Saturday, December 12, 2009

Delmar Christmas Parade Is Cancelled

The Delmar Christmas Parade has been officially CANCELLED for 2009!
They are calling for 80-90 percent chance of heavy rain during parade time.
This is the 3rd date the Chamber has attempted to do the parade this year. It is not possible for the Chamber of Commerce to schedule another date.

The San Elizario Salt War of 1877

San Elizario, Texas is located in Far West Texas (Far West Texas is a vernacular term to anything west of the Pecos River) a little south of El Paso. The town is older than any settlement on Delmarva dating back to 1598 when Juan de Oñate arrived near the site. Oñate claimed the region (including present-day New Mexico) for the Spanish crown. Originally the settlement was on the south side of the Rio Grande, but due to a shift in the Rio Grande River it ended up in Texas and the United States.

Altho the town is never heard of on Delmarva it is known for a number of things; it is the most Mexican town in the United States with 95% of the people saying they are of Mexican heritage. The town is where the "First Thanksgiving" celebrated in the present-day United States was celebrated when Don Juan de Oriate led 500 colonist across the desert to this spot and celebrated with a Thanksgiving Mass and feast on April 30, 1598. Billy the Kid broke into the local jail in December of 1880 and freed his pal Melquiades Segura then crossed the Rio Grande in Mexico leaving the two jailers locked in the jail cell. But the most famous thing San Elizario is known for (at least for this post) is the San Elizario Salt Wars.

Salt deposits located in the Guadalupe Mountains east of San Elizario produced salt that was almost chemically pure. The salt flats (Salinas) covered several hundred acres and the salt supplied all of western Texas, southern New Mexico and Mexico. Frontier settlers depended on the site to produce salt for their stock and home supply; Mexican farmers fell back on their salt business when crops were bad. Salt is the oldest and most continuously produced mineral in the state, it overshadows the Texas oil industry. According to Spanish law, the title to all mines and minerals (including salt) belonged to the government, and the king had long ago granted the inhabitants of New Spain the right to freely gather it. When Texas, which initially included eastern New Mexico, became part of the United States in 1848, the law changed to British common law, which dictated that the title to minerals belonged to the owner of the land on which they sat. The residents of San Elizario continued to mine the salt flats and considered them common land.

In 1872, the Army withdrew troops from both Fort Bliss and Fort Quitman, near San Elizario, and left the El Paso area without a military presence setting the stage for actions we in the East consider the Wild West. In 1877, Judge Charles Howard filed a claim to 320 acres covering the primary salinas of the Guadalupe Mountains. He then closed the road that led to them and instituted fees for collecting salt. The citizens of San Elizario were outraged and insisted that they had a right to freely collect salt from the salinas.

On September 29, 1877, José Mariá Juárez and Macedonia Gandara threatened to go collect a wagon load of salt at the lakes. When Howard learned of their activities, he had the men arrested. A mob took over and captured Howard and marched him back to San Elizario. For three days, he was held prisoner by several hundred men on October 3, he was finally released upon payment of a $12,000 bond and his written relinquishment of all rights to the salt deposits.

On December 12, 1877, Howard returned to San Elizario with a group of twenty Texas Rangers under the command of Lt. John B. Tays (a native Canadian) to enforce his ban on salt removal without payment. A mob of hundreds of angry, armed men met them.

Howard and the Texas Rangers took refuge in an adobe house. The siege lasted for the next two days until Howard surrendered to the mob. Howard and two of his companions, merchant and ex-police Lieutenant John G. Atkinson and Ranger Sergeant John McBride (Charlie) McBride, were shot by firing squad, mutilated and thrown down a well. Texas Ranger Lt. Tays then surrendered his troop of Rangers. It was the only time in the history of the Texas Rangers that a Texas Ranger unit ever surrendered to a mob. The rangers were allowed to leave without their arms, and San Elizario was looted by the mob.

The Salt War of 1877 was one of the largest uprisings of mob action and vigilantism in Far West Texas’ history. With twelve people dead and 50 wounded, the mob managed to cause $30,000 worth of damage. The Army returned to Fort Bliss establishing peace in Far West Texas, San Elizario lost its status as county seat, which was relocated to El Paso, and the salt flats eventually went to private ownership so the salt wars were all for nothing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Art Classes at Delmar High School

I have been hearing a number of rumors about a proposed change at Delmar High School that would greatly affect the Art classes and programs taught by Judy Hearn. The Fine Arts department at Delmar consists of David Smith teaching band and color guards, Iris Stuart teaching music and Chorus, and Judy Hearn teaching Art History, History of Cinema and fine arts/graphic design (studio Art). Now Mrs. Hearn’s classes are perhaps the least notice of the art’s program because her section is not one of performing arts (band and Chorus) that give public concerts etc. I think however any of her students and past students would die for her, as they so much enjoyed her classes.

