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Winter 2016

Magazine

Granogue: A du Pont estate Page 74

Inside • Keeping an eye on the night sky • At 93, still designing shop windows • Running in Beau's memory

Complimentary Copy


Greenville & Hockessin Life Winter 2016

Table of Contents

8

20

8

A creative life

20

Illustrator and writer combine their talents on new book

30

Q & A: Tom Houser of The Copperhead Saloon

38

Keeping an eye on the night sky

48

Escape rooms blend mystery, adventure, and excitement

60

Building a musical foundation

70

A window on the world

72

Photo essay: Granogue

80

Beau Biden’s Forever Run

30

38

60 Cover design by Tricia Hoadley Cover photograph by Bob Lott (www.justbobimages.com) 6

Greenville & Hockessin Life | Winter 2016 | www.ghlifemagazine.com


Celebrating the people who make the Greenville and Hockessin communities special Letter from the Editor: On the pages of this issue of Greenville & Hockessin Life magazine, you’ll meet the resident astronomer at Mount Cuba Observatory, a 93-year-old woman who still loves to design windows at the Wilmington Country Store, an artist and an illustrator who blended their talents on a new children’s book, the owner of the Copperhead Saloon, a foundation that carries on the mission of Beau Biden, and a few more of the people who make the Greenville and Hockessin communities so special. We profile Dr. Judith Provencal, who teaches astronomy at the University of Delaware and also serves as the resident astronomer at Mount Cuba Observatory. Provencal coordinates the Whole Earth Telescope program (WET). Working with WET, she manages an international network of telescopes that are focused around the clock on the dead stars known as white dwarfs. With local artist Sarah Yeoman, we discuss how she has been inspired by art, music, and love during her creative life. Yeoman is an internationally recognized watercolorist who is appreciated for her imagination and unusual perspective. We talk to Irene Wood who, at the age of 93, still loves designing windows at the Wilmington Country Store. We introduce readers to Jill Hannagan, the owner and instructor at Hockessin Music School, who wants to instill a lifelong love of music in her young students. We talk to Nancy Sakaduski and Marcella Harte, a writer and an illustrator who met each other three years ago at the Hockessin Art and Book Fair. They eventually decided that their skills would blend well together on a children’s book. The fruit of their two-year collaboration, “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay,” was just published earlier this year. For up-to-the-minute thrills, we take you to the world of Axxion Escape Rooms, which has tapped a variety of fictional worlds to create themed rooms, including everything from “The Pirates of the Caribbean” to Sherlock Holmes to Hogwart’s. The booming business of putting people inside their own adventure story is examined in this issue. The subject of the Q & A in this issue is Tom Houser. He and his fiancee, Erin Wallace, opened the intimate Copperhead Saloon in Powder Mill Square earlier this year. Greenville & Hockessin Life recently met with Houser to discuss how his business roots in Oklahoma began what he and Wallace are doing here, to change the way the locals are enjoying their beverages, one cocktail at a time. In her photo essay, photographer Jie Deng provides a glimpse of Granogue, the sprawling and spectacular du Pont estate. We also share the story of how the Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race came to be, through the partnership of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children and Velo Amis, and the kindness of Irénée du Pont to offer the Granogue Estate, where the race was held. We hope that you enjoy this latest collection of stories about the Greenville and Hockessin communities, and the people who make them such wonderful places to live and work. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions for future stories. Please enjoy the holidays, and we look forward to bringing you the next issue of Greenville & Hockessin Life, which will arrive in the summer of 2017. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher randyl@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor editor@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553, ext. 13

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———|Greenville & Hockessin People|———

A Creative

Photo above by L. Fieldman

A still life is set up for a painting class at Crow Hollow Studio. Photo right provided by S. Yeoman

Artist Sarah Yeoman: ‘I always knew I was going to do something creative, I just wasn’t sure what it was going to be.’ 8

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Life

By Lisa Fieldman Correspondent

Local artist ocal artist Sarah Yeoman is an internationally recognized watercolorist L Sarah Yeoman who is appreciated for her imagination and unusual perspective. While makes her home in Yorklyn, she is inspired by art, she can be found painting and teaching in her Crow Hollow Studio, located on music and love Ashland Clinton School Road. Continued on Page 10

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Sarah Yeoman Continued from Page 9

Yeoman enjoys painting a wide range of subjects, from still life to cityscapes. “I like a little of everything, which can be a problem because I don’t have one specific kind of look,” she explained. Yeoman uses multiple layers of paint to get a lush, saturated transparency in her watercolors. Watercolor, she said, is “magic -- it’s like controlled chaos.” The list of Yeoman’s awards and accomplishments is extensive. “I’m better known out in the world than I am in my own community,” she said, smiling. She’s an award-winning member of the Philadelphia Watercolor Society, has participated in the International Watercolor Biennial, and has been recognized twice by the American Watercolor Society. She is submitting one of her water lily paintings in the AWS show this year. If she is chosen, it will be her third inclusion in the society. “American Watercolor Society membership is like the top of the bucket list,” she said. Yeoman came to painting through music. As a singer and songwriter, she played in Wilmington in the 1980s, back when Wilmington had a vibrant nightlife. “I did a bit of touring, some songwriting, and played guitar,” she said. “Music was my first love, but I realized I couldn’t really make money as a musician.” Continued on Page 12

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Photo provided by S. Yeoman

‘Totem II’ is from Yeoman’s popular crow series.


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Sarah Yeoman Continued from Page 10

So she made a lateral career move and focused on painting. She studied music and art in college, particularly enjoying jewelry-making and sculpture. Returning home, she then studied oil painting with local artist Ruth Ann Crawford. However, it was during one watercolor class at the Darlington Arts Center that her path became clear. “I immediately understood the medium completely,” she said. “I felt I could speak right away with the paint. It just made sense to me.” Her connection with watercolor was instantaneous. “Every time I touched the paint from then on, it just was so exciting,” she said. That was more than 30 years ago, and she is just as excited to pick up a paintbrush today. Yeoman has never tied herself down to a particular painting style. She generally paints in a loose and unrestrained manner, but some of her watercolors have a tighter, architectural form. Her subjects dictate her painting style, rather than convention. She is interested in pushing boundaries, rather than just repeating techniques.

Photo by L. Fieldman

Crow Hollow Studio

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Photo by L. Fieldman

Paddling her kayak among the water lilies inspired Sarah’s recent watercolor series.

“Without experimentation, there is no growth,” she said, “so I continue to push myself outside my comfort zone. I like not always knowing what the outcome will be. That excites me.” Yeoman spends summers at her family’s off-the-grid house in the Adirondacks, and has developed several series of watercolor paintings influenced by the mountains and lakes of the region. She has an almost magical ability to infuse light into a watercolor. Many of her lake paintings have an almost hypnotic quality. This past summer, she spent idyllic days paddling about in her kayak, taking reference photos and painting. Over the summer months, she created a series of water lily paintings that reveal her ability to showcase the play of light on the water. While in the Adirondacks, Yeoman also participated in a plein-air festival. At the event, she sold her prizewinning painting to someone who, it turned out, only lives a few miles from her Delaware studio. “We didn’t know each other. He was filling out the Visa Continued on Page 14

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Sarah Yeoman Continued from Page 13

slip and I saw his address was Hockessin,” she said, amused that someone so close by discovered her so far from home. Yeoman has found a muse in the crows that frequent the grounds outside her studio. Her series of crow paintings is immensely popular. With just two colors, blue and gray, the paintings depict crows either in frenzied activity, or sitting with a watchful air. For the crows in action, drips and splashes of paint communicate the frenetic movement of the birds. You can almost hear their raucous squawking as the jostle each other for a spot on the feeder. Crows are a favorite subject for Yeoman. She and her husband, Paul, fed crows from an improvised feeder. “Paul mounted a bucket on a pole, and we’d fill the tub with kibble dog food,” she said. The crows became so accustomed to being fed that they would knock on the window if they arrived to find the feeder empty. Paul, Sarah, and her son, Wyatt, took hundreds of pictures of crows at the feeder. From these photographs, she creates her paintings. “I go through the photos and pick one form I’m interested in, and I’ll create a narrative starting with that one bird,” she said. “Then I’ll look at the other photos, add another bird and then look at the negative space.” Yeoman continues building the picture, using different crows images. “My favorite part of these crow pictures is becoming lost in them,” she said. “Not knowing the outcome or being attached to it allows me so much freedom to play and experiment.” Her crow paintings have been shared on Pinterest and Tumblr. “People found the images and posted them,” she explained, and the images have been reposted and commented on more than 20,000 times. Unfortunately, like many artists, she’s had her paintings counterfeited by overseas companies. “You can buy iPhone covers with my crows reproduced on them,” she said. It is an ongoing battle to keep the forged images off the market. To that end, she is working with an agent on licensing her images. Recently, a London-based architectural firm Continued on Page 16

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Photo by L. Fieldman

Sarah Yeoman enjoys painting a wide range of subjects.

