‘Crowded with berries’

Regina Shober Gray by [Edward L.] Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
From time to time Regina Shober Gray[1] pauses to describe what she sees and hears, and it is usually a feast for the senses: In its way the place is very lovely, very placid, with the soft sinuous curves of its low green shores, its bright little islets and its glassy waters reflecting, as would the quietest inland lake, the counterpart of the upper world in the calm depths below. The tide swells dreamily up and ebbs sleepily down, with never a ripple to disturb its ineffable complacency…

61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Sunday, 16 July 1865: [The diarist’s sisters] Mary & Lizzie Shober[2] arrived duly by Newport train yesterday morning. It is so good to have them here – more than 9 years since Mary’s last visit to me, at the time of [Mrs. Gray’s son] Morris’s birth – since then this devoted sister has never left our brother John[3] day or night, save when she went to Baltimore on Susan Drinker’s[4] death, to be with Aunt Catharine[5] for 3 days. It is a painful effort to her to come now, but she bears up bravely, and will I am sure be better for the change. It has been a frantically busy week with me – but the [sewing] work is pretty thoroughly finished up, with Isabella to help for 10 days past.

Our visit of inspection at Marion was not auspicious. It poured in torrents the whole day from the time we were seated in the train for Marion till we reached Boston p.m. Of course the place looked forlorn, but our rooms will accommodate us nicely – that is something to be sure of and the boys think they shall have a good time. I and my sisters will sadly miss our beloved and beautiful Manchester shore.

We go down to Marion on Tuesday p.m.

Marion, Monday, 24 July 1865: We have been here a week tomorrow, and I think some of us will be glad when our six weeks are over. It is a low hot place – soft and enervating; no tonic to me in the air or the bathing; the latter is deliciously warm, but as quiet as a pond, and it requires some philosophy to reconcile ourselves to the fate that has consigned us to this low, flat, sleepy bit of seaside or rather bay side – for we are actually 25 miles from the Ocean!

[It] requires some philosophy to reconcile ourselves to the fate that has consigned us to this low, flat, sleepy bit of … bay side…

In its way the place is very lovely, very placid, with the soft sinuous curves of its low green shores, its bright little islets and its glassy waters reflecting, as would the quietest inland lake, the counterpart of the upper world in the calm depths below. The tide swells dreamily up and ebbs sleepily down, with never a ripple to disturb its ineffable complacency; the boating & sailing are delightful – and the boys live on the water and in it – for it is so warm here, both air & water, that I have allowed them to go in and out about as they pleased.

There are delicious, clean, aromatic pine woods about ¼ mile from here, crowded with berries – and an open walk over the pasture to the Point, a mile away, where the water actually makes an audible ripple on a small shingle beach, and where the air comes with a decidedly sea ish smell – and where there is an almost Venetian view of low curving shores, widening out, and the broad bay slumbering between.

This p.m. we took a drive through dark pine woods to the Marion House – but did not get there actually, though very nearly – but we started too late, and I felt timid about returning at dusk through those dark woods. I dare say we shall do very well – but assuredly this is the most diluted seashore place my experience has coped withal; and if it were at all worth while we would some of us be really homesick for the hoar old cliffs, the surf-whitened reefs, and the long green-walled rollers that swell and break and roar on the white beach at our beloved Manchester.

Continued here.

Notes

[1] Hedwiga Regina Shober (1818–1885) was married to Dr. Francis Henry Gray 1844–80. Entries from the Hedwiga Regina Shober Gray diary, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.

[2] Mary Morris Shober (1816–1873) and Elizabeth Kearney Shober (1821–1865).

[3] John Bedford Shober (1814–1864) had died in November.

[4] The diarist’s first cousin Susanna Budd Shober, who married Henry Sandwith Drinker in 1840.

[5] Mrs. Drinker’s mother (and Mrs. Gray’s aunt) Catherine Ann Snyder (1794–1884), the widow of Blaithwaite Shober.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward has been NEHGS’ Editor-in-Chief since 2013. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

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