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Dover Post
  • From a Window Overlooking the St. Jones

  • Publisher Emeritus Jim Flood Sr. compares and contrasts Jack Lewises and shares more Dover history.


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  • Just after finishing this column for last week’s paper I received a letter from an old friend, John C. “Jack” Lewis, who lives east of Dover on Bayside Drive, not far from Leipsic, in a 200-year-old house which was once the subject of a painting by Jack Lewis, the 98-year-old Delaware artist who now lives in Maine.
    A paragraph like the one above, with such obvious complications, requires a little explanation.
    The letter is reprinted below and gives more background to the accounts mentioned in this space over the past couple of weeks concerning Dover’s Silver Lake and the mill that once thrived there. Since the Lewis family once owned the mill, Jack’s background is especially interesting.
    But back to the two Jack Lewises.
    The Jack Lewis whose family is associated with the mill grew up in Dover and went to all 12 grades of public school where the former Central Middle School is located. He well remembers living on Kings Highway and walking to school.
    And while this Jack Lewis has been well known to his many friends in the Dover community he isn’t as well known in Delaware as Jack Lewis the artist. It was as an artist working for the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s that this Jack Lewis drew the house that the Dover-born Jack Lewis and his wife Nancy bought 34 years ago.
    And oh yes. At one point the daughter of Jack and Nancy, whose name is also Nancy, took art lessons at Delaware Tech in Georgetown. Of course the teacher was Jack Lewis.
    But the Jack Lewis mentioned in George Frebert’s great book “Delaware Aviation History” as taking his first airplane ride at the Dover Airport was not the artist Jack. It was the Dover Jack, who in recalling the experience in the middle 1930s marveled that somehow his parents, in the depth of the Depression, could come up with the $5 apiece for him and his brother Fred to take the ride. Here’s the letter:
    “I found the item about the old Dover Flour Mill in your column of January 19, 2011 very interesting as my great-grandfather, Robert H. Lewis, bought the mill from Mr. Laws about the turn of the 20th Century.
    “It was later owned by my grandfather, Robert E. Lewis, who sold it to Mr. Russell McNeil about the year I was born, 1926. Mr. McNeil later sold the mill and the lake to the city of Dover. It was razed by the city in 1944.
    “The mill was situated just off Kings Highway on what is now the entrance to the city park and dam. It sat approximately on the site of the little bridge as you go into the park.
    “I was born on Kings Highway in a brick house which was in what is now the front yard of the Luther Towers. My family, with three boys, lived there until I was about 11 years, when my father bought a farm on the Dover-Leipsic Road.
    Page 2 of 2 - “From my earliest memory, my grandfather lived in the big white house, which he built, on the SW corner as you turn into the park. My great-grandfather lived in the house next door. He died when I was four years old.
    “My grandfather’s cousin, Fred Lewis, lived in the last house near Division Street, later owned by the Shank family. He was the miller who ran the machinery. My father told the story of working at the mill and delivering grain to farms near Little Creek by horse and wagon.
    “I assume that Silver Lake was part of the mill property when my great-grandfather owned it. After all, a mill can’t operate without a lake!
    “I had a picture of the mill with my grandfather’s name painted on the side of it, but I loaned it to someone years ago and never got it back. If someone has a picture of the mill, I would appreciate a chance to copy it….”
    *****
    People do keep seeing eagles around Silver Lake. Elaine Townsend, who lives with her husband Sherman on the lake, happened to see two eagles not long ago on the ice. They had caught some small animal and were proceeding to eat it, all the time within easy view of the house.
    And after they had finished, a neighborhood black cat sauntered out on the ice, inspected what the eagles had left, and ate a little of whatever it was. The cat apparently did not realize that one of the eagles was sitting in a tree and keeping a close watch on the feline. But nothing happened.
    Bill Payk is someone else who had noticed the mention of eagle sightings and reported that at the north end of Silver Lake he had just seen three eagles in a tree, two mature birds and one still lacking the white feathers on top.
    *****
    It has been a while since a pun appeared in this space. Please don’t groan:
    Sam’s wife had for years devoted herself to rescuing and nursing sick birds back to health. It was getting too much for her husband. Finally he came home one day and found a duck sitting on his favorite chair nursing an aspirin. And in the bathroom was a seagull resting after having oil wiped off.
    Sam loses his cool and strides into the kitchen where his wife Eloise was comforting a shivering little wren.
    “I just can’t stand it anymore!” Sam yells. “You’ve got to get rid …”
    “Please, dear,” Eloise interrupts. “Not in front of the chilled wren.”

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