Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History & Culture Enduring Connections: Exploring Delmarva's Black History


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Interview with Kenneth Maurice Bailey and Mildred Bailey, 22 August 2017

Audio Recording

About This Recording

Kenneth and Maurice belong to Grace United Methodist Church in Tyaskin, MD. Kenneth and Maurice discuss their memories of the church and the surrounding area of their youth as well as how the church was forced to close while under their care.

This interview is from the Regional Church Preservation Oral Histories Collection. For more information, see the Edward H. Nabb Center finding aid.


Interviewer 1: Creston Long
Narrator 1: Kenneth Maurice Bailey
Narrator 2: Mildred Bailey
Topic: Grace United Methodist Church
Keywords: Grace Church, Grace United Methodist Church, United Methodist Church, Whitehaven, Tyaskin, Nanticoke Charge, John Westley, Asbury
Intro: Mr. Kenneth Maurice Bailey and Mrs. Mildred Bailey were the caretakers of Grace United Methodist Church in Tyaskin Maryland. They discuss their memories of what it was like to be members of a small church, as well as what they experienced upon the church’s closure.

[Interview begins at 00:01]
Creston Long (CL): I am Creston Long, from the Nabb Research Center, it is August 22nd I’m in Tyaskin, MD and if I could ask you both to state your names and place of birth? Then we’ll go ahead and get started.

Kenneth Maurice Bailey (KMB): I am Kenneth Maurice Bailey, I was born in Salisbury MD.

Mildred Bailey (MB): I am Mildred Bailey, and I was born in Plumpoint, MD, Calvert County, Maryland.

CL: Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me this morning, we have some questions about Grace United Methodist Church here in Tyaskin and I’ll just sort of work through them. If you could tell me, how long were you members of the church and did your family, preceding generations attend the church?

KMB: Yes, my mother started out there when she was a very young child. I probably got involved in the 70’s, because I had also been associating with another church where I was actually born.

CL: Okay, what was that church?

KMB: John Westley United Methodist Church.

CL: John Westley…

KMB: United Methodist Church. In Whitehaven. I was born next door to it.

CL: Okay, very good. John Westley had been the name of a church in Salisbury too. Several of these names keep coming up; Grace, Bethesda, Asbury, United. Very good. Mrs. Bailey?

MB: Previously before I joined the church over here I belonged to the Plumpoint United Methodist Church and that was in Plumpoint MD, it’s now called Huntingtown, MD. Then after I married my husband Maurice, I joined a church around the same time he did in the 70’s.

CL: So the church here in Tyaskin?

MB: Yes, this one, Grace.

CL: Mr. Bailey, you said your mother had gone to this church?

KMB: Oh yeah, she was born right down the road here.

CL: Had she been a lifelong member, was she baptized there?

KMB: Lifelong.

CL: So your connection goes pretty far back then. 2

MB: 59 years.

CL: Wow. So, you became associated with the church in the 70’s what were some of your earliest memories with the church then? Because that’s a pretty long sweep of time.

KMB: We were there with neighbors. Couldn’t socialize, had good times there.

CL: Okay, so it drew mostly from the community?

KMB: Community people, yeah community church that’s what it was. Always been a community church until later years when the people had to move away to find work.

CL: Certainly.

KMB: But they really supported the church [mumbles]

CL: Okay, so the people felt a connection to the church even though they were some distance from it?

KMB: Oh yeah. They were very faithful.

CL: It’s a blessing when that happens.

KMB: Oh yeah, anything they wanted all they had to do was correspond with who had it.

CL: Now it was a new church for you when you moved here, was there significant differences?

MB: Right. Not that much, only that my church had more people and they didn’t have as many people. But I was greeted by all the people over here and at that time Reverend Siders was the minister I think when I joined. I started out by reading the scriptures soon I became a curator working with the children doing Sunday school.

CL: So during that early 70’s period do you have an estimate about what your weekly attendance would’ve been?

KMB: 20-25. Small.

