Saturday, May 17, 2008

Evita at the Dupont Theatre


We went to the Dupont Theatre in Wilmington today to see "Evita". A great musical and I don't care what people think of Madonna, she made the musical version that is the standard for Evita. Anytime you see the live production you compare it to the Madonna version.

This version however is another story. The Performers; Malia Tippets (Eva Peron). Omar Lopez-Cepero (Che), Philip Peterson (Juan Peron), and Munib Raad (Magaldi) all did well in their parts. For some reason this production did not work. I know for some one from the ass end of Delaware to comment that a national tour of Evita isn't up to par may seem ridiculous but altho the parts were all good the total production was not. I can't put my finger on it but it didn't work as well as I had expected.

A second problem was; it was sold out and when we brought the tickets the best we could do was on the mezzanine. If you have ever sit on the mezzanine floor at the Dupont theatre you know the seating is designed for a 4 and 1/2 foot tall person that weights 75 pounds. You can not stretch your feet out nor can you even bring your legs together due to the curve of the street in front of you. It was like sitting in the center seat on a four hour airplane flight.

The Laurel Train Station

The Laurel Train Station was also open today on the tour. As you can see from the photos below there is a lot of work to be done. I am under the impression this station building was built in the 1920's. I will not again repeat the story about how the Delmar train station was offered to the town for the sum of one dollar and the town refused it. The Delmar train station was eventually torn down as was the old Delmar school and a number of other historical buildings in Delmar. But if you do not have support to maintain these buildings it is better to see them go then for them to be an eyesore. The Laurel station however has been under restoration since the mid 1990's and looking at it there will be another ten years until it is complete. The exterior however has been given a face lift. Some of the special features in the building are; terrazzo tile on border of floors, slate roof, brick waiting platform, ticket counter, cove type ceilings.





St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal Church


I went on the Laurel Historical Society House tour today and one of the highlights was St. Mark's Protestant Episcopal Church. The church was open today and for a country church it is spectacular. A fresh coat of paint had been given the church and the inside sparkles. St. Mark's was one of six churches that were part of Old Christ Church. The other's were St. John's in Little Hill, St. Luke in Seaford, St. Philip's in Laurel and St. Andrew's in Ellis Grove (later used as the parish house for St. Marks.) With the exception of the aluminium siding, Storm widows and ceiling the building is all original.




St. Mark's was founded in 1857 by Rev. Richard Cadle who died in the same year. I guess it shows the stress of starting up a new church.

The last regular service was held in 1963 It was closed because of the lack of people attending it and it was described as not dynamic.

I have done a previous post on this church.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Couple of Amusing Posts

I see over on Ponder Mints he is listing his most popular posts. The Post, he did, that I found amusing was his Murphy Law post, describing changing the oil in his car. I think we can all relate to trying to fix something ourselves and having it end up costing twice or more of what it would have cost if we paid someone to do it.

Another one I enjoyed is over at Civil 3D Rocks where Dana Breig Probert writes to her defunct laptop. A high percentage of her posts I enjoy and that is in spite of her exposure to Canadians (She lived there a while). After working for a Canadian owned company in Snow Hill Maryland I have a high distrust of Canadians. I think they are posed to invade the US, why else would 90% of the population live next to our border. The French speaking ones you particularly can't trust.

The Delmar School Band 2008 Spring Concert

Well after a false start on Monday, when it was cancelled due to that little bit of rain we had, the School Band Concert came off last night. Under the direction of David Smith the Sixth Grade Band, the Middle School band, the High School Band and the Jazz band performed. All in under three hours. As I said; Mr. Smith’s band students range from 6th grade through 12th grade, and as each band played you could see the progression their talent took in the step up to the next band level. For every performance, the obvious plan was to give it their all, and that’s exactly what they did.

It was a disappointment to see the auditorium only at about 80% capacity. For a concert that featured the three bands in one evening the auditorium should have been Standing Room Only. Particularly since this is a free event and family orientated.


The Sixth Grade Band

The Sixth Grade Band did an amazing job considering their age and experience. I think the best number they did, out of the five numbers, was “Rock Around The Clock”.

The Middle School Band (Seventh and Eight Grades) One of the good things to happen from when I videoed my children in band is video recorders have gotten smaller and do not block other peoples view.

