|Birth: ||Jun. 12, 1930|
|Death: ||Mar. 10, 2000|
A young Billy Robertson started out helping his 2 uncles, John and Paul Drinks crab and fish the waters of the lower Potomac and Port Tobacco rivers in the late 1930s and 40s. They'd ship their catch by train (the end-of-the-line was at the old power plant at Popes Creek) to Washington, D.C. and beyond. By 19, Billy had the idea to open a restaurant and in 1949 he did just that and history was soon born. One that to this day endures: steamed crabs w/Old Bay seasoning and cold beer. 'Natty Boh' even though it's shipped in from Texas now - just for Maryland folks. It's a crab thing in Md. He did have one huge draw to get folks in to try his crabs: slot machines. From the late 40s to the late 60s. But in one of the most boneheaded moves ever, the state gov't in Annapolis,Md. removed all the slots from 'Southern Md.' because of a political minority and their values. The 4 counties made more money off slots than Las Vegas did then because many motorists avoided the tolls in Richmond, Va along the boring I-95 by detouring along the old U.S. Rt. 301 in Md. and got to play the slots and eat good food as well. Southern Md. was hit hard by this and the economy there tanked for many years. But not so much at Popes Creek where crabs & beer were still king. And they had the renown Capt. Billy. There were times when crabs were scarce for one reason or another. But Capt. Billy would have them. He was respected by that many of his fellow watermen and he did have connections. A little known fact: in the 1950s and 60s the N.F.L. had a 25 mile blackout rule which meant folks in Washington,D.C and the suburban areas couldn't watch home games even when sold out - which the Redskins often were even though they stunk before 1960. It didn't take Capt. Billy long to figure out that with an outdoor antenna he could get those games. It didn't take long for his place to be packed on Sundays - slot machines, cold beer, steamed crabs, and football. Those were some Sundays! Later the limit was extended to 75 miles but all Billy did was raise the antenna and point it to Richmond for the games. Even after the slots were taken out in the late 60s, Capt Billy would still pack them in at either of 2 restaurants there, the former Capt Drinks which he bought and Robertsons. The names would change back and forth over the years but still they remained in the family. Folks from all over would still come anyway - from Washington, D.C and across the nearby Rt 301 bridge from Va., even visitors to the region had heard about the crabs and would come there. Even many folks who worked for him over the years admired him. The January 7, 2009 edition of the Watauga Democrat newspaper (Boone, NC) ran an obituary on one Eva Davis, who was born in that area. An excerpt from that: 'Ms. Eva Irene Davis, 72, of La Plata, Md., died Jan. 1, 2009 and was buried in Mount Rest Cemetery in La Plata, Md. Irene met Captain Billy and became great and loving friends with he and his restaurant family. Together they continued a legacy of charity and service to the community. She greeted one and all at Captain Billy's with her winning smile and, "Hello there! How are you there?"'. Sadly Capt. Billy got sick but he fought hard to beat his illness - he even drove to Baltimore and back for daily treatments at one point. But he'd still be there to open up for the night. When he died, the biggest church around was Sacred Heart Catholic Church up the road in La Plata which gladly offered to hold the services and he wasn't even Catholic. They had to put the overflow downstairs to watch via closed circuit tv. When the motorcade left the church, there were folks lined up along parts of U.S. Rt 301 as some 200 cars (not a typo) wound its way down to Popes Creek and the crab houses there. An army of waterman stood by their trucks and some on their boats as the hearse passed by and 1/2 mile of vehicles behind it. There were cops from all over leading the way and following the cars. Indeed, if ever there were a 'rock star' in this business, he was it.
The above was excerpted from many articles in the Washington Post newspaper and Southern Md Online over many years.
Audrey Cecelia Langley Robertson (1927 - 2012)*
John Frederick Robertson (1951 - 2012)*
Old Christ Church Cemetery
Maintained by: Fred Sanford
Originally Created by: pbt
Record added: Jul 03, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 28013099
Thanks Capt Billy for all those good times|
Added: Mar. 30, 2011