Two parents, 14 kids, two daughters-in-law, one grandson (so far!). Living the good life in a large family setting in Virginia. We tell our stories that are funny, uplifting, challenging and everything in between. The struggle is real with lots of kids, but we'd have it no other way.
April 19, 2004|BY MATT SABO firstname.lastname@example.org | (804) 642-1748
Natives and newcomers try to decide how long a person has to live here before shedding the 'outsider' label.
It is a vexing question, its answer fraught with rampant speculation and, of course, influenced by one's genealogical ties to the great commonwealth of Virginia. The state constitution is no help. Local ordinances do not address it. A Google search turned up no definitive answer.
Judy Schick bravely tries to answer it anyway.
"Mmmm, I'd say the only way you can be a 'been here' is if you've been born here," she says.
That's it then. All you "come heres" who are looking to shake loose your outsider status have something to shoot for. Birth a kid wherever it is you've landed, and your progeny won't be a "come here."
Or maybe not. Schick is waffling after thinking about this problem for a minute.
"Well," she says, "I don't know that there's an answer."
Schick was born in New Jersey and arrived in Mathews via Indianapolis after she and her husband took a liking to the Virginia shoreline. She concedes she's 100 percent "come here." She even started the "Newcomers Club" in Mathews, where "come heres" flock like mosquitoes to flesh. The club has 48 members.
But isn't there a way to change from a "come here" to a "been here?" How long would that take? A decade? Twenty years? Fifty years? Having a momma who's a native?
"Never," says 56-year-old Tommy Darden, who runs rustic Darden's Country Store in Isle of Wight County. Getting to Darden's would be hard for most "come heres." It involves taking a left, two rights, a left, a right and then another left (or was it a right?) - all while negotiating narrow back roads and dodging locals wandering out to the mailbox across the road.
"To me, personally, when you're a 'from here' is when you know the back roads from here to there," says Mark Rowe as he cradles a midday beer at Harpoon Larry's off Mercury Boulevard in Hampton.
Rowe is a 38-year-old Floridian just two months into his Peninsula residency. He says people shouldn't fret about the labels because it all depends on the individual. Rowe claims to know the back roads -- at least to Harpoon Larry's -- and considers himself a "from here."
Darden actually agrees after he warms to the subject. "It's really hard to say. Some people seem to fit in and some people don't fit in," he says.
Some "come heres" move to the Virginia countryside and want streetlights, garbage pickup and curbs. They're "come heres" through and through, Darden says. Others fit right in. They stop by the store to chat and haul their garbage to the dump in the back of a pickup, or SUV probably. They're OK.
About this time Dean Stallings joins the fray. The 46-year-old, sixth-generation Isle of Wight farmer stopped by Darden's for a ham sandwich, iced tea and pack of Marlboro Lights.
"Come heres" drive ATVs through his cotton and corn fields and think it's their back yard, he says. They're not OK. A "come here" will "be on that list forever," Stallings says.
Of course, there are exceptions. Bonnie Lewis is checking out art in Mo Stuff in Bena, in the heart of Gloucester's Guinea. She was born in Wicomico in Gloucester County, moved away for 30 years, then came back. Doesn't that make her a "come here" with an asterisk? Or is it a "from here" with an asterisk?
Neither, she says. "I'm grandfathered."
Perhaps there's some scholarly research that can lay to rest this issue. Wouldn't you know it, the University of Virginia has a "come heres" specialist.
Daphne Spain, chair of the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning at the university's School of Architecture, wrote "Been-heres Versus Come-heres: Negotiating Conflicting Community Identities" in 1993. It's a study comparing Kilmarnock in Lancaster County to Philadelphia's Queen Village. In sum, rich folks moved into both places and changed the communities. They probably demanded garbage pickup.
Spain could see a change in status, though. Folks who arrived after Kilmarnock was "discovered" were "come heres." Those who had arrived before weren't. Others in the small, historically tightknit communities who had lived there for generations traced "come heres" back to two generations.
"No matter how long the family stayed," Spain says, "if their family wasn't from there it wouldn't matter."
