'Conversations with the Past'


Oral Histories

Funding Provided by the Four Rivers Heritage Area

Funding Provided by the Four Rivers Heritage Area

 "Captain Bill" wrote and published the newspaper, The Great Swamper 


Funding Provided by the Four Rivers Heritage Area

Funding Provided by the Four Rivers Heritage Area

Funding Provided by the Four Rivers Heritage Area

This project was begun by the Captain Avery Museum in the Fall of 2014.


Images from Our Past

Funding Provided by the Four Rivers Heritage Area

Images from Our Past

Graduation in June of 1933 at the Shady Side Elementary School.

'Conversations with the Past' - A Collection of Images and Interviews

  "Conversations with the Past" is an oral history digitization project undertaken by the Captain Avery Museum begun in Fall 2014. Funding was provided by a mini-grant from the Four Rivers Heritage Area

The purpose of this site is to provide discovery and access to oral history transcripts and audiovisual clips that capture the early and current life of people in the Shady Side Community.

The Captain Avery Museum's Miss Ethel Memorial Library has a collection of more than 150 oral histories in various formats, as well as a collection of printed materials, newspaper clippings, and photographs relating to Shady Side, Maryland, its surrounding communities, and the Chesapeake Bay.

Click this button below to enter.

Our beautiful grounds and Rain Garden are open year-round!

Meet Bill Mitchell, Our Watershed Steward - The Minimalist Gardener

Bill Mitchell, Naturalist Gardener, has a BA in Government and a MS in Community Development from Southern Illinois University.  Bill has a 30-year career in waste recycling.  Bill has worked hard to maintain our wonderful Rain Garden and, as he says, the garden is healthy and ready to grow!

During this time, he built and later sold a respectable recycling business that introduced many innovations and 'firsts' to the practice of recycling, had a stint developing recycling systems for municipalities in Oak Park, IL, Elmhurst, IL, and Racine, WI, and worked 10 years as a recyclables quality executive and Materials Recovery Facilities manager for Laidlaw Waste Systems & Waste Management, Inc.  He retired from WMI in 2000 and purchased a residential window cleaning franchise which he sold in 2017. 

Since then Bill returned to environmental work becoming a certified Watershed Steward & UM - 'Woods In Your Backyard' practitioner and a student of Chesapeake Bay restoration and clean-up initiatives. He developed The Minimalist Garden business model as a result of knowledge gained through lifelong advocacy for sound environmental management and an affinity for plants and wildlife. In 2018 he was awarded the 'Peoples' Choice' honor for the Minimalist Garden Business Plan presented at the ACB/CBT Watershed Forum. Minimalist Garden, Inc. presently does contract work for ACB installing rain barrels and Rain Gardens and Conservation landscapes for the DC - RiverSmart program. 

Bill has provided us with this very enjoyable video of the Captain Avery Museum in rain: