November 15, 2018

Who’s Who on St. George Island–“Baby Lena” Denny

St. George Island

“A Who’s Who of St. George Island”

Volume I

April, 1994

by Mary Gale Adams

from the Introduction:

This book, written by people who know and love of St. George Island, is dedicated to the people of St. George Island. This is “just a start” of stories, records, skills, and personal thoughts. While it may not at all times be historically accurate, it does contain many truths. … Thanks to all contributors. Your happy attitudes make it a real pleasure for me. Thanks also to Hope Grace for her research and generosity. — Mary Gale Adams

Lena Marie “Baby Lena” Denny

My father was Albert Franklin Poe and my mother was Eva Estelle (Knott) Poe. I was born on July 22, 1935.

When I was young I was a “Tom Boy.” My best friend was Tommy Poe. We used to climb the old Silver Maple trees in my yard. The trees blew down in Hurricane Hazel but I still remember the fun we had in them.

Tommy’s mother, Miss Myrtle, had a rooster that we teased so much we couldn’t go near him. We teased him and he would chase us so hard that we would have to run through the barbed wire fence to get away from him…but he usually caught us anyway and beat us good. We played marbles, shot BB guns, played with bows and arrows, went swimming, ice skating and used sling shots and went crabbing, and RODE BIKES. Bike riding was our favorite pastime and we did it all the time.

Tommy and I had a good time playing, and I did everything a boy would do, and I got punished many a time for it too. I got my own switches, and if they were not the right size, I had to go get other ones. Sometimes, I was just sent upstairs for punishment, but up there I had a favorite “Momma” doll that I loved. Of course,  I’d be up there playing with it, it would yell “MAMA,” and cause me to have to stay up there that much longer.

I never got hurt as a kid except for cut feet wading on oyster shells or broken glass, so I must have been pretty tough, but I was scared of the horses, cows and bulls that used to run loose on the Island. Tommy and I walked a mile or so up to the crossroads to catch the bus to Little Flower School. If we heard the sounds of Joe Henderson’s horses coming we would run for the towers.

The towers were cement things that the Navy had put on the island for some purpose. They were near St. Francis Xavier church and are now are just huge pieces of concrete at the waters edge.

We were both scared of those horses and would run to the towers and climb the towers.

Often our goofing off caused us to miss the school bus, and sometimes it wasn’t because of the horses and bulls. If the river was frozen so we could skate, (or the creek), we missed the school bus on purpose, hoping that after we told our mothers that they would let us go skate. Sometimes it worked but when it didn’t we got punished.

Christmas was always very special. I remember the huge cedar tree, decorated so pretty on Christmas Eve night. It didn’t have electric lights, but it had every other decoration you could name. It was beautiful.

Cakes and pies were stored under the bed in a back bedroom where it was good and cold.  There was homemade root beer, eggnog, and lemonade as well as candy, apples, oranges, and nuts. We had a turkey, dressed ham, fried oyster cakes, and a variety of vegetables. Everything just about was either home raised, or caught in the river, right down to the eggs in the eggnog.

Every night during Christmas season, the table would be set. Setting the table at Christmas meant putting everything – all the cakes, and pies, and candy, and fruit and nuts, and eggnog, and other drinks out on the table. All the relatives, and friends, and neighbors came to enjoy it. It was a custom that everybody had, and if you went to their house, they did the same thing. It was a very secial time.

Lena raised  four children: Mary Edna Moore, Dale Jerome Moore, Glen Walter Denny, and Muriel Estelle Denny.

 

Mary Gale Adams’ “A Who’s Who of St. George Island” has been called “a true oral history” by Andrea Hammer, the St. Mary’s College English professor who launched an oral history tradition at the college which has today evolved into the SlackWater Center. Professor Hammer referred to both the content and the technical production of the volume.

“Who’s Who of St. George Island” was conceived, produced, typed, written, hand-bound, and covered by Ms. Adams. There are home remedies, recipes, lineages, and tales stretching back to days before deep water wells were dug and cleaning day meant hauling the laundry over water to  St. Mary’s City, before electricity, before automobiles.

St. George Island is positioned 6 miles up the Potomac River from Point Lookout, MD, and traditionally home to some 200 families. Almost up to when these oral histories were compiled, in 1994, most families were supported by commercial fishermen and used boats for commerce and as avenues to travel around the Chesapeake Bay. — Jack Russell, brother to Ms. Adams.

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One Response to “Who’s Who on St. George Island–“Baby Lena” Denny”
  1. She was my Aunt whom was married to my mothers oldest brother Jesse Denney

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