Some area cemeteries are barely recognizable after decades — or longer — of neglect. A few self-appointed caretakers are trying to change that, one headstone at a time.

By Bill Newcott  
From the May 2021 issue

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For the most part, the drivers tooling along Log Cabin Hill Road near Harbeson don’t notice the lady in the cemetery, but if they were to think about it, they’d realize she’s out there nearly every morning. 

Weather permitting, Dinah Handy-Hall will be puttering around the tombstones of Coolspring Presbyterian Church, daintily applying cleansing solutions to the headstones of worn granite and brittle slate, lovingly placing flowers at some of the older gravesites. Sometimes her husband, Larry, will show up to help lift and reset a 200-pound monument that has tumbled due to wind or settling soil.

The rustic, rectangular church building was built in 1854, but it’s the third sanctuary to stand on this site. (See “A Church for the Ages” on page 42.) The cemetery dates back to the 1730s — and people who lived in the same century as William Shakespeare are among those buried there. 

“I can stand at the gravesites of the McIlvaines or the Torberts,” Handy-Hall says, sounding as if she’s talking about the neighbors down the street, “and I know that 270 years ago their family stood at that very spot and said their farewells to their loved ones.

“Plus, the very same headstone has stood there all that time. With very minimal effort, I can extend the life of that stone by 20 years with just some water, a soft brush, and a biological cleaner.”

That cleaner is a product called D-2, and it’s the same stuff they use to keep the White House white. 

“It’s quite expensive,” says Handy-Hall. “Sometimes there are stones that I have to clean as many as six times. But it works, and it doesn’t damage the stone.”

Ready or not, coastal Delaware will play host to the first family's resort getaways

By Bill Newcott  |  Illustration by Rob Waters
From the April 2021 issue

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Hey, neighbors, meet Joe. 

Like a lot of us, Joe works in Washington, D.C., and has a little getaway place here near the beach. His wife, Jill, is a teacher and they have a lot of kids and grandkids who ramble around the six-bedroom place they bought about four years ago. 

Joe’s kind of an unassuming guy, so you might not even notice him if not for the concrete barriers at the end of his street whenever he’s around, the enormous helicopter that will be flying him into town for the next four years, the fleet of black Suburbans that accompany him everywhere he goes, and the Men in Black who surround him when he ducks into Lori’s Oy Vey Cafe on Baltimore Avenue for takeout.

Chances are you’ll especially notice Joe when you try to drive to Gordons Pond this summer and find yourself part of not only the usual caravan of cars heading for the state park — but also an untold number of gawkers slowing down, craning their necks, and hoping to catch a glimpse of Joe Biden, president of these United States of America. 

Telling the Stories of Coastal Delaware

By Lynn R. Parks
From the April 2021 issue

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It was two decades ago. But Delaware Beach Life editor and publisher Terry Plowman remembers clearly how he felt just before getting his first glimpse of the magazine’s inaugural issue. 

“I’ll never forget the mix of excitement and nervousness when I was about to cut open a box of the very first issue,” says Plowman. “I had seen all the pages on a computer screen, but how would they look in print? When I pulled a copy of that first issue out of the box, it was a magical moment to see the magazine I had been thinking about and planning for several years.”

This issue marks the start of Delaware Beach Life’s 20th year. Plowman, who was editor of the Delaware Coast Press newspaper from 1993 through 1998 and owner of The Front Page Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach for 10 years before that, is proud of his publication, and of the comments he regularly hears from the public.