The Centrevillain

Mary McCarthy

"a funky blog about life in downtown Centreville, the capital of Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore"

Mary McCarthyMary McCarthy
Pajamas and Coffee Blog
Mary McCarthy is a local writer, former newspaper columnist and former member of the Centreville Town Council. She lives on Chesterfield Avenue with her husband and four children in beautiful downtown Centreville, in the centre of the Eastern Shore.

Mary has written for a number of national and local publications, including the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, Victorian Homes magazine, and What's Up Eastern Shore where she worked as Managing Editor. She is the author of Cape May for All Seasons and Adult Halloween Parties, and is also the Home Management Feature Writer at Suite101.com.

Her personal humor blog can be found at www.pajamasandcoffee.com.

Christmas in Centreville

by Mary McCarthy
The holidays are here again in our cozy little town. Lights line the streets, wreaths grace the old courthouse, the quaint bridges, and the gorgeous new iron entryway to the cemetery. On Lawyers Row, a whimsical "Scrooge and Marley" sign hangs on a historic law office, and this year for the first time, beautiful trees line the brick sidewalks; decorated by girl scout troops and other local organizations.
But the true beginning of the holiday season kicks off with the Centreville Christmas parade this Friday, December 4 at 6 p.m. The parade leaves the high school, travels down Kidwell, up Commerce (to a grandstand with judging in front of the courthouse), across Broadway and ending on Chesterfield across from the Board of Education. Being on the parade route was one of the reasons we bought our house!
It's the cutest small town parade anywhere, and this year the big man himself will be hanging out in the courthouse square. Thanks to the local Centreville Alive group, Santa has set up his workshop on the vacant lot between the old barber shop in the spot where they tore down that old building (across from the courthouse). It looks great! And kids can visit Santa before, during and after the parade.
If you miss Santa on that busy night, he's in town for Breakfast With Santa the next morning! He'll be in Corbaley Hall (on Homewood Ave, next to Centreville Elementary, behind Mother of Sorrows Church on Chesterfield) on Saturday morning Dec. 5 from 9-11 a.m. There's also a Gingerbread contest, White Elephant sale, silent auction, bake sale and luncheon featuring the popular local favorite Chicken and Dumplings (or crab soup!). There's even a Secret Santa workshop so kids can pick out gifts for their family members and get them wrapped!
Also goin on in town Saturday is the Heck With the Malls sale, with tons of cool craft vendors and artisans at the Arts Council building and specials at all the shops in town.
I'll be there (specifically- running the Secret Santa at Corbaley Hall!) Hope to see you around town during all the fun holiday cheerfulness...it's the most wonderful time of the year!

Chestertown Charm

by Mary McCarthy
I had a chance to visit Chestertown this week as part of the cool "Eat Drink Buy Art" passport program where I'm visiting nine towns around the Eastern Shore.
I love downtown Chestertown- the food at Feast of Reason, the shops like Twigs and Teacups, coffee at Play it Again Sam's, the cute kids' clothes at Pride & Joy, you name it. I even stopped by the Chestertown Natural Foods store to get some stuff for my vegan teen (egg substitute- I finally found it on the Eastern Shore!).
But you know what my favorite part was? Finding the Chestertown Old Book Company and chatting with Jerry. He is so amazingly knowledgeable about old and rare books and his shop is so cozy and cool. I am in love with books and now I am in love with his shop! Chestertown is so fortunate to be able to support not one, not two but THREE bookstores and I learned that:
THIS WEEKEND is the first ever Chestertown Book Festival!
The Chestertown Book Festival is the first and only book festival on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and is a celebration of the authors, books, and literary traditions of the Eastern Shore. The inaugural event will take place November 13-14, 2009 with author visits in shops, restaurants, and other gathering places throughout Chestertown. Click the above link for details.
Now if we could only get ONE book store in Centreville I'd be thrilled. And I'd run it too if I could pay the rent!
Anyway, I hope to see you guys in Chestertown this weekend for the book festival! What a cool annual tradition to start on the Shore!

Dinner Theatre Comes to Queen Anne's County!

(Note: If you can't make opening night, the play also takes place November 8 at 3 pm, November 13 and 14 at 7:30 p.m. Regular ticket prices are adults $10, Students and Seniors $5)


by Mary McCarthy

How exciting is this?! Our local Queen Anne’s County High School Drama department has announced their first dinner theatre! Saturday November 7 is the opening night of the hilarious comedy A Delightful Quarantine by playwright Mark Dunn and will include the special dinner event. The play relates the story of what happens when seven different households are put under quarantine for three days. The households include individuals who are not necessarily friends or family, and includes seven story lines resulting in often laughable results, answering the question of what happens when you have nowhere to go.


