Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Delmar Fire Department 6th Annual Mason Dixon Emergency Services Softball Tournament
Here We Come
Here we come,
riding down the street.
We get the funniest looks from,
Everyone we meet.
Hey, hey we're the Watermelon buses
Okay so I owe a big apology to the writers of the Monkees theme song (for the younger group who may accidentally read this blog "The Monkees" was a TV Show from the 1960's). Nevertheless the watermelon crop is coming on strong and the watermelon buses are back.
Floating Theatre on Delmarva
In the first part of the twentieth century the Delmarva Peninsula had a number of traveling entertainment shows. They were a combination of carnivals, circuses, and repertory theatre companies and they traveled Delmarva by train or motor vehicle setting up their theatres in rented halls, or performing under tents. Billboard estimated that in 1926 in the United States were 400 tent companies touring. One unique form of traveling show was the floating theatre or Show Boat and the best known one, in our area, was the “James Adams Floating Theatre.” There were a couple of others on the Chesapeake Bay but they only last about a season or two before collapsing.
Between 1831 to 1939 there were fifty-three major showboats built in the United States. Fifty were on the Mississippi; one on the Erie Canal, one on the Hudson River and The “James Adams” was on the tidewaters of North Carolina and the Chesapeake Bay. The “James Adams Floating theatre” is well described in the book “The James Adams Floating Theatre by C. Richard Gillespie. It is a well researched book. The James Adams Floating theatre also has a website.
James Adams was a vaudeville and tent show person who decided in 1913 that anyone could buy a tent and start a traveling repertoire companies but, due to the expense, not that many people could built a boat for a floating theatre. In 1914 he built the “James Adams Floating Theatre” in Washington, North Carolina. The boat was a barge 128 feet long 34 feet wide on which a two story building was constructed. The main auditorium was 30 by 80 feet with a balcony running around the room. The floor of auditorium could hold 500 people and the balcony could hold another 350 people. The balcony was mainly for colored people. The barge was not self powered and was pulled from place to place by tug boat. In addition to the auditorium it had a gallery, an electric plant, and sleeping space for 30 to 40 employees.
From 1914 to 1941 the “James Adams Floating Theatre” entertained people from Florida to New Jersey, but it’s main route was the Chesapeake Bay and the tidewaters of North Carolina. When the “James Adams” started out in 1914 times were good; audiences had money and many hours to spend on leisurely pursuits. The “James Adams” because of her size and shallow, 14-inch draft, played in many less accessible bay towns. Entertainment-starved locals lined up in droves to see a show. Obviously Delmar was not one of the places the “James Adams” performed in, but Laurel and Salisbury were. Since the James Adams drew people from a forty miles range of where it was playing no doubt many people from Delmar went to the floating theatre.
1914 Ad from the Wicomico News
When the circus came to town they would have a parade down Main Street to announce their arrival. The James Adams did a similar thing and as the barge was pulled into town he would have the orchestra up on top playing away. After tie up he would than send a tug boat out with his orchestra (like dinner theatre the actors could also play an instrument and doubled in the orchestra) to the numerous inlets in the area. The excitement of the music made everyone know the “James Adams Floating theatre” was in town. If the boat came to the harbor at night it would be "lit from stem to stern." The theatre would stay for a week at each port of call. It would show a different play each night and do vaudeville between acts or after the show.
Novelist Edna Ferber in 1925 spent time on the “James Adams Floating Theater,” researching material for a book she was thinking about writing. In 1926, her book “Show Boat” came out. The book was later turned into a musical and the setting changed to the Mississippi River and the rest is musical history.
The “James Adams” had a number of problems, sinking being one of them. Several times in it history it would hit a tree stump in the low water it was floating in and sink. The result was having to replace all the furnishing, clothing, scenery etc on the boat – at much expense. But any boat owner can tell you about boat expense.
In 1933 James Adam saw the writing on the wall and sold the showboat to Nina Howard of St Michaels, MD. The great depression was going full blast. Roads were improving meaning it was easily for traveling shows to compete with him and even the smallest town would have a movie theatre. Steamboats were disappearing which meant the wharfs he tied up to were also disappearing. The movie chains used their influence and made it difficult for him to obtain a license to play in some of the towns. After the sale the “James Adams Floating Theatre” name was changed to the “Original Floating Theatre” and Nina Howard continued to ply the towns of the Chesapeake Bay and North Carolina putting on shows.
