1940s

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Dave Watts, 1942

Memories of Life in the 1940s

Plane Crash on Fairhaven Road

Memories of the 1940s


Mary Catherine/Frankie McCarthy Kelly Colby
We spent every summer during the war at Fairhaven. I was six when the war started and eleven when it ended. While I remember the rationing and air raid drills in the city, there was not much of a change at the beach. We were too far from the coast to need blackouts. Since we went to bed so early and had very little lighting, there was no problem. The biggest source of light might have come from lightning bugs.

Life was very different during the 40’s. No one had a telephone and there was no newspaper delivery. We relied on the news of the day by listening to a radio. I don’t remember that my family or anyone near us on “the hill” having a radio. Food was never a problem as we grew much of what we ate in our vegetable garden [a garden that lasted until my father died in 1984]. We also ate a lot of crabs which we would catch in the creek near the bridge. Fried fish was also a staple on the weekends when Dad would arrive and we would go out on the bay and catch some spot or hardheads. I’m sure the fish have a more official name, but that’s how he identified them. Clothing was rationed so we only got shoes occasionally. I forget whether it was one or two pairs a year. Since we only put shoes on for church during the summer months, that also was not a problem. Return to top

Pat Keegen Grigsby

We first went to Fair Haven in 1943. I was 6 years old and in the first grade at Nativity School on Georgia Ave. in DC. Mac drove me there with Mary Catherine McCarthy Kelly Colby, my classmate. Then the Keegans rented a cottage in Fair Haven Cliffs for a week or two that summer. The next year we rented Gibson's back cottage, then Mac's small cottage, and then Mom and Daddy bought the cottage from Mac. So, I guess that was 1946. Of course, by then the Keegans and McCarthys were all good friends. I think Daddy paid Mac about $3,000 or $4,000 dollars for the place. I do know when Mom said she could pay a certain amount a month that Mac said pay half and buy a television for your house. He had one at his house and we were always there watching it. (1/4/11)

I remember that we would put on DRESSES but not shoes, and walk over to the little pier at FHCliffs on Sunday evenings. A Protestant group from a nearby community would arrive with a portable organ and lead us in hymns. We sat on the ground on the hill and we only did this for 1, maybe 2 years. That's where I learned The Old Rugged Cross. I guess this was about 1944.

After we had a crab feast, our friend Paul MacDonald would be handed the newspaper bundle of crab mess. Paul was to throw the bundle into the creek as he crossed the bridge to the Flats. That was recycling in the 1940s. I hope the tide was going out. (notes, January 6, 2011)

Betty Beitzel Zeleski

We moved to our house on Genoa Ave in about 1948. We had lived in Washington DC, in Takoma Park, Shepherd’s Park, in northwest Washington. We learned about Fairhaven from my cousin Garret Beitzell who lived in the flats. He was a real estate agent. The cottage was here when we bought it. My husband Leo was from Nebraska. In Nebraska, they had ponds and man-made water but Leo had never seen such a big expanse of water and he just fell in love with it. He never wanted to leave. We never went out on holidays or trips or anything because he would say we’ve got our own recreation spot.

We moved in for the whole year. We were the first family who lived here [on Genoa] year round because this was a summer resort at that time. We couldn’t afford two houses so we lived here year round. The rest would go back to their "town" houses. I didn’t love it here at first because I was from the city. I was very lonely and unhappy here. But I learned to love it.

The whole area was tobacco up to Webb’s Corner. They were all tobacco to the end of Rt.2 . There was a man named Webb who owned that corner. They used to name places according to who lived there. Farmers had a few beef and maybe a few pigs. Tobacco was king. Leo was a mechanic. He worked at the Cadillac dealer in Annapolis.

Genoa was a dirt road at that time, a dirt and gravel road. One year the storm was bad and we were shut in for a week with the snow. We had a neighbor who brought his tractor and got us out so we could go to the beach [North Beach] and get out of the driveway. [In the winter] we would go to each other’s houses. We would take the children bowling in Annapolis. They were both good scholars and they liked to read. Of course they would watch television. I have always been a reader. In winter, I loved to cook and clean. Leo liked cards, but I was never much of a card player. We would stop by and visit the people in the big house, the old Owings estate.

