While You Were Gone

They show up on my screened porch, these newspaper clips do, on a table usually, but sometimes taped to the front door. Full of underlines, exclamations, circled phrases, and handwritten notes, they alert me to things I need to know about. And, in this day of emails and text messages, they’re exciting and fresh.

You see, I have my very own downstate clipping service that monitors the Cape Gazette and other local publications for me. I don’t actually pay for this service. It’s more of a barter system. On Sunday night I leave fresh flowers from my garden or a half bottle of wine on my neighbor’s porch, and in return on Friday night I get these clippings. It’s neither discussed nor negotiated. It just happens.

You summer folk miss out on a lot when you’re not here. So, to properly kick off this year’s summer season, it is my distinct pleasure to present you with five of my favorite off-season clips.

Secret Navy Base Tracked Russian Subs

It’s common knowledge that Fort Miles, on the great dune at Cape Henlopen State Park, was a Navy base monitoring the Delaware Bay during WWII. But, I recently learned that from 1962 until 1981, it was a super secret Naval installation that listened for Russian subs. The Cape Gazette ran a story on the base, one of many along the coast from Nova Scotia to Barbados, where servicemen monitored signals received from cables laid 100 miles out on the Atlantic Ocean floor from Nova Scotia to Barbados. The Cape Henlopen base was built after the Cape May, New Jersey station was destroyed during the Great Ash Wednesday Nor’easter in 1962. With this network, the Navy could track the movement of subs off the coast. Normally five to six Soviet subs were patrolling regularly during the Cold War. Every summer, however, the number increased to the hundreds as the Soviets played their war games.

Turkey Fryer Explosion

According to the Cape Gazette, an unattended turkey fryer exploded Thanksgiving evening, causing a fire in a Pot-Nets Bayside mobile home over in Long Neck. Because of inclement weather, an unidentified family left the fryer unattended under a neighbor’s carport for at least 45 minutes. The family heard an explosion at about 4:30 pm and saw the neighbor’s carport on fire. Nobody was hurt.

Leaving a roast in the oven and strolling over to the Blue Moon for a couple of cocktails is one thing. Leaving a vat of boiling oil unattended for 45 minutes, well, that is absolutely irresponsible. More importantly, what happened to the turkey?

Cows on the Beach

Delaware Beach Life did a feature on the Seabreeze neighborhood, which is between Rehoboth and Dewey, bordering on Rehoboth Bay. Before becoming a subdivision in the 1950’s, it was a dairy farm. Believe it or not, the cows would graze from the bay to the ocean. One kid remembers going down in the beach in the evenings to bring the cows home. There’s an old photo accompanying the article – perhaps from the 20’s — and it shows two kids playing in the ocean while some bovine wade among the tidal pools on Dewey Beach.

I know what you’re thinking. However, I refuse to dignify it with witty repartee. Nope. I will resist the temptation to pontificate on this any further.

Is Shad Roe Getting Trendy?

April is prime shad roe time in Sussex County. The Cape Gazette did a piece on how it’s getting trendy. The shad, a relative of the herring, lives in the Atlantic and swims up local rivers to lay its eggs. It was a delicacy in the 1700s when George Washington and his troops dined on it. The fishy, liver-like shad roe has a cult following. Traditional cooks fry it up in butter in a skillet. Trendier chefs in Rehoboth, however, are pairing it with pancetta and lavender butter or country ham, white wine, and capers.

Now, I’m not a culinary sissy. I have eaten jellyfish lips in Beijing and fried zucchini rolled in powdered sugar and béarnaise sauce in New Orleans. But, I tried shad roe a few years ago. Got to tell you, caviar it ain’t. For starters, it’s gray, which, in my opinion, is just wrong for any food. Consistency-wise, it reminds me of scrapple, another downstate favorite. They say shad roe is an acquired taste.

Stray Bullet Lands on Man Soaking in Hot Tub

A 59 year old man was soaking in a local guest house hot tub with his wife on their wedding anniversary when a stray bullet landed on his stomach. The man wasn’t hurt, but the bullet left a red mark. A Rehoboth Beach policeman was quoted in the Cape Gazette as saying “somebody somewhere fired a gun….he’s lucky it didn’t hit him in the head.” Now that, my friends, is an amazingly astute statement, don’t you agree.

Welcome back.

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