A Cultural History of the Chesapeake Bay Sea Monster
The incredible true story of the mysterious sea creature who captured hearts and imaginations during the turbulent 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
In the summer of 1978, residents along the Virginia side of the Potomac River were startled by sightings of a strange creature lurking in the water. Eventually dubbed Chessie, this elusive sea serpent tantalized reporters and the public alike, always slipping away just out of reach. In this, the first comprehensive history of the Chessie phenomenon, Eric A. Cheezum takes us on a thrilling journey through the life and times of the famous monster, diving beneath the surface to reveal the remarkable events that unfolded over the years as Chessie sightings continued.
After initially vanishing, the creature resurfaced in 1980, then again in 1982, when it was finally captured on video off the coast of Kent Island. These sightings thrust Chessie into the national and international spotlight, transforming it into a regional celebrity. Cheezum uncovers the fascinating connection between Chessie's appearances and the dramatic changes occurring in Chesapeake Bay communities. As the bay transitioned from a hub of labor-intensive activities to a recreational destination, Chessie became a symbol with multilayered meaning. Environmentalists seized the opportunity to educate the public on the bay's importance as an ecosystem, while tourists and suburbanites found solace in connecting culturally with the bay. Meanwhile, watermen faced the unsettling prospect of a declining way of life.
With expert analysis grounded in historical context, Cheezum sheds light on Chessie's enduring impact and legacy. Chessie is an enthralling exploration of the profound power of a symbol that underscores both the affection the public continues to have for the monster and the cultural transformations in the region at the end of the twentieth century.
About the Author
Eric A. Cheezum is an independent historian and adjunct history professor at Chesapeake College. He lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
"Witty, insightful and highly readable, Chessie is a work of serious scholarship which covers an interdisciplinary literature that encompasses everything from environmental studies to history, folklore, and cryptozoology. It is a substantial contribution and a pleasure to read. In presenting a case study of a modern-day sea serpent, Cheezum reminds us that ultimately the book is not about Chessie – it is about us and our hopes and fears."
"In this very well researched and fascinating story, Eric Cheezum has written a skillful account of the story of the Chesapeake Bay sea serpent, popularly known as "Chessie.' First seen in 1978 and again in 1980, continued sightings have created a pop-culture star not unlike the Loch Ness Monster or the Jersey Devil."
"A most original take on our much-chronicled Chesapeake estuary, this book is a fascinating exploration of Chessie, the sea serpent that populated headlines throughout the 1980's. Was it real? Eric Cheezum is most interested in why so many of us needed to think it could be. Highly recommended for all Ches-o-philes."
|Johns Hopkins University Press|
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