Middletown Life Fall/Winter 2017

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Fall/Winter 2017

Middletown Life

Magazine

Middletown's Olde Tyme

Peach Festival - Page 20

Inside • Q&A with Townsend Mayor Rudy Sutton • The firefighter: Commitment, training, and time • Bringing out the leader in everyone Complimentary Copy


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Fall/Winter 2017

Middletown Life Table of Contents 10

Love is blooming at the Levels Road Dog Park

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Olde Tyme Peach Festival

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Profile of Deanna Fitzpatrick

66

The firefighter: Commitment, training and time

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Bringing out the leader in everyone

44

Townsend mayor ‘Rudy’ Sutton

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Photo essay: Middletown lets the dogs out

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80 Cover design by Tricia Hoadley Cover photograph by Jie Deng 6

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


Middletown’s best on display at Olde Tyme Peach Festival Letter from the Editor:

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The Olde Tyme Peach Festival—Middletown’s largest annual event—blends the town’s past with its present to wonderful results. In this issue of Middletown Life, we offer an extensive look at this year’s Olde Tyme Peach Festival, which was the 24th annual event. A huge crowd turned out on the beautiful day to enjoy live music, games, arts activities, history demonstrations, and lots of food—especially peaches. The role of peaches in the town’s history is well known, of course. An exhibit set up by the Middletown Historical Society illustrated this history for visitors. But, of course, the Olde Tyme Peach Festival also showcases the vibrancy of modern Middletown, which can play host to one of the largest events in Delaware each year. In this issue, we also feature a story about fire, EMT and ambulance responders who come to the aid of their neighbors when they need it most. We talk to David Hall, a Townsend Fire Department firefighter, EMT and ambulance responder and a past fire chief, who now serves president of the State Chiefs Association. Hall shares insights into the duties of firefighters, EMT and ambulance drivers and first responders everywhere. We have a story about the Leader in Me concept, which is now incorporated at three area elementary schools and 2,500 schools nationwide. Leader in Me is empowering young people with leadership and life skills. Middletown Life looks at how it’s energizing students at one local school. The subject of the Q & A is Rudolph Sutton, known by all as Rudy, who is in his second term as Mayor of Townsend. Sutton talked about what it takes to preside over the estimated 3,500 people who call Townsend home. We profile psychic medium Deanna Fitzpatrick, who has learned to connect with the spirit world, and now shares messages with the living. Writer Drewe Phinny explores the popularity of the Levels Road Dog Park. We also had photographer Jie Deng photograph some of the canines and their owners to compile the photo essay that is featured in this issue. We hope you enjoy the stories in this issue of Middletown Life as much as we enjoyed preparing them. We’re already looking forward to bringing you the next issue of our magazine, which will arrive in the spring of 2018. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher randyl@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553

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Steve Hoffman, Editor editor@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553, ext. 13

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—————|Around Middletown|—————

Photo by Jie Deng

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Love is blooming at the Levels Road Dog Park, and humans have a pretty good time, too


Drewe Phinny Staff Writer

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ith all the juicy romances reported by TMZ and E! these days, there’s one in Middletown you might not know about. Nyla and Milton meet almost daily at the dog park, and they are really carrying on like a couple of crazy kids -- or dogs. Actually, it’s all G-rated and their owners couldn’t be happier. Nyla is a mix of Labrador Retriever and some American Bulldog, Rottweiler and German Shepherd, according to her owner, David Bennett. Milton is Continued on page 12 All photos by Drewe Phinny unless otherwise noted.

Right: Lenny and Ruth Ann and their Great Dane, Nova. Below: The entrance to the spacious Charles E. Price Memorial Park at Levels Road

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Dog park Continued from Page 11

a Bijon Frise and he belongs to Robert Stewart. Stewart and Bennett are Middletown neighbors who treat their respective pooches to daily visits to what is commonly referred to as the Levels Road Dog Park. The dogs have developed a strong friendship; in fact, Stewart described Nyla and Milton as “boyfriend and girlfriend.” Joking about the origin of the Bijon Frise, Bennett said, “Nyla likes the French accent.” As Stewart watched Nyla react smartly to her owner’s commands, he jokingly said, “Milton can do tricks, too! Milton, sit on the bench!” His dog was already sitting on the bench. It’s that kind of easy humor and casual conversation among pet owners that makes the dog park as much fun for the humans as the animals. Eventually, the topic turns to a dog’s intuition about strangers. Stewart said, “If my dog doesn’t like you, I’m going to be at least a little suspicious.”

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Two Yorkshire Terriers quench their thirst at the custom-made water fountain.

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


Bennett had a similar take: “I was here one day, talking, and Nyla wants to say hello to everybody who walks by. This one guys walks down the side and she kind of backs up and the hair on the back of her neck kind of stands up and she just growls at him. Then the next person walks up and she’s very friendly.” So is this a reliable way to determine somebody’s character? Probably not, but it has become a part of the canine pop culture. Another dog park visitor with a personal story is Elizabeth “Betty” McLennan, whose pet actually keeps the spot warm when she gets out of bed. “When I get up to take care of my husband, Timmy [her dog] moves up from the foot of the bed to my pillow and keeps everything in place, round and warm. When I come back, I don’t have to say a Continued on page 14

Robert Stewart and Milton, David Bennett and Nyla, and Elizabeth McLennan and Timmy.

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Dog park Continued from Page 13

word. I sit down on the side of the bed and he moves over and I have a nice warm head place to go.” McLennan agrees with her neighbors that the park is special. “I think it’s very, very nice,” she said. Levels Road Dog Park is divided into two huge sections of three acres (for smaller dogs) and five acres (for larger dogs), and the visitor count is pretty random from day to day. Bennett said, “You can get here and there’ll be 20 dogs on the big dog side, and 15 minutes later, there’s nobody over there. Then you might have two dogs over there in the next hour, and then all of a sudden there will be 30.” All the owners gave the dog park glowing reviews, with many citing the all-grass surface, as opposed to the bark-mulch substance that other places use. Despite the limited amount of shade, everybody agreed there’s always a pleasant breeze to keep things cool. They like the benches and especially the doggie water fountain, which perfectly accommodates the height of their four-legged friends. What had been a fairly quiet day at the dog park got a little more interesting when Riley the bulldog came on the scene. At that point, Milton started to bark his warning to the new guest. “Milton is kind of like the policeman around here,” Bennett explained. Once Milton checked out Riley and gave her his approval, everything was back to normal. Riley’s owner, Carol Lienig, chatted with Stewart about the care and feeding of dogs, including a diet she feels leads to a nicer coat. She also mentioned that she lives close to the Glasgow dog park, but she will most likely choose to travel the extra miles to Middletown because it has so much open land. The combined eight acres make it possible for large groups of pet lovers to simultaneously gather. Many, like Stewart and Bennett, form friendships that start because of the common bonds of dog ownership. Continued on page 16

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Dog Park Continued from Page 14

Lienig mentioned that this was her first time visiting the Middletown dog park, and she loved it. “I like the grass rather than the mulch, which gets all over the place. Here it’s like having a giant lawn or back yard for your dog. Riley has so much energy, and since we live in a townhouse, we don’t really have a back yard, and this is the only thing that lets her get out. She knows when we’re coming here and she gets excited.” Lienig is also a big fan of the doggie water fountain. “We’ve been to a lot of these dog parks and this is the best, by far,” she said. Lienig, who grew up in Newark, is interested in many aspects of the canine-human dynamic and one of Continued on page 18 Visitors to the Levels Road Dog Park look on as their dogs size up Riley the bulldog.