In order to find out a little more about this matter, my wife called Joann Gum president of the Board of Education. She said Shawn Larrimore was going to give a power point presentation at the next Board meeting about the school going to a trimester system at Delmar. Anyone who is interested can come to the meeting and hear this.

I understand (not from Mrs. Gum or judy Hearn) that a trimester system divides the school year into three approximately equal terms of 12 weeks. This will lower the number of classes taken each day to four but give them a longer time in each class. It is designed to give students more credit hours when they graduate. With fewer classes each day they will have less time to take electives such as fine arts and graphic design. I have heard, and again this is just hearsay, that the band, chorus, and AP Art History would continue as full year classes but fine art/ graphic art might only be offered once a year. The problem is they start with one class next year and the year after that what maybe chorus or band or the whole arts program?

This almost sounds like a thing they tried to do some years back to the High School Band Class - only offering it once a year. Since we had shelled out a thousand or so dollars for a sax for my daughter – to be told she would only use it one semester a year didn’t sit well with us. Public support was against it so that proposal was dropped.

Now those who read my blog know I am in favor of art programs – the whole deal - band, chorus, studio arts, drama, photo, dance, etc. I think Delmar does the minimum in that direction and we all know if anything is going to be reduced it will usually be an arts program.

Since so much of this is hearsay I would suggest those who are interested in knowing more attend the Board of Education meeting on December 15th, Tuesday, at 7 PM. I am sure it was not intentional but the High School band has a concert that night at 7 PM also. This will mean parking will be at a premium and a number of people who would support the arts at Delmar will be listening to the concert and not in the District office listening to the presentation and giving their views.

The Orange At Christmas Time

When I was a child back in the dark ages of American history we hung our stockings at Christmas time and on Christmas morning (very early Christmas morning) we would find them filled with candy and an orange in the toe of the sock. I think we dropped the tradition of an orange in my children's sock and the dollar value of the contents of the sock went up greatly over what you would have receive in the 1950’s.

I have heard different versions of why there is a Christmas orange in the sock. I remember in years that I gave filled Christmas stocking as gifts to employees who worked with me, the older ones, would tell me how all they would get in their Christmas stockings, when they were young, was an orange, some nuts, and maybe some hard candies. I had assumed it was because they were children in the 1920’s and between the depression and lack of refrigeration of fruits oranges were a treat.

The other version surrounds Nicholas, the saintly Bishop of Myra. One evening, as the story goes, three marriageable daughters of an impoverished nobleman hung their stockings on the fireplace to dry. Out of compassion for the girls, Nicholas threw little bags of gold coins down the chimney, which happened to land in the stockings. Thus Nicholas provided the girls with a dowry and they were eventually able to marry. The gold Nicholas threw to provide the dowry money is often shown as gold balls. These are symbolized by oranges. So the orange in the toe of the stocking is a reminder of Nicholas' gift. Also related to this three daughters tale are the hanging of stockings and candy Christmas canes which represent a crosier or bishop’s staff ( the staffs are hooked at the top like a shepherd's crook, showing they are the shepherds who care for, or tend, their people).

I think most kids today would most likely react with disdain at a gift of an orange, but children of the Depression and their children who also received oranges at Christmas remember the Christmas Orange with a certain fondness.

If you received an Orange at Christmas Orange you glad you did?

All I Want For Christmas...

The Delmar Senior High School Chorus conducted by Ms Iris Stuart with assistance from Rachel Schrider gave their Christmas Concert last night called "All I want for Christmas..."

They performed to a packed house. The show started 20 minutes late because they had to open the partitions to the cafeteria to extend seating space due to the number of people there.

I tend to look for the enjoyment the students get from performing the show to judge how will a performance is and let me tell you this bunch is really into performing.

The Chorus is a number of sub-choruses as; A Cappella, Women's chorus, 6th and 8th Period Chorus.

Among the songs done was "All I Want For Christmas Is You" with a solo by Subrina Shockley.

The 6th and 8th Period choruses did "He comes From the Glory"

Now let me say I am not a fan of A Cappella. The A Cappella group did "Herself a Rose", "Follow the Star",

and "Christmas Time is Here", they did it as well as any A Cappella group.