In 1941 the “Original Floating theatre” was sold to E. H. Brassell for $6,000. He just wanted the tug boats that went with the barge. While being towed from Savannah to Brunswick, Georgia the theatre got fire and burnt entirely, thus ending the era of the floating theatre for the East Coast.
Today there would not be much chance of recreating the floating theatre, too many regulations, OSHA, and coast guard safety requirements. All those college graduates who can’t do manual work and now sit behind a desk thinking up new government regulations have killed this and most American small businesses. In 1965, the Safety at Sea Act barred wooden-hulled vessels from transporting passengers, so unless it is built on a metal hull there is not much chance of it ever being recreated.
From Gillespie’s book, here are some of the Delmarva Towns the floating theatre played between 1914 to 1940;
Tangier Island, VA
Snow Hill, MD
Deal Island, MD
Chesapeake City, MD
St. Michaels, MD
Delasware City DE
Cape Charles VA
Rock Hall MD
In Your Face
In the News Journal today was article about three teens involved in break-ins in pike Creek. The mug shot above accompanied the article. The other two teens were 17 years old so their names and photo did not appear but here is Austin Peters, age 18, smiling away for his mug shot. You have to ask yourself; why would you smile for a mug shot? No doubt it is because he knows it is all a game and once he appears before the judge he will get probation and no jail time. He may be quite familiar with the legal process. Another possibility for smiling is maybe he had just had a full body cavity search. Regardless it is just an indication as to how serious criminals take our Delaware justice system.
Some Items from 1913
Some items concerning the area from the Wicomico News during the month of July 1913
Bethel Camp will begin August the first and continue tens days closing August the 10th.
The Camp privileges of Bethel will be sold next Saturday July 6th in the afternoon and a picnic will be held the same evening. Proceeds for the benefit of the church.
The committee of Bethel Camp wish to advise all who desire a tent to see the committee before July the 20th or not later than July 25th so as to build new tents if necessary.
Workman under the direction of William J. Mustard are surveying a new road between Seaford and Georgetown. The road as planned will run by Middleford, John Cannon Short's, and Cokesbury. By making a number of short cuts it is claimed that the distance between Seaford and Georgetown can be reduced three to four miles. It is also planned to put this road in first class shape, using gravel and oyster shells and building bridges of cement.
Ray R. German, the newly appointed postmaster of Delmar, will assume charge of the office sometime this week.
A large bay horse owned by the Salisbury Ice Company, dropped dead on lake Street one day last week.
Standing at the wharf at Sharptown awaiting the arrival of a boating party Mrs Truax Clifton, who was holding a dog by a rope, was pulled overboard when some one threw a stick in the water, which the dog sprang for. Mrs. Clifton was at once pulled out uninjured still holding on to the dog.
The work of laying water mains of the Maryland side of Delmar is now completed and the company is busily engaged in installing pipes in the houses. about three-fourths of the property owners have made application for the installation of town water.
The Bivalve Campmeeting was largely attended Sunday. the steamer Virginia left Salisbury Sunday morning with 450 passengers and took on more than 200 at the various landings on the river. The excursionists report a very pleasant trip.
Misses Effie Wingate, Anna West, Florence Stevens, and Grace Penuell of Delmar, Del., returned home Tuesday after spending a few days with the Misses Holloway in Queponco.
Electric lights and an electrical device for opening and closing the draw has been installed on the county bridge over the Nanticoke River at Sharptown.
The Delaware State Fair - 2009
My wife and I went to the Delaware State Fair tonight. The place gets bigger and better every year - must be that gambling casino money.
After hitting the Grange for food, we went to collect all the free stuff being given away. A couple politicians were exhibiting. Good collections of free pens this year, couldn't find who was giving out yardsticks.
We looked at goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, swine, horses, cattle, etc and eneded up in the Ice skating Rink where the 4H and FFA had set up. This is the Rossakatum 4 H Club Exhibit. Rossakatum (the name of a Indian Chief, a small stream, and the name of a tax ditch) is the closest Delaware 4H club to Delmar.
