All in Fun
There's a History Between Eastport and
Story & Photos by Jim Gibbons
Amidst cannons blasting, a crowd of a few hundred cheering "Fire at will!" the Chamberpot Orchestra playing "Louie, Louie," a fly over by the Eastport Aerial Reconnaissance Patrol and return cannon fire from the City of Annapolis, the Maritime Republic of Eastport seceded from the City of Annapolis on January 25, 1998.
It was lots of fun, this hysterical reenactment with some troops dressed in Revolutionary red and blue and others dressed in Union blue or Confederate gray.
The fun did not stop there. This fledgling republic anointed Leon Wolfe as Prime Minister, established his barber shop on Fourth Street as the Eastport capitol, and appointed Alderwoman Ellen O. Moyer as Ambassador to the Mainland.
The sunny, cold day also featured the reading of The Unanimous Declaration of Independence of the Maritime Republic of Eastport by Eastport poet laureate Jeff Holland, who proclaimed for Eastport "Liberty from suits, ties, and socks; and the Pursuit of prize Rockfish, the Finish gun, two-week cruises, Crabs, Beer, and Oysters."
It was all in fun - sort of.
The Republic's big yellow flag waved in the cold wind. Designed by Minister Cindy Fletcher Holden, it featured the official Eastport Coat-of-Arms, a shield shaped like the transom of a boat with top right, a Bay boat; top left, a heron; bottom right, a crab, and bottom left; a sailboat; all flanked by a brace of retrievers. At the bottom of the crest is written "Maritime Republic of Eastport." At the top is the republic's slogan: "We like it" on one side; on the other side of the broken scroll, "This Way."
Could it be true that Eastporters really don't want to be part of Annapolis?
In the words of the "Declaration of Independence": "Two score and seven years ago, we the people of Eastport were annexed against our will into the City of Annapolis, and ever since have suffered a second class status at the snobbish hand of Annapolis proper."
Maybe there are some hard feelings between these two towns?
Jamie Fallon, a lifetime resident of Annapolis, remembers growing up when Eastport children and City children did not mix. "As kids," says the 48-year-old, we were not allowed to cross the bridge. We had to stay on this side. They used to - and some to this day - call themselves 'Eastportoricos'. For the little island over there."
Former Mayor Alfred Hopkins, born in 1925 in Annapolis, grew up the same way. "We had very little contact because Eastporters stayed on their side of bridge to play in their school yard and open spaces, and we would play on the other side of the bridge on our school yard on Green Street and vacant lots around town."
Hopkins, who lived in Annapolis proper for 25 years and in Eastport ever since, remembers the rivalry well. "After World War II, a softball competition started on the Eastport Elementary playground, and that was a big thing. There were so many fights in those games, but that also started bringing us together because people on both sides would come and cheer, and players eventually learned to live together."
Just after his move across the bridge, the young Hopkins was called to serve in the Korean War. Coming back in 1951, he found his home now part of Annapolis. "As a property owner and registered voter, I have the right to cast my ballot for or against annexation. I was never notified while in military that such an event was going to occur," he complained.
Independent Eastport had all the services it needed, Hopkins remembers: its own police and fire departments, its own ambulance, and its own water and waste water treatment plant. The only thing annexation to Annapolis added besides taxes, according to Hopkins "was something we didn't need: a change of name. We became like a little saving account for them."
As for the rivalry Hopkins adds, "In more recent time, we still jibe one another. I think we're too old to fight so we just threaten."
Eastport and the City have come to terms over the years, Fallon agrees. "The rivalry between the City and Eastport has definitely toned down. The people of the quaint neighborhood really like the quiet and really appreciate the waterview. There is more business there than ever before, and business has really changed the face of Eastport. And just like in the City, people fixed up the houses and have really made it a nice place to live."
Gibbons is New Bay Times' advertising manager.
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Volume VI Number 4
January 29 - February 4, 1998
New Bay Times
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