Friday, August 22

Early next month, a dozen families whose tar-paper shacks lack even running water will move into new homes here with heat, flush toilets and hot showers. ... The people of Bayview, most of them related by marriage or blood, are descended from freed slaves. ... As a child, [Alice Coles] picked potatoes with her seven brothers and sisters for 10 cents a bag. ... Those were the good days, when the big farmhouses had high-pitched roofs and screened porches, and when it was possible to get enough work to pay the rent, maybe even buy a house. ... Ms. Coles, who has at one time or another done all those jobs, blamed government subsidies and what some might call progress for the area's decline. ... "They paid farmers not to plant — or what to plant, like soybeans and barley," she said. "And harvesting machines put people out of work." ... Now retirement houses, second homes and golf courses are spreading in the town of Cape Charles on the bay, for those who can afford the $14 round trip from Norfolk through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. But down the back roads, away from the water, half the people are barely literate, and the average income is $9,000 a year. (NYT; usr: opensewer; pwd: iswatching)

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