The Women's Chorus did "Cradle Hymn", " A Winter Walk", and

perhaps the best number of the night "I'd Rather Have My Baby Here For Christmas". Caila White was the soloist.

The High School Chorus did "North Pole Rock n' Roll Medley"

Combined with the dancing it woke you up.

The final song was "Gloria in Excelsis Deo" sung with the appropriated volume and gusto.

This was another great performance by the school chorus. Anyone who missed it, missed some great entertainment last night.

I have been making more of an attempt to attend the chorus shows over the past couple of years and let me say in watching the Middle School Chorus perform I can only say an already great Senior High school chorus is only going to get better as Middle school moves up. I am already seeing the effect of this in watching last year's Middle schoolers join the Senior chorus. Middle School Chorus will perform a Christmas Concert December 17th (Thursday) at 7 Pm.

Emily Ellis, Josh Smith, Rhiannon Smith and Leah Wilson were selected for Delaware All-State 2010.

Rhiannon Smith, Leah Wilson, Joshua Wilder were selected for ACDA All-Eastern Honors Chorus.

As usual these events can not take place with out the support of the school, and Delmar Chorus Boosters.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

eMaryland Marketplace

I was looking at the website emaryland marketplace where state wide contracts are posted for Maryland. It is an interesting website for contractors or anyone who wants to bid on a Maryland project or anyone who is just nosey. On the right sidebar are the main two items I look for "Bid Opportunities" and "Award Notices". The Award Notice part vary from a contract for $9.00 to dispose of used TV's to a contract to supply breakfast cereal at $1,316,498.62 granted to The Great Gourmet in Federalsburg or to being an expert witness for $10,000. I can't figured out why when they do a contract bid in the millions the dollar figure has odd cents in it. Why not just round it off to whole dollars. No doubt a cost plus contract.

Delmar High School Chorus Concert Tonight

The High School Chorus Concert, under the direction of Mrs. Stuart, will be held Thursday, December 10th at 7pm (that is tonight people) in the school auditorium.
As usual it is free.

Delmar Christmas Parade Sunday

As a reminder the Delmar Christmas parade is scheduled for Sunday December 13th at 2 PM

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Robeez - what?

I was reading the BIM on The Rocks blog and Dana brought an interesting subject up - Robeez. Now being a man I rarely pay any attention to shoes, plus our "kids" are grown so I am out of what is hot for kids, and if you read my blog you know my general opinion of Canada, so I had no ideal what a Robeez is.

Dana points out;
Robeez are little slippers for babies and toddlers that are popular here, but a necessity in Canada. In Canada, you don’t wear shoes in the house. All kids keep a pair of inside shoes on their desk at school and pile their boots by the entrance door. For babies, their inside shoes are Robeez. One more product I had never heard of. I have read that Robeez are actually a copy rip off of Bobux from New Zealand, who knows or cares. Robeez was acquired by Stride Rite Corporation and is now part of that corporation. Robeez were made with care by proud Canadians before StrideRite purchased them, I don't know if they still are. Maybe if I am wandering around a shoe store (God Forbid) I will look for them and find out.

I have always found Dana's blog interesting, her current blog has drifted much more to AUTOdesk, the company, she works for, but she still throws interesting tidbits in that interest me.

Political Contributions and Charitable Contributions

One of the columnist I enjoy reading at the News Journal is Ron Williams. In a recent article he spoke of Scott Spencer, Democratic Candidate for U.S. House of Representatives, who thinks candidates should donate at least 10 percent of what they raise in political contributions toward a charitable organization. He's giving his 10 percent to the Food Bank of Delaware.

Delaware Liberal and Resolute Determination had discussed this back on November 19th. Scott Spencer gave his views on this on Delaware politics blog on November 24th.

Now I have expressed before that when you donate or give money away that is what you do - you give it away - and you relinquish all control over it. I would hope it would go for the purpose for which I donated it for and not for the majority of the money to go to support a non-profit CEO salary, or to pay a firm that are the solicitors for the charity, and if I donate to a political campaign I expect that money to be used for that cause. For a political candidate to take the money you gave to him and donate it to a charity tells me not to donate to him and not to vote for him because he strays from the purpose before him and that is to win. If he is not interesting in winning he isn't interested in being your elected official. It is like the Sussex County Council taxing us than giving the small sums of money to countless non-profits that if I had a choice I would not give to.

