a photo album. This was a labor of love that my adored cousin Bill got me started on when he started doing a Wilkinson family genealogy. I had boxes of wonderful old family pictures which I started scanning for him and decided they were such treasures, they needed preserving and to be placed where they could be accessed by the rest of the family. And ta da - a webpage is born. And it has grown from a few cherished old black and white photos to a treasure trove of memories - including vacation photos, friends and family photos, wedding album photos, Women Wearing Tiaras photos, Harley Barley photos, and The Class of '66 pictures from kindergarten right up through our 60th birthday party this past summer.

There's a section of photos of Old Cambridge and another section of Ocean City pictures. Seems Earl and I had some Ocean City ties we weren't aware of. Ocean City, MD is where Marylanders go, and have gone for years and years. Its an old fashioned beach town, old boardwalk included, with all the requisite boardwalk type shops, and carnival type games and rides. And there's a lot about that boardwalk that is exactly the same now as it was when I was a little girl. There are also beautiful white sandy beaches, and great restaurants. I love Ocean City.

A couple years ago, Donald and I borrowed a girl friend's condominum in Ocean City. She's an old and dear
friend I grew up with and have known forever. One of those girlfriends that we talked about here awhile back. Time can pass without us seeing one another, and then when we do get together, conversation just picks right up where it left off. This little condo of hers was perfectly situated just at the very end of the boardwalk, and a block back from the ocean with nothing but sand between it and us. We could sit on our balcony and watch the dolphins play. We could watch the surfers. And we could witness gorgeous sunsets, and you already know how I'm a nut for sunsets. And I don't think I've ever felt so at home in a place I've never been inside of before. It was a very weird experience, but I just settled in, enjoyed it and tried not to over-analyze it. But it gets even weirder. This condo is in the exact same spot that Earl Staggs' protagonist, Adam Kingston, lives in MEMORY OF A MURDER. That just set the tone for me for a book I thought I'd enjoy. Little did I know it would become I book I love.

Earl can also take credit for being one of the people most accountable for me being here at Meanderings and Muses, blogging away about anything and everything. He and I taking those walks down Maryland Memory Lane nudged something in me. The love I have for Cambridge and the memories I have of growing up there just started bubbling up; begging to be remembered. And shared.


Here's a fun little Cambridge remembrance. Laws, I hope my dad forgives me for telling this one!

When I was growing up there were a couple of "stag" bars in Cambridge. Did y'all have those? No women. I don't know if they specifically ever said "No Women," or if women just wouldn't be caught dead in them. There was one on Race Street not far from our apartment called the D D Bar. It was owned by a friend of Dad's named Monk Bradley, and it was a wonderful little place. I loved it - it was one of those grown-up "Not Allowed" places I would sneak into; along with the other Race Steet kids. And then be surprised when my mom showed up at the door to get me 'cause someone had called her. The D-D Bar was long and narrow and dark. There were maybe 4 booths in the front, a real long bar with a brass foot rail. There were also pinball tables, a shuffleboard table and a dart board.

If Monk needed him on Saturdays, Daddy thought it was a great (and fun!) way to make some extra money.

We had a local radio station in Cambridge, and on Saturdays, Ed Brigham would make a phone call to give away a free prize to someone if they could answer the question of the day.

On this particular Saturday, Mother and I were home, and the radio was on, of course. We heard Mr. Brigham announce that the question of the day phone call was about to be made. And we, of course, were hoping our phone would ring. Well, it didn't, but we did hear a very familiar voice over the radio say "DD Bar, Al speaking."

How fun - my dad!!!!

Mr. Brigham said "Hey Al, this is Ed Brigham, how ya' doin'?" After a few minutes of small talk
exchanging some "how's the family" kinda stuff, Mr. Brigham told Dad he would win two free tickets to the Arcade Movie Theater if he could answer the question of the day.

You could hear all the local Cambridge bar flies talking and hollering in the background, pinball machines ping pinging and all that bar noise. So Dad yelled for everyone to quiet down 'cause Ed Brigham had a question.

The question was "How long is a decade?"


Well, Mother and I laughed and she said she guessed she & Dad would be going downstairs to see a free movie soon. We lived in a wonderful old apartment over the Arcade Movie Theater. (In later posts I want to share some stories from this grand old apartment with you all).

Then we heard dad over the radio yelling to the guys in the bar "Ed wants to know how long is a DUCK EGG!!"

A duck egg.

Mother and I just about fell in the floor screaming we were laughing so hard.

You could hear all these men saying stuff like, "a Duck Egg? Hell, I don't know, Jim Bob - what do you think?" Answers like "2 inches, 3 inches - oh hell no, an inch and a half," and things like "Who the hell cares??" were all loud and clear over the radio. This went on for awhile and finally dad was laughing and said something like "Well, Ed, we think maybe an inch and a half."

Ed Brigham was hysterical and said "Al. Hazel is going to kill you. NOT a Duck Egg! A DECADE!!!!!!!!"

Dead silence on Dad's end. Then he started laughing really hard and started telling the guys in the bar that he'd made a mistake and what the question really was and you could hear those men laughing and laughing to beat the band.

For years anytime we went out to eat, especially in Ray Dayton's restaurant on Race Street, someone would holler "Hey Al! How long's a Duck Egg?!"


Wendy said...

