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Fall/Winter 2018

Middletown Life

Magazine

Middletown celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Olde Tyme Peach Festival The Olde Tyme Peach Festival Guide

Inside • Photo essay: Yearning for timelessness • Local studio shares the joy of music Complimentary Copy


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Middletown Life Table of contents Welcome to the 25th Olde Tyme Peach Festival ...6-15 The science of picking, storing, freezing and cooking peaches ...........16 Peach recipes ................19 The Smuggler’s Cove Escape Room at the Middletown Historical Society ..........24 M.O.T. Senior Center ...........................32 Habitat for Humanity building homes, communities and hope ..44 Operation Christmas Wish..............................48 Middletown’s history: A town always in the middle of things ............52 Sample the brews and wines of Central Delaware.......................64 Photo Essay: Yearning for timelessness...................80 A handful of local activities ........................86 Some fun places to visit..94 Middletown’s S Music Studio ............................96 Cover photo by Drew Harting/Darcy Photo

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Parking and shuttle locations Those driving into town for the Peach Festival are urged to use the three principal parking areas. Shuttle buses will circulate to the locations frequently and will be available from 8 a.m. through the close of the festival at 4:30 p.m. Please look for the shuttle sign for pickup and dropoff locations. 1. Redding Middle School East Main St. (Route 299). Signs on East Main Street at Catherine Street will direct you to the lot. 2. N. Broad St. (Route 71) Appoquinimink Public Library (651 N. Broad St.). 3. N. Broad St. (Route 71) Dutch Country Farmers Market, Middletown Shopping Center lot (600 N. Broad St.).

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Welcome to the th 25 Olde Tyme Peach Festival Welcome to the 25th edition of the Middletown Peach Festival. What began in 1994 as a genteel, small and folksy summer gathering has now become a major regional summer attraction. The first Peach Festival was organized as a joint venture by a few Main Street shop owners and the Middletown Historical Society to call attention to Middletown’s diversity and history, and to attract residents to the resurgent old business district. Although the size and scope of the festival have grown dramatically, many of the original components remain. There is still the parade, Little Miss Peach, T-shirts, the MOT Senior Center’s peach pie judging contest and their “homemade” peach pies, baked by the members and for sale at the center. The Middletown Historical Society was founded in 1985 to promote the study, collection and preservation of Middletown history. The one-day Peach Festival now supports nearly the entire budget of the society, including programs, research capabilities and our ability to make the museum admission free to all visitors. Refer to the centerfold Peach Festival map, and the “What’s Happening” section of this brochure to help plan your day at the Peach Festival. Be sure to patronize and thank the sponsors and partners whose generosity and help have made it possible to provide all entertainment, rides and activities to the public without charge. We invite any student living in the Appoquinimink School District to enter a biographical historical research paper contest, based on one of six Middletown area figures who participated in the First World War effort. The cash awards will be first prize, $1,500; second prize, $1,000; and honorable mention, $500. Papers are due on Oct. 20, and winners will be announced at an event marking the 100th anniversary of the armistice of Nov. 11, 1918. Look for contest rules on the Historical Society website, www.middletowndehistory.com, or talk with docents at the Academy building. The Middletown Historical Society

Enjoy the Olde Tyme Peach Festival!

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What’s Happening at the 2018 25th Annual Middletown Olde Tyme Peach Festival As always, all activities are free, courtesy of our sponsors and partners. Items of special interest to children are shown in bold type. The Parade as usual kicks off the annual Middletown Peach Festival on Broad and Main streets beginning at 9 a.m. It always includes an exciting variety of bands, antique cars, fire equipment, costumed participants, performing groups, noise, horses and color. Among those featured will be our own talented Appoquinimink and Middletown High School Marching Bands. Also returning will be the spectacular and acclaimed fully costumed Philadelphia Mummers’ Woodland String Band, which will appear at Grace Church at 11 a.m. for photo ops and selfies. Historical Society Museum and Grounds at the Academy Building (216 N. Broad St.) The Middletown Historical Society Booth at Cochran Square. Volunteers from the Appoquinimink High School Band and Band Boosters will assist in selling peaches, Peach Festival T-shirts and aprons. They will also help with information, directions, and recruiting members. Peaches are available by the piece, bag, or carton.

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The Middletown Historical Society Museum offers a great place to cool off, sit down, use the restrooms, purchase baked goods made by the MOT Senior Center, and learn about local history. Downstairs is handicapped accessible, with a ramp leading to the back door. We have two exhibits downstairs: “Reflections of Middletown” shows an interesting collection of depictions of local people through the ages, using various media from daguerreotypes to oil on canvas. We have recently added lots of new photos, plus a display of photos from the Peach Festivals through the years in honor of our 25th Festival. Brian Miller will be demonstrating silhouette making in that room. Our fascinating World War I exhibit, showing life at the front and at home 100 years ago, has been expanded with more sensory experiences. This year marks the centennial of the Armistice of World War I. Upstairs we have a new art exhibit called “Middletown Mixed Media: Artists Past and Present” which features 25 works of art in various media, from sculpture to


watercolor to stained glass. The artists all had some connection to the Middletown area. A few were professionals. Our “Living Together” exhibit has been expanded and now includes an exhibit of artifacts found by Del DOT archaeologists at the Rumsey-Polk tenant house west of town. The children’s “Please Touch” room will be open with old-fashioned, unpowered, silent, games and toys. The Escape Room is a pirate-themed puzzle constructed in a large room. Contestants use clever clues found throughout the two-chambered room to open several locks to gain their freedom. Scramble through the exhibit, hear about the room, and make a reservation to solve the puzzle with your friends. The Escape Room will be open through Halloween, and must be completed in one hour. (Note: for this year only, the escape room takes the place of our usual peach history display and the history of local education display. Those two exhibits will return next year.) Hy-Point Dairy Farms, one of the Festival sponsors, has generously given us 300 coupons for a free ice cream cone. We’ll be handing out the coupons to visitors who come to learn from our displays. Outside on the Museum grounds, we’ll have several booths run by various historical groups. The Victorians of Virtue and Valor will be returning in costume for an historical reenactment. Step back to 1862 and meet members of the 5th Delaware Union Regiment Company 1, a persuasive snake oil salesman, and a local politician. Make a paper puppet and show off your puppeteer skills at the reproduction puppet theatre. Try your hand at shuttlecock and battledore, just two of the fun games played during the period of the American Civil War. The High-Point Dairy Stand, where coupons for free ice cream may be redeemed, is located near the main door. Behind the museum is the action-packed Kids’ Zone, loaded with games and giant inflatables, provided by Jump on Over, our main Peach Festival sponsor. Continued on page 10

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What’s Happening Continued from Page 9

The Boys and Girls Club will again host an open house at their location next to Cochran Square. Our family-friendly rooms offer parents and kids a chance to cool off in the air-conditioned building. We will be partnering with Hair Cuttery again this year. Stop by and see what is new at the club and how to get ready for the new school year! Grace Church, on Pennington Square -- one of the best-kept secrets at the Peach Festival -- features young people from various parts of the country, who will be welcoming our guests. At 11 a.m., the Mummers’ Woodland String Band will appear for a performance, photo ops and selfies. Children should check out “J.P.’s Toy Station” and the Bracelet craft table. Everyone is welcome to drop in for a refreshing bottle of water, or sit and relax in our air-conditioned dining area, along with the comfort station. Children big and small should be on the lookout for our Misting Station, in front of the church on the Pennington Street side. Dogs are welcome to the Misting Station also -- just make sure you bring your owner. Connection Community Church, located on Green Street across from the fire hall, offers carnival-themed entertainment for all ages. Come and enjoy the Popsicle Slide, the Ferris Wheel Combo, and the Carnival 3 in 1 game located outside. Inside find the Bounce Castle and a variety of games including Jenga, Connect 4, Operation, Pluck a Duck, and Megawire. Enjoy the popcorn, snow cones, ice cold water, clean restrooms, baby changing stations, pet watering station and air-conditioned rest area available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You won’t want to miss Connection’s 16th and

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final year participating in the Peach Festival before moving to our new location. ALL FREE, ALL DAY, JUST SHOW UP!


Jean Birch MOT Senior Center: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Pre-ordered pies may be picked up (must have receipt) 9 a.m.: Doors open 11 a.m.: Peach Pie Contest 3 p.m.: Car show trophy winners All day: • Music at the bandstand • Car show at the bandstand - Trophy categories are: Best in Show, People’s Choice, Vintage Antique, Antique, Classic (to be awarded by votes of attendees). • Lunches • Homemade peach pies and cobblers (get there early), jams, jellies and baked goods (pies and some baked goods are also available at the Historical Society Museum, Middletown Academy Building) • Gifts, gently used jewelry and purses Church on Main: (under the town clock, across from the Everett) will offer a place to rest, air conditioning and restrooms, and will sell peach ice cream. Volunteer Hose Company: The Middletown firemen will host an open house that will showcase fire safety and best practices. The VHC fire engines and equipment will be displayed, along with demonstrations and information. Comfort station available. The Gibby: Come in from the heat and enjoy peach cobbler and live music. Lots of top-notch vendors with unique crafts

and jewelry are available to visit. The silent auction fundraiser, “Art from the Heart,” is featured in the gallery. Help keep the arts alive in Middletown!

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Saturday August 18, 2018 Parade at 8:45am Festival from 10:00am to 4:00pm

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|Middletown Old Tyme Peach Festival|

The science of picking, storing, freezing and cooking peaches By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer

P

eaches are temperamental, brilliant but moody, and they hide their real selves behind their fuzzy, protective exterior, but as the author Alice Walker once wrote, “Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.�

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Let’s start with the time of the year when they are at their best – a tiny, come-and-gone presence that falls annually between mid-May and mid-August. Let’s continue with the yin-yang, push-pull of their interior and exterior – a gluttony of sweet texture encased in an outer skin that can both tickle and nag, and while the taste of a ripe peach is so delicious that it can stop time and recall moments from childhood visits to pastures, it falls somewhere between grapes and pomegranates on the fruit-friendly food chain when you wish to cook it, because that food fuzz has to come off. We may not always understand them. We may not always be given access to them at their finest. Their skin is not always easy to remove, and yet, when we bite into one that’s freshly-plucked in season, or find them brilliantly pink and waiting for us at a roadside stand at the peak of their beauty, they are heaven in the hand. In this article are included some incredible recipes for peaches – both savory and sweet – but in order to best prepare them, it’s best to know how to pick them, store them, prepare them and freeze them. Continued on page 18

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Peaches Continued from Page 17

How to Pick a Peach Peaches are on the softer spectrum of fruits, so handle them with care. Ripe ones should be firm, but have some give. Look for ones with a gold skin tone, rather than greenish or red. In terms of shape, a definite cleft is an indication of a mature fruit.

