“House in Negro section of Baltimore, Maryland." July 1938. Medium-format nitrate negative by John Vachon. For a larger version: http://bit.ly/1sqTn73
After a sweaty-palmed trip over the long Chesapeake Bay Bridge, many beachgoers make habitual yearly stops on their annual exodus to Ocean City at many of the crab houses on Kent Island. But they weren’t always massive waterfront establishments with gorgeous views of loblolly islands and watermen coming and going. As this photo reminds us, the original "crab houses” would have been the kitchen in a private home, where a local lady made some extra cash by cooking up and serving crabs to her hungry neighbors. In the sweltering belly of a Baltimore summer, the smell of a proprietary blend of spices would have clouded in the humidity, a savory London fog and invisible shop sign. Crabs, clams, fried or cakes wrapped in newspaper, all to be carried off and eaten on a quiet stoop with salty fingers and a glowing, greasy chin.