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Dog park Continued from Page 16

those areas concerns the intense training that some dogs undergo. “Our neighbor was a canine officer and he trains the dogs on command,.” she said. “The second he put his vest on, it was like everything else shut off. A huge play dog would be goofy as a Golden Retriever, but when the vest came on, he was down to business. The discipline is very important. It has to be constant.” This story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Four Yorkies. Four Yorkshire Terriers (Jack, Bear, Gracie and Tiny) entered the dog park and swept through the place like a barking tornado. It was as if someone choreographed their movements, and they scampered to and fro in one cloud-like formation. They taunted the Great Dane on the other side of the fence (in the big dog area) with playful exuberance. It was great entertainment. And to make it even better, The Four Yorkies are a family – mom, dad and two kids. The Great Dane that caught the Yorkies’ attention goes by the name of Nova. Owners Ruth Ann and Lennie of Middletown mentioned this was their first visit. Amidst all the noise from the Yorkies, Nova remained pretty calm. “Actually, Nova is really mellow,” Ruth Ann said. Because that area was being mowed, Nova had the “big dog” side all to himself. Rick and Lynn are two of many dog owners who come from Newark to the Levels Road Dog Park. “We just hop right on Route 1,” Rick said. “We do other parks up that way, but none of them are as clean as this one.” And speaking of clean, Lynn is not a big fan of the bark-mulch mix. “Up north, they are all mulch, and they are filthy,” she said. Rick, referring to their all-white rescue mix, Kramer, said, “He goes in white and comes out black. We’ve checked out a lot of the places and this is the best one.” Lynn also loves the size of the park. “It’s pretty busy on the weekends, but it’s so big that all the dogs have lots of room to roam,” she said. The big dog section forms a huge rectangle and then wraps around in an L-shaped configuration. “We come down on Saturdays and there 18

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


QUALITY EDUCATION Close to Home

are at least 15 to 20 dogs here,” Jack said. “And it’s free. Then there’s the picnic pavilion and the playground for the kids.” Any level of dog fighting is kept to an absolute minimum due to self-policing by the dog owners themselves, as Rick and Lynn explained. “If your dog causes problems, you just don’t bring him. You get ostracized real quickly. And you also learn the rules. You don’t bring food. You don’t bring little tiny kids, because the dogs might run over them.” On any given weekend, you could see several local groups meeting with their canine friends. “One day we saw 50 beagles,” Lynn said. “And the owners teach classes and have other activities.” Town spokeswoman Kristen Krenzer said the eight-year-old recreation area is a “passive park,” designed specifically for the rest and relaxation of its visitors. It’s a place where people can get away from it all and just unwind. Amidst all the hustle and bustle of life and it’s challenges, dog lovers in and around Middletown continue to find calm at the Levels Road Dog Park. The only question might be, who has the most fun, the dogs or the owners? At this point, it looks like a tie.

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—————|Around Middletown|—————

The Olde Tyme Peach Festival Middletown’s largest annual event blends the town’s past with its present By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer

A

t the ripe old age of 24, Middletown’s Olde Tyme Peach Festival keeps getting bigger and better every year, blending the town’s past with its present in new and interesting ways. The 2017 festival took place under gloriously sunny skies on Saturday, Aug. 19, as thousands of spectators turned out for a day filled with live music, games, arts activities, history demonstrations, and lots of food— especially peaches. The wealth of offerings makes the Olde Tyme Peach

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Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


Barbara Dixon, Pete and Joanne Kurych, Peg Atwell, and Vicki Dixon made pies, cobbler, and mini-pies.

All photos by Steven Hoffman

Above and right: Victorians of Virtues and Valor were dressed in 1860s attire.

Festival a destination, and it now ranks among the largest events to take place in the area each year, attracting upwards of 30,000 visitors. It’s easy to understand why. From the moment the parade kicked off in the morning to the time the last merchant on Main Street closed for the evening, the event was a showcase of Middletown as both a history-rich community and one of the most vibrant towns in the region. Peaches were everywhere, of course, but so, too, were smiles as people of all ages enjoyed coming together for the big community event. Continued on page 22

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Peach Festival Continued from Page 21

Cochran Square was a hub of activity, with live music and dance routines being performed on the main stage just a few feet away. Throughout the day, people enjoyed food and beverages at Sully’s Irish Pub. Vendors came from all over the area to sell their wares. With thousands of people out for a day of fun, it was unique opportunity

Peaches were everywhere, but so too were reminders of Middletown’s rich history.

Continued on page 24

Milton Downing with one of his paintings that was on display during the festival. 22

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com

Even some of the artwork on display paid tribute to Middletown’s favorite fruit.



Peach Festival Continued from Page 22

for merchants, artisans, and nonprofit organizations to connect with people. Many of the vendors offered food, a wide variety of handcrafted jewelry and clothing. One booth was set up to promote the M.O.T. Big Ball Marathon, which took place over Labor Day Weekend. The Big Ball Marathon raises money to assist individuals and families in need in the area. The M.O.T. All-Stars Continued on page 26

A fun festival for folks of all ages John Haman, a lifelong resident of the area, enjoyed the Olde Tyme Peach Festival on Saturday, August 19. He is 100 years old, and looking forward to his 101st birthday in September. He is pictured with his daughter, Mary Wilson. While there were plenty of games and activities and food for children to enjoy, the Olde Tyme Peach Festival is clearly an event that offers something for folks of all ages.

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and the M.O.T. Basketball Camp had booths to provide information to prospective participants. There were plenty of children’s games and activities throughout the festival, including face-painting, visits from costumed characters, and inflatables to bounce around in. On the front lawn of the Academy Building, the Victorians of Virtue and Valor were dressed in 1860s attire and offered demonstrations of games that were played by families of the Civil War period. Civil War reenactors did drills and fired their rifles. The Fort Delaware Cornet Band performed short concerts throughout the afternoon.

Organizations in the area can promote their upcoming events at the festival. The festival always takes place just a few weeks before the M.O.T. Big Ball Marathon.

Continued on page 28

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Peach Festival Continued from Page 26

At the Gibby Center for the Arts, a special folk festival was taking place. There was live entertainment, including performances by Hannah Dale, Kira Alejandro, STR, and others. People could enjoy the art on display in the gallery exhibit or shop for a variety of artful, handcrafted items that were available. Continued on page 30

Thomas Knight, the post commander and Gene Brown, the junior vice commander of VFW Post 838, of Fort Penn Delaware, were on hand at the festival to provide information about the VFW. The Post, which has about 300 members, is now 202 years old.

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Peach Festival

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Continued from Page 28

Milton Downing, who is on the board of directors for the Gibby Center for the Arts, smiled as he surveyed all the offerings in the facility during the peach festival. He said that the peach festival offered the Gibby a chance to showcase the many exciting programs and activities that are available throughout the year. Downing is an artist himself, and some of his abstract paintings were on display. The restaurants and shops in town were able to showcase their offerings to the visitors. “This is a great event,” explained Mary Kate Church, who was standing not far from her shop, Femme Boutique, on Main Street, just before the business moved to a new, larger location. “It brings about 30,000 people to town. There are all these different vendors lined up through town and people are walking up and down Main Street. It’s good for Middletown.” The Olde Tyme Peach Festival is sponsored by the Mddletown Historical Society. Anyone who attends the event helps to support the operations of the Middletown Historical Society because proceeds from the peach festival are used to fund the society’s work throughout the year. The Middletown Historical Society was founded in 1985 to Continued on page 32

Steve and Jenna Shupe attracted a lot of attention as they walked down the center of the festival with their adorable, new boxer puppy. The puppy was so new to the Shupe family on the day of the festival, in fact, that they hadn’t given the pet a name yet. Steve Shupe said that they might name the new puppy “Peaches” in honor of Middletown’s top crop.

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Peach Festival Continued from Page 30

to promote the study and preservation of Middletown history. In 1994, the historical society and a group of business owners in town banded together to start the festival. The historical society has had a major role in planning the event ever since, and in recent years its popularity has skyrocketed. On the second floor of the historic Middletown Academy Building, Alison Matsen was offering additional information to visitors about the exhibits that had been set up by the Middletown Historical Society. Matsen is one of the

Continued on page 34

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The Old Tyme Peach Festival featured demonstration of old-time games.

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


The Victorians of Virtue and Valor reenacted 1860s festivities in front of the Middletown Academy building.

The Fort Delaware Cornet Band entertained the crowd.

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Peach Festival Continued from Page 32

leaders of the Middletown Historical Society, and she helps curate some of the exhibits that the organization has opened to the public. One of the current exhibits is “Downtown Abbey,” inspired by the popular television show “Downton Abbey.” The “Downtown Abbey” exhibit features items that illustrate what life was like in Middletown around the same time that the fictional show’s events took place—approximately between 1912 and 1926. This exhibit was pieced together using items that belong to the Middletown Historical Society as well as collections from several local estates. Continued on page 36 Adam Kleinmeulman and Melissa Forbes, therapists at Wellbeing on Main, which has mental health, yoga, and message therapists all in one building at 120 West Main Street.

Alison Matsen with Anthony Johnson, two members of the Middletown Historical Society board, helped provide additional information to visitors who toured the history exhibits. 34

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Live music was performed on three different stages throughout the day.