Storing and Preparing Peaches It’s best to store peaches at room temperature, and wash them just before you want to eat or use them. Peaches generally hold up for four days, and perhaps a few days longer if they’re refrigerated in a plastic bag. Peaches will oxidize when cut and exposed to air, but a squeeze of lemon juice will stop them from turning brown.

Removing the Pit To properly remove a peach pit from the center of the fruit, cut into the peach near the top until the tip of the knife hits the stone, then cut lengthwise around the stone. Gently hold both halves of the peach, twist in opposite directions and pull it apart. Put one side down and then loosen the stone from the peach flesh with a knife or your finger.

Freezing Peaches Toss the juice of one lemon for every 8-10 peaches and

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Peach Cobbler

½ teaspoon of sugar for each peach added to your recipe. The lemon juice will help prevent browning and the sugar will release juices from the peaches, helping prevent air pockets when freezing.

Removing Peach Skin Washing peaches will remove most of the fuzz. Although the fuzzy skin is perfectly edible, it becomes tough when cooked. To remove the peach skin, blanch in boiling water for one minute and then immediately plunge into cold water to cease the cooking process. The skin should easily slip off. Do not let the peaches soak in the water.

Ingredients • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter • 1 cup granulated sugar or Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you’ll need do your own conversion) or Splenda, if you prefer, (sucralose) • 1 cup all purpose flour (white, mixed grain or whole wheat works fine) • 1 Tablespoon baking powder • 3/4 cup milk (low-fat or non-fat are fine) • 3 cups sliced fresh peaches, peeled or skins left on • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon Continued on page 20

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Recipes Continued from Page 19

Peach Cobbler (con’t.) Options You can add 1/2 cup chopped pecans to your recipe. You can also add other fruits: blueberries and blackberries are particularly good in combinations with peaches. Just add 1 cup of either to this recipe in step 6. Directions Preheat oven to 350°F (175 C). Wash, peel and slice the peaches to whatever thickness you prefer. Tip: By dunking peaches into boiling water for 45 seconds, and then into ice water, the skins will usually fall right off. Melt the stick of butter in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat until it bubbles and turns golden-brown. Be careful: it will burn quickly and easily. Pour the butter into an 8-inch square baking dish. In a medium bowl, stir together the 1 cup sugar (or Stevia (in a prepared form like Truvia, it measures same as sugar; if you use another form, you’ll need do your own conversion) - or Splenda, the 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 3/4 cup milk. Pour the batter on top of the melted butter. Do not stir. Without mixing, arrange the peaches evenly on top of the batter. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the cobbler. Bake the cobbler for 40 to 45 minutes at 350° F (175 C), until the top turns golden brown.

Continued on page 22

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Recipes Continued from Page 20

Pretty Peach Tart Ingredients • 1/4 cup butter, softened • 3 tablespoons sugar • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg • 1 cup all-purpose flour FILLING • 2 pounds peaches (about 7 medium), peeled and sliced • 1/3 cup sugar • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract • 1/4 cup sliced almonds • Whipped cream, optional Directions Preheat oven to 375°. Cream butter, sugar and nutmeg until light and fluffy. Beat in flour until blended (mixture will be dry). Press firmly onto bottom and up sides of an ungreased 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottom.

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Place on a baking sheet. Bake on a middle oven rack until lightly browned, 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. In a large bowl, toss peaches with sugar, flour, cinnamon and extract; add to crust. Sprinkle with almonds. Bake tart on a lower oven rack until crust is golden brown and peaches are tender, 40-45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. If desired, serve with whipped cream.


Pork Chops with Peaches Ingredients • 2 bone-in rib or center-cut chops (4 to 6 oz. each) • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper • 2 tablespoon olive oil • 3 peaches, pits removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices • 2 tsp. zest and 2 Tbsp. fresh juice from 1 lemon • 1 teaspoon sugar • 1/2 teaspoon salt • Pinch of dried red chili flakes • 2 cups fresh raw baby spinach • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped • 1 tablespoon butter Directions Season the pork chops generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until lightly smoking. Add the pork chops and cook until first side is nicely browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the internal temperature registers 145°F on an instant read thermometer, about 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Do not wipe out skillet.

Lower heat to medium low and add the peaches, lemon zest, sugar, salt, and dried chili flakes. Stir gently until the peaches begin to soften but don’t lose their shape, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the spinach between two plates and put the pork chops on top. Pour any juices from the plate back into the skillet and add butter and lemon juice. Cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and swirling pan until butter is melted and incorporated into the sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in half of basil. Divide the peaches between the two plates and then pour the pan juices on top and sprinkle with remaining basil. Serve immediately. Continued on page 42

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|Middletown History|

The Middletown Historical Society Interpreting the past with a modern flair By Drewe Phinny Staff Writer

A

lison Matsen, generally acknowledged as the expert when it comes to details at the Middletown Historical Society, has a healthy respect for the past. But she also feels that to keep all ages interested, a combination of old and new ideas generates enthusiasm, whether you’re 18 or 80. “You can hook some people by something in their childhood,” Matzen explained. “We have a Facebook page for the Historical Society, and a couple of years ago, we put something on our page from the 1980s, and a whole lot of people who were born in the seventies remembered going to that restaurant and getting those funny hats. It was one of the first pizza places that Middletown ever had, called Pappy’s. So even though it’s quite recent history, people can get hooked by that sort of thing. That way we can get them in here and interest them in things that are older.” In an effort to balance history with current events, Matsen cited “new things that are happening in town and new groups getting started. For instance, there’s an old church across from the Everett Theatre. The new congregation is called Church on Main. They’ll be selling scoops of peach ice cream. It’s a new, more liberal church in an old, historic building. “The Church on Main has a rotating group of pastors from different denominations and they welcome people of all backgrounds. It’s in one of the oldest buildings in

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town, with kind of a new take on things. I love the old buildings, but I also love the new attitudes.” With another nod to the old-new connection, Matsen added that the Academy building, where the Historical Society is located, is from 1827, and yet they are doing an escape room. “We try to keep up with the times and try to not become kind of rigid,” she said. The Historical Society was founded in 1985, “because there was a group of local people who were upset at the possible razing of a house just north of town.” Although the place was eventually leveled, the spirit of local pride became a strong enough movement to inspire the beginning of the society. “We’re now housed at 216 N. Broad St. in the old Academy,” Matsen said. “We’ve grown hugely since then. We have two exhibits downstairs, where we have most of our changing exhibits. We try to have two exhibits downstairs at any given time. Then upstairs, we have a couple of changing exhibits and a few permanent exhibits. Plus, we have a research room upstairs, where we can help people find out about their houses or their land, or maybe something about their family.” Along with the research room, there is a children’s “touch it” room. Another space is set up like an old schoolroom. “This is the old Academy building, so we figured we better have a permanent exhibit about education,” Matsen said. One of the downstairs exhibits is about World War 1, focusing on Middletown’s participation. The other one Continued on page 26


Transport yourself to Blackbeard’s ship as you try to solve puzzles leading to your escape The word from Alison Matsen of the Middletown Historical Society, is that the Smuggler’s Cove Escape Room is scheduled to stay open through Halloween. “It makes you think of Halloween, with plastic skeletons, bats and spiders. And because of the den of pirates, it goes along well with the whole theme,” she said. During the Peach Festival, visitors can take a peek at the escape room. Then they can come back later and figure out the actual puzzles. “We’re going Continued on page 27 The pirate-themed escape room at the Historical Society will be open through Halloween.

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Historical Society Continued from Page 24

is “Reflections of Middletown,” featuring depictions of people who have lived in the area over hundreds of years. “They are quite interesting, and in different media,” Matsen said. “We also have an art gallery with things done by local artists. Many of these works show local buildings. Then there’s another one called ‘Living Together,’ which explores the racial and ethnic history of this area.” For the Peach Festival, Brian Miller, a retired art teacher, will be in the “Reflections of Middletown” area, where he’ll be demonstrating how to cut silhouettes of people. Another festival feature will be the group known as The Victorians of Virtue and Valor, specializing in the Civil War era. “They do games of that time period with the kids,” Matsen said. “They’re all in costume, with a campfire and various people assuming different roles, such as a politician trying to get elected. Lots of fun things.” The Middletown Historical Society is a volunteer organization, except for two hourly employees who have museum experience. They work Fridays and Saturdays.