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Sarah Yeoman Continued from Page 14

renovating a boutique hotel in Boston contacted her. “They want to use my crow images on throw pillows in the hotel lobby,” Yeoman said. Her agent is in negotiations with the company. “Social media has been a great platform for getting my work out there,” she said. In many of Yeoman’s crow paintings, you’ll see a small crow in the background. “That’s Paul. I represent him in the watercolors,” she said. Paul Skibinski -- a writer, photographer and fellow artist -- passed away from melanoma three and a half years ago. The couple had been married eight years at the time of his death. After his diagnosis, Paul made 50 drawings, journaling his last months living with the cancer that would end his life. “He was able to document his process,” Yeoman said. “It was beautiful and it was awful, and it was a real gift for a lot of people.” After Paul’s death, Yeoman started painting crows as a tribute to him. She then spent months combining his drawings and written word into an exhibit titled “Drawing Before Departing.” The show was presented at the Chester County Hospital, where they spent so much of their time during his treatment. Yeoman has since brought the body of work together in a book of the same name. She has assigned all rights to Chester County Hospital to help raise money for SHINE, a hospital-run organization that assists patients and families living with cancer. Yeoman is proud of the impact of Paul’s work, and the number of people it continues to touch. “I’ve had people contact me from all over the world,” she said. She’s heard from ministers and medical professionals who use the book to counsel patients diagnosed with terminal illnesses. “My goal is to share our extraordinarily sad but beautiful cancer journey with others,” she said. “To open a dialogue that Paul captured so beautifully with pen and paper about living fully while dying with grace, humor and creativity, with his raw and tender heart open for all to see.” Yeoman is still adjusting to the devastating loss of her soulmate “It was a big life change, a lot at once, but I’m still painting and thriving,” she said. She’s working on a book outline that has

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been submitted to a number of different publishers. Her book, “Moving Paint,” is about watercolor technique and focuses on her work in the Adirondacks. “It gives step-by-step lessons on how to move the paint even before you draw; learning how to play,” she explained. Yeoman teaches her students the importance of playfulness. “My students come into class and I do demos where I’m throwing paints and splashing. There are drips and splatters and they will actually gasp,” she said. For some Continued on Page 18

Photo by L. Fieldman

Sarah Yeoman with a demo painting from a recent class on painting translucent objects.

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Sarah Yeoman Continued from Page 17

of her subjects, especially the crows, it is all about the drips. Yeoman feels they suggest movement of the air, the light and the sound of the wings. “My students tell me I’m fearless,” she said. “I tell them I wake up every day and face a blank piece of paper. I still feel tentative every day.” But she has learned how to trust her instincts and she tries to instill that in her students. “Not every painting works. If I get one out of ten paintings where I’ve done something different, then I’m happy,” she said. She explained how students look at a blank piece of paper and they are already thinking about the finished painting. “They’re thinking about what their families are going to say, what it’s going to look like in a frame, and there is nothing on the paper yet!” she said. Yeoman encourages her students to let go, to not view their work as precious. “I tell them to do two of the same study, so the first one is not so important. Not every painting is a masterpiece.” In addition to her studio classes, Yeoman teaches a twoweek workshop each summer at The Watermill at Posara

in the northwest region of Tuscany. She is a popular teacher at this annual workshop, and she loves teaching in the walled gardens and medieval towns. This winter, she will be teaching at the Chester County Art Association and will participate in the Chester County Studio Tour next spring. She has also been creating instructional videos in conjunction with Open Studio Online. Her videos take viewers step by step through the creation of a painting, explaining brushwork, technique and mixing paint. In December, Yeoman will be exhibiting her paintings at the Mezzanine Gallery in the Carvel Building (820 N. French St., Wilmington). The exhibit opened for Art on the Town on Dec. 2 and runs through Dec. 30. Her work can be found locally at Blue Streak Gallery in Wilmington, Mala Galleria in Kennett Square, and Chadds Ford Gallery. She will participate in Chadds Ford Gallery’s Christmas in Miniature Show, running through the end of December. Visit www.sarahyeoman. com to view her paintings, class schedules, and upcoming events.

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———|Greenville and Hockessin Arts|———

Delaware illustrator and writer combine their talents on new children’s book

Photo by Steven Hoffman

Marcella Harte and Nancy Sakaduski read their book to children during an event at the Hockessin Book Shelf. 20

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Courtesy photo

The book includes several spreads where there are no words—the illustrations themselves move the story along.

By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer

N

ancy Sakaduski met Marcella Harte three years ago at the Hockessin Art and Book Fair. Marcella, an illustrator, had a mini-portfolio with her that day, and Nancy was impressed by the work. “I wasn’t actively looking for an illustrator to work on a book with me,” Nancy recalled during an interview at the Hockessin Book Shelf in early November. But she later saw one particular drawing by Marcella that captured her attention. “She had done a drawing of a mermaid,” Nancy explained. “I’ve always loved mermaids. I thought, ‘this could be interesting.’” Over the course of a few months, Nancy and Marcella had some conversations—and some ideas for a children’s book, centered on a mermaid, started to take shape. Marcella and Nancy would spend two years Continued on Page 22

Courtesy photo

The seeds for a story were planted when Nancy saw an illustration of a mermaid that Marcella had done, even though the mermaid in that illustration is not the same as the mermaid in the book.

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New Children’s Book Continued from Page 21

working on “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay,” a new children’s picture book that was published by Delaware-based Cat & Mouse Press in August. Nancy, an award-winning writer who founded the regional publishing company Cat & Mouse Press in 2012, said that she and Marcella collaborated well together immediately. They agreed from the very start that they wanted a mermaid that young readers could identify with. They also wanted the characters in the book to look like real children—they didn’t want them to be overly mature or idealized. As Nancy explained, they wanted any type of child who would read the book to be able to see themselves in the characters. Marcella and Nancy also knew that they wanted to create a book that children and their parents would enjoy together and read again and again. Continued on Page 24

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Courtesy photo

Marcella researched animals that can be found off the coast of Delaware.

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New Children’s Book Continued from Page 22

“I know what it’s like to have to reread a favorite book a thousand times,” Nancy explained, “so I wanted the text to be playful and provide opportunities for the parent and child to interact. We also made a point to provide layers of meaning so readers have something new to discover each time.” So far, the 32-page hardcover book with a dust jacket has been earning rave reviews from parents and librarians. With its enchanting illustrations and captivating story, children love the book, too. On Nov. 6, Marcella and Nancy held a book-signing and talk at the Hockessin Book Shelf. They offered insights into the story and the illustrations as they read from the book. As the story begins, a storm has hit coastal Delaware and washed a young mermaid named Nibi across land and into a bay, separating her from her family and friends. “Nibi” is the word for “water” in Ojibwe and other languages. Terra, a girl who lives nearby, is afraid of the water, so she misses out on swimming with her friends and wading in the bay to collect shells. “Terra” is a Latin word for earth and is often used to refer to “land.” Nancy explained that mermaids have fascinated children and adults for hundreds of years, and “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay” captures that allure while providing a child-pleasing story of friendship, respect for differences, and overcoming obstacles. Marcella’s highly detailed illustrations depict two parallel story lines—one that follows a girl who lives near the sea but is afraid of the water, and one that follows

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Courtesy photo

Nibi and Terra end up being friends.

Photo by Steven Hoffman

The two main characters in the book interact with nature and animals in a realistic way for children.


a child-like mermaid who finds herself far from home. The two girls discover each other, become friends, and find a way to solve their problems together. Nancy expressed admiration for Marcella’s ability to capture their vision for the characters. Marcella went so far as to hire a child model from the Delaware branch of the Barbizon Modeling & Talent Agency so that her illustrations could depict natural poses and childlike body characteristics. “She was just a pleasure to work with,” Marcella said of the model. According to Nancy, the first thing many people notice is the quality of the illustrations in the book. “These are individual watercolor paintings, not computer-generated

Courtesy photo

Continued on Page 26

Nibi dreams of her home under the sea. The author and illustrator wanted a character that children could relate to.