The last word is left to Urbanna, on the watery fringes of Middlesex County. At Catman Cats, a boatbuilding outfit down on the water, Felix Herrin claims a person can be moved off the "come heres" list into "been heres" status by the authority of an authentic "from here."
He said this happened to him when his friend Larry Burch told Herrin he's not a "come here" anymore because Herrin has been in Virginia since 1977.
"It has to be bestowed by a `from here,'" Herrin says.
His wife, Tricia Herrin, is standing nearby. She is a real-life "born here" and is caught off guard.
"So he took you from a 'come here' to a 'been here?'" she asks incredulously.
This is one of my favorite stories from my time at the Daily Press about some rogue oysters who somehow escaped from a Chesapeake Bay marine experiment and lived to tell about it. For a while at least. I hope you enjoy it.
On assignment in 2012 with an oyster. But not one of THE oysters.
Oyster Survival Story Raises Questions
May 21, 2004|By MATT SABO Daily Press
A startling find of mammoth experimental bivalves left for dead yields a surprising conclusion: They're still alive, and they taste pretty good.
They were beasts of their species, orphans from a marine experiment gone awry that were lurking in the mucky bottom of a Rappahannock River tributary in Lancaster County.
Two girls out kayaking stumbled upon them last month. The girls lived to tell about it.
The behemoths did not.
They were two non-native oysters the size of dinner plates. A true full-meal deal.
Long since forgotten, the oysters weren't supposed to be there. They were among several hundred young bivalves put in the shallow tidal pond as part of a much larger 2001 experiment involving 60,000 oysters scattered around the Chesapeake Bay, said Jim Wesson of the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.
Vigorous, hardy and disease-resistant -- and perhaps somewhat quick and elusive -- the c. ariakensis bivalves are known as Suminoe, or "Asian," oysters. The two oysters, along with at least three others found later, managed to elude recapture when the experiment ended in 2003, even though Wesson said they all were enclosed in a mesh cage.
Wesson believes the oysters got stepped on and shoved down in the muck. Because one of the components of the experiment was gauging mortality, it was assumed the oysters suffered an untimely demise.
"As far as we knew they were gone," Wesson said. "If they disappeared, you would assume a crab or something would eat them."
Now Wesson knows otherwise.
"They live very well," he said. "Even the ones we got up were doing very well. We were testing how they would hold themselves up in the mud. If they can't compete with the sediment around them, they wouldn't live very well in the bay."
The oysters were taken to Stan Allen, director of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. There they met their death and were found to be sterile, just as they were when the experiment began.
Allen found them intriguing, but he doesn't advocate orphaning experimental oysters.
"It's not a good idea to keep them out there without some custodial care," he said.
The find has raised eyebrows -- and questions -- particularly now that the Chesapeake Bay is hosting experimental trials involving about 800,000 Asian oysters. The trials are sponsored by the Virginia Seafood Council.
"We're pretty concerned about it," said Mike Fritz, living resources coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay Program office.
The Asian oysters in the current trials are penned in secure bags, racks and floats -- not put out loose on the bottom, he said.
"We're doing everything we can to keep them under control, to effectively keep the genie in the bottle and not let these oysters get established as a population in the bay," Fritz said.
What sets the Asian oysters apart from native bivalves is that they seem to flourish in the same waters that, after a century of overharvesting and diseases, have been so deadly to native oysters.
It's unusual for native oysters to live through three summer seasons, Allen said.
Not so for the Asian oysters, obviously. Despite concerns that the Asian oysters could reverse their sterility, the Rappahannock group proved unfruitful.
"It's very helpful to know that the sterility holds and to know that they grow very well in the environment we have," Wesson said.
The EPA's Fritz said the Asian oysters in the current trial are being studied to see if they are susceptible to diseases, if they may be hosts to diseases or parasites that could afflict native shellfish and if they are suitable to live alongside other species living on the bottom of the bay.
While questions abound regarding the Asian oysters, one big question has been cleared up.
They taste good.
"They're not bad," Allen said. "I mean, not raw. Cooked, they're quite good."