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Peach Festival Continued from Page 34

Another exhibit, “Reflections of Middletown,” showcases images of the men, women, and children who have called Middletown home through the years. Upstairs was a permanent exhibit that is a recreation of 19th century schoolroom so that people can see what these old classrooms were like. Children can sit down at the old-fashioned desks and practice cursive writing. Another exhibit highlights the importance of peaches to Middletown’s development. The course of Middletown’s history was certainly changed dramatically by peaches,

Members of the Boy Scouts Troop 125 had a booth at the event.

Continued on page 38

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Peach Festival Continued from Page 36

which were the town’s leading crop at a time when Delaware’s communities were really growing. The decision to have the railroad pass through Middletown opened up the entire world to the area’s peach producers. John P. Cochran and other large local landowners planted tens of thousands of peach trees, and between 1850 and 1875 there was much prosperity in Middletown and the surrounding areas because of the success of the peach industry. The fruit was sent out to New York, Boston, and many other markets via the railroad. Many of Middletown’s most impressive homes were built as a result of the prosperity that came from the peach production. Matsen was particularly proud of a new exhibit that just debuted called “Living Together.” This display highlights how people of different races and ethnicities have come together in Middletown. Matsen noted that the community has a long history of ethnic diversity, and she was very pleased that the Middletown Historical

Hannah Dale performing at the Gibby Center.

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Society has increased its offerings about black history in the area. “A lot of people have been interested in this exhibit,” Matsen said, explaining that it could be expanded in the near future. Perhaps the best thing about the peach festival—even better than the peaches—is the camaraderie that develops as people and organizations and businesses come together to support an activity that involves so many different facets of the Middletown community. Barbara Dixon, Pete and Joanne Kurych, Peg Atwell, and Vicki Dixon were selling some of the peach pies, peach cobbler, and peach mini-pies that they had spent days helping to make in preparation for the festival. They are part of a group of volunteers who are responsible for peeling all the peaches and baking all the pies that are sold to raise funds for the Jean Birch M.O.T. Senior Center, one of the most valuable assets in the area. Approximately 800 pies are offered for sale to help raise money for the senior center. It takes a lot of work to make all those pies, but to the volunteers it

Dancers performing on the main stage.

is a labor of love and a service to the community. “The peach festival is always a lot of fun,” Atwell said. “It’s something that we like doing for the Jean Birch M.O.T. Senior Center.” Next year will mark the 25th anniversary of the Olde Tyme Peach Festival in Middletown. To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty.com.

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——————|Middletown art|——————

By Steven Hoffman Staff Writer “I grew up with great teachers,” explains Milton Downing, 59, himself an award-winning teacher and artist. Downing was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Philadelphia, where he graduated from Dobbins Vocational Tech High. He fondly recalls one teacher in particular, a former basketball player, who took the class for a behind-the-scenes look at the Philadelphia 76ers. On his website, juxt58.com, Downing prominently mentions the contributions that teachers Mrs. Waterfall and Mr. Bonelli made to his developing style as an artist. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Temple UniversityTyler School of Art, and a master’s Science in Art Education from Delaware State University. All those influences can be seen in his artwork today, from the captivating paintings of prominent Philadelphia sports stars to the abstract artwork that he was encouraged to pursue by Delaware State University professor Roberta Tucci. Downing’s most important work might be what he does in the classroom, inspiring the next generation of artists in the same way that his own teachers inspired him. “I try to be the teacher to my students that those teachers were to me,” he explains simply. “Those teachers didn’t treat me like a student, but like a relative. So now I treat my students like they are family.” He has been honored for his teaching on five different occasions at four different schools. He received the Teacher of the Year award while working at Mt. Pleasant Elementary in 1998 and Hanby Elementary in the Brandywine School District in 2010. In 2014, he was awarded Delaware Art Teacher of the Year in Elementary. As an Art instructor at Christina Cultural Arts Center, he was given the Imotep Award for dedication and creativity. When he was teaching middle school students in Camden, New Jersey earlier in his career, he was honored with the Governors’ Teaching Award that is presented to outstanding instructors. When he’s not teaching, Downing is the creative force behind 40

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All photos courtesy photos

Downing, a resident of Townsend, is an award-winning teacher and artist who serves on the board of the Everett Theater and Gibby Arts Center in Middletown.


Jux-T. According to Downing, “Jux-T is the foundation of creativity—it is spontaneous thinking in congruence with mechanical precision to fuse an assemblage of elements. It is painting a factual reality that moves the mind. Fabric enhancements bring the work to life. The pieces are fun to create, but are not always displaying a pleasant truth.” Downing’s art, which has been influenced by his teachers as well by the work of abstract artist Mark Rothko and Paul Cézanne, has been on display in various exhibits in the tri-state area and can be found in many private collections. His work will be featured in an exhibit this fall at the Nemours Alfred I. DuPont Hospital for Children. Since the work will be spread out over three floors, it will showcase three different facets of Downing’s work— his abstract art, his sports paintings, and then his collage work. This exhibit will be open to the public from September through November. Then, in June of 2018, he has an exhibit planned for the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Del.

When he’s not teaching or working on his art, he also serves on the board of the Everett Theater and Gibby Arts Center in Middletown. He and his wife, Sharon, live in Townsend, and he credits her with helping him with all his work, pointing out that none of it would be possible without her support. For more information about Downing’s work, visit www.juxt58.com or email juxt58@live.com. To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email editor@chestercounty. com.

Sports paintings are a part of Miltons’s catalog of work. www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Fall/Winter 2017 | Middletown Life

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——————|Middletown Q&A|——————

Townsend Mayor ‘Rudy’ Sutton

Photos by John Chambless

Townsend Mayor Rudy Sutton, with the historical marker noting the town’s origin. 44

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The railroad crossing in the heart of Townsend was once a bustling departure point for farm products headed north and south.

By John Chambless Staff Writer

J

ust about five minutes south of the traffic backups and commercial explosion in Middletown is the little town of Townsend, measuring just a bit over one square mile. Its Main Street has 216 Victorian-era homes and other buildings that earned the town a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. At the heart of town is the railroad, which sparked Townsend into existence in the 1800s. Shipping agricultural products from the fertile Delaware farmlands was the lifeblood for the sur-

rounding farms. These days, Townsend is the kind of place where kids can play on the side streets, there’s silence at night, and the rush of nearby highways seems like another world. Rudolph Sutton, known by all as Rudy, is in his second term as Mayor of Townsend, a job that pays only a token amount and consumes a lot of hours, but he’s proud of the little town’s history, diversity and laid-back atmosphere. During a recent interview at the town’s offices – a renovated Victorian home on Main Street – Sutton talked about what it takes to preside over the estimated 3,500 people who call Townsend home. Continued on page 46

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Q&A Continued from Page 45

Q.: How did you come to live in Townsend? A.: I grew up in New Castle. My wife started working at Townsend Elementary in about 2004. We realized the school district was great and the area was very nice, so that’s what led us to move here in 2006. I’m a carpenter and went to vo-tech school at Delcastle. Once we moved here, my neighbor was running for town council. I had always wondered what it would be like to be involved in government. My wife told me it would be a great opportunity to run the next time a council seat came open in Townsend, and I thought it would be a good thing. My passion has always been to help people. I ran for council in 2013 against about five people for three open seats. Residents vote you into the council, and the council appoints the Mayor. The Mayor’s term is one year, and he can be reappointed, so I’m now in my second term. I’m grateful for the council that I’m fortunate to work with. After the housing slump in the early 2000s, developments around Townsend were stalled. Now, with new homes built on the east and west ends of town, are things looking up? The homes in Townsend have been moving pretty quickly, that’s for sure. People want to be here. It’s a small-town feeling, and people feel they’re away from the hustle and bustle. I believe the lack of congestion here is appealing. Now, some people who have

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lived here for a long time might say it’s becoming a bit congested. We have the possibility of another large subdivision going in within the next few years. The growth here is promising. The other thing is that the cost of housing. From Middletown to Townsend, there can be a significant savings. What do you think Townsend needs? One thing that I would like, and council agrees, is more commercial growth to service the people who are here. I would like a place in town to buy coffee, for one thing. A nice, medium-priced restaurant, maybe. And a few services – maybe a pet groomer, or other small, home businesses. And the residents also seem to want the same things – a coffee shop, some place to have breakfast. I know some of the local landowners have been having talks to bring in those types of businesses as well. That’s a possibility. I think that would be great out on Route 71. That would help the tax base and the growth of the town. What are some of your worries as Mayor? One thing is financial growth here in town. We don’t have services, as far as utilities, that are based locally. That all comes from Delmarva or Artesian. I’d like increased streams of income that stay here. That’s one of the reasons we would like a little more commercial growth, because of the tax revenue. Townsend is doing just fine financially, but I would like some growth. We don’t really have enough crime to mention. It’s just a little vandalism in the park, small things that can be a nuisance. State Police do a great job of handling things here.