The performance of the Middle School Band represented Delmar Middle School and the Delmar community with amazing skill and class. They performed six numbers and I think the best number was “When Camels Cakewalk To Cairo”.

The High School Band This year with out uniforms. The President of the Band Boosters said the uniforms had been order (at a cost of about $12,000) and should be here by fall.

High School Band selections performed include “Fanfare For The Common Man,” “1812 Overture,” “The Phantom Regiment,” “And Hold In Memory— featuring Solo and duet of Steven Smith and Michael Birely,” “Broadway In The 90’s featuring Alto Sax Solo of Annika Nichols and “Cartoon Symphony”.

The “1812 Overture” was the best for me as even a hard of hearing person can hear it. They also had the effects of cannons, sort of, during the number.

The Delmar High School Band is a prize of the Delmar community. People outside our community may look to bigger schools for exceptional musical talent. Believe it or not, exceptional musical talent can be found right in Delmar at our High School. An indication of this is the twelve band members selected from the Delmar High School band and the six members of the Middle School band selected for Sussex County Band.


Josh Smith doing a solo

And The Jazz Band did their usual thing.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Events For the Weekend

Wow, the middle of May must be the prime weekend for events. Besides all of those events you will read about in the Daily Times here are some others of interest to me.

Salisbury University graduates this weekend at the Wicomico County Civic Center.

The Delmar Library is having a book sale at the Library on Saturday morning.

The Nursing Home in Delmar is having a Family Fun Day from 1 to 4 PM, Delmar Band will be there.

Saturday is Armed Forces Day

The Laurel Strawberry Festival is on Saturday at St. Philips Episcopal Church starting at 7:30 A. M. with Scrapple sandwiches available.

Connected with the Strawberry Festival is the tour the Laurel Historical Society will have open. Some of the places that will be open is the Henry store, St Marks Church, the two houses the Laurel Historical society owns etc.

The Bailiff of Delmar Maryland

Since it is Police week it would be appropriate for me to write about the Bailiff job in Delmar, Maryland. Prior to having a policeman or police force, Delmar Maryland had a position known as Bailiff. In the Town Charter are a number of standard clauses about what the town can do. Usually protect and safeguard the citizens was one. Also however was maintain the streets. The Bailiff position started out as safeguarding the citizens but by the 1900's the duty of Public works or Street Commissioner was also added. In addition he collected Town taxes. This was before government and civilian positions became specialized and everyone was expected to do what ever was required to make the town work.

On June 12th 1912 Mr. William B. Elliott was appointed the town Bailiff. He replaced Mr. Daniel H. O'Neal as bailiff. Because the bailiff collected taxes he had to post a $100 bond.

"Now the conditions of the above bond are such that the said William B. Elliott shall faithfully perform the duties of Bailliff of the Town of Delmar, Maryland, and shall pay over all mony coming into his hands, and perform all acts and duties of said office, then this bond shall be void, other wise, to remain in full force and virtue of law.
Witness our hands and seals, this 28th day of June 1912."

Bailiff Elliott, who was about 62 years of age in 1912, was paid a percentage of the taxes he collected. This percentage appears to have been in the 15% to 20% range.

His job as law enforcer in Delmar was to keep the peace and enforce ordinances. I did not see a reference to the pay he received for this but other bailiffs in the area would receive a percentage of the fine imposed by the Justice of the Peace(about half of the fine) and a bounty of about 30 cents on each person picked up. From the Delmar Maryland Council minutes we see he was ordered on May 11, 1914 to break up ball playing on the streets of Delmar, Md. He was also in the same meeting told to notify Chas Sturgis to take out a town license or abide by the law. In February 2, 1914 the council ordered him to prevent skating on the street of Delmar, Maryland. Extra assistant bailiffs were hired for his absences and on February 2, 1914 Thomas C. Knotts was appointed to act as backup bailiff.

His pay was broken down into the type of job he was doing at the time, thusly his police duty was paid separate, his tax collecting was paid separate and his street commissioner job was paid separate.

