Loren Anne Barnett joined CBF as Director
of Creative Services in 2007. She grew up
on the Severn River in Annapolis, Maryland,
sailing, crabbing, and flying through the air
on rope swings.
During my visit, a class of fourth-graders, broken into groups,
were rotating through a fun menu of activities. Inside the
education trailer, one group was playing the Oyster Harvest
Game. Using a pile of dried beans as their oyster reefs,
pairs of students modeled different harvest methods using
clothespins for nippers, salad tongs for hand tongs, and cups
to simulate dredging.
Outside, the children took turns boarding an elevated boat
and picking up oyster shells with a long pair of hand tongs.
It was much harder work than they imagined. In the main
building by the water, each group had a chance to dissect an
oyster. Prompted by one of the center’s capable educators, the
children poked around and yelled out when they found each
of the diagrammed parts. After a demonstration by Tilghman
Island local Dave Tyler, the students bellied up to a counter
and shucked clean oyster shells that were cleverly attached
with Velcro. I had tasted one of the oysters Dave had shucked
and was ready for some food.
I crossed the main road to Characters Bridge Restaurant and
grabbed a stool at the deck bar, which was manned by the
owner’s daughter Kelcy. By the time I finished my crab cake
and soup, I felt like family, having also met Kelcy’s mother, two
adorable children, and grandmother, who made my crab cake.
The hospitality, the food, and the views were unforgettable.
Back at Wylder, I spent the evening on the deck listening
to local musician Joe Hickey and chatting with some of the
other patrons. A fire pit crackled on the lawn where some
guests were making s’mores. Near the end of the evening, a
thunderstorm pounded the island. It brought everyone closer
together under the deck’s cover, but it didn’t disturb our fun.
On the last day of my visit, I met Mary and Hall Kellogg at the
Tilghman Watermen’s Museum, a labor of love they founded
10 years ago. “Tilghman has a wonderful story to tell,” Mary
started. “It’s a watermen’s community, but it’s changing as the
water’s changing. Most important here are the oral histories.
We have made four DVDs, and they have appeared on MPT,”
Mary told me proudly. “Someone needed to capture these
stories and we ended up being the somebodies.” Mary and Hall
continued to share as we toured the former residence filled
with thoughtfully displayed artwork, artifacts, and signage.
One room currently features a temporary exhibit on different
methods of working the water. “The reason a waterman is
called a waterman,” Hall explained, “is because he’s not a
fisherman, he’s not an oysterman, he’s not a clammer, he’s not
an eeler, he’s all of those things.” “The museum tells people the
story of Tilghman, the way it was, and the way it is now,” Mary
added. “We hope people will go away informed.” I know I did.
On my way out of town, I stopped in to visit Edie Donahue,
one of the drawbridge tenders for the only way on and off
the island by car. “It’s the busiest drawbridge in the country,”
Edie told me. From her command center in a small, but rather
homey, building on the bridge, Edie stops and starts vehicle
traffic, controls the ups and downs of the bridge, and records
particulars for every vessel that passes through—all while
fielding calls from captains and motorists. It is a ballet, and
Edie clearly loves her job. On duty, she is the person most in
touch with Tilghman Island’s comings and goings.
Unfortunately, I was going. I could have stayed for days longer.
Back in my car crossing the bridge, I took in the view one last
time and gave a see-ya-later wave to Edie and an island I
(left to right) Choptank Riverkeeper Matt Pluta prepares to launch a drone to search for underwater grass beds. The crab deck at
Wylder Hotel is the perfect place to enjoy a tray of Fisherman’s Daughter oysters. School children learn to hand tong at Phillips Wharf
Environmental Center. Characters Bridge Restaurant, near Tilghman Island’s Knapps Narrows Bridge, offers great food and hospitality.
COUR TESY OF W YLDER HO TEL