Archive for December, 2009

Coastal flooding reveals Lewes history

December 22, 2009

Last weekend’s coastal flooding revealed a brief but important chapter of Lewes history when the marshes between Freeman Highway and Savannah Road filled with the high tide mid-morning on Saturday.  It’s no accident that the cedar-studded line working its way across the marsh toward the city’s wastewater treatment plant forms an almost perfect arc.  In fact, the arc is part of an early 20th century railroad system that combined train and steamboat travel.  The rail line that the arc peels off from, in the foreground of the photograph, is still in use but the rail bed built above the marsh to make the looping line for the cedars went out of use nearly 100 years ago. Read more about this interesting rail line in my Barefootin’ column in the Friday, Dec. 25 edition of the Cape Gazette.

The storm also accentuated the red ruins of the old Lofland Brick Company on Round Pole Branch Road just outside the easterly limits of Milton. I will post a photograph of those ruins on Wednesday morning.  I will also post a photograph taken at the height of last weekend’s storm in Rehoboth Beach, about a half an hour after I took this photo in Milton.  It shows the Boardwalk project work at the end of Rehoboth Avenue with the nor’easter-driven seas licking at the dunes just beyond the grasses.  This nor’easter made up in intensity what it lacked in duration.  The amazing thing about Rehoboth on Saturday was that there was zero snow here compared to the six inches already on the ground in Milton at the same time.

We were in a pocket here along the coast that protected us from the brunt of the storm.  As Walter Brittingham often says, we’re so blessed to live here.

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The inscrutable, monstrous Dr. Bradley

December 21, 2009

A metal suit of armor stands on the front porch of Dr. Earl Bradley’s house across from the firehouse on Savannah Road in Lewes.  It’s always struck me as a curiosity.  Now, given the unbelievable sex crime charges filed against the doctor, the suit of armor symbolizes something far more sinister.  For years, perhaps decades, no one knew or was willing to confront the monster that videos in police possession indicate existed inside the man. As for the medieval armor, the slit in the metal across the eyes offered at least a little opportunity to see the man within.  For his personal armor, Dr. Bradley dressed his life with innocent cartoon characters to more insidiously camouflage the horror that seethed inside.

The front porch of the house reveals more of the man’s contradictory nature.  In the window beside the suit of armor, a smiling Santa Claus figure looks to the world outside – another clue into the psyche of a twisted mind.

A further look around Dr. Bradley’s residence on Sunday morning, the grounds crusted with snow, showed a property not consistent with what you think of as a doctor’s house.  The old house needs a lot of work.  The ’70s-era aluminum siding is dirty, a back fence is broken down.  A new boat and trailer fill much of the back yard with its collection of ill-kept small sheds. A lawn mower sits forlornly and askew, as if the gas had run out and the owner just walked away from it where it sat, without another thought – or, perhaps, with many other thoughts.  The overall sense of the place is dysfunctional.

Several years ago, not long after he moved his BayBees pediatrics practice into the house on Route 1 where many recent crimes allegedly took place, Dr. Bradley and office staff entered the Lewes Christmas Parade.  His float was one of the most unusual that has ever participated in the parade.  He had cartoon characters aboard the wagon and other items drawing attention to his BayBees practice.  Most noteworthy however was a picture screen at the front of the float.  The doctor had rigged up a generator-powered video camera and had it positioned in such a way that it broadcast images of the parade in real time on the screen.

We know, now, based on court documents,  that Dr. Bradley used those same technical skills with the video equipment to record his own deviant sexual crimes against the youngest of children.  Trying to conceive of the mind that conjures and acts on these thoughts sends the brain toward shutdown.

Most of us have probably thought we would never encounter a real monster in our lives. Now it’s clear that we have.

There have long been clues that this odd character wasn’t in synch with the rest of the world around him.  Now the community is asking itself how long these crimes have been part of his world and why we didn’t detect their horrible extent before now?

Let it snow while I reflect

December 18, 2009

A classic winter snowstorm, tracking up the coast from the south like the big ones that usually nail us, is on its way at this writing. At Best’s store today, snow shovels were flying out the door like Ryan Howard’s homeruns out of Citizen’s Bank Park. “What do they do with them from year to year?” one cashier asked.  “Who cares? I said.  “It’s job security for you guys.”

Meanwhile DelDOT’s been brining the roads to anticipate the ice.  Pretty work!

It’s 4:30 and it’s almost dark.  Just one more week and we’ll pass the winter solstice and the days will begin lengthening again. Merry Christmas!

I’m still thinking about a recent trip to Seattle where a granddaughter, Maisy Peach, was born.  Her papa, Ross, read her a story, “Don’t Lick The Dog” a couple of days ago.  She listened to each word and asked lots of questions.  Only a week old?  Can you believe it?  We’re sure she’s a genius.  Maybe she   was just thinking the questions. But she must be smart.  Megan was reading lots of baby books during her pregnancy. 

