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Delaware : Small, But a Great Place to Grow Up!!

Updated on August 26, 2021
Delaware's Flag
Delaware's Flag

I was very fortunate to have been born and raised in Delaware, "The First State". For those of you not into geography, Delaware is the second smallest state in the United States (next to Rhode Island) and is situated on the East Coast between New Jersey and Maryland on the Atlantic coastline. More specifically, I lived in Wilmington, Delaware's largest city, up until I graduated college.

Being such a small state, Delaware takes a lot of ribbing, but I have to tell you, there were definitely a lot of advantages to growing up in this great state. Oh yes, and before I go into them, people always wonder why Delaware is called the "First State". For you non-history buffs, Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution,, hence the nickname. So based on that, we call ourselves, the "First State" and we wear that name with honor on our state's license plates. Of course, I can imagine there were a bunch of people in the room waiting to sign but just by fortune, the person from Delaware was the first in line. Heck, we'll take it!!

What Makes Delaware So Special?

To me, and I'm speaking from my own personal experiences, the thing that makes Delaware so special is it's small size and the people that live in the state. Because we are so small, i felt like I got to know a lot of different people. Going to high school, I played all the major sports (football, basketball, and baseball). Being an avid sports fan to begin with, you tended to know who were the great players from all the other high schools in all the other sports, if by no other reason, then simply reading about them in the local papers. So big deal!! That can be said for everbody in any state!! Well in Delaware, you not only competed with them on the fields or in the gyms, but there was a pretty high chance that you would also run into these same people outside of the school setting, and in most cases, become friends with them.

We were a small, yet tight knit group in Delaware. So high school was one thing, but as I moved onto college (you guessed it, the University of Delaware), a large majority of all the friends I made via competition in sports or from just hanging out around Wilmington, also went on to attend the University of Delaware. At least back when I was graduating high school and going to college, most kids, like myself, didn't have a lot of chances to go very far for college. For most people like myself, it was the UofD, or nothing. Based on that, most of our high schools were feeder schools for the UofD. Of course, a lot more people than just Delaware residents attended the UofD, so my friend base simply grew exponentially.

At the young, single stage of life, the nightlife in Wilmington was pretty typical. You ran into the same group of people every week. These are the people you became good friends with over time. The neat thing is that the crowd was always the same, but the location changed based on the night of the week. For example, the Thursday night hangout might have been the Road House, Friday nights were Galluccio's downtown (see Loop Night), and Saturday nights might have been "Georges Next Door". I don't think any of those places even exist anymore but back in the day, they were the place to be!!

The even neater dynamic is that the people of Delaware were what I'll call "dual residents". during the summer. Of course, we all lived in northern Delaware, mainly Wilmington during the weekdays, but weekends, we all shifted life to the Delaware shore, about 80+ miles to the south. I plan to do an entirely separate hub on that dynamic so be sure to check back soon.

Love My Home State

To let you know just how much I love my home state, after graduating college, I actually moved out of the state based on a great job offer I got in northern New Jersey. My game plan was to live there for approximately 5 years, gain a lot of experience, then move back to my beloved home state of Delaware. Well that plan fell through when I met my beautiful wife to be, who was a Jersey girl. Ever since, I've called New Jersey home, roughly alittle over two hours from Wilmington. I've lived in NJ for some 28 years now, way more than I actually lived in Delaware, but still, I find myself writing a hub about my home state of Delaware. Don't get me wrong, I love New Jersey and have raised 4 beautiful kids here, but to me, nothing will ever compare to Delaware.

As A Delawarean, I Lived a Sheltered Life

Growing up in Delaware, yes I'll admit I lived a very sheltered life. It seemed like everything we as a family ever needed was right there so there was no need to really leave the states borders. Now don't get me wrong, I'd been to Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland on many occasions, but only because those state borders were all a stones throw from Wilmington (we're talking 15 minutes max to all of them, maybe alittle further to Maryland). So vacations were spent either at the Jersey shore (mainly Wildwood) or the Delaware shore (Rehobeth Beach or Fenwick Island). That my friends, was the extent of my travels for 20+ years.

After graduating college and starting my career, after being on the job for only a few weeks, I was told I needed to go to Chicago on a business trip. You can imagine the dismay and wonderment when I told my new boss and new colleagues that I had never been in an airport before in my entire life, let alone travel to a distant place!!!

At least for my family, that sentiment still exists. After moving to northern NJ, my parents (and oh how I loved my parents) would never come to visit. They thought that I moved so far away. I used to tell them that it's OK and that they didn't need a passport to come visit in northern NJ. The funny thing, the trip wasn't much farther than going to the Delaware shore, something they did on a weekly basis. But still, it took a rare occasion for them to make the "long" trip to northern Jersey (mainly, the birth of each of my 4 kids).

What Outsiders Think of Delaware?

Well, I'm happy to report that after being in the working world for 28+ years, I have since had the pleasure of traveling all over the world, so that little boy from Delaware did some learning and growing. What I always found interesting was the reactions of others when I told them I was originally from Delaware. Most people just looked at me with a puzzled look on their faces. You'd be amazed at how many people have no clue where Delaware is. Now I can expect that kind of reaction when I'm traveling internationally, but for people right here in the US to not know, that was a shocker to me.

I recall one time, checking into a hotel in the midwest, and striking up a conversation with the woman at the check-in counter. When I mentioned that I was from Delaware, she asked me if Delaware was in southern Pennsylvania. I guess I need to give her partial credit since geographically, she was in the right vicinity, but come on, to not even know it was a state!!

Of course, that immediately lets me start giving her a history lesson on the importance and background on the state that started this entire great country of ours.

Others find it very interesting to meet someone who was from Delaware. Like I said above, I guess its still the case that people from Delaware don't travel a lot, so it's a rarety when they actually get to meet someone from this state!!

For those that do know about Delaware and are familiar with it, I find the one thing, if anything they do know is that Delaware is home to the Dupont's. Yes, that's true, the Dupont headquarters, a family created chemical company is headquartered in Wilmington Delaware and at one point was the states largest employer. Dupont's were everywhere in