While drooling pass the cookie exhibit we saw Madaline Pusey and Carly Lucas from Delmar had entered some tasty looking cookies
The Baked Goods exhibit smelled delicious
Jonah and Nathaniel Vincent both got blue ribbons for their Tomatoes
I was very impressed with the Furnture the 4 H'ers made
Running your hand over the finish on all the furniture found it to be really smooth and the joints all lined up. Great craftsmanship
Delmar Middle and Senior High School FFA Exhibit
Vincent Farms had their swine there. The Fair always comes at peak harvest time so it is hard for farmers to get away from their work to be there and exhibit.
On to the food and Midway
We were impressed that even on the midway they had places you could sit and eat. Big change from previous years.
Made for a nice change from sitting home looking at reruns and commercials on TV
Friday, July 24, 2009
Delmar's WWII Aircraft Spotter Tower
Once war had been declared and submarines begin sinking ships off the shores of Delaware people became alarmed that perhaps the United States could be attacked from air. All across the country aircraft spotter schools were set up and spotter towers appeared. Some were simply in church steeples, other were of the fire tower type, sitting on four legs with a small shack at the top. Delmar answered the call with a spotter post located on the grounds of the Delaware school, at the rear of the building. This post must have been near the Workman’s store as it is mentioned in at least one newspaper article. The School post proved to be unsatisfactory for sighting planes traveling east, due to it’s nearness to the building.
In July of 1943 a new post was built. This one was located at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Sixth Street. It was a tower type with a 12 by 15 room located on 15 ft legs. What I found unique in reading articles about it, was it was not built with government money. In 1943 there was a different mindset and instead of waiting for a grant or the government to build the tower it was built with contributions from the citizens of Delmar.
The Delmar Aircraft Spotters reported to The First Fighter Command, US Army. An aircraft spotting post was a pivotal part of America's homefront defense efforts during the war years, but it took a load of volunteers to man them 24 hours a day. The Aircraft spotter course was taught locally in Delmar and one group of graduates in 1943 were the following people; Mrs. Mamie Bradley, Mr. and Mrs. Lou McFarland, Mr. John Wright, Mr. Roy Owens, Mr. Franklin Cooper, Mr. Ed Ward Owens, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wright, Mr. and Mrs. George Wright, Robert Beach, Mr. and Mrs. Otho Beach and Mr. Johnathan Wheatley
An aircraft spotter would do a three hour shift. It was their function to locate, identify and report any and all aircraft approaching the area. Once they climbed the 15 feet to the tower building they logged-in to the Spotter's log book and relieved the former watch. They would record any planes they saw, attempt to identify those planes and telephone that information into the Army. There was also a system of colors that indicated air raid conditions that they recorded in the log book. White was all clear, Blue was an air raid, and Red indicated an air raid was imminent. The only tools they had were a telephone, a pair of binoculars, and at night a flashlight for light (War Time blackouts). Their main hope was that someone would show up to relieve them after their three hours shift. Since this was a volunteer group it didn’t always happen. T P Hawkins, over in Georgetown, after eleven hours recorded his disappointment in not being relieved in the log book. Courtesy of the Delaware archives. Click to enlarge
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Delmar 2009 July Planning and Zoning Meeting
Well I pulled into the parking lot at Town Hall and had trouble finding a parking place. The Meeting room was standing room only. I would say about eighty to a hundred people attended the meeting tonight. Planning and Zoning members William Boyan and Joy Slabaugh were missing.
Well everyone was from Woodcreek and they were disappointed that Mark Thomasson had called and told the commission he would not be here tonight. The P&Z Chairman Mike Houlihan told everyone they could speak their comments at the public comment section of the meeting.
Mr. Doug Warner of Element Design came before the P&Z commission to request a six month extension on the Preliminary Plat approval for Whitetail Run and Delmar Grove. The commission decided, given the economy, they would grant Mr. Warner an 18 month extension.
Delmar Grove is 97 acres that is to the east of RT13 off Iron Hill road. The majority of the land is wetland so only 10 or so acres will be developed. They are looking at putting five buildings with 24 condominiums in each building - 120 units. They will be three story buildings. There will be 234 parking places
Whitetail Run is on the Delaware side of town, off stage road. It will have 340 units on 68.5 acres. 38% or 26 acres will be open space in the development. It will be made up of "Twin Homes" (a fancy name for duplex), quad homes, and seven units buildings. It will be a combination of rent and rent-to-own homes. Currently all will have a garage.
