Selbyville memories and history filled the sunny parlor recently as neighbors chatted over coffee and cookies. The Selbyville Public Library’s Selbyville Reminisce — an informal discussion held on Saturdays — recently kicked off, open to anyone who wants to come.
“People love to talk about Selbyville past, and there are so many people who lived through it and love sharing their experiences,” said Library Director Kelly Kline.
“Also, there are so many people moving to Selbyville who don’t know the history of their town,” she said.
The Reminisce is a way to get people talking.
Despite being a sparse crowd on April 11, people were chatting as soon as they arrived. Another man joined after hearing the conversation from outside. They lost track of time, discussing old stories and scandals.
“It was just interesting to hear the ‘behind the stories’ of stories that you’ve heard,” said Maria Bertram, librarian and town resident. “There’s more to the history than what you would know. … The people who lived there made it ever more interesting.”
Georgia Ash couldn’t wait to attend Selbyville Reminisce. She moved to town in the 1970s, smitten with it from the start.
“This would be the place that was my hometown, that I was happiest,” she said.
Ash talked to the old-timers when she first arrived, such as the woman who had played hostess for her father in Washington, D.C.
“She was a wealth of information, and funny,” Ash recalled.
(Coincidently, the library is now housed in the historic home of that father, the late U.S. Sen. John G. Townsend Jr.)
Victor Murray has spent the first and the last 18 years of his life in Selbyville. He described the huge water basin found on the library’s top floor, which gravity-fed the old house.
Murray flipped through the Coastal Point’s newly published “The Story of Selbyville” magazine, pointing to historic photos.
“There used to be five grocery stores on Church Street at one time,” which Murray said were doomed by the incoming Acme market.
“I had to got to Wilmington to get a child labor permit,” he said, as a teenage Acme employee who missed every Thursday afternoon of school from junior to senior year.
Ash’s son was a firefighter when a hardware store burned down, so hot that firefighters had to duck the exploding aerosol cans that rocketed by.
The discussion didn’t stay in town limits, either. The group shared stories from Frankford to Virginia.
They also touched upon World War II.
“I was 7. I remember it like it was yesterday,” Ash said of the Pearl Harbor attack.
“It’s hard to think this is all in our lifetime,” Bertram said of major wars and racial segregation.
The Selbyville Public Library will continue Selbyville Reminisce on Saturdays at noon.
“It’s informal. It’s a nice discussion. It’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, even if you didn’t grow up in Selbyville,” Kline said. “It’s about shared experiences, and you might have had a similar experience in another place.”
The Saturday afternoons could also lead to an expansion of the Selbyville Oral Histories collection. Around 20 residents were interviewed in 2002 about their lifelong experiences in town.
The library still houses the recordings and transcripts.
“It’s available to the public anytime you want to come in and listen to it,” Bertram said.
The Selbyville Public Library is on South Main Street and can be reached at (302) 436-8195.