The end of Main Street near the center of town has two pizza restaurants.

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com


In a town this size, are you ever off-duty? Do people stop you on the street to talk about issues? I can say that happens pretty rarely. I walk through the town and I’m able to do that without doing town business. Every once in a while, someone may stop me to talk about an issue, but for the most part, I don’t have to hide, that’s for sure [laughing]. What’s your daily schedule like? It would be nice to have a scheduled start and stop time, but it’s all intermingled. I’m the owner of Contracting Plus, so with my job as a contractor, there’s always new things that

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Q&A Continued from Page 47

pop up, so I can’t avoid that. It’s the same thing as being the Mayor. There’s not always a need for me, but sporadically, I may have to get involved in a situation, attend the meetings, or possibly help with a resolution. I’m just grateful for the flexibility that I have. So you can say you’re happy here? It’s a great town. I agree, it’s a quiet place, but it’s a great place to raise my two sons and my daughter. You just can’t ask for a better place to live. For more information, visit www. townsend.delaware.gov. To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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—————|Middletown People|—————

Getting in touch

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Deanna Fitzpatrick has learned to connect with the spirit world, and shares messages with the living By John Chambless Staff Writer

E

arly on, Deanna Fitzpatrick didn’t ask for spirits to appear to her. But gradually, over the last 16 years, the Middletown resident has focused her skills, and today she runs a successful business that connects this world with the next. Continued on page 52 Courtesy photo

Fitzpatrick drew a sellout crowd to Westown Movies in Middletown.

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Fitzpatrick Continued from Page 51

She’s ready for the doubters. She’s heard it all. Yet, sitting in a small, tidy office recently, she exudes the calm assurance of someone who is in full control of her gifts and is ready to share them with people who are seeking answers. Fitzpatrick uses the term “spirit” as a kind of individual and collective noun. In her view, there’s a world of spirit where the essences of those who have “crossed over” exist, as well as individual spirits who can, briefly, reach out and send messages to those who ask. As a child, she had an imaginary friend, Fitzpatrick said, laughing. “But after my husband Joe and I were married, there were a couple of experiences, looking back, that I now realize were psychic.” In 1995, North Carolina resident Susan Smith was saying that someone had kidnapped her two young sons. “I saw that on the news and I told Joe that those kids were dead, and in water,” Fitzpatrick said. “That took me aback. I thought, ‘Where did that come from?’” That inkling turned out to be true the next day, when Smith confessed to the murders.

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In 2001, Fitzpatrick went to see a Bear, Del., hypnotherapist with a friend who was in a support group for adopted people. “My friend wasn’t getting anything out of it, but then Mary, the hypnotherapist, started talking, and I was crying,” Fitzpatrick said. “The things that she said resonated with me.” She went back to Mary the next day for hypnosis to help with weight loss. “She did the hypnosis, and I really enjoyed it,” Fitzpatrick said. “Afterward, she showed me around her house. She also did weddings. She was showing me the chapel, and I smelled flowers but there were no candles or flowers there. Then a woman appeared in front of me in spirit. She was an older lady. I told Mary that, and she asked, ‘What’s her name and what does she want?’ And as if somebody gave me their thoughts, I heard ‘Tell her I’m Jane and I like the flowers.’ Mary said, ‘Well, Jane is my son-in-law’s mother. She passed away four months ago, and we dug up the bulbs from her garden and brought them to my house.’ I thought, ‘OK, that’s crazy,’” Fitzpatrick said, smiling.


At the same house, Fitzpatrick saw the spirit of a man. “He was wearing a military uniform,” she said. “He said, ‘Tell her I’m Jim.’ Mary said she had a boyfriend named James who had drowned during World War II.” Thinking the spirits were confined only to Mary’s house, Fitzpatrick was later about to buy the home she now owns in Middletown when she saw John Edwards on his “Crossing Over” TV show and realized, “This is what I do,” she said. “That was kind of the lightbulb moment.” Having worked in banking for 18 years, Fitzpatrick left in 2005 and worked as a reiki practitioner at Purple Sage in Middletown while building a client base for about four years. In the beginning, getting into a receptive mode took lengthy meditation, she said, “But now, because I do it so Continued on page 54

Fitzpatrick has also been a reiki practitioner.

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Fitzpatrick Continued from Page 53

much, it’s almost like flipping a switch. I just change where I’m looking, and then I can see who’s around.” Fitzpatrick describes the spirit world as “energy, frequency, vibration and light,” and she has equated their appearance to her as a wavy, transparent kind of hologram. She describes them in great detail to clients, and determines their connection to the living. Clothing, hair color, height, glasses – then on to telling gestures. “Sometimes they will send a message of how they passed,” Fitzpatrick said. “If they touch gently to their heart, it indicates heart failure or a heart issue, not a heart attack. If they have a metal lunchbox, to me it means a blue-collar worker. So there’s almost code now, after I’ve been doing this so long. They can give me certain things to help me describe who they are. They give me their thoughts. I don’t hear voices. They speak to me telepathically.” While Fitzpatrick can work one-on-one, she also books parties where as many as 20 people come to see their friends connect to the spirit world. She can even handle

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a large crowd, as she did at the Westown Movies in Middletown for a sold-out event with about 160 people. “I started by describing a spirit I saw,” she said. “Sixfoot-tall man with a mustache and dark hair. He just shows up. I don’t know who he is. I have to give the audience enough information so I don’t have 20 hands going up. I can then narrow it down to the fact that this person worked in a factory, possibly had a heart condition at the time of his passing, and is showing me his feet, meaning he has issues with his feet or possibly diabetes. Then the hands go up in the audience. Hopefully it’s just one, but if it’s more than one, we work it out. I get more information from the spirit.” The messages sent by the spirits aren’t the stereotypical “I love you” comments that anyone could come up with. “Last night, there was a woman here for a session, and her mother came in,” Fitzpatrick said. “In the middle of the reading, the mother shows me Chinese checkers. I know I didn’t just pull that out of thin air. So I said, ‘Your mother’s


showing me Chinese checkers.’ And the client said, ‘Yep, she had a Chinese checkers board on her coffee table and we weren’t allowed to touch it.’ To me, that’s wonderful evidence.” Saying her work “is definitely not a parlor trick,” Fitzpatrick insists that no one at group events has any alcohol before she arrives. They are also asked to turn off their phones, quiet themselves and focus. And you don’t have to be a believer to be surprised and intrigued by what Fitzpatrick can uncover. Connecting begins with intention on the part of the client and Fitzpatrick, she said. Out of the untold trillions of people who have died in all of history, someone in the living world must be seeking a particular person they had a connection with in life. It’s not a mob scene. And usually, the spirit is a benevolent one. “If it’s, for instance, an abusive father, I will tell my client,” Fitzpatrick said. “He may come in angry and give me an idea of who he used to be. The client can say they don’t

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want to speak to them, and I will honor that, but there’s been times when that abusive father now has a higher level of consciousness and wants to apologize or explain himself. I have seen that be very healing. “One of the first readings I had was a gentleman whose uncle came through to us. The young man said, ‘I didn’t even know him, and he died when I was 4.’ When I asked the uncle why he wanted to come through, even though they didn’t have much of a connection when he was living, there is still somewhat of a soul connection. That uncle liked to look in on his nephew and see how he was doing. He knew he’d been building a deck on the back of his house. He had been looking after him, so to speak. Sometimes it’s a grandparent who might have passed before someone was born. They’re still going to have a bond with you, because you’re their child’s child.” Despite all the family stories she gets involved in, Fitzpatrick said she tries to keep her life balanced. “I have Continued on page 56

