beautiful swimmers

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One of the great things about a maritime museum is the dockside scene is always changing. Tall ships are a special treat. These floating villages from another era seem perfectly at home among the flashy yachts and elegant sailcraft of St. Michaels harbor— a reminder that once, with full bellied sails and salty crew, they were the queens of this Chesapeake world, a century or more ago.

The Chesapeake we know, the Chesapeake we love, the Chesapeake we remember is the summertime Chesapeake. When a dip on a hot day leaves a salt line on your bathing suit as it dries, and the heated air pushes sailboats ahead of thunderstorms in a white crest. June, July and August along the Bay means fat, sweet crabs, harbors teeming with sails and engines, and bare feet in all the places they’re normally frowned upon.

Simple things change little here, and pleasures like chicken necking for crabs with a few buddies,a picnic under a shady tree, and running a little wild with a pack of friends while the sun sets late are timeless.

In our collections, we have boxes of snapshots like these, meant to preserve for ever the magical fleeting moments that flash in the past like lightning bugs in a jelly jar. Intimate and shockingly modern, they remind us that as they are, so too are we- our digital lives in fully saturated color will one day be as thrown back as this sweetly sentimental array. But they also remain as legacies of the Chesapeake that was, and echo strongly in the Chesapeake that is. 

It’s true, that saying- take a picture. It’ll last longer.

All photographs, collections of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.