Here’s a quick picture story about the days leading up to the birth.

First, we ate fish tacos at the Coastal Kitchen up on Broadway and drank wine and beer and wondered whether Megan would give birth before we had to fly back to Delaware.  Fish tacos are a fine art in the Pacific Northwest.  The restaurant had a Cuban flavor and we liked it. C’mon baby.

A few days later we were looking in windows on First Street in Belltown, wondering how we would look in these creative togs made out of candy – red licorice and peppermints. We were also still wondering whether Megan would deliver – whether the stork would land – before we had to leave.

We took a side trip to San Juan Island, north of Seattle in Puget Sound, thinking we would fool the baby into thinking we had left.  “Maybe that will get her moving, since she’s already past her due date by 10 days for God’s sake.”  We enjoyed looking at alpacas at a farm on San Juan Island.  Wool clothing was beautiful and expensive.

Then we walked through a small state park with a beautiful lighthouse.  

There’s a great sculpture garden on the island with about a hundred different pieces spread over 20 or 30 acres.

A nice walk on a sunny day.

It was there that Becky filled out a prayer message and dropped it into a prayer spinner to be broadcast through the atmosphere of deep consciousness.

She prayed for a safe and speedy baby delivery and a healthy granddaughter.

Then we took the ferry back to Seattle, still waiting for the baby’s arrival, but getting close to our  departure date just one day away.

The prayer worked.  Maisy Peach decided to send Megan into labor the night before we left.  At 1:30 in the morning she and Ross were rocking and moaning in the living room, listening to mellow music, and just a day past the full moon.  Megan and her sister, Meredith, were both full moon babies.  Maisy Peach wanted to follow suit.  She came into this world at 10 a.m. Here she is with mom and pop three minutes after delivery.  Ain’t it cool?  And this is why we have to work so hard to make this world a better place.

Goin’ to the Chapel in a Purple Haze

December 3, 2009

Delaware native Tom Douglas operates several successful restaurants in Seattle.

SEATTLE: DEC. 2, 2009 – This town seduces you.  It’s easy to drink too much wine and espresso. So many options and, at this time of year, so little daylight. Don’t ask for the connection.  Chalk it up to alcohol and caffeine.

Today we ate lunch at a Tom Douglas restaurant called Serious Pie. (Douglas has Delaware connections and several other Seattle Restaurants including Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge and Etta’s Seafood.) Serious Pie is seriously reminiscent of Half Full in downtown Lewes: artisan pizzas along with an extensive list of Italian wines and a shorter list of beers and ales. We ate two of their thin-crusted pizzas – about the thinnest and lightest crust we’ve ever had – and washed them down with a carafe of Pinot Grigio.

A few blocks later, we stopped into an espresso joint.  I’m too fond of lattes with caramel. The sound system was playing “Going to the chapel and I’m . . . gonna get married . . . ”

“Is that Jimi Hendrix?” I asked the young man as I was paying for my order.

“I don’t think so,” he said.

“I was just kidding,” I said.

“Yeah,” he said, kind of innocently.  “It doesn’t sound psychedelic enough.”

“But you know what is funny?” I asked, without waiting for an answer.  “Both of those songs came out during the same era.”

“This is a collection from the ’60s,” he said. “So that makes sense.”

I went on to tell him about seeing Hendrix and his band at Washington D.C.’s Shoreham Hotel in the spring of 1968.  He seemed genuinely interested.

“How was it?”

“Amazing,” I said.  “What I couldn’t believe was how much music those three musicians could put out by themselves.  Of course Hendrix and his bass player each had pyramids of amplifiers and speakers 20 feet tall and equally as wide, on each side of the stage.”

“I would like to have seem him,” he said.

“He was probably dead before you were born.”

“1987,” he said.

“Oh yeah, he was gone by then.  But you can go up on Broadway and see that great statue of him.”

Then I thought again of the contrast in music produced in that era.

“I guess it shows the difference between music produced under the influence of hot chocolate and music produced under the influence of LSD.”   He might have laughed.  I’m not sure.

He rung me up and walked away after giving me my change and four quarters for bus fare.  I threw some more words his way.  “I’m putting a dollar in the tip jar here for your education fund.”

“Not going to college,” he said.  “Going straight into business.”

“School of hard knocks huh?” I replied.

“Yup.”

“You know what the school colors are don’t you?”

He looked at me inquiringly.

“Black and blue,” I said.

He smiled and Becky laughed, though she’s heard it dozens of times before.

“Do I get a discount for entertainment?”

“Next time,” he said, and smiled.

“Oh yeah,” I said, “Like that classic sign on the bar: ‘Beer is free tomorrow.'”