Posts Tagged ‘Lewes’

Fantasy land comes to Second Street in Lewes

August 30, 2010

A small disco ball with directed lights adds a magical atmosphere to King's Ice Cream in Lewes.

Rudy and Chelsea Spoor recently added a touch of the fantastical and magical to their King’s Ice Cream store on Second Street in Lewes. Rudy and Chelsea met in the Netherlands while she was dancing and he doing technical and lighting work, both for the Royal Netherlands Ballet.  They brought some of that theater to their store when they added a mirrored disco ball beneath the porch and hit it with blue lights mounted under the corners of the porch. The turning ball scatters soft blue spots of moving lights around the front of the store – on the sidewalks, on the planters and the porch posts, and on the people walking by and standing in line.  A touch of quiet disco without the hammering beat. It reminds me of Tinker Bell in Peter Pan and the bubbles that LaLaLand used so effectively in front if its Wilmington Avenue restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.

The lights are attractive in a subtle and creative way and add a new element to the nighttime summer scene on Second Street.


Low tech, boats and high interaction

March 10, 2010

Bob Kotowski, left, Bob Hyberg, center, Steve Rogers, on stool, and Jim Gent prepare to attach a keel skeg to the bottom of the Bevin's Skiff.

One of the pervasive complaints of the day is that all the technology, computers, smart phones, emails etc. are more and more isolating human beings and taking them out of social settings.  How about some situational awareness – getting to know the beautiful world in which we live?

Those who live along the coast often get to know the world better and interact with it by getting some kind of a boat, whether for fishing, canoeing, birdwatching , hunting, sailing, exploring or simply making their way between our coastal towns in a more relaxed and beautiful manner.  Lewes Historical Society is undertaking a great project that will allow people to get into some serious social interaction, get away from high technology and have a boat for exploring the local rivers, marshes, bays and – for the most adventurous – the biggest and baddest of them all – the mighty Atlantic.  Under the direction of people like Alex Sydnor – Beebe Medical Foundation director – and Rick Hoenen – carpenter, contractor and prolific boat builder – the society is growing a wooden boat program.  On Father’s Day weekend this year, June 18-20, people are invited to gather at the Canalfront Park in Lewes where they can join with several others in building their own boat.

Rick Hoenen, left, and Steve Rogers - ship model builder, artist and now, boat builder - discuss plans for the Bevin's Skiff.

The Bevin’s Skiff is a tough little rowboat vessel, twelve feet long, with an optional sail kit, that has been made available as a kit through the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. Last Sunday, a group of men worked in the Freddy Hudson building at the historical society complex.  They had the hull of their prototype vessel complete and were readying the keel skeg for attachment.

Sydnor said the goal of the project is to get a lot of people together to work on their own vessels, starting on Friday afternoon, and then completing work by Sunday and having a communal launching in the canal. Hoenen, looking over the plans, eyeballed modifications he thought would make the vessel better. Jim Gent, whose family I knew from my growing up days in Chestertown, showed me a ring nail that is used to fasten pieces of the vessel together.  The brassy-looking nail gets its name from the sharp rings around its shaft that give it better gripping power.  “They’re almost impossible to pull out,” Gent told me.

The men had an already-built skiff outside in the weekend sun for reference. It showed the substantial transom – a good two inches thick – that would easily handle a small outboard.  The vessel would be good for use in the canal and rivers and for fishing in  Roosevelt Inlet and the local bays on calm days. Replace a board now and then and keep the hardware in good shape and a wooden boat will last forever.

Things do come full-circle.  The Canalfront Park in Lewes is the site of one of earliest shipbuilding operations in the U.S. – predating the Revolutionary War, and also the site of one of the first African-American shipbuilding operations in the new world. For information about the Bevin’s Skiff build-in, contact the historical society at 645-7670.

Cape Region Buzz: Politics, restaurants, people

January 11, 2010

Thank God the cold snap is forecast to break this week!

Political watchers are keeping a close eye on Attorney General Beau Biden, waiting for his announcement on whether he will run against Republican Congressman Mike Castle for one of Delaware’s two U.S. Senate seats. The younger Biden is in the spotlight because of the Dr. Earl Bradley case. One of the things he campaigned on when running for the AG’s position was tougher initiatives against child predation including internet child pornography and other crimes related to advancing internet technology.  He could use that to show his grasp of contemporary issues. The tough part though will be working to prosecute Bradley’s crimes while simultaneously investigating the systemic breakdown that allowed those crimes to stay below the surface for so long. And campaign for the U.S. Senate at the same time?  It would be possible to play all the cards simultaneously for the same ultimate goal – winning the election – kind of like a game of hearts when you decide to shoot the moon.  However, doing so will take tremendous mastery and focus. Given Biden’s year-long hiatus on the ground in Iraq and being away from home turf, it’s not hard to imagine his head is reeling at the moment. Meanwhile Mike Castle must be grinning – at least inwardly – at not having to roar full-bent into his campaign yet.  Each day that Biden doesn’t decide is one more day Castle can save his money for the summer and fall campaign ahead.  It’s obviously late for anyone to be launching a Senate campaign.

