Saturday, April 12, 2008

First Snake Sighting of the year

I was working out in the garden this morning and had my first snake sighting. Now I have a thing about snakes, mainly I run in the opposite direction they seem to be going. He went one way and I went the other. Unlike The Shores of Delmarva who also had his first snake sighting I don't know the type of snake mine was. Actually my snake identification extends to two types -live snake - dead snake. I sure as hell wasn't going to pick it up and photograph it.

Brick Row

In 1892 The Big Fire sweep thru Delmar burning most of it to the ground. Among the houses burnt were tenement houses on what was than called Front street. After the fire Mitchell H. German, owner of the M. H. German & Co. Brickyard, built on that land what is today called Brick Row. The Rowhouses faced on Front Street, which became RailRoad Avenue and later it would be called South Pennsylvania Ave.

Brick Row has had a series of owners. In 1915 Mitchell German defaulted on the mortgage he had with Walter Miller and Brick row was sold at public auction to Arthur Williams, his heirs in 1937 sold it to Lee Mason, whose heirs sold it to Sue Payne in 1955. In 1979 it was owned by Norman and linda Buroker who sold it to Samuel and Darlene Lombardo in 1981, who flipped it to Terry Sell in 1981, who sold it to GNI,LLC in 1999.

The upkeep of the property aside, Brick Row standing on the Maryland side of Delmar is one of the most distinctive structures in Delmar. It is of a late 1890's style and it is amazing so much of it is still intact. It is a two-story brick rowhouse that has seven units in the structure. Each paired units share an entrance bay and are separated by a narrow passageway between units. There is a front decorative turned post porch with scrollwork. Above each second floor window is a metal vent that provides air circulation to the attic. Along the top of the rowhouse is decorative brick corbelling with pyramidal topped metal finials.

Attached to to Brick Row is a smaller series of rowhouse units dating from the second quarter of the twentieth century.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Lt. John William Miller

On October 8, 1951 Lt. John Miller, 30, of the United States Air Force lost his life when his plane crashed on the runway after returning from a photo reconnaissance over Korea. Lt. Miller lived at 102 Jewel Street Delmar Delaware and he left behind his wife, Margaret Anne, and three children; Robert, Judy, and Steven. Prior to Korea he had been a bombardier with the Seventh Air Force in the Central Pacific area during World War II. He had received the Air Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross with several clusters during World War II. He worked for the Bi-State Weekly before being reactivated for the Korean conflict. The Air Force awarded him an Air Medal with Seventh and Eighth Oak Leaf Clusters, posthumously, for service in Korea. He is buried at Arlington.

John Miller was also the first Scout Master of Boy Scout Troop 176. This troop is sponsored by the Salisbury Rotary Club. They built a Boy Scout lodge at Shad Point for Boy Scout Troop 176 and they named it in honor of John Miller. The original building has since been torn down but a new building was put in it's place and it is still named in honor of John Miller. I stopped by it yesterday and was shown the marble engraved stone over the fireplace that shows the dedication piece to John Miller.

Boy Scout Troop 176

The dedication Stone, I have no idea why it says Oct 7th as everthing I have read says he died Oct 8th.

The current Boy Scout Lodge

And, of course, he is on the honor roll of fallen heroes at the Delmar American Legion.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Tulip Tree or Saucer Magnolia?

As any Eastern Shoreman will tell you this is a Tulip tree. Just look at the blossoms and the time of year it blooms - it's a tulip tree. Now I know foreigners that come here keep telling us it is a Saucer Magnolia, but what do they know? If they knew anything they would have been born here instead of moving here. Also the tree experts (government people) keep telling us this is what a Tulip tree is - well you know how often they are right about anything.

Megan is another year older

Today is Megan's Birthday. Happy Birthday Megan!!!