In 1912 when he was appointed bailiff the council paid him 15 cents an hour plus 10 cents more if he used his horse, showing that the labor of a man was worth 50% more than the labor of a horse. This pay seems to have been related to the work on the streets he had to do. Part of his street work consisted of rounding up men to work on the streets. As readers of this blog know from a previous post in 1912 all men between 21 to 50 living in Delmar were required to work one day a year to maintain the streets. In addition I am of the impression he hauled the cinders and shells around the town patching pot holes in the street. In 1913 he was paid $451 dollars for street work.

William B. Elliott had the Elliott Brickworks located on the west side of Delmar. I hope to do more on the brickworks when I do a post on west Delmar and Frogtown.

Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week

As pointed out by a commenter to one of my posts this is Peace Officers Memorial Day and Police Week. Frankly it is a day I have not known about or paid much attention too. It was created on October 1, 1961 by way of Public Law 87-726 It pays tribute to those who serve in Law enforcement and those who have died in the line of duty. It is suppose to be a day on which the American Flag is flown at half staff, so we will see how many government agencies observe this today. I see the Delmar Post Office, for one, isn't observing it today. So give your Delmar policeman a hug to day and wish him the best.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ellen Brown - 1937

From the Milford Chronicle May 14, 1937

DELMAR GIRL WINNER IN EIGHTH ANNUAL GORGAS ESSAY CONTEST

Miss Ellen Brown, 16 years old, a junior in the Delmar High school, was the Delaware State winner of the Eighth Annual Gorgas Essay Contest, according to the announcement of Admiral Cary T. Grayson, chairman of the board of directors of the Gorgas Memorial Institute. The State winners receive checks for $10 each, and their essays enter into the competition for the national prize.

The Gorgas Essay Contest, conducted each year by the Gorgas Memorial Institute as a part of its program of Personal Health Education, attracts the efforts of thousands of high school students throughout the nation.

Shawn Brittingham Wins School Election

As reported in the News Journal Shawn Brittingham received 143 votes to Greg Cathell's 66 votes. This will be Shawn's third term on the Delmar School District Board of Education

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Air Mobility Command Museum


I was in Dover today and had an hour or two to kill so I went by the Air Mobility Command Museum at Dover Air Force Base. It is a great place to go if you like military planes and it is FREE. At the time I visited there was not many other visitors so you didn't feel pushed along looking at things. With Armed Forces Day coming up I sure it will be very busy.

Some of the aircraft's they have are; B-17, C-47, BT-13, KC-97 C-130, C-7, C-119, and more and more, about 25 aircraft's.

An interesting fact they had on a display was a C-5 carries 6 and half railcars of fuel.

Some planes are inside the hanger and others are outside.


I was in the Air Force a long time ago and many people think if you are in the Air Force you fly, well not everyone. In the four years I was in I never flew on an Air Force plane. Any long range travel I did was by contractor aircraft. The last year I was in I did most of my traveling by Army ships (Yes the Army has Ships - AKL's, LCM's, LCT's landing craft). My experience is not much different from many other Air Force personnel.

Howard in 1965 on board an Army AKL somewhere in the South China Sea

The Butcher of Armitsar

Today in 1919 British Indian Army Gen. R.E.H. Dyer (the butcher of Armitsar,) with a group of 90 Indian Army soldiers marched into the garden at Amritsar, Punjab, India and ordered them to open fire on a protest meeting attended by some 10,000 unarmed men women and children. Within ten minutes 379 people were dead with several hundred more were wounded. You may recall that scene from the movie “Gandhi”.

General Dyer was praised by the British and his and the British actions converted thousands of loyal Indians to hatred for the British. He was relieved of his command and sent to England where he was viewed a hero to many British admirers, who presented him with a collected purse of 26,000 pounds sterling and a jeweled sword inscribed "Saviour of the Punjab."

The British view was not unlike the American view of Lt Calla when the My Lai Massacre occurred. The American VFW attempted to collect $100,000 to help with legal expenses to defend his actions and called anyone who referred to Lt Calla as a butcher as being Un-American.