CL: And there were several other churches around here.

KMB: Matter of fact the beginning of it, people of Grace originally attended John Westley. But during those days people didn’t have cars and walked to church so they went to the one that was closer. In 1905 was when they built Grace and at the time it was located at the intersection of Tyaskin no Mighty Hall Rd and Church Rd.

CL: How far is Whitehaven from here?

KMB: Two miles. Grace is one mile from my driveway to Graces driveway.

CL: So this is about a midway point. 3

KMB: Yeah, yeah. Then in 1947 they decided to move Grace from Trinity church Rd to Capatowe rd.

CL: At that point the church was part of the Delaware conference is that correct?

KMB: Yeah

CL: Did either you hold leadership positions or specific roles?

KMB: I was very much in the background, she was spunky. She liked leadership positions.

MB: But he became the treasurer.

CL: Well that’s pretty important.

KMB: That was in later years. I was pushed to be the treasurer so I said yes. At first I was a laid back guy but it came down to it and somebody had to do it.

CL: Certainly.

KMB: And it fell on me, everybody else had moved from the community.

MB: Then I became the secretary also because I would send out letters to inform the descendants of our special days and donations to the church. KMB: Got a good response.

CL: Okay, so you would send them out to your membership and also people— go ahead.

KMB: To the, yeah the membership, and also the ones who had moved out of the area and the senators in the area.

CL: But they still felt that connection to—

KMB: They would call or write us how they were doing or if they needed anything. We got those calls, ‘you need anything?’

CL: So generally, the people who moved away were they mostly moving fairly nearby to Salisbury or all over.

KMB: They worked up in Jersey, Pennsylvania and so forth.

CL: So, they were moving wherever work took them.

KMB: Factory work, couldn’t do much with that because a lot of the factories closed.

CL: Right. So back in about the time that the church moved, to its present site in 1947. Most of the, I know it was before your time but were—

KMB: No, I was around.

CL: Alright, were—

KMB: But in the background. I had other things to do.

CL: Understood. 4

KMB: I was a young man.

CL: So, they people who lived there then, they were in this area, what sort of work were they involved in the most?

KMB: Factory, horse houses, tomato houses.

CL: So, canneries?

KMB: Right.

MB: And pickers.

KMB: And field work. Farming, oysters. Oystermen, that was big.

CL: So, people that worked on boats right outside of the river, Nanticoke, okay.

KMB: Wicomico River.

CL: Oh, Wicomico.

KMB: Down by the ferry.

CL: Certainly.

MB: Some of the ladies did domestic work.

KMB: On Saturdays I would go on the boat, with my grandfather and uncle. I would just be on it. I enjoyed it.

CL: You said your grandfather?

KMB: My grandfather and uncle were on the same boat yeah.

CL: And what were they primarily catching?

KMB: Oysters. CL: So then as the canneries started closing people had to go find work? That I think is a part of local history that people don’t think about too much is that there used to be those sorts of businesses around here.

KMB: Yeah, we were just discussing last week there used to be so many canneries here and now there’s not a one. There were two in Whitehaven.

CL: And that was a little village, right.

KMB: There was one down Messick Rd which is about five miles from here and another one down by the ferry. Right now the whole warehouse at the Whitehaven ferry sells fish out of it. The building is still there.

CL: So people moved away as the jobs left.

KMB: They had to do something. Right now, if I wanted to talk to one of my buddy’s id have to call them in jersey or they died out. There’s not any of my whole classmates on this road. They’re all gone.

CL: So, people you grew up with— 5

KMB: They’re gone but were in touch.

CL: So, with, you had mentioned Sunday school. So how long did you play that role?

