After Pearl Harbor, “Sunday” rules were in effect for the Delaware coast.
As Christmas approached, residents of the coast suffered a whiplash.
On December 18, 1942, the Delaware Coast News reported. “The Lewes are grimly preparing to ‘ossify’ their Christmas jubilation. They won’t be pulling out last year’s garland of colored lights to put on their doors. There will be no facade illuminations along historic Pilottown Road, Shipcarpenter Street and Savannah Road.
Lewes was a town lit by oil lamps and candles until 1902, when electricity came to town. The city’s street lights were quickly electrified, but it took a while to convince everyone in the city to wire their homes for electricity.
One of the problems was that the newer wattage was not that reliable. In 1943, Mayor Thomas H. Carpenter recalled with nostalgia: “Our first (power) plant 41 years ago consisted of a small dynamo… If the dynamo needed to be adjusted, as it often was. case, the power station was signaling to townspeople by dimming the lights two or three times, then everyone rushed to candles and charcoal lamps. We saved a lot of money every month because on full moon nights we didn’t turn on the streetlights at all.
Eventually, electricity was not only used for light, but it was also used for a host of other household appliances.
In 1927, the Wilmington Sunday Morning Star declared: “Electric heating pads replace the hot water bottles of yesteryear. There is the percolator, waffle iron, grill, toaster, sewing machine, curling iron, bottle warmers, heaters, pressers and ironers, vibrators, egg beaters. , hair dryers, violet ray machine (a popular, but useless, home medical device), fans, fans – in fact, there is an electrical appliance for virtually any household use.
In the 1930s, residents of Lewes decorated their homes over the holidays with electric lights in a competition to win prizes (toasters, heating pads, and waffle irons) donated by the Board of Public Works.
To encourage the use of electric lighting, the Delaware Coast News reported on December 20, 1935, “The Board of Public Works, in cooperation with the Lewes traders, gives all their customers who use electric current a gift of Christmas a flat rate of four cents per kilowatt, for all the electricity they consume during the month of December. The minimum rate of one dollar and fifty cents remains the same.
“This reduced rate is granted with the aim of giving all electricity users the opportunity to light and decorate their homes and to help beautify the city during the Christmas season without the usual additional cost.”
The result was that Lewes homes were lit up inside and out during the Christmas season; but in 1942, everything changed.
Three weeks before Christmas, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and catapulted the United States into World War II. A month after Christmas, the Delaware coast began nighttime “blackout” drills that required no light to shine outside buildings.
The blackout restrictions were only in effect during the fiscal year, but the presence of German submarines in Delaware waters prompted the establishment of permanent “Sun” settlements.
The windows facing the ocean must have had their shades drawn at night. Companies have erected curtains and light deflectors on the doors. At night, police patrolled the coastal roads to ensure that cars only used their parking lights.
During the holiday season, Christmas lights were only on behind darkened doors and windows. Unlike in previous years, the streets of coastal towns during the Christmas holidays were dark and the Delaware Coast News commented, “Moonlit nights are a godsend.”
Delaware Coast News, January 5, 1934; January 1, 1935; December 20, 1935; December 18, 1942; February 26, 1943.
Sunday Morning Star, May 1, 1927.