Observations, Photos

Occupy Rehoboth Rally

The smell of french fries and pizza permeated the air at the Occupy Wall Street movement at the bandstand at the end of Rehoboth Avenue.  I don’t quite understand it, but there’s something to it when several hundred people turn out in Rehoboth Beach on a sunny Saturday afternoon….

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Observations, Photos

Halloween Dog Parade

Perfect weather  for Sunday’s Halloween Dog Parade on the Rehoboth Boardwalk. This annual event used to be for all pets and  you’d see cats, goats, snakes, chickens, and birds, in addition to dogs.  It was definitely wilder and a little more downstate. When did it change?

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Observations, Photos

Thinking About Steve Jobs

Small memorial at Apple Store, Georgetown DC

Like millions of other Americans, I heard that Apple founder Steve Jobs had died not from a TV or radio report but via an email received on my iPhone. In the days following his death, I learned a lot about this visionary and talented man, but the one thing that caught my attention was his study of calligraphy at Reed College in Oregon. A decade later when he was designing the first Macintosh computer, he made sure to incorporate good typography into the product. It’s been an Apple staple since.

I understand his fascination with calligraphy and the art of writing.  I mastered block letters then Palmer Method cursive at an early age.  While other elementary school kids gripped fat green and red pencils, yours truly was already using a slim yellow Ticonderoga.

At the encouragement of my maternal grandparents, I incorporated graceful lines and extended loops into my handwriting.  Good penmanship was the sign of a well-educated boy, and they felt it their duty to introduce me to the elegant Spencerian script from the golden age of American penmanship.  I actually practiced handwriting.  On purple paper, no less.

My paternal grandparents, on the other hand, preferred to put a football in my hands and take me to games at Florida Field. Throwing a perfect spiral was just as important a skill for a Southern boy to master.

I’m convinced the reason I got through law school was because my handwriting was neat and legible. It certainly wasn’t because I studied too much.

Law school was twenty-five years go.  About the only thing I write by hand today is my signature on a credit card slip.  And when I do have the occasion to write something longer, it pains me to see the result.   Like my ability to toss a perfect spiral, it seems my handwriting has gotten wobbly from lack of practice.

I compose text messages and emails rather than writing letters. Ideas and observations are no longer jotted down in a chartreuse leather bound notebook, but, rather, typed into one of Steve Jobs’ white tablet computers made of aluminum, plastic, and oleophobic-coated glass and then efficiently filed in folders and tagged with keywords so I can easily find them again later when I’m ready to work on a column or blog posting. No more illegible scribbles. No smudged Post-it notes. No more scrambling around for a pen that works.  No longer tethered to a computer at a desk, I can write while riding the crosstown D6 bus in Washington or sitting on Poodle Beach in Rehoboth.

Truman Capote said you weren’t a writer unless you wrote by longhand. He called Jack Kerouac a “typist” because he typed all his novels.  Then again, Capote claimed he couldn’t write unless in a supine position and fortified with cigarettes and coffee – sherry and martinis as the day wore on.

Some people say you’re a writer if you’re engaged in literary composition as a profession.  Others say you’re a writer if you’re published or if you’ve earned money from writing.  Look up “write” in the dictionary and you see definitions like “to form letters, words, or symbols on a surface such as paper with an instrument such as a pen” or “to form letters or words in cursive style.”

Am I a writer, then, if I don’t physically write?  If my once proud penmanship sucks?  I suppose it all depends on your definition.  All I know is that I write more than I ever have while writing less than I used to.  Thank you Steve Jobs. I think?

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Observations, Photos

White Caps

Big white mushrooms are popping up all over Rehoboth because of all the rain over the past several weeks.  Or are they toadstools?  Each term goes back centuries and isn’t very well defined.  Generally speaking, a mushroom has a stem, cap, and gills.  Toadstool is a term applied to a poisonous mushroom or a fungi with a classic umbrella-like cap and stem form.

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Observations, Photos

Out to Pasture

Five little turquoise cottages used to sit at the corner of Columbia Avenue and Sussex Street in Rehoboth, surrounded by hydrangeas and zinnias.   At one time they were motor court cabins.  More recently, they were summer rentals.   I can’t recall exactly when they were removed and the lots sold.  Five?  Ten years ago?   I recently spotted one of the cottages in a pasture out on Coolspring Road.  Wonder if there are any other survivors?

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Observations, Photos

Geographic Center of Delaware

Spotted this on one of my drives through Delaware. It looks like the center of the state, don't you think? Here's the story. In 1989, a curious seventh grader from the Caesar Rodney School District asked where the center of Delaware was located. With the help of his teacher and the Kent County Department of Planning, it was determined that the geographic center of the state was located approximately eleven miles south of Dover in the field just south of this marker, on the Killen Farm on DE Route 12 outside of Felton

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Observations

Hurricane(s) Irene

I was in Charleston a few weeks ago at a bar called Bootleggers when the topic of hurricane names came up.  The consensus of the group at hand was that Irene, Ophelia, and Phillipe were the best 2011 names for hurricanes.  Little did we know..

This is not the first Hurricane Irene. There was a Tropical Storm Irene in 1959.  Hurricane Irene in 1971 moved from the Atlantic across Central America and into the Pacific.  It was the first time an Atlantic hurricane was officially tracked crossing into the Pacific. Hurricane Irene 1981 started west from the Cape Verde Islands, but curved way to the east and eventually moved over northern France as an extratropical storm.  In 1999, Hurricane Irene made landfall in Cuba and South Florida before emerging into the Atlantic and shading the East Coast all the way up to Newfoundland.  The 2005 edition of Hurricane Irene didn’t come ashore.  It went up the East Coast west of the Carolinas and east of Bermuda before dissipating over the North Atlantic.

The World Meteorological Organization sets the names, which are now “recycled” every six years unless a storm is so bad the name is retired.  Let’s hope this isn’t the end of the line for Hurricane Irene.

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Observations, Photos

The Chitlin’ Circuit

This photo shows remnants of an old black-owned hotel on US 17 near Litchfield Beach, SC.  The story goes that it was built in the late 40s by deccendents of rice plantation slaves who came into possession of the land as compensation from the plantation owners after emancipation. During the 50s, it became a popular overnite stopping point for black bands and entertainers playing the Chitlin’ Circuit — the name given to venues up and down the East Coast and throughout the South where it was safe for black musicians to perform during the era of racial segregation.

US 17 was a principal north-south highway at the time, before the interstates, of course, and there were probably few establishments catering to blacks along the way. Black entertainers would perform there and draw large crowds and included many well known stars of the time such as Count Basie.

The facility also included a restaurant and a boardwalk across the marsh over to the ocean front on South Litchfield Beach. Locals were charged a modest fee to cross the marsh and enjoy the beach, which is undevelopable because of tidal flooding.  The property was  almost completely destroyed  during Hurricane Donna in 1960 and the motel never reopened. The property and remains of parts of the facility lay  dormant for almost 50 years before recent efforts to do something with the site.

The South Litchfield Beach area for many years drew black folk and was called Magnolia Beach. Certainly the motel and causeway to the beach  was the impetus.

I went in search of similar remains over in Oak Orchard, DE, where the Indian River flows into Rehoboth Bay.   I’ve read there used to be a place called the Rosedale Beach Hotel that was a stop on the Chitlin’ Circuit too.

In its pre-60s heyday, Rosedale Beach had a little boardwalk, a hotel, and a dance hall where performers like Ella Fitzgerald and James Brown performed. White Sussex Countians often anchored their boats offshore to listen to the music.  Unfortunately, there are no remains of Rosedale, not even a marker.

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