Changes are inevitable – and a brief introduction to readers

February 4, 2022

Ron MacArthur was correct a couple of weeks ago in his first Around Sussex column when he said filling this space of the Cape Gazette won’t be easy. Dennis Forney’s Barefootin’ column was a staple of the community for decades, but the sale of the company inevitably means change.

My hope is the change to this space is one of the few that readers notice. New owner Chris Rausch has been with the company for nearly 20 years now, but he’s always been a sales guy, and the news/editorial content portion has never been part of his bailiwick.

That’s not been the case for Jen Ellingsworth, who has been promoted from associate editor to editor. She began her tenure with the Gazette before Rausch – mid-1990s – and she’s as focused on keeping the Gazette’s pages full of local goings-on as editor emeritus and co-founder Trish Vernon was. That means the same level of coverage on local governments and organizations, but also parades, fundraisers, sports, weather events, birthday parties and more.

Does having Rausch and Ellingsworth at the helm of the Cape Gazette guarantee its continued success? No, but it does mean the transition away from Forney and Vernon will be as smooth as it possibly could be, and that’s a good start.

A brief bit of my background

Some of the Gazette’s readers don’t know this, and some know it but haven’t connected the dots – beginning with my grandfather James Flood Sr. in the late 1950s, members of my family have been covering the news of Delaware for decades. Notably, my grandfather founded the Dover Post Company in the mid-1970s, and all seven of his kids, including my dad David, had worked for the company at one point by the time it was sold in 2008. I grew up in Maine, where my parents owned and operated their own newspaper publishing company.

It seems like the Flood family has been around a long time, but that’s because they were in the news business and their names have been in the public eye for decades.

Dating well into the 1800s, my historical connection to the area is on my mom Carolyn’s side of the family. After living off Plantation Road for about a decade, my wife and I moved to downtown Milton not too long ago. Our two children, and the children of a few cousins, are at least the seventh generation of my mom’s side of the family to live in and around Milton.

My mommom Esther still lives on the same Gravel Hill Road property that my mom and her four siblings were raised on. My mom and her three sisters all graduated from Beebe Nursing School.

Where does the name Choppin’ Wood come from?

You can count on the hooked hand of the infamous Capt. Hook the number of times I’ve chopped wood.

The credit for the name goes to my wife Heather. We were eating lunch at the Arena’s in downtown Rehoboth Beach a couple of weeks ago. She asked what I was going to be writing about, and I told her column ideas weren’t a problem. The problem was coming up with a name.

She immediately said, “Chopping wood.”

She was making fun of me. I purchased an unnecessarily nice ax during our annual family-and-friends trip to Maine this past summer. It was my splurge purchase of the vacation. I have swung the ax, but six months later, its blade has still only touched air and the nice leather holster that came with it. The ax has been a continued source of amusement for Heather – she has bought me two books on axes and piling wood since its purchase.

In the end, I went with the name for two reasons. First, it’s funny. Second, I was able to make a self-satisfying, straw-grasping connection between me turning my jumbled thoughts into a story and a person neatly stacking a recently chopped pile of wood.

Ending each column with a joke

My younger brother Adam never had much interest in being a part of the family business. However, as a child, he convinced my dad to let him submit a joke for every edition of the weekly paper. My brother’s participation in picking out the jokes was short-lived, but my dad kept it going under my brother’s name for years until my parents sold their company. It became something people enjoyed reading, and folks recognized his name long after the papers were sold. 

With that in mind, I’m going to end each column with a joke. We can’t be serious all the time, and these are going to be dad jokes of the highest order. Typically, there will be only one joke, but today there are going to be two. Email me if you have a PG-rate joke you think would make heads shake in embarrassment.

The first is a favorite of the Flood kids:

Q: Why do seagulls fly over the sea?

A: If they flew over the bay, they would be bagels.

The second comes from Rausch. It was his immediate submission when I said something about the jokes. He’s a dad, which explains why he thinks it’s funny:

  • A man goes to a funeral and asks the widow, “Mind if I say a word?”
  • She says: "Please do."
  • The man clears his throat and says, “Plethora.”
  • The widow replies: “Thanks, that means a lot.”
Moving forward

Enough about me. My intention is for Choppin’ Wood to be a reflection of Sussex County, especially eastern Sussex County. Just like the jokes above, if you have an idea for a column, send me an email.

  • Chris Flood has lived in or visited family in Delaware his whole life. He grew up in Maine, but a block of scrapple was always in the freezer of his parents’ house during his childhood. Contact him at

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