Anna Cooper & Dean Adkins came to request approval for a sign for First State Thrift Store. First State Thrift is where the Top Hat Restaurant use to be (18 North PA Ave) It will sell clothing, small furniture etc. The sign was approved.
Don Trader came to show examples of the signs and graphics to painted on the Bi-State Pharmacy. It is going to be a very showy place with all these signs. It was approved.
Jamie Rostocki came to inquiring about adding Casinos as an allowable use in the Highway Commercial Zoning District. He has 131 acres across from the racetrack he wants to put a casino on. He went into the pros of having casino. Mr. Houlihan said he did not think it fit in with the town image. Ed Ferro and Carl Anderton seem to be for it. Mr Rostocki said he had to have a proposal into the state by October 15th and the first step was to have Casinos added to the allowed businesses in the Highway commercial Zoning classification.
The Delmar Centennial Committee had request to display banners for longer than the code allows for the Celebration. It was approved.
Okay come time for public comments and about 40 people spoke about the proposed cheaper housing ($130,000) in Woodcreek, none were in favor of it. The comments went along the general line of;
Mark Thomasson is a bald face liar
We oppose letting cheaper houses into Woodcreek
Section 8 housing in Woodcreek, no way
Trailer houses in Woodcreek, no way
box houses in Woodcreek, no way
Mark Thomasson is a bald face liar
We moved here from the western shore we know what Section 8 housing is like and we don't want it in Woodcreek
PCS are crooks and should open their books
They promise one thing and deliver another
They never come thru on their promises
Mark Thomasson is a bald face liar
Homes in Woodcreek are a piece of crap because Professional Construction Services (PCS) built them
We don't want riff raff in Woodcreek
You as the P&Z Commission are expected to stop these cheaper houses from being built.
If this is approved Mark Thomasson will do it again elsewhere in Woodcreek
He is changing what we bought in to.
Mark Thomasson is a bald face liar
Well you get the drift of how it went.
I spoke out against the casino.
The meeting was over about 9 PM
Back a few months ago Delmar Pizza came before the Planning and Zoning Commission to ask about increasing the height of the State Line Plaza sign so they could add their sign to it. It was decided that if the overgrown trees and bushes that existed around the sign, at that time, were cut, than Delmar Pizza could add their sign at the bottom of the State Line Plaza with no problem. So the overgrown vegetation was cut and Delmar Pizza put their sign up. However the Plaza planted two new small trees near the entrance to the Plaza. In two years time they will tall enough that once again you will be unable to see the Delmar Pizza Sign. Not very smart of someone.
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Prison Guards and Contraband
Now based on my limited exposure to contraband in the Wicomico County Detention Center, the majority of contraband can only enter the jail by way of the employees. I do recall an incident in which the visiting room, which had a glass wall separating the visitor and inmate, but it had a false ceiling and when the guard monitoring the visitation room turned his back the visitor jumped up in a chair and shoved a carton of cigarettes in the false ceiling and the inmate stood in his chair and removed them. If the visitors had been searched properly it would have never happened. I think the current selling price for a pack of cigarettes in jail is between $100 to $350 a pack. Cell phones sell for about $2,000. Altho prisoners are not allowed to have actual cash on them (but of course they do) they do have individual "checking" accounts at the jail. To buy cigarettes they have a friend on the outside mail in a money order to the inmate that has the cigarettes and than the tobacco is transfered. Remember you have inmates in jail who have nothing better to do with their time but dream up ways to get around the "system". Most are "streetsmart" and know more about ways of doing things than you or I would ever think of.
One contraband check the Wicomico County Detention Center had, was to tear off the postage stamps on incoming letters to inmates. The ideal, which was good, was drugs could be hidden under the stamp. In typical government fashion they did that precaution but did not tear off the self sticking return address label on the envelope. You would think you could hide something under the return address label as well as you could hid something under a stamp.
