Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gas stations, Motels, Restaurants, Italians and the Marando family

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.

above 1952

above Washington Hotel Delmar Maryland about 1920 Sinclair gas, restaurant, zoo, rooms


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

above 1937
above 1948
match book cover from ebay

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.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Queens Dress

Since the only thing you could see on TV yesterday was the Royal wedding let me make this observation, the Queen was wearing an outfit of green, white and purple.  It happens that these are the same colors the suffragettes in England wore in the 1910 period. They used the colors as a code on their dresses to show they supported women right to vote. So was it just an coincidence (Probably) or was there some kind of statement?


The Aftermath of a 1909 Accident

On the morning of February 22nd 1909 a train wreck occurred in Delmar.  A clear signal had been given for the right a way on the track to a southbound train but the train ran into two engines sitting on the track.  The first couple of train cars behind the engine exploded into fire. Seven people were killed of which four were clerks working in the mail car. Also Princess Trixie, a performing vaudeville horse, was killed.   One of the clerks, John W. Wood from Wilmington, would be cremated in the wreck.  The accident is a story in its self but this post is about the aftermath of the accident that affected John Wood. 

One well written version of the accident can be found here

Even in 1909 there were personal injury lawyers and Josephine Wood, ex-wife of John Wood, filed a damage law suit against the railroad.  John had married her in 1901 and they had a son in 1902 by 1906 she had moved out and was living with someone else over in Baltimore, a divorce proceeding was started on grounds of adultery and a divorce was granted in November 1908 but it had to wait a year before it was final, the accident occurred before the year was up.  Josephine’s lawyers had the divorce degree set aside.  

In the court case it was determined that John made about $1,100 a year as a mail clerk. The lawyer tried to prevent the divorce degree being entered into the record.  Several railroad people from Delmar were called to testify in the case. 

In May of 1910 the court awarded Josephine $2,000 from the Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington railroad company.  In July of 1910 Josephine Wood and John Harper filed for a marriage license in Baltimore. The son, John Thomas Wood, would live with his Aunt Eliza and her husband, George Johnson, in Washington DC for a while but by the 1920 census he was living with his Mother and John Harper in Baltimore. 

There is no newspaper indication any other lawsuit was filed on behalf of the other accident dead. If the details of the settlements were made known it might well be the settlement for Princess Trixie, the horse, exceeded the amount paid to all the families of the seven dead.

Some history on the main players;

John W. Wood (1878-1909) was the son of Captain Thomas David and Rachel Taylor Wood. Captain Thomas David Wood was Dockmaster for Harlan and Hollingsworth in Wilmington.  John would marry Josephine R. Simpson (1884-  )in 1901.  They would have John Thomas Wood in 1902 when she was 17 years old. 

Josephine R Simpson was the daughter of Edward Simpson and Rebecca Simpson.    Edward A. Simpson would die in 1896.  Rebecca Simpson would later marry William Clark.

After the accident the son, John T Wood was placed with his Aunt Eliza T. Johnson of Washington DC she was the Administratrix of John Wood Estate which included a $1,900 life insurance policy.

Josephine and John M. Harper, ages 25 and 27 respectfully, filed for a marriage license in July of 1910.  In April of 1929 a divorced was given the couple and she was allowed to resume using the name Josephine R. Wood. 

On December 23rd 1932 Josephine’s mother died.  Josephine’s sister, Mary Simpson Robinson would also die in 1932. Josephine’s brother Oliver L. Simpson had died in 1923.  After 1932 it is unknown what happened to Josephine.

John Thomas Wood (1902-1961) would marry Dorothy I. Sparks ( -1987) about 1925, they would live in Baltimore where he was a metal salesman.  They had one daughter Dorothy Ann Wood (1927-2003).  John would die at age 59 in 1961. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

1966 Arbor Day At Delmar Elementary School

1966 Bi State Weekly 
Kaye, Christine, Miss Annie - Annie Beach, Alvin Elliott Jr, Mrs Frank Bonsell, Mrs Evelyn Thorne Principal 

above Evelyn G Thorne's retirement in 1979