The 1917 Eddystone Explosion

The Eddystone Ammunition Plant, in 1916, was looking for a thousand girls to work at their ammunition plant outside of Chester Pennsylvania, piercing fuses and filling shells with gunpowder for the Russian army. Included in the people hired at the Eddystone Ammunition plant were Martha Parsons and her husband Anthony Parsons from the Delmar Maryland area. On April 6, 1917 President Wilson asked Congress to declare war and Congress officially declared it. About this time at the plant rumors were floating that the Russian, Leon Trotsky, had put out an order to sabotaged the plant in order to prevent the shells from reaching the new Russian government run by Kerensky, which was democratic. On April 10, 1917 at 9:55 A. M. “F” Building at the Eddystone Ammunition Plant, where 380 girls and women worked loading shells with black powder, exploded . One hundred and thirty-three persons, lost their lives in the explosion. Fifty-five of the dead would never be identified. Among the identified dead were Anthony and Martha Parsons.

From the Wicomico News April 19, 1917
April 13, Delmar – Two of the victims of the Eddystone disaster Anthony G. Parsons and his wife, who had been employed in the factory only a short time, were from the rural section, near this town. Their remains were brought home today for interment.

Martha E. Parsons May 23, 1886 to April 10 1917 Buried at Cemetery in Melson.

Anthony G. Parson May 29, 1880 to April 10, 1917 Buried at Melson.

The unidentified dead were buried at a mass funeral service in Chester Rural Cemetery. The service was held on April 13 at 11:00 a.m. An estimated 12,000 people attended the funeral service. The Eddystone Ammunition Company paid for all the funeral services.

Monument to the unidentified dead at Chester Rural Cemetery

Eddystone, Pennsylvania is located on the Delaware River next to Chester PA

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Government Accounting Office Reports

In the news today is reports of government purchase cards (they are like a gift card and were used like a gift card) being used incorrectly. For those who may not know, this is the website for those reports issued by the GAO. They are frequently interesting reading. The improper use of government purchase cards have been going on since I have been reading the reports. If you go to the top tab and click Reports and Testimonies than you can pick reports out that go back to the 1960's.

1953 Ad The Tropics

Merger of Negro Schools - 1953

From the Bi-State Weekly April 10, 1953

Merger Plans Under Way For Negro Schools

Plans are said to be underway for the merging of four Negro public schools in Western Sussex County with the Paul Lawrence Dunbar School in Laurel. It was revealed last week that an extra $150,000 has been added by the State Department of Public Instruction to the previous sum of $300,000 approved by the state school authorities and forwarded to the omnibus appropriation bill for school improvements.

Approval of this additional request will give the Dunbar School a total of $450,000. That sum will be a state grant and does not require that any added amount shall be raised by bond issues or local taxation. It was specified that the original $300,000 should be used for three classrooms, a cafeteria and equipment, and for certain renovations. The other $150,000 will provide sufficient classroom space to take care for the present pupils of the four rural schools. they are Ross Point, with one teacher; Portsville, with one teacher; Delmar, with one teacher, and Owens Corners, with two teachers.

The current enrollment of the Dunbar School is 212. The enrollment of the other four schools is Ross Point, 24; Portsville, 14; Delmar, 21; and Owens Corner, 46

Lecates Building in the Spring

The Front of The Building

The building at the corner of North Pennsylvania Ave. and West State Street is a noticable eyesore. If you go to the Sussex County On Line Maps look for parcel ID 532-20.14-204.00 and you find it is owned by John G and Beverly H. Lecates of 29625 Foxwood Drive, Delmar Maryland. The Town of Delmar doesn't think it can do anything to make these people clean up the building. The Mayor and Council do not even want to mention the Lecates name in connection with this building. What kind of hold does the Lecates have over the Delmar Council?

The Back of the Building, It is across the street from the Bank of Delmarva. I can see why the Bank of Delmarva wants to move out of the down town to Rt13, they are sick of looking at this piece of trash and scare it is going to fall over on them.

Again the back of the building, notice the lack of glass in the windows, if it was your residence you would be cited for allowing pigeons to nest in your home, yet nothing is done to this building.

A broken window on the side of the building

The side of the building. The weather plywood covering the doors sort of adds a big city look to the building. Maybe that is what Delmar is going for.

