A Look Back: First Bath in the Surf
In the early days, taking a dip in the ocean was a new idea
By Michael Morgan
From the July 2017 issue
Don’t stand shivering and shrinking back from the spent waves,” the Rehoboth Beacon, advised in 1876, “Walk briskly out until waist-deep and sink down until the water touches your chin.Then you are prepared for business.”
When the Rehoboth Beach Camp Meeting Association established Rehoboth as a seaside retreat in 1873, church members could escape the turmoil of the modern world and attend services in the shady grove on the west edge of town.
Very quickly, however, vacationers were drawn to the other end of town and the cooling surf.
Unfortunately, most of the early visitors to Rehoboth had never before experienced a dip in the ocean.
Nineteenth-century Americans had inherited an aversion to water from their European cousins, who associated water with a number of diseases.
Some folks went years without immersing themselves in a true bath, and many thought that the idea of jumping into the ocean for fun was idiotic.
Grill it, Smoke it, Love it!
In summer, outdoor cooking is king — and it lets you eat like one
It doesn’t matter whether you’re taking an evening stroll down Pilottown Road in Lewes or Bunting Avenue in Fenwick Island, you’ll likely find the same tantalizing aroma wafting onto the sidewalk.
Nose tilted toward the sky, you can picture juicy steaks, their ivory frill of fat curling above the flames. You can also see plump burgers sizzling over ashy briquettes. The telltale plume of scented smoke gives it all away.
Grilling is a tradition in summer, but it’s particularly appealing at the beach, where residents and renters want to be outside whenever possible. But in coastal Sussex, barbecuing has different meanings.
Turning the Tide
The effort to clean up the inland bays is making progress, but the mission is far from accomplished
Mike Dunmyer grew up as an Army brat, never staying in one place for more than a couple of years, but there was one constant in his life — summers at his grandmother’s place in Dewey Beach.
“We’d go out on boats, on kayaks, crabbing and fishing on the bays, having a good time,” he recalls. “It was a real summer lifestyle.”
At the time, Dunmyer had no idea that the water in Delaware’s inland bays was nowhere near as clean as it had been 10 or 20 years earlier, and that its condition was rapidly deteriorating.
That was back in the 1970s, in the early days of environmental awareness but well before the development of sophisticated measurements of water quality.