Best Bets: History of Rosedale Beach to be explored Saturday

A postcard from Rosedale Beach Hotel near Millsboro. (Submitted photo/Delaware Public Archives)

Louis Armstrong, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder …

The names are part of a who’s who list of legendary African-American entertainers. Those greats and many more presided at the Rosedale Beach Hotel near Millsboro back in the pre-integration era of the 20th century.

While there were few places for people of color to go for entertainment and hotel accommodations back then, Rosedale was part of the Chitlin’ Circuit — a group of venues that welcomed the African-American population.

On Saturday, at 10:30 a.m., at the Delaware Public Archives in Dover, Tamara Jubilee-Shaw will present a program about the history of the Rosedale Beach Hotel and Resort. This recreation and entertainment destination featured a hotel, boardwalk, dance hall, picnic and beach area, campground and amusement park.

Although too young to experience Rosedale for herself, Ms. Jubilee-Shaw heard plenty of tales through the years from her father Leroy, who grew up near Millsboro.

“As a little girl he would tell me stories about Rosedale. I guess I was probably about 9 or 10 years old and at that time, I wasn’t all that interested. I was more interested in playing,” said the Dover native.

“My father grew up in the segregation era with segregated restaurants and things. As a child of the ’70s, I had no idea what that was all about.

“He lived through the Vietnam era too. But he never talked much about that. But Rosedale he would talk about. That was his world back then.”

As a result of the Innkeeper’s Law, which allowed the proprietor to serve whoever they chose, Rosedale could cater to all races and was the hub of activity for a population that starved for entertainment. Built in the 1900s, it thrived until desegregation came along and people were free to frequent any establishment they cared.

The great storm of 1962 washed away much of the infrastructure and it was never rebuilt. Condominiums now stand where Rosedale once did. A historical marker was placed on the property Dec. 2, 2011.

Tamara Jubilee-Shaw

“There is no trace of beach there. You have to imagine it,” Ms. Jubilee-Shaw said.

“A pavilion seems to be leftover from the original site. Bands used to play on the pavilion and all kinds of boats used to come around and listen to the music. It was a real community place to be.”

Once Ms. Jubilee-Shaw got a bit older, she became more interested in exactly what went on at Rosedale.

But despite it being a venue for some of the finest musicians that world has ever known, very little is known about the history of Rosedale.

“It was always considered this sort of back-of-the-woods juke joint. There isn’t that much of importance around as far as books or documentation is concerned,” said Ms. Jubilee Shaw, who works as a corporations specialist with the Delaware Division of Corporations.

“I did find some incorporation papers that no one knew were there, which were really interesting.”

She also later discovered an “amazing” ad for Rosedale from Billboard magazine.

Ms. Jubilee-Shaw received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the final class of Delaware State College (now Delaware State University), where she served as editor of The Hornet newspaper.

After earning a master’s degree in media studies/video film production from the New School for Social Research in New York City, she served as a director of youth-organized television at the Educational Video Center in New York City.

She has conducted extensive research in several other areas of study, including diseases and epidemics in early America, early African-American recording artists and African-American history in early New York City, along with the history of Rosedale.

She thinks her background has helped her on her journey.

“Me being a journalist I like to tackle topics that are hard to do. And I’m really nosey so I like to talk to people,” she said.

On Saturday, she will discuss the stories that her father told her, the history of Rosedale and how hard it has been to find information on the long-gone resort.

“I’ve called it my mission impossible,” she said.

Just as she learned about Rosedale and that era as a child, she hopes younger people today will gain knowledge of the people and places that existed back then.

“It’s really not taught in schools and you don’t hear about it a lot. It’s history that’s still very new to a lot of people,” Ms. Jubilee-Shaw said.

“I remember telling my girls about it when they were little and them asking me if they could visit Rosedale. I had to tell them no.”

She is trying to get a wider audience to know the history of Rosedale by making either a feature film or documentary and has a producer in Hollywood interested in the project.

A photo of African Americans enjoying a boat ride on Rosedale Beach in 1952. (Submitted photo/Delaware Public Archives)

“I’ve had people contact me about other places in Delaware where African-Americans were allowed to go back then but I haven’t had time to check them out,” she said.

