Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Gwynn's Island Homecoming Day, 1953 Part II

This photo was taken last winter from Commenter Breezeway's charming Gwynn's Island cottage. She tells me that wall is no longer there or has been replaced. The view is simply spectacular and her cottage is where I want to live absolutely adorable.

Today I continue with another excerpt from the July 4, 1953, souvenir program from the Fifth Annual Homecoming Day on Gwynn's Island.

Please hold down your moans and groans applause, which is making it difficult for me to concentrate. Feel free to cheer when this post is over, goodness knows I will.

The booklet is loaded with old advertisements, like the one from the Farmers' Bank of Mathews, Serving the People For More than 50 Years (and remember this was in 1953). Or the one from Robert F. Lewis and his Poultry and Egg Farm which sold "live and dressed fowl." If you wanted nekkid undressed fowl, I'm sure they could accommodate that too. Of note is the phone number, which is listed only as a five-digit number: 53571.

I remember when we only dialed four numbers and there were party lines, which were really anything but a party. We also used Morse code had to climb the telephone pole to make a call, and four numbers was about as much as a person could remember when negotiating such a steep climb.

Sprinkled throughout the program are narratives such as this one:

To those of us who are privileged to call this beautiful island "HOME" we are glad to have you back on your native soil. We will also claim your children, for they too are really home folks. For you, to whom Gwynn's Island is a vacation spot, where you can spend many peaceful, carefree hours, we have cordial greetings. We are also delighted to have you, who perchance, are making your first visit with us. Here you will make new acquaintances and establish new friends; we hope you will be back. We trust you all will have a pleasant day, and enjoy this holiday with us, as much as we appreciate your being in our midst.

The schedule of events for the day included:

Afternoon Ball Game - 2:30 p.m.
Gloucester C.H. vs. Gwynn's Island
Diversified Sports

Dinner at 5:30 on school grounds

Evening Program
Variety Features
Address of welcome...Hugh Gwynn, Original Owner of Island
Response by the Son of an Island son, Stephen Marriner, Esq. Washington, Penna.
Local Talent
Skit by Mrs. Alice Lewis
Playlet, "A Day on Gwynn's Island"

Pie Eating Contest

First, before I talk about the pie eating contest, I'd like to focus attention on the word "playlet" the dinner being served at 5:30. That is not a misprint. Country folk eat early. (So do old folk, but that's a topic for another day.) We still eat early around here. If supper isn't done and over by 4:45 6:00, there's a problem. Or else you're eating with people from the city.

Now, about this pie eating contest. In my time, I've been to various festivals where people entered pies, jams, cakes, etc. to be judged, but in all my 4,500 45 years on this planet I cannot recall ever witnessing a pie eating contest.

A chicken-wing-eating challenge? Yes.

Live goldfish? Unfortunately those savages in the fraternities back in the 1980s...

Well, anyway, have you ever witnessed a goldfish pie eating contest?


Grandma J said...

Oh I'm loving this retro walk on Gwynn's Island! Never been to a pie eating contest, but that was my favorite part of the Soupy Sales show!

Kate said...

Oh, I remember five digit numbers... if only in my old neighbor's address boook! Of course, that was back when there were four, count 'em four post offices just down new point way. One on every corner, just about. And when Mr Lewis' chicken sign still stood (just barely) in the field next to our house.

I feel like Edith Bunker "Those were the days!"

Anonymous said...

I picked eggs at that chicken farm with a very cute boy for many a saturday.....sigh


Ann Marie said...

I don't like witnessing any kind of eating contest.. it is a waste of taste.

Oh the chicken farm sign! I loved going to the chicken farm.. Mr Lewis didn't hord away eggs like facebook is doing to me.. I have a problem I am a farmville addict.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I also remember five digit phone numbers and party lines. We didn't have one, but both of my grandmas did when I was growing up. In fact we are still training my husband's parents that, when they come to our house, if they want to call our neighbor, they must dial ALL TEN DIGITS. Been that way for like 10 or more years but they're still getting the hang of it. They also don't get how my cell phone starts with the same area code as my house phone, but if you're calling the cell from the house you have to dial 1 because it's a far-away 301 exchange. Which I really don't get either. But anyway.

