Growing Up in Cambridge

Kaye Barley is an avid mystery reader and Dorothy L poster, who lives in the beautiful North Carolina mountains with her handsome husband, Donald, and their faithful companion, Harley Doodle Barley – the cutest Corgi on God’s green earth. Kaye is also a blogger and you can find her, along with friends, at Meanderings and Muses. The Stiletto Gang can take part of the credit for this new venture of Kaye’s, since her very first blog was right here on July 25th of last year. She had so much fun, she hasn’t stopped blogging since.

What fun being back here and I thank the gracious women of The Stiletto Gang for having me!

When I was first here last July, I was still a bit wobbly about having kicked my cigarette habit. Well, I want you all to know that its been 9 months and I still have not had a cigarette. Ta DA! I do believe I’m there, don’t you? Although, I must say – it would be awfully easy to pick up a pack of Virginia Slims today and enjoy the heck out of one more cigarette. But – there’s no such thing as that “one more cigarette,” so we’ll just pass on all that. So – do I miss it? Yes and No. I miss that total feeling of relaxation I would have when I’d get home from work, settle down with a book, a fresh cup of coffee and a cigarette. I will always miss that. But then on the other hand – while working and the mood for a cigarette would hit, it didn’t matter if it was 3 below zero, with the wind whipping around at hurricane force. If I wanted a cigarette, by golly, I was gonna have that cigarette. Bundled up in mountain winter weather gear and an unattractive toboggan hat perched on my head, gloves so heavy it was hard to even hold a cigarette, out into the snowy elements I’d tromp to enjoy that cigarette. Do I miss that?!! Pfft. I’d say not.

Also, while I was here I talked a little bit about growing up in the town of Cambridge, MD. Growing up in Cambridge was one of the loveliest things in my life. As it happens, I was feeling a bit homesick for Cambridge when I was here and writing about it helped. So, while my first visit to The Stiletto Gang was fun, as it turns out, because it was part of a whole lot of little things that were happening around that same time, it put me on the pathway to becoming a blogger. Something I had not a whit of understanding about at the time. Now, I recognize it as a fun, creative outlet for me, and a nice place for folks to hang out. So, thanks to The Stiletto Gang, I’ve stumbled into something that has become an important facet of my life – as is the town of Cambridge, MD.

There are a million Cambridge stories and here’s just one.

Laws, I hope my dad forgives me for telling this one!

When I was growing up there were a couple of “stag” bars in Cambridge. Did y’all have those? No women. I don’t know if they specifically ever said “No Women,” or if women just wouldn’t be caught dead in them. There was one on Race Street not far from our apartment called the D-D Bar. It was owned by a friend of Dad’s named Monk Bradley, and it was a wonderful little place. I loved it – it was one of those grown-up “Not Allowed” places I would sneak into; along with the other Race Steet kids. And then be surprised when my mom showed up at the door to get me ’cause someone had called her. The D-D Bar was long and narrow and dark. There were maybe 4 booths in the front, a real long bar with a brass foot rail. There were also pinball tables, a shuffleboard table and a dart board.

If Monk needed him on Saturdays, Daddy thought it was a great (and fun!) way to make some extra money.

We had a local radio station in Cambridge, and on Saturdays, Ed Brigham would make a phone call to give away a free prize to someone if they could answer the question of the day.

On this particular Saturday, Mother and I were home, and the radio was on, of course. We heard Mr. Brigham announce that the question of the day phone call was about to be made. And we, of course, were hoping our phone would ring. Well, it didn’t, but we did hear a very familiar voice over the radio say “D-D Bar, Al speaking.”

How fun – my dad!!!!

Mr. Brigham said “Hey Al, this is Ed Brigham, how ya’ doin’?” After a few minutes of small talk exchanging some “how’s the family” kinda stuff, Mr. Brigham told Dad he would win two free tickets to the Arcade Movie Theater if he could answer the question of the day.

You could hear all the local Cambridge bar flies talking and hollering in the background, pinball machines ping pinging and all that bar noise. So Dad yelled for everyone to quiet down ’cause Ed Brigham had a question.

The question was “How long is a decade?”


Well, Mother and I laughed and she said she guessed she & Dad would be going downstairs to see a free movie soon. We lived in a wonderful old apartment over the Arcade Movie Theater.

Then we heard dad over the radio yelling to the guys in the bar “Ed wants to know how long is a DUCK EGG!!”

A duck egg.

Mother and I just about fell in the floor screaming we were laughing so hard.