So simply put don't vote for Scott Spencer and don't give him any money. Like my parents told me "don't give money to fools".

How high's the water, mama?

How high's the water, mama?
Two feet high and risin'
How high's the water, papa?
Two feet high and risin'

We can make it to the road in a homemade boat
That's the only thing we got left that'll float
It's already over all the wheat and the oats,
Two feet high and risin'
Johnny Cash
"Five Feet High And Rising"

Well maybe it isn't that bad but my yard and driveway definitely has water standing. It had not dried up from the previous rain and I have mud trails across my yard from merely walking across it, not to mention the mud being tracked into the house. The weather forecast doesn't call for any drying out time in the future.

No update on the weather from Delmar weather. Over at the Delmar weather Station CW4197 the barometer is at it bottom limits.

Peggy Gaskill and the Wicomico County Retirement Policy

Peggy Gaskill, a bookkeeper at Wicomico High School, was fired in
June 2009 for inappropriate behavior and failure to comply with Wicomico County Board of Education procedures. The 60 year old has been charged with 39 counts of theft. She has worked for the school system for 32 years. If convicted will she be the first person that is effected by the recently passed Wicomico County Policy to prohibit employees from collecting their benefits if they've committed a crime against the county? In any policy there is always a loophole so we will see what her lawyers discover in this policy or will they say since she was fired last summer before the policy was passed she can collect full benefits?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Diego Rivera Was Born Today

Diego Rivera was born today December 8, in 1886. When Mexican painters are spoken of he is the one who comes first to my mind followed by his third wife Frida Kahlo. Given the name Diego María de la Concepción Juan Nepomuceno Estanislao de la Rivera y Barrientos Acosta y Rodríguez he was bound to be a rebel. He lead a free life as a painter and was both a womanizer and Communist. I never consider him to be blessed with good looks, so his success always gave me hope. His paintings and murals frequently were orientated to the worker. A good short bit of information on him is here.

From the movie "Frida" you can get an idea what type of person he was. The real Frida gave this description of him on their wedding day.
Then they gave us a big party in Roberto Montenegro’s house. Diego got horrendously drunk on tequila, waved his pistol about, broke some man’s little finger, and destroyed some things. Afterward, we got mad at each other; I left crying and went home. A few days went by and Diego came to get me and took me to his house at 104 Reforma.

Spencer Fothergill

A good article about Spencer Fothergill, Delmar High Senior, was in today's Daily Times. The youngest in his family and with eight siblings he is no stranger to competition. Everywhere you look at school functions he is there and I have even seen him at a joint council meeting.

Speaking of the Delmar High School, can anyone give me some information on what is happening to the Fine Arts program out there? I hear rumours to the effect the scope of it is being reduced. Perhaps someone can fill me in on it.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Today Is Delaware Day

Today is Delaware Day it is overshadowed by the fact today is also Pearl Harbor day, but lets concentrate on Delaware Day for a change.

Since 1933, the governors of Delaware have proclaimed December 7 as Delaware Day in honor of that day in 1787 when Delaware became the first state to ratify the Federal Constitution, thus making Delaware the first state in the New Nation. Delaware Signers and Ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution

On November 26, 1787, Delaware elected thirty delegates to a state convention to consider ratification.

On December 7, 1787, the delegates, meeting in Dover at Battell's Tavern (also known as the Golden Fleece Tavern) unanimously made Delaware the first state to ratify the United States Constitution The Delaware signers of the Constitution were; Richard Bassett, Gunning Bedford, Jr., Jacob Broom, John Dickinson, and George Read.

The delegates who ratified the constitution at Battell's Tavern were; From Sussex County, John Ingram, John Jones, Will Moore, William Hall, Thomas Laws, Isaac Cooper, Woodman Stockley, John Laws, Jr., Thomas Evans, and Israel Holland.

From Kent County; Nicholas Ridgely, Richard Smith, George Truitt,Richard Bassett, James Sykes, Allen McLane,Daniel Cummins, Sr.,Joseph Barker,Edward White, and George Manlove

From New Castle County; James Latimer, James Black, John James, Gunning Bedford, Sr., Kensey Johns, Thomas Wattson, Solomon Maxwell, Nicholas Way,Thomas Duff, and Gunning Bedford, Jr.

In Delaware schools (usually the fourth grade) Delaware Day is celebrated. Of course I doubt it will be celebrated in Delmar as our fourth grade is on the Maryland Side of Town

Dominique and The Singing Nun

In December of 1963 a most unlikely combination of a song in French sung by a nun hit the music charts and became Number One.