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Fitzpatrick Continued from Page 55

two grown daughters, a husband, and I refinish furniture for fun,” she said. “I have a normal life, and the psychic aspect of it is my work now. I joke that I’ll never have a TV show because I’m too normal and boring,” she added, laughing. The pluses of her work, she said, “are helping people, and the healing that happens. I love to find out about humanity, whether I’m learning from the spirit world or the people who are sitting in front of me. I am thankful that I can make a living doing this, but it’s not why I do it. “But running your own business is difficult. I think the hardest part is that there’s a lot of sadness. I tend to be empathetic, and finding out about some of my clients is upsetting. … I saw eight people in one month who had loved ones die from heroin with fentanyl added to it. In the past three weeks, I’ve had people who have lost someone to a murder. That’s been difficult, because sometimes I actually see what happened. To be honest, it’s not a party. I have to take care of myself, too.” That leads to the subject of ghosts, which Fitzpatrick

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thinks are “emotional blips stuck in time. In an old tavern, for instance, if there’s the ghost of a little girl who used to live there who goes up the stairs every night at 3, well, no conscious being would do that. In that case, it’s more of a weird energy blip.” Fitzpatrick doesn’t like to do ghost hunting, or pursue malevolent spirits. “I can’t really help people there,” she said. Signs and symbols from the departed are a common connection, she said. Pennies or dimes discovered in unlikely places, a particular bird or butterfly appearing over and over again – all are signs of attempted connections with the living, Fitzpatrick believes. “My dad used to show up as a cardinal to me,” she said. “I would be on the way to visit my mom in the nursing home and he’d fly in front of the car. I knew it was him. Some people say, ‘How do we know it’s them, and not just wishful thinking?’ What’s the difference? If you feel a connection to someone you lost, and there’s no validation of it, what’s wrong with believing it’s them?”


Fitzpatrick’s personal faith has varied, she said. She grew up Methodist, tried various religious practices, became confirmed Catholic in the 1990s but has since come to believe “That God is with us,” she said. “Even as a child, I felt that. I’ve said the Lord’s Prayer daily. I believe that divinity lives within us and has the ability to work through us. Once we recognize that, we won’t hurt people on purpose anymore. “I believe there’s a heaven, but I think it’s about two to four feet around us, in another dimension. Kind of like in another room, but there’s a wall between us. And I believe we are all met on the other side with kindness.” If a person has done evil things, “Then I think you are asked to review your actions. You can see or feel the good or bad you caused in the world. For some people, that could be hell,” she said. “They have to face what they’ve done. But there’s no retribution. It’s kinder and more compassionate.” As for skeptics, Fitzpatrick recalled one man at a show she did at the Milton Theater. “He was a scientist and he went with his wife. At the end he asked me, ‘What do you mean you see spirits? What is that like?’ I explained that I feel this is energy, frequency, vibration and light, and they’re using it to make projections. He found that fascinating. He told me, ‘I didn’t believe any of this when I got here, but you gave information you couldn’t possibly know.’ He’s come back a couple times to events. So that’s kind of nice. “I don’t worry about it,” Fitzpatrick said of those who criticize her work. “I do wonder why people who are skeptical spend the money to see me, but maybe there’s a part of them that would like to believe. It tends to change everything. Once you realize there’s an afterlife and that people don’t leave you, they only leave you physically, it changes your perception of a lot of things in life. Sometimes, the rabbit hole can be deep. Some people don’t want to know all that.” For more information, visit www.deannafitzpatrick.com. To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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Chesapeake City Calendar of Events Sept. 16 Shakespeare in the Park Shakespeare in the Park takes place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Pell Gardens. Enjoy the Brown Box presentation of “Hamlet.” Bring your lawn chairs and a picnic basket.

Oct. 27 and 28 Ghost Walk A Ghost Walk will take place on Oct. 27 and 28 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Walk the streets of Chesapeake City to hear haunting tales. Tickets available on www.chesapeakecity.com.

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Halloween Parade A Halloween Parade sponsored by the Chesapeake City Civic Association and North Chesapeake City Neighborhood Association will take place this October. Visit www.chesapeakecity.com for event details.

Nov. 18 Holiday Pet Parade and Santa’s Arrival The annual Holiday Pet Parade and Santa’s Arrival will take place from noon to 2 p.m. Parade registration begins at 10:30 a.m. under the bridge in South Chesapeake City near the elementary school. The parade starts at noon and travels down Bohemia Ave. to Pell Gardens. Prizes awarded following the parade in Pell Gardens. Pets can sit with Santa for photos.

Nov. 26 - Lions Club Christmas Tree Lighting and Concert The annual Lions Club Christmas Tree Lighting and Concert will take place from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Pell Gardens. Santa will arrive in a horse-drawn carriage following Tree Lighting.


this Rockwellian evening of Yuletide hospitality. Advance tickets are $12, and regular tickets are $15. Ticket sales start at 4 p.m. on Dec. 9 at Chesapeake City’s Town Hall (2nd Street and Bohemia Ave.) where the self-guided tour begins from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Hot Cider and cookies are offered. No rain date. For more information, please call 443-553-0071.

Recurring Events Santa’s Workshop at Town Hall from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. each Saturday and Sunday in December Winterfest in the Town of Chesapeake City all day Nov. 26 through Jan. 2, 2018 Carriage Rides with the Clydesdales 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec 2, 9, 16, and 23.

Dec. 9 Christmas Historic Candlelight House Tour The Christmas Historic Candlelight House Tour is set for Dec. 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tours are available all day. The hours of the candlelight tour are 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Take a holiday decor tour of Chesapeake City’s historic district through 20 homes, B & B’s and churches. Horse and carriage rides and strolling Victorian carolers set the mood for

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Calendar of Events September 12th Annual Townsend Parade and Fair Sept. 23, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Townsend Municipal Park, Edgar Road, Townsend. Includes parade, bounce houses, carnival games, contests, face painting, food, 100 vendors, pet trick and treat costume contests, and a K-9 demonstration.

October Craft Show and Flea Market Oct. 7, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., 554 Port Penn Road, Middletown. Event will feature vendors from Lularow, Tastefuly Simple, Paparazzi and different craft vendors.

Shakespeare, Poe & Friends: A Night of Readings from the Dark Side Oct. 13, 7:30 p.m., Stone Stable, Historic Odessa. Actors from th Delaware Shakespeare Festival will read selections from the plays of Shakespeare and the poems and short stories of Edgar Allen Poe. Tickets can be purchased by calling 302-415-3374 or visiting www.delshakes.org.

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Family Fall Festival on Main Oct. 14, Main Street, Middletown. Music, games, contest and parade. Sponsored by Middletown Main Street.

OctoberFest with ConnecTheDot Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Metro Pub, 17 Wood Street, Middletown. Join the ConnecTheDot team for an Octoberfest celebration. Members free. Non-members $25.

Corntober Brewfest State Championship Cornhole Tournament September 30, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., The Town of Whitehall, 900 Lorewood Grove Road, Middletown. Annual Cornhole tournament, food vendors, breweries. Sponsored by the Middletown Chamber of Commerce.

Norml Loud Festival Sept. 30 - Oct. 1, 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m., 474 Fleming Landing Road (Fire Base Lloyd), Townsend. Twelve hours of music, food, annual Cannabis Olympics. Camping available. For tickets, visit www.denorml.org.


December Christmas in Odessa Dec. 2, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Historic Odessa. Selfguided walking tour of private homes and public buildings, many dating from the 18th and 19th centuries and decorate for the holidays. In addtion to the house tour, there will be many events which are included in the ticket price. Sponsored by the Historic Odessa Foundation. For more information, visit www.historicodessa.org.

By Reservation: Holiday Candlelight Tour in Historic Odessa

November Fashion on Main Nov. 4, 2:00 p.m., Main Street, Middletown. Fashion show for adults and children. Sponsored by Middletown Main Street.

Dec. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 26 and 28, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Historic Odessa. Guests will be invited to step back in time through the doors of the Histroic Odessa Foundation and explore the holiday traditions of the past. Tours leave from the Visitors Center. Reservations required by calling 302378-4119. For more information, visit www.historicodessa. org.

The Canine 5K November 11, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., W. Cochran Street, Middletown. Race will raise funds for Helping Warriors Inc. is a nonprofit incorporated in Delaware and located in Middletown, that provides housing, education and support for wouded warriors. For more information nd to register, visit http://www.triassicsports. com/whw5k.html.

2017 Holiday Exhibit: A Visit from Saint Nicholas Nov. 14 at 10:00 a.m. to Dec. 31 at 4:30 p.m., WilsonWarner House, Odessa. Guests invited to recite the classic poem as they tour detailed holiday display.