MB: Well I did that for I guess about five years and then I became a curator for the whole Nanticoke charge because Grace was on the Nanticoke charge. And I had a curator from each church that would help me, I was the head curator and I would assign those curators different things that needed to be done. And I became a curator for a praise group and they went from church to church, and the children also went to the conference, the peninsula Delaware conference down by ocean city. They had the conference out there, and I’ll tell you my little kids brought the house down. They had me crying and all that praising the lord. The superintendent at that time was a lady, Harris. And there was a little boy who was performing and she just adored him. And she was crying herself that was amazing how the people accepted our children and all that. One man was sitting next to my husband praising the lord for what they were doing. You know that song? That they danced to?

CL: They did so many songs.

MB: Okay, because the man was talking…silent tears.

KMB: Silent tears, yeah.

MB: And they did the motions to show the crying and all that.

CL: Now when was that?

MB: What year was that Maurice?

KMB: The first ferry did present at praise group we did it secretly. Preacher didn’t know about it. We had a recognition for her at the Westside fire department. And it was sprung on her, the Pastor Anna Macintosh and she sat there crying. These kids brought the house down and she had no idea what was going on. The group gathered and performed that night at her recognition banquet.

MB: They said ‘we want you to continue with those children.’ And the money came from people’s donations, the church was not part of the church treasury. And the people would just give me money or a check, until the children got grown and all that.

KMB: All this was after we had gone to service in 1988 but all this happened after that, we were with the Nanticoke charge then.

CL: How many churches were in the Nanticoke charge?

KMB: Four. John Westley, grace, Asbury and Elsa.

CL: Now did reverend Macintosh serve all four of those?

KMB: She served all four. Also, reverend Ross, he was pastor then, he followed reverend siders. 6

CL: So, when you had the four churches connected did they, how did the services work?

KMB: Well we would rotate, one Sunday we would go to grace, one Sunday John Westley and one Sunday to chesterfield. Then we had cut down expenses of everybody. Church would only have to heat or cool for one Sunday a month. Some charges have their own services once a month, and that’s what we did.

CL: So, when you did that and the churches were together, how many people were in a church at one time approximately?

KMB: 70 people. They had a church choir and everyone sang together.

CL: So, was that mostly in the 1990’s?

KMB: This all happened, they started going together in the 70’s. When reverend Ross came.

CL: So, before the church went to limited service what was a typical Sunday service like?

MB: Well whatever church they went to the worship leader would come from that church. Then toward the end they would all come together for communion on first Sunday.

KMB: Before that we would just come together the first Sunday for communion. Then every Sunday each church would have its own time and the preacher would lead one church then go to lead another. So, the last one was after lunch. A long day for the preacher.

CL: Right I’m sure.

KMB: So then when everyone came together as one it cut down on a lot of expenses too.

CL: So, with the components of the service was there a typical number of hymns or songs?

KMB: They had an opening hymn, scriptures morning prayer, affirmation of faith, outlined like the bulletins.

MB: The pre-sermon hymn, offering hymn, closing hymn.

CL: Okay, did the people from the laity do some of the readings or was it mostly the preacher?

KMB: Most of the partition did most of the reading. Sometimes the pastor would read the gospel but most of the time it was the worship leader who had someone else come up and read the gospel. And the basic format of these programs you have in front of you. I got stuck with that job, making the programs for how many years? 30? I’m still stuck with it now at the church I’m going to now. You start off doing it for the church in the charge and if the churches have separate programs I do that so I’ve been stuck with that job since the mid 90’s.

CL: So, the lay members played a big role in these churches? 7

MB: Yeah. They had the fifth Sunday was the laity Sunday. And they would come from various churches.

CL: So, on a fifth Sunday a lay person would give the message?

MB: Yes. During the other service sometimes, they would try to mix the people up and put somebody from one church read one scripture and someone else would pray to keep it, you know, more integrated. Rather than stereotyped by each church.

CL: Did the churches have a designated lay leader?

KMB: Oh yeah.

CL: Did they play an important role?

KMB: Well the lay leaders the boss.

CL: Did they work with the pastor?

KMB: Oh yeah.

CL: With the Sunday school what were the ages?