I consider the pay of a correctional Officer to be quite good for the requirements for the job. When you add on the benefits and retirement package it is even better. To have employees smuggling contraband into a jail seems foolish but it happens. Sometimes it isn't even about money. These guards spend the majority of their waking hours with these inmates and as such develop some degree of friendship with them. Some even marry or shack up with the female inmates after they are released. It is suppose to be against the rules but they do it anyway. So sometimes the contraband is just for "friendship". One correctional officer at the Wicomico Detention Center told me the only people his social circle consisted of was other guards and ex-inmates.
Like all jobs the prison guard system has it's bad apples, after all even the Delaware State police has it's crooks. So remember "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes
The SUSSEX CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION (SCI) is in Georgetown, DE. The Warden is Michael Deloy and the Deputy Warden is Michael Brittingham. It currently has 1,137 inmates plus a number of other inmates in boot camp, and various community release programs. SCI houses maximum, medium, and minimum security inmates and has an all-male population.
Delmar Planning and Zoning Meeting Tonight
1. Mark Thomasson- Review of Demographic Study and existing plans for single-bath homes in WoodCreek
2. Whitetail Run- Extension request preliminary plan
3. Delmar Grove- Extension Request preliminary plan- recommendation for DE Board
of Special Exception for extension of special exception of apartment use in R-2 zoning.
4. Anna Cooper & Dean Adkins –Sign for First State Thrift Store
5. Don Trader- Signs and Graphics for Bi-State Pharmacy
6. Jamie Rostocki- Inquiring to add Casinos as an allowable use in Highway Commercial Zoning District
7. Delmar Centennial Committee- request to display banners for longer than the code allows for the Celebration
So if you have an opinion one way or the other on Casinos in Delmar tonight would be a good night to come out and express yourself.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Ocean City Roller Chair Company Ad 1913
The State Fair and Jimmy's Grille
We stopped by to see Dick Dykes of The Balloon Man Blog fame. Dick has been ill but is improving and he is taking a couple of Doctor directed days off from work. We dropped off some photos I had taken of the State Fair being set up, which I see he has posted on his blog.
On the way home we passed that apartment complex (Canterbury or Laverty Lane) north of the Bridgeville traffic light on Route 13. Every time I pass it I have to think back to 1994 when a Bridgeville woman named Shirley Cannon, at that time age 26, had 25 to 40 sexual encounters with boys between the age of 11 to 15. Since in Delaware anyone 16 and over is at the age of consent it is hard to say how many more were involved. She had parties at her apartment in which they would line up to enter her bedroom. She was charged with unlawful sexual intercourse in the third degree however using the double standard that; if it is young boys having sex with older women it isn’t as serious, the State of Delaware let her off by saying even tho she was ten to 15 years older than the boys her mind had really only matured to that of a fifteen year old so it was not an older woman preying on young children. Let’s see a 26 year old man get away with that defense.
We had dinner at Jimmy’s Grille in Bridgeville. We have not been there in a while and were very disappointed with the food and the increased price of the food. Jimmy’s Grill at one time was not afraid to season their food properly. Now it is as bland as any other diner. The favorite, my wife and I, order is the meatloaf with mashed potatoes and lima and dumpling. My meatloaf was burnt on the edge. The bowl of Lima and dumplings had about one dumpling in it and the seasoning was none existence. I blame it on the Heritage Shore Crowd eating there and changing the way things are cooked.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
The Railroad Crossing
Well the work on the crossing on State Street continued today. They spread asphalt today. At about 7 PM tonight they were spraying the asphalt with water, I assume to cool it down so traffic can use it tonight.
The Utility Pole
The Curious case of Thomas/Thomasine Hall, Virginia 1629
Hall was a female servant, who in 1629, was working on John Tyros’ farm/plantation in the Jamestown area. There was a rumor around the plantation that she had “ly wth a maid of Mr Richard Bennetts called greate Besse”. Well committing fornication with Great Bess was one thing but when it was a female servant doing the fornication it time to check into it. Two local men decided to find out what was up and grabbed Thomasine Hall to examine her and determine she was male. John Tyos, the plantation owner, was not convinced and had three women, Alice Longe, Dorothye Rodes, and Barbara Hall, examined Thomas/ Thomasine Hall and they determined he was a man. The whole case ended up in Court to determine if Hall was male or female.