Linda Harting, president of the Historical Society, described the overall mission in three words: Collecting, preserving and educating. “Regarding our history, I look at us as being keepers of the stories,” she said. “We want to collect the stories and find ways to share them, so if anyone has anything to share, whether it’s their own family story or an item or a particular ability, we’re on the lookout for people to share. “We have 124 years of the searchable, digitized Middletown Transcript and a lot of files on families. We have postcards and all kinds of memorabilia papers that come from the town itself. People do a lot of genealogical study in trying to find out about their own families or the homes they live in. They like to know the histories of those homes.” In attempting to maintain the historical flavor that Middletown is known for, the Historical Society is having ongoing discussions about preserving some of the

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Blackbeard’s ship Continued from Page 25

past. “Of course, you can’t tell a person who purchases property what they can do with their property. But we are trying to come up with creative ways to encourage preserving the facade or something, so we can continue to have that historic feel of our town,” Harting said. “Those are ongoing discussions we have in trying to collaborate with different individuals to see if we can all work together.” The whole center of old Middletown is actually on the National Historic Register of Buildings. But, as Harting pointed out, “That doesn’t always mean that it gets any kind of protection from something happening. So it gives it a certain gold star, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take it down. It does make it more possible to perhaps get some financial help from the preservation organizations.” Harting considers it all a part of progress. “You have to weigh all the aspects and see what value does it have, compared to making it something that could be more

to let them into the first of two rooms,” Matsen explained. “It looks like a cave where the pirates lived. It’s lots of fun.” Matsen and her husband, Dave, a board member, accompanied two other couples for an exploratory Continued on page 28

Continued on page 28

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Historical Society Continued from Page 27

useful to the community or the purchaser,” she said. As Harting and the Historical Society continue to “collect, preserve and educate,” one of the other important goals is to partner with other people and groups to determine “what ways can we be helpful to people and the things they’re looking for, whether it’s their own history or particular educational opportunities, and how can we fill gaps,” she said. “We try, with our small volunteer core, to see exactly how we can be the best asset to our community. We look forward as it is informed by our past.” All ages are invited to participate. “We have a young man working on an Eagle Scout project with us, and we also have another young man who is volunteering and he’s going to be working on his senior project for high school,” Harting said. “We’re always looking for younger people, either to intern or volunteer.” The money raised from The Middletown Peach Festival helps the Historical Society with cataloging, storing and preserving the different items and artifacts. Brian Rickards, Peach Festival chairman, expanded on the significance of the big day and its connection to the Historical Society. “We raise enough money to fund our operating budget for the year,” he said. “We wanted something to fund everything in one day – one event and done.” Rickards said the festival is a great way to enhance its profile and, of course, provide financial support.

Blackbeard’s ship Continued from Page 27

run-through. “We had six people in there and it was a little crowded, but not horribly,” she said. “There’s supposedly a new one coming, a commercial one, to Middletown later on, with four different rooms going on at the same time.” Your escape room adventure must be booked in advance by visiting www.middletowndehistory. com/smugglers-cove. The cost is $15 per person. Plan to arrive ten minutes prior to booking time. There will be a brief introduction followed by a one-hour escape room experience. No participants under the age of 12. Free parking is available at the front and rear of the building at 216 N. Broad St., Middletown. 28

Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


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Middletown Historical Society

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Board of Directors Louise Atwell Bob Biggs Linda Harting Anthony Johnson David Matsen Barbara Wessel Brian Rickards Peach Festival Committee Members Brian Rickards, Chairman, Vendors, Layout, Peaches David Matsen; Co-Chair, Parking, Signs, Booklet Barbara Wessel, Cochran Square; Society Peach Booth Chuck Peterson, Transportation Bob Harting, Grace Presbyterian Church Abby Harting, Virtue and Valor Re-enactors Barbara Wessel, Trophies Alison Matsen, Cultural and Historical Displays Hollie Driscall, Parade Jump On Over, Children’s Activities Ceil Rozumulski , MOT Senior Center Sarah Drummond, Connection Church Steven Rickards, Entertainment

Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


Thanks

The individuals and organizations listed here have generously donated their time and/or resources, such as vehicles, supplies, space, parking, services and planning to help make this event a success. Planningand and Partners Planning Partners The Town of Middletown Mayor and Council Public Works Everett Theatre Gibby and Annex Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church Connection Community Church Church On Main MOT Senior Center Middletown Historical Society and Peach Festival Committee

Services & Loans Appoquinimink School District Boy Scout Troop 125 Cooks’s Family Dentistry Residents and Businesses on West Main and North Cass Streets Crossroads Presbyterian Church Connections Church Daniels and Hutchison Funeral Home Paul Lewis, DJ Environmental Testing, Inc Town Street Maintenance Crew Natalie Rickards Dennis Walmsley Christiana Care Health Services, Middletown ER Boys and Girls Club Dr. Greg Zweiacher Dr. M Nashed Middletown Plaza Shopping Center Victorians ofVirtue and Valor Civil War Era Re-enactors www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Summer/Fall 2018 | Middletown Life

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|Middletown Senior Living|

By Drewe Phinny Staff Writer “Our mission is to keep people healthy and independent, out of an institutional setting, for as long as safely possible” is how Cecilia DeFazio approaches her work at the MOT Jean Birch Senior Center. DeFazio, the center’s executive director, has been there for 16 years. The place has been around since 1967. “This organization has been kind of an anchor in the community because it’s been here for so long.” DeFazio said. “It looks a lot like a very large home.” The impressive list of services offered at the center starts with nutrition. “We will provide a hot, balanced, mid-day meal because older people don’t always want to cook for themselves, so nutrition isn’t at the top of their list,” DeFazio said. “For $2.25, they can get a complete, hot meal.” The center also delivers Meals on Wheels for those who are homebound or can’t cook for themselves. Another important service offered by the center is transportation. “We have three buses and two vans, and we bring people in and take them home if they can’t drive themselves,” DeFazio said. “We also do a lot of medical transportation, so if people have physical therapy appointments or have to go see a doctor, they schedule with us and we can pick them up at their home and take them there. We do suggest a donation, but we’ll try to find a way to subsidize it.”

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The center also has a part-time outreach person who can make arrangements for a variety of things. “If someone is low-income and qualifies for some extra benefits, she will help them obtain those benefits,” DeFazio said. “If they just need a power of attorney, we have community legal-aid come in here periodically and we’ll schedule an appointment.” And then there are defensive driving classes offered by AARP, as well as health screenings and other educational classes. One of the newest and most successful programs addresses early memory loss. It’s called Mind Matters. “For people who are starting to experience memory loss, whether it’s by traumatic head injury or dementia, we have a program that will work intensively to slow that process down,” DeFazio said. Besides the memory games, the class works on gentle exercises to keep the blood flow going. One of the reasons for memory loss is lack of blood flow due to inactivity. The membership fee for the center is $20 for the entire year. “We try to keep things as low-cost as possible,” DeFazio said. “We’ll be offering six different exercise classes a week, with varying degrees of intensity. Everything from low-impact aerobics to gentle stretching.” Many of the exercises are designed to strengthen the core muscles so people can maintain their balance. Lacking the space for a gym, the center offers light weights, mats and chairs to get the job done. DeFazio said one of the ways the center decides


By Drewe Phinny Staff Writer

Bakers at the senior center turn out hundreds of pies for the Peach Festival.

which programs to offer is simply to take a cue from the people. “We listen to the membership,” she said. “For example, some people asked us, ‘Can we try a watercolor class?’ So we found somebody who will volunteer to teach some basic watercolor. They wanted a more aerobic exercise class, so we added that. We do have to charge for the exercise classes, because we have to pay the instructor.” So how do they manage to keep everything so affordable? “We do a lot of fundraising,” DeFazio said. “We also apply every year for grants. Last year they cut 20 percent of what they had been giving us. They did that across the board for all non-profits. And because of that, we had to reduce some services, as well as some part-time hours and a full-time position. So we’re all doing double and triple duty.”

Continued on page 34

“If you want to see something amazing, for two days, we have 30 to 40 volunteers peeling and slicing fresh peaches. And then we bake all day long on Friday,” said Cecilia DeFazio, the executive director of the MOT Jean Birch Senior Center. The center bakes about 300 pies, 250 cobblers and 250 mini-pies that go on sale to the public, and they usually sell out by early afternoon. So the advice is to get there early. If that sounds like a lot of baking, that’s because it is. “We use the Middletown High School for half of what we do, and we use our own kitchen,” DeFazio said. “It’s quite a production. And then some of the ladies take some of the peels home and cook them down to flavor jellies and jams to sell at the festival. We pride ourselves on using local peaches. So we order at least 80 cases from Fifer Orchards.” In order to set up fair judging, only pies are accepted for the contest. “We’re trying to avoid people doing stuff like cobblers, cheesecakes, peach whips or fluff pies. It has to be real peaches,” DeFazio said. There are usually about five judges. “Typically, it’s the president of our board, the mayor, the police chief or a representative, and a couple local dignitaries,” DeFazio explained. Continued on page 35

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Senior Center Continued from Page 33

Membership fluctuates a bit monthly, but hovers around 900 to 950 members. There are approximately six 55-and-older communities in the area. “In terms of senior population growth, this area and Rehoboth are the top two areas in the state of Delaware,� DeFazio said. “This is a real community. People get to know each other. They’re very friendly. They help each other. That’s one of the things we say around here: ‘We take care of each other in Middletown.’� When it comes to just having fun, the center pays special attention to participation, always attempting to motivate its members. “We have our own sing-along group, we have a line-dancing group, and sometimes we have special events where they will perform,� DeFazio said. “In fact, the line Continued on page 36

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Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com

Rolling out the crusts is an important job.


300 Pies Continued from Page 33

The Peach Festival pie contest starts at 11 a.m. on Aug. 18. To enter, the rules are: 1). Pie crust must be homemade. (No graham cracker crust accepted) 2). Pies must be made with fresh peaches. 3). Peach pies only will be accepted. (No cobblers, crisps, or cheesecakes accepted) 4). Pies will be judged on crust, appearance, taste and texture. 5). Only one pie per name may be entered in the contest. 6). Pies and the entry forms entered in the contest must be delivered to the MOT Senior Center no later than 9 a.m. Aug. 20. 7.) Put your name and phone number on the bottom of your pie plate. 8.) All pies entered in the contest become the property of the MOT Senior Center. Call 302-378-4758 for your entry form.

Volunteers work at peeling and slicing the peaches.

