Residents gather to toast Eastport's 125th birthday

June 27, 1993|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Staff Writer

Over at the Barge House Museum in Eastport, blocks away from the food, games and music, Shirley Peacock tried to remember names of classmates from Sunday school 51 years ago.

"I can remember everyone except this one and this one," she said, staring hard at the black-and-white photograph of kids spilling out of a doorway in the historic Annapolis neighborhood.

That's the way it used to be in Eastport -- a community built on a peninsula between Back Creek and Spa Creek that once was a hub of activity for watermen and tradesmen.

Yesterday, as the community celebrated its 125th anniversary, many residents who remember the neighborhood as it was decades ago came to the small museum located next to the Maryland Waterman's Cooperative, a fish market, to reminisce.

"It was a real community," said Ms. Peacock's sister, Mary Lee Peacock. "When you were growing up, you could go to the end of virtually every street and go swimming. And if you did something wrong, your parents knew about it before you got home."

The birthday celebration began at noon yesterday with a parade that started at the Eastport Shopping Center and wound down narrow streets to Eastport Elementary School, the site of festivities.

There was entertainment, food and trinkets for sale, but more historic-minded people toured the elementary school to recall what it was like before the building expanded and took over a local street.

Many of the original homes in Eastport still exist and are occupiedby second- and third-generation families.

Betty Sadler Meade is part of one such family. Her father ran Sadler's Crab House, now O'Leary's Restaurant. She returned to the elementary school yesterday with her grandchildren, who still live in Eastport.

"You used to know everyone," said Ms. Meade, 62. "It's changed now. We have condominiums and the boat people. There are people who live here and work in D.C."

The neighborhood has grown over the years as it blended into Annapolis. Many of the Cape Cod-style clapboard homes, where families still gather on the front porch, remain just blocks away from yacht clubs that once held working boats and condominiums that now shroud the waterfront.

But some of the "new" residents of Eastport are just as proud of their neighborhood.

Brooke Perkins moved to the community in 1981 and drove his Harley- Davidson motorcycle in the parade while sporting a sign on his back that read, "I'm Bullish on Eastport."

The slogan is a takeoff on the company he works for, Merrill Lynch.

"Eastport is a quiet, friendly neighborhood where everybody knows each other," Mr. Perkins said. "It's probably the best place I've lived in all my life. It's like living in a small country town, yet you are in the middle of all the action in Baltimore and Washington."

But Lester Trott remembers a simpler time -- the 1920s. He spent five years in Eastport living on Wells Cove, off Spa Creek, and said he used to take a boat to school. In the winter, he skated across the waterway.

"Those were fabulous days," he recalled while looking at a 60-year-old map of Eastport in the museum.

"I learned to fish, to crab and trap muskrats here. Of course, now it's all developed. You go up there now and tell these stories and they look at you like you must be kidding."

Soon, a small group gathered around Mr. Trott to listen to his stories.

A museum worker started taping the tales. And Mary Lee Peacock continued to eye the exhibits, wondering why more couldn't be preserved.

"I don't want the old times to come back," she said. "I just think they should be remembered."

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