Thursday, October 06, 2005

Crisfield, MD

One of the things we did in the days before ChesapeakeMan was visit Crisfield, MD.
There's not a whole lot there except boat docks, gift shops, and restaurants, but there will be before long, as we saw several high-rise hotels and/or condos under construction.
I wanted to go to Crisfield because it figures prominently in the second half of one of my favorite books, Homecoming by Cynthia Voight. It's a novel about a family of kids abandoned by their mother who travel mostly on foot from Connecticut to southern Maryland to find a grandmother who doesn't know they exist. It's also a great TV movie with Bonnie Bedelia and Anne Bancroft, which shows fairly frequently on Lifetime, the Lifetime Movie Channel, and the Hallmark Channel. I enjoyed reading the book to my children years ago, and I catch the movie about once a year (and recorded it in case they ever stop running it) because I so admire the spirit, honesty, and good sense of the 13-yr-old girl who keeps her family together, and the grandmother who... well, I won't spoil it for you.
While in Crisfield we went to the historical museum where I was able to purchase not only Homecoming but its sequel, Dicey's Song,  which I hadn't read before -- and this second book has me seriously re-evaluating my self-image. Again, the same girl, Dicey, and the grandmother (oops, spoiler, if she appears in the sequel they must still be in contact with her, at least....)  When I turned 50, I had an emotional turnaround that told me, I have lived 50 years, I deserve respect, I am an adult, it's time to stop groveling and time for people to stop expecting me to. Over the next 3 years I remembered that some of the time but have slipped back a good deal of the time into doing what I think other people want me to do.  This book has been an elbow in the ribs saying, "Hey, remember??? You don't grovel! You don't cave!"
The characters are fiction but the places are real. The roads the children traveled, the towns they went through, are real. It was especially enjoyable to read Homecoming while staying on Maryland's Eastern Shore because we drove those same roads and went to those places. I love going to places where a movie was made or book was written, and getting the movie or book while there. I did this in all of the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived, when we visited all those homesites a few years back. At each place, I bought the book she had written about living in that place.
Although they're presented as "young adult" books, my kids enjoyed our reading Homecoming together at around age 9; the youngest child in the story is 6, and would interest a child that young, but the abandonment issue might disturb them. 12-yr-olds and teens would really enjoy them. But I urge you to read Homecoming and especially  Dicey's Song as adults (especially women), for the insight they provide into the conflicts people face between their private minds and the public face they show to the world, and for their profound conveying of respect for individuals' thoughts, needs, purposes, and desires. Dicey's Song stirred me profoundly. I'm going to read it again, to learn more about the way I want my life to be, the kind of person I want to be. The kind of mother and grandmother I want to be. And wife... being a wife is touched on peripherally in the stories, not directly. And woman. Definitely the kind of woman. The grandmother is simultaneously the kind of person you do and don't want to be. A fascinating person.
Read these books!!!


nancytoby said...

Hmmm, Homecoming is available on DVD, but only gets 2/5 stars...

Ellie said...

Well, I give it 5. Reviews by viewers on Barns&Noble and Amazon rated it 4/5. I think it's one of Anne Bancroft's best roles.