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New Children’s Book Continued from Page 25

illustrations,” explained Nancy. “You can see how the illustrations just pop—every page is an individual painting. Every page is a work of art.” The meticulously detailed scenes draw readers in and tell their own story. In fact, there are several spreads with no words at all to distract from the spectacular illustrations, which include a night scene with glowing fireflies and luna moths, and a dream of an undersea world that includes jellyfish, dolphins, and whales. Nancy pointed out that Marcella’s illustrations don’t just reflect what her words are saying in the book— instead, the illustrations and words both move the story along. “In a good picture book,” Nancy explained, “they always complement each other.” The book includes environmental themes, and highlights the beauty of nature. Marcella did the research on animals that can be found off the coast of Delaware. Each of the two main characters has a companion animal (a seagull and a sea turtle) that follows her through the story. Each character also wears a necklace of found items, and they add to their necklaces as the book progresses. Nibi is collecting things that are unusual to her, such as man-made debris found in the ocean and Terra is collecting things that are unusual to her, such as items from the ocean that are found on shore. Nancy explained that the Cat & Mouse Press was established with the goal of producing books that are fun, entertaining, and of particular interest to residents and visitors to the Delmarva region. “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay” certainly fits in very well with the company’s goals. Nancy has published 22 books and more than 100 articles. One of her recent books is “How to Write Winning Short Stories,” which is based on her experiences running the Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest and working with dozens of writers to perfect their short stories. Marcella has been fascinated with art and illustration since childhood. Her publishing credits include the anthology “The Stories in Between” by Fantasist Press, a collection of science fiction and fantasy stories published in 2009. The themes that run deepest in her work include fantasy and science fiction, with Continued on Page 28

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New Children’s Book Continued from Page 26

special affinity for old folk tales and the supernatural. Marcella and Nancy said that they really enjoyed collaborating on the book, and they are pleased with how it turned out. “It was a real pleasure to work on this together,” Marcella said. They were very committed to maintaining a high level of quality on every facet of the book, so it was a project that demanded both a lot of time and energy. They might work together in the future, but this project was so exhausting that they aren’t ready to start a new one right now. “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay” is available only through stores and the Cat and Mouse Press website. The book retails for $19.95. The book is available on the Cat and Mouse Press website and in independent bookstores in the area—including the Hockessin Book Shelf in Hockessin, The Growing Tree Toy Shop in Kennett Square, and Oranges & Lemons in Greenville. Cat and Mouse Press publishes a free weekly newspaper for writers, Writing is a Shore Thing. For more information, visit Marcella’s website at www.marcellaharte.com or

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Courtesy photo

The illustrations in “The Mermaid in Rehoboth Bay” are the work of Marcella Harte. Her highly detailed illustrations depict two parallel story lines throughout the book.

the Cat and Mouse Press website at www.catandmousepress.com or its Facebook page, www facebook.com/ catandmousepress. To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@ chestercounty.com.


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————|Greenville & Hockessin Q&A|———— When Tom Houser and his fiancée Erin Wallace opened the intimate Copperhead Saloon in Powder Mill Square earlier this year, they intended to bring back the look and feel of a traditional speakeasy. From concoctions to collaboration to pennies on the floor, the concept has worked magnificently. Greenville & Hockessin Life recently met with Houser to discuss how his business roots in Oklahoma began what he and Wallace are doing here, to change the way the locals are enjoying their beverages, one cocktail at a time. Continued on Page 32

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

The Copperhead Saloon uses the finest bitters and liquors in making their cocktails.

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Tom Houser

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

Tom Houser of The Copperhead Saloon.

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Tom Houser Continued from Page 30

Greenville & Hockessin Life: Take me back to the roots that eventually became the Copperhead Saloon. Houser: I think those roots go back a ways. I’d been in the industry a long time in Norman, Oklahoma, and had partnerships with quite a few people. We had evolved several concepts -- a college beer bar, and then a wine bar, and then a gastro pub, and then a cigar bar above the gastro pub. As we grew, we decided that instead of expanding a singular concept to other markets, we wanted to be in that one market, a college town. Over time, however, I found myself spreading further from one-on-one interactions with guests. My days were spent in training seminars and meetings, and I didn’t get to go behind the bar and in the kitchen as much as I wanted to. It’s what I enjoy doing most. I thought it would be nice to figure out if I could do this on my own. At the same time, I met Erin, who was originally from Wilmington, and I quickly realized that she was the person I wanted to spend my life with. Through her, I knew it was time to make that move. I envied her ability to

move about and change her lifestyle, because it opened up doors of possibility. I told my partners, ‘Hey, I’ve met a girl,’ and we then went to the negotiating table with each other. GHL: What did you do next? Houser: With the seed money from the negotiation, we initially looked at opening something up in Chicago. Being a mid-westerner from St. Louis, I liked that idea. Erin and I visited Chicago during February to scope out areas, we quickly realized that it was way too cold. We then moved to Florida. It turned out to be a very transient area and I like the idea of getting to know regulars. We began to talk about starting a family, and we realized that it would not make sense to do it away from family. We were in Wilmington visiting her family, and I told Erin that I felt more comfortable in Wilmington than I do in Florida. Once we moved, it was just a question of where we wanted to start a cocktail bar. I realized that this is a beer state -- with tons of great breweries -- but the cocktail scene was an untapped market in Wilmington. We knew that there would be a great opening for the concept.

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GHL: The Copperhead Saloon is halfway between the business and development of Wilmington and the Chester County countryside. How did location factor into your decision? How does being in Greenville help you as a business owner? Houser: It was absolutely vital to find the right location for this type of bar. Location dictates what kind of a bar you want to open up. Space dictates what you’re going to do with your concept. This location was ideal, because it’s surrounded by those with fairly healthy incomes, but there is also a strong workforce very nearby. Being on this central corridor is crucial. I’ve timed it. If the lights are working for me, I can get from here to Trolley Square in eight minutes, and a lot of the population who works downtown. Continued on Page 34

Courtesy photos

Above: Ole Smokies on the Copperhead bar. Right: One of the many great cocktails served at The Copperhead Saloon.

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Tom Houser Continued from Page 33

GHL: Another component of the Copperhead Saloon is its ambiance. Talk about the design influence you and Erin made on your establishment. Houser: I tend to like clean lines, while Erin likes gilded and ornate design, so I like to think of this from the standpoint of ‘I put down the bones, and Erin fleshed it all out.’ So much of the identity of the Copperhead Saloon came from her idea to create a tile floor made of pennies. It began to dictate the tone and the colors we have used. That’s exactly the design that we wanted to do. You have a hard surface, but when you put all of the pennies in conjunction together, it creates warmth and ties the urban and rustic feel together. You want to create a space that speaks to history but at the same time, is contemporary. GHL: This is an intimate, 40-seat room. Houser: We like it small and intimate. We love small bars, because on a Tuesday night, you can come in, and you don’t feel like you’re in a vast cavern with no one around you. There is a certain warmth to being in close proximity to other people, which is what I think a good tavern should have. It’s a public meeting space, and if

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you wish to have a quiet conversation in the corner, we’re here. If you want to come and meet people, we’re here. GHL: Talk about why you feel there is such an increase in popularity for establishments like this in our culture. Are you riding a wave, or creating one? Houser: It certainly is a national wave, and it’s been building for the past 15 years. The cocktail culture has been growing since the late 1990s. A lot of it has to do with bartenders like myself, who began to connect their curiosities and passion together through advancements in technology and social media. They began to push envelopes. The popularity of bitters also really set it off, and because of that curiosity, a lot of the old books with old recipes dating back to the 1800s started coming out the woodwork. It provides a glance back to that time to see what they were doing, and how easy and authentic it would be to recreate those recipes. It’s like reaching back into the past and shaking hands with your great grandpa. This is a communal link that connects us to what people were drinking, say, in 1860, back when it was common to shoot bears off the land.

Continued on Page 36


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Tom Houser Continued from Page 34

GHL: What is the secret to a great cocktail? Houser: It is understanding who is drinking the cocktail. There are so many great cocktails out there. You have to know what the person wants. You have to ask the right questions. What are they in the mood for. The secret to a great cocktail has nothing to do with the actual drink. It has to do with the rapport that the bartender and the guest have. It is going on a little bit of a journey, together. From the aspect of the bartender, it is attention to detail. With several cocktails, if you’re off on your measurements, even just a little bit, that can totally throw off the balance of the drink. It is understanding how long to stir so that you get the right amount of cold and the right level of dilution. All of these factors come into play. GHL: We choose as a society now to dip our heads into our gadgetry and our technology, and in the process, are losing the art of conversation. In contrast, with the Copperhead Saloon, you and Erin have created a conversation salon. Houser: Absolutely. First and foremost, people come to a bar for a specific reason, and that reason is not to drink.

The reason is to socialize, to meet people, to commiserate with friends and make new friends. The bartender is the one who sets the stage. I teach my bartenders, ‘Even if you don’t know someone’s name when they first walk through these doors, by the time they leave, you will know their name. You will know a little about them.’ We’re selling the human interaction, and the drink is just the vehicle that helps us along that ride. There are a lot of places to drink around here. You choose to patronize one establishment versus another, because you like the people there. You know that when you walk in, they are going to know who you are, and they can facilitate you meeting other people, and you become a part of that group. You begin to have a sense of belonging. GHL: Do you have a favorite spot in Greenville and Hockessin? Houser: Erin and I really like to go to George & Sons for oysters in Hockessin, and then head over to the House of William & Merry for some appetizers at the bar. Both establishments are a lot like the Copperhead

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Saloon, because we’re all dialed in to the social fabric of the community. GHL: Tom and Erin throw a dinner party. Who is invited? Houser: Oh, wow. I know that Erin would have a vastly different set of people here than I would. She would love to have Bernie Sanders at that table. Maybe Mark Zuckerberg. For me? I would love to have dinner with Stephen Hawking. I would also invite George R.R. Martin, so that I could press him to finally release another book. I would like to have my father at that table, as well. GHL: What food or beverage is always in your refrigerator? Houser: Chicken, or a protein of some sort. When we cook at home, it’s simple seasonings, a quick marinade and a toss on the grill. The Copperhead Saloon is located in the Powder Mill Square Shopping Center, 3826 Kennett Pike, Wilmington, Del. 19807. Tel.: 302-256-0535. — Richard L. Gaw

Photo by Richard L. Gaw

In addition to cocktails, The Copperhead Saloon offers a changing menu of craft beers.

www.ghlifemagazine.com | Winter 2016 | Greenville & Hockessin Life

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——|Around Greenville & Hockessin|——

Keeping an eye on the night sky

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Dr. Judith Provencal is keeping telescopes around the globe focused on one star at a time.

