Thank you to our Sponsors!
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Come join us for Live Music Rob Roy Duo, Home Slice Mobile Food Truck, Fried Oysters from the cafe, Oysters on the half shell from our Premier Sponsor Bivalve Packing, and beer and wine!
Come out to see our new film, On the Shell Pile. This film features local people recounting their memories of the recent past in the Oyster Industry.
Against a backdrop provided by historical photos/home movies, former residents of Shellpile and Berrytown talk about their town, their work, their families, their churches, and their singing. The settlement was so named because it was located close by the huge piles of oyster shells discarded from the shucking houses located on or near the docks at Bivalve, which was the main home of the NJ oyster industry. Though many came from coastal towns of the Chesapeake because the pay and conditions in Bivalve were better, they were still relegated to doing the hard, dirty work in the shucking houses or hauling and sorting oysters on hands and knees on the boats. It was grueling work, standing for hours at long platforms in cold and dirt. There, they say, singing spirituals “lifted our spirits and got us through the day.” Despite their low status and difficult work, on the Shellpile — in their rented wooden houses that frequently flooded at high tide — the residents built a strong community with their own businesses and churches. They helped each other out — delivered the babies, watched each other’s children while parents worked and gave what they could to those who needed it. Parents emphasized education, and sent their children to the three room “Brown School.” Shellpile was razed in the 70s. But what their elders worked for — children and grandchildren getting an education, becoming doctors, lawyers, business owners, teachers, politicians, secretaries — has been fulfilled. The African American community that grew from Shellpile and Berrytown recall their towns fondly — their memories perhaps tinged with nostalgia — but their presence in the larger region is testimony to the resilience of those who lived “on the Shellpile.”The project team included producer Keith Wasserman, Folklorist Rita Moonsammy and BCB Museum Curator Rachel Dolhanczyk.The film was made possible with grants from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National
Endowment for the Humanities and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts / Department
of State and the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners through the Cumberland CountyCultural and Heritage Commission.