MB: When they were real little they could come in and sit. From 3-4 they would have little recitations, then when they started to read in school they would have little scriptures to read also. Then they got into middle school they became ushers in the church and they would take up the offering to. They were engaged in community services too and they would be acolytes in the church and wear that white thing.

CL: Mm-hm, this is all very familiar.

MB: At that time the children memorized their poems and things. Now they’re too busy now. You know in school they did that, they would memorize different things so that took on in the church to do the same thing. But now in high school they don’t have to memorize anything like the constitution.

KMB: It’s on the hard drive now.

MB: Did you have to memorize the preamble?

CL: I remember it yes. In middle school. But it sounds like children were part of the service.

MB: A great part of it, people enjoyed it.

CL: Did they ever do special, like children’s Christmas pageants or anything?

MB: Yes, every year we had it.

KMB: I’d be Santa Claus sometimes.

CL: Did they act out the nativity scene was that part of it?

MB: Yes. They would dress like angels.

CL: When the church was at its peak, how many children were involved? 8 MB: Five in grace. But together we had 15.

CL: That’s a big part of the church. Was there any vacation bible school programs?

KMB: Yes, they’re still going on but with the west side ministry now.

MB: And the whole charge the children would participate in the Christmas pageants.

CL: Trying to understand children’s roles in the church is always important.

KMB: In later years every first Sunday the Nanticoke church would connect with the west side charge. We had communion with the west side ministry then next month they would come to us.

CL: So, communion Sundays would have a large group?

KMB: Oh yeah.

CL: Where is west side?

KMB: Bayville, Tyaskin…

CL: So, Grace, John Westley, Elsa and Asbury? Okay, what sort of social events did the churches host?

MB: At Christmas time we had parties, it would be a fun time. When my husband came in one time with his suit on this lady was so happy that she (peed on herself?) they would have social nights when they would go out and just have cake and homemade ice-cream.

KMB: She started making homemade ice-cream because the kids were afraid of Santa Claus. This lady cried laughing.

CL: Were most of these events at the church?

KMB: Church hall.

CL: Was that the same building?

KMB: That was when we were associated with John Westley they had a separate hall. Grace didn’t have a hall. Just a kitchen that was attached to the church.

CL: Is it off to the side of the sanctuary or behind it?

KMB: It’s attached right behind.

CL: You mentioned ice-cream, would you make that at the church?

KMB: No, she made it ahead at home. All hand cranked too. Well we had a hand crank but then a fellow heard we made ice cream so we got an electric crank.

CL: Did you make different flavors?

MB: Mostly vanilla.

CL: That seems to be an important part of churches lives. 9

KMB: She won’t make it now.

CL: You’ve mentioned a number of pastors, are there any that stand out or have any special memories?

MB: Sanders was here 27 years.

KMB: After him Ross came. Archie followed him.

MB: He was here four years I guess.

KMB: Reverend Wallace followed him.

MB: He was here for four years too. He was really from another conference.

KMB: He was a loner. Then after Wallace was Macintosh. She was here until the end.

CL: Were there any that stand out in your memory? The very first one you mentioned, what was his name?

KMB: Sanders.

CL: Okay and he was here for a very long time.

KMB: I’m going up past Sanders and one sticks out in my mind was reverend Jeremiah Lee. He stuck me one time, one Sunday morning to sponsor the Sunday morning service and he put me up there beside him. That’s not my badge. That’s what sticks out in my mind. We got Emerson holly to come down and speak.

MB: Your high school principal.

KMB: No, he was one of my high school teachers. But he was a principal up here at Quantico (or Wicomico?) school at the time. He tricked me into doing that. I was sweating too buddy, not my place [Laughs].

CL: Not so fond of that one, right?

KMB: No. And I wasn’t that involved with church at the time either which made it worse.

CL: Did reverend sanders retire from the church or did he move on?

KMB: He retired. He was in this area twenty some years. He started out at Chesterville.

MB: When it was by itself.