Photo by L. Fieldman

Dr. Judith Provencal attaches a camera to the telescope as she prepares to photograph white dwarfs.

By Lisa Fieldman Correspondent

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Photo by L. Fieldman A view of Mt. Cuba’s two observation domes.

he term “stargazer” is often used to describe a person who is a daydreamer, or a person who is absorbed in a world of fantasy. Perhaps someone who is not quite tethered to earthly reality. Dr. Judith Provencal definitely is a stargazer. But when her head is in the clouds, you can be sure it is for research purposes only. This downto-earth scientist teaches astronomy Continued on Page 40

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Night Sky Continued from Page 39

at the University of Delaware, is the resident astronomer at Mount Cuba Observatory, and also coordinates the Whole Earth Telescope program (WET). Working with WET, she manages an international network of telescopes that are focused around the clock on the dead stars known as white dwarfs. “I’ve always liked the stars,” she said. “When I was young, I had a little telescope and I would go out in the snow to look at the sky. My parents thought their daughter was crazy.” Back then, she could easily find the Andromeda galaxy because the Maine sky was so dark. Her youthful fascination has become her life’s work. Provencal earned her bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from Smith College. “I wanted to study astronomy,” she recalled, “but as a freshman I was told that I also had to study physics.” She was not too happy about the physics, “but once you get past the first boring classes, it’s really kind of cool,” she said. Provencal chose Smith College, not only for

Photo by L. Fieldman

A sign on the drive reminds you to be aware of ambient light.

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State Line Liquors Four Generations Family Owned & Operated. Since 1937.

Photo courtesy of Mt. Cuba Observatory

The observatory’s 24-inch reflecting telescope.

its outstanding education, but also because they had a barn. “I always wanted to take riding lessons,” she said with a smile. Provencal was awarded her master’s degree and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas. Her thesis adviser was one of the founders of the Whole Earth Telescope. You could say that her love of horses opened the door to a new passion. “My adviser had horses, and I was looking for a place to ride,” Provencal explained. The adviser loaned her a horse and introduced her to the Whole Earth Telescope program. “That’s how I got involved with WET, through horses,” Provencal said. After graduation in 1994, she was Dr. Harry Shipman’s post-doctoral researcher for three years at the University of Delaware. Shipman and Provencal worked well together, and a few years later, he helped her secure the resident astronomer position at Mt. Cuba. Provencal also began teaching in the university’s physics and astronomy department. When the Whole Earth Telescope founders decided to hand over the reins in 1996, Provencal secured funding from The Crystal Trust to bring the program to the University of Delaware and Mt. Cuba. “They call it the Whole Earth Telescope because you use the earth as a rotating platform to keep at least one telescope pointed at a target star at all times,” she said. There are about 50 observatories participating in the studies worldwide. Continued on Page 42

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Night Sky Continued from Page 41

Provencal determines which star will be viewed, and then coordinates viewing duties among observatories that are dotted all over the globe. She routinely communicates with astronomers working in high-tech observatories, as well as in remote viewing outposts such as Peak Terskol in the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. She enjoys the camaraderie that has developed among her WET colleagues, and often travels to partnering observatories for viewings and meetings. Why all the interest in white dwarfs? A white dwarf is a dead star. “It’s just a big ball of carbon and oxygen sitting up there cooling off,” Provencal said. However, when these dead stars get to a certain temperature range, they start to pulsate -- repeatedly growing brighter then dimmer. “The fun thing is, we can use the pulsation frequencies to view what’s inside the star,” Provencal explained. White dwarfs send pulsations through the star from the core to the surface. If the body of the star is homogeneous, the frequency will go right through

without disruption. But if the frequency hits an aberration in the star, the pulsation will change. By mapping these anomalies, astronomers can map the star. Provencal compares herself to an archaeologist. “I can find out how much carbon and oxygen are in the structure. We can figure out what is going on inside the star right now,” she said. Asteroseismology is a relatively new science and is similar to using seismic waves to study earthquakes. The data gathered about these dead stars will help our understanding of active stars. “A star like the sun has all this nuclear fusion going on that we really don’t understand,” she said. “We have models and physics, but we don’t know all the physics. The fact that we don’t know everything introduces a lot of error in our understanding.” Provencal has one star in particular that’s her favorite It is named GD358 and it is located in the constellation Hercules. “It does all kinds of crazy stuff, so it’s fun to observe,” she said with a smile. Continued on Page 44

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Photo by L. Fieldman

Mt. Cuba is at 1610 Hillside Road in Greenville.

www.ghlifemagazine.com | Winter 2016 | Greenville & Hockessin Life

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Night Sky Continued from Page 42

The pulsation patterns change every couple of years, which is intriguing to the astronomer. In the lobby of the Mt. Cuba Observatory, there is a display dedicated to her favorite white dwarf, showing photos taken by her students, and years of data collected from the start of the WET program. She will most likely continue to study her favorite star, since it will continue to pulsate for a few more million years before it is gone. On a recent clear evening, Provencal readied the Mt. Cuba telescope for the scheduled watch of target GD2938. “I just read my emails and the telescope in Poland is cloudy,” she said. Another observatory was also cloudy, leaving Mt. Cuba as the only one with clear observation for that viewing period. She opened the slit in the dome, and lowered the temperature on the telescope to cool it down. “This is the original telescope,” she said. “I believe it saw first light in 1963.” Provencal is very fond of the 24-inch refracting telescope, which she refers to as “my telescope.” Next, she

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attached the camera, then rotated the telescope to the proper position for shooting the star. Once in position, the scope tracks the sky with the aid of an electric motor. Firing up the computer, Provencal chose the filters needed for the best results and ran the necessary diagnostics. She routinely programs the computer to shoot 800 to 1000 pictures per night. “That way, if I doze off for ten minutes I don’t feel guilty,” she said with a laugh. The telescope does not have remote operation capabilities, but the computer will control the camera throughout the viewing time. So while no one needs to be present to actually click the shutter, the telescope and viewing dome are manually operated. Provencal needs to be on hand to check things throughout the night and shut everything down at the end of the shift, so there is a lot of downtime. “Back when I was a graduate student, every few minutes, you had to look through the eyepiece and make sure your star was still centered,” she said.

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Plans for building the Mt. Cuba Observatory began in 1958, with the grand opening occurring in 1963. History suggests that the idea for the observatory was inspired by Miss Annie Jump Cannon. She was born in Dover, Del., and is one of the most recognized astronomers in the world. She created a unique star classification system that is still in use today. She also discovered many new stars. Cannon was a pioneer in the field of astronomy, and an early inspiration for women in all the sciences. The successful launch of Sputnik in 1957, followed by the United States’ Explorer satellite and the subsequent creation of NASA, most likely stirred local interest in astronomy. The observatory originally housed the 24-inch telescope, a workshop, library and darkroom. Ten years later, Francis duPont donated his refracting telescope, and an additional viewing dome was added, along with a lecture room and planetarium. Mt. Cuba is the only public observatory in Delaware and offers community viewing programs on many Monday evenings throughout the year.

Provencal and Budd Howard, a technical associate with Mt. Cuba, are working on a proposal to bring a larger telescope to the observatory. “Originally, we were thinking about replacing the 24-inch telescope,” Provencal said. “But there is a lot of nostalgia for the old 24-inch.” The consensus was that the telescope should stay. Since they can’t replace the telescope, the next option is to upgrade to a new one. The new telescope will have a 36-inch lens and will be equipped with all the current technology. This scope will even have remote capabilities, so the astronomer can operate the telescope from any location. The project will necessitate the construction of a new viewing dome as well. Provencal recently visited Brigham Young University to talk telescopes. The university is using the same telescope she wants to acquire for Mt. Cuba. She asked lots of questions from both a scientific and business viewpoint. Continued on Page 46

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Night Sky Continued from Page 45

“I’m a scientist, so I think about what I need for my science,” she said. “But the board members are businessmen, and they have completely different questions.” If this project comes to fruition, the telescope will be built by DFM Engineering, a U.S.-based company. The world’s most powerful telescope is currently being built in the foothills of the Andes. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope has a field of view that is almost 40 times the size of the full moon. “They will be taking a picture of the whole sky, three times a night, for 10 years,” Provencal said. The scope will be able to look deeper into the night sky and pick up light from dimmer bodies. “When I first started graduate school, we were aware of about 40 white dwarfs, but with bigger telescopes and more people out observing, there are now about 2,000, and that’s going to keep increasing,” she said. As we develop the ability to study more white dwarfs, the additional data will allow us to have a better understanding of both dead and active stars.

