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Tales of Tangier

IMG_1963As a child, I learned that hearts and lips were very different parts, but the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's recent public enrichment event, "Tales of Tangier," led me to question that notion.

On January 19, Tangier natives Charles and Cindy Parks, Lonnie Moore, Mayor "Ooker" Eskridge, and CBF's own MC Don Baugh (AKA CBF's Vice President of Education) gathered amidst a smiling and eager crowd at the Barrier Island Center, a facility steeped in local Eastern Shore heritage and whose walls have immeasurable stories to tell themselves. Audience members were excited to share their perspectives as well, asking thoughtful questions and even sharing some of their own Tangier-inspired poetry! The evening was flanked with the salty musical stylings of The Turkey Pen Pickers, a local bluegrass band that transported our toetappin' to a simpler time that none of us would have minded going back to.

Storytelling is vital to culture because it connects us with the minds and hearts of those who have something to share. Storytelling is often referred to as "spinning a yarn," which makes sense. A good storyteller weaves wit and wisdom to create a beautiful tapestry that is poised to be passed down through  generations. The Bay, whose story is much older than words, was blessed to have the voice of the tellers of that evening. They told tales of abundance that once was, a way of life to be embraced, an island in need, an island they could never dream of leaving, and their hopes for the future of our Bay, our children, and their home. The stories they shared showed that Tangier is more than an island; it is a community whose lifestyles, unfamiliar to most of us, are completely entrenched in rich culture wholly dependent on the success of our Bay's restoration, bounty, and resilience.

The event was a huge success, and one that begs to be repeated. Many attendees were happy to stand, even in adjacent rooms, just to catch a glimpse into the powerful perspectives of our distinctive neighbors. The audience left feeling a broad swath of emotions. We laughed, we cried, we danced a little, and we all took something very special away with us that night: The privileged glimpse into something worth saving, right in our own backyards. "Tales of Tangier" was much like an electrifying excavation and it lead us all to see a new reality, as experienced by those who live it, and feel that not all treasure is buried.

Experiencing "Tales of Tangier" confirmed that saving the Bay is about more than just the Bay itself. It's about heritage, reverence, hope for the future, and something stirring that courses through our blood; Saving the Bay is about saving ourselves.

 â€”Tatum Sumners Ford
CBF Eastern Shore of Virginia Grassroots Field Specialist

Check out our Facebook photo album of this vibrant evening on the Shore!

Please visit our website to learn more about our Save the Bay efforts, including the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint. Find out how YOU can get involved!

IMG_2007The Turkey Pen Pickers at CBF's "Tales of Tangier" event on Jan. 19. All photos by Hali Plourde-Rogers.


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Patricia Sumners

What Tatum says is true. I laughed and I cried. This event left me with goose bumps. Reading Tatum's "Tales of Tangier" gave me the same feeling. Thank you Tatum, Don, The Turkey Pen Pickers, BIC and most of all our Tangier neighbors that shared their heart and soul. Save The Bay and SAVE TANGIER!


This is a beautifully written piece! Thanks for sharing!

Richard Fletcher

I first visited Tangier as a youngster and saw what was then the only car on the island, or so we were told. Even by then, the Old English accent was pretty much gone from most people would talk to, an unfortunate casualty of TV, we were told.

Years later, I got a chance to visit again, stopping their on the way to the Western part of the Bay, where my godfather was visiting a marina for a night of fun, it is, in his Egg Harbor yacht, we gassed-up at Tangier before continuing on. We got a chance to see the Gold Shack, as it was called, I think, with hundreds of Playboy pinups on all sides of the small building.

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