I was born and raised in Delaware. I lived there for about 43 years. Although Delaware was the First State, the Diamond State, and the home of tax free shopping! it all got pretty ho-hum after a while. So when my son said, “Come west, Mom!” I did. I found that most people in the SW don’t even know where Delaware is – I tell them south of Philly and north of Washington, D.C. and hope they have heard of those places.
Delaware has beaches, Dover Downs, the University of Delaware Fighting Blue Hens, and Delaware State Hornets. I could bicycle nearly the entire state in two days (which I actually did about seven times to raise money for the M.S. Society – they call it Bike to the Bay). Delaware has the corporate giant DuPont (originating with the first deadly kaboom on the Delaware River, compliments of gunpowder). That kaboom and the duPont family story begins. It was in Delaware in 1802 E.I. du Pont set up a gunpowder mill which grew into a major corporation with worldwide influence.
Delaware is so darn tiny you can hardly see it on the U.S. map. Step back people because Delaware has three whole counties! Let’s not forget that Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution on December 7, 1787. Native John Dickinson was the “Penman of the Revolution.” My high school was named after him. Statesman Dickinson had peeps of merit – Thomas McKean, Caesar Rodney, and Ben Franklin. My bro “Skeeter” Sanderson was in the first full-term, three-year, graduating class of JDHS.
Delaware’s capital city is Dover. Unfortunately, Dover Air Force Base has the somber distinction of accepting and welcoming home our fallen military heroes. I should say more here, but I’m not sure what that “more” should be.
A moment of silence?
Hands raised in a salute?
It’s not enough…our dead soldiers fly into Dover every day…..
Delaware was my home for over 40 years. I was raised in a loving household, had two Moms and a pony in the backyard for my 8th birthday and loads of neighborhood friends who taught me how to skate on ice-covered streets. I also had my first fist fight in that neighborhood – I kicked her ass, she went squealing home to her mommy, and my Mother (God bless her) said “she deserved it.”
My brothers and I learned the difference between lay and lie, where is Ebbw Vale, Wales, and Lansford, PA, and how to play Scrabble and do the NYT crossword in pen. And we learned to “Look it up!” We played baseball in our backyard where the diamond was trampled into a dirt path. Mom didn’t care – “Grass grows back” she’d say. And ya better be a Phillies Phan. Forty years later, when Phil and Kerry and I were trying to re-vamp Mom’s garden, we would dig up the original green plastic Army men.
I went to elementary school a stone’s throw away – you could see my Lora Little Elementary School from the house. Some of my favorite teachers and favorite memories span my years in L.L. Elementary – Mr. Bartoli, Ms. DeWilde, Mrs. Reynolds, and Mr. Nichols to name a few.
When I was in grade school in the 60’s, you could still wander the streets in relative safety and throw monkey balls under passing car tires. When Mom wanted you, she’d call the neighbors on a land line or simply lean out the front door and yell “Karen!!”
I was a wandering street caroler at Christmas with a pile of friends from high school. This was back when people (even strangers) would welcome you into their homes for a hot chocolate just because it was a freezing Delaware night.
I was a proud member in the John Dickinson High School Rams Marching Band, band front, or Color Guard as we called it. My Color Guard had a special distinction during my senior year – the first ever Color Guard to get better than a 90.0. And I was Captain. And Mom was there when I lifted that gawd-awful heavy trophy over my head. This is still one of my greatest accomplishments and one of my most endearing memories.
Coupla husbands and a few jobs later, I moved to NM. Picture it – my Air Force son has been assigned to Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve never been west of the Indy 500. I couldn’t spell Albuquerque. But I was bored, and I hated my corporate job. So I packed my car, hugged Mom and Ang, and I cried. And then I drove.
Fast-forward about ten years. My only child, my son, and his beautiful Texas-raised, Dallas-Cowboy-New-York-Yankee-loving wife are my best friends. And I have my two grandsons who run screaming to greet me when I apply my standard MoMo knock to their front door.
Unfortunately, the Air Force does not consult with mommies – if they did, this mommy would have picked some AFB in Europe or at the very least someplace where it doesn’t snow six months out of the year. So soon we drive from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Minot, North Dakota, with snow tires.