Sunday, July 29, 2018

Blood and Water

They say blood is thicker than water. It's a simple proverb that says the loyalties and relationships within a family are stronger than anything else.

I'm here to tell you how sometimes water is thicker.

It's been a while since I've blogged here.  September 28, 2017 is in fact my last post where I said I was going to get back into regular blogging about Deltaville.  Shortly after, the unthinkable happened.

Many know the deep seated love I have for our small piece of property in Middlesex County, VA.  If you've been a regular follower of this blog, you may have heard mention of family history stories that go back to the time of the Civil War- or the War of Northern Aggression as my late great-great-grandmother Sissy used to say.  The truth is that the property has been in the family since 1650.  That's 368 years.  368 years of family history on one piece of land.  In the course of those 368 years, the property was passed down and divided up and passed down generation after generation until it became the parcels that it is today.  And one of those small slices of the original property belonged to my grandparents and upon their death went to my father and his 2 sisters.

All my life I have been going to Deltaville.  With the exception of a few trips to Disney World, some camping trips and my honeymoon, all of my vacations have been to Deltaville.  Nearly every Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, Labor Day weekend, week long vacations and regular weekend getaways were made to the small house on Sturgeon Creek. Growing up, my cousin and I would spend weeks at a time there together.  And with our great-Uncle next door, more cousins usually showed up during he course of our visit.  We played epic games of capture the flag, helped haul fishing nets and crab pots, went on secret midnight prank adventures and spent time boating and swimming.  It was and idyllic place and a perfect childhood of camaraderie and adventure.
And there was Pepop.  (you can read a post about him here).

Really no words can come close to explaining how much Deltaville means to me.  It holds some of my happiest memories as a child, as a parent and as a grandparent.  I have always felt a contentment here that I have not felt anywhere else.  Even in those times where life was rough or uncertain or just plain ugly and vicious, Deltaville was always there to soothe.  Like the sacred Ganges River of India, the waters of the Rappahannock River and Sturgeon Creek healed.

There was an understanding from a young age that Deltaville would always be a part of our family.  I can remember my grandmother explaining that as each person passed away, the house would be inherited by the children so that it would never leave the family. It's easy to think that's how things will go.

You trust your family to keep something so important, so ancient, so sacred- protected.

So not long after my last post at the end of September last year, the unthinkable happened.  One of my father's sisters passed away unexpectedly.  In the aftermath, my father said something I thought I would never hear, "Deltaville might have to be sold."

I can say that in that moment one of my worst fears was realized, and I went tail spinning into a depression unlike any other I have experienced.  Still, there was hope that it wasn't a possibility.  After all, my grandmother always said it was to be passed to each generation never to be sold.  I held onto that belief.

The 1/3 share that was owned by my father's late sister was inherited by her husband and daughter equally.  And to make a long and upsetting story shorter- they wanted a buy out.  That seems simple enough.  The house gets appraised and you offer the person an exact third of the appraisal and everyone is happy.  Except people are greedy and vengeful, and they hold something you love hostage while they extort money from you.  Because that's what family did here.  That's what blood did.  The blood that is supposed to value the family relationship above all else.  Threats were made to petition the court to have the property sold at auction.  It seemed bleak. I refused to go down there. We all just held our breath and waited.

Death is an awful thing for the living.  It seems to bring out the worst in some.  It feeds the darkest parts of a person, creating a monster that can do nothing but bring about pain and anguish to the already grieving.  I'm certain there's a special place in hell for that sort of monster- a spot that lets them fester and rot alone.

On the opposite side of that coin, in situations like this you learn who really is blood.  Sometimes it's actual family and sometimes it's just friends you've made there over the years.  People who do what they can to help and offer assistance.  This town has some really damn good people.

It's with a massive amount of relief and happiness that I can report as of this past Friday,
the house is safe.  
Because when there's 368 years of history and untold happy memories, you do what you must to protect it.
As for blood being thicker than water,
 the waters of the Rappahannock River and Sturgeon Creek proved to be far thicker than blood. 

