Take Me Out to the Ballgame…


Autumn brings a nostalgic feeling. With summer vacation officially over and kids going back to school, it’s difficult not to think about what we were doing around this time in years past. The changing of the leaves may remind us of long anticipated Saturday mornings, when school work could be forgotten in favor of spending a day at the community baseball park, trying to soak in the last inklings of summer.


Baseball, “America’s favorite pastime,” has been played in parks, streets, and school yards since the 1800s. The sport’s easy rules and no-contact game play made it fun for people of all ages and genders to enjoy. Baseball rose in popularity in the late 19th- and early 20th-century, and professional teams were formed in cities across the country, from New York to Los Angeles. As rules were formalized and team rivalries began, fans would travel miles to see their favorite team.


main_bg-1Professional leagues were not just reserved for the major urban cities. Smaller towns and regions could also boast professional leagues, including the Eastern Shore. From the 1920s to the 1940s, a professional class-D Eastern Shore League graced baseball parks found up and down Route 13. Future Hall of Famers Jimmie Foxx, Red Ruffing, Mickey Cochrane and Frank “Home Run” Baker honed skills on these Eastern Shore baseball diamonds that would later help them succeed in the major leagues.


parksley-spuds-1924-home-jerseyThe Parksley Spuds were a popular team for many Eastern Shore fans. In the very first year of the league’s operation in 1922, this Virginia team took home the pennant, a goal they would repeat twice more before the league temporarily disbanded in 1928. The Eastern Shore league would return twice more in the 20th century; however, the Eastern Shore of Virginia never had another team in the league. The love for baseball never died though, instead shown through the popularity of company teams, church leagues and community clubs.


Baseball has a nostalgic feel to it that other sports have slightly more difficulty capturing. Its simple rules made it easy for us to play as children, while its historic and longstanding tradition as the national pastime has encouraged us to go to games on Saturdays, when work could be put on hold to play ball.

The Eastern Shore of Virginia Historical Society is encouraging baseball fans of all ages to tap into that nostalgic feeling and to join us as we celebrate the Eastern Shore League with a special, one time viewing of unique artifacts and photographs of these early baseball teams. Hear from Eastern Shore League enthusiasts Mike Lambert, author of Eastern Shore League:  Images of Baseball and Donny Davison, collector, as well as baseball historian, Marty Payne. Fans of Eastern Shore Baseball will also have the chance to bring their own artifacts to discuss with their fellow collectors.

(Rug) Hooked on History: Exploring Our New Exhibit!

What do Tarot Cards and rugs have in common? Well, honestly not much. However, they both have a long, interesting history here in North America and in Europe. They are also the subjects of our next exhibit!


Hooked Chair Mat, ESVHS Collection

The technique of using a hook to pull loops of yarn or fabric through a stiff woven base dates back to the those of Scandinavian descent who settled in Scotland, though earlier versions of the craft can be found in other parts of Europe. The descendants of these early rug hookers eventually carried knowledge of their craft to the new world, settling in the New England and Canadian Maritime area. The craft blossomed in the Americas, as settlers had less new materials to work with, every scrap of fabric had to be reused. Many early American rugs have fabric from old curtains, clothes, and stockings. Modern Rug hookers make use of wool, which can be bought in a variety of colors, or they custom dye wool for a particular project. The craft has grown from simple floor coverings to beautiful works of art.



“The Hanged Man” Rider-Waite-Smith deck, 1910

 The history of tarot cards is similarly long, beginning in southern Europe as a card game, tarochinni, which is still played today. Many today know of the tarot as a method of divination, with the 78-card deck divided into two distinct parts: a 22-card Major Arcana (Big Secrets) followed by a 56-card minor arcana. It’s believed that a combination of each card’s symbolism as well as a variety of card layouts gave insight to one’s troubles. The symbolism and pictures depicted on the cards have varied throughout the centuries, but most are familiar with the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, first published in 1910.


Chariot, Lynne Fowler

The Rider-Waite-Smith deck serves as the inspiration for our visiting rug hooking exhibit. In 2015, Rug Hookers, Michele Micarelli and Loretta Scena, conceived of an idea for different rug hookers to hook their interpretation of a card in the Major Arcana. A group of 23 artists each picked a card in the Major Arcana, with the 23rd artist creating a design for the back of the cards. One of the members of our historical society, Lynne Fowler, was invited to hook her interpretation of the “Chariot” card.


Explore more about the exhibit and the symbolism behind each card at Tarot Rug Project News and Index to the Rugs .

Join us as we explore the Tarot Card, as interpreted by rug hookers in our new temporary exhibit “Exploring the Tarot: 23 Artists Hook the Major Arcana,” opening July 8, 2016. A reception will be held at Ker Place on July 8th from 6-8 pm. The reception is free and open to the public with a cash bar. 

Remembering Bertie Lee Colona

     A few months ago, John Verrill, a past ESVHS Executive Director, sent our board a letter in remembrance of Bertie Lee Watson Colona (1920-2015), who took great pride in keeping Ker Place clean. Following is an excerpt of John’s letter, detailing all the Bertie did for both the building and staff:

1546360_profile_pic     “For many years Bertie Lee Watson Colona cleaned Ker Place and made it sparkle. Her ability to keep such a large building clean was impressive, she out cleaned and out worked others who were much younger, but it was her understanding of how to work that made it easier for her – she was very methodical and always worked from top to bottom so that the last thing she cleaned was the floor. Oh how she made that house shine!

One of the jobs that I occasionally asked her to do was to polish the silver that was used during public functions at Ker Place. Bertie relished this job and always made the silver shine like it was just made. I don’t remember the brand of silver polish that she liked, but she insisted that only that brand be used and made it very clear to me that I had better have plenty of it even though it cost much more than competing brands. Her ability to make that silvershine lives on in my memory as something very special. I used to sit around the kitchen table at Ker Place and watch as she polished the silver and told me stories of her life in Delaware raising chickens, picking strawberries and other field work, and on the Shore working for the Kellam family.”

–John Verrill
Though I did not know Bertie personally, I do understand the pride she must have taken in keeping Ker Place clean. It is, indeed, a big house, and to have the passion and knowledge to keep such a place and its artifacts clean is truely something to admire. So in recognition on what would have been her 95th birthday, Ker Place and the ESVHS staff would like to take a moment to remember and appreciate Bertie and all that she has done for the Historical Society.

–Stephanie Templin
Collections Manager