KMB: At that time each church had its own pastor. Later he took on Chesterville and Asbury. Later they put the conference together and he was one of the pastors for the charge. He took care of all four of the churches. Reverend sanders. That’s when grace was really dwindling down and we started meeting with lawyers and such to figure out what our next step would be because we saw we were coming to the end. And could no longer keep on the way we were going. That’s when in ‘87 we decided we were going to 10 lead the service, got involved and led a service in 88. We had a lot of meetings on it.

CL: So, it was in the 1980’s when you went from having your own pastor and—

KMB: No, no. We had one pastor for the entire charge. Like I said, Reverend Sanders stayed in this area for twenty some years.

CL: Is that when he retired in the late 80’s?

KMB: No, Reverend Sanders retired in 86.

CL: So, he had been pastor of Grace since the 1960’s then? Right, for 27 years?

KMB: No, uh-nuh. No, he was at Chesterville then went to Chesterville and Asbury. We had another pastor at the time.

CL: Okay, okay. Was he the senior pastor for this area?

KMB: No. John Westley and Grace had the same pastor. Reverend Lee was pastor of John Westley and Grace at the time.

CL: I see. And Reverend Lee is the one that asked you to preach on the spot?

KMB: It’s probably the sixties or seventies.

CL: Now among lay leaders in the church were there any that stood out?

MB: Just before I came over here the original pastor of the church did everything.

KMB: Yeah pastor did everything; read the scripture, did the prayers and everything. Maybe sometimes they would get somebody to come up and give a prayer, but most days the pastor did all. Maybe a couple people would usher. Most of the time that fell on the women. They would walk around and show themselves.

CL: So, if you both were attending from the early 1970’s on how would you say the church changed during some of that time? You’ve described some of the charge but were there other changes you noticed?

KMB: Well over the years the format changed, but like I said earlier the preacher did it all. But as time passed all the preacher did was give the Morning Prayer and preach. And now sometimes the pastor doesn’t even give the Morning Prayer.

MB: Lee Sermons now do it, or anybody.

KMB: So there have been changes over the years. I had no problem with it.

CL: I mean there’s changes in all sorts of things but I didn’t know if—

KMB: Things gotta change sometimes.

CL: Would the pastors visit people in their homes?

KMB: Oh yeah. 11

MB: Give communion to them in the homes. Pastor would go to the nursing homes and hospitals and give communion there. And the pastors would come to any evening services you would have also because the pastor were very involved in the church.

CL: You mentioned evening services, when did you have evening services?

MB: They would have evening services sometimes, different groups come to put on a gospel and songs. Or they may have an evening just to come out and testify and praise the lord.

KMB: We had Founder’s Day at Grace and homecoming at Grace. We had Founder’s Day there for years and matter of fact you look back at the history and Founder’s Day probably started in the 50’s or the 60’s.

CL: So, you would have both services once a year?

KMB: Once a year. Founder’s Day was in May and homecoming was in October.

MB: The conference limited us to two days.

KMB: We had regular service and Founder’s Day went along with the regular service.

MB: If somebody wanted to get married they had two. They would get married there or have a special baptism.

KMB: Funeral.

CL: So, the pastor was a pretty important figure in the community?

MB: Oh yes indeed. If there was a death in a family the pastor would be there with the family right away.

KMB: Another pastor I forgot was reverend Dennis but I don’t think he was here but one year.

MB: Wasn’t here very long no.

KMB: About a year.

CL: When did it become clear that the church was going to close?

KMB: Well that’s a sticky item. That Sunday morning when we found it out we were at Asbury. So, we found out with Asbury and reverend Douglas came there that morning, they had a meeting on it. And Asbury decided they were going to just close up, they could not survive. And we were hit with it. So, if Asbury was going out we were also gonna close. That’s the way it was put to us. Not exact, but harsh words. It hit us by surprise that we were completely closed.

CL: Really?

KMB: Yes, they said they were going to close Grace in September 2014.

CL: So just a few years ago.

