Sunday, February 21, 2010

Looking Forward to the Past

Yesterday I had the privilege of photographing this historic Gwynns Island house which is 100 years old if it's a day. That uppermost window? You can stand upright there, it's an entirely usable third floor with absolutely beautiful wallpaper.

Allow me to get a little bit weirder weird for a minute and ask you to look at the back door (above). It's open and yet it's closed. There's some symbolism here. The house, once full of life, still beckons you to come in, but only so far.

Above is Mathews Mark opening the door to the world within this house. After spending a great deal of time taking shots of the exterior and of the magnificent outbuildings in the back, I was thrilled beyond belief to be able to take a peek inside. Legally. It's just not something I'm accustomed to.

Speaking of taking a peek, this is Chesapeake Bay Daughter squinting to see through a hole in one of the outbuildings. Look at the difference in color between the gray building and the background--which represents the dead of winter here in Mathews. The tree, which is enveloping the building, seems to grasp at Chesapeake Bay Daughter as if to say, "Come here, child, we need you."

But none of this is relevant to the main thing I wanted to convey, which is this:

Yesterday Mathews Mark let me trespass, photograph and wander through this house which has been in his family for a century or more. Afterwards, I went to visit his mother Pookie, one of my favorite ladies, who can weave a story as colorful and unpredictable as the view through a kaleidoscope. Her house, right down the road from the one above, is also rich in history. She very graciously shared her home, her stories and her warmth while patiently allowing me to photograph things like rotary phones and light fixtures.

Over the course of the next several days, I will endeavor not to over-analyze all 100 photographs until you run away screaming I'll share some glimpses into the world of this house, and the family behind it, which includes Mathews Mark, Mathews Mountain Man and their colorful, lively and very entertaining mother Pookie.

After a day full of stories, laughter, history lessons and incredible photo opportunities, I must say it again: Reality TV show producers should be busting down the doors to get at this county.

With deep appreciation and gratitude to Ms. Pookie and Mathews Mark, I look forward to sharing more photos and stories throughout this week.


ghostless said...

I always heard that the top floor single windows like that, if they viewed the water, were called "widow's watch"? It was were a wife would look out to sea and wait for her husband, a fisherman or sea captain, to return. Has anyone else ever heard that term/story?

Jamie said...

Ghostless- I've heard that term also along with a widow's walk which is a balcony used for the same purpose.

CBW Great pictures! I love all the old farmhouse and out buildings throughout that whole area (Mathews and Middlesex Counties, etc).

Mathews Mark said...

CBW thank you for allowing me to document some of my family's past as Meg commented yesterday, we need to document as much as possible for or youth. I notice your (young adults) seemed to enjoy exploring the old homes. As you saw, some of the modern day contractor's would marvel over the construction of this old home. My question; How did they build a house like that with out the modern day tools? Thanks again CBW my Mom has fallin in love with you all over again. Ghostless: I have heard this term. but a little known fact (according to my grandady) back in his life time a lot of Watermen did not like to build there home's on the water. the reason vary's: flooding, to much wind in the winter, bad storms the same problem we have today. I will ask this question at the next 505 meeting for you,they will know. MM

Mathews Mark said...

Todays question; If you could have lunch with anyone, past, present or future, who would it be and were would you go for lunch? I no enough with the questions LOL MM

Mrs F with 4 said...

*bouncing on seat*

I can't WAIT, I can't WAIT!

Meg McCormick said...

Ghostless, the version I've heard is with a home with the railing on the top - that's called a widow's walk, for the same reason as you mentioned. I've not heard that about top floor windows... but where I grew up, there were no seafaring husbands... only farmers and a few truckers.

Love the house and can't wait to hear the stories!

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

ghostless & Jamie - I've heard of both the widow's walk and widow's watch used for precisely what you say, ghostless.

MM-It was so good to meander around the two houses and visit with your mother. Back in high school I called her my adopted grandmother (whether she wanted teh title or not). She's a remarkable lady, and it's easy to see where your story telling ability comes from--your mountain brother's too.

The answer to the question: I'd want to go with my maternal grandmother to her old house and eat some of her fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I'd hate for her to have to do the work, but that's the only way to get that fried chicken. Otherwise, I"ll take Thomas Jefferson, and we would go to the buffet at Golden Corral.

Mrs. F. - There's so much information and photography to share it's overwhelming.

Soup - You never know, there may have been a widows rung on the ladder of a silo.

It's going to be sunny and warm today, perfect weather for cleaning a wet basement.

Ann Marie said...

Can we PLEASE not discuss Widow Watch's .. thank you.. 'preciate it.

MM you are right they did not like to build their houses directly on the water. I am the closest to the water as they come in my family. None of the older generation built on the water exactly, Grandaddy Owens was up off the road from Sandbank not by much but enough that the property is not considered waterfront. Papa Lem was up off the water as well, enough that again not water front, same with Pop who built beside Papa Lem and Bubba (who is Everett by the way) who built beside Grandaddy Owens. Me I am on it enough that the flooding affects me. My dream is to one day have a full on view of the Bay or the Ocean. They were close enough to get to their boats if needed during a storm but not close enough that a storm was going to take out their homes.

Lunch who would I go with well.. some time ago I posted this on my old blog.

But I think you mean something else by your question. I still would have a list and can't just pick one, that would be unfair wouldn't it.

I would invite my grandparents, great grandparents, and my great great grandparents on both sides, my Aunt Rita, Pansy Boy, Roro and Mel Moo. I would also invite CBW to interview and take pictures. Where would we go, here of course and I would fix oysters and spot and friend chicken and baked ziti and homemade potato rolls and catone I could keep going here with the recipes that were handed down to me from these people but I won't.

I have taking too much real estate today.. peace out.

Ann Marie said...

opps here is the link from the first post.

Unknown said...

Oh I can't wait for pictures from the inside of this historical building. I also can't wait to meet MM and his brother and mother at blog fest, and hear all their stories.

I would love to spend time with my paternal grandmother back in her home town in Ireland. I've been there, but it was years after her death.

Country Girl said...

Ghostless, we have a widow's walk on our house (we are the caretakers of this home):
The house is situated approx. 8 miles from a river that is a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. In the old days when the trees weren't in the way, there was a clear view from our house on the hill.
CBW, I look forward to your posts this week. I love this sort of thing.

Country Girl said...

MM, if I could have lunch with anyone it would be Annie Leibovitz. I just think she's really interesting and a fantastic photographer.

Anonymous said...

we have an uncle who built a new modern house that has a widows peak but there is no way to get to it from the inside or outside its just for show and name!!! but it is right on the water!!

maria from nj said...

Where are the pictures?? You tease!

If I could have any meal with someone from my past, present or future it would be my mother who I lost when I was 5. I just turned 54 last week and it gets harder every year.

Anywho, love house. And the colors of the outhouse also.

ghostless said...

Country Girl, what a beautiful house! I'd never make it up there...heights on a slant...nope..can't do...I'd never make a skier either I guess!

Daryl said...

Busy busy weekend - ToonMan had a client/friend over to work and so I exited .. I am sure Mathews Mark missed me muchly.

Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

great snaps. cant wait for more. I'm playing blog catch up.