Saturday, April 11, 2009

Two Book Reviews

I have not done any book reviews in a while so let me write about two interesting books I have recently read. As I have said before I usually pick my books up at thrift stores, library sales (Note: Laurel Library has their book sale starting Monday) and flea markets so it is unusual if the books I read are written with in the last ten years. A good author however over comes times. Both books have a little of that Da Vinci Code formula of a man and woman traveling across foreign countries to solve a puzzle.

The first is relatively new. It is THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova. The book was written around 2005. On a rating of Five stars with five being the highest I would give this book a four star rating. The book is 676 pages long. A little of the story line is this; The story opens in Amsterdam in 1972, when a sixteen year old girl discovers a medieval book with one woodcut in it, of a dragon, and a bunch of letters in her father's library. She is under the impression her mother is dead. Her fathers tells her about his search for Dracula. As the book progresses there are at least two stories going in the book. The first is the father and mother searching for Dracula in the 1950's across a number of countries and the second is the daughter searching for her father in the 1970's and finds both her father and mother. The story line has all the trappings and romance of travel and history in Europe, and Central Europe.

The book is very well written and in spite of the Dracula thing, that I am not impressed with, you are just drawn into the double story that is occurring. The downside of the book is it is 600 plus pages long. It would have been a five star book if she had stopped it at about 400 pages. The other 200 pages just dragged along. It also has a too cutesy ending - after 600 pages you want blood. One character is kidnapped by Dracula to be his librarian - yes I said librarian - sad but true. Definitely the book is well structured and the author is good or why would you read about Dracula.

The second book is much older, it is THE SCHIRMER INHERITANCE by Eric Ambler. It is written about 1953 and as such refers to a number of events that were big in this time period but today are mostly forgotten. This book is 219 pages long and I would give it five stars.

The story line goes back the Napoleon wars when a wounded Prussian cavalry sergeant, Franz Schirmer deserts during a retreat. One son of his family (whose name was changed to Schneider) goes to America and the rest stays in Europe. Moving forward to 1938, Amelia Schneider Johnson died in Pennsylvania without a will. She is worth $3,000,000. The law said any blood-relation could be entitled to a share; else it would revert to the state. Naturally a law firm is in charge of looking for any lost heirs. After many years of drawing fees in 1949 it is turned over to a young lawyer who takes off to Europe to find any heirs there may be. He hires a female interpreter who becomes the female offset in this search. With much traveling and investigation into records they finally find the last heir who was a Wehrmacht Sargent and who had deserted in Greece toward the end of World War II and became a Greek Communist. He gives up the money and runs off with Miss Maria Kolin, the interpreter.

The book moves along without extensive historical references. I will have to read more of Eric Ambler (died 1998)as he is described as the father of spy novels.

Clean Up Days

A reader pointed out to me that I should give more attention to two clean-up projects coming up soon. You can consider them "free" clean-up services or just part of your tax dollar, regardless you should take advantage of them.

The first is Delmar Bulk Pick Up Days. It use to be once a month and now it is once a year. this year you have to call and tell them you have stuff to pick-up as just putting it out in front of your house will just result in it sitting there until a code enforcement person gives you a ticket.

The Clean Up dates are as follows:
Delmar, Delaware – Mon & Wed – April 13th & 15th 2009
Delmar, Maryland – Mon & Wed – April 20th & 22nd 2009.
Collection times will be between the hours of 7:30 a.m. & 3:00 p.m.

Call in advance to arrange pick up. The phone number is (410) 896-2777 or (302) 846-2664.

More on Spring Cleanup here

The second item is the Scrap Tire Drop-off Day Set for Saturday April 18 and
Citizens are Encouraged to Recycle Old Tires during Earth Week

Delaware residents are invited to recycle scrap tires, free of charge, during Scrap Tire Drop-off Day 9 a.m. – 3 p.m., rain or shine, Saturday, April 18 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington. The event, being held during Earth Week, encourages citizens to take actions to recycle scrap tires that can pose hazards to human health and the environment.