Cochran Square Tree Lighting Nov. 24, 5:30 p.m., Cochran Square, Middletown. Kick off the holidays with the annual lighting of the Christmas tree.

Enchanted Christmas Weekend Nov. 25-27, Middletown. Annual parade, Santa, tree lighting and shopping specials. Sponsored by Middletown Main Street. www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Fall/Winter 2017 | Middletown Life

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Every day, area fire, EMT and ambulance responders come to the aid of their neighbors, but how much do we know about what they do and the sacrifices they make? One responder tells his story.

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All photos by Richard Gaw unless otherwise noted.

THE FIREFIGHTER: Commitment, Training and Time By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer Listed on the Townsend Fire Company’s website are the names of the 139 individuals who currently serve as the company’s members. Many surnames are listed more than once, indicating that the beating heart of the department has circulated deep within the veins of several generations of Austins, Baileys, Barcuses, Clarks, Demczaks and Wallaces. One of those members listed on the website is David Hall, who has been associated with the department since 1979, and has served as a firefighter, EMT and ambulance responder and a past fire chief, and now serves as president of the State Chiefs Association.

The original intention of this magazine article was to serve as a historical retrospective on the department, which traces its roots to the 1920s, but within minutes, the conversation took a distinct and revelatory turn, and began to tell a story that those who are not responders have rarely heard. This is not just a story about David Hall, but one reflective of his colleagues, and firefighters, EMT and ambulance drivers and first responders everywhere. The interview veered off, away from its original assignment, and became a story that needs to be told. Continued on page 68 www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Fall/Winter 2017 | Middletown Life

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Firefighter Continued from Page 67

It was the late summer of 2009, and the pager near David Hall’s bed went off at five o‘clock in the morning. There it was: A multi-vehicle crash on Route 1. It was an echo call, which meant Hall had to respond to the call in less than three minutes. He responded immediately. He was on his way. There was no morning shower. No exercise to get the blood moving. No coffee. No breakfast. Hall arrived at the scene of the accident fifteen minutes later and immediately saw the tangled, metallic web of a Boar’s Head truck and a tractor trailer that had collided just minutes before. Shards of glass glistened like a bed of diamonds along the roadside. When Hall approached the truck, he thought to 68

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himself, “This guy’s dead,” but within seconds, he heard a quiet voice coming from inside the truck. “Help,” he heard. It was the voice of a young man. With the assistance of other responders, Hall spent nearly two hours pulling the young man out of the truck, who was then lifted onto a helicopter and transported to Christiana Hospital, where he was treated for injuries and released. Today, the young man is living happily in California. “I don’t know what happens to the people we touch after we take them to the hospital,” Hall said. “We go to their house and we put their fire out. We pull them out of vehicles and give them CPR and transport them to the hospital. Then we return to our lives.” “His mother and father called me from the intensive care unit at Christiana, and they asked me what could they do for the Townsend Fire Department, because we helped save their son. I told them, ‘There’s no need to help us. That’s what we are supposed to do. It’s time to tend to your son.” “’No,’ they said. ‘Our son is in the best place he can be. Continued on page 70

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Firefighter Continued from Page 69

We want to help you.’ They sent us donations, and to this day, on the anniversary of the accident, the man’s mother sends us a card, thanking us for saving her son’s life.” David Hall joined the Townsend Fire Department when he was 13 years old. His cousins and uncles had already joined, and the young teenager’s aspirations were no more complex than to experience the thrill of riding fire trucks and putting out fires -- to get on the nozzle, as he calls it. Frequent were the long afternoons when Hall listened to the stories of the older members of the department, who would lean against fire trucks and speak glowingly of past accomplishments. He absorbed everything he could. It was the connection he longed for. “I equate that to my father passing away when I was young, and the wish that I had to be able to spend my life helping people,” he said. “Back in the day, the firehouse was deemed as the poor man’s country club, but it was also the gathering place for Townsend. If we had a disaster, we opened up our building during storms. It really served as the center of everything.”

Hall received his ambulance attendant certification in 1984, an accreditation that launched what has been a 37-year career as one of the top EMT responders in Delaware, as an ambulance driver and a firefighter, and later as a police chief. For many years, Hall and his colleague Monty Martinez averaged between 200 and 225 ambulance runs a year -at an average of two hours per run -- while also managing to maintain 40-plus hour-a-week jobs. While he and Martinez have scaled back their hours at the station -- they still partner on Tuesday ambulance runs -- Hall realizes that the bigger issue is not the hours he’s already put in, but filling the hours with trained and qualified volunteers, now and in the future. Across America, fire, ambulance and EMT volunteers are dwindling. National Fire Protection Association statistics proclaim that while volunteers still outnumber career firefighters nearly two to one, volunteer numbers have dropped by around 11 percent since the mid-1980s. Continued on page 72

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Firefighter Continued from Page 70

The reasons are clear: The rise in two-income households leaves no stay-at-home parent to run the family while the volunteer commits time to the department; and the time commitment that requires many volunteers to give up precious chunks of their personal lives. “We tell them, ‘We’re going to pay for your gear and your training. We just need you to give up your time,’” Hall said. “It sounds good as a soundbite, but the reality is that they wake up early for work, remain on the job until late afternoon, then come home and then back out to their kids’ activities. Right in the middle of it, we tell them that they need to be here for training for about four hours during the week, and then again on Saturdays, and when an emergency happens, we want them to leave their house and their dinner and their kids’ birthday parties and come to a fire...and oh, by the way, all without being paid.” Another factor that drives some volunteers away is what Hall refers to as the “bad calls,” that can expose the volunteer to the shocking -- or even gruesome -- scenes during a fire or an emergency response. Continued on page 74

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Firefighter Continued from Page 72

“When I was fire chief, I used to tell the parents of our junior members, ‘I can train your son or daughter to do this job. What I can’t do is train them to handle what they are going to see or do,’” he said. “Only they will know when the time comes, if they can do it. It’s a gamble. Some stick it out, and some don’t.” Preparing an individual to be a volunteer is a financial and time burden on the department, as well. Equipping a volunteer at the Townsend Fire Company can cost as much as $1,800, and individual training can run $1,000. Locking in a long-time, dependable volunteer, Hall said, comes with commitment, training and time. “The term ‘volunteer’ takes on a new definition when it’s applied to a fire company,” he said. “If a Little League volunteer is not able to show up for baseball practice, Little Johnny is still going to be able to learn how to hit the ball, but if a volunteer for a fire department doesn’t show up for a call, what burns down and who doesn’t live? “When we get a page, we know that this station is being asked to make a call, and each of our members need to make a conscious decision. ‘Do I want to leave in the middle of my child’s birthday party? What may potentially happen to the victim of his or her family if I do not answer this call?’ These are all personal choices that we need to make.” Throughout his nearly five decades with the Townsend Fire Company, there have been many late evenings when Hall has returned to his home -- about four miles from the station -- after having given his time, will and maximum effort in partnership with his colleagues. The stresses of the job as a firefighter and first responder rarely fold up and disappear at the driveway. Often, they take the form of a mental book of snapshots that flip through one by one while the rest of the cities and towns they serve to protect are fast asleep. Suddenly, the men and women of the firehouse aren’t around anymore, but the stories and photographs are still lingering and need a place to go. “I will have spent hours administering CPR to Continued on page 76

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Membership at the Townsend Fire Company Active Crew, EMS Only and Active Social Membership

These memberships require the volunteer to compile 200 points through assisting with various functions, attending calls and meetings; working at two requested functions and/or compiling 12 training hours. Are you interested in joining the Townsend Fire Company? Contact Tim O’Shields, membership chairperson, at (302) 378-8111.

Junior Membership Junior membership is for those between 14 and 15 years of age who wish to join the Townsend Fire Company when they reach the required age limit. These members are required to make any and all in-house training classes provided by the company, as well as participate in Junior Training Night. These members can attend any open committee meeting and company function approved by the fire chief.

