In the first half of the 20th century the availability of the automobile and the truck changed the business world. People started to travel more often for pleasure and the trucking industry took off. This produced a classic business on Bi-State Boulevard in Delmar that catered to travelers. It was a gas station, a restaurant and sometimes a motel or tourist cabins combination business. After all you needed to fill up the tank, get air for tires, water for the radiator, go to the bathroom, eat and maybe buy some beer and or basket of apples to take with you on your travels. Other items, from gifts to postcards to gambling machines, were usually also there. The logic was the same as one stop shopping department stores today – have the essential and then they buy things they didn’t know they wanted. At that time Bi-State Boulevard was Route 13, the main road down Delmarva, so all vehicle traffic traveled the road. The gas station part of the business was usually two pumps and a small repair shop, with a small restaurant, sometime a larger restaurant, was attached to it and sometime there was a two story house converted to a rooming house or actual tourist cabins behind the station. Almost all of them sold beer and some would advertise themselves as a bar or nightclub/gas station/ restaurant. They catered to the traveler and locals.
At that time there was a small but influential group of Italian-Americans that lived in and around Delmar. A number of them came here by way of working for the Railroad. Some were farmers that bought land in the area when the strawberry boom was going on Delmarva in the 1920s. They were obviously harassed and made fun of by the natives born here. Some time they Americanized their last name as in the case of Guiseppe Coladonato becoming Joe Nichols and his son, Carmine, becoming Charlie Nichols. They tend to marry within the Italian-American families that were in the area or marry Italian families from the Wilmington/Philadelphia area.
Some of the family names were Tamburrino, Triglia, Marando, DeFelice, Nero,and Coladonato
1966 a Tony Triglia business
One family was the Ernest Marando family. Ernest was born in Italy about 1891 spent time in New York where he married Mildred R Guida about 1925 and they had two children in New York; Thomas Carmello Marando and Mildred E. Marando. By 1937 they were in the Delmar area. They opened a combination restaurant, gas station, and tourist cabins operation about two miles north of Delmar on Bi-State Boulevard. Variously called Empire State Inn, Empire State Restaurant, and Empire State Tourist Court. The operation would continue through the 1950s
As can be seen from the ads large dances were held there plus beer sales. Liquor was harder to get but since Ernest had been arrested for bootlegging one can assume it could be obtained. In 1949 Mildred applied for an alcohol license that would allow alcohol to be sold for use on premise and off premise.
above 1949 Bi State Weekly Newspaper
In the 1960s they had stopped the old RT13 operation and had opened a 14 unit Motel on the “new” Rt13 about two miles south of Laurel called the Empire State Motel. Mildred would pass away in 1964. Ernest would remarry to Minnie E. Shores in 1966. In 1972 he put the motel up for sale for $16,000. Ernest would die in 1977.
Ernest and Mildred’s son, Tom, was a Delmar high school football champion earning a high school letter in football. He graduated in 1943 and worked for the railroad before going into the Army. He was capture by Germans in Belgium and became a POW and was not released until 1945. He went to the University of Delaware and graduated with a civil engineering degree In 1950. He worked and lived in the Wilmington area. He married Angeline and they had three sons and two daughters.
1938 Delmar Football Team
Ernest and Mildred’s daughter, Mildred “Randy” E. Mirando was born in New York in 1930 and graduated Delmar High School in 1948 as valedictorian. She moved to Baltimore became a nurse, married Joe R. Riggs, was a public health on the western Shore. They had a son and a daughter.