Monday, May 9, 2016

Chesapeake Bay Journal I : Chestertown

High Street in Chestertown (photograph: Jennifer Schmidt)
The Eastern Shore of Maryland lies on the Chesapeake Bay. Chestertown, a village along the Eastern Shore, with a revolutionary heritage is famous for its Tea Party Festival. Back in 1774 the inhabitants of Chestertown showed their allegiance to their Boston confreres, and to British sanctions, by prohibiting the buying and selling of tea. You may recall that tea is a nickname for marijuana, but life was simpler back in those days and one wonders how the current populace stand with respect to the Tea Party today. Maryland straddles the lines between the blue and red states. For instance The Chestertown Spy ran a piece entitled “GOP Candidates Bring Anti Government Message to Government’s Backyard” (4/21/16) The crux of the article dealt with the fact that the tea party message of small government might not resonate in a place where so many people, due to the proximity to Washington, enjoyed the benefits of federal jobs. The Spy reported,  “The fact is, 503,000 hold local, state and federal government jobs, according to March statistics from the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. That accounts for roughly one in five jobs in the state. In addition, the federal government alone spent $15,834 per person in Maryland in fiscal 2014—27.5 percent of the state's total economic output, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study released in March. Only Virginia receives more federal dollars per person.” You try to absorb facts like these as you drive through the flat verdant landscape abutting the tidewaters, famed for its crab cakes. If you gravitate to traditional plantation redoubts you might want to try the gracious Southern Style Brampton Inn situated amidst refulgent landscaped gardens. Is this the world the Tea Party wants to preserve? Maybe so, but the irony is that for the residents of Kent County in which Chestertown sits, the Federal government is the biggest show in town. You can’t run a luxury inn unless you have someone to butter your bread.

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