That curve exists because of something that no longer exists, the Jackson-Gutman Shirt Factory.
It’s good to know about things that no longer exist, because those things, like the S-curve curve, affect us today.
That’s why the role of the historian today is ever-more important as the future begins to look more and more like the past.
Salisbury is greatly blessed with historians like the late Richard Cooper, whose book, Salisbury in Times Gone By, clued me in on the origin of that wacky S-curve, known then as the first Salisbury bypass.
It was in that account I discovered the curious tale of Miss Mame Parsons, a Salisbury “spinster” and low-income property owner who outbid Wall Street to carry the bond issue for the construction of that first bypass.
It’s a tantalizing few paragraphs, just enough to preserve the facts.
A commons is a gathering place where students from all disciplines gather, where mathematicians and musicians can rub elbows, oddly enough, a new idea in higher education.
While you and I can’t just pop into this conversation, we can head up to the lofty heights of the fourth floor to the repository of the collective memory of the Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture.
There you will meet a small staff of dedicated people who preserve, protect and research the history of Delmarva.
“We are here for our students, for faculty, but we are here for the people of Delmarva,” said Creston Long, director of the Nabb Center.
The Nabb Center contains about a mile and a half worth of storage of archvial material.
“We also have amazing storage for our paintings, some of our hanging archival material as well,” said Janie Kreines, exhibits curator for the Nabb Center.
The Nabb Center also contains some rare letters, including a letter from Bertha Adkins to President Dwight Eisenhower, who, according to SU Archivist Ian Post, “she was very close with because she helped get him elected.”
Research Assistant Aaron Horner has established a reputation as being one of the most knowledgeable people in the Nabb Center. When asked if he knew that, he replied, “Yes, I do.”
And it was during my visit to the Nabb Center that I learned what can be known of Miss Mame Parsons.
“We start with Mary and her last name was Parsons,” said Leslie McRoberts, local history archivist. “Her age, she was 22-years-old. Her occupation when she was 22 was that she kept house. So, we have the Salisbury Times on Microfilm from 1921 through present day.”
And it turned out that Miss Mame Parsons did make the news, but only once did her name appear in the newspaper headlines.
Parsons’ quote from the original newspaper article is, “I have been interested in seeing the bypass built. Anyway, I had the money drawing interest in the bank at 2 percent. and Iwas sure it was a good investment.”
Without the Nabb Center, we could establish that Miss Mary Parsons was born, lived and died. The difference, my friends, is our history.
The Guerrreiri Commons is located right along Route 13 on the northeast corner of the Salisbury University campus. The Nabb Center is located on the fourth floor, and is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.