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Senior Center Continued from Page 34

dancers will be in the Peach Festival Parade. We have three line-dance classes a week, and you should see those ladies step! Our sing-along group goes out and visits the nursing home that’s near here. So they not only entertain our seniors here, but also other senior centers and nursing homes.” The overall approach to serving seniors has changed over the last few years. People come and go freely and pick and choose their activities on a daily basis. “Some of the younger, more active people are involved in different activities and volunteer opportunities, and they’ll come in for certain things, like an exercise class they like and then they go,” DeFazio said. “It’s not like it used to be years ago, where you come in, you sit all day and you play checkers and you go home. That’s a very antiquated view. “It’s a fairly active community. We do have our seniors who are in their upper 80s. We are the place where they stay connected to the community.” DeFazio is an unabashed cheerleader for Middletown, and that strong support applies to the entire state of Delaware. “In the whole state, it’s so easy to walk across the aisle and cooperate,” she said. “There are very few places you can go the grocery store and say, ‘Hi Bethany,’ to the Lieutenant Governor. And she knows who you are. Same thing about the Governor and all the

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legislators. I mean, they’re your neighbors. They know each other so well, and we know them so well, that it’s easy to break down the walls, to come together and agree on something.” Planned excursions at the senior center include day trips about six times per year, and a lunch cruise on the Chesapeake. And there are longer trips. “We just had a trip go to Tuscany for a week,” DeFazio said. “We went to Alaska a few years ago. There are people of all different economic means, so if you’ve never been to Dollywood, or to see Elvis’ home, you might see something like that in our newsletter.” Anybody who wants to check out the facility can just drop by. “We’ll give you one of our newsletters and tell you all about the place, show you around, give you an application, and if you want to join, you join,” DeFazio said. With a staff of 20 (four are full time), the MOT Jean Birch Senior Center uses as many volunteers as possible to keep costs down. “We are very lucky to be in a community which is supportive of our fundraisers. They see that we work really hard to provide as much as we can,” DeFazio said. The MOT Jean Birch Senior Center (300 N. Scott St., Middletown) is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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25th Annual Middletown Olde-Tyme Peach Festival August 18, 2018 9:00am to 4:00pm 38

Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


25th Annual Middletown Olde Tyme Peach Festival Sponsors

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2018 Little Miss Peach

Local student designs 2018 festival T-shirt

Local student Corina Flynn won this year’s T-shirt contest with her original design.

Delilah Grace Shilling Delilah Grace Schilling was nominated by her neighbors, Bob and Linda, to be Little Miss Peach at this year’s Peach Festival. “I was very excited and couldn’t wait to wear a tiara!” she said. She and her family attend the festival every year, and her favorite peach dessert is peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. During the festival parade, “I will get to ride in a convertible and wave at people,” she said. The 7-year-old attends Silver Lake Elementary School, and she likes to sing, dance, draw and play games. 40

Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com

Each year, the Middletown Old-Tyme Peach Festival pays tribute to the fundamental role the peach industry played in the development of the town. Students in the Appoquinimink School District were invited to design the image for this year’s 25th annual festival T-shirt, and they submitted their entries in May. This year’s winner is Corina Flynn, whose original design will be given to the Historical Society of Middletown for permanent display. The design will also be seen all over town on the commemorative shirts that will be sold on Aug. 18 and afterward. Flynn said she will be a freshman at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, this August.


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Recipes Continued from Page 23

Roasted Beets, Peach and Goat cheese Salad Ingredients • 2 beets, scrubbed • 1 bunch mache (lamb’s lettuce), rinsed and dried • 1 bunch arugula, rinsed and dried • 2 fresh peaches - peeled, pitted, and sliced • 2 shallots, chopped • 1/4 cup pistachio nuts, chopped • 1 (4 ounce) package goat cheese, crumbled • 1/4 cup walnut oil • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar • salt and pepper to taste Directions Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Wrap each beet in two layers of aluminum foil, and place onto a baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the beets are tender, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Allow the beets to cool slightly, then remove the skins. Let the beets cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until cold. Once cooled, thinly slice the beets.

Place the mache and arugula into a large mixing bowl. Add the sliced beets and peaches; sprinkle with the shallots, pistachios, and goat cheese. In a separate bowl, whisk together the walnut oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper until emulsified, and pour over the salad mixture. Toss well, and serve.

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Peach-Mustard-Glazed Pork Tenderloin Ingredients • 2 (1 1/4-lb.) pork tenderloins • 1/2 teaspoon salt • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper • 2 tablespoons olive oil • 2 tablespoons butter • 1 large shallot, minced • 1/2 cup peach preserves • 1/3 cup bourbon • 2 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth Directions Preheat oven to 400°. Sprinkle tenderloins with salt and black pepper. Cook in hot oil in a large ovenproof skillet over high heat 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat; add shallot, and sauté 2 to 3 minutes until tender.

Remove from heat, and stir in peach preserves and next 3 ingredients. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, 1 minute or until preserves are melted. Pour over tenderloins. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 150°. Transfer to a cutting board, reserving drippings in skillet. Cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, stir broth into reserved drippings, and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until reduced by half. Serve with sliced tenderloins.

www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Summer/Fall 2018 | Middletown Life

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|Middletown Community|

Habitat for Humanit communities By Drewe Phinny Staff Writer

T

he name Habitat for Humanity perfectly defines the group’s vision: A world where everyone has a decent place to live. That’s the simple message behind Habitat for Humanity of New Castle County. The Peach Festival is honoring Habitat at this year’s festival. The group’s website explains that, “Habitat NCC is part of a global, non-profit housing organization operated on Christian principles that seeks to put God’s love into action by building homes, communities and hope.” CEO Kevin Smith explained the basic message that Habitat NCC is communicating to the public. “Most people don’t fully understand the issue of affordable housing or substandard housing, so part of Habitat’s mission is to try to advocate that there’s a severe shortage,” he said. “Habitat’s not going to be the one to solve it all, but we have to raise people’s awareness about it.”

Habitat NCC has taken on that goal by constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes and by promoting fair and just housing policies. They provide training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions. Smith, of Newark, formerly worked in internet technologies. Then, about 24 years ago, he changed careers into the non-profit world. “I moved out to California for a year and a half and then I was the first person hired by New Castle County,” he said. The Habitat headquarters is in Wilmington, and there are ReStore locations in Prices Corner and Middletown. Smith said the stores are a non-profit retail operation dealing with furniture, construction material and heavier items, as well as kitchen cabinets and even paint. “We resell those items back to the public at a discount, and that earns income that we use back in our affordable housing program,” he said. “So individuals, households and businesses donate all these items that we then resell.” Some of the furniture is new, so there are some

Courtesy photos

The ReStore location in Middletown is a source of low-cost furniture and building supplies, and supports Habitat’s local efforts.

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nity Building Homes, ies and hope excellent bargains available at the Middletown ReStore at 600 N. Broad St. It’s all priced to move, which means 50 to 90 percent off retail. “We’re getting things donated all the time, so we can’t allow stuff to sit in the store for too long. The idea is to really move it along,” Smith said. Smith stressed two important components in the Habitat-Middletown connection. “Since 2000, we’ve been building homes in Middletown because there is a need. There’s a certain part of town we’ve been revitalizing, and the second part is the ReStore and how those things dovetail together. You stop at the store and donate, and that helps us build houses.”

Middletown has seen tremendous growth over the past few years, but Smith pointed out that when an area grows, the market is expanding and houses are being built, but not at the affordable level. “There’s a real gap starting there, and that’s where we come in to try and provide affordable housing for the area,” he said. Habitat has been working in Middletown for 18 years. “We were first approached by Irv Brockson, a local caterer, and we were able to build four houses at that time, and then we just kept looking for opportunities,” Smith said. “We’ve now built 29 houses around the East Lake Street area. About half of the house is Continued on page 46

Volunteers are always needed to help Habitat for Humanity reach its goal of safe, affordable housing for all. www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Summer/Fall 2018 | Middletown Life

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Habitat for Humanity Continued from Page 45

done by volunteers, and the other half we pay to have subcontractors come in and do.” Since the recession of 2008-2009, the construction market in Middletown has seen many sub-contractors go out of business. “Actually, we’re seeing fewer subcontractors and the construction industry is booming so, in some cases, we’re having a hard time finding enough of them to bid on our work,” Smith said. “There’s a general shortage of construction labor.” Despite these challenges, Habitat NCC continues to grow. “We look to serve about 20 families a year,” Smith said. “And that would include building new or renovating 12 to 15 houses. We also do repair work for low-income home owners. We work in five different neighborhoods in New Castle County, and we try to cluster in those neighborhoods. So not only are we helping those families, but we’re also changing these neighborhoods.”

Prospective home buyers come to Habitat to apply for a loan. “We are the bank, lending them the money to buy the house from us at zero percent interest,” Smith explained. “We have a loan officer on staff, and if a family meets our criteria, they’re approved into our program, which includes them working on their house and doing ‘sweat equity’ as well as financial home maintenance and neighborhood training. We’re trying to teach them how to be successful home owners.” Habitat can always use more volunteers on the construction site or in the store. Visit www.habitatncc.org. The Middletown ReStore number is 302-449-1414.

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|Middletown|

Operation Christmas Wish brings smiles for the holidays By Drewe Phinny Staff Writer “I hate Christmas!” That statement from a second grader at Silver Lake Elementary School gave Jim Gravatt the idea for Operation Christmas Wish, which grew from from a five-family donation effort to last year’s fundraiser that helped 340 families and 1,000 kids. Gravatt’s daughter, Alisha, is a teacher at Bunker Hill Elementary in the Appoquinimink School District. She told her dad the story of one of her students (who was then at Silver Lake) who spoke of his dislike for Christmas. “That caught her off guard,” Gravatt said. The boy’s dislike stemmed from the lack of presents under the tree, and the hardships faced by his family. He thought he had been bad and didn’t deserve gifts. “Usually, at that age, that’s one of the holidays when a kid is most excited,” Alisha said. “They share the excitement with their peers. … I can’t imagine what that would be like. 48

Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com

Three years ago, a WDSD-FM promotion for ‘Star Wars’ raised awareness about Operation Christmas Wish.


It would be scary to have to tell your child, ‘No gifts.’ And many of the families we help can provide just the essentials and nothing more. That’s hard to explain to a child. So when they come back to school, they hear all these great stories and they make up their own so they can fit in.” Alisha told her father she wanted to start “something where we adopt every child and family in the Appoquinimink School District that needs help from here on out at Christmastime.” And that’s how it started. The Peach Festival is honoring Operation Christmas Wish at this year’s festival. Gravatt, a carpenter, cabinet maker and contractor, took a cue from the TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “If you can do something by yourself,” Gravatt said, “just think how much more you could accomplish if you get other people to help.” After handling the first year themselves, Gravatt and Alisha enlisted the help of WDSD-FM, and with their participation, organized the second event at the Middletown Walmart. From there, Operation Christmas Wish has grown to include the Annual Silent and Live Dinner Auction at the Chesapeake Inn, adopt-a-family and care packages for troops, along with other functions.