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Firefighters Continued from Page 74

someone on the way to a hospital, only to arrive at the ER to hear a medical attendant look at the victim and say, ‘He’s dead,’” Hall said. “I will then leave the hospital and go home, where I am expected to take the next call. We deal with tragedy and death on a daily basis, whether it’s kids or adults or older people, and we have to go home and somehow carry on. “It’s the spouses of fire and EMT people who are the real saints and heroes, not us. When I come home and I’ve had a bad night, my wife Barbara Anne hears everything, and she knows that tomorrow there is a likely chance that she will hear the same things, all over again. After doing this for so long, the life you chose for yourself becomes ingrained in you.” Being a member of the Townsend Fire Company is like being a member of a family, he said. “Not everyone gets along all the time,” he said. “There are arguments and disagreements, but what connects us to each other is that when that alarm Continued on page 79

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David Hall of the Townsend Fire Company.


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Firefighter Continued from Page 76

goes off, we put all of our differences aside, because we all have a job to do.” Every so often, Hall visits the company’s museum room that stands as a testament to the history of a department that has stood since 1927. He points to a glass partition, behind which is a well-placed tribute to Clarence Schwatka, who served as the departments’ long-time fire chief, and served as a mentor to Hall and hundreds of his colleagues. No one in the history of this department, Hall said, had the respect that Clarence did. Beside proclamations and correspondences, a framed, black-and-white photograph of Schwatka rests in the center of the display case. From a particular angle, it appears that Schwatka makes direct eye contact with Hall and, from behind the glass, the faint illusion of a whisper can be heard. Carry on, it says.

The Townsend Fire Company is located at 107 Main St., Townsend, DE 19734. Phone: (302) 378.8111. To learn more about the Townsend Fire Company, visit www.townsendfirecompany.org. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.

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“Not wanting to brag, BUT being a resident of Middletown, we could not be prouder of this park! The facility is kept very clean. The fence is sturdy and in good repair. There is a water fountain for the dogs and their parents, benches and trees. My husband said not to say too much, because then everybody will know our secret place! We AND our dogs (3 mini poodles) love it!�

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oth in person and on social media, the Levels Road Dog Park in Middletown has received a heap of praise from parents and happy, wagging tails from the thousands of canines, large and small, who frolic among its five acres of fenced-in property. Recently Middletown Life sent photographer Jie Deng to hang out with some of the many canines and their owners who enjoy the park, and we’ve included some online comments, as well. Photos by Jie Deng Text by Richard L. Gaw

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Let the Dogs Out Continued from Page 81

“This is a great park. We’ve been there several times since it opened. They have a three-acre small dog side, and a five-acre big dog side, both of which are fully fenced. The park is all open and grass, with several freshly planted trees and new benches. There are fountains for the dogs, and depending on how often people visit, they usually have bags for cleanup, too.”

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“We have been bringing our two dogs to this fabulous park since it opened. The drive from Bear is 22 miles each way but it’s worth the trip. It is by far the nicest dog park Delaware has to offer. The grass and area are very well maintained by the town of Middletown. The people and dogs we have met while visiting have all been friendly and our dogs are excited each time we ask “Do you want to go to the park?” Continued on page 84

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Let the Dogs Out Continued from Page 83

“I bring my dog up once a week. I love the grassy area, which gives my dog room to run and play. The park also has nice walking path to walk your dog on a leash.�

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The dog park at Charles Price Memorial Park at Levels Road is located at 900 Levels Road, Middletown, and is open from 7 a.m. to sunset.

Directions

From downtown Middletown, take Del. 299 out to U.S. 301. Make left onto U.S. 301, pass the Wal-Mart SuperCenter on the right and make the next left onto Del. 15 (Levels Road). The Park is on the right-hand side of the road, just at the curve to the left toward St. Anne’s Church Road.

“This is the nicest dog park I have ever been to. It’s fully-fenced, with a nice grassy area with some small trees, benches and water.”

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—————|Middletown Education|————— The Leader in Me process, now incorporated at three area elementary schools and 2,500 schools nationwide, is empowering young people to develop leadership and life skills. Middletown Life looked at how it’s energizing students, teachers, staff and families at one school

Bringing out the leader in everyone By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer

staff, and families to be selfconfident and self-reliant, work effectively with others and make Last year, a second-grade stumeaningful contributions. dent at the Silver Lake Elementary Clay purchased a copy of a School was invited to apply to be book about the concept at the a speaker at a school program conference and read it on the for Wreaths Across America, a flight home, and somewhere nationwide foundation dedihigh over the United States, she cated to commemorate our began to have an idea that would country’s fallen war heroes by dramatically change the course laying wreaths on their final restof how Silver Lake Elementary ing places. School would operate. Although she is the daughter of “Our school is part of the a veteran, there was some irony Positive Behavior Support All photos courtesy of the Appoquinimink School District in the young girl being chosen The Leader in Me is currently being implemented at Silver District, and we followed the to speak before a standing-room Lake, Cedar Lane and Old State elementary schools. routines of the program, one of only audience that included stuwhich was rewarding kids for dents, parents and war veterans. She was shy, barely spoke doing the right thing,” Clay said. “We began to find that up in class, and had never volunteered for any public speak- our kids were doing things to get trinkets, not because it ing opportunity. Over the next few weeks, in preparation for was the right thing to do, but because they just wanted the her presentation, she worked with her teacher to write, edit trinkets we handed out. and practice her speech, and on the day of the event, she “There was no consistent language and understanding for stepped to the podium and spoke in a voice that was as what should be recognized in order to hand out trinkets, clear in its delivery as her words were in their content. and as a staff, we knew that we wanted to do something After she left the podium, she told others gathered near different, because in real life, you don’t always get a reward her, “I have conqured one of my fears. Now I know I can for doing the right thing.” do it.” Bringing The Leader in Me to Silver Lake Elementary In 2009, Silver Lake Elementary School Principal Cynthia School began with an inside-out approach, to engage the Clay attended an educational conference. While there, she energy of the school’s teachers and staff first. The school’s met an educator from Minnesota, who introduced her to leadership team each received a copy of “The 7 Habits The Leader in Me, an educational leadership concept for of Happy Kids,” and through a grant from the I Am a schools that increases engagement and enables students, Leader Foundation, the school staff received training in the 86

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The 7 Habits of Happy Kids Habit 1: Be proactive. I am a responsible person. I take inititiative. I choose my actions, attitudes and moods. I do not blame others for my wrong actions. I do the right things without being asked, even when no one is looking.

Habit 2: Begin with the end in mind. I plan ahead and set goals. I do things that have meaning and make a difference. I am an important part of my classroom, and contribute to my school’s mission and vision. I look for ways to be a good citizen.

Habit 3: Put first things first. I spend my time on things that are most important. This means I say ‘No’ to things that I know I should not do. I set priorities, make a schedule and follow my plan. I am disciplined and organized.

Habit 4: Think win-win.

The Leader in Me is based on the book, “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids,” and is now in 2,500 schools in 35 countries.

7 Habits concept. Over time, The Leader in Me began to trickle down to the school’s students, and has in the last six years become a paradigm for how the school functions. “We began independently to implement and use the language over the course of a year, and when we incorporated the concept to our students, we found that no one missed the trinkets. No one asked us, ‘Do I get a prize?’” Clay said. What evolved slowly has become merely a way of doing things, Clay said. “The Leader in Me is not a program, but a process,” she added. “It’s a journey. It allows for deeper understanding of the paradigm of leadership, and it’s about making it your own. Every Leader in Me school will approach the concept in their own unique way, but here, it’s become a reflection of the personality of our school. It’s what we embody as important, and it allows for someone else to live the same habits and manifest those habits in another way.” Based on the New York Times best-selling children’s book “The 7 Habits of Happy Kids,” written by Sean Covey and illustrated by artist Stacy Curtis, Leader in Me is now in 2,500 public, private, charter, and magnet Continued on page 88

I balance courage for getting what I want with consideration for getting what others want. I make deposits in others’ emotional bank accounts. When conflicts arise, I look for third alternatives.

Habit 5: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. I listen to other people’s ideas and feelings. I try to see things from their viewpoints. I listen to others without interrupting. I am confident in voicing my ideas. I look people in their eyes when talking to them.

Habit 6: Synergize. I value people’s strengths and learn from them. I get along well with others, even people who are different from me. I work well in groups. I seek out other people’s ideas to solve problems, because better solutions are created through teammwork. I am humble.