KMB: And we got hit with it. September, they closed. And words came out from reverend Douglas to us, we had no knowledge it was going to be closed. 12 We were gearing up at that time to get ready for our October homecoming. Wife had already written letters, just had to put them in the mail. So, we had to change the letter and tell them the news. We got calls on it right and left. ‘What’s going?’ they were very disappointed. We were shocked. CL: Well that was my follow up question, how did the members of the congregation feel about it but that’s—

KMB: They felt terrible about it. The way it was put to us, because Asbury was going to close their doors so they could not survive. We felt like we could continue to survive because we were, yeah Asbury would come up to our service, but we were backing on people that were keeping us going. So, we tell them, don’t send your donation we closed. They were upset about it. September 2014 the superintendent informed everyone that the conference had closed Grace.

MB: That had not been discussed at all with the two of us, knowing that we were the caretakers and how we felt about it and he just said because we were on the charge. And I told him he didn’t depend on Asbury for funding because we had other sources. We had donors that would send three hundred or four hundred dollars at a time. To keep us going to maintain the church and to upkeep the cemetery.

KMB: If they had a funeral they would leave a good donation to upkeep the lights and everything.

MB: So financially we were able to carry on, the two of us.

KMB: And we were willing to do it.

CL: So, there was a pastor assigned to the charge at the time?

KMB: Reverend Macintosh.

CL: Now did she retire?

KMB: She retired at that time.

CL: So, Asbury was closing, they had made the decision.

MB: They had written letters to conference and had asked to be retired.

CL: And you had not?

KMB: No.

CL: Now were two other churches part of the—

KMB: No, no they had all split. We were under the Nanticoke charge so they made us go with Asbury. That’s why they continued, the Nanticoke charge was actually this one church. So, we were under the Nanticoke charge so we were hooked and Asbury kept that name Nanticoke charge and took us there as well. MB: It hit us real hard. 13

CL: At that point were there other members between the two churches who were more connected to Grace?

KMB: No, it was just us. Everyone else had died or moved away.

MB: Chester Ville would come and help us on special days so we would have a choir or so we would have a funeral. And the people from Nanticoke too, so we would have six people in a choir.

KMB: All the other churches would help us. All the way down the line.

MB: And we were willing to be on the church with Elsa, they were willing to take us on. But we didn’t try to fight it because you can’t fight conference no matter what.

CL: That does sound difficult. I didn’t realize—

KMB: We were hit over night very bluntly.

MB: And people called and said they were willing to help us fight it but we were entering out eighties and didn’t bother.

KMB: People wanted us to take it to court.

CL: So that’s how it ended.

MB: There were new pews put in the church and it was the people from away who raised the money to put in those pews.

CL: Inside of Grace?

MB: Yeah, yeah.

KMB: Some of them from time to time would call me, ‘I’m coming down to put a flower on a loved one’s grave or something like that, or stop by with me, right down with me.’ And go into church and sit down like that. After they saw what happened. All that came to the end I think back January, reverend Douglas (?) wanted the keys. That’s all behind now. They come down, put a flower on a grave and keep going. They can’t go in the church now.

CL: Is the cemetery adjacent—

KMB: It’s on the lot, yeah.

CL: Do you know about how many graves are in there?

KMB: I don’t have a count. Not even going to try and guess that.

CL: That’s fine.

MB: Well see, a lot of the old members before the church moved they’re still back there at the old grave site is grown up.

KMB: It’s grown up, whole site grown up. The one by the church is kept down nicely. I come there every so often keeps that down. But the conference 14 said to close it we had no way to take over the maintenance of it. Then we gotta pay a guy to keep it maintained which he does a good job.

CL: That’s good.

KMB: Well the conference pays, takes care of that. We have no funds, we can’t get funds now.

CL: I understand.

KMB: But it hurt a lot of people like I said. So, we’ll come down and sit down at the church and meditate, remember when. We talk about it and all that’s gone.

CL: That sounds very difficult.

KMB: Yes, it is. I’ve been hurt quite a bit by it.

CL: Well looking back over the years, just in general what were some of your fondest memories?