Local stores and organizations have gotten on board with the annual Operation Christmas Wish effort.

Continued on page 50

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Christmas Wish Continued from Page 49

“Now, ten years forward,” Gravatt said, “through social media and the radio station and word of mouth, people contact Operation Christmas Wish. “When that Saturday’s over, it’s not done until Christmas Eve,” Gravatt added. “I’ve had the radio station tell me there’s a family with a child sleeping on the floor. Can we help with a mattress? Sometimes it’s just bare, essential items like that.” Now, after vigorous efforts and marketing, the Gravatts have seen Operation Christmas Wish become an official non-profit organization. As the M.O.T. area continues to grow, Alisha said, the community support is gratifying. “It’s neat to see that even though our community is growing a lot, it still has that small-town feel. The community never hesitates to come together to help,” she said. When people praise Gravatt and his daughter for their humanitarian work, they point out that it’s a group effort. “It’s not a dad-daughter thing. It’s everybody coming together to make this thing happen,” Gravatt said. “We’ve got the radio station and corporations like Home Depot, too. The list of companies goes on and on.”

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The donated gifts are sorted for each family.

Operation Christmas Wish happens annually, two Saturdays before Christmas. Visit www.operationchristmaswish.org.


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|Middletown History|

Middletown’s history: A town always in the middle of things By Steve Hoffman Staff Writer

M

iddletown was officially incorporated on Feb. 12, 1861, but long before the first town council established the original boundaries of one mile square on that day, the area was in the middle of things. The area was occupied by Lenni-Lenape Indians. On March 4, 1675, a Swede named Adam Peterson purchased 200 acres of land for only $10 an acre. Middletown is situated on a portion of the land that he purchased. Dutch and Scots-Irish families settled in this area and a small farming community developed and began to prosper. The arrival of the new settlers would eventually prompt the LenniLenape to move west. As the last

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remaining Indians moved out of Delaware, the stage was set for important changes in the character of the area. The name “Middletown” first came into use in the 1750s. The name referred to the town’s position midway between the head of the river and the waters of the Appoquinimink Creek. The proximity to water made the area desirable for people to open up mills. Thomas Noxon and his family settled in the area outside of Middletown around 1740. He opened a gristmill which became very successful. In 1761, David Witherspoon built and opened a “publick house” which made the area popular as a stop-over for travelers. The rich soil of the area was perfect for planting wheat and corn, and Middletown has deep

Middletown Life | Summer/Fall 2018 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com

roots as a farming community. Trading in town also flourished, and Middletown was a trading and farming center for the entire state of Delaware. By 1799, the area of Middletown was a village of about 120 inhabitants with several different mills. Before long, though, the town of Middletown was prospering and growing as businesses started opening—a wheelwright, an iron works, and a tannery were among the businesses to spring up. The population increased to 368 by the middle of the nineteenth century. Just 50 years later, it was the largest village in the Hundred. As more families moved to the area, schools were needed. The Middletown Academy was built in 1826 and still stands today as arguably the town’s most historically significant


March

4, 1675

A Swe de nam e Peters on pur d Adam ch acres o f land. ases 200 day M P iddleto resentwn is situ ated o nt origina l parce hat l.

1750s The na m “Midd e le first us town” is e the are d to describe a its cen because of tr betwee al location n water. two bodies of

1740

1761

Thoma s gristm Noxon star t ill in t he area s a . building. Interestingly, the Academy was built using funds that were raised through a lottery which was started in 1824. A publication that was produced marking Middletown’s Centennial offered the following description of The Middletown Academy: “The institution is situated in the beautiful village of Middletown, New Castle County, in the heart of one of the finest agricultural districts in the Middle States.” When two school districts merged in 1876, the resulting district leased the building from the Middletown Academy Corporation, which continued to maintain the building until a public school was built in town in 1928. Like so much of the United States, Middletown remained largely agrarian for a long time.

David W built a itherspoon “ which publick hou se w popula ould becom ” e r as a st in Middleto o wn travele p-over for rs.

A key to the successful farming community was the water transportation from Odessa. Farmers were able to transport their grains in wagons to Odessa, and from this point the products would be shipped all over the world. Another major development for Middletown was the coming of the railroad. According to the Centennial publication, the Pennsylvania, Baltimore, and Wilmington Railroad initially wanted to run its line through Odessa but the townspeople balked at the idea. In 1855, the railroad depot was built in Middletown, where there were no such objections. This was a

1826 Middl et then k own Academ no y, Old Ac wn as a constr demy, was ucted.

Continued on page 54

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Middletown History Continued from Page 53

1850-1

875

Peache s area’s become the le Much ading crop. pr aĴribu osperity can t indust ed to the pea be ry. ch

key turning point in the town’s history as a new era was about to be ushered in. The most significant date in any town’s history is, of course, the date that it becomes chartered. For Middletown, that date is February 12, 1861. J. B. Fenimore purchased 86 acres of land and laid it out in streets and building lots, essentially mapping out what would be modern-day Middletown. The town evolved slowly as more government services were added year after year. Police protection was provided for the first time in 1873. Street lighting was considered as early as 1866, when ten-candle-power electric lights began brightening the streets. The water works sufficient for the town’s needs was constructed in 1887. Shortly thereafter, a volunteer fire company responded to its first emergency call. In 1893, the first Light and Water Commission was organized in Middletown. Robert A. Cochran, who dealt in grain, lime, and fertilizers, had a large home on West Main Street. The center of town was the square with the Middletown Hotel, which was built in 1761 by David Witherspoon. Cochran owned some of the properties that were used by businesses. The original Town Hall was built in 1868 and was used for public gatherings, plays, and dances. It would be a hub of town activity until it was hit by a fire. As Middletown grew and evolved, the country was also undergoing great changes leading up to

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the Civil War, with the expansion of the railroads responsible for some of those changes. In Middletown, the railroad opened up the doors to prosperity for this small Delaware town. Before long, peaches would be the undisputed king. The town’s progress and prosperity were fueled by the Delaware peach industry, particularly between 1850 and 1875. In 1856, former governor John P. Cochran planted 10,000 trees one mile west of town. Other landowners combined to plant about 19,000 more trees. The farmland was described as one continuous orchard in an article that appeared in Harper’s Monthly. Peaches grown locally were shipped out to New York, Boston and many other markets. While peaches dominated, there were many other business ventures and activities in town, too. The Centennial publication called the 100 years between Middletown’s chartering in 1861 and 1961 the “Century of Progress.” Evidence of that progress during the time period is still evident today. The rapid growth

Februa

ry 12, 1861

Middl et officia own is lly cha rtered.

Decem

ber 7, 1922

The Ev e opened re Theatre time. for the first

Continued on page 58

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Middletown History Continued from Page 55

in the latter half of the 19th century resulted in a change in the character of the town as many Victorian houses were constructed along North Broad Street, South Broad Street, and Cass Street. Townspeople have always been united by common interests, such as the arts or religion. Middletown residents have always demonstrated an affinity for the arts. The first movie came to town in 1910, with a showing at the Town Hall. Soon, movies were being shown in town nightly. For many years there was an organization called the Irving Lyceum that functioned as a literary association for writers. The Everett Theatre remains to this day an integral part of the community. Churches played an important role in the growth and development of the community. Episcopal, Catholic, and Presbyterian congregations were founded very early on in Middletown.

1961 Middl et its cen own celebra tes tennia l.

The Forest Presbyterian Church was selected in 1906 as the place for the Town Clock, which became a landmark over the years. It was donated by Mrs. W. A. Comegys as a memorial to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Cochran. Middletown also had the distinction of being the first town in the state to erect a monument to those who died in World War I. The monument was erected in Cochran Square in 1919. The names of four local servicemen—Captain Rupert Burstan, John J. Hoffecker, E. Davis Manlove, Continued on page 60

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Middletown History Continued from Page 58

1988 The De a a film d Poets Soci st e Willia arring Robi ty, n m mostly s, is filmed in Mid dletow n. and Jeremiah Jackson—were inscribed on the monument. This is just one example of how the town tries to remember its most notable citizens. Many of the prominent families in the town’s history still have streets named after them: Green, Cass, Pennington, and, of course, Cochran. According to the Town of Middletown Comprehensive Plan, Middletown’s neighborhoods developed in three distinct time periods. Many of the historic residences lie in the northern portion as well as along the main thoroughfares. Located in the northwest quadrant are many of the remaining historic structures. Areas south of Green Street and north of Lake Street mark the second period of the town’s development. The third period of growth has, of course, occurred outside the boundaries of the original town center. Tremendous growth has occurred in the last few decades in part because Middletown still finds itself in the middle of things. Route 299 bisects the town from east to west and connects it to Delaware’s major north-south highways— U.S. Route 13 and State Route 1—while Route 301 also runs through Middletown. Its population growth has increased to the point where it is the largest New Castle County town south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Middletown, as always, finds a way to be in the middle of things. To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.

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|Middletown Food and Beverage| Bevera

Central and Southern Delaware is part of the burgeoning national brewery and winery scene. While you’re visiting the Peach Festival, or returning to soak up the sun at the Delaware beaches, these craft breweries, wineries and distilleries are waiting to welcome you. Source: www.visitdelaware.com. And if you want to sample several local breweries at once, there’s the annual Odessa Brewfest.