Dear Kaye,
I just love this story. In my little tiny hometown, our DD Bar was called the Shady Glen. It was mostly the neighborhood pub, really, but no decent woman would have set foot it in. Run by a big ol' woman named June who was strong enough to toss-literally-the biggest farm boy drunks.
Thanks so much for your story; does Miss Hazel know it's up??
Love and hugs,

Auntie Knickers said...

What a great story! And the photo of your friend (I'm guessing, unless it's you) with the headband and the flip...I have a large and (perhaps) oddly shaped head -- anyway for some reason I could never wear headbands when they were fashionable. A sore trial. Eagerly awaiting Earl Staggs' bloggage.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

WendySis - Hidee! Pfft. Is the Shady Glen still around? Is JUNE? Honey - I want to meet June!

Nikki, mornin'! You made me laugh with the head thing. That's my sweet friend Karen with the headband. She's prettier today than she was in that picture (i'd like to hate her but she's too nice). I could never wear one of those headbands either, but in my case it was because I have no hair! Well, I have hair, but its thin, fine AWFUL hair. big sigh.

Jen Forbus said...

Oh my GAWD, Kaye. I haven't had such a good laugh in awhile...a duck egg! That was a wonderful story. You tell stories like my aunt. I just love it! Thanks for sharing with the likes of me...I'm looking forward to Earl's post, too. I've added him to my must read list for '09 because you think so highly of him.

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Jen, you have made my day! I'm so glad you got such a chuckle out of this - thank you!!! and ooooooh - Earl's going to be happy to hear that you'll be checking him out.

Our friend Shirley just met Earl at a signing in Houston and I think they just hit it off immediately. Imagine that.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Kaye:
I loved the Duck Egg story! Too funny!

By the way, I tried to check out Earl Darlin' but he needs to give you updated information. Get onto him about it,hear? LOL

The linked-to Mystery web page says his book can be ordered from Quiet Storm, the original publisher. Of course, that link leads nowhere,since QS is long gone. Click on the link and you get a bunch of gibberish or Japanese or something.

Also, the hot link to Earl's web page leads to a page of advertising. By this time I was too exhausted to look him up on Google.

But I love the picture of Earl and his cowboy hat.

Pat Browning

Earl Staggs said...

Kaye Darlin', I love all your Cambridge stories but, so far, the duck egg one is my favorite. Until your next one, at least, which will probably be even better. This one will definitely be in the book you're going to put together one day soon. *nudge, push, nag*

I think our friendship began when I wrote you after you posted (on DL, I think) a picture of your mom and dad standing in front of a landmark I knew well. It was Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street in Baltimore where Carol and I attended every Colts game. (Until a new owner snuck them off in the middle of the night to Indianapolis. Grrrrr. Don't get me started on that.)

Anyway, our friendship grew and blossomed from that and continues to warm me even through this gawdawful Arctic cold spell we're having here in North Texas.

Now it's back to work on my blog for Monday, tentatively titled, "For Whom the Bus Rolls."

Luvyamuchly, Earl

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Loved your stories about Cambridge. Don't know anything about the bar, truly, but did eat at Dayton's and went to the movies at the Arcade.

When my mom and dad came to visit when our first child was born, we all went to Ocean City. You sure do know how to bring back memories for this died in the wool California girl who spent some time in Cambridge.


Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Pat - Thanks for the heads up about those out of date links!! I've linked Earl's name to the Podcast he did with Ken Lewis on NETDRAG which was terrific! I need to do a link for you to YOUR NETDRAG podcast too - it was a classic.

O.K. - Everyone - check out NETDRAG - there are several podcast interviews there with some wonderful writers -
- if that tiny url doesn't work, you can use this one:

Earl! Hey There!! Can't wait to read what you're sending us, my friend!! Yeah - arctic weather, I hear you. And I'm betting its really really arctic in Ft. Worth,huh?! pfft! Glad you enjoyed this little duck egg piece. I love that story too.
AND speaking of Memorial Stadium and the Colts. Do you remember that someone put out a 45 (record -heck, remember records??!) about the Colts moving to Indianapolis in the middle of the night??! Ooooh - that is one of those things that'll never be forgotten. OR forgiven!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...

Marilyn. I am still just floored about your ties to Cambridge!!! I'm glad you wrote this comment, 'cause I totally forgot to run Hap by my mom to see if she remembers his family. I know I've saved the emails we exchanged about all this, now I just need to unearth them! Dayton's Restaurant. Now there was a landmark restaurant if there ever was one!

Earl Staggs said...

"AND speaking of Memorial Stadium and the Colts. Do you remember that someone put out a 45 (record -heck, remember records??!) about the Colts moving to Indianapolis in the middle of the night??! Ooooh - that is one of those things that'll never be forgotten. OR forgiven!"

Oh, yeah, I remember that song and I cried every time I heard it. I was so upset when the Colts left, I lost interest in football for a number of years. Neither rain, snow, sleet or hail kept Carol and me from going to Memorial Stadium for every home game. Johnny Unitas was King of Baltimore and is still the best quarterback ever to walk on a field.

Anonymous said...

I love this story! Do you ever look over to the car next to you and see someone laughing and wonder what's so funny? Well, drivers in Birmingham, that's going to be me, thinking decade/duck egg!

Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses said...


Glad you liked the story!!