Losing our ‘Lore’…

LORE: noun – a body of traditions or knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group, to be passed from person to person by word of mouth.

ORIGIN – Old English – instruction and German – to learn.


During the past few years, our little Eastern Shore town of Berlin, Maryland has lost a number of well-known men and woman.   Collectively, these people embodied, at least for a generation, the real tellers of Berlin’s lore.


Early one morning, soon after moving to Berlin, I was out walking on West Street.  Along the way I met an old, though still vibrant woman. She stopped, and smilingly introduced herself as Bessye Moore.  Actually she introduced herself as Berlin’s Oldest Streetwalker – though obviously she was a lady of consequence.  I was immediately charmed.  After that first meeting, hardly a day went by that ‘Aunt’ Bessye couldn’t be recognized, doing her daily exercise – walking through town, visiting others, spreading good will and the lore.  Sadly she passed on a few years later – leaving a big gap in Town history.  Recently I saw some of her ‘recollections’ reprinted by Joel Todd on a popular social media website.  Like the author – though naïve – they tell a pure and endearing history of one family’s life in Berlin.  One day soon, I hope to see her narrative published.


The next teller I met was James (Jim) Barrett.  Though still new to the town, nevertheless, I was already busy seeking contributions for a cause I considered to be of community wide benefit.  I drove out to Barrett Chevrolet and asked to see Mr. Barrett, explained my mission and was directed to his office. After introducing myself, he asked me to be seated and to tell him about the project.  We finished that meeting with Mr. Barrett making a sizable contribution.  Jim Barrett was generous – though Berlin was his adopted home – Berlin Maryland was his heart!


I don’t remember when I first met the next teller of Berlin’s lore – but he too made a huge impression.  His name was Tom Patton.  By this time, Mike and I had a little ice cream shop on North Main Street.  One day Mr. Patton walked in and asked me if I would like to become ‘Market Mother’ to the Berlin Farmers’ Market.  He explained he would be taking on new projects and had little time to spare.  In Tom’s opinion, the still fledgling market needed some guidance from a local resident.  It didn’t hurt that our ice cream shop offered the nearest refreshment and restroom – offering respite to those growers who were outdoors in all types of weather providing fresh/local produce.  He was a smart man!


The fourth person I remember was Edward H. Hammond.  Ed’s presence was always large in Berlin, especially as the driving force behind the restoration of the Atlantic Hotel and the development and support of the Taylor House Museum.  After meeting Ed, I could consider no other to be more knowledgeable and supportive of the lore of Berlin.  He was encyclopedic of our local history and nothing was more enjoyable to Mr. Hammond than to share the stories.  Though sometimes, in his own self-descriptive, curmudgeonly fashion – once involved in a retelling, his obvious devotion to his hometown held any who listened, in thrall.


Along the way, I’ve met some other special folks – who have now passed on – native or no, who have shown themselves to be the best of Berlin Maryland history – who have also shared the lore.

I miss all of these folks.  They were to be admired and respected.  A town is its people.

In their honor, it is my wish that Berlin Maryland never lose its body of traditions; its story – its lore.