Dominique, nique, nique
S'en allait tout simplement,
Routier pauvre et chantant
En tous chemins, en tous lieux
Il ne parle que du bon Dieu


And to think this beat out the number two hit of the Kingsmen's controversial hit (remember those purportedly "filthy" words.) "Louie Louie".

Referred to as the Singing Nun, to make things more confusing, the Singing Nun had three names. She was born Jeanne-Paule Marie Deckers, aka Jeanine Deckers, in 1933. As a member of the Dominican Fichermont Convent in Belgium, her name was Sister Luc Gabriel. The Philips record label renamed her Soeur Sourire ("Sister Smile"), and "Dominique" was released in December of 1963 under that stage name.

Sister Luc Gabriel had the life that Hollywood dreams of. She joined a convent, became a success with a one hit wonder, gave up the convent, opened a school for autistic children in Belgium with a close friend, Annie Pescher (who reportedly was her lover), both took their lives in 1985 with a combination of pills and alcohol when the government ordered her to pay back taxes amounting to more than 60,000 dollars which accrued from her time as a singer and recording artist. The demand, which put their school in jeopardy, came despite the fact that the Singing Nun had given all profits to her Dominican order.

"We hope God will welcome us. He saw us suffer," the women wrote in their last letter. Belgium's Catholic authorities granted their wish to be buried in consecrated ground. Only a handful of friends and family members were on hand to mourn.

In fact Hollywood did make a movie about her life, in 1966, a movie about the nun's life starring Debbie Reynolds was made. It bombed. If they had just waited twenty years more the story of her life would have made a much more interesting movie.

"Am I a failure? I try to stay honest with myself. To look for the truth, and try to question everything in my life...
Ten years ago I would have said I was a loser.
Now I don't think in terms of losing or winning...
Life is a continuum. You're constantly on your way. One day I feel good, the next I feel bad. Altogether it's bearable.
Would I do it all over again? That's not a good question. You can't.
You can't do it all over again. Voila

- - Jeanine Deckers

"Jeanine... is in constant depression and only lives for me. I live for her. That can't go on.

"We do suffer really too much... We have no more place in life, no ideal except God, but we can't eat that.

"We go to eternity in peace.
We trust God will forgive us.
He saw us both suffer and he won't let us down.

"It would please Jeanine not to die for the world.
She had a hard time on earth.
She deserves to live in the minds of people."
- -

Annie Pécher, from Jeanine and Annie's suicide note, 1985

Soup and Salt

An excellent lunch or light supper need be no more than a good soup.” – Julia Child

Ah soup glorious soup. I happen to enjoy soup and will have a bowl or two at least five days out of the week. Not only do I enjoy eating and making soup but it is a great "refrigerator cleaner" so on Monday, which is the day before trash pickup in Delmar Delaware it is a day that finds me cleaning out the refrigerator of the leftovers. Soup becomes the final resting place for some of the leftovers.

From time immemorial, soups and broths have been the worldwide medium for utilizing what we call the kitchen byproducts or as the French call them, the 'dessertes de la table' (leftovers), or 'les parties interieures de la bete', such as head, tail, lights, liver, knuckles and feet.”
Louis P. De Gouy, The Soup Book (1949)

With a base of Garlic, onions, celery, and peppers browned in salt pork and chicken broth and tomatoes added, finding the leftovers that fit in well – from any kind of vegetables to meat - soup takes it all in. Maybe a little Marsala to smooth it out. The very act of standing at a chopping board; peeling, chopping and slicing filling the room with fried-onions-and-garlic-flavored steam is satisfying mentally.

Anyone who tells a lie has not a pure heart, and cannot make a good soup.
Ludwig van Beethoven

Like most people from Delmarva I am heavy with the salt in the soup and since I use leftovers in my soup and leftovers are sort of historical it brings me to today’s historical notes – Salt making on Delmarva.

Salt is the sea that could not return to the sky

The history of salt and who controlled the salt is well recorded. From salt wars to the 1930 Gandhi's Salt March from Ahmadabad to Delhi, in protest against salt tax. Salt has been and is a commodity required for life itself. Prior to industrialization, it was extremely expensive and labor-intensive to harvest the mass quantities of salt necessary for food preservation and seasoning. This made salt an extremely valuable commodity. Entire economies were based on salt production and trade.