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Big Oyster Brewery

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1007 Kings Hwy. Lewes, DE 19958 Phone: (302) 644-2621 The brewery is located in Fins Ale House and Raw Bar, but the beer is available at all its sister restaurants. Enjoy fresh seafood while trying beers designed to be suited for drinking at the beach. And a small brewing system provides the flexibility to make whatever strikes the brewer’s fancy. Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Tours: 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Featured Beverages: Solar Power Belgian Blonde, Hammerhead IPA

Blue Earl Brewing 210 Artisan Drive Smyrna, DE 19977 Phone: (302) 653-2337 Music and beer go together like peas and carrots or peanut and jelly. And Blue Earl is dedicated to that pairing. Catch live music every weekend while sipping on bluesinspired brews. The music feel continues in the tasting room, which features walls lined with instruments. Hours: Monday - Tuesday: 3:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Wednesday: 3:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Thursday: 12:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m. Sunday: 1:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Tour hours: Saturday: 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Sunday: 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Featured Beverages: Walking Blues IPA, Honeysuckle Rose

Brick Works Brewing and Eats 230 S. Dupont Blvd # 1 Smyrna, DE 19977 Phone: (302) 508-2523 Combine Mispillion River Brewing with Abbott’s Grill, and you have Brick Works. Take an industrial feel and join it with a rustic feel, and you’ll know what it’s like to be inside. Look into the open kitchen as your meal made from locally-grown food is prepared. Hours: Sunday 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. Monday: 4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Tuesday - Thursday: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. Friday - Saturday: 11:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. Continued on page 66

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Brews and Wines Continued from Page 65

Crooked Hammock Brewery 36707 Crooked Hammock Way Lewes, DE 19958 Phone: (302) 644-7837 For those who believe it is best to drink beer in a relaxed atmosphere, Crooked Hammock is the place to be. The brewery lives up to its name by having hammocks hanging out back. You’ll feel like you’re at a family cookout as you taste in-demand, beachinspired brews in the large outdoor beer garden, which features ping-pong tables, cornhole boards – even a playground for the kids! Hours: Monday – Sunday: 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 a.m. Featured Beverages: Wai Ola Cali-Style Coconut Ale and Mootzy’s Treasure IPA

The vibe is laid-back at the Crooked Hammock brewery in Lewes.

Continued on page 68

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Brews and Wines Continued from Page 66

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery 6 Cannery Village Ctr. Milton, DE 19968 Phone: 302-684-1000 Toll-free: 800-364-3474 Across the nation, two words have come to capture the bold and irreverent character of “extreme beer” for fans – Dogfish Head. The brewery is one of America’s most lauded craft beer makers, thanks to its quirky creations and bold approaches. Dogfish Head’s innovative system of continually hopping results in some of its most-loved beers, like 60 Minute, 75 Minute, 90 Minute and 120 Minute. Bring the kids, and climb up to the brewery’s “steampunk” tree house. Hours: Sunday: 12:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday: 11:00 a.m.- 7:00 p.m. Tours: Sunday - Saturday: Times vary Featured Beverages: Namaste, Burton Baton

Dogfish Head Brewery’s ‘steampunk’ tree house is a landmark at the company’s facility in Milton.

Continued on page 70

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Brews and Wines Continued from Page 68

Fordham and Dominion Brewing Company Take a great Maryland brewery. Combine it with an awesome Virginia brewery. And the result is a fantastic Delaware brewery. Fordham & Dominion is known for its beer and its soda, both of which you can try in the tasting room. Be sure to check out the “R2Hop2” invention that helps put more hops into its beer. Tours: Saturday: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. Featured Beverages: Copperhead Ale, Double D Double IPA Continued on page 72

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Brews and Wines Continued from Page 70

Harvest Ridge Winery and Rebel Seed Cidery 447 Westville Road Marydel, DE 19964 Phone: (302) 343-9437 Rural relaxation is always on the vine at Harvest Ridge. Straddling the line between Delaware and Maryland, Harvest Ridge has many wines to discover and history to explore (ask about the #47). Its wellcrafted wines have won awards at the Tasters Guild International Competition. While you’re there, try the winery’s new cider – Rebel Seed. Delaware’s first cidery produces semi-dry ciders as well as dry, “hoptimized” ciders, made from fresh, local apples. Hours: Sunday - Thursday: 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Friday - Saturday: 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Tours: Saturday & Sunday: 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. Featured Beverages: Blue Hen Blue, Hoptimized Cider

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Mispillion River Brewing Company 255 Mullet Run Street Milford, DE 19963 Phone: (302) 491-6623 You’ll never have the same experience twice at Mispillion River Brewing. The brewery keeps its offerings exciting with “once-anddone” brews, single-hop varieties, and tasting-room exclusives. The fun atmosphere at Mispillion will have you forgetting that it is a production brewery, not a brewpub. Hours: Sunday: 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday - Thursday: 3:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m. Friday - Saturday: 12:00 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. Featured Beverages: Beach Bum Joe, Holy Crap! Continued on page 74


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Brews and Wines Continued from Page 72

Painted Stave Distilling 106 West Commerce Street Smyrna, DE 19977 Phone: (302) 653-6834 A 1940s downtown movie house is home to Painted Stave Distilling. Delaware’s first stand-alone distillery pays homage to that with movie-themed spirits. Its distillers encourage visitors to experience the whiskeys, gins, bourbon and vodkas straight up. But they also love to invent and have people sample new mixes and cocktails. And you can check out a rotating gallery of spectacular, local artwork. Painted Stave also offers a unique facility available for private parties, fundraisers and events Hours: Friday: 4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. Saturday: 12:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Sunday: 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Tour Hours: Top of the hour when open Featured Beverages: Candy Manor Gin, Diamond State Bourbon/Rye Whiskey

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Pizzadili Vineyard and Winery 1683 Peach Basket Rd Felton, DE 19943 Phone: (302) 284-9463 The traditions of Italian winemaking meet the inventive spirit of Delaware at Pizzadili Vineyard & Winery. You’ll feel like you’re in picturesque wine country at the lovely, countryside vineyard. Walk down through the vines to a picturesque pond, and just unwind. Try more than 20 different wines made from more than a dozen grape varieties and a number of different fruits. Hours: Monday-Sunday: 12:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m.; Closed for major holidays. Tours: Monday – Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Featured Beverages: Brother’s Table Wine, Delaware

16 Mile Brewing Company 413 S. Bedford St. Georgetown, DE 19947 Phone: 302-253-8816 Discover southern Delaware beyond the beaches, and find yourself in a place that used to be 16 miles from anywhere. Try food-infused beer or beerinfused food at 16 Mile. Keep the 16 theme going with the 16 brews available in the taproom every day, including seasonals, limited releases and even custom-infusions that can vary by the day. Taproom Hours: Monday – Thursday: 1:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday: 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Saturday: 11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m. Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Tours: Friday & Saturday: 12:00 p.m., 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. Featured Beverages: Blues’ Golden Ale, Amber Sun Ale Continued on page 76

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Brews and Wines Continued from Page 75

3rd Wave Brewing Company 501 N. Bi-State Blvd. Delmar, DE 19940 Phone: (302) 907-0423 It’s fitting to have a microbrewery in a place called “the little town too big for one state.” Delmar’s 3rd Wave may not be on the beach, but the brewery and its beers will make you feel like you’re there. Two women founded and own this brewery, where you’ll find 14 beers always on tap in the tasting room. Hours: Monday – Thursday: 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Friday & Saturday: 12:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Sunday: 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Hoppy Hour: Monday – Friday: 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Call for tour hours Featured Beverages: Sandstorm Belgian Tripel and Surf School Series NE IPA

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Volunteer Brewing Company 120 W. Main St. Middletown, DE 19709 Volunteer Brewing Company is your neighborhood brewery. Nestled in the historic town of Middletown, this garage turned microbrewery’s mission is ServeLocal-Brew. Crafting awesome small batch ales and partnering with local businesses and charities to engage the growing community. Volunteer is the place to run into old friends and meet new neighbors. Open in 2017, we are the first brewery in Middletown’s history. Brewing half-barrel batches makes us small, but we believe small defines size, not impact. Taproom Hours: Vary Monthly – Check online or Facebook for hours. Featured Beverages: Volunteer Belgian Amber & Summit Farms IPA


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|Middletown Photo Essay|

Yearning for timelessness

Photographer Jim Coarse took his camera around Middletown’s Historic District recently, and documented a love letter in photographs to the part of town that still defines its character By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer Frank Gehry, the Canadian-born architect known for his postmodern designs including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, is credited for saying that architecture should speak of its time and place, but yearn for timelessness. Continued on page 82

Photos by Jim Coarse

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Continued on page 80


Continued on page 81

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Photo Essay Continued from Page 80

Towns, or at least our romantic notion of them, are themselves timeless, and defined by their peculiarities, their quirks and angles and stories, but most boldly through their architecture, and nowhere else is that more profoundly stated in Middletown than in its historic neighborhoods. It does not take long to walk on foot in this district before entering into Middletown’s deep and rich history, preserved from North Cass to West and East Lake streets, down Continued on page 84

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Photo Essay Continued from Page 82

North Cox Street, and along Crawford and Anderson and South Broad streets. Dotted with Victorian homes and the delicate latticework design of a bygone era, its architecture has become to many residents the saving grace of a town that is feared to have been swallowed by modernization and progress. And yet, through the efforts of private citizens, the Middletown Historical Society, Middletown Main Street and countless organizations, the character of this blockby-block miracle of preservation continues to delicately define an American town. “It’s not new that architecture can profoundly affect a place, sometimes transform it,” Gehry once said. “Architecture and any art can transform a person, even save someone.”

Continued on page 84

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|Middletown Events|

The central and southern Delaware region is packed with activities for the whole family. Here are several diverse events and attractions that we think you might enjoy. Source: www.visitdelaware.com.

Whether you rent a boat or bring your own, Lums Pond offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the state.

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Boat Rentals at Lums Pond State Park Through Sept. 3 Recurring daily Lums Pond State Park 1068 Howell School Rd Bear, DE With the pond being the major focus of the park, water-borne recreation is important at Lums. Rowboats, canoes, kayaks and pedal boats are available for rent. Whether you rent a boat or bring your own, Lums offers some of the best freshwater fishing in the state. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, boats can be rented from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. From May 1 until Memorial Day and from the day after Labor Day until September 30, boats may be rented on Saturday and Sunday only from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Each day, the latest that a boat can be rented is one hour before the boat rentals close.


Coastal Kayak Through Sept. 3 Recurring daily Coastal Kayak 36840 Coastal Highway Fenwick Island, DE Coastal Kayak has an on-water location convenient to Bethany Beach, Rehoboth, Fenwick Island, and Ocean City. Our bayside beach makes launching and landing a piece of cake! Our bay has shallow, warm waters with plenty of places to explore. We offer guided kayak and stand up paddleboard eco-tours, rentals and instruction and sailboat rentals and instruction. Continued on page 88

Coastal Kayak has an on-water location convenient to Bethany Beach, Rehoboth, Fenwick Island, and Ocean City.

