Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Eastern Shore Journal: Royal Oak

Royal Oak Commiunity United Methodist Church (photograph by Hallie Cohen)
Harriet Taubman and Frederic Douglas both urged Lincoln to allow blacks to serve in the Union Army and a small plaque now stands in front of a roadside cemetery in the town of Unionville where 18 Talbot Country slaves and free blacks are buried. The area has a liberal history and feeling that’s more humorously communicated in a street sign which advertises Love’s Folly Road. In Royal Oak, a hamlet which might be termed a suburb of St Michaels stands the clapboard wood United Methodist Church in front of which is a beached boat reflecting another aspect of the local heritage, the maritime history which infuses practically every element of everyday life. The church for all its modesty still manages to sport stained glass windows that almost have a tromp l’oeil effect; they hardly seem to soar and look more like a fading painting that's both sublime and wistful at the same time. But the weathered structure is a landmark that indelibly captures much of the feeling of this area of the Chesapeake Bay region, a mixture of the spiritual and the arcane, in which the old co-exists but is rarely obliged to give way to the new. Tolerance is perhaps the best way to describe the enchanting landscape where growth and preservation go hand in hand and age doesn’t automatically lead to obsolescence.

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