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Lewes, Delaware
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August 5, 1994     Cape Gazette
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August 5, 1994

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14 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, August 5 - August 11, 1994 C00PE LIFE 'Mr. Rehoboth' marks 80th birthday in st) le Rehoboth's old guard turn out to pay Sammy Ferro tribute at country club By Trish Vernon The vanguard of Rehoboth Beach "old society," along with many members of the new, gath- ered July 28 at the Rehoboth Beach Country Club to help Sam- my Ferro celebrate his 80th birth- day. Sammy sported a crown more often associated with Imperial margarine, having been bestowed the title of "Mr. Rehoboth" years ago. He greeted his guests with a cheery "Have a drinky-poo, baby!" as the guests, who paid fond tributes, entered the club. They came from far and wide - Sammy's brother Ray from Cali- fornia, and Howard Devron, who played in a band with Sammy at the Wharton Park in Washington, D.C. in 1937 - were just two of those assembled. Born in Rochester, N.Y. in 1914 and raised in Los Angeles, Sammy has had no formal training on his beloved trombone. "I was inspired by a performance by Jack LaSchooli, who sang 'Body and Soul' on the Jack Paar show," he noted. Sammy eventually ended up playing in the Paul Kain Orchestra with Ted Alexander, Harry Albretson and Gary Stevens, along with Devron, his roommate on the road. Four of them married young women from Albany, N.Y., including the effervescent Ferro, who met his wife of 44 years, Mary, there. (A dentist, Mary died at the Rehoboth Country Club when a chicken bone caught in her throat. Sammy went on to survive a second wife, Virginia, who died in 1992.) Now, thanks to friend Rita Long, he is able to continue venturing down to his Henlopen Condominium from Washington whenever they please. The little dynamo, who was "playing a joint in D.C.," first ven- tured into Rehoboth Beach in 1955. The late Michael Fabrizio, then owner of the Henlopen Hotel, asked Sammy if he'd like to "see my little place in Delaware - I asked 'where?' and now I'm a beach bum. I fell in love with Rehoboth." Ferro wailed away on the trom- bone, playing such hits as "I'll Be With You at Apple Blossom Time" and more current favorites for 17 years without a contract, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, every day except Sun- day. It was an elegant era com- pared to today, with the old Hen- lopen playing host to men in white jackets and women in chiffon cocktail dresses dancing between courses at dinner. "I remember when the menu offered sirloin steak dinners for $2.50 and $28 could get you a room, breakfast and dinner," Sammy recalled. "I didn't always know every- one's name, but I always knew Continued on page 15 At right, Sammy Ferro, known as "Mr. Rehoboth," blowns out the candles on his 80th birthday cake at the cel- ebration held in his honor at Rehoboth Beach Country Club July 28. Sally McFall, club assistant manager, holds the cake, while old bandmate Howard Devron looks on. Above, Sammy serenades a couple of young ladies on the Boardwalk back inthe hey- day of the old Henlopen Hotel, where he played for 17 years beginning in 1955, every summer night but Sun- day. Tdsh Vernon photo Nancy Katz scaly legs. So you have to proceed with all the caution of cleaning up a nuclear spill. Those claw-like foot prints on the ceiling were not part of the original decor. They came from something. This is def- initely not a job for the faint-heart- ed. And cleaning out a garage is also a lonely job. You can't do it with someone else. Think of the consequences when your neighbor sees that photograph of you with a plastic rhinestone tiara on your head. You are wearing ten layers of chiffon that lead down to a pair of plastic rhinestone shoes, that of course, match the tiara. The inscription reads, "Remember that time behind the school, your date Buford." The year is historic. It will be all over town and the laughter will never stop. And what if she stumbles across your very first cookbook, "A Beginners Guide To Turning The Stove On," with your wedding date embossed in gold letters on the front cover. These are private matters that could easily be ntis- construed. There are some things you just cannot share with strangers. Your family should not be counted on to help either. They live under the Zen philosophy that they are above it all, in it all and then not. In other words, forget it! But they will tell the designated garage cleaner that written autho- rization is needed to touch their stuff. None of it must be trifled with or thrown away. And they have ways of finding out. "Hey you didn't go near my sweat pants from college?" my son asked on a long distance col- lect call. "They were in a box with a collection of sponges from my trip to the Baha. And there is also some rope in there that's pretty valuable." This from a kid who can't find his driver's license, social security card or remember his parents' address. And so, you go it alone. There are three glass cut punch bowls with service for a hundred people. There is a fifty cup coffee maker. You begin to wonder if maybe you had another, larger family at one time in your life. It's highly possi- ble when you unwrap the bowling trophies inscribed to someone named John Smith. But there are things that bring back nostalgic remembrances. For me, it was the ironing board. It was wedged behind six dead bat- teries. It was as if it had never been touched before. In fact, I don't think I ever did use it. But seeing it today sure brought back fond memories of getting whacked on the side of the head each time I tried to get it to stand upright. Boy, those were the days. It seems that we are heading into a time when a lot of signifi- cant events from the past are remembered with special anniver- saries. First there was D-Day, then the moon landing and, of course, we all remember the first official open air asylum, Wood- stock. Even the low points, like Chapaquidick, have managed to eke out a small footnote. But for most of us living ordi- nary, mundane lives, we have to use our imaginations to celebrate those years of nostalgia. For me it was called "cleaning out the garage," or the project from hell. Now this may seem like it would just involve a couple of hours of moving boxes and getting rid of outdated equipment. But things behind boxes in this particular garage have died, mated, given birth or crawled out on tlir own AROUND TOWN Cleaning the garage can be a nostalgic experience