In 1607 the Virginia Company started the colony of Virginia by making a settlement on the James River. In 1613 Captain Samuel Argoll took his shallop and investigated the east side of the Chesapeake Bay and reported “We also discovered a multitude of Islands bearing good meadow ground, and I as think, Salt might easily be made there, if there were any ponds digged, for that I found Salt Kerned where the water had over flowed in certain places. Here also is a great store of fish, both shel-fish and other”. In 1614 Lieutenant William Craddock and seventeen men arrived on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. They purchased land from the Indians on Smith Island that later became a salt works plant. Sea water was boiled in a large kettle over wood fires and stirred with large shovels to keep it from forming in to a lump. An experience salt maker, from the ancient salt maker guild, was sent over from England to supervise the salt making. From 250 to 400 gallons of sea water was required to make a bushel (70 pounds) of salt. The salt was used at the site to salt fish and when supplies arrived by ship from Jamestown to replenish the salt works outpost, the salt and the salted fish would be shipped back.

John Pory, Secretary of the Virginia company pushed for making salt by evaporation instead of making use of the labor intensive cutting of fire wood and tending fires. In 1620 he wrote “undertake in one day to make as much salt by the heat of the sunne, after the manner used in France, Spaine, and Italy, as can be made in a yeare by that toylesome and erroneous way of boyling sea water into salt in kettles”. Of a side note John Pory was a graduate of Cambridge, a good writer and great traveler but gained the reputation of being a drunk and a sponger.

There was two ways to make salt; one was by boiling a pot of seawater over a fire and the second was by solar evaporation. Too make salt by boiling saltwater was always a compromise. Where the salt water was located had less trees than farther inland so the choice was either to haul the saltwater to the trees that would be used for fuel for the fire or haul the trees to the saltwater. As the existing trees were chopped down around the salt works the salt makers begin to look at solar evaporation. As the trees were cleared they went to solar evaporation by pouring the sea water into clay lined vats. Delmarva is far enough North that evaporation just by the sun is a slow process, with the winds coming off the ocean it helped the evaporation process.

Among the Eastern Shore of Virginia salt works that have been referenced in ‘Virginia Eastern Shore’ by Ralph Whitehead are;
In 1660 a distant grandfather of mine Col Edmund Scarburgh had a monopoly on Salt in Virginia. He had saltworks at gargahia and on Occohannock Creek. He was unable to produce the required 10,000 pounds of salt a year and lost the monopoly rights.
In 1676 Daniel Jenifer had a salt works at the mouth of White’s Creek (around modest town/Gargaphia).
In 1683 a mention of a salt evaporating plant on Machone island (Mockhorn Island) containing 312 ponds or salters.
In the revolutionary war James Tait was manager of the Hawleys Creek Salt Works around Eastville.
1795 John Hollins of Baltimore purchase land at for a salt works north of Cape Charles.
1811 James Upshur operated a salt plant on Machipongo creek at Lee’s Neck.
On Major;s Neck there was a salt evaporating plant that when local Confederate soldiers would return home on a furlough they each tried to take back a bag of salt as salt was lacking in the south during “The War”.

The barrier islands that run along the Delmarva coast are idea for salt making. In making salt, seawater can be used but seawater has a salinity percentage of about 3% next to the shore. The ocean averages about 3.5% but next to land where there is freshwater runoff there is a decreased salinity. For effective salt making the salt maker will look for pot holes or salt ponds on the barrier island. These ponds will be depressions where storms have pushed the ocean over the island filling them with saltwater. As the sun evaporates the water the remaining water becomes more salty. Salt ponds have a salinity of 8 to 10% on Delmarva. As a reference the Great Salt lake in Utah ranges between 5% to 27% salt and the Dead Sea is about 30% salt.

The salt pond at Bethany Beach, Delaware at the turn of the century had about 8.37% salt. ( from an article in Delaware history by James M. Tunnel Jr)) Using salt kettles about 4 foot across which would hold about 125 gallons of salt water to a kettle, it could produce 91 pounds of salt per kettle. A quick calculation which allows for a gallon of pure water to be 8.35 pounds would show 125 gallons to be 1,044 pounds – at 8.37% salt in the water by calculation 87 pounds of salt would be produced – close enough to the data the article printed. Where there was not a salt pond they simple dug a pot hole on a barrier island and when it would fill with salt water they would test it for the salt level. One method of testing was to float an egg in the water to determine the salt level. If the egg floated out of the water exposing a circle the size of a nickel the water was good for salt. If circle was larger the salt crystals would be too coarse for good salt. If the egg floated lower it would be too fine and the amount of salt produced would be to low.