I'm curious (and you may have covered this before but I was too busy trying to figure out my cell hpone) as to how many residents there were on Gwynn's Island at the time, that they were having big homecoming festivities. Any idea? And are there more or fewer residents now than there were then? Or is this a spoiler question that you'll be addressing later this week?

Mental P Mama said...

A skit???? We need a skit for blogfest!

Caution Flag said...

My husband was in a pie eating contest and I'm embarrassed to say that he won. He was also miserably nauseous afterward. I can't remember what he won now. It might have just been the title, "Winner." How's that for a letdown?

Daryl said...

Okay ..twice I truly laughed out loud .. and every year Nathan's out in Coney Island (which is nothing at all like Gwynn's and is the dot at the end of Brooklyn) has a hot dog eating contest ... I would think pie eating is more fun and you could eat more faster ...

I was a little afraid when I read the part about 'claiming your children' but not having any I relaxed perceptively.

WV sunge. I sunge and everyone screamed for me to stop

Jamie said...

I want to know where I drop of the kids they want to claim. I have 2. They may claim both.

Diane said...

Yes, we have pie eating contests in our city. Or we did before we had to stop our summer carnival. They are a hoot. I love watching the little kids dive through the whip cream and come up with crust and berries!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ-Soupy Sales-there's a name I haven't heard in quite some time.

Kate-There was indeed a post office on every corner not so long ago. When I was a kid we got our mail at Hudgins, but there was also one at Blakes (in addition to the one at Hallieford), and the one at the Cobbs Creek in that little building next to the store (before they moved it to the old Cobbs Creek school). So that was 4 within spittin' distance.

KL-My grandmother used to take me there to get eggs, but I didn't see anybody cute, probably because my eyes were watering from the stench of those chicken coops. Who was this handsome young lad?

AM-I agree - can't stand to watch that Man v. Food thing because it's just eating to the point of getting sick, and who wins exactly? However, I do believe I'd pay good money to see some modern-day county residents in a pie eating contest. Maybe we should suggest it for Market Days or the Gwynns Island Festival.

Meg-Too funny about your in-laws! Good question about the population. For now, here's an answer from everybody's favorite publication, the 1962 Mathews County Soil Survey: the county population in 1950 (just 3 years earlier than this event) was $7,148. The population of the county's three magisterial districts was 2,404 for the Piankatank; 2,469 for Westville, and 2,275 for Chesapeake. Gwynn's Island (I think) is in the Piankatank district, but the district includes other areas on the mainland as well, so that figure of 2,404 is way high. This is a long way of saying I don't know, but perhaps someone reading this, who isn't asleep yet, can reply. Also, the population has not fluctuated too terribly much since then, although it has grown some. Lastly, many of the men from Gwynn's Island went off to serve in the merchant marines or some other nautical-related career, so I imagine this was a calling people back home for a reunion sort of thing, as if the whole island were one big family. This is just speculation on my part, though.

MPM-I vote for a skit AND a pie eating contest. The skit should coincide with the margarata machine, but the margarita machine should definitely not coincide with the pie eating contest.

CF-I'm proud. Very proud. Do you have pictures? Have you blogged about it? If so, direct me there because I want to read all about this feat.

Daryl-A hot dog eating contest is the same as begging to die, as far as I'm concerned. The fat in one hot dog alone could choke a horse and the nitrites and nitrates and ...oh I know they taste good, but what sort of good can come about from eating so many hot dogs at once? (Thank goodness you're vegetarian and don't have to worry about any of this.)

Jamie- Too funny. I think you can just drop them off at the Coast Guard station, and they can trot across the bridge themselves. BE sure to give them money for the drink machine at Scrooch's Market (which has not yet opened for the season, so better send them with food too).

Diane-Yay, one other person (besides Caution Flag) with pie eating contest experience.