“I would like to continue this story so it doesn’t die. This is a story that all of America should hear.”

Saturday’s program is free and will last approximately one hour. No reservations are required. For more information, contact Tom Summers at 744-5047 or e-mail thomas.summers@state.de.us.

The Delaware Public Archives at 121 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. North in Dover.

Milford Museum series

The Milford Museum brings back its Speakers Series for 2019 at 7 p.m. on Thursday to hear Orlando Camp’s presentation about his book “The Milford Eleven”.

In 1954, Mr. Camp was a member of this group of students who attempted to integrate Milford schools following the Brown v. Board of Education ruling. Learn about his participation during this time of change.

This program will be held at the Milford Women’s Club, 18 Church Ave. (next to Avenue M.E. Church).

Oliver at Sunroom

Karyn Oliver will perform at the Sunroom Songwriters Series Saturday.

Ms. Oliver moves from bluesy to country and back. Her musical inspirations come primarily from the eclectic mix of music to which she was exposed while growing up in the musically diverse culture of Washington, D.C.

Her latest album is “A List Of Names.”

Light refreshments will be provided. Suggested donation is $10 to $15. All money goes to the performer. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Message or email nmaliwes@icloud.com for the address.

Young chefs wanted

The Fox show “MasterChef Junior” is searching for kids in Delaware for the next season of the cooking competition hosted by Gordon Ramsay.

Pre-registration is now open for any interested kids with a passion for food and cooking.

Home cooks between the ages of 8 and 13 as of April 1 are invited to apply at MasterChefJuniorCasting.com.

Artists to be recognized

Twenty Delaware artists are being recognized by the Delaware Division of the Arts for the high quality of their artwork. Work samples from 136 Delaware choreographers, composers, musicians, writers, folk and visual artists were reviewed by out-of-state arts professionals, considering demonstrated creativity and skill in their art form.

The 20 selected fellows reside throughout Delaware including Bear, Bridgeville, Claymont, Dover, Frankford, Lewes, Middletown, Newark and Wilmington.

Awards are given in three categories – $10,000 for the Masters Award, $6,000 for the Established Professional Award, and $3,000 for the Emerging Professional Award — and Fellows are required to offer at least one exhibit or performance during the upcoming year, providing an opportunity for the public to experience their work.

“Individual Artist Fellowship grants provide the recognition and exposure that artists need to successfully promote their work,” said Paul Weagraff, director of Delaware Division of the Arts. “The financial award allows them to pursue advanced training, purchase equipment and materials, or fulfill other needs to advance their careers.”

The work of the Fellows will be featured in a group exhibition, “Award Winners XIX,” at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover from June 7 to July 21. Selections from “Award Winners” will travel to CAMP Rehoboth in Rehoboth Beach in August and early September and then Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington during September and October.

The Masters Fellowship is open to differing artistic disciplines each year. In Fiscal Year 2019, Masters Fellowship applications were accepted in Literary and Media Arts from artists who had previously received an Established Professional Fellowship. In addition to exemplifying high artistic quality, Masters Fellowship applicants must demonstrate their involvement and commitment to the arts in Delaware and beyond. Listed below are the Delaware Division of the Arts 2019 Individual Artist Fellows and three Honorable Mentions.

Billie Travalini of Wilmington has been awarded this year’s Masters Fellowship in Literature: Fiction. Travalini, an internationally award-winning writer and educator, teaches English and creative writing at Wilmington University. She has taught creative writing to encourage critical thinking at youth detention centers statewide, which led to “Teaching Troubled Youth: A Practical Pedagogical Guide,” an award-winning book with a message on the human condition.

In addition, she has taught poetry and playwriting at various Boys and Girls Clubs. In 2014, Ms. Travalini received the Governor’s Award for the Arts for her extensive career and work in education.

Ms. Travalini is co-founder and coordinator of the Lewes Creative Writers’ Conference.

Now Showing

New in theaters this weekend is the suspense-thriller “Miss Bala.”

On DVD and download starting Tuesday are “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” “Widows” and “The Girl in the Spider’s Web.”

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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