Photo courtesy of University of Delaware

Dr. Judith Provencal is the resident astronomer at Mt. Cuba Observatory and coordinates the Whole Earth Telescope.

Gazing through the telescope at the moon, Provencal still seemed to marvel at the sight. Asked if she believed in life on other planets, she said, “Yes. The universe is 13 billion years old. There could be civilizations out there that are so much older than us. It would be a vast waste of space if there were not life on other planets.” As for our sun, she said that it won’t become a white dwarf for a few billion years. “That’s not something we have to worry about right now,” she said with a laugh. Information about the Whole Earth Telescope and the Delaware Asteroseismic Research Center (DARC) can be found at www.physics.udel.edu/gp/darc. Find out about events and programs at the Mt. Cuba Observatory at http://mountcuba.org.

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——|Greenville & Hockessin Entertainment|——

Escape rooms blend mystery, adventure, and excitement

Photo by Steven Hoffman

Bill Wright, seated at the warden’s desk in the Shawshank Room in the Wilmington, Del. escape room. Wright owns the business with his wife and business partner, Vanessa Espinal. 48

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Escape rooms have been exploding in popularity all around the world. Axxiom Escape Rooms brings the excitement to Delaware with three different locations By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer

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ill Wright is standing in the middle of what’s called the Shawshank Room and points out a few of the incredible details that a casual observer might miss. There’s a checkerboard just like the one that the inmates used in “The Shawshank Redemption” on a table. Some of the contraband that Red was so well known for is scattered about in his prison cell. Nearby is Andy Dufresne’s prison cell. The people who’ve seen “The Shawshank Redemption” more than a hundred times might identify this as Andy’s cell by the prisoner number. Others will simply notice the iconic poster on the wall and know immediately whose cell it is. “It’s all about the details,” Wright said proudly, explaining that the Shawshank Room’s details are so specific that there are even letters written by Andy Dufresne to the state requesting funds for the library.

Certainly part of the fun of escape rooms is being placed right in the middle of the action in a setting from a beloved movie or book. Axxiom Escape Rooms has tapped a variety of fictional worlds to create themed rooms, including everything from The Pirates of the Caribbean to Sherlock Holmes to Hogwarts. Wright and his wife, Vanessa Espinal, are the principal owners of Axxiom Escape Rooms. They opened the first Delaware location in Newark in August of 2015, and within just a few weeks the popularity of that escape room exploded as word of Newark’s newest attraction spread. Before long, Wright was planning to expand to other areas in the First State. An Axxiom escape room opened in Wilmington in April, followed by one in Rehoboth Beach in July. A newly remodeled location in Newark is slated to open this month. A fourth venue is being planned for Middletown sometime in the first half of 2017. Continued on Page 50

Photo by Steven Hoffman

Each room has its own set of unique accessories. www.ghlifemagazine.com | Winter 2016 | Greenville & Hockessin Life

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Escape Rooms Continued from Page 49

On the outside, the buildings might seem nondescript, but inside the escape rooms that are being designed and built by Wright and his team are increasingly elaborate and entertaining. The rooms being created now—the Hogwarts Room is one example—is much more advanced than the first-generation rooms that debuted when the Newark location first opened. It’s hardly a mystery as to why escape rooms are such a sensation in the entertainment industry in Asia and Europe and Canada and, now, throughout the U.S. They blend mystery, adventure, and excitement, and with the limitless number of themes they can appeal to people of all ages. Wright has seen people as young as 6 and as old as 76 enjoy the rooms that he has helped create. He personally delights at the memory of seeing three generations of one family working collaboratively to figure out a clue in one of the rooms. “We have something for everyone,” Wright explained. “Our rooms are exciting and challenging, but very rewarding, too. We have figured out a way to cater to all the different demographics.” Here’s how an escape room works: A team of people are locked in a room and are given a set amount of time—usually an hour—to

Continued on Page 52

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Escape Rooms Continued from Page 50

collect clues and solve puzzles to help them escape. Teamwork is extremely important. There can be anywhere from four to ten people on a team, though sometimes a group will be slightly larger. Each room is designed with a certain level of difficulty, which helps determine how long it should take a team to find a way out. Sometimes, escaping one room only leads to a new room and another adventure. Generally, people can expect to spend about an hour to complete the challenge. The staff monitors each escape room and can send participants hints in real time as they attempt to find the hidden clues or solve the puzzles. Wright said that at Axxiom Escape Rooms, only about 20 percent of the groups solve the mystery in the allotted time, which proves that they are challenging. For more difficult rooms, like the Sherlock Room, only about two percent can expect to complete the mission in its entirety in the allotted time. At Axxion Escape Rooms, Wright carefully plans out the rooms so that there is a range of difficulty levels to suit any group. Escape rooms have become a worldwide sensation since the first ones opened about a decade ago. Wright explained that they were first popular in Asia, and Europeans caught on to them very

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Photo by Steven Hoffman

What surprises do the locked chests and hidden safes hold for visitors?

early on, too. It wasn’t until sometime around 2014 that escape rooms started gaining a wide audience in the U.S. Wright was working in strategic management for a retail company when he went on a business trip to Continued on Page 54


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ĞůĂǁĂƌĞ^LJŵƉŚŽŶLJKƌĐŚĞƐƚƌĂͮϭϬϬtĞƐƚϭϬƚŚ^ƚƌĞĞƚ͕^ƵŝƚĞϭϬϬϯͮtŝůŵŝŶŐƚŽŶ͕ϭϵϴϬϭ ǁǁǁ͘ĚĞůĂǁĂƌĞƐLJŵƉŚŽŶLJ͘ŽƌŐ www.ghlifemagazine.com | Winter 2016 | Greenville & Hockessin Life

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Escape Rooms Continued from Page 52

Canada and visited his first escape room. “Toronto and Ontario were hotbeds for escape rooms,” Wright explained. “We probably did about a half a dozen escape rooms on that trip to see what they were like.” By the time he returned home, Wright was thinking about the possibilities of opening one in Delaware. He and Espinal visited an escape room in Philadelphia, and they did a lot of research online. “It’s a very new industry,” Wright explained. “We wanted to make sure that we did it right.” They were soon coming up with room designs and their own clues that would be utilized in their new business. Wright and Espinal come up with a lot of the ideas themselves. Sometimes an idea will start with a picture that Espinal brings to Wright. “Vanessa really has the artistry and the imagination,” Wright explained. They will then discuss how the room might be built. Wright’s step-father, John Venier, was a general contractor, and is enormously helpful in the design and construction process. Vanessa’ brother, Ciro Perla, is a certified automation engineer who assists with the advanced technology. Working together as a

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Clues can be hidden anywhere in the rooms.

team, they can design and build some pretty impressive rooms. And each new room builds on what they’ve done before, so if a room debuted at the Newark location and received positive reviews from visitors, there might a few new additions when that same room is opened at the Wilmington location. Wright explained that they rotate the rooms around Continued on Page 56


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to the different locations on a somewhat regular basis so that there is consistently something new for guests to enjoy. It was a priority, Wright said, to make these escape rooms enjoyable for everyone, including for children as they can use their minds to find clues and solve the puzzles. They even designed a Goldilocks Room intended for children between the ages of 4 and 8. “This is definitely educational for children,” Wright said. “It will challenge them in a good way. We build our rooms for families.” Most of the rooms at the renovated Newark location and the Rehoboth location, as well as two of the rooms at the Wilmington location, are accessible to people with disabilities. There is no physical danger or great physical exertion required to participate in the escape rooms. “We want everybody to enjoy their experience here,” Wright said. Axxiom’s escape rooms are certainly great for families, for friends who want a new activity to enjoy, and even for large corporations that are looking for team-building opportunities for employees. Wright said that his three locations have

Create

Photo by Steven Hoffman

Wright pays attention to the smallest of details to give each room authenticity.

already proven to be tremendously popular with employers who want to offer their workers an inexpensive perk. According to Wright, one important difference between Axxiom Escape Rooms and other companies in the business is that here all the rooms are private. At some escape rooms, Continued on Page 58

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Escape Rooms Continued from Page 56

two different groups might be paired up in the same room to reach a minimum number of participants. “Our rooms are private,” Wright explained. “So if the room is built for eight, but a mom and dad want to come in with their two kids, they are in there on their own.” Axxiom Escape Rooms also requires a smaller deposit to reserve a room rather than making a group pay for each full ticket in advance. Wright said that he would love to work with community groups to arrange fundraisers that would benefit good causes. “That’s really a great way to strengthen the ties to the community,” he explained. Even though Axxiom Escape Rooms opened its first location just 14 months ago, the business has evolved very quickly. Wright is very excited about opening in a new location in Newark with a Star Wars-inspired room, and end-of-the-world room, and a Hogwarts Room. “Those three rooms will absolutely set us apart,” Wright explained. Dozens of groups booked the Hogwarts Room more than a month before it even opened, an indication of the growing number of escape room fans in Delaware. Wright doesn’t want to share too much information about the rooms that are still being planned because a big part of

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the fun for guests is the element of surprise. But he’s really excited about a new space-themed room that they will be debuting later this year. “We’re going to have people board a spaceship,” he said with a smile. “And they’re going to feel like they are flying.” He said that the company will always pride itself on delivering thrills to the guests. “We need to be nimble and evolve constantly,” Wright explained. “We’re going to make some of the rooms very elaborate. We’re putting a lot into the architecture. We’re never finished with these rooms. We’re always going to be working very hard to keep making things better.” To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@ chestercounty.com.

