Friday, January 28, 2011

James Store

This lovely old door or window or whatever it is belongs to a building everyone from Mathews passes anytime they go to Gloucester (unless they're going by boat, and most likely they aren't):  James Store.

In my lifetime James Store was a functioning, bustling post office and store.  Now it sits all by its lonesome self, counting cars go by, fondly reflecting on the past.

When I attended Gloucester Day School (now Ware Academy, formerly my mother's home and grandmother's country store), my friend Heidi often invited me to spend the night.  She lived in a brick house on the right just before you ascend James Store hill. This house had a swimming pool.

In case you missed that, she had a swimming pool.  A swimming pool, people! Having a friend with a swimming pool was the equivalent of having a friend with a boat. Heavenly. However, the pool has absolutely nothing to do with this story, so pay no mind to all the attention I'm giving it. Just know that when you live in an area with Amazon jungle humidity and Death Valley temperatures in the summer, the importance of having a friend with a pool cannot be overstated--except in this particular blog post which is entirely unrelated to heat, humidity and pools. Let's focus now on the original blog post, patiently awaiting our return.

Heidi's kinfolk owned and operated James Store for many, many years.

Aside from spending hours luxuriating in her very own swimming pool, she and I would go exploring in the woods behind her house, which at the time ran from Rte. 14 clear to Rte. 198. Or maybe it just felt that expansive because we didn't know where her property line ended and someone else's began. When you're 10 years old and have an entire woods as your playground, nobody really cares about property lines.

But we did care about being thirsty.

We'd inevitably end up at a spring where fresh, clear, cold water bubbled and gurgled up from the ground like a magical oasis in the middle of the woods.

OK, that fresh, cold, bubbling, magical oasis stuff sounds a heckuva lot better than what it actually was looked like.  What it looked like was a ditch. In the middle of the woods. Standing water.  Not bubbling.  But it was cold.  And I didn't die.  Ergo it must have been OK--or something. Heidi assured me it was from a spring, and I've no reason to doubt her other than we were ten years old and she may not have had her facts straight.

These were the days when drinking straight from the outdoor spigot was not only acceptable, it was hoity toity, a step up from drinking from the hose expected; drinking from the garden hose was commoner than dishwater very common.


The other salient tidbit relating to James Store has to do with the hill on which is sits. They say the Chesapeake Bay was formed when a giant meteorite collided with the Atlantic Ocean and caused a huge crater (click here for more details).  Mathews is as flat as a pancake in most areas, and below sea level in all others. 

In other words, we're one hurricane or two away from falling into the abyss of that crater.

As you ascend the hill at James Store, it's as if you've just climbed out of the abyss just passed through the outermost  reaches of that meteorite crash.

From an old post office to drinking from ditches natural springs to seismic and cataclysmic clashes, all this and more can be found at James Store.

The End.


Kay L. Davies said...

If I weren't yawning and falling off my chair, I'd have a few wild and woolly what-I-did-when-I-was-10 stories, too. Drinking from garden hoses and garden taps and walking to the lake.
Good old days.
Did you notice Lindy the might-be goose-killer has been trying to get Dick let her practice on a small herd of deer? Honing her hunting instincts. But don't tell your mother I said so.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Lynne M said...

I used to absolutely love, love going to James Store on our way back from Mathews when I was a kid. The old man that ran it was so sweet as I remember. I always got ice cream. The kind with a wooden spoon on the lid. I know they still make that, and it was not only found at James Store, but I will forever think of James Store whenever I see those little ice cream cups.. ahhh

nativedevil said...

The store was still open when we got married. They announced our wedding on the sign outside.
I also remember going by the store one afternoon after Keith Atherton threw a no-hitter The sign said "Atherton-0000000" we knew what they meant!

nativedevil said...

remember, high school baseball only had seven innings then.

Deltaville Jamie said...

Drinking from a garden hose now is frowned upon because you might get cancer. Now drinking from the spigot (I didn't know anyone still used that word anymore) is common practice unless you buy an expensive potable water approved garden hose.
I'm still thinking about the pool. I don't know anyone with a pool in Deltaville- at least back inthe day. Just the community one. My cousin and I wanted a pool but everytime we brought it up we were pointed to the creek. Hellloooo pools don't have jellyfish.

Daryl said...

I am trying to imagine bending to get my mouth around a garden tap ... love the photos and your truly entertaining rhetoric

deborah said...

You kept my attention until The End:) Running late today since hubby had that thing stuck down his throat. The doctor says (in my words) that end is all clear. Now for the other...Have a great relaxing weekend!

Phyllis said...

Do you remember the Knight? The suit of Armour that was always on the porch?
That came home with my Dad for me one day for like an WHOLE weekend. I don't really remember why. But I loved that thing.

Anonymous said...

Gloucester Day School, oh that uniform, the Gloucester kids made fun of the Mathews kids because we rode a little bus, the constant negotiations for chestnuts, and an honest to goodness real haunted mansion right across the street.....what more could a kid ask for in an elementary education........

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Anonymous - One time we went on a field trip to Churchill Plantation! I remember sitting in the front room of that mansion mesmerized by whomever was retelling that ghost story and wishing we could see the whole house. But we only saw the front living area and perhaps a glimpse of the back yard. I just knew it was the tip of the iceberg and wanted to see way more.

The chestnut tree was always a lively spot. To the best of my knowledge it still produces. I remember pointing out the prickly spheres to one or both of my children while strolling out in back of the office one day. Thanks for bringing back those memories.

Phyllis - I do recall the knight! Had completely forgotten about that and the sign that nativedevil references. What a great sign that was. Really.

Lynne-Loved the ice cream cups with the wooden spoon!

Kay-Lindy will be fine here. Maybe she can keep the Canada geese at bay. (Gustav is in solitary confinement for the rest of his days.)

ND-Thanks for reminding me of the sign. What a small thing that had such a huge impact on so many people. In the days before cell phones and the internet, it was a unique way of getting the word out on whatever topic happened to present itself.

DJ-I love the word spigot!

Daryl - To drink from the spigot, you cup your hands and let the water fall in and then slurp unabashedly. I definitely preferred it to drinking from the hose which had usually been sitting in the hot sun for hours on end and imparted a certain hose-like, plastic essence to the already nasty tasting well water.

Deborah-I'm so glad he received a good report.