Wanda Guy

Location of Interview
Collection Name

Chesapeake Bay Watermen


The purpose of this project is to work to preserve the heritage of the commercial fishing industries in the Chesapeake Bay region by collecting and archiving oral histories of the men and women who are and were a part of this valuable history.  

Date of Interview

Fantastic Transcripts
Molly Graham

Principal Investigator
Biographical Sketch

Wanda Guy, born Wanda Smith Lilliston, a native of Deep Creek, Virginia, is the daughter of a waterman (George F. Smith) and was formerly married to Gus Lilliston, also a waterman. Her life story is deeply intertwined with the watermen culture of Eastern Shore, Virginia, a lineage that traces back to her father's dedication to the seafood industry. She grew up in the Deep Creek area on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (near OnancockHer upbringing was marked by the rhythms of her father's work on the water, which left an indelible impression on her life and values. As an adult, Wanda married and found employment at a local canning factory, further cementing her connection to the industry that shaped her family's history. In her later years, Wanda became actively involved with the Watermen's Heritage Foundation, an organization committed to preserving the unique culture and traditions of the watermen community. Her personal history is a testament to the enduring legacy of the watermen and their influence on the social fabric of coastal Virginia.

Scope and Content Note
This interview with Wanda Guy, conducted by Paul Ewell, offers a comprehensive overview of her life as the daughter of a Virginia waterman and her subsequent involvement in the seafood industry. The conversation covers Wanda's early memories of her father's work, her family's ties to the seafood trade, and her personal experiences working in a canning factory. Wanda provides insight into her marriage and the familial dynamics that shaped her understanding of the watermen's way of life. Additionally, she reflects on her father's character and the broader watermen culture of the 1950s and 60s, challenging the stereotypes often associated with commercial fishermen. The interview also delves into Wanda's appreciation for the watermen industry and her efforts to preserve its heritage through her work with the Watermen's Heritage Foundation. Stories of her father's generosity and the significance of maintaining the watermen's cultural identity are highlighted, offering a rich narrative of a community that has been a cornerstone of Virginia's coastal history.

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