Hall was taken before the local magistrate, Captain Basse, where Hall claimed to be both man and woman. Hall gave testimony that she was born in the north of England, at Newcastle-on-Tyne, where he claimed to have been christened Thomasine, not Thomas, and to have been dressed as a female by his parents. He had continued thus for another ten years while living with his aunt in London. Then, in the summer of 1627, he cut his hair, put on male clothes, and enlisted as a soldier to join the Duke of Buckingham's expedition against the French where the Duke was defeated. Hall returned to England and than set sail for America as a man, arriving at Plymouth, where he again put on female clothes and took a job as a lacemaker. At the age of twenty-four, changing yet again, he elected to take his chances as a servant settler on a ship bound for Virginia. Presumably he took his female clothes with him in case he should have further second thoughts, for in 1629 he was again beskirted, and passing as a woman at John Tyro’s plantation.
Captain Basse examined Hall and ruled that Hall should continue to dress as a woman. Well rumors continued to fly and neighbors are never satisfied so one Sunday a group of both sexes grabbed him again. By this time Hall must not have been able to go anywhere without people checking him/her out. Satisfied that he was a male, they sent him back to Captain Basse, who referred the matter to the acting governor of Virginia, John Pott, who had also been the colony's physician. Pott's court concluded that Hall was a true hermaphrodite and, in a Solomon-like decision, ruled that he/she should wear men’s clothing but with an apron and woman’s head covering. This condemned Hall to more attention in his/her daily life than what Hall desired. No additional information is given as to the rest of Hall’s life.
So like they say; you can pick your nose, you can pick your whiskey but you can’t pick your family so all those people with the last name of Hall can only wonder if this is a distant family member they would prefer to have remained in the closet and not have so many court records written about him/her.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Today is the Day - Maybe
Well they are bringing the equipment in getting ready to start on fixing the railroad crossing on State Street. Maybe it will get done today.
There are two of the town employees; William Hardin - Community Development Coordinator and Jerome Reid - Director of Public Works - making sure the railroad does it right.
It's the Magic Fairy
No there is no magic fairy, sorry to disappoint you. This is a member of the New Century Club of Delmar who pedaled her bike uptown this morning in order to pick up beer cans, water the plants and generally make the uptown look better. There is only about 5% of the town who take an active interest in making it look better. They are the ones in all the volunteer organizations who handle these little things that the town does not. So next time you toast the New Century Club for their effort to beautify the town try not to toss the empty over in the grass for them to pick up.
Annie Mae Taylor - Pocomoke Cold Case - 1971
On Tuesday, July 20th 1971, Miss Annie Mae Taylor went missing. She was last seen out on Dividing Creek Road and Cokesbury Road in the evening, where she was talking to Lynn McGee. Miss McGee said Miss Annie said she was going walking in the woods and Miss McGee said she was wearing a brown polka dot dress, black hat and high button shoes. Now at that time I had always thought Pocomoke had more than it share of disappearing people and the Miss Annie Mae Taylor missing person case stands out in my mind because Mrs Redden's home became the center of the gossip about what happened to Miss Annie Taylor. Phone calls and people stopping by to analyze the case was a common occurrence thru out the day for the next two months.
A search of the Dividing Creek Road and Cokesbury Road area was made by the Pocomoke City Police, Maryland State Police, Worcester County Sheriff's Office, Somerset County Sheriff's Office, Pocomoke City employees and numerous volunteers. On Thursday a Maryland State Police Helicopter made a search of the area. On Friday a search was made using two K-9 police dogs from Centreville and Berlin. Another search was made on Saturday and on Sunday the search was generally called off with the exception of the Maryland Marine Police who were called in to search the river area. The search would continue by various groups on into August. It was front page news in Pocomoke but in Salisbury it was back on page ten. I think they did everything except put her photo on a milk carton. Pocomoke City Police Chief Wimbrow felt she had wandered into an area of unsearched woods and died of exposure. Everyone else figured she was knocked in the head, robbed and her body dumped down in the Eastern Shore of Virginia. After a couple months there was no more newspaper coverage and everyone figured she was gone.
I left Pocomoke in 1974 and never heard any news that her body had been found so as far as I know it is still a missing person case.