Pickleball in Lower Slower Delaware (LSD)

Date Published: 
Aug. 4, 2017

Sitting at courtside, waiting to take the next available court, someone is sure to make a negative comment about a workman who is, or was, scheduled to repair or install something in their home, and end the conversation with “but this is Lower Slower Delaware.”

Incidentally, Delaware was named after a Virginian who got lost sailing toward Virginia and ended up in what would become the Delaware River. His title was De La Warre, and his name Thomas West. I know, you are thinking the same thing I am. Did his father say “Go west young West, and don’t get lost in the Delaware”?

I am a direct descendant, 12 generations, of two settlers recorded at the 1624 census of the first Eastern Shore settlement. Then, this area of Sussex would have been Virginia, not Delaware, so, technically, in 1624 it was Lower Slower Virginia or LSV.

I find it amusing that the warlike native tribe from the Susquehanna River, back when this was just LSV, preyed on the Eastern Shore natives and thought them inferior because they would rather not fight.

The Eastern Shore natives preferred to eat oysters and crabs before taking an afternoon nap along the shores of one of our great Eastern Shore rivers. Captain John Smith, while recovering from a native attack, reported in 1609 that one crab from the river’s mouth in the Chesapeake Bay fed Smith and two other men.

Almost two centuries later, back when this region was finally Lower Slower Delaware, or LSD, the mainland Virginia officers in the War of Independence made disparaging remarks about the Eastern Shore generals for wearing buckskins, rather than the latest greatest silk britches from London.

Yet it was these generals from the Eastern Shore and Delaware who pulled Washington’s troops out of harm’s way on multiple occasions, including the Battle of Long Island.

Growing up on the Eastern Shore as a kid, body-surfing in the ocean, training by running in the soft sand on the beaches, I always wondered what everyone saw in the chaotic living conditions in the surrounding cities, like Baltimore and Washington.

It wasn’t lost on me that, after the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was built, your parents came here to vacation. My friends and I just scratched our heads. Yes, that’s right. We wondered about you.

The sandy soil of Delmarva is especially conducive to growing cucumbers. Virginia is the nation’s ninth largest producer, mostly on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and Maryland is 14th. For city folk, cucumbers are the parents of pickles, and for pickleballers, this means you are almost on sacred pickleball soil.

Now our cucumber fields have given way to development after development, and our roads have become cluttered. We welcomed you with open arms, yet you continued to say despairingly “LSD” or “Lower Slower Delaware.”

When these were just country roads, it was fairly easy to make all our appointments on time, but the influx of so many new residents has really slowed us down. So I suggest you stop and embrace LSD because, after all, that is what attracted you in the first place.

Instead of complaining, eat an oyster, take a nap and reflect on how very lucky you are to live here. Enjoy a relaxed drive to your favorite pickleball courts. Your pickleball game is sure to improve with positive thoughts. And by the way, eat a pickle salad and fewer crabs, and give those rascals a chance to grow.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.