Give this a listen.  I particularly relate to the line: 
"I've been searching for something, taken out of my soul, something I'd never lose, something somebody stole" 
Thank God they didn't get away with it.

Thursday, September 28, 2017


It's been a long time since I've posted on this particular blog.
These photos are from our return trip home.
Big E and I opted to go through the less congested areas
when we headed home after the 4th of July weekend.
We enjoy checking out state parks and looking for new places to camp.
This stop was at Westmoreland State Park on the Potomac.
We've stopped here before.
The dogs enjoyed the short hike,
though it was pretty hot out.
Bailey (on the right) is definitely trying to figure out
how she can get down the steep ravine and get to the water.
I'm hoping this is the start of more regular blogging here.
Life gets busy sometimes,
and we develop other interests.
I've been backpacking and blogging about that here
as well as working on a historical home and blogging about that here.
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sad News

It's been a while since I posted on this blog (nearly a year), 
and, unfortunately, my return brings some sad news.  
There was a little theater in Mathews County called Donk's.
It was built in the 40's and operated as a movie theater.  
After closing it's doors, it sat vacant until it was reopened in 1975 as a country music venue.  
People like Mickey Gilley, Ernest Tubb and Dolly Parton 
played at the theater that became known as Virginia's own Lil Ole Opry.
Sadly, Friday night, January 22, the roof to the auditorium collapsed
under the weight of snow and ice.
The lucky part was that no one was inside at the time,
and the iconic marquee sign was undamaged.
The building will need to be demolished, 
but the property owners will save the marquee.
I haven't heard yet if the building will be rebuilt,
but I'm hoping it will.
The area won't be the same at all without Donk's.
*Photos courtesy of Kelly Fike*

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winter Wednesday

My dad took this photo a week or so ago after one of the first snowfalls down in Deltaville
and right before the second large snowfall.
Currently, they've had a bit more snow than we have here up in northern Maryland/southern Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, that's about to change tonight into tomorrow.
When is Spring??

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Ship Quits Seas After 69 Years

That's the headline from a 1958 edition of the Tonawanda News that I came across while researching information about the ship Eva S. Cullison.  The Eva S. Cullison was a schooner owned by my great great grandfather John Aaron Jackson.  He used her to harvest oysters from the Chesapeake Bay.
 The article I found reads:

Rockland, ME, The two masted schooner Eva S. Cullison has been dry docked after 69 years of sailing along the East Coast.  The all white craft recently was towed into Lermond's Cove here where she will be used a a training ship for the local unit of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.  The vessel was built in Baltimore in 1888 and formerly plied the Bahama fruit trade.  Since 1951,  Capt. Frank Swift of Camden, ME had operated the Eva S. Cullison as one of his summer windjammer cruise ships.  She has been called the last of the Baltimore-built Chesapeake Bay coastal schooners.

My great great grandfather owned the Eva S. Cullison after she was used in the Bahama fruit trade and before she was sold  to be used in Capt. Swift's windjammer fleet.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Deltaville According to the Brat Child

So, I was having a brain fart about what I should blog about, so I did what every smart person would do-
 I asked the 8 year old. 
What should I write about Deltaville tonight?

His response:
Well, there used to be pirates around Deltaville.

There used to be a lot of beaches and islands.  
This one island went under water and never came back up.  

 It has couple of bridges too. 

You can ride boats there
and you can buy a lot of oysters and crabs 
but there aren't a lot of McDonald's.  
There really isn't.  
I think that's kinda weird.
So there you have it. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Stingray Point

I'm not a fan of change,
and change in Deltaville is worse than change anywhere else.
I'd really prefer it still be the way it was back in the 80's
when the Stop N Shop was still there
and The Little Sue was still The Little Sue
and there wasn't any traffic.
But most of all, 
I'd still like to be able to swim here 
at Stingray Point.
I wish I could build giant sand sculptures of sharks and crabs 
with my son the way I used to build them when I was his age.
Or try to catch minnows in buckets,
float around on a raft
or dig in the sand looking for Captain Smith's body
(he didn't die there but as a kid I thought he had and thought he was buried on the beach).
change sucks.