Up to 10 tires – passenger car or light duty truck tires – can be dropped off per Delaware household; larger tires, tires on rims or bicycle tires will not be accepted. Scrap tire drop-off is limited to residents; tires from commercial dealers will not be accepted. Proof of residency is required – either a driver’s license or utility bill. Residents should enter the Delaware State Fairgrounds through the main gate on U.S. Rt. 13 and follow the signs to the drop-off site. For more information, contact DNREC at 302-739-9403.

“Our first drop-off event last October was very successful,” said Laurene Eheman, administrative manager with DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Section. “More than 1,600 old tires were dropped off, which were later recycled and reused. Earth Week is a great time for citizens to cleanup their properties and keep our communities free from scrap tire piles.”

DNREC’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Branch manages the state program created to eliminate large, unsightly scrap tire piles that can create environmental hazards. Piles can spawn dangerous fires that produce toxic smoke, and the oily liquid runoff from melted tires can pollute groundwater. In addition, tire piles can be the dominant source of a local mosquito problem.

Delaware produces more than 750,000 scrap tires a year. While many of these tires are recycled or properly disposed, some end up in stockpiles or in illegal dumps around the state. The program helps defray the cost of cleanup of scrap tire piles created before June 30, 2006 and comprising more than 100 tires.

The Delaware Scrap Tire Cleanup and Control Program is funded by a state fee of $2 per tire on the sale of new tires. Enacted Jan. 1, 2007, the fee is diverted to the Scrap Tire Management Fund, a matching fund and program created to clean up existing scrap tire piles statewide.

For more information visit DNREC’s website, or contact the Scrap Tire Control and Cleanup Program at 302-739-9403.

Selected All State Choir - 1961

Click to enlarge
Kenneth LeCates, Frank Craven, James Walker, and Joan Culver were selected.

Friday, April 10, 2009

It's Megan's birthday

Our oldest daughter, Megan, is having a birthday today. Happy Birthday Megan!!!!

Wetipquin Bridge

I was driving back around Wetipquin and Tyaskin today and I decided to do my old retired guy thing of inspecting the work on the bridge at Wetipquin Creek.

This is the Wetipquin Bridge from the Wetipquin side. Before there was a wooden bridge here and it seemed like it was in good shape for the amount of traffic Tyaskin and Wetipquin receive. The bridge was torn down last summer and concrete pylons are now in place and it looks like wooden planks will again cover the bridge. I can't tell yet but it looked like the old bridge was higher above the water. I spoke to a couple guys there and they say it will be reopened in June.

Anyway I have no doubt from the construction equipment this is costing the State of Maryland big bucks.

This is the bridge from the Tyaskin side. As you may recall up until the late 1950's or early 1960's there was a small ferry here. It was hand operated and I think was only large enough to carry one vehicle. Besides Redden's (at Wicomico Creek) it was the only other hand operated ferry in Wicomico County, with Whitehaven and Upper Ferry being motorized. The reason for the bridge was the ferry was too small to carry the firetruck from Westside Fire Station. It also only operated during daylight hours.
1953 Wetipquin ferry hand operated

The abandon looking boat docks was part of an effort by Wicomico County to have a place for waterman to dock their boats as prior to the bridge they had docked farther upstream beyond the ferry.

The Wetipquin/Tyaskin area is made up of snake back county roads, modest homes, small family graveyards, and a has a ton of deer. This is part of a herd of about 12 that ran in front of my car after I came around a curve.

Above is Wetipquin Chapel established 1827. I like the area back here. Some of my early ancestors (Wingates) are from this very general area (for some reason they don't claim me)

Charles Smith

I see Charles Smith has his campaign signs out and about. He is running for reelection to the Delmar School Board.

Easter Sunrise Service

The Kiwanis will have Easter Sunrise Service, Sunday, April 12, 2009 at 7:00 a.m. it will be at the corner of 10th and State Street. All Saints Episcopal Church

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Phil Thompson

Phil Thompson who is running for the Delmar School Board, has gotten his campaign sign out early. It is nicely designed sign, you can read the name and the date and of course school colors.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Spring Break

In looking at the school calendar, spring break will start this Friday for Delmar Middle and High School students. In Wicomico county I think spring break starts today. Watch out driving around town for them.

