Good Ole County Geography

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Why have we allowed these outsiders to completely change the place names in this fair county?
Isn’t it bad enough that they have built their ticky tacky houses all over the best hunting grounds and crop fields in the county, that they have overrun out beaches and waterways, that they have crowded our county roads with their helter skelter dashing back and forth to God knows what destinations.
They have taken our fair county, must they erase every vestige of our heritage.

Back in the “good ole days’ every bump in the road had a name, every creek, crossing and hollow.

If someone asked where you had been, you only had to respond, “I had to run over to Dynard,” or “I been hunting all day over to Cremona.” That’s all you didn’t have give route numbers, or recite any of these stupid lot numbers you see on every residence in the county except mine.

These yahoos speed up and down the road and don’t even know where they are.

For example: I was driving down Route 235 past my grandfather’s old farm with yahoos passing on my left and right, blowing their horns at everything and everybody. (I don’t know what it is about these come lately city slicker’s cars, their brakes never seem to work, but their horns never fail.)

Well, as I was saying I was coming down the road already ticked off at the traffic when I noticed a sign, “Hollywood Worship Center.” Then I really got hot.

I’ve passed that sign thousands of times without caring, but on this particular trip it was the last straw.

What on Earth would possess a preacher to open a place of business obviously in Oakville and name it the Hollywood Worship Center?

I got to thinking.

Suppose some outland hillbilly moved to Hollywood.

And suppose that hillbilly had been doing a lot of sinning, you know, thieving, whoring, gambling and such as that.

Suppose further that the hillbilly realized that it was time for atonement, and that he needed to seek out a worship center and be shriven of his sins.

He would go to the yellow pages and find the Hollywood Worship Center.

If that poor hillbilly decided to walk around the little village of Hollywood until he found the Hollywood Worship Center he would wear his shoes out and never find salvation.

These developers who have come here to get rich quick haven’t helped any. They give their developments the same stupid names you find in other parts of the country. They must have a directory of approved names and every developer must use that list of names wherever in the world he decides to build.

Back during the big war, Greyhound ran a route from D.C. down Route 5 and back up Route 235. The driver was an old St. Mary’s man, Joe Russell.

Mr. Russell would call out every bend in the road by its proper name, using that smooth loud voice that only old time bus drivers new.

“Mechanicsville, Mechanicsville Maryland.”

Then on to “Harper’s Corner, Harper’s Corner Maryland.” No sooner had the bus started rolling when it would be time to call out “Forest Hall, Forest Hall Maryland.”

It was a wonder Mr. Russell didn’t lose his voice, he still had to pass Helen, Parson’s Run, Morganza, on and on, past Great Mills, Jarboesville, Pearson, Cedar Point and then up 235 through Hollywood, Hillville, Oakville, Laurel Grove, Oraville, and back to Harper’s Corner.

Any farm worth mentioning had a name. You could o to Notley Hall, Brambley and Bushwood, or you could go to the other way toward Cremona, Trent Hall or the Plains.

There was a Deep Falls, Longwoods, Chaptico Manor and Indiantown.

Every person you spoke to, from the oldest resident to the youngest school child knew his county geography.

I don’t know why that was.

Probably because people drove slower and spoke more to their children,

Families out motoring had time to absorb the essence of their surroundings.

Every turn in the road had a name ‘Pine Gate,’ ‘Cedar Lane,’ ‘Lockes Hill’ and every place had a story to tell.

Before motoring there were buggies, yoked oxen and ‘shank’s mare.’

When you were traveling by ‘shank’s mare’ you were hoofing it.

Believe me, when you walked from Chaptico to Bushwood Wharf you had plenty of time to dread the climb up Notley Hall Hill.

Hills were something to dread in the days of foot travel. Lockes Hill was a real killer, worse than Rip-gut Hill or Chaptico Manor Hill.

My first job off the farm was at the ordinance factory in Oakville.

I was too young to enlist for Korea so I did the next best thing; I made munitions for the ‘boys overseas.’ I wasn’t really allowed to make munitions myself you had to be 18, so they made me a ‘disposal expert.’

The girls working on the assembly line, (they were mostly girls) would occasionally mess up and stamp out detonators what weren’t perfect, and there was lots of spilt gunpowder that had to be swept up.

It was my job to gather up the fouled detonators and wasted powder and trundle it down into the surrounding woods and bury it. I went around the woods like a squirrel burying stuff here and there, but the stuff wasn’t nuts, it was highly explosive.

In fact the plant blew up so many times and injured so many local women that the finally closed it.

They are talking about developing that property for houses.

I wouldn’t want to own a house in those woods. You could be grubbing in your garden and hit one of those disposal pits and they would scrape you off the moon.

I was too young to be afraid to push those high explosives around in a wheel barrow, but I was afraid of the walk home at night.

I had to clean up the plant late in the evening, by the time I finished it was pitch dark.

My walk home was Friendship School Road to Bishop Road, across Busy Corner to Graveyard Road, then down 242 to Dr. Johnson Road and home.

An 11 mile walk uphill all the way.

I didn’t mind the walk home, I had strong young legs then, but I didn’t particularly like to pass by the old graveyard. It was overgrown with vines back then and looked like something out of a Poe novel.

I would barely approach the old graveyard, not superstitious, not afraid at all, but it seems that just as I passed the graveyard a leaf would rustle, a night bird howl, something would startle me.

But once I was startled my feel would take flight and I would finis the four miles to home.

I didn’t stop to reflect on all the old farms I passed. I just wanted them behind me.

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