When I moved to cosmopolitan Rehoboth Beach I was thrilled, but it took us a while to realize that we'd actually moved to the state of Delaware. Things I'd never even imagined in my other life go on here. Like the Annual Apple Scrapple Festival. Apples I've had, but scrapple is a horse of another color. In fact, I hope it's not horse.
I'm sure it surprises no one that prior to the festival visit I was a scrapple virgin. Yes, I've heard Bonnie's tales of farmer Granny frying scrapple, but thus far I'd avoided having to sample any myself. Frankly, you know something's up when you ask normally glib people what scrapple is and they stutter. "Um, I can't really say. Pig mush, maybe?"
So there I was, along with the 40,000 people descending on little Bridgeville, Delaware, standing in line for a scrapple sandwich. Well, it wasn't the most disgusting thing I've ever tasted. Bonnie insisted it should have been crispier. I was negotiating it nicely until I looked up and saw the 40-foot scrapple company sign listing the ingredients as pig's snouts and lard.
At about the same time, the Hog Calling Contest began and grown men and women started wailing Suuu-eeeee, Suuu-eeeee, which was roughly the same sound I was making trying to spit out my pig snout sandwich. Wisely, Bonnie grabbed my arm and steered me toward a vendor hawking kosher hot dogs (which, if dissected, are probably the Hebrew National version of snouts and lard).
In between the hog calling and scrapple scarfing there was the scrapple carving contest. Scrapple sculptors had fashioned everything from a three little pigs tableau to a lovely woman's torso. Actually, raw scrapple is a pretty good carving medium - although as the day got warmer, the stuff started to droop and that torso aged twenty years. I think the winners should have been honored not so much for what they carved, but that they were willing to put their hands in that stuff.
Sadly, we were due at our next Delaware event by early evening, so we had to cut short the Bridgeville adventure to get ready for the chicken and dumpling dinner at the Grange.
Once again, I was in virgin territory. The Grange has something to do with farmers, and I don't. Unless you count Bonnie, who is descended from farmers.
"Haven't you ever had slippery dumplings?" asked a member of our party. No, can't say as I have.
Six of us converged on the Grange building at 6 p.m., paid our seven dollars each and got right down to piling our plates with slippery dumplings, thick white gravy, potatoes, green beans and chicken.
For the record, what I thought was going to be exotic foreign food was essentially the same noodles my grandmother served with beef brisket. We were stuffed to the dumplings in just under twenty minutes and back out on the street again before anyone could lobby us to change our political or sexual orientation.
Our Own Yard Sale
But my favorite Delaware tradition so far is the yard sale. We hosted a three-family rummage event recently. When a friend told me to put the words "Early birds will be shot!" in my ad, I was clueless and failed to heed her advice. I learned. The night before the sale, we started stickering the merchandise. Frighteningly, at K-Mart I'd found an actual product called "Garage Sale Dots" and it occurred to me that we were amateurs in a professional sport.
Two hours into putting twenty-five cent stickers on stuff that cost a week's salary in 1978, I wanted to quit. I mean how do you put a price tag on old Steve & Edie albums? The first gift my ex-lover gave me? The amazing Ginzu knife?? For a fleeting moment our crew started coveting each other's trash but then got a grip and banned swapping.
By 6 a.m. we re-assembled to sip caffeine and have donuts. At 7 we pushed the button to raise the garage door. Then, we saw them - a throng of glassy-eyed beings, inching toward our driveway like a scene from Night of the Living Dead. "We're not open until 8," I hollered, waving them off. While most of the creatures waited in their cars, a few angrily peeled away, shouting "We won't be back!" I did not see this as a negative.
As we frantically set up shop, the crowd at the foot of our driveway grew larger and scarier. Shoppers snorted and jockeyed for position, preparing to break from the gate.
By 7:45 I understood the need for weapons. In fact, unarmed and incredulous, we couldn't hold them off and our position was overrun 15 minutes early. "Um…Okay!" I shouted to the advancing army.
"You've never done this before, have you?" croaked a woman leading the charge.
"No, " I admitted. "Be kind."
Shoppers broke from the pack and raced to pick though our mountains of crap; prospectors rifled the debris like a crab picking contest.
"Does this vacuum suck?" squawked a wizened old woman.
All this stuff sucks, that's why we're getting rid of it, I thought, but assured her that the old Hoover sucked great. The frenzy continued, with people driving by, pointing and shouting " How much??" I didn't know if they meant the merchandise or me.
A Buying Frenzy
Dollars, dimes and quarters flew as people bundled up our junk. I sold a bent chandelier for $7 and some goofball came along and bid $9 to the guy who'd just bought it. Of course, the stylish stuff had to be marked down. The really ugly, useless stuff sold full price. We could have sold ice cubes to Eskimos. In fact, the guy who bought the rusty freezer looked vaguely Alaskan-American to me.
After the initial rush ebbed, the six of us looked at each other, exhaled and were stunned to discover it was only 8:17. We thought we'd been on the sales floor at Macy's for hours. Medic!
All morning, cars clogged our local transportation grid. I couldn't believe the wad of bills accumulating in my pocket. Junk dwindled so fast that at one point I ran back into the house to re-stock. Heck, I never liked that toaster anyway. One by one the excess lawn chairs, rocking chairs and footstools disappeared, leaving us to play musical chair with the lone remaining seat - an exercise bike. After that went, we just shuffled around, pockets so weighty with quarters, we couldn't have bent to sit anyway.
Incredulously, at the crack of noon, the hordes retreated and there was nothing left but a small rubble pile.
"Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" said one of our merchants. No, we're in Delaware and I love it. But hold the pork snouts.
Contact Fay at: FayJacobsrb@aol.com
Fay's website: www.FayJacobs.com
Fay Jacobs, a native New Yorker, spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism, theater and public relations. She has contributed feature stories and columns to such publications as The Baltimore Sun, Chesapeake Bay Magazine, The Washington Blade, The Wilmington News Journal, Delaware Beach Life and more.
Since 1995 she has been a regular columnist for Letters from CAMP Rehoboth, and won the national 1997 Vice Versa Award for excellence. Her writing is also included in the 1998 Alyson Publications' anthology Beginnings. Her columns are collected in the recently issued book, As I Lay Frying: a Rehoboth Beach memoir.
She and Bonnie, her partner of 22 years, relocated to Rehoboth Beach, DE in 1999. They have two Miniature Schnauzers and a riding lawn mower.
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