On Aug. 18, the Kalmar Nyckel will sail from Lewes, Del. www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Summer/Fall 2018 | Middletown Life

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Local Activities Continued from Page 87

Harbor of Refuge Lighthouse Tours Through Sept. Sept. 22 Times Vary Each Day Delaware River and Bay Lighthouse Foundation P.O. Box 708 Lewes, DE The cost is $80 for the general public. This is an opportunity to go into the Harbor of Refuge lighthouse all the way up to where the lighthouse keepers stood on duty. We will depart from the “Finger Pier” at the Cape May-Lewes Ferry terminal.

Sail on the Kalmar Nyckel Saturday, Aug. 18 Time: 2:00 to 4:30 PM Kalmar Nyckel 43 Cape Henlopen Drive Lewes, DE Price: $40 for children and $60 for adults Visit www.kalmarnyckel.org Take a sail the Kalmar Nyckel, a tall ship replica. From the dock in Lewes, guests will enjoy 2 1/2-hour cruises on the ship.

The Air Mobility Command Museum in Dover holds Open Cockpit Day each month, giving the public access to many of the museum’s aircraft.

Open Cockpit Day Saturday, Aug. 18 - Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 Recurring monthly on the third Saturday Time: 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM Air Mobility Command Museum 1301 Heritage Road Dover, DE This event is repeated every third Saturday of the month through November. Open Cockpit Day provides the public full access to many of the museum’s aircraft from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., if weather permits and tour guides are available. Tour guides are stationed in the open aircraft to describe the history of the planes and their missions. They are often retired crew members of these airplanes so their descriptions are from personal experience and bring the aircraft to life for visitors.

Pontoon Boat Tour Recurring weekly on Saturday Time: 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Trap Pond State Park 33587 Baldcypress Lane Laurel, DE Price: $6 adults; $3 under 12 Phone: 302-875-5153 What better place to see the wildlife of the park than from a touring pontoon boat? We will explore the pond in search of animals eating and drinking, and some just wading around.

Continued on page 90

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The Tome School The Tome School sets high standards in academics and personal behavior with a rigorous academic program and a dedicated, caring faculty that helps students reach their potential and acquire the skills that they will need to lead successful lives. “Tome is unique,” said head of school Christine Szymanski. “We put a big emphasis on respect, personal responsibility, and academic rigor. We talk about doing things the ‘Tome Way.’” The ‘Tome Way’ has always been to provide a topquality education to students at an affordable cost—that was what Jacob Tome envisioned when he founded the school in 1889. Jacob Tome, a banker, politician, and philanthropist, built one of the largest fortunes in the U.S. at the time while he was living in Cecil County. He wanted to create a school in the area that would offer the finest education for students willing to undergo its challenging regimen, regardless of their families’ ability to pay the cost for that education. With its long tradition of excellence, the Tome School continues to be true to that mission today, focusing on academics, character, and community. The school

educates approximately 455 K-12 students each year. With small class sizes—the maximum number of students is 14 in kindergarten, 20 in grades 1-8, and 25 in grades 9-12—the faculty members offer the personal attention that students need. Tome graduates are well-prepared for the future. In two recent graduating classes, the school’s seniors exceeded the state average SAT scores in reading, math, and writing by more than 100 points. When a graduate of The Tome School arrives on a college campus, he or she is typically ready for the new academic challenge. “We are very academically driven,” explained Szymanski. “So when students get to their next schools, they are very well-prepared.” Tome School keeps tuition significantly lower than other independent schools, partly because of the substantial funding from The Jacob Tome Institute and partly because of parental assistance. Volunteer efforts by Tome families help keep tuition increases to a minimum. The Tome School is proud to be a part of the Cecil County Community, and has been an active member of the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce for 30 years. The Tome School is located at 581 S. Maryland Avenue in North East, Maryland. The telephone number is 410287-2050. For more information, visit www.tomeschool. org.

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Local Activities Continued from Page 88

Kayak Eco Tours at Delaware Seashore State Park Through Sept. 28 Recurring weekly on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Time: 9:30 AM Delaware Seashore State Park 39415 Inlet Rd. Rehoboth Beach, DE Price: $35 per person Phone: (302) 227-6991 While the bulk of park visitors are enjoying the beaches of Delaware Seashore State Park, few take the time to experience the peace and wildlife of the bayside. The best way to explore the bayside of the park is by kayak and park staff will be leading guided kayak eco-tours all summer long. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday mornings, park staff will lead a 2.5-mile tour through the salt marsh islands of an area of Rehoboth Bay called Station Cove. This journey will take participants through small marsh creeks to get an up-close view of a variety of nesting birds. Along the way, diamondback terrapins, horseshoe crabs, and blue crabs are frequent sightings. In addition, the tour allows for a unique view of the historic Indian River Life-Saving Station, so not only will participants learn about local wildlife, they will also get a taste of local maritime history.

Nassau Valley Vineyard Farmers Market Through Sept. 23 Recurring weekly on Sunday Time: 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM Nassau Valley Vineyards 32165 Winery Way Lewes, DE Phone: (302) 645-9463 The Nassau Valley Vineyard Farmers Market is every Sunday, with at least 20 vendors. Continued on page 92

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Local Activities Continued from Page 90

Sand Shark Fishing Through Sept. 15 Recurring daily Time: 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM Angler’s Fishing Center 217 Anglers Road Lewes, DE Price: Adults $35; Children (4 - 12 ) $30; 3 and younger free Sails daily on a fun trip for the whole family. Rods, bait and tackle, along with instructions on how to fish, are included.

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Walking Food Tours of Rehoboth Now through Sept. 18 Recurring weekly on Tuesday Time: 1:00 PM Eating Rehoboth Price: $55 per person Phone: 888-908-7115 Embark on a three-hour culinary adventure through downtown Rehoboth Beach! Food tastings are at five of the town’s best eateries, paired with delicious wines, local beers or signature cocktails. Tours include specialty food shops and beachy outdoor venues. As your tour winds through the streets of Rehoboth Beach, our seasoned guides will bring you up-to-date on local history and restaurant lore. The combined tastes on your tour add up to a delicious lunch, and everything is included. You then have the opportunity to return to your favorite spot for lunch or dinner.


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|Middletown Attractions|

Some fun places to visit There are plenty of places to find an afternoon of fun in the region all year long, and here are a few from www.visitdelaware.com. Baronage Farm 311 Black Stallion Station Rd. Townsend, DE 19734 Phone: (302) 659-1573 The Baronage Farm is a place where the dreams of ideals of the Middle Ages are in the midst of the modern world. Experience the medieval atmosphere! A great school field trip venue, the site boasts a Hands on History Day Camp complete with daily lessons and fun activities such as crafts and archery. Purchase old world items at the Siegeworks Forge and the Earthworks Pottery, or take a class in metalworking, pottery, jewelry, or other old world crafts. The Baronage Farm can also add a Medieval flair to special events such as reunions and birthday parties.

Coleman’s Christmas Tree Farm 550 Silver Run Rd. Middletown, DE 19709 Phone: (302) 378-8949 Coleman’s has been family owned and operated since 1932. They sell Woodside Farms handmade ice cream all summer long, pumpkins in the fall, and Christmas trees in the winer. They offer school tours, birthday parties, company picnics, and bonfires. Enjoy the country setting of the beautiful 300-acre farm.

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Dutch Country Farmers Market 701 N. Broad Street Middletown, DE 19709 Phone: (302) 285-0851 Located in the heart of Middletown, Dutch Country Farmers Market is your destination for fresh food, quality furniture and unique gifts and services. It has over 25 vendors selling everything from baked goods from scratch to Amish-made furniture. Dutch Country Farmers Market is also known for its sit-down restaurant and plenty of assorted food stands that will tempt your appetite.

Filasky’s Produce and Farm Market 1343 Bunker Hill Rd. Middletown, DE 19709 Phone: (302) 378-2754 Filasky’s Produce has been farming in Middletown for over 22 years. Much of their produce is grown right on their farm. Tours and educational opportunities available. Visit on a weekend for some family-fun activities like berry picking.

Frightland 309 Port Penn Rd. Middletown, DE 19709 Phone: (302) 838-0256 When the Halloween season rolls around, Frightland can be found near Middletown, with eight attractions including haunted houses, hayrides, their own cemetery and a town of zombies.


Historic Houses of Odessa 201 Main Street Odessa, DE 19730 Phone: (302) 378-4119 Five historic houses and nearly 20 acres of surrounding property, outbuildings, and gardens are part of this colonial attraction. An outstanding private collection of household furnishings, fine and decorative arts with programs and tours that bring this 18thcentury enclave to life, all year long. Once a busy Delaware River port town known for the shipment of grain and other agricultural products, Odessa can lay claim to some of the finest examples of 18th- and 19th-century architecture in the state. The Delaware History Trail sign is located at 201 Main St. Open from March through December: Wednesday - Saturday (10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.); Sunday (1:00 p.m.- 4:30 p.m.)

Willey Farms Produce Market and Garden Center 4092 Dupont Parkway Townsend, DE 19734 Phone: (302) 378-8441 Tucked halfway between Wilmington and Dover, Willey Farms of Townsend is a Delaware “must visit,� offering fresh fruit and begetables, candy, and natural and organic foods. The deli offers subs and sandwiches, hot lunches every day, soup, sliced luncheon meat and cheese, as well as baked goods. Stroll through our Garden Center and Nursery, where, in season, we have hundreds of trees, shrubs, houseplants and flowers to choose from. Our beautifully decorated Home Accent department offers country, whimsical and eclectic home accents from small one-of-a-kind finds to large furnishings and decor items.

Dutch country Located in the heart of Middletown, Dutch Country Farmers Market is your destination for food, furniture and unique gifts and services, with more than 25 vendors.