The best part (in addition to DINNER and A PLAY?!)? The dinner theatre event is also benefitting a local charity. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children) and the Queen Anne's County High School Drama Department are working together to host the opening night dinner theatre. Doc's Riverside Grille is catering the event in the lobby of the high school on opening night, Saturday, November 7 at 6 p.m.  Tickets are only $20 (Jinkies! Cheap night out!)and include both dinner and the play, which immediately follows the dinner. I will absolutely be there, and not just because- um, my daughter is playing the role of Kitty! (Break a leg, sweetie!)

Halloween Around the Mid-Shore

by Mary McCarthy
I am a bit of a Halloween freak. Here's a picture of my Centreville 1881 Addams-family-looking Victorian at Halloween. The ghosts in the windows were drawn (on painters' dropcloths) by local artist Brian Draper, who I worship!
Some local folks have attended my Halloween parties- adult costume galas held in my neighborhood once a year, though I have to admit to this year's being a bit smaller (I hate the recession!). The competition for costume prizes is fierce, to say the least.
Many of the articles I write professionally are Halloween oriented. I am even Hallo-crazy enough to have my own Halloween website, Creative Halloween. This year, I am excited to announce I put together a Halloween book called Adult Halloween Parties in honor of the groan-up parties I've had at my house over the last decade. So if you are looking for food, decor, drinks, costume or other Halloween ideas, I hope you'll check out the book.
So what are some ways to celebrate this most spooktacular of seasons around the area? Well, I recommend visiting Adkins Arboretum for any of their fantastic fall events. The haunted trail is awesome! If you don't mind traveling just a bit (under an hour)- I wholeheartedly suggest taking a trip up to Middletown, Delaware to visit Frightland. I went this past weekend and came home hoarse from screaming in fear! It is a TON of fun- not for the faint of heart or young of child though! Also they have a carnival with carnival food including cheese fries. Cheese fries. Need I say more?!

Eat, Drink, Buy Art

by Mary McCarthy
Before I tell you about my awesome Eastern Shore weekend, I have three downtown Centreville business news items: a.) the new coffee shop (Joe Breeze) is open and fantastic with Village Bakery goods on the way from Chestertown! b.) the flower shop on the corner is open again! My kids have been saving their money for a new Webkinz. and c.) the new Pet Shop (Tails, Feathers and Fins) has opened next to Subway. Go visit the new businesses in town and support them!
Ok. Now.
There's this cool new tourist program on Maryland's Eastern Shore called Eat, Drink, Buy Art (EDBA). It was started at Maryland Life magazine as a way to encourage folks from all over the state to visit the Shore. EDBA chose 9 towns across the Shore to promote this year, they are: Chestertown, Berlin, Easton, Snow Hill, Denton, Salisbury, Cambridge, Princess Anne and Elkton. I am sucking it up and not whining about how there are no towns in (ahem) Queen Anne's County, because I am SURE they will be included next year and that Centreville will be spelled correctly on the map as well!
The EDBA deal is free and includes a passport (found in any participating business in the 9 towns with a sign out front) that you take around to shops, restaurants and art galleries in the different towns. You get your passport stamped and then for each stamp, you're entered another time for a drawing with great prizes from the participating towns. It's like a fun treasure hunt across the shore- I really encourage you to check out the website (above) and find some time this fall to visit these fantastic historic towns. Maybe I'll see you while I'm getting my passpport stamped!
This past weekend my bloggy friend Jen G. of Hip as I Wanna Be (check out her blog for more photos) and I visited Snow Hill and Berlin. We stayed at the gorgeous 1895 Atlantic Hotel in Berlin (pictured). Two movies have been filmed in Berlin- Runaway Bride and Tuck Everlasting. The reason? Berlin is gorgeous- buried power lines (like I wish we had in Centreville!!) create an original Victorian streetscape that's to die for- the restaurants, shops and art galleries are amazing. Berlin held their annual (huge!) Fiddler's Festival, so we got to meet banjo dudes and listen to cool bluegrass music.
Snow Hill has always been my favorite town on the Shore- the collection of Victorian homes and downtown commercial buildings is astonishing. (I'm a dork that I have one, but...) My favorite Victorian architect is Jackson Gott, and I was fortunate to visit Governor House, one of Gott's most amazing residences in Maryland (Gott also designed the Snow Hill Courthouse and a number of downtown Baltimore buildings as well). The owners took Jen and I through, and I was in awe at the tilework of the mantels alone- getting to see the inside of one of the best Victorian houses on the Eastern Shore was a true highlight of my weekend.

