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
These were the days when drinking straight from the outdoor spigot was not only acceptable, it was
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
From an old post office to drinking from