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February 17, 2006     Cape Gazette
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February 17, 2006

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82 - CAPE GAZETTE Friday, Feb. 17 - Monday, Feb. 20, 2006 West Rehoboth celebrates Black History Month By Rachel Swick Cape Gazette staff Growing up in West Rehoboth was like growing up in a comfort- able bubble for Savannah Blackwell. Everyone was like family, and no one was ever alone. But a lot has changed in the years since Blackwell walked to school, a small, segregated school elementary school. Since those days, people in West Rehoboth have sold their land and moved away. A commu- nity that was once full of life is smaller, yet Blackwell says the spirit of the community remains. "With Rehoboth Beach grow- ing, developing and changing so rapidly it is good, once in awhile, to step back and remember the way things were," said Blackwell. "There was no West Rehoboth, we were just Rehoboth Beach. It was a quiet southern town fortu- nate enough to have Atlantic Ocean frontage. It was all one neighborhood. Black or white, we lived together and got along fine." But today, she says, her com- munity has been bombarded by developers in a rush to purchase land. Her neighbors receive calls every day with offers on their property. For Blackwell, if these people sell their property, they also sell their community. "The amazing thing about the Savannah Blackwell remembers growing up in West Rehoboth when the community was thriving. Shown is Blaekwell during her youth when she attended the William C. Jason High School for African- Americans. people that are selling their land is that they never had to spend a dime for that property," said Blackwell, whose family, like many other West Rehoboth fami- lies, inherited their land from for- mer employers. "As we ponder this thing, our heart cries and wonders why our ancestors toiled for all those years to 00ive us a00omo now that I i ii ....... home is gone." -  " Blackwell remembers a time when she didn't have to leave the community to go to a restaurant or find a doctor. But now, upscale townhouses are being built along its edges and new roads are divid- ing a community that used to be proud of its heritage. Now the community is quiet. "It was a blessing to grow up, raised by an entire neighbor- hood," said Blackwell, who still remembers men and women who helped her become who she is today. "Our own Madge Paynter is at the very heart of the commu- nity now known as West Rehoboth. At age 92 she has seen it all, from the war years and car- ing for the wounded to the decline and decay of the streets she loves so much." Blackwell said during Black History Month, she remembers all those people who contributed to West Rehoboth. She said they are f Submitted photos the ones that made the small com- In the pst in West Rehoboth, people could always be seen munity such a bright and wonder-- socializing on front porches or walking to friends' houses, as ful home. shown in this picture. Blackwell said today the community is "Miss Edna Harmon is lovingly threatened by encroaching development. remembered as the heart and soul of the old Dinner Bell Inn," said Blackwell. "The inn is long gone, but who can forget the way Miss Harmon arrived bright and early and went straight to work on the day's meals? I wonder if Miss Continued on page 83 Seaside Interiors DISTINCTIVE FURNITURE, LIGHTING, ACCESSORIES, Chic Classic Casual Cool dr WINDOW TREATMENTS Contemporary Transitional Traditional and everything in between GIFTS MON- SAT. 9-5, SUN. 10-4 Villages of Five Points Town Center, Lewes 302-645-9216 At The Delaware Public Service Commission, our job is to make sure you have safe, reliable and competitively priced utility services. Energy bills are expected to reach an all-time high this winter. One of the best ways to fight high bills is to conserve energy. That's why we've posted a list of energy-savings tips on our website, plus a Winter Energy Help page with useful links and resources. Just visit There you can also request help with paying your utility bill. Or you can call the Delaware Helpline at 1-800-464-HELP (in-state). For out-of-state long distance, the number is 1-800-273-9500. We also encourage you to talk with customer service represen- tatives at your energy provider. They will be happy to work with you to solve your payment problems. This winter, let's all work together to help manage energy costs. l Brought to you by The Delaware Public Service Commission. :.);.:; ;:i!!:,,,.Gi!! ::.,:,/::.:!,4:,::