Odessa can lay claim to some of the finest examples of 18th- and 19th-century architecture in the state. www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Summer/Fall 2018 | Middletown Life

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|Middletown Arts|

Middletown’s S Music Studio will be opening a new location next year By Kevin Barrett Correspondent

S

Music Studio, which has been educating music students in the Middletown area for the past 10 years, is getting ready to open a new location. Continued on page 98

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S Music Continued from Page 96

Sherry Miller, the owner of S Music Studio and a piano teacher at the studio, said that she expects the new location to open early in 2019. She had initially hoped the location would be ready for students in the fall. Miller said there are two main reasons she is opening a new location, which will be a renovated barn across from the MOT Senior Center, a few blocks from Main Street. One reason is that the location will be a lot more convenient for many of her students. But the main reason is that the studio needs more space. Currently, the studio takes up the entire downstairs of Miller’s home. This fall, she expects to have roughly 170 students, and she employs 18 teachers. They all travel down a private lane to Miller’s home. The new location, which will be 2,500 square feet, will give Miller and her team the ability to do a lot more. “I wish it was even bigger,” Miller said. “I can see us filling every inch of it.”

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S Music Studio already offers lessons in voice, piano, drums, violin, and guitar, but Miller hopes to offer much more when the new location opens next year. “My goal is to be able to offer the ‘Rockin’ Kidz Band’ and bucket drumming,” she said. “I want to get vocal ensembles going on for kids, and I want to take all of these things out into the community and get more exposure so that people know what the studio is doing and how the students are progressing.” There is no rock band offered at the moment, but Miller does want to start offering bucket drumming in the fall. Space, however, is the issue she is facing. “I’ll have to pick strategic times when my driveway isn’t flooded with cars and there is space down there for that kind of noise,” Miller said. “It is getting to the point where we are really maxing things out. It is a good problem.” Miller attributes the success of her studio, at least Continued on page 100


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S Music Continued from Page 98

partially, to the fact there’s not a lot of competition nearby. Other places in the region that offer lessons also sell sheet music and instruments, but Miller does not. “My focus is just on lessons and doing them really well,” Miller said. As a result, Miller attracts students from all over the area. While most of her students are from Middletown, she also has students from Newark, New Castle, Bear, Smyrna, and Dover. The new location, which should be finished in January of next year, is actually going to be worked on by Miller’s husband, Forrust, who is a general contractor in addition to being a pastor at Love of Christ Church. The two have been married for 38 years, and have two daughters and five grandsons. Sherry is also an active member of Love of Christ Church. She plays with the worship band. “Forrust has built a couple of homes, so this is all just an extension of that,” Miller said. “He is a pastor by trade. On his days off, he will be over at the barn. He does all the bookkeeping. We are a team. Someday, when he retires, I told him he can come and work for me.” Continued on page 102

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S Music Continued from Page 100

Miller said that while it will be difficult to accommodate all of her students in the fall, she is excited by the number of students she will have. “With numbers come enthusiasm, excitement, and a good reputation,” Miller said. “The kids are excited to be a part of something.” When the new location opens, she hopes that her students will be part of even bigger things. Miller, who has her B.S. in music education from West Chester University, said that she would often go to her high school’s music room when she did not have classes and had nowhere else to go. She wants her new location to be that sort of place.

“I want them to see it as a place where they can be safe, and where there’s plenty of stuff going on for them,” she said. “If nothing else, they will just come hang out and chat.” The motto of Miller’s studio is “Musical Excellence; Family Atmosphere.” Even the teachers say it is like night and day, compared to working for other studios. They come in, they feel comfortable, and they feel welcome. “Our teachers work together – they’re like one big family,” Miller said. “They will sub for each other. They will talk to each other in between classes, Continued on page 104

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S Music Continued from Page 102

and the kids get to know all of the teachers that are teaching the same instrument that they are studying, because they will often rotate through as we need subs.” When the new location opens, Miller intends to encourage more group activities. She worries that kids who are only involved in private lessons tend to feel a bit isolated. “They don’t really know what’s going on around them, except for that half-hour with the teacher,” she said. So she wants to get the kids involved with one another via activities that are producing music as a group. “That is exciting. It gives them goals and it just kind of gives them a sense of purpose,” she said. “They are doing things together. The best way to make music is when you are together.” Miller’s students and staff are definitely fans of the atmosphere she created a decade ago. The family of Jenna Holden, who is from Middletown,

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got involved with S Music Studio in January 2017. Her 9-year-old daughter, Olivia, takes piano lessons from Miller. “The studio and teachers are amazing,” Holden said. “Ms. Sherry is fantastic with the kids. She teaches each child to their independent level and encourages them to do their best. She challenges the kids and I cannot say enough about how she has inspired my daughter to tap into her musical self. My daughter found her happy place when she began piano lessons with Ms. Sherry and S Music Studio. We are thrilled about their new adventure and love watching the studio tap into its potential and the community of Middletown. We tell everyone we know about how awesome they are.” Morgan Whitcraft is one of the instructors at S Music Studio. She has been working there since February of this year. She has been playing violin for 30 years, Continued on page 106


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S Music Continued from Page 104

and she has been teaching for about 20 years. She studied violin performance and music education at the Hartt School of Music, and she studied at the University of Delaware. “After my daughter was born in November, I was looking for somewhere closer to my home in Townsend to teach lessons, so naturally I did a little online research,” Whitcraft said. “I was overwhelmed with positive reviews of S Music Studio. People loved the way it felt like a second home, rather than a strict, unapproachable institution.” Whitcraft said that she visited the studio for the first time and remembers thinking that it felt as comfortable as her own living room. “Sherry and all of the instructors have made me feel so at home,” Whitcraft said. “I am not talking only myself, but all of the students who come for lessons. It truly is the ideal environment for families and teachers.” Ellen Arrighi has two children, a son and a daughter, who study at S Music studio. Her son Ian, who is 12, began taking drum lessons in 2013. Her daughter Anna, who is 9, now takes guitar lessons. “I took piano lessons as a child, and have nothing negative to say about my experience,” Arrighi said. “However, my experience does not compare to that

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of my children’s. This studio really does have it all -- knowledgeable, approachable teachers who know how to work with children, and a warm and friendly environment that is not just for the students, but for the entire family.” Chris Everett, former executive director at the Everett Theatre and co-founder of St. Georges Griffin Theatre, started working for Miller in the spring of this year. He and Miller contacted one another after he left the Everett. He has taught for various conservatories, including Premier Centre For the Arts, which was in Middletown. Everett, who has a degree in vocal performance, said that he thinks the studio is a great experience for anyone interested in learning. “A family atmosphere is not always common when taking individual lessons,” Everett said. “All of the teachers I have met are pretty top notch. There is definitely a lot of variety, from ukulele to advanced piano and voice. There is something there for everyone, from beginner to advanced student.” Bill Jenkins, 56, of Middletown, has been teaching at the studio since November 2016. He learned about the studio from a friend of Sherry’s daughter, Heather, Continued on page 108


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one of the other teachers. Jenkins, who has a degree in music, has been teaching voice and piano for several years. He is also the lead pastor of the Northeast Christian Church in Middletown. “I love the atmosphere at the studio where we encourage excellence in our students, but we first want them to have a love for music,” Jenkins said. “If they enjoy it, they are much more prone to practice between lessons. I love the relationships that I am building with my students, their families, and our other teachers.” Robert Grove, of RG Architects, LLC, is the architect working on S Music Studio’s new location. Coincidentally, he had reached out to Miller shortly before being contacted by her; he was interested in music lessons for his children. “My son Reilly, 11, has been playing in the percussion section of the school band at Old State Elementary for the last two years, and was also enrolled in private drum lessons at another school,”

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Grove said. “His progress had stalled, and we looked for other private music schools that might offer a new and different learning environment for him. He immediately showed a renewed interest and progress after only a few weeks. “My wife and I were so happy with the results that we thought our 7-year-old daughter, Brenna, might enjoy the school. Brenna was taking private, in-home piano lessons, but her enthusiasm for practice was waning. Sherry told us of her group piano lessons, and we were intrigued. Brenna now spends an hour with a few other kids her age, and they learn and play together. She is really enjoying her new lessons.” Grove said that since Reilly and Brenna have switched to S Music Studio, Sherry has put together a bunch of innovative ideas, like the group piano lessons, summer camps, and the bucket drumming class. “She’s always looking for new ways to engage the students,” he said. “I think that is one of the key differences with S Music Studio.”


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1110 Elkton Road Newark, DE 19711 (302) 738-4515

58 Carver Road Dover, DE 19704 302-674-5281


All Wood Made in America • One Week Turnaround

CABINET FACTORY HOME OF ALL WOOD CABINETRY

2 LOCATIONS IN TAX F REE DELAWARE

$500 OFF $7,500 CABINET PURCHASE

OR

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$1,000 OFF $10,000 CABINET PURCHASE

*Not to be combined with any other offers. Restrictions apply. Visit store for details.

SHOWROOM 302-543-5550

OUTLET 302-792-5070

3460 Naamans Rd, Wilmington, DE 19810 Rt. 202 and Rt. 92 Naamans Rd

100 Naamans Rd, Unit 3A, Claymont, DE 19703 1st Exit off I-95

HOURS: Mon - Fri 10-5, Sat 10-2

HOURS: Mon - Fri 9:30-5, Sat 9:30-12

www.cabinetfactorydelaware.com

www.cabinetfactorydelaware.com

Family Owned and Operated Since 1980 • Free Computer Design • In-House Installers, No Subcontractors


Middletown Life Magazine Summer/Fall 2018 www.middletownlifemagazine.com A Chester County Press Publication P.O. Box 150, Kelton, PA 19348 address corrections not required

Committed to caring for all women in our community. Right Care. Right Place. Right Time. The Smyrna Women’s Health Practice of Christiana Care is your partner in health. Our board-certified caregivers provide expert help to women of all ages. We provide comprehensive services, including complete OB-GYN, advanced technology of Minimally Invasive Gynecology Surgery, Pediatric Gynecology, Urogynecology, and more. The exceptional care you expect from Christiana Care is never far away.

Call 302-659-4520 or visit christianacare.org/smyrnawomens today to make an appointment.

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Middletown Life's Peach Festival & Visitors Guide - Fall 2018  

Middletown Life's Peach Festival & Visitors Guide - Fall 2018