Axxiom Escape Rooms are open seven days a week. They open at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. The rooms are available for reservations for corporate team-building from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about pricing and corporate packages, visit exodusescaperooms.com.

Admission is free... the experience is priceless

Calendar of Events Saturday • December 10 • 7pm Patton Middle School Auditorium Celtic Christmas Concert featuring Seasons Family Band Plus Dancers, Drummers and Pipers

Monday • February 27 • 2pm Jenner’s Pond Retirement Community “Love Letters” Theatre Workshop Facilitated by People’s Light

Saturday • April 1 • 7pm West Grove Friends Meeting Organic Music with Jake Armerding

Friday • April 21 • 7pm Stroud Water Research Center A Concert for the Earth Magpie Music

Saturday • April 22 • 2pm Stroud Water Research Center The Human Experiment Documentary Film Screening

Sunday • May 7 • 2pm Kennett Friends Meeting Wilmington Drama League Children’s Theater Pillow Play, Selection TBD

Wednesday • June 21 • 7pm Anson B. Nixon Park Eric Ambel & Friends

Photo by Steven Hoffman

The Axxiom Escape Rooms’ location in Wilmington may not look very big on the outside, but there are eight rooms in the 4,000 square-foot building. www.ghlifemagazine.com | Winter 2016 | Greenville & Hockessin Life

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————|Greenville & Hockessin Arts|————

Building a musical foundation Jill Hannagan shares the magic of music while having a whole lot of fun

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By John Chambless Staff Writer

S

omewhere in the room full of eager toddlers surrounding Jill Hannagan, there may be a future composer or a superstar musician. Or maybe not. And thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fine. What Hannagan wants to do is instill a lifelong love of music, and the time to begin that process is when children are so open to all experiences. Continued on Page 62 Photos by John Chambless

Jill Hannagan, the owner of the Hockessin Music School, uses games to teach the fundamentals of music.

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Jill Hannagan Continued from Page 61

Hannagan is the owner and sole instructor for the Hockessin Music School, a business that she began in 1985 as Kindermusik of Hockessin. She taught classes using that curriculum until 1994, when the rigid nature of the lessons, as well as her desire to teach a program rooted in research concerning music in early childhood, led her to switch to the Musikgarten curriculum and change the name of the school. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This curriculum gives teachers credit for their education and their hunches. Musikgarten has lesson plans, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s left up to me if I want to do an activity twice or three times, or skip one. I just like the integrity of the company,â&#x20AC;? Hannagan said during a quick break between classes, which are held in the large lobby area of the Skyline United Methodist Church. She pays to use the space, which perfectly suits her needs. Until last May, she held classes at the Hockessin Montessori School. All she requires is a large, open room where she can dance, twirl, tap Continued on Page 64

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Hannagan has children pick out a photo of which bird made which bird call, an exercise in listening carefully.


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Jill Hannagan Continued from Page 62

out rhythms and share music with students from infants through age 10. “I really wanted to be able to influence the musicality of children,” she said of starting her business, “and that has to be done at these early ages.” What the job mainly requires is endurance and boundless enthusiasm, judging by a recent session of two classes held at the church. Hannagan keeps everyone moving -- parents and children -- while deftly switching between songs and activities without a moment of down time. The students eagerly embrace each activity, patiently take turns, listen attentively and get big belly laughs out of seeing mom or dad dancing with them. But the classes are not just about having fun. The listening and repeating, moving to rhythms, getting a chance to tap a drum in different ways, running back and forth with a billowing scarf, jumping in and out of hoops -- it

Even the youngest children can benefit from the experience of moving to music.

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Hannagan has children take turns and follow instructions while having fun.

all builds spatial awareness, listening skills, an appreciation for the building blocks of music, and a sense that music is fun, not drudgery. “There was a study done a while ago that said out of every 10 people who take piano lessons, eight quit before the end of the first year,” Hannagan said. “That’s sad. That’s not a matter of not liking music, it’s a matter of, ‘I don’t like not being successful.’” Making music is a uniquely human instinct, and mothers sing to their infants in every corner of the world. But as music fades from a child’s life during the school years, society is losing touch with nursery rhymes, sing-song games, hopscotch, and the way that music used to be a building block of childhood. “What used to happen spontaneously at home was storytelling, and singing songs together, riding in the car and singing, going to church and singing, that is not necessarily a part of every child’s life any longer,” Hannagan said. “Kids now are sitting in front of a TV instead of being interactive. Society is changing. Kids can’t go out and play by themselves any longer. Instead, it’s all organized activities. Continued on Page 66 www.ghlifemagazine.com | Winter 2016 | Greenville & Hockessin Life

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Jill Hannagan Continued from Page 65

“Music in schools is fading away, and there’s less free time, with more time spent on academics,” she continued. “But research shows that this age is a time for kids to develop their bodies. That’s why we do lots of stopping and starting, and that running game we did teaches motor skills, to run without running into each other. Those are the exact skills that are going to keep these kids from getting in each other’s space when they’re 8 or 9 years old. “Kids now have to sit up straight in their desks, and nobody’s giving them a chance to develop these physical impulses that are so necessary. ... For anybody to learn, there needs to be three things -- the information itself, a sensorial experience, and an emotional connection,” Hannagan said. “Listening to Mozart on your CD player is not the same experience as having your mother hold you and sing to you.” Hannagan is a skilled pianist, was a piano major at the University of Delaware, and worked as a band director at St. Mark’s High School. “All I ever wanted to be was a high-school band director,” she said. “I was sitting in the football stadium at the end of the season after I’d done it

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three years, and thought, ‘OK, this is what I’ve wanted to do since I was 10 years old, and I’ve done it. Now what am I going to do?’” Shifting gears completely, she sold life insurance for three years. After having her first son in 1984, she took a job teaching and doing music for students in grades K through 8 at St. Catherine of Sienna in Wilmington, ran her own piano studio, and began investigating early childhood music education. “I found out I loved it,” she said. “It was where I needed to be. It takes a lot of energy, but it’s very gratifying. You see children who are going to grow up knowing that music is something to celebrate with other people, as opposed to something that brings you lots of angst and requires to spend hours and hours in a practice room, by yourself. “When I was teaching school, I’d go into the faculty room and teachers would be saying, ‘I don’t know what’s wrong with these kids today. They don’t listen.’ Well, nobody was teaching them how to listen,” Hannagan said. During her recent class for 3- and 4-year-olds, Hannagan Continued on Page 68


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gathered the children around her and played sounds on her iPad -- a woodpecker, a buzzing bee, and more. Then she had the children tap out a rhythm on a drum to imitate the bird sounds -- louder for nearby sounds, softer for sounds farther away. It’s a building block for fingering techniques on many instruments, but it’s also just fun. “Listening,” Hannagan said, “is a much different thing than just hearing. If we just talk louder than them, or talk over them, we’re not going to train them to actively listen.” As she works with parents who are striving to give their children an academic head start, Hannagan said she wants to convince all of them to keep children involved in music in some way. “Music is uniquely human. Because of that, I think that everybody needs to be given a chance to succeed in music, in whatever form they want,” she said. “Early childhood music education is important. It isn’t something you do for a few months and then try something else. You should keep your child in music education, and later, if they want to stop, they will have a foundation set. “If you ask 30 people how many of them took piano lessons as a child, just about every hand is going to go up,” she said. “And if you ask how many of them quit and wish they hadn’t, just about every hand will stay up. You quit because you’re not successful right away. But if you have the right experience where you’re making music with your friends and family, and later you learn to play those songs on the piano, for instance, can you imagine how gratifying that will be? All children deserve to have this foundation established -- in addition to science and math.”

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www.wyethprints.com Children tap out louder and softer sounds on a drum. 68

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Groups of children and parents get up and move to music during Hannagan’s classes.

