Piece of State News history brings Christmas joy

Delaware State News editor James C. Wickes, known for his Christmas spirit, offered this holiday greeting in the 1930s or 1940s.

DOVER — Some notes and quotes between headlines and deadlines …

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It was Christmas Eve 2017 that this editor wrote a piece on a former Delaware State News editor with a legendary Christmas spirit.

James C. Wickes, the editor of the then-weekly in the early half of the 20th century, wowed local readers and peers at upstate newspapers with his annual Christmas edition and livened up the city of Dover with a tremendous display of lights at his State Street home.

Thankfully, you can find that column with a quick Google search, as Dallas Pope recently did.

Mr. Pope was at a Laurel flea market when he spotted a lithograph.

It was a card with the images of Presidents Abraham Lincoln, George Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, along with a Christmas message from Mr. Wickes.

“America pauses at this glad Christmas season to wave to the world,” the card’s message said. “A greeting of friendliness and good cheer.”

Mr. Pope said he did not know who had saved the card so many years. Surely, it dates back to the 1930s or 1940s.

He surmised it was among someone’s cherished possessions that family members did not desire to keep.

“I can only imagine the thought, ideals and reverence that compelled a person to keep this card all of these years,” wrote Mr. Pope in an email to this editor. “I doubt that any others survived.

“In that light, I offer this image to you with my permission to use as you see fit, and to renew and perpetuate the kindness of a man whom we would all have liked to have known. Please enjoy this small piece of your history.”

Thank you, Mr. Pope, for sharing the card with us.

It was a nice surprise — a little late for the Christmas in July expression, but still very nice.

“Your story gave me more understanding about the card and the power and influence behind it,” Mr. Pope wrote. “Of course, if one were to receive this in the mail and see the figures of Lincoln, Washington, and FDR, I am sure that it was with pride that Mr. Wickes offered his namesake to this message.”

Before Christmas 2017, this editor had found several mentions in upstate newspapers’ archives about Mr. Wickes’ incredible, colorful holiday editions.

It was an amazing moment when a last-minute call to the Delaware Public Archives resulted in a chance to go over and see a few that had survived. One was a full broadsheet page with a beautiful color image of Santa with a snow castle in the background.

“I noted in your material that Mr. (Col.) Wickes was an ardent Christmas fan, and he must have been such a wonderful person to all during that holiday period,” said Mr. Pope. “It seems that we could use a little more of that, and learn from his acts and apparent lasting reputation.”

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For those of you visiting Delaware this weekend, here’s something for you to ponder as you’re parked on U.S. 50 or crawling toward the Bay Bridge on Labor Day.

The state of Maryland is now mulling over four options in its Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study.

Believe it or not, one of the four is to do nothing.

Imagine that on a summer weekend in 2040, Bay Bridge volume would be 135,280 – 14 percent more than 2017 counts.

The other three options are new spans:

•Maryland 100 to U.S. 301 between Pasadena, Rock Hall and Queen Anne’s County.

•U.S. 50/301 between Crofton and Eason.

•U.S. 50/301 alongside the existing Bay Bridge corridor.

The favorite option, it appears, is to build another crossing alongside the existing bridge.

“There is only one option I will ever accept: adding a third span to our existing Bay Bridge,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan a few days ago. “While the federal process requires multiple proposals, the data is indisputable — this option would maximize congestion relief and minimize environmental impact.”

A chart in the Chesapeake Bay Crossing Study website says traffic on the existing spans would be reduced by more than 35,000 cars with a new span built along the existing corridor.

Back in February, this column featured a report on the bay crossing study.

At the time, there were 14 highlighted options with the northern-most in Cecil County and southernmost in Somerset County, Maryland.

For people on the Eastern Shore, several options pitted those wanting progress and relief from traffic congestion against those who hate the thought of harm to the Eastern Shore’s farmlands and waterfront livelihoods.

Starting Sept. 24 at Kent County High School in Worton, the Maryland Transportation Authority will begin a series of fall open houses on the crossing study.

If you’re interested in learning more, there are several documents available at baycrossingstudy.com.

And, one last thing to ponder after your weekend at the beach: About 24 percent of westbound Bay Bridge traffic on a summer Sunday comes from Sussex County, Delaware.

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Can you believe that fall sports have started already?

Kudos to sports editor Andy Walter, sportswriter Tim Mastro and photographer Marc Clery for the excellent coverage of the University of Delaware-Delaware State football game on Thursday night.

Our sports team shines this time of year with college football and Henlopen Conference high school football stories and photos.

Starting this week, you can see the team’s football predictions.

If you love Delaware sports, you should subscribe to our newsletters and receive headlines in your inbox daily.

Reach Executive Editor Andrew West at awest@newszap.com

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