Harboring Some Fun

by Mary McCarthy
I have a confession to make. I had never, ever left the Centreville harbor by boat until the past week. Yeah, yeah, I know, I've lived on the Eastern Shore for nearly a decade! How could I NOT have gone anywhere by boat?! Well, putting aside the facts that we don't actually HAVE a boat (we've been on the boat slip waiting list since we moved here) and that, um, everyone hates me so I don't get invited, I really was surprised that I hadn't left the Centreville harbor until this week.
Within a week, I took two boat trips from Centreville. One 'quick boat ride' to Kent Narrows and back, and one day-long, tons of families beach picnic trip. Both were amazing! On our friends' 'fast boat' (so called by my four year old son), I loved zipping around the bay- seeing the Russian Embassy from the water, and how pretty the landscape is from the boat. Favorite? Seeing the amazing waterfront homes. And nearly a week later, the beach picnic (I actually ended up taking a nap in the shade with my little boy- heaven!) was a ton of fun, too. Not just because of the amazing hoagies (I say hoagies, I'm from Philly. You can go ahead and call them 'subs' if you like.), but because hanging out with friends, the kids playing in the tidal pools, catching crabs, digging for clams and tubing behind boats (not me. others.) just made for an amazing day.


by Mary McCarthy

This Saturday is gonna be busy here in old Cville. In addition to the Quilt Affaire I told you about last week, this week the Corsica River Conservancy is also holding the fourth annual CORSICA RIVER WATERSHED AWARENESS DAY on Saturday, September 19, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m., at Bloomfield Farm located on Rt. 213 just north of Centreville.  

This free event combines family fun with environmental education.  Attendees can learn about the Corsica River Watershed Restoration Project via exhibits, demonstrations and opportunities to talk with experts involved in the project. There will be “ecotours” of various conservation practices around the preserved farm which is now part of Queen Anne’s County’s recreational assets.  

There's also tours of the historic farmhouse, a variety of tasty food offerings, hayrides, a straw maze, pumpkin painting, and creative craft activities for children. Lively musical entertainment will be offered throughout the day by Chester River Runoff, a dynamic local bluegrass group that mixes original Chesapeake songs with unique takes on traditional favorites. The first 100 families attending the event will be given a free native tree. The Town of Centreville will be having a free raffle for a recycled oak rain barrel. There's also a raffle for an airplane ride over the Corsica Watershed. For more information call 410-758-0835 or visit www.corsicariverconservancy.org.

Having a Quilt Affaire

by Mary McCarthy

Yes. The Queen Anne's County Historical Society is spelling affaire with an 'e' because they're all old-fashioned cool like that.

Mark your calendars for the upcoming fun event on Saturday, September 19, 2009 from 11am to 4 pm.. QACHS (the Historical Society, not the High School -pay attention, people!) is holding a display of antique quilts and refreshments in the garden at Wright's Chance, 119 North Commerce Street and also at Tucker House, 124 Commerce St. right here in historic lovely downtown Centreville, MD. The tickets are only $5.00 per person and can be purchased the day of the event.

When I first moved to town, I was the first-ever Executive Director of the QAC Hist Soc, and I really enjoyed it. House tours, historic house museums and other old-y stuff is right up my alley. I even added Centreville as a district to the National Register of Historic Places so that we (in our 1881 Victorian) and others in town could take advantage of the historic tax credits for rehabilitation (20% helps when you're in The Money Pit!)

So please support your local Historical Society (and the two historic house museums they own and operate in town) by visiting Tucker House and Wrights Chance on September 19th to see their gorgeous quilt collections as well as the antique quilts of their members and friends.

Hope to see you there!

JELLY MUNCHKINS, A New Coffee Shop and Dollar Store Re-do

by Mary McCarthy

Dunkin DonutsOn my regular humor blog, www.pajamasandcoffee.com, I made a very small mention about how, when I was a kid, you used to be able to buy Jelly-Filled Munchkins. The internet and twitter and social media being what they are, SOMEHOW the CEO of Dunkin Donuts got ahold of it, sent me a tweet on twitter, and before I knew it, I found jelly-filled Munchkins have been added to our local DD! The first batch were AMAZING, very jelly-y, but the ones I bought last weekend had like hardly any jelly inside. Careful, DD, me and Dunkin Dave are tight now and I will rat you guys out if you get cheap on me!

The former Hayden’s Alley, which was opened-then-closed by Just Plain Joe’s and has been sitting empty for months and months is A-BUZZ with activity! How exciting is THAT?! When the “Coming Soon” sign went up I was so excited! You know what I miss the most? The little upstairs room that overlooks the courthouse (plus, unfortunately the UGLY POWER LINES that need to be BURIED when the state rips up the road again!). As a writer (and former council member), that spot was always one of my faves to hang out with a latte and a laptop. So, I hope the new shop still has that upstairs room open. I will post more details here when I know them- stay tuned!


by Mary McCarthybus

Welcome to Back to School season, everyone! Aahh, peanut butter and jelly, binder dividers, and thousands of trees falling as paperwork piles to the ceiling. So charming.

Forgive me, readers, while I step up onto this soap box for a tiny moment.

Did you know that it is the formal policy of the Board of Education of Queen Anne's County NOT to bus high school students who live within a MILE AND A HALF of the school? As in, a kid who lives at, say the Wharf, is supposed to walk to the high school in rain, darkness (they'd have to leave their house before 7 a.m.) or on icy sidewalks. Across a state highway. Twice. Past potentially unsavory characters outside the laundromat. Past several intersections at a busy shopping center with no crosswalks. Oh, and uphill both ways.

Ok, just kidding on the last one, but seriously?

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