Monday, January 18, 2010


I have so many stories and things to say about Deltaville that it's hard to pick what I am going to write about.  Afterall, I've been spending time there for 30+ years (granted I don't remember all 30+ years since some of those were spent as an infant).  But I thought I needed to talk about someone who was a large part of my Deltaville experience and who still influences me today though he has long since passed.

Pepop was my grandfather's brother.  My grandfather died when I was 5, so Pepop took on that role for me.  My cousins Ty and Jeff (who I will mention now and again) were Pepop's actual grandchildren.  When I was younger, Pepop and his wife Memom were called Uncle Roy and Aunt Helen.  I don't remember when the Pepop/ Memom names came about, but Kelly and I just started using them along with Ty and Jeff.  I remember Ty thought it would be cool to shorten Pepop to PP, but Pepop but a stop to that pretty quick.

Pepop's given name was Charles LeRoy "Roy" Jackson.  He served in the merchant marines and was also the Superintendent of Patapsco State Park in Maryland.  This job I'm sure is the reason why he had such a love and knowledge about wildlife. 

Memom and Pepop lived in the house next to ours.  In the years before we had a house there, we had a trailer, and after our stay was up, we would always take over our perishables to give to them.  Ice Cream and milk probably wouldn't make the 4.5 hour trip back to Baltimore.  And during our stay, you could always hear me yell out that I was going over to Pepop's house.  I spent a great deal of time there.  Usually I would watch he and Memom play pinochle (a weird card game I never could learn to play.  And don't get excited that I knew how to spell it- I looked it up).  A lot of time in the evenings, the whole family would gather around Memom's kitchen table and we would all play Uno. 

Things I remember about Pepop:
  • He had a tattoo of a swallow and an anchor- if I ever had the nerve to ink myself, I would probably do some variation of his in rememberance.
  •  He had this large leather chair he would sit in at the kitchen table.  It had a high back and padded arms and metal brads lining the seams.  If we dared sit in his chair, we would be tickled until we threatened to pee.
  • His crabbing permit number he had on his pots was I-107.  Some might think it strange that I remember that, but when you spend as much time as I did pulling pots, it's burned into your brain.
  • He always wore some ratty old hat (I have recently learned this is called a BCH- birth control hat) a button down shirt- unbuttoned and a pair of plaid shorts.  Usually this outfit was finished off with a pair of dirty white rubber boots that smelled like fish.
  • He had a beat up white pick up truck that he loved that we took on errands around town or to Mathews to get dead smelly fish crab bait.
  • He always had a dog, I remember one named Sam, but the one dog that I remember best was Sheba, she went everywhere with Pepop (but she's another post).
  • He would send me letters and cards and always had pictures of the local wildlife he saw- Blue Herons (Big Bird), squirrels (Inky and Dinky), ducks( Quack, Qua and Qua), etc.  They all had names.
  • His CB handle was Pigpen.  If you were on his boat, you know why.
  • He had a small trailer next the house that he used as his work shop.  He kept his big toe in a Fleischman's Margarine tub on his work table (it was amputated).  My oldest cousin Jeff used to chase us and tell us he was going to get "toe juice" on us. 
  • He had an AWESOME vegetable garden.  He used crab shells as mulch and compost and the corn was a great hiding place when we all played hide and seek.
Around the time that I turned 16, Pepop passed away.  Funny, writing that makes me get a lump in my throat and tear up a little.  He was such an awesome huge figure in my life.  I worshipped him.  While he was sick, I sent him letters nearly every day and even sent him home made cookies.  He never failed to send me letters back.

Whenever I am in Deltaville, Pepop is on my mind.  I am close to him there on the water and in the fields and woods.  And when I see a blue heron, I tell my kids his name is BigBird, and share a bit of my past with them, and a little bit of Pepop too.


  1. When I first opened this post and saw the picture, I said "Awww." Because that's such a great picture, and it brings a flood of memories to me also. The outboard; the spry older man who you just know is full of life and character.

    Then, when I read what happened when you were sixteen I said, "Oh," and welled up a little without even knowing him. I know so many like him. Such wonderful, wonderful people.

    p.s. You have no idea how much I identify with your crab potting. I pulled gill nets for my father--near the mouth of the Piankatank. As hard as it was, though, it was something I'll never forget. Crab potting is the same.

    AWESOME post.

  2. Thank you! I've pulled some nets in my time too, mostly because I was hoping there would be a shark in it. Sometimes there were and it was worth the trip.

    I think the thing that is most sad for me is that my kids don't get to have the same type of experiences as I did spending time there. I try, but me singing "Rye Whiskey" and "Pistol Packin' Mama" just aren't as 'cool' as when Pepop sang them in that stinky green boat :)

  3. What a wonderful post. I came over via Life in Mathews...aka Chesapeake Bay Woman. I hope to meet up with you at blog fest. It's the event of the summer in Mathews.

  4. I think blogfest is the only "event" in Mathews :) I am planning on attending and meeting everyone!