Gathering the children on the carpet for a session of tapping out a descending scale on wooden resonator bars, Hannagan patiently made sure that every child had two turns, tapping out the sequence as she sang a descending melody. “The kids trust me. They know they’re going to get two turns,” she said. “They know that when I get out just one drum, I’m going to give everybody a turn with that drum. The children are very comfortable in this environment, and because of that, they’re not concerned about just themselves. They can think about, and care for, other people. I’m modeling respect for them. That’s what I wish parents could understand -- we’re setting a foundation for life. Even if they don’t play an instrument later on, they will still get joy out of music, and they will be better people for having had the experience.” Hannagan has worked with hundreds of children over the years, and now the moms who are bringing their own toddlers were her former students. “One of my students is a music teacher now, and I think she was a teacher of the year in her district at one point. She got her start with me,” she said, smiling. As the mother of two sons, now 32 and 29, and a grandmother of an 11-month-old, Hannagan is happy to see a love of music cross generations in her students. “It’s a privilege for me to see this keep growing,” she said. For information about classes, visit www.makingmusik.com/hockessinmusic. To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

Photo: Jackie Kane Photography

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———|Greenville & Hockessin People|———

A window on the world

By John Chambless Staff Writer

A

s a young girl during the dark days of the Great Depression, Irene Wood remembers looking up at the bolts of cloth in her aunt’s fabric shop in Scranton and falling in love with how they were meticulously arranged. She will be 94 in March, and the lure of a well-arranged display has been a constant in her long life. Sitting in the window of the Wilmington Country Store, where she has been designing window displays for about 30 years, Wood recalled a childhood largely insulated from the worst hardships of the Depression. “I grew up in Scranton, and I was the oldest daughter. There were five of us,” she said. “My mother always took me with her shopping. When I was probably 6, we’d get on the bus and go walk around downtown. It was very nice back in those days. Lewis and Reilly used to have a huge store, and we’d buy our shoes there. They were so beautifully arranged. “As a girl, I played with paper dolls and cut out clothes for them,” she said. “My father always made sure we all had paper and pencils and crayons. For Christmas, there would be paper chains all over the house.” Wood attended Lackawanna Business School and worked as a secretary at Hercules, a job which brought her to Wilmington in 1943. “We lived on

Photos by Jie Deng

Irene Wood gives a distinctive look to the windows at the Wilmington Country Store in Greenville. 70

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At 93, Irene Wood still loves designing windows at the Wilmington Country Store Delaware Avenue,” she said, “Number 1812.” After she married, Wood said, “You couldn’t really work in those days, and that’s when I started with the window stuff.” In 1969, Wood was working on the sales floor at the Mullins clothing store in the then-new Concord Mall, working with executives who had to buy suits for work, but were often clueless about how to coordinate an outfit. “In those days, they had professional window men who came from Philadelphia,” Wood recalled, and she paid attention to their work. “It was a beautiful store. Everything was perfect. I worked with the window men, and with the seamstresses. You had to press everything for the window, and it all had to be perfect.” Wood and her husband raised a family in Delaware, and today she has three daughters, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren who are scattered across the country. Since her husband passed away 17 years ago, Wood still lives by herself, still drives, and still turns up at the Country Store about every two weeks to change out the windows. But the Christmas window is the biggest project of the year. Today, department store windows are something of an afterhought, unless they are the Manhattan show windows that draw thousands of tourists every holiday season. The excitement and long lines generated in New York City were once commonplace, and a store’s windows were its biggest form of advertising. Everything from drug stores to plumbing supply houses spent a considerable amount of effort filling the windows with eye-catching displays that were intended to lure people inside. The Wilmington Country Store has been a part of the Greenville Crossing shopping center in Greenville since 1952, offering a wide range of clothing that’s well made

and classic. The store is actually very large, but depends on its five windows to advertise what’s inside. “This is a very personal window,” Wood said, waving at a passer-by on the sidewalk. “I always look at windows when I’m in any other city, in Florida or Washington. I love to go and see the windows.” Wood was working across Route 52, at the Enchanted Owl store, when she was recruited to come over and work for the Country Store. “I said 30 years ago that I’d stay five years,” Wood said, smiling. “I didn’t start out doing the windows, though. I learned the store first.” Props and decorations for the windows are boxed in the basement of the store, and re-used season after season, but Wood always adds her own touch. This year, she brought her own tabletop Christmas tree to add to the window display. “I always start with one thing at the center, and I have a theme in mind,” she said. “I go around the store the pick out what’s going to work with that center item. Sometimes I put in golf clubs, or sleds, or things like that. The secret is that you have to have something that will catch the eye -- even if it’s a pair of socks, a tie, jewelry. Blue in men’s windows gets their attention. Men like blue.” The window designs are all Wood’s, although she said she takes suggestions into consideration. Many of her displays, which are changed every two weeks, are centered on holidays. “We try to put the flag in for some holidays,” she said. “It changes every year, with the different merchandise. I just know what looks good. You don’t want to frighten people, but attract them. You can be very showy, but with good taste.” Today, window displays are largely decreed by a Continued on Page 72

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Window Designer Continued from Page 71

corporate office somewhere, and laid out according to a plan, Wood said. Mall stores are only allowed to display what they’re told. “And some of the windows are plain terrible,” she said, laughing. The independent Country Store allows Wood free rein, but her stylish sensibility meshes perfectly with the store’s loyal customers -- some of whom are third-generation shoppers there. “People are so nice about my work,” she said. “They seem to like everything I do. I think it’s nice to look at something pretty. We have beautiful merchandise to show off. The main thing to put in the window is something appealing, classic, something that everyone can wear. Windows are like a painting -- they have to tell a story,” she said. The problem is that Wood’s displays are often too appealing, and whatever clothing she puts there will sell quickly. “Then I have to go and find something in the store that will work with the design, and replace the piece that sold,” she said. “Everyone likes to look at good things.”’ Looking back over the past nine decades, Wood said that

much has changed. “We didn’t have a lot of snack stuff,” she said of her childhood. “We ate our three meals, but when my mother went into the city, she always brought home candy for us.” The independence of childhood is also largely gone, she said. “We lived almost outside the city, on a mountain, and we’d play there,” she said, smiling. “We climbed over the mountain to play, and at 5:00, it would be, ‘Daddy’s going to be home,’ so we’d go home.” Despite the huge changes and upheavals that she has seen, “I’m optimistic about the future,” Wood said. “The future is going to be wonderful, but it has to be right and honest. If everybody would think to be kind and honest, that will be the savior. That’s what it’s going to take. People can’t get too upset, because that won’t help us either. You’ve got to stay strong. “But looking back, I’ve had a magnificent time,” she said. “Oh, I really have.” To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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There’s Never Been A Better Time to Buy! For more information call 302.653.1650 or visit www.LenapeBuilders.net 72

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———|Greenville & Hockessin History|———

Photos by Jie Deng 74

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————|Greenville & Hockessin Life|————

Jump

Continued from Page 75

Built by Irénée du Pont, the Granogue Estate offers stunning views of the Northern Delaware countryside. Through the graciousness of Irénée du Pont, Jr., the private residence has also become a treasured host for some of the most competitive trail races in the Northeast

Continued on Page 75

The vistas of

Granogue 75

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Continued on Page 76

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Photo Essay Continued from Page 75

Set on 515 acres, the Granogue Estate was built by IrĂŠnĂŠe du Pont.

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The Estate is dotted with lovely gardens that capture the beauty of the seasons.

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Photo Essay Continued from Page 77

The Granogue Water Tower is one of the most iconic landmarks on the property.

A traditional gas pump is used to fuel vehicles that are stored on the estate.

The tunnel serves as one of the many unique architectural features of trail races held at Granogue.

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The Granogue Estate is a winding network of trails, railways and views.

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|Greenville & Hockessin Fitness and Adventure| Thanks to the generosity of the du Pont family and the hard work of a local trail race organization, the mission of one of Delaware’s greatest sons — to protect the children of Delaware — will be realized for a long time to come

Beau Biden’s forever run

Photo courtesy of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children.

Beau Biden, with Patricia “Patty” Dailey Lewis, the executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. 80

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Photo by Amy Kuhlman

The inaugural Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race took place on March 19, 2016, on the grounds of the Granogue Estate. More than 500 runners participated.