Delmar Elementary School this morning at about 8:45

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Delmar Delaware Council Meeting - April

Last night the Delmar Delaware Council had their monthly meeting. All members were present and there was the usual limited number of the "public' in attendance. My usual disclaimer is I am not part of the council and what I write is my personal views, not the minutes, of the meetings. It is also just the parts I want to comment on or write about. If you want to know the real story go to the meeting.

The council voted to approved the recommendation of the Delmar Utility Commission to award the BNR upgrade contract to Bearing Construction. Glen Payne abstained as he said he works for the company.

The first readings for Ordinance 154 (annexation of the 1.96 acres of Diakos property off county road 68) was read.

The first reading of Ordinance 155 (the well head protection ordinance) was read.

Not addressed but on the agenda was Dr. Eleanor Stump request for more of a police presence. I should point out the Delmar police commission meets next Monday at 6:30 should anyone want to ask the police Chief or Commission members about various police matters like the fights out at La Cabana north of town. I also understand a woman was held up outside the Bank of Delmarva yesterday, plus the guy that died by RiteAid last week.

The property owner at 200 East Jewell inquired into buying the town owned property at 201 East Jewell. Due to the small size of the property he is looking at putting a garage on it.

The meeting went into executive session about 7:45.

Dr. Lori Dewald

Dr. Lori Dewald, a member of the Delmar Utility Commission, has recently been named an American Association for Health Education (AAHE) Fellow for 2009. Lori hails from Freeman, South Dakota and now lives in Delmar, Maryland. Besides her achievements in the field of health education and athletic training she serves on the Delmar Utility Commission and visits local nursing homes with her two Shetland sheepdogs. For more on this remarkable person click here.

Delmar Utility Commission Special Meeting

Last night the Delmar Utility Commission had a special meeting to recommend the award of a contract to Bearing Construction, Inc. of 805 Shine Smith Road Sudlersville, MD for the Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR) upgrade at the Delmar Waste Water Plant. Of the six bids received for the upgrade, the town engineering firm, Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., recommended Bearing Construction as being the low bid at $5,884,000 and the Delmar utility Commission approved their decision.

Tear Jerker Songs

In the 1950's and 1960's there were a number of tear jerker songs about teenage death. A stalled car, a railroad track and a train is a losing combination but nevertheless produced my second pick for top tearjerkers songs; "Teen Angel" by Mark Dinning, a Stock Car race gone bad and his last request with his dying breath to "Tell Laura I Love Her" by Ray Peterson would be my third choice. There were others in that time period like "Endless Sleep" by Jody Reynolds (that Damn Ocean got her), "Laurie" by Dickie Lee (kissed a dead girl and found his sweater on her grave), "Ebony Eyes" by The Everly Brothers (who can forget flight 1203), "Last Kiss" by Frank Wilson (Never forget the sound that night the cryin' tires, the bustin' glass The painful scream that I heard last) etc. But my far the biggest one and my top pick for tearjerker song - wait for it - was when on April 7th 1968 the Song "Honey (I miss you)" hit number one on the record charts and stayed there for five weeks. It was recorded by Bobby Goldsboro and written by Bobby Russell. As with all hits it was played constantly on the radio stations. Now all of the above are rarely heard. It must be tear jerkers songs about death are such downers they lose popularity fast, but heartbreaker songs about lost love, pickup trucks and beer, they just hang in there.

So let's revisit those magic words and have a little cry;

See the tree, how big it's grown
But friend it hasn't been too long
It wasn't big
I laughed at her and she got mad
The first day that she planted it, was just a twig
Then the first snow came
And she ran out to brush the snow away
So it wouldn't die
Came runnin' in all excited
Slipped and almost hurt herself
And I laughed till I cried
She was always young at heart
Kinda dumb and kinda smart and I loved her so
And I surprised her with a puppy
Kept me up all Christmas Eve two years ago
And it would sure embarrass her
When I came in from workin' late
'Cause I would know
That she'd been sittin' there and cryin'
Over some sad and silly late, late show

And honey, I miss you
And I'm bein' good
And I'd love to be with you
If only I could

