There's just something about M.O.T.
Some of my earliest memories involve treks across muddy plywood through a wetland front yard to higher ground, where I watched my father and his friends build my family's new home from foundation to shingles.
When we moved from Newark to Middletown, I had no idea that seemingly magical land where I was raised was embedded in an area I would come to adore.
This isn't the first Transcript column I've written that outwardly admits my love of southern New Castle County. I wasn't quite sure how I would write something I haven't written before … until I got back in the swing of interviewing some my "contacts" who became more like friends during and after my time working for this paper.
Speaking with Dr. Tony Marchio brought memories of my years in the Appoquinimink School District to the forefront of my mind.
It was probably his very first week as superintendent when he walked into Mrs. Ahmed's sixth-grade trailer classroom to introduce himself to us. Just four years prior I finished the second grade at Silver Lake Elementary and entered brand new Cedar Lane Elementary. It was already overcrowded by 1995, as was Redding Middle School, which is why four trailers full of my classmates and I didn't get to go to middle school at an actual middle school until grade seven.
Dr. Marchio spoke then of a new building under construction – Middletown High School, from which I graduated in 2001. Those high school years were highlighted by three consecutive Division II varsity football championships; we screamed for our boys from the southeast end of the old wooden bleachers of the Cavalier stadium as we watched them dominate game after game. Nobody topped Middletown football; they never really could.
I spent most of my youth falling for the endless landscapes of farm fields, many of which no longer exist. We didn't have much to do growing up in southern New Castle County, so we built and grew friendships so strong that we became an almost extended family, hundreds deep.
During my time at college in Salisbury, Md., new friends would comment to my fellow MHS alums and me that we were of a different breed. We were a type of characters they enjoyed having around – a type that could only come from a "Middletown" cultivation. There's just something about M.O.T.
Every time I drove home from Salisbury I was met with a new neighborhood, stop light, and even a few stop signs I blew through unaware they had even been erected.
I worked for the Delaware State News after college and felt my blood pressure rise as I sat in Route 299 traffic on my way home. There were no traffic jams in high school, and we knew the occupants of nearly every car we passed in town.
Page 2 of 2 - My time at the Transcript helped me see the silver lining of the area's growth. I learned and wrote about many of our new residents (you're still "new" even if you have been here since 2000), and started to appreciate that I rarely had to leave my little M.O.T. bubble. Everything I needed was right here.
I became immersed in the history of Odessa while reporting on their Town Council and the Historic Odessa Foundation, and eventually came to adore the place I now call home – Townsend.
Several years ago, my significant other and I walked along Broad and Main streets during our first "date" and ended up at Cochran Square, where I told him all about the area. He said, "You really love this town, don't you?" I do. There's just something about M.O.T.
My first thought when Jimmy Reynolds told me during his interview that he always sees the same people at the grocery store was that I always see strange faces; but this past weekend I ran into three friends within 10 minutes at Walmart.
Sometimes I still can't believe we have a Walmart, or Amazon.com, or nearly anything that looks like it was built in the past 15 years – because it was.
These days I take every chance I get to revere the remaining farm fields and landscapes. They still surround us, as does the charm that makes southern New Castle County what it is.
If you haven't noticed that charm, I invite you to slow down, look around, talk to neighbors you may not know, and breathe in the place so many of us love unconditionally, because there's just something about M.O.T.
Shauna McVey worked for the Middletown Transcript from 2006 through 2010, first as a reporter and then as managing editor. She grew up just north of Middletown town limits and currently resides in Townsend.