By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer

O

n June 6, 2015, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden was eulogized at a Roman Catholic Mass at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Wilmington, following a courageous battle with brain cancer that took his life one week before. He was 46. In pew after pew, hundreds of dignitaries sat side-by-side with everyday Delawareans -- policy makers and homemakers, the elected and the neglected, the privileged and those hardened by life. They sat shoulder to shoulder in the old church, bound together not by standing but by the quiet whisper of a collective mourning. The day before, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill personally greeted hundreds of Delawareans, who had wrapped themselves around the block of St. Anthonyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s for hours just for the chance to lean their condolences into the Continued on Page 82

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Beau Biden Continued from Page 81

chest of Beau’s father, stepmother, siblings Ashley and Hunter, wife Hallie and children Natalie and Hunter. “Beau Biden brought to his work a mighty heart, he brought to his family a mighty heart,” President Barack Obama said in his eulogy. He praised the younger Biden for his refusal to run for the Senate when the path was open for him to follow in his father’s footsteps, because he was too busy fighting to protect children who were victims of abuse, in his role as the state’s attorney general. To honor and continue the legacy of Biden’s commitment to protecting children, particularly those who are the victims of abuse and neglect, the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children was formed in June 2015. The idea of the foundation grew out of Biden’s commitment to bring Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children to Delaware in 2010, during the time that he and the Delaware Department of Justice prosecuted Dr. Earl Bradley, a former pediatrician in Lewes, who was indicted in 2010 on 471 charges of molesting, raping and exploiting 103 child patients. Darkness to Light works to end child abuse through education, raising awareness,

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“As adults, we have a legal and moral obligation to stand up and speak out for children who are being abused. These children cannot speak for themselves.” Beau Biden sharing resources, and fostering a network of committed prevention advocates. Joshua Alcorn, chief engagement officer at the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, who also served as Biden’s political director for two years, pointed to the Foundation’s shield at its new offices on the campus of the Delaware Law School. “We talk a lot here at the Foundation about fulfilling Beau’s promise to Delaware, and part of the way we do that is reminding people what Beau’s promise was,” he said “It’s keeping the Beau Biden Foundation shield in front of people, in order to remind them of his promise a Delaware free of child abuse -- where kids don’t have to worry about being abused, neglected or harmed by a bully or any kind of predator.” Continued on Page 84


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Beau Biden Continued from Page 82

The outreach of the Foundation does more than just talk on Beau’s behalf. Last year, that outreach took to the hills of one of the most historic and emblematic properties in Delaware. * * * * It seemed, in a way, pure destiny that the inaugural Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race would take place on the grounds of the Granogue Estate. The property’s 515 acres, owned by the du Pont family, was familiar ground to the Biden family. Joe’s sister Valerie once lived on the property for a while, and when Joe was a Delaware senator, he and Irénée du Pont would race two of the four 1978 Honda XL 250 motorbikes du Pont owned, around the Granogue property. “Joe’s brother-in-law bought one of the bikes, so it seemed like the natural thing to do was to get Joe one, and he rode it around the property,” du Pont said. “Joe is very able with any kind of a motor-driven vehicle. He can drive anything from an 18-wheeler on down.” Beau ran everywhere -- after long days as the state’s attorney general, up and down Kennett Pike and around

Greg

l

Photo by Dennis Smith

Vice President Joe Biden attended the inagural Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race.

Rockford Park; on stolen moments on business trips; along Savannah Road in Lewes, during the time he and the Delaware Department of Justice prosecuted Bradley. “Every seriously committed runner runs for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that this is a safe place, where you can process things, turn things off, and focus on one thing, which is ‘Step and breathe, step and

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breathe,’” Alcorn said. “I get the sense that this is one of the things that Beau loved about running. “We were on a trip to Texas, and we did Austin in the morning, then Dallas, and we had to overnight in Dallas because we were flying the next morning to St. Louis. There is a very nice trail in Dallas that had just been built and opened. We were flying into Dallas after an exhausting day, and Beau told me, ‘I can’t wait to run on this new trail.’ We land, and after a super-long day and a string of long days ahead of us, Beau goes out for a run on that trail.” Soon after the Beau Biden Foundation was formed, Beau’s brother Hunter contacted Ed Camille at the Trail Creek Outfitters in West Chester about sponsoring a memorial race for his brother. From these original conversations between Biden and Camille, the concept was then shared with Lauri Webber of Velo Amis, who had collaborated with the Trail Creek Outfitter Series on several trail races -- some of them on the Granogue estate. Begun in 2010 by Webber and colleagues, the purpose of Velo Amis is two-fold: It advocates and financially supports local cyclists, and partners with local non-profit organizations, individuals and causes to raise funding. Since its founding, Velo Amis has donated over $70,000 to individuals and more than one dozen non-profit organizations. The first Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race took place on the morning of March 19, 2016 at Granogue, when more than 500 runners - including Biden’s friends from the Department of Justice, his fellow members from the Delaware National Guard, and his closest friends -- ran through the woods and trails and tunnels in his memory. Close to $6,000 was raised for the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children. “Beau had raced there before, and he had told me stories of growing up riding dirt bikes on the property,” Webber said. “Logistically speaking, Granogue was also a much easier place to have a race, since Velo Amis has been putting on events at Granogue for many years.” In designing the 5k/10k course at Granogue -- known to be among the most challenging courses in the midAtlantic region -- Webber started from the existing trail infrastructure, in considering how to best accommodate two different race courses using the same start/finish area, as well as giving visitors great vista points from which to see the race.

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“We design the 5K course to be easier and less technical, while still being challenging and the 10K course uses as much single track trail as possible and designed to be very challenging but still fun,” Webber said. “We also keep in mind maximizing viewing for friends and family of the racers, water stop placement, access for emergency vehicles and personnel. We also believe strongly that we don’t want to have the exact same course year to year.” Webber reserved the most praise for the Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race for Irénée du Pont. “At Granogue, we are extremely fortunate in that Irenee allows us maximum freedom in design so we may decide to put in new trails or revive old trails,” she said. “When we want to do another event, we tend to default to Granogue, because we know that Irénée is willing to work with us. He thanks us for putting on events. It’s incredible to me how generous both Irenee and his wife have been to us.” “This race has nothing to do with me, I can assure you,” du Pont said. “It’s a nice piece of property, and if you encourage people to enjoy the rite of responsible trespass

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on it, it means that more people can enjoy the property. Granogue is a busy, busy place.” * * * * Both the initial Beau Biden Memorial Trail Race -- and its second run, which will take place at Granogue on March 18, 2017 -- are just two of the many ways the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children is making a solid footprint in Delaware, and beyond. Over the past year, the Foundation has educated over 1,500 Delawareans in Stewards of Children training seminars, while continuing to strengthen child protection laws for children in Delaware. “We go out and we actually meet with people, and we train them face to face,” said Patricia “Patty” Dailey Lewis, the executive director of the Foundation. “We sit with kids and we talk about things that maybe they don’t know about, like sexting and sextortion and cyber bullying. Beau was passionately committed to making sure that kids were empowered to stand up for each other, as well as themselves.” Continued on Page 90


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“One of the things that excites us is how we create our own programming, to determine our next steps for growth,” Alcorn said. “They’re already creating programs across state lines. geographical opportunities for growth, but there are also programmatic opportunities for growth. Now that we’ve figured out what we’re good at in Delaware, we want to explore how to continue to grow both geographically and programatically.” Dailey Lewis said that when Beau was considering running for Delaware attorney general, he took her aside. “He told me, ‘Patty, you’ve spent your entire career [as an attorney] protecting kids, and I want you to know that this will be the centerpiece of what I want to do. Let’s talk about what it will look like,’” she said. “I told a group of young women I spoke to last week that ‘I wish for you that one time in your career, you meet one person who feels what you feel, who encourages you in everything you do, who challenges you, who argues with you, but who you know has your back, and who’s back you will have, no matter what.’ “For me, Beau Biden was that person.”

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* * * * For the many who were not fortunate enough to be at St. Anthony of Padua Church on June 6, 2015, they sat silent on their couches, watching the services on their televisions. They asked empty questions. ‘Why did this have to happen?’ and ‘What if he had lived?’

To learn more about the Beau Biden Foundation for the Protection of Children, visit www.beaubidenfoundation.org, or follow the Foundation on Facebook, at facebook.com/BeauBidenFdn. If you would like more information about Velo Amis and the complete roster of events in Trail Creek Outfitters Series, visit www.trailcreekseries.org. If you would like to apply for a grant or make a donation to Velo Amis, visit www. veloamis.org, or e-mail info@veloamis.org.


Nineteen months removed from that day, many of those who knew Beau or merely knew of him, continue to ask those unanswerable questions, and look for the continuing flame of his life’s passion -- to protect children in Delaware. Moments after his son Beau introduced him at the 2008 Democratic Convention, then Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden gave the millions of people who were watching that night some sound advice. “Barack Obama and I took very different journeys to this destination, but we share a common story,” he said. “Mine began in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then Wilmington, Delaware, with a dad who fell on hard economic times, but who always told me, “Champ, when you get knocked down, get up. Get up.’” The words have been shared by Biden so many times that they have also become ours. We like hearing them. They are comforting. They are what helps sustain us in our darkest times. The power of the message has also served as the solvent that has bound together one foundation, one fundraising agency and Delaware’s most prominent family on a race that is run in his son’s name. “Beau Biden was the most compassionate man I have ever met in my life,” Dailey Lewis said. “He truly cared about people, and he really wanted to make their lives better. Some people are politicians because they want people to pay attention to them, and then there are people who are politicians because they want to be public servants, and pay attention to people. Beau was clearly the latter. “Of the many promises he made, this one will live long after him, because it’s getting done.” To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail rgaw@ chestercounty.com .

The second Beau Biden Trail Race will take place on March 18, 2017, on the Granogue Estate, 2900 Montchanin Road, Wilmington, Del. 19807. To register online, visit www.runreg. com/beau. The online registration deadline is March 16, 2017 at 8 p.m.

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Greenville & Hockessin Life Winter 2016  

Greenville & Hockessin Life Winter 2016