When one of my daughters was in Delmar Elementary school, for the annual science project, we took her around to various bays, rivers, and the ocean and took samples of water which we boiled and scraped the salt from the pot to determine which salt water source had the most salt. So making salt is an easy process, of course to make good salt, there is skill involved.

Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea.” - Pythagoras (580 – 500 BC)

In Delaware salt works were at Bethany Beach, Henlopen Acres, Fenwick Island and other places. In Maryland they were on Assateague Island and in Virginia on all the barrier islands.

Altho there were large operations most were smaller seasonal salt works. As farm work decreased in the fall and hog killing time approached the salt works would start up to produce salt for the local market to salt down the pork. Therein lays the problem with identifying where salt plants were. The boiling seawater type would merely be a large number of kettles which when the operation ceased to exist would be moved to other uses. The salt evaporation type of salt making made use of lagoon, ponds and wood vats all of which in a short time after use would return to nature, leaving little to identify where the operations was.

By 1900 most salt works (salterns) were out of business. Large in-land commercial salt mining operations took over and combined with cheaper bulk transportation their salt could be sold cheaper than local operations could make it. There was one article I came across from 1907 that talked about the Sinepuxent Bay Salt Water Inlet Company forming to dam up the Sinepuxent Bay and make salt. I don’t know how long this company was in business or if they ever produced salt. The Sinepuxent Bay was however the location for numerous salt works.

Mined (Regular) Salt and solar (sea) salt come from different places, but by the time they make it to your grocery shelf, they are practically identical in every way, including nutritional value. All salt originates in the ocean, which has covered different parts of the earth over time. But because some ancient seas have dried up and become covered with sediment, there are now salt deposits beneath the earth's surface.

Whether it comes from the sea or the earth, table salt is made through the process of evaporation. In the case of solar salt, sea water is put into shallow outdoor basins and allowed to evaporate until salt crystals emerge; in mined salt, water is pumped into salt mines to create a well of brine, which is then pumped into indoor vessels and heated until, once again, salt crystals emerge. Impurities are filtered, iodine and anti-caking agents are sometimes added.

Most of the time I use Hain Iodized Sea Salt, it contains Salt, calcium silicate (an anticaking agent), dextrose (is added in small amounts to salt to prevent the potassium iodide from breaking down into iodine, which evaporates away – in other words to stabilize the iodine) , potassium iodide (Potassium iodide is added as a nutrient, to prevent goiter, a thyroid gland problem caused by lack of iodine), and sodium bicarbonate (another potassium iodide stabilzer). Federal standards require that all salt sold for table salt be at least 97.5 percent sodium chloride. Sometime I will go with a purer sea salt than Hain that doesn’t contain iodide or an anti caking additive, but frankly it is a mess for clumping up and just doesn’t work well in salt shakers. Interestingly a salt maker in the saltmaking guild in England who makes table salt is referred to as a lumpman - as in a person who keeps the lumps out of table salt.

For years the only salt you could find in this area was Morton Salt. As we became more concerned over our health it turned out Morton salt was using an aluminum based anticaking agent in their salt. Being an old person two words can throw a fright into me; cancer and Alzheimer's. There is some discussion that the aluminum compounds can lead to Alzheimers. I am sure you would have to eat a truck load of it to be harmed but given a choice why risk it? I understand Morton salt switched anticaking additives a number of years back so they should be fine again. As with all processed foods and additives read what ingredients are in your container of salt.

So when I dump my handful of salt into my pot of Monday’s soup I am dumping the history of the world into the pot.

What! You think I use too much salt in my soup?

"No soup for you!"
- George and the Soup Nazi, in "The Soup Nazi" Seinfeld

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The 4th Annual Mardela Springs Heritage Christmas Tour

I went to the 4th Annual Mardela Springs Heritage Christmas Tour tonight and it was excellent. The tour was by donation. It started at the Fire Hall where you could ride a tram to the sites on the tour.

After the first ride you realized the seats on the tram would freeze your rear end off and since everything was in a four block area it was easlier and warmer to walk.

at a large number of sites was music as these violinist at the Barren Creek Heritage Museum.

At the Emmanuel Methodist Church was the Delmarva Connections Bluegrass group - good music

The Mason Dixon Woodworkers had a display of the items they make

and of course Santa was there with some very delightful Elfs outside the building directing traffic.

