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Door To Door: Oyster Harbor, Md. and The Plains, Va.

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Naomi Perry and neighbor Amaryllis "Mitzi" Harper in Oyster Harbor, Md.
WAMU/John Hines
Naomi Perry and neighbor Amaryllis "Mitzi" Harper in Oyster Harbor, Md.

Oyster Harbor, Maryland

Naomi Perry, 82, has lived most of her life south of Annapolis in the Chesapeake Bay enclave of Oyster Harbor.

“Oyster Harbor was founded around 1947,” says Perry. At that time, segregated communities were common in Maryland and Perry says her family was one of the original five African-American families to own property in Oyster Harbor. “There were five original houses and my house was one of the five sold around 1947,“ she says.

Over the years, the community has attracted many families of all backgrounds.

“I love it here in Oyster Harbor because I am relaxed when I come down. I can look out at the water. And of course, I like crabbing. And I love being on the beach. I love being up early in the morning to see the sunrise. And it’s just a beautiful place to come to and relax," she says.

Relaxation is a constant theme in Oyster Harbor, probably because of the many activities focused on the beach and, of course, the bay.

“We have a beach opening ceremony every year around the first part of June. We have Easter sunrise service on the beach, and that is a beautiful affair. We have concerts maybe twice during the summer,” says Perry, adding that there are many other special celebrations that occur on the beach.

One such special event features residents burning their old socks.

“You burn those socks, and you bring new socks and they are delivered to families who are in need,” she says. Giving socks away is a unique tradition, indeed, especially for some lucky sockless families in the area.

Aside from burning socks, wherever there are beaches and bays, there are usually boats and, indeed, Perry admits to having owned one.

“Yes, we had a boat originally, and now I have a son who is down there one house from mine, and he has boats, so we all enjoy the boats and the fishing and the crabbing.”

Boats, beaches and the Bay are likely to keep Perry in Oyster Harbor for a long while.

“I will never leave Oyster Harbor. I will be here forever and I hope that my family will carry on when I have gone on to be with the Lord.”

The Plains, Virginia

The Plains, Virginia is only a 45-minute drive west from Washington, but the pastoral scenes might remind you of the far-away English countryside on the television show Downton Abbey. There are lush rolling hills, thickets of oak trees, and distant ridges framing a blue sky.

“So, it’s a beautiful view to the mountains — the ridge there at Broad Run — and it’s open, very much like England, actually, and it’s really quite a beautiful place to live,” says life-long resident John “Jay” Adams, Jr.

Just as in the Downton Abbey television show, change has come to The Plains over the years. Farming, horses and the outdoors are still a big part of The Plains lifestyle, but these facets of the community have evolved.

“The main industry here used to be farming. It is countryside, after all, and I guess you could say it still is farming, but the type of farming has changed through the years,” says Adams. “In the early 1920’s, most of it was still recovering, in a sense, from the war, and they basically would either have cattle, sheep, raise corn — those kinds of things — dairy. But through the years it has, if you will, become a little more gentrified.”

Whether it’s riding horses, bike riding or hiking, there’s a lot to do in The Plains, says Adams. And then there’s the Gold Cup, Virginia’s crown jewel of steeplechases.

“We also have stable tours in the Upperville-Middleburg area,” says Adams. “As we live in Fauquier County… I think today, interestingly enough, there’s something like 26 or 27 wineries, many of whom have tastings and those kinds of things,” Adams says.

There’s a lot to do in The Plains, but many people don’t need “to do” anything except enjoy the serenity and calm of its wide open views.

“How I feel here is just very happy. I have to be in Washington and Richmond, and Fredericksburg and different places from time to time, [and] it’s always serene to come back to an open area that is not only beautiful visually, but also calming,” Adams says.

Calm, beautiful and only 45 minutes from Washington — The Plains awaits.

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