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Reflections on recent Barefootin’ and editorial

February 18, 2021

The Barefootin’ column and editorial in the Cape Gazette often provoke a response; fortunately, my baseline sloth causes any interest in writing the editor to quickly dissipate.  Last Friday was an exception.  The picture of the old Nash Metropolitan, posited as perhaps the mystery car rusting away near the old town dump site in the park, brought back great memories of Mr. Hayes, the Rehoboth High/Junior High band director who, among other things, was responsible for the first of the bandstands at the end of Rehoboth Avenue, and who taught generations of local kids to appreciate music (even if we could never play it very well). 

Mr. Hayes drove a hardtop version of the same car in the 1960s and ‘70s, which his students mockingly called the “bumper car,” for obvious reasons.  It was the most recognizable car on the school lot for sure, if you could even see it among the standard-sized American behemoths of the time. The old Lewes dump was a joy for a 10- or 12-year-old boy in the late 1960s - all that cool junk to look through - and with the many abandoned delights of Fort Miles, including the closed-but-accessible (to a kid) bunkers and spotting towers, the remains of the roller coaster at the public beach, the closed hulk of the Ocean House Hotel, and the alluring, extensive sheet-iron facilities of the shut-up (but not to a 12-year-old!) fish factories, made Lewes at that time the best place to be a kid I can think of.     

That brings me to the editorial on the net reel.  It seems like the commercial menhaden fishery has caused controversy ever since what locals called the “Yankees” came down from Connecticut to start it in the 19th century.  A 1904 Delaware criminal nuisance trial judge found that the factory was exposed to the public because it was on “two highways,” the bay itself and the adjacent strand, and admonished the jury to disregard testimony from some of the Lewes men: “It is true that such of the defendants’ witnesses as spoke of the odors resembling fertilizers said that they did not annoy them. Well, there are people in the world who are not made uncomfortable by bad smells. Living among vile odors, having insensitive olfactories, they are shielded, mercifully. But such is not the case with most men, nor with women and female children, who have very acute sensibilities. The law of nuisance exists for the protection of such.”  And here is the net reel, still causing a stink a century later.

Finally, I don’t think the old chassis is a Metropolitan - the front fenders are wrong and the headlights are too low in relation to the hood line. 

Surely somebody can figure this out.  Anyway, Mr. Forney, thanks for the fun!

Sam Glasscock
Lewes
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