She wrecked the car and she was sad
And so afraid that I'd be mad
But what the heck
Though I pretended hard to be
Guess you could say she saw through me
And hugged my neck
I came home unexpectedly
And caught her cryin' needlessly
In the middle of the day
And it was in the early Spring
When flowers bloom and robins sing
She went away

And honey, I miss you
And I'm bein' good
And I'd love to be with you
If only I could

One day while I was not at home
While she was there and all alone
The angels came
Now all I have is memories of Honey
And I wake up nights and call her name
Now my life's an empty stage
Where Honey lived and Honey played
And love grew up
And a small cloud passes overhead
And cries down on the flower bed
That Honey loved

And see the tree how big it's grown
But friend it hasn't been too long
It wasn't big
And I laughed at her and she got mad
The first day that she planted it, was just a twig

I think a tear dropped in my beer just reading the words.

I actually liked "Honey," but another one that is maybe tenth on my list would be Billy and Sue by B J Thomas (1966). The lyrics alone are a heartbreaker.

Monday, April 06, 2009

What is the difference between the State of Delaware and Organized Crime?

The odds when you gamble are better with organized crime.

As I have said before a government is simply you and I. There is no such thing as a vast government entity that can not be controlled. We are the government. I try to do my part, but frankly here recently I am beginning to wonder if you are keeping up your end.

Since I view government as merely an extension of myself I expect my government to act in the same moral and sensible manner that hopefully I do. I know everyone has different values and apparently some have none at all. However in some majority fashion government should reflect the outlook of the people.

I would certainly hope Governor Markell, if he is having a tight month, financially, at home doesn't send his wife out on the street to turn tricks in order to make up his personal budget shortfall. So why does he want to do the equivalent with the State of Delaware? I view extending, in any form, State controlled gambling in Delaware as prostituting the values of a state.

Lets face it how many people would play the Lottery if the State of Delaware had not put a lottery sales machine at a convenient distant from them? Governor Markell would like to increase the number of locations, that have slot machines, making it as convenient to lose your money playing slots as playing the Delaware lottery. Regardless of what you may say, playing the lottery is an addiction. It may only be a few dollars a week but it an addiction. Slot machines are a much larger financial addiction. Even I know people in my area that go to Harrington often enough that they have ran up $5,000 or more in credit cards advances so they can play. Now our Governor wants to make it even more easy to access slot machines.

They say sports betting in Delaware is a sure thing and the spread of slot machine casinos is but a wait of another year. If you think you are really going to hit it big on a slot machine and pay off that mortgage than let your state elected official know that, if you figure you are going to get as rich as you have off the State lottery stop the slots and let you let your elected official know you are not interested in seeing them spread.

Old Delmar Utility Pole

A week or so back when I was doing my old retired guy inspection of the downtown streetscape work I noticed this old telephone pole that looks like it may be removed shortly.

Now it is an old pole, besides being weather beaten, it has numerous climbing spike marks from utility lineman climbing it and numerous nails from posters and billboards being tacked to it.

I guess you can tell a general age of a utility pole from if it has spike marks or not. I haven't seen a utility lineman climb a pole wearing a climbing belt and climbing spikes in over 15 years. Since a number of them I have seen riding in their cherry pickers are about as fat as I am and close to as old as I am, seeing them using boot spikes (gaffs) would not be a good thing.

I think the average lifetime of a wood utility pole is typically 30 to 40 years, this one looks more like 50 years.

It does remind me of the utility poles in Newark, Delaware. Each one in the downtown section of town has about 50 pounds of staples in them from students putting up posters and notices.

