Serving at Cape Henlopen
Sailors had rough conditions, but pleasant reception, during World War 1
By William H.J. Manthorpe Jr.
Editor’s note: Most locals know that the U.S. military was active on Cape Henlopen during World War II, but few may know that its presence there started to grow during World War I. This edited excerpt from “A Century of Service, The U.S. Navy on Cape Henlopen,” by William H.J. Manthorpe Jr., tells about conditions at the military facility called “Naval Section Base, Lewes” in 1918.
Since 1873, the military had land on Cape Henlopen for the purpose of constructing defenses. In 1889, some of that land was used to construct the Delaware Breakwater Quarantine Station and Hospital.
[In 1917, Naval Section Base, Lewes] took over the barracks and other facilities of the former Quarantine Hospital. Those facilities were old and had been unused for several years, and they had not been luxurious to begin with.
A rare influx of Arctic owls last winter was an education bonanza
Last winter, we on the Delaware coast were treated to an unusual sight: a historic invasion of snowy owls from the Arctic. According to Bill Stewart, director of Conservation and Community for the American Birding Association, the influx began north of us the week before Thanksgiving, when 380 owls were suddenly spotted on Cape Cod. It simply grew from there, spreading down the East Coast with outliers as far south as Florida and as far east as Bermuda.
Snowy owls are the largest owls in North America. The males, with the exception of some spots or bars of bluish gray, are almost pure white. The females are considerably larger and are usually more heavily barred. These are birds of the treeless tundra, so perhaps it was not surprising that they gravitated toward Delmarva’s farm fields and sand dunes. They also liked airports. In fact, Stewart has a video of an airport shot from above that, from an owl’s point of view, bears a surprising resemblance to a tundra laced by rivers.
A Splash of Controversy
Concerns about Rehoboth’s imperiled character have long been spurred by large houses. Now there’s a related point of conflict, and this argument holds water.
From the Holiday 2014 issue
Rosemarie and Bill Bahan fell in love with Rehoboth for its quainter aspects. After renting “forever,” they bought a cottage on Hickman Street 25 years ago, coming from Washington, D.C., on weekends and summers until they retired and moved there full time a decade ago. Bill notes that he and his wife didn’t even discuss retiring there; it just went without saying.
Rosemarie describes being friends with everybody on their block, having parties that closed part of the street. Bill adds that “this was a family community, staying in family homes. We didn’t rent them. Families all came and stayed for the summer.”
Their small three-bedroom cottage, built in 1932, is flanked by similar homes. But Rosemarie points toward two others that are to be torn down and replaced by a much larger, eight-bedroom house. Yet another large home is going up at the other end of the street. Still reeling from a big rental house constructed last year that has brought noise and parking issues to their neighborhood, the couple fear more changes ahead, and more problems. “We lost the community-type atmosphere,” Bill says.