School Board Election Today

Today Tuesday, May 13th between 10 A.M. to 8 P.M. you can vote at the Delmar High School for either; Shawn B. Brittingham or Gregory A. Cathell, to fill a five year term on the Delmar Board of Education. Voters must be 18 years of age, a Bona Fide resident of the school district, living in Delaware, and a Citizen of the United States.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

William L. Sirman

William L. Sirman (Sirmon)was one of the Delmar town leaders in the late 1800's. He was born in 1840 and was in Delmar by the early 1860's. He was a teacher, merchant, Railroad agent, Postmaster, Adams Express agent, farmer, Delaware House Majority leader in 1891, an unsuccessful candidate for Governor of Delaware, Justice of the Peace, lumber and manufacturer and on most of the commissions, boards and council in Delmar.

Little can be written about the early years of Delmar that he or his family does not figure into it some way. Past posts I have written refers to his general store, Sirman and Co, being burnt in the big fire of 1892 and his son William B Sirman who was part owner of the cane mill I wrote about a few days ago. An 1868 ad refers to his store as Wm. L. Sirman and Co. Dealer in dry goods, groceries, hardware, tin ware, queensware, and all kind of county produce, lumber and P. M. (Postmaster).

He was the son of William and Mary Sirman (Sirmon). His wife was Martha Ellen Augusta Gordy and he had two sons; William B, and Edwin T. His wife died in 1899. His sons worked in his operations until the early 1900's when they went to work for the railroad. Edwin T. continue to live in Delmar and William B. went to Norfolk with the Railroad. In the early 1900's William L. Sirman died and his empire seem to have fallen apart after his death. His empire had pretty much dwindled before then. He lost heavily in the fire of 1892. The second major fire in Delmar of 1902 started in his stable and burnt 50 homes that had been constructed after the 1892 fire. In the two fires W. L. Sirman lost over $65,000.

Since I have been writing about mills what I want to write about was the mills owned by William L Sirman. In 1868 W L Sirman (Sirmon) erected a steam driven sawmill on the west side of Delmar. In 1883 he moved the mill to the East side of Delmar, more specifically between First and Second Street on Grove Street. In addition to the saw mill he also had W. L. Sirmon Basket And Crate Company next to the saw mill. The saw mill was steam driven and the steam was produced by burning the waste produced from the saw mill it self. The saw mill could produce 5,000 feet per day and operated 11 months out of the year. It employed ten men plus the men in the Basket plant.

In the early 1900's Grove street was paved in cinders. Like most Eastern shore towns used clam or oyster shells to pave the street, but Delmar also used cinders obtained from the Rail Road operation in Delmar and used them to pave the streets. At the corner of First and Grove Street, on the North Side, stood the Delmar Public school, next to it was a Carpenter's shop and than the W. L. Sirmon Saw Mill and Basket Company. Behind the Basket Company on Second Street stood a 10 by 10 building referred to as the Jail. You have to imagine students back then, at this time of year, in an "Un-air conditioned" school house trying to study with the windows open and listening to the scream of the saw at the saw mill. They could also listen to the trains going thru town a block away and the teamster hauling logs to the saw mill and than hauling lumber and baskets away. Besides the sounds, there would also be the smell of mules pulling wagons, the smell of fresh cut wood from the mill and the smell of smoke from the fires that feed the steam boilers for the saw mill. Like I said the business went away in the early 1900's and residential houses were built in it's place.

The second saw mill he had was near Hastings Saw Mill on Connelly Mill Road. In 1880 he had six employees, 2 boilers, a 25 HP engine at that saw mill.

In addition to the saw mills W. L. Sirmon, Elijah Freeny and M. H. Fooks operated a brick yard near Delmar from 1864 to 1866.

State Checkbook

I had forgotten (there is just too much information out there) about the State of Delaware Checkbook being on line at the News Journal site. As Shawn Brittingham pointed out most of the school district checks are cut by the state so somewhere in this should be school district checks. I think it is difficult to use as you need to know a vendor name or Department name. However check it out. As a starting point you can type in "Delmar" and the checks cut to the Town of Delmar, Delmar Fire department, Delmar School District, Delmar Auto, etc will come up. Maybe try putting in school teachers last names or Mayor and Council people last names, or town employees, etc, etc to see what comes up. Some of the checks make you wonder why - like why Delmar Feed Mills receive a rent subsidy check from the State Housing Authority. I guess they own a house somewhere they are renting. Actual putting in "Laurel" amazes me as the town of Laurel and other organizations in Laurel really get a lot of grant money. I am sure if you play with it you can figure out how to use it and it will amuse you on rainy days.