Spin Doctors At Work

Well the spin Doctors are at work in Binghamton, New York. Binghamton's, scene of our most recent mass shooting, medical examiners are now saying it doesn't matter that the police didn't enter the building until 45 minutes after it was over and took three hours to clear the building, those dead people didn't stand a chance anyway. As you all have read the police arrived very quickly after the shooting started but waited 45 minutes for the specialized SWAT team to arrive before entering the building. Reminds me of Columbine shootings ten years ago, in which the Littleton Colorado police did not go in but waited outside while people bleed to death. These are no doubt the same officers who each budget go-around appear and state "we put our life on the line for you so give us more money." Keep these mass shootings in mind the next time you hear them request more money. I am sure the anti-gun crowd will start up again. Think what may have been the outcome if the people in the Binghamton American Civic Association center had carried a personal protection weapon of their own, maybe one less person would have been shot

Renee Elliott, Lunch lady

In today's News Journal is a letter to the editor from Renee Elliott of New Castle Delaware. She is a cook at William Penn High school. She is the type of person I referred to in an earlier post regarding Gov. Markell pay cut for government workers. Now I don't know what the pay level is for Lunch Ladies, but I would guess at about $10 to $12 an hour for about 6 hours a day ten months a year. Now, of course, I would question why administrators and non-teachers are government employees at all and why those functions aren't handled thru a private contractor. Nevertheless, Renee Elliott is perfectly correct in pointing out she is the type of person Governor Markell wishy-washy position on cutting the budget will harm the most.

Non Sequitur

Levi Johnson in the news again

Levi Johnson, an irresponsible child of 18, recently appeared on The Tyra Banks show, a trash TV show, to talk about having sex with Bristol Palin. Now Levi's one claim to fame is knocking up another irresponsible child of 17, Bristol, Sarah Palin Daughter. Johnston is suppose to have said on the show, which airs today, they practiced safe sex “most of the time.” Once again it proves most of the time doesn't work. "Most of the time" is also a reflection on the school system and today's society that if you do things "most of the time", you pass and are considered an ace person. Levi is example that trash sells in America.

There is even a blog about Levi Johnson.

The Palin people were less than thrilled with the interview. “We’re disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship,” Meghan Stapleton, a rep for the family told in a statement.

“Bristol’s focus will remain on raising Tripp, completing her education, and advocating abstinence,” Stapleton continued. “It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well being of the child.”

“Bristol realizes now that she made a mistake in her relationship and is the one taking responsibility for their actions,” Stapleton wrote.

Upcoming Events

April 6, 7:00 pm Delmar Delaware council meeting

April 6, 7:00 p.m. Delmar Alumni Association General membership Meeting. Delmar High School Auditorium.

April 10th Good Friday Town Hall Closed

April 12th Easter Sunrise Service - Easter Sunday, April 12, 2009 7:00 a.m. All Saints Episcopal Church (corner of 10th& State Streets)

April 12th Tickets to the Delmar Wesleyan Church must be purchased by today for their barbecue dinner on April 17th. See below for April 17th

April 13 6:30 Pm Delmar Police Commission

April 13th 7:00 PM Delmar Maryland Council Meeting

April 17th Delmar Wesleyan Church is having a Barbecue Chicken dinner from 4 to 8 tickets $8.95 contact 410-726-2383

April 18 Little League Opening day

April 22 Administrative Professional day

April 23 7 PM Delmar Planning and Zoning Meeting

April 25. Delmar Alumni Association 7th Annual Banquet at Delmar VFW. 5:30 p.m. Social Hour 7:00 p.m. Dinner $20.00 per person.

April 25 Noon to 7 PM Shad Music and Heritiage Festival Vienna MD

April 27 6:30 Delmar Utility Meeting

April 27 6:00 PM Delmar Public Works Meeting

April 27 7 PM Delmar Joint Council Meeting

April 27. Delmar Middle School Band Concert. Delmar Middle School Auditorium. 7:00 p.m.

April 29. Middle School Chorus Concert. Delmar Middle School Auditorium.
7:00 p.m.

Delmar School Board Election

I see where Wayne Moore was appointed to fill out Andy Fleetwood school board position until the School Board Election. The Delmar School Board election will be on Tuesday May 12th. This year there will be two positions to fill. One is for three years to complete Andy Fleetwood term. The second is the normal five year term.

A good group has filed for the two positions. For the five year term position, Jason Robert Coco and Charles S. Smith have filed. For the three year term Gregory A. Cathell, Jeffrey T. Fleetwood, Sr., Wayne F. Moore, and Phillip W. Thompson have filed.