KMB: Well people in the neighborhood you would associate with and all every Sunday morning you got a chance to see your neighbor or whatever and all that’s gone.

MB: They helped pay for the people from the city who were coming, prepare the food for them. And some people sometimes would donate money for the oysters and they loved to come.

KMB: That was on the menu, little country oysters.

MB: And the church was never in debt. Now since he and I were the only two caretakers it needed a roof on the church and whatnot. At the time the church didn’t have the money so my husband and I, we went over and donated money for the roof. Then we told the people what happened, but we never said that the loan came from us. We never told no one it came from us. We just told them that we had borrowed the money, and would they help us with paying off the loan. And they did that too.

KMB: Got every cent back.

MB: Alright, yeah. So, we did that much, and of course we put in our donation too. But like I said, so many sentimental things you know, involved in that church. Because we didn’t have a big congregation everybody knew everybody. And that was good. And one lady, one time when she came, she was in her nineties, she told me in church ‘I hope you live forever.’ She said, ‘because you make sure everything is okay when we come and visit.’ They were so, you know, elated by what they saw.

CL: Okay.

MB: Yeah, mm-hmm.

CL: So, it sounds like a very close group?

MB: It was.

CL: And then people had to leave because of opportunities. 15

KMB: Well yeah, yeah, yeah, they had to make a livelihood that’s understandable.

CL: Well certainly.

KMB: They didn’t leave because they were mad or anything like that.

CL: Well I understand that. But it sounds like that did overtime take a toll.

KMB: Oh yeah, they had to go somewhere. And then right there in Salisbury places closed like Campbell soup closed too.

CL: Right, so it wasn’t just the canneries?

KMB: I’ll never forget some years ago I was there doing service on west main street, running their mouths and so forth and talking about the economy in the area. And I said ‘it’d be nice if some big business would come in and take over.’ And the guy who ran the service station said, no you don’t want that. He said, you want them to come in and take over? Then in five years they close up so you be in bad shape. If they go and move all the people at one time.

CL: Okay.

KMB: Just like Campbell soup when they closed, how many people were out, the labor people, how many people suffer.

CL: Certainly.

KMB: A big place closed one time. So, I had never thought of it that way, I thought a big company would come in and hire a lot of people. He said what if they close over night? Then you have a lot of people hurting one time. You’re better off if more small businesses come in. One closes, it won’t hurt too many people at the same time.

CL: Out here, back in the middle of the century there was a lot of smaller businesses.

KMB: A lot of them worked for themselves, farming and oyster-ing. Well you know what farming meant, right now because a farmers got it going out because whatever he grows, he dictates what he’s gonna get when he carries to market. Right now, its corn and soybeans. And how many people buying soybeans? I’m not giving but two dollars a bushel. What are you gonna do? Years ago, all these farmers had tomatoes in the field.

CL: Right, totally different crops.

KMB: You either gonna sell them or eat them. So, it’s dictated what a farmer would get. The same thing with oysters, and that’s what they survive off of, in the field working oysters in this area years ago. Now you got profit, you can’t rent it out to a farmer if you got five or ten acres, it was a hundred acres then. You can’t even turn a tractor around in five acres. Corn and soybeans on big fields.

CL: Five acres of tomatoes, that’s a lot of tomatoes. 16

KMB: Yeah. One time I saw pickups going by this time of year with tomatoes on them. I haven’t seen a tomato truck move this year. Cantaloupes, watermelons either.

MB: Some people might have them in the garden.

CL: But they’re not growing them to sell?

KMB: No. You take years ago, in summer, you get out of school we’d have picking beans and strawberries, blackberries, tomatoes, time to go back to school. But now there’s nothing to do in the summer for kids to do. Kids sit home and play video games.

CL: And it wasn’t that long ago that the field looked a lot different.

KMB: Oh yeah, a lots changed.

CL: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the life of your church?