You could hear all these men saying stuff like, “a Duck Egg? Hell, I don’t know, Jim Bob – what do you think?” Answers like “2 inches, 3 inches – oh hell no, an inch and a half,” and things like “Who the hell cares??” were all loud and clear over the radio. This went on for awhile and finally dad was laughing and said something like “Well, Ed, we think maybe an inch and a half.”

Ed Brigham was hysterical and said “Al. Hazel is going to kill you. NOT a Duck Egg! A DECADE!!!!!!!!”

Dead silence on Dad’s end. Then he started laughing really hard and started telling the guys in the bar that he’d made a mistake and what the question really was and you could hear those men laughing and laughing to beat the band.

For years anytime we went out to eat, especially in Ray Dayton’s restaurant on Race Street, someone would holler “Hey Al! How long’s a Duck Egg?!”

Kaye Barley

10 replies
  1. The Stiletto Gang
    The Stiletto Gang says:

    Hi Kaye,

    Love the story about the duck eggs!

    You asked me the other day about the movie – The Secret Life of Bees. I thought it was very good, but I have an idea that I would have liked it better had I read the book

    aka The Southern Half of Evelyn David

  2. Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith
    Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith says:

    Hi Kaye,

    I love your Cambridge stories since that’s where I was married, in the Methodist preacher’s house way back in 1951. Also had my first child in 1952 in Cambridge hospital. Was visiting there during Hurricane Isabel.

    Glad you visited again.


  3. Hank Phillippi Ryan
    Hank Phillippi Ryan says:

    That’s the funniest story I’ve ever heard. Yup. NO question.

    I love those family sayings that somehow become part of the family lingo.

    Whenever the five of us kids finally all got arranged in the station wagon, my step-father would turn the ignition, and then, before even moving an inch in the driveway, he’d turn, look at us across the back of the seat, and say
    “How do you like it so far?”

    We’d howl. And now, we all say it whenever we begin a journey.

    Okay, its not as funny as the duck egg.


  4. Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses
    Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses says:

    Rhonda – Hey There! Thanks for the movie update – you’re the only person I know who has seen it. But the book – oh my! The book is wonderful!!!! If you ever read it, let me know what you think. Its one I have in my bookcase full of my really special, really really favorite books.

    Marilyn. I swear. You and Hap and I are gonna have to find a place and a time to sit down and chat about Cambridge. Are you guys going to be in Indianapolis in October??

    Hank – you have made me HOOT! I will never ever be able to sit in a car without thinking of you and this story as soon as the ignition key is turned. For real!

    Today is Donald’s birthday. We’ve been out for an early dinner, and were too full for dessert. But now that I’m home and in flannel jammmie bottoms and a tshirt, it is amazing how that dessert now sounds really delish! Bringing it home was a terrific idea! So off I go to have a slice of flourless chocolate torte. yum.

    Have a Happy Valentine’s Day, all!


  5. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Hi, Kaye:

    Love the photos and the duck egg story!

    And by the way — you’re doing very, very well in your no-smoking life! I know what it’s like to be tempted. I just remind myself: I don’t do that anymore.

    However, smoking is the only sacrifice I’m prepared to make in this lifetime. (-:


    Pat Browning

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I love this story, Kaye! And thanks, Stilettos, for starting her down the blogging trail.

    Happy Valentine’s Day to all.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:


    I’ve been wondering all these months about how you’ve done on your quitting smoking campaign…and now I know. Not a single Virginia Slim FOR NINE MONTHS??? That is fantastic, Kayester! You should start a club. You know, like the “Mile High Club” or something? Except of course your club wouldn’t have anything to do with having sex in an airliner bathroom at sixty thousand feet. Or having a cigarette afterwards, either. Hehe.

  8. Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses
    Kaye Wilkinson Barley - Meanderings and Muses says:

    Hey Guys! Thank you for the kind words about my no longer smoking, and Deborah – isn’t that a hoot of a story?! I can get my mom ticked by just uttering the word “decade.” pffft.

    Kenneth! You are a tonic. Always and forever a tonic. Don’t ever change.
    (as if!!!)

  9. Earl Staggs
    Earl Staggs says:

    Kaye Darlin’, I just managed to get here and read your stuff. As you know, I love all your stuff, but, so far the duck egg story is my favorite. Even though I’ve heard it before, I LOL’ed all over again. This one is definitely going into your memoirs, which you ARE going to put together one day soon. Heapsahugs. Earl

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