We had a beautiful garden, Leo and I. I used to can the vegetables, mainly tomatoes. And we would get the cucumbers and pickle them so we would have them all year round. And squash, asparagus until the moles came and ate the asparagus roots. And we had Brussels sprouts galore and onion sprouts. My husband was a gardener from way back in Nebraska. They raised a lot of corn and he knew how to do the vegetables.We had two freezers. I also bought beef from a local farmer.

When we first came here those were lean crab years but after that there were plenty of crabs. I would crab all day long. I loved to crab. Leo steamed crabs and we’d all sit on the front porch and eat crabs. All the crabs that weren’t eaten, I would pick them and save them to make crab cakes for the winter. We would have crab cakes all winter. We didn’t see many oysters or clams. They were only near the oyster beds. But there were plenty of fish. I loved to fish. We’d go to North Beach or out toward Shady Side and Deale. We liked Rock and little Spot.

The sea wall was there when we came. It was built by an Italian stone maker-cutter, I understand. And we had the pier for years. My husband had enormous, two ton rocks to protect the sea wall from eroding. It’s still there. Because we had a sea wall, the beach didn’t have a chance to get established. Up by Gail Schneider's house is where there was a lot of sand and beach. I used to go with my daughter and son. We used to go there and look for deer prints.

At first I stayed at home with my son Charles and my daughter Carol. Later I worked for the Board of Education at Tracys Landing Elementary School. When I first went to Tracys Elementary, it was only about 20 children. By the time Charles and Carol left it had about 400. The old Traceys, which was a single building, was taken down and now it’s a nice, beautiful brick school. When we were first here there wasn’t even a library in Deale. I had to take the children clear to Annapolis to go to the library because there was no library here.

It was wonderful being a mom in Fairhaven. I was home when the children were at home in the summer because school was closed. We would play in the yard and we had the boats. We had a pier at that time. Then a storm storm took the pier away. We would go out and play on the pier and fish and crab on the pier and Charlie and Carol would water ski. We used to go to the flats to visit my cousin Garret. A lot of people in the Flats had children in Tracys so I became quite friendly with them. The Thames children and the Fowler family. I remember that Jeff Thames was a little devil and that Pam loved the horses. Catherine Thames lived right next door to my cousin. For years she lived on the waterfront there, where the little house was. Garret used to call it the dog house. The Fowler children lived straight out on Fairhaven Rd. Start toward Webb Corner—they lived in the first brick Chewning house. Thelma used to buy eggs from her. She had a cow and she would make homemade butter and that was so good. Leo loved that homemade butter and I did too! She would sell it for a dollar a pound.

Padgett’s was a little old grocery store. They didn’t have much. He just had the post office. He had it going mainly because of the post office. Charles and Carol were not that interested in Padgett's store.They wouldn’t have been allowed to walk there. They’d have had to go by car. But you could get a few little things like crackers or bread or milk or things like that but if you really wanted to buy groceries you needed to run up to West Street. (interview 2010)

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Plane Crash and Memorial on Fairhaven Road


Dick Johnson. Somone asked about the airplane that crashed on Fairhaven Road. I just happened to be working in Fair Haven when it happened. My father and I were doing some porch painting there when I noticed several P-47s flying in what I call a "Rat Race" which is a simulated "Dog fight" as they are called. I had recently had P-47s as escort on some of my bombing missions and so I was very interested. Their noise is distinctive and I went out to watch. A little later, after we finished with the porch we started home but were stopped by emergency equipment and we had to go down Franklin Gibson Road to get to Deale. Meanwhile, we got out and had a look and I told dad that it was the imprint of one of the Thunderbolts as they are called. It was the last man in the string and he lost it and pancaked into the soybean field that was there before Norman Hazard's house was built nearby. The land at that time was still owned by the Chewnings. The fuselage of the plane bounced across the road and the engine was in the road where it had broken off the airplane. We had noticed the smoke from the crash while on our way home but assumed that it was a building fire until we got there.

It seems to me that this happened in the late 1940's but I would have to look at the memorial stone again to be sure. The stone was placed there by his relatives, I believe, but the actual impact was at the high part of the knoll there. I actually walked out and checked it out since I had been so intimately involved with P-47 in Europe. (March 5,2011)
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