Everywhere were people enjoying themselves.

at the Bratten Taylor General Store you even had a storekeeper

The Gravenor-English One room school house

and some of the kids in one room school house

A nice Train exhibit was at the Cannery warehouse

The Fire house had a number of venders and I even bought something. An interesting booth was these wood items from M and J Turnings (Jay Coulson and Mitzi Davison)really nice finish and exellent craftsmanship

At the First Baptist Church was the Madela High School Brass band, the music everywhere greatly added to the Christmas Spirit.

A really great Christmas Tour

Wildcats are Delaware Division II State Champions

I understand the Delmar Wildcats beat Hodgson Tech 12 to 7 and are now the Delaware division II champs. GO Wildcats!!

Cammie Gallo and the giant cabbage

I read in today's News journal that Cammie Gallo, third grader at Lake Forest South Elementary school, was chosen by the Delaware Agriculture commissioner as the state winner of the Bonnie Plant giant cabbage contest. Congratulations Cammie!!

According to the Bonnie Plant website teachers who want to register their school for 2010 cabbage deliveries the deadline is March 1, 2010 in the southern states and April 15th in the northern states.

More excitement; the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) in partnership with the American Egg Board, the Delaware Heritage Commission, the Delaware Historical Society, and the Delaware Division of Libraries is sponsoring a Delaware History Decorated Egg Contest. Egg artists and crafters will decorate large chicken eggs (contents removed) to represent some special feature or features of the Delaware’s rich history. Artists must register to participate by February 3, 2010

I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree

Today December 6 in 1886 Alfred Joyce Kilmer was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Usually referred to as Joyce Kilmer I thought for years this person was a woman. Kilmer died of a sniper bullet in World War I in France, on July 30, 1918 at the age of 31.

Best known as for his Poety and a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike his most remembered poem is "Trees" published in 1914.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.

Mass Killings

In the news is John Demjanjuk. John Demjanjuk, 89 year old, is consider one of the world's most wanted Nazi war criminals. No, he isn’t German he is a native Ukrainian. John (né Ivan) Demjanjuk has said he was conscripted into the Red Army in 1940 and captured by the Nazis in 1942. Prosecutors say in order to save his life he volunteered for the German SS and was trained as a camp guard. They are charging him with complicity in the murder of thousands of people at Sobibor, a Nazi concentration camp in German-occupied Poland, during the Holocaust. He is being charged with 29,000 counts of accessory to murder.

After World War II he emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Cleveland. He worked in the auto industry until 1977, when evidence that he may have served as a Nazi guard sparked an investigation into his past. In 1981 an Ohio court ruled that Demjanjuk was indeed an escaped Nazi war criminal and stripped him of his citizenship. In 1986 Demjanjuk was extradited to Israel. Two years later he was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The case was reopened in 1993 after Israeli courts unveiled testimony from 37 former guards and laborers at Treblinka that suggested Demjanjuk was not their man. His conviction and death sentence were vacated. Following his release, Demjanjuk returned to the U.S., where his citizenship was restored in 1998. In March 2009, Demjanjuk was extradited to Germany, where he is standing trial for the death of 29,000 people because he was a guard at the Sobibor prison camp.

Now those who know me are aware I am a hateful person who holds a grudge for a long time. I think if Demjanjuk had anything to do with killing an innocent person then he should die. Not to take away any possible guilt Demjanjuk may have, I do however question why him? First he is not even German and you would think there are plenty of Germans to take to court. Second, there were millions killed in World War II and the guilt can be share among all the participants, but let’s go with argument since “our side” won we will only prosecute the losers, the main ones being Germany, Japan and Italy. All did mass killing yet after the initial round of war trials were held only those crimes related to the killing of Jews continue. Why is that?

Now this is not an apple to apple comparison but when I hear of these war crimes or any crimes involving killing I have to think back to October 2nd, 2006. On that day Charles Carl Roberts IV entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse in West Nickel Mines, shot 10 Amish girls ages 6-13, and then committed suicide. Instead of hate and outrage, the Amish community didn't cast blame, they didn't point fingers, they didn't hold a press conference with attorneys at their sides. Instead, they reached out with grace and compassion toward the killer's family. Amish neighbors visited the Roberts family to comfort them in their sorrow and pain. At Charles Roberts' funeral Amish mourners outnumbered the non-Amish. I couldn’t do such a thing and I don’t know many people who could. I am merely pointing out on a Sunday the difference in the two aftermath of killing.