Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Delaware - December 7, 1787

My memories of Delaware are mostly of Rehoboth beach. While most of my Maryland friends were vactioning in Ocean City, my family preferred the more low-key Rehoboth Beach. We spent a week there the summer of my third grade year along with our friends the Vegas who came down from Quebec to vacation with us. I sure thought that was something special.

Haunted Delaware by Patricia Martinelli
I selected this one because it seemed like a good companion for the Delaware horror movie (which as best I could tell was the only available Delaware movie) and because it was skinny (118 pages). It is hard to believe that a state so small has so many ghost stories, but this short book is chock full of 'em. I was surprised to learn, also, that the prestegious University of Delware "pioneered paranormal research in the 1950s". Arranged in chronological order, starting with the pre-european invasion tales of the Lenni-Lenape and then moving on to the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. I actually learned quite a bit of Delaware history from this book. The stories were short, so it was a quick read, too. Some of the stories were ones I've heard almost everywhere I lived (i.e. "the vanishing hitchhiker" and "cry baby bridge") others were clearly more unique to Delaware. I was interested to learn that escaped slaves from the south who made it to Delaware on the underground railroad had to be careful of kidnappers who would  resell them to send back. This fate sometimes befell free blacks as well. One of the longer stories in the book relates the tale of Patty Cannon who ran an inn in the early 1800s. Cannon not only poisoned weatlhy visitors who came to her inn, she also auctioned off escaped and freed slaves who she kept chained in her basement with the corpses until a buyer could be found. This saga ends with this surprising twist - Cannon's skull was donated to the Dover Public Library after being stolen by a grave robber decades earlier where it remains to this day!

The Stone House was released on DVD on October 29 of this year. I am not quite sure where I would have found a Delaware movie had this one not come out just in time. The State Movie map indicates Wayne's World as an option but I suspect that a very small piece of the action takes place in Delaware, since it is really an Illinois film. The Stone House was filmed entirely on location in Delaware with Delaware actors. And although the DVD container makes this clear, there is no mention of Delaware in the movie, in fact, it appears the filmmakers went out of their way to avoid mentioning Delaware. In one scene a gentleman is reading a newspaper. The paper's name was impossible to read - the paper clearly and deliberately sliced right at the top so that the name is flipped down.

The movie begins with a bit of (ficticious) exposition explaining that the Stone House was established in 1954 as a home for the mentally ill, and that it burned down in 1979. The patients escaped the fire, but only three were ever found.... From there we meet Rick and Joslyn Berlinger, newcomers to a small town, who are shocked to find a skeleton, dug up from a grave, on their property. Although the local sheriff assures them it is simply a prank, they soon find themselves in the midst of a much larger nightmare.

According to the "Making of Stone House" special feature included with my DVD all those who worked on this movie did so for free. Knowing that, I have to say I am pretty impressed. I don't normally watch horror movies, so I was glad to see that there was no budget for special effects in this one. There was a lot of hitting people with shovels, which could have been ghastly.

A lot of the recipes I choose for this project come from allrecipes.com which lists recipes by state if you search hard enough (from the Main page click "more recipes" under the Popular Collection heading, then click on "USA Regional and Ethnic" from there you can pick a region, and then a state within the region. I had a hard time finding Delaware this way though. My choices of region are Midwest, Mountain, Northeast, West Coast, and Southern. Northeast seemed the most likely, but Delaware was not listed there. Where could it be? It turns out to be under the Southern link. Woah! Let's check out where the Mason Dixon line is, shall we? Anyway, after finding the Delware recipes I chose the Spaghetti with Red Clam sauce. This was good, and easy to make. James and I were both a bit worried that it would taste too "clammy" but there were plenty of other flavors. I expect I will make this one again.

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