Habit 7: Sharpen the saw. I take care of my body by eating right, exercising and getting sleep. I spend time with my family and friends. I learn in lots of ways and lots of places, not just in school. I take time to find meaningful ways to help others. www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Fall/Winter 2017 | Middletown Life

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The Leader in Me Continued from Page 87

schools across 35 countries. Locally, Silver Lake Elementary School joins Cedar Lane Elementary School in Middletown and Old State Elementary School in Townsend as Leader in Me schools. The Leader in Me utilizes and integrates several leadership, social-emotional learning, quality, and educational models and processes from past and current thought leaders including The Four Imperatives of Great Leaders and The Four Disciplines of Execution. The process includes student participation in goal setting, data tracking, leadership roles, student-led conferences, leadership environments, and leadership events. At Silver Lake Elementary School, the Leader in Me concept isn’t just a set of rules, but a chance to apply leadership skills every day. Students have responsibilities in their classrooms as well as school-wide leadership opportunities. They meet and greet guests. They conduct tours of the school. They organize, host and participate in community events, such as Wreaths Across America. Recently, they prepared and hosted a breakfast for the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. They have also organized their own fundraisers to fight childhood poverty. The Leader in Me includes training on establishing a vision for the school, goal setting, data tracking, and personalaccountability systems and is aligned with best-in-class content and concepts practiced by global education thought leaders. Based on secular principles and practices of personal, interpersonal, and organizational effectiveness, the Leader in Me starts from the premise that every child possesses unique strengths and has the ability to be a leader. The process integrates leadership development into existing programs, curricula and traditions and serves as a foundational operating system for the school, improving relationships, transforming culture, and highly motivating staff and students. 88

At Silver Lake Elementary School, the Leader in Me concept encourages students to apply leadership skills, both in and out of the classroom.

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“We firmly believe that everyone is a leader,” said Vice Principal Kristi Boyd. “Sometimes you might need some help in discovering that, but it’s a united effort to empower and let teachers find the leaders within themselves, which then transcends to the kids. Everyone has greatness in them, and we want to give them the opportunities to share that. We’re all talented, so it’s finding the right opportunity to let every child an adult unleash what’s within them.” “If students are given the chance to hone those skills at this young age, they’re going to have the tools to move them in a direction, which leads to self-sufficiency and leadership,” Clay said. The Leader in Me differs from other whole-school transformation processes in that it offers a holistic, schoolwide experience for staff, students, and parents, and creates a common language and culture within the school. The leadership principles and lessons are not taught as a curriculum, but instead are incorporated into coursework, traditions, systems and culture. While The Leader in Me is not designed specifically as an academicimprovement process, many schools have reported improvement in school culture, goal setting, and data-tracking processes, which help create the conditions that are likely to lead to academic improvements. Among other things, The Leader in Me improves school culture, learning climate, students’ social-emotional skills, student engagement, goal-setting skills, and students’ ownership over their own education. Educational literature demonstrates that schools with learning climates with reduced discipline problems, bullying, and disengagement are in a better position to improve academic success. “The Leader in Me process is becoming everything on which everyone is

operating,” Boyd said. “You see it in the staff, you see it in the children, and we hear parents say, ‘We hear this language at home, and our kids are resolving problems between each other.’ “It’s great to see that the language has become a part of who the kids are. When you truly live it, it reaches beyond that which you imagined.” For more information about The Leader in Me, visit www.theleaderinme. org. To find out more about how The Leader in Me is working at Silver Lake Elementary School, visit www.sleschool.org. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.

Many school incorporating The Leader in Me have reported improved school culture, increased goal setting, student engagement and better conflict resolution skills.

www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Fall/Winter 2017 | Middletown Life

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A full season on tap at the Everett Theatre

With its jam-packed schedule of shows this season, the Everett Theatre is turning into an entertainment hub for the southern Delaware region. To support the historic theater, the Everett will hold its 2017 Annual Gala, The Mad Hatter’s Gala, on Oct. 28. The “Alice in Wonderland” theme will include a magic show, a strolling magician, a silent and live auction, 50/50 and prizes for the best hats. Included in the ticket cost are appetizers, buffet dinner, water and soft drinks, two drink tickets for beer and wine (all other drinks will be cash bar), and dessert. The event will be held from 7 to 10:30 p.m. At the Back Creek Golf Club. Black tie is optional and hats are encouraged. Tickets are $75 each. The theater’s season includes:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theater and features passages from Hugo’s gothic novel. This is a Delaware premiere. Dates and Times: Oct. 13 and 20 at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 15, 21, and 22 at 2 p.m. Prices: Adults $18 Seniors/Students $15 Ages 12 and under $10

A Charlie Brown Christmas The classic animated television special comes to life in this faithful stage adaptation, in which Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the Peanuts Gang discover the true meaning of Christmas. Dates and Times: Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at 11 a.m., 1, 3 and 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at 2 p.m. Price: Reserve your seat with a $2 donation

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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl’s story follows enigmatic candy manufacturer, Willy Wonka, as he stages a contest by hiding golden tickets in five of his scrumptious candy bars. Whomever comes up with these tickets will win a free tour of the Wonka factory, as well as a lifetime supply of candy. Four of the five winning children are insufferable brats. The fifth is a likeable young lad named Charlie Bucket, who takes the tour in the company of his equally amiable grandfather. The children must learn to follow Mr. Wonka’s rules in the factory… or suffer the consequences. Dates and Times: Dec. 1 and 8 at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, 3, 9 and 10 at 2 p.m. Prices: Adults $18 Seniors/Students $15 Ages 12 and under $10

The Explorers Club London, 1879. The prestigious Explorers Club is in crisis: Their acting president wants to admit a woman, and their bartender is terrible. True, this female candidate is brilliant, beautiful, and has discovered a legendary Lost City, but the decision to let in a

Middletown Life | Fall/Winter 2017 | www.middletownlifemagazine.com

woman could shake the very foundation of the British Empire, and how do you make such a decision without a decent drink? Grab your safety goggles for some very mad science involving deadly cobras, irate Irishmen and the occasional airship. Dates and Times: Feb. 9, 10, 16 and 17 at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11 and 18 at 2 p.m. Prices: Adults $18 Seniors/Students $15 Ages 12 and under $10

Junie B. Jones It’s Junie B.’s first day of first grade, and a lot of things have changed for her: Junie’s friend, Lucille, doesn’t want to be her best pal anymore and, on the bus, Junie B. makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school. Also, Junie has trouble reading the blackboard and her teacher, Mr. Scary, thinks she may need glasses. Throw in a friendly cafeteria lady, a kickball tournament and a “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal,” and first grade has never been more exciting. Dates and Times: March 10 and 17 at 11 a.m. March 10, 11, 17, and 18 at 2 p.m. Price: All seats are $8


Into the Woods The Brothers Grimm hit the stage with an epic fairytale about wishes, family and the choices we make. James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim take everyone’s favorite storybook characters and bring them together for a timeless, yet relevant, piece… and a rare modern classic. The Tony Award-winning book and score are both enchanting and touching. Dates and Times: April 13, 14, 20, and 21 at 7:30 p.m. April 15 and 22 at 2 p.m. Prices: Adults $18 Seniors/Students $15 Ages 12 and under $10

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Kids It’s Princess Aurora’s 16th birthday, and three fairies – Flora, Fauna and Merryweather – must use their magic

to save her from the spell of the evil sorceress, Maleficent! The fairies ensure that Aurora only falls into a deep sleep that can be ended with a kiss from her betrothed, Prince Phillip. To prevent Phillip from rescuing Aurora, Maleficent kidnaps and imprisons him. The good fairies are the last hope to free Phillip so that he can awaken Aurora. Dates and Times: May 12 and 19 at 11 a.m. May 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 2 p.m. Price: All Seats are $8

Tarzan Based on Disney’s epic animated musical adventure and Edgar Rice Burrough’s “Tarzan of the Apes,” this show features heart-pumping music by rock legend Phil Collins, and a book by Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang. Washed

up on the shores of West Africa, an infant boy is taken in and raised by gorillas who name him Tarzan. Apart from striving for acceptance from his ape father, Tarzan’s life is mostly monkey business until a human expedition treks into his tribe’s territory, and he encounters creatures like himself for the first time. Tarzan struggles to navigate a jungle, thick with emotion, as he discovers his animal upbringing clashing with his human instincts. Dates and Times: June 8 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. June 9, 10, 16, and 17 at 2 p.m. Prices: Adults $18 Seniors/Students $15 Ages 12 and under $10 The Everett Theatre is at 47 W. Main Street, Middletown. Call 302-2326338, email info@everetttheatre.com, or visit www.everetttheatre.com.

www.middletownlifemagazine.com | Fall/Winter 2017 | Middletown Life

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