Much of Castle’s chance of regaining the seat held formerly by Vice President Joe Biden will depend on how hard the winds will be blowing against the Obama administration and Democrats as the Nov. 2 election day approaches.


The great thing about small town life is hearing comments from people up and down the street.  I’ve heard a number of people carping about the bright colors on the new Savannah Road restaurant, JD’s Filling Station, formerly the Blue Plate Diner.  “Lewes has this historical review commission that tells people what kinds of windows to put in their houses,” said one.  “How can they let that restaurant use colors like that?”  Me, I like it.  It makes the town’s historical structures stand out even more. If you don’t know what they’re talking about, ride into Lewes and take a look.


A Rehoboth Beach businessman told me that a recent count shows an estimated 17 businesses on Rehoboth Avenue haven’t renewed their leases for 2010.  High rents?  Tough economy?  The nature of a highly seasonal seaside resort?

In Lewes, on Second Street, the storefront previously occupied by Walt Palmer’s Mugs and Stitches is now vacant. Palmer, before Christmas, said he may be moving his operation to a Route One location where a family member has another business.  More on that later. A downtown dress shop is considering moving into the former Mugs and Stitches place. At the corner of Second Street and Savannah Road, the linen shop has closed up and an Italian deli is planning to move in.  Other properties fronting Second Street are also in flux.  There’s nothing constant but change.


Many signs indicate the economy has bottomed out and is beginning to improve.  Auto sales are increasing and in our all-important resort real estate market, lower prices, stimulus money and attractive mortgage rates are stirring activity. The developers of the Vineyards at Nassau Valley on Route 9 are nearing completion of their first building, Sussex County’s first 60-foot combination retail and residential building.  Word is that they are about to begin construction of the second building in their retail/residential complex. All of this amounts to money starting to move more and that equates to an improving economy.

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.

Paddles, pedals, pints, politicks and pales

October 26, 2009


People paddled, pedaled, drank pints and politicked through much of the day Sunday to enjoy a beautiful October day and raise money for the Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park. While the young winter season’s largest flock of snow geese rose from Gordon’s Pond, filling the sky between canal and ocean with an explosion of motion, a fleet of 40 kayaks made its way eastward from Lewes toward Rehoboth.

Organized by Dogfish Head, Quest Fitness and Lewes Cycle Sports, the event took advantage of two of the area’s great outdooring activities –kayaking on the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and bicycling on the Junction and Breakwater Trail – and paired them with pints of Dogfish beers, ales and sandwiches at the brewery’s Rehoboth Beach restaurant.  A northwest wind and rising tide joined forces to push the kayakers Rehobothward from the Canalfront Park where the fleet made the first organized use of the canoe and kayak launching area underwritten by Dogfish Head. The trip started a little after 10 a.m. and ended with a return to the park – after delivering the cruiser bicycles to Lewes Cycle Sports – at about 3 p.m.

The trip was not only invigorating and inspired by immersion in the beauty of the state-park-surrounded canal, it also raised several hundred dollars for the friends group.  People came from as far as New York City and as near as Lewes, Rehoboth and Salisbury.

The politicking aspect came from discussions about a water shuttle between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach via the canal and the need for a public landing area on the Rehoboth Beach end to complement the Canalfront Park landing at the Lewes end.  Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione has offered a $5,000 grant to begin the planning of a shuttle and Rehoboth Beach landing project.  The trails of the area and the shuttle possibilities create an opportunity to make transportation and mobility in Delaware’s Cape Region an amazing tourist attraction. Now the seeds have been spread.  Time will tell whether they have landed on fertile ground.

Nature has already done its work exponentially. The work remaining pales in comparison.


A great July 4th celebration

July 6, 2009

dennis20090706Great weather and lots of events brought tons of people into Delaware’s Cape Region for the July Fourth weekend. On Friday night at 9:30 p.m., 25 people stood in line outside of King’s Ice Cream in Lewes while live music poured out the doors of Besemé a block away. On a parking meter in front of R&L Liquors, police placed a courtesy notice advising motorists that the street would be closed to all traffic starting at 6 a.m. the next day.

