|by Rich Barnett|
|While You Were Away
Well, well, well, it seems another Memorial Day is upon us. Time to try out the new restaurants and try on the latest summer fashions. Time to think about moisturizing and socializing. And time to check out the new crop of shirtless waiters at Aqua.
Not so fast. Before we skip into summer, I still have some off-season stories to share. I know you're curious about what goes on down here when you're away. I have, therefore, carefully selected six stories for your amusement. Stories I think epitomize the off-season. Ones you probably won't hear people talking about in the queer cocktail lounges and swank dinner parties of Rehoboth. They won't tell you these things. But I will.
Chicken Fat Leaks 20 Miles A Perdue chicken truck leaked poultry fat along 20 miles of highway, causing at least four crashes and making a stinky mess, so reported the New York Times. Yes, the New York Times. A policeman on the scene said the grease stuck to tires and spread to other roads, causing "a real funky odor." I must admit this occurred further down the Peninsula, but given all the chicken trucks in Sussex County I felt it in the public interest to warn all you fabby boys who race east on Routes 16 and 404 on Friday nights to keep your eyes open for this special kind of Delmarva black ice.
#6 Sells for $645,000 Delawareans have a fetish for low-digit black and white license plates. You've seen them around town, I'm sure. If you own a low number it means you're a somebody or that you hail from an old Delaware family. Plate number 6 sold for $645,000 at one of Butch Emmert's auctions in Rehoboth in February. Its purchaser was a man from New Castle County.
According to news reports, the crowd of 500 cheered and chanted "go for it" to spur on their favored bidders in their attempts to win the low number plate that the auctioneer likened to the Mona Lisa.
The night before the auction, I was in a local watering hole talking to a gentleman who spends his time in Rehoboth and Palm Beach. Said gentleman was expressing some interest in plate number 6. I suggested that perhaps a 6 wasn't such a good message to advertise to the world. An 8 or a 9, for sure, but a 6 is, well, just average.
The County, A Novella It was the Pepto-Bismal pink cover with the drawing of a bulldozer knocking over a tree that caught my eye at the cash register at Browseabout Books. What convinced me to plunk down $8.95 for what is basically 37 Xeroxed pages folded in half and stapled was the fact that this story about overdevelopment in a fictional countyvery much like Sussex Countywas written by a man named Mike Mock who grew up here and who has been in local real estate since 1983. The proceeds support the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, but the messages are designed to support the candidacy of Judson Bennett, a Republican running for the 3rd District Council seat for Sussex County Council.
The novella was written to raise awareness of the problems of overdevelopment in Sussex County. Along the way, it touches on farmers selling land to money-hungry developers, the problems of affordable housing, environmental degradation, and discrimination against blacks, gays, and Hispanics. Mock says he will be writing another book that will come out during Bennett's campaign that will focus on his platform and solutions.
The writing isn't very eloquent and the plot isn't so easy to follow. But, I certainly applaud the concept and, more importantly, the messages.
Runaway Hog Shot on School Property A rifle-toting butcher, his son, and grandson chased an escaped hog into a Mennonite schoolyard in Greenwood, Delaware. The chase started when the 300 pound porker broke out of its pen and made a dash for freedom. The owner grabbed a gun and began chasing it, but when the teachers at the school saw the hog approaching, they hustled the students inside. Listen, I understand the teacher's fear, having been charged by some crazed porkers at the outlet malls. The hog was shot on school property. Even though it is against the law to brandish a firearm on school property in Delaware, the state decided not to prosecute the remorseful butcher.
Where Old Subway Cars Go to Die Did you know there are more than 600 old New York City subway cars off the coast of Rehoboth? Spread out over 1.3 square nautical miles, they make up what is called Red Bird Reef, one of Delaware's eleven artificial reefs. Most of the Mid-Atlantic ocean floor is featureless sand and mud splotches so these reefs are very attractive to marine life and to fishermen. Divers report the reefs teeming with grasses, oysters, mussels, sponges, black sea bass, and tautog. Five coastal states have artificial reef programs to help boost local fish populations.
Delaware was the first state to begin using subway cars back in 2001 when New York City began phasing out use of what were known as "redbird" subway cars. They were called "redbirds" because they were painted a deep red to combat graffiti.
Chicken Wings and Jazz I appreciate irony, even more so when I'm fortunate enough to experience it first hand. Imagine my delight in learning that the Frogg Pondone of my favorite jointsbegan featuring jazz on Friday nights. Tablecloths and votive candles set the ambience for gnawing on teriyaki chicken wings and sipping dirty martinis. I must admit my eyeballs kept bouncing between the singer on stage and the Red Sox game on the television screens. A delightfully ironic treat in a delightfully ironic town.Welcome back. I know you've missed Rehoboth.
Rich Barnett, an unabashed gay, liberal, tree-hugging, whiskey-drinking, Rehoboth cottage-owning story-teller, is working on a book and can be reached at Greenbarn@aol.com.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 18, No. 05 May 16, 2008