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Lewes, Delaware
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September 27, 1996     Cape Gazette
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September 27, 1996

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14 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, September 27 - October 3,.1996 Restored oyster schooner headed to Lewes for Festival The restored Delaware Bay oys- ter schooner A.I. MEERWALD, which will be docked in Lewes on Saturday, Oct. 5 for the Boast The Coast Festival, evolved out of the massive oyster industry that thrived during the first two decades of this century. Driven by more than 3,500 square feet of sail, the MEER- WALD dragged metal dredges with chain baskets across the rich oyster bottom of the Maurice Riv- er Cove which lies due north of Lewes on the New Jersey side of Delaware Bay. The non-profit Delaware Bay Schooner Project restored the MEERWALD in the early 1990s and relaunched her in 1995 as a floating classroom to teach stu- dents of all ages about the natural and cultural history of Delaware Bay. During the Boast The Coast Festival in Lewes, the MEER- WALD will be open for public tours at the city dock by the draw- bridge. That evening, the 10,000 lights strung from the vessel's spars and rigging will glow during the lighted boat parade which will begin in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal at 7 p.m. Tours of the 115 foot (sparred length) MEERWALD will cost $3 for adults and $1.50 for children. Augustus J. Meerwald commis- sioned construction of the schooner in 1928 to add to the Port Norris family's fleet of two other oyster schooners. She was built in the boatyard at Dorchester further up the Maurice River. In those years, New Jersey esti- mated annual sales of oysters at about $6 million supported by 4,500 employees taking home a weekly payroll totaling more than $I 12,000. A rail line on the south side of the Mauriee River carried car- loads of oysters to the Philadel- phia, New York and northern mar- kets while a rail line on the north side of the river carried oysters to Baltimore and southern markets. The yield of the two Shipping sites, colltctively referred to as the Maurice River Cove, reached 80 carloads per day for as many as three months out of the year dur- ing the peak of the industry. The national economic depres- sion brought on by the stock mar- ket crash of 1929 dealt the indus- try a blow that crippled it for decades. Then a lesser peak was reached in the 1950s until a dis- ease known as MSX knocked out 90 percent of the marketable oys- ters on both shores of the lower Delaware. The industry has never recovered. The MEERWALD, like hun- dreds of other sailing vessels like her, lay idle and decaying for decades following the decline of the industry. She is one of the few that still remains and the only Delaware Bay oyster schooner that has been fully restored. Her construction remains the "oak on oak" style fa- The restored Delaware Bay oyster schooner A.J. MEERWALD is shown here flying her more than 3,500 feet of sail. She will be heading for Lewes Oct. 5 for the Boast the Coast Festival and will be open for public tours. vored by the boatbuilders of Dorchester: oak planks laid on oak frames. She rises from an eight inch by eight inch long-leaf yellow pine keel and her oak planks vary in thickness from one and three quarters to one and sev- en-eighths inches. The MEERWALD was de- signed and constructed to be an efficient sailor in the shallow wa- ters of the Mauriee River Cove. The glory of that oyster industry and the masterful construction will be fully evident when the ves- sel arrives in Lewes for the Boast The Coast Festival. The Boast The Coast Festival is part of a Lewes Maritime Week- end which includes University of Delaware's 20th annual Coast Day on Sunday, Oct. 6. Boast The Coast is sponsored by Lewes Chamber of Commerce and Visi- tor's Center. For further informa- tion contact Lewes Chamber at 1- 302-645-8073. Lewes athletic trainer brings home ;;pirit of Olympic gold By Rosanne Pack Although she didn't actually score baskets or block shots, Lewes resident Gina Konin was very much a part of the gold medal-winning USA women's Olympic basketball team. The physical therapist was the team trainer, and she held her breath and tensed her muscles through every play of the Olympic series that led the team to the top of the winners' platform. The road to Atlanta started five years ago for Konin when she vol- unteered to work as a trainer at the Olympic Training Center. She said information about volunteer- ing as an Olympic trainer is some- what scarce and hard to come by; but she persevered and got into the volunteer rotation with an ini- tial two-week stint at the center. "I was in a class with a friend and I said, 'How do you get start- ed?' and it turned out that he knew how to get an application. I was fi- nally admitted into the volunteer ranks," she said. "Everyone who volunteers is evaluated after working a session, and according to that, you might be asked back for other events. I ended up working in the training center and at Olympic festivals in several locations, including Col- trade, Texas and Argentina." After five years of paying her dues, she earned the coveted spot as sole athletic trainer for the Women's Olympic basketball team. She met with the team at the Colorado Springs training center in April, and traveled with it con- tinually until it went to Atlanta for the games. The time from April to August was filled with exhibition games and appearances, and took Konin and the 12 team members and their coaches to such places as Rhode Island, California, Illinois and even Australia as they chalked up a 61-0 winning record. The team made a trip to Walt Dis- ney World Institute in Florida just before settling into the Olympic scene in Georgia. Privileges of a trainer The position of an Olympic team trainer is not a paid one, but there are definitely perks of the job. Konin amassed many travel miles and saw lots of sights along the way. All of her food and lodg- ing was paid for by the Olympic organization. "And they gave me more clothes than I could ever wear," she laughs, "Jackets, sweats, blaz- ers... I could just about outfit my family for Christmas." The travel was interesting and the company was great, but Konin A wrap in time could save a twisted ankle, and Lewes Certified Athletic Trainer Gina Konin applies her skills to Carla McGhee, a member of the Gold Medal winning USA women's bas- ketball team. was very much focused on the athletes and keeping them in top condition for the coming interna- tional games. She had the final say on whether a player could practice or play, and she took her responsi- bilities very seriously. "The coaches definitely respect- ed my opinions," she said, "From the coaches' point of view, stress levels were rising the closer we got to the games, and then to win- ning the gold. They wanted every- body out there practicing all the time. "I tried to get players some time off when I thought they needed it, and the coaches listened to me. They knew it was better to sit out a practice or exhibition game and not risk an injury that would side- line them." She said there were few prob- lems, ankle sprains and minor knee injuries; but prevention was her goal. Each day, she took care of routine taping and treatments to prevent pulls, aches and pains. Athletes are people, too "There was every different kind of personality you can imagine on the team," Konin said, "But, they were all pretty easy-going. Team members ranged in age from 21 to 31, and they came from all differ- ent backgrounds; and they came from all parts of the country. Continued on page 15