Buddy Poppy Princess - 1961

From the April Bi-State Weekly 1961
Miss Connie Reddish, Buddy Poppy Princess

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Radio Station WSMD

This is Station WSMD, The Voice of the Eastern Shore, broadcasting from high a top the Wicomico Hotel in Salisbury Maryland

Before WBOC, WICO and WJDY there was WSMD. Radio Station WSMD was the first AM radio station in Salisbury, Maryland. It was started in 1928 and operated on 1130KC and had a power of 1000 watts. It operated very close to Atlantic City’s Radio Station WPG (at 5000 watts and on 1100 KC). In May of 1928 the Salisbury-Wicomico Chamber of Commerce started a drive to raise $1,000 to buy and install equipment for the station. In turn so many hours of local air time would be provided by the operator of the station. The work was done by Thomas F. Little, General Manager of the Radio Corporation of Virginia, who installed and operated the station. T. F. Little purchased the equipment of WBES ("Bliss Electrical School") that was located in Takoma Park, MD, (In turn WBES equipment had originally been purchased from Woodward and Lothrop when the department store discontinued operation of WIAY). Little installed the equipment in the Wicomico Hotel. WSMD was the only radio station in Maryland outside of Baltimore and Salisbury had it. I can only assume the call letters WSMD had some reference to Salisbury MD.

WSMD had as competition, in 1928, WJZ, WABC, and WCBS New York, WBAL Baltimore, WOO and WCAU Philadelphia, WRC Washington and WPG Atlantic City. Arrangements were made to tie into WJZ programming, as WJZ featured "popular airs, dance music and lectures”. It was an RCA station that became NBC. WSMD was heard as far away as Connecticut.

At that time the Federal Radio Commission, the equivalent of today’s FCC, stressed having live music instead of playing records. WSMD had such local talent and locally produced shows such as; Charles and Clarence Hitch with their Fiddle and banjo Music, Jimmy Perry and his Honey Boys consisting of Howard Riggin, Paul Taylor, William Booth, and Eddie Davis, and W. O. Dolan and his Bathnite Syncopators consisting of; Jack Lake, W. Arthur Kennerly, Fletcher White, Miss Ruth Truitt and Davido Cortez. Naturally Sunday entertainment consisted of church services.

A look at a 1928 WSMD Saturday program of local talent looked like this;
12:00 to 1:00 PM – Luncheon Music featuring Miss Jane Truitt, pianist.
6:30 PM to 6:40 PM Mike Delan, King of the Ivories
6:40 PM to 6:50 PM News Flashes, Base Ball Scores, Market and Weather reports by the Salisbury Times
7:00 PM Correct Time by Fishers
7:00 PM to 7:30 PM Orthophonic Request program
11:00 PM Mike Dolan and his Bathnite Syncopators.

I assume for the air times not shown was when they switched back to WJZ programming.

I do not know when WSMD went out of business and turned in their license, no doubt by the early 1930’s. It was followed by WSAL that operated on 1200 KC with 250 watts of power.

It was on WSAL in 1939 that Delmar Mayor L. T. Lockerman gave his history of Delmar on the segment called “Know Your Town”. It was transcribed to the Bi-State Weekly February 10, 1939 edition and is used to this day as a reference on Delmar. Joe Long at one time emailed me saying his self and other baseball players would stop by the station and talk on air about the games they played. Willis Conover worked at WSAL in 1939 as a part-time radio announcer. He was attending the State Teacher's College at Salisbury, Md at the time. Willis Conover was one of the most famous American Jazz announcers in the world but was virtually unknown in America. He did a Jazz show on Voice of America Radio for forty years, and was known to millions of people around the world but since Voice of America was forbidden to broadcast in the U.S., it was only the rest of the world who knew him. WSAL, Salisbury, Md. Broadcast License of licensee belonging to Frank M. Sterns was revoked, effective March 31, 1940.

In addition there was a radio station WMVD Salisbury, Md. The Licensee (Delmarva Broadcast Co.) voluntarily surrendered their construction permit On May 21. 1940. I have no knowledge of their operation.

In 1940 WBOC AM Radio was founded and operated in the beginning on 960 KC and so now you know a little about radio history in Salisbury, Maryland.