On Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the descendant of Decoration Day, when the graves of Civil War casualties would be marked in memory. Today, we use the holiday to remember all veterans’ service, letting the day encroach on Veterans Day, where all US … Continue reading

Racer Dips

That’s 1930s speak for “roller coaster.” At least it was to my grandmother, Gurnice Stephens. She grew up on Mt. Pleasant Orchard in Harford County, but worked as a nanny and a nightclub violinist in Baltimore during the 1930s and … Continue reading

Stripey Runaway Buys 10 Dozen Continental Buttons at a Vendue-Store in 1784

I was playing around on America’s Historical Newspapers, a digital subscription newspaper archive based on the American Antiquarian Society’s collection of historical newspapers. My mother’s family has been based in Harford County, Maryland for almost 400 years. A search on … Continue reading

Sauerkraut: It’s Thanksgiving in Maryland

Don’t knock it: sauerkraut is great on the Thanksgiving table. And it’s a tradition that falls almost exclusively within Maryland’s borders. When I moved away for my first job in Boston, I was surprised that Thanksgiving sauerkraut horrified my colleagues … Continue reading

Photo: Hunting Dog Redux, c. 1923.

My Harford County, Maryland family could never be described as prominent. They are not historical figures. Certainly, the family names are ones the people know, interwoven through local people’s memories (read about how interwoven my family is┬áhere). They, like so … Continue reading

Vanishing History: Recording African-American Burial Grounds

On a Sunday afternoon in 1992, I was collecting fallen autumn leaves along Chapel Road outside Havre de Grace, Maryland where my grandparents lived. I no longer remember what the leaves were for. My boyfriend lifted me on his shoulders … Continue reading

Gardening and Memory

Among the Bowmans, the garden is part of the family. Any Sunday dinner was ended with “a walk to the garden,” a trip to check on the vegetables’ progress. I laughingly continued this tradition in my 450 sq. foot Manhattan … Continue reading