Saturday was non-stop from sun-up until after sundown. In Rehoboth Beach, when the sun was clearing the horizon, the dawn found people preparing for the 7:30 running of the Beach Paper 5K. More than 300 runners and walkers toed the mark and pushed their molecules into motion down Henlopen Avenue and around the in-town circuit. The Nation’s Summer Capital never looked back as the streets stayed full all day, until well after midnight when the final stragglers watched the Funsters pack up their equipment in the wake of a post-fireworks concert at the Bandstand.

In Lewes, the July Fourth games filled Second Street with children, parents and grandparents, chalk on the streets, eggs flying through the air and plates filled with dark and gooey fruit awaiting mouths eager to participate in the pie-eating contest. People strolled into the heart of town from the Historic Lewes Farmers Market and the crowd pulsed all day through the artists’ stalls at the annual St. Peter’s Sidewalk Sale of Art as they came and went from the games and the boat parade. Red, white and blue and stars and stripes were everywhere. The annual Fourth of July Doo-Dah Parade rolled out of Manila Avenue somewhere in the vicinity of the appointed hour between 5:15 and 6. Thousands of people lined the streets to witness dozens of patriotically decorated floats rolling past houses flying flags and hung with bunting while the occasional crackle of fireworks rung out from sidestreets.

Then in the evening, eyes from all over Delaware’s Cape Region shifted upward as public and private fireworks displays filled the Sussex skies. When the Fourth of July lands on the weekend, it’s wide open along the coast. And when it falls on a Saturday, and the celebrations go into the wee hours, the day after – Sunday – provides an amazingly welcome day of rest.

Man pulls and nature pushes: a business fundamental

May 20, 2009


A long white Pontiac Catalina convertible sat in front of Café Azafran in downtown Lewes one recent spring evening. Just about suppertime, its occupants were off in one of the local eateries, leaving their transportation for passersby to ponder. Its shiny red interior sparked imaginative cruises on Sussex County’s winding and lightning bug-lit country roads on hazy summer nights.

General Motors, in an effort to find a business model that will work without billions of more dollars worth of U.S. taxpayers’ life support, recently announced that Pontiac is one of the models it will be eliminating.

There truly is nothing constant but change. That and the inexorable pull of gravity and nature on all things stretched across this planet. The Catalina’s current owners remember when cars like the white convertible drew all the stares when they promenaded up and down Rehoboth Avenue in the thick of the season. This one has been lovingly restored, its metal dashboard and chrome accents shining and bright, surprisingly hard against the hands of young ones more familiar with the safety-conscious padded dashboards of newer models. In field-rimming woods and behind barns in the countryside of Delmarva, more cars like this – but nowhere near as pretty – sit on their rims, windows shattered and tires long ago flattened by time’s insistent forces. Honeysuckle and briars climb through gaps created by rusting metal, occasionally given a head start by some youngster out target shooting with a .22 rifle. But even without the youngster, nature and all her soldiers – rain and sun and corrosive bird droppings – make short work of abandoned vehicles.

Businesses, large like General Motors, and small, like the hundreds we see around us in Sussex, need constant care and attention, cultivation and nurturing, to avoid the sure fate of cars abandoned to nature.

But, adjusting to changing times, with liberal application of brain power, common sense and elbow grease, businesses can thrive for long times and take on the patina and grace of the Catalina convertible, so obviously cared for, so obviously appreciated.

A classic nor’easter swells the dogwoods

April 15, 2009
Nor'-easter-driven seas climb the sands at Rehoboth Beach.

Nor'-easter-driven seas climb the sands at Rehoboth Beach.

A classic nor’easter blew in this week complete with signature winds, heavy seas and lots of sorely needed rain.

The compass told the story.

Our usual weather patterns show winds making their way clockwise around the compass. South winds move to southwest then west, then northwest and so on. But when the winds reverse course, and start shifting counterclockwise, look for a storm with heft. As I write this Wednesday morning, the forecast for 100 percent precipitation is making good and the winds – gusting well above 20 knots – are shooting straight down Lewes’s northeasterly oriented Savannah Road bringing a good washing to the community.

Dogwood blossoms throughout Sussex County are about to blossom. In my mind I can taste the fresh coolness of this storm’s cleansing rain rolling down the windward bark of the dogwoods and feel the swelling blooms about to unfold their white petals.

After two good days of storm, this one should blow out by the weekend.

When the seas settle, I wonder whether any of the head boats will find offshore schools of mackerel moving north. Rain puddles littered with fallen blossoms remind me of flashing schools of fish in the sea.