MB: It was a lot of work being a caretaker—

KMB: But we enjoyed it and was nice to be able to keep in touch with the people and all this but all that’s done now.

MB: And the people away looked forward to coming down.

KMB: Need help? Those were the calls we’d get. All that’s behind us now. Quite hurtful when we got the news the church would be closed.

MB: Now one of the other churches has been sold by conference and we would rather not conference sell this church here, maybe put it in the historical society or something. Because it’s rooted from people, history will show how hard the people worked. Even the little children would do things, sell eggs, to try and earn some money. So we’d rather not the church be sold and we also maintain that cemetery too with the money the people gave to us. But you can’t dictate the conference.

KMB: 1945 the land was purchased to move that land on. They paid a lot of money to move that land.

CL: Got it, okay.

KMB: That land was skimmed on.

MB: When they sold that church they also sold the cemetery and the people that belong to that are wondering what’s going to happen to that. Because an elderly man bought the whole package. Conference was paying for the upkeep for the cemeteries. But now this man is very old and sickly—

KMB: He already got rid of the man cutting the grass—

MB: He said its Asbury’s church down here and we want to know what’s going to happen to the cemetery.

KMB: After learning Sunday we learned he cut the guy doing the grass.

MB: We don’t want that happening here, it’s close to the road and all that. Even if it’s down like the cemetery down there, you wouldn’t want it to grow up. So, this is what we’re thinking about here at Grace. 17

KMB: And my great grandfather, the one in that book, we talked about, he’s the one who donated the sills for that church.

MB: See, here he is here.

CL: The civil war veteran? Oh there he is on the cover.

MB: His great grandfather, yeah. His mother’s father yeah.

KMB: He’s the one who donated the sills.

CL: I didn’t realize he was on the cover.

KMB: Yeah he’s featured in there.

CL: Okay, Dr. Smalls book okay.

KMB: Well what had happened they featured one from Somerset County and one from Worcester County. The gentleman to the right is from Worcester County.

MB: You can see, years ago there were only two counties, the third county was Wicomico.

KMB: And that’s how Division Street got its name, Division Street in Salisbury was the dividing line between Wicomico and Worcester County.

CL: A lot of people don’t know that. Now, your great grandfather, he lived in this area?

KMB: He lived in this area, his slave owner is buried down here at Saint Murray’s church. And he was in the civil war and lost his right arm and he’s buried down here in front of Grace’s church and after the war was over he went down to Georgia and found his father to bring him back to this area. Because his father was a slave in this area as well and he was sold and went up in Georgia. He was able to go and find him and brought him back here. And he’s buried on the family lot down here.

CL: What was his father’s name?

KMB: Leven. Leven Handy.

CL: And your great grandfathers name?

KMB: Carr. C-A-R-R.

CL: Carr Handy.

KMB: And I’m the one who cuts the grass around his grave.

CL: So this picture was taken several years after the civil war?

KMB: Yeah, after because he doesn’t have his right arm there.

CL: What did he do after the war?

KMB: Farm, when he got out of service they gave him a good piece of money for farmland. And my mother used to tell us how he could hoe with one arm. I tried and I don’t know how he did it. 18

CL: I’m sure that was incredibly hard.

KMB: And he oyster-ed with it.

MB: They were in a ceremony together when they were seniors in high school. Since you knew Allen too.

KMB: We knew Allen well. Nice young man.

CL: He was, and a friend.

MB: I think Michelle has been to one of the high school reunions, I don’t know. Have you ever been?

CL: I went to one the tenth and I remember seeing her at the tenth.

KMB: Well we’ll pass it on to her today because she’ll call every day.

CL: Yeah, it was the tenth reunion, 1999.

MB: Yeah, she hadn’t been to one since because they had alcohol and they were paying all this money.

CL: And that’s not what she wanted.

MB: She’ll take a drink, but now she doesn’t because she’s into the bible and all that and she’s an elder and speaks at different churches so she’s doing good.

CL: I’m going to go ahead and turn this off, thank you so much.

[Recording ends]