One of the doors on the side of the building as viewed from State Street, one of the main traveled streets in Delmar. Sends a great message about Delmar doesn't it?

A door on the front of the building, notice the broken windows. Easy place for a troublemaker to throw a lit traffic flare into and start the third major fire to destroy Delmar.

A view thru the broken window of the door, nice stairwell. The building was built in the 1890's and has good detail but has not been kept up.

Stillwater Ponds

I received an email this morning that said the Stillwater Ponds Development was listed on Broker Post for six million dollars. As you may recall Stillwater is a proposed development of 138 homes located between Old Stage Road and Robin Hood Drive, off RT54. That is $43,478 per lot in a development nothing has been done in. Back in October 2007 the Delmar Planning and Zoning commission gave final plat approval to this project and the developers must have almost tripped over their feet rushing out the door, after the meeting, to put it on the market. One of the people involved in it is Steve Fuller, who is also involved in the Foskey Business Park development on the Delmar Maryland side of Town. He is a man to look out for.

I have to agree with what Councilperson Diane Buckley keeps saying, once approval is given for these developments, if they are sold than the new developer has to start the approval project all over again. These developments are in the works so long that by the time work starts building they have been sold a number of times and the paperwork is so messed up it is hard to say what can be built on the land.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Joshua Hopkins Marvil, Governor of Delaware

Joshua Hopkins Marvil, Governor of Delaware died today (April 8th) at his home in Laurel in 1895. He had been in poor health before running for governor and he only served three months of his Governorship before dieing. He was the 56th Governor of Delaware (if we count from 1638 when Peter Minuit was Governor). William Tharp Watson, Speaker of the State Senate, succeeded him and finished his term of office. Governor Marvil was the first Republican Delaware Governor to be elected in 32 years due to the dislike Delawareans had for the actions of the Republican Party during the civil war. He is buried at Laurel Hill cemetery (End of 9th street) in Laurel Delaware.

Joshua H. Marvel claim to fame was not being Governor of Delaware, his fame was in the Peach and Berry Basket making business. He had the largest basket making business in the area. Like today one business in an area will attract additional like businesses to the same area as the trained labor force is available and the technology is known. It was the same for the Marvil Basket Company, several other basket companies started up in Laurel and W L Sirman’s Basket Company and Levin Hastings Basket company started up in Delmar. J. H. Marvel had 16 patents in his name for basket designs. He was also the publisher of Laurel’s first newspaper, the ‘’Gazette’’, which he started in 1889.

I don’t know of any commercial wooden basket making companies left in our area. When I was a child, in the 1950's, my father worked a candy vending route and one of his customers was a basket making company. At times, when not in school, I was allowed to ride with him. The basket company was one of my favorite companies to go to as the smell of fresh sawed and cut wood, the bright colors of the drying strips of wood, and the movement of machinery has always attracted me. The basket company cut the wood into strips, dried the wood, dyed the wood (purple, red, and yellow seems to me to be the main colors), dried it again and than stapled the strips into a 5/8 or bushel basket, they also made berry baskets.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Rice Mother

I recently finished a book called "The Rice Mother" by Rani Manicka. It is an excellent book. The book is somewhat reminiscent of the Anne River Siddons books in that there is a matriarch and the book goes thru several generations of children. Unlike the Anne River Siddons books which seem to be based on Collage educated females that marry into rich families and live in small southern college towns or cloistered beach communities, Manicka story starts with a 15 year old named Lakshmi who is fooled in to marrying an unambitious man in Ceylon and goes to Malaysia. By 19 she has a number of children and has become the person in charge of the family. They live thru the Japanese occupancy of Malaysia and you will learn to hate the Japanese again. Her children are flawed in character and rarely live up to their mother's expectations. The story is in Ceylon and Malaysia and is filled with Asian folklore, myths and magic. The family members with their flaws, altho Asian, could easy be matched with family members of any Eastern Shore family and as such you can relate to them easily. I would recommend the book. Rani Manicka is an economic graduate who was born in Malaysia and lives in England. She has recently taken to using the name Sampreeta.

Laurel Construction

I was in Laurel today and the construction and traffic jams continues. Today on Rt13 you merge to the left lane. There are barriers all over the road, the road is scraped down, and no work is being done. The traffic problems it create is frustrating enough but when you don't see anyone working it just adds to it. Elbert has had his say on it. Over at Five Point in Laurel it isn't any better, more construction etc.

Speaking of Five Points, do you remember when Five Point Antique Shop was there? Now Laurel has always had a long history of small antique shops in town, so when Bargin’s Bills Flea market opened up it came as no surprise that it would be successful.

Five Point Antiques was run by Mimi Alexander, a legendary character. I understand she was from the Midwest and had studied to be an opera singer, eventually ended up in Baltimore and finally Laurel. Being a native of Delmarva I naturally am attracted to sparkly and/or gaudy things so I was out looking at "estate" rings one day in Laurel and wandered into Five Points. I encountered a small woman who I felt sure was a hundred years old, in a dusty shop with stacked up tables of antiques in what is the classic Eastern Shore “antique” shop (nothing like O'Neals today).

After browsing the main room I asked her about rings and she took me to a back room as cluttered as the front and she took out cigar box after cigar box that were overflowing with jewelry. Even to my untrained eye I could see there was a lot of money piled in those cigar boxes. You just looked at the place, her and the jewels and said to your self sooner or later this old woman is going to get knocked in the head and robbed. As far as I know she never was. She was very knowledgeable about gems and “estate” jewelry. You also realized she was a character.

Had I known what the price of gold would be today I would have invested heavily in her stock. Another lost opportunity.

Marsha Lynn Renfrow

On March 31st the owner of Mar-Lyn Management, Inc. - Marsha Renfrow, which manages the Sundower Park Association - a homeowners association, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $19,000 from the homeowners association. Marsha Lynn Renfrow had worked for the association between 1992 to 2006.

Renfrow, who is 69, was charged with six counts of felony theft and one count of felony theft scheme. Renfrow pleaded guilty to felony theft and was ordered pay back over $19,000 in restitution to the trailer park association. She was also placed on probation for 18 months. These items can be looked on the Maryland Judiciary search Court cases

Residents of the 186-unit complex at 133rd Street got suspicious of her actions when Renfrow let them know there wasn't enough money to pay property taxes, and then flatly refused to provide any financial records, said Lucy Kelly, president of the neighborhood's board of directors.

Janis Ian born today in 1951

Janis Ian was born born today in 1951. Writer and singer she started cutting records at 15 and in 1975 she did 'At Seventeen" that is, at least to me, her best known song. Somewhere along the line she decided she was a lesbian and "married" Patricia Snyder. They live in Nashville Tennessee. Now a white haired woman she still sings and performs.

Janis Ian
"At Seventeen"
I leaned the truth at seventeen that love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles who married young and then
The valentines I never knew, the Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful. At seventeen I learned the truth.
And those of us with ravaged faces, lacking in the social graces,
Desperately remained at home, inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say, "Come dance with me," and murmured vague obscenities.
It isn't all it seems at seventeen.
A brown-eyed girl in hand-me-downs whose name I never could pronounce
Said, "Pity, please, the ones who serve; they only get what they deserve.
The rich relationed hometown queen marries into what she needs.
A guarantee of company and haven for the elderly."
Remember those who win the game lose the love they sought to gain.
In debentures of quality and dubious integrity.
Their small-town eyes will gape at you in dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen.
To those of us who know the pain of valentines that never came,
And those whose names were never called when choosing sides for basketball.
It was long ago and far away; the world was much younger than today
And dreams were all they gave away for free to ugly duckling girls like me.
We all play the game and when we dare to cheat ourselves at solitaire.
Inventing lovers on the phone, repenting other lives unknown
That call and say, "Come dance with me," and murmur vague obscenities
At ugly duckling girls like me at seventeen.