"As soon as the snow melts, I will go to Rass and fetch my mother. At Crisfield I'll board the ferry, climbing down into the cabin where the women always ride, but after forty minutes of sitting on the hard cabin bench, I'll stand up to peer out of the high forward windows, straining for the first site of my island." Jacob Have I Loved From Katherine Paterson's book, 1980.
This is an award-winning book about the story of a young girl coming of age in an isolated Chesapeake waterman's town. PBS made a movie from the book that aired in 1989, and features an early role by Bridget Fonda.
Now why am I hawking a book on this blog? Because it was filmed in Crisfield and many of the scenes were filmed in this house, well known around these parts as the LaVallette house.
Albert LaVallette moved to Crisfield in the late 1800's. He had an idea to buy terrapins from the local watermen and sell them to high-end restaurants along the Eastern Shore. It was a good idea and the money began rolling in, enough so that he was able to build his wife and two children a new home - this home.
LaVallette built massive pens behind the house to store the terrapins; his business thrived, earning him the title of the "Terrapin King."
LaVallette's success did not go unnoticed. Other entrepreneurs began rounding up and selling the terrapins. This helped lead to their demise. It is estimated that in 1891, watermen rounded up around 30,000 terrapins. In ten years, the numbers dropped to 70.
LaVallette eventually lost his home, lived on a houseboat for several years, and died a pauper.
I live about two miles from the LaVallette house. It is beautiful from the water. If you are coming into Somers Cove Marina you will see it on your right. But don't go poking around. You know how it is, having a famous house and all?
But do rent the movie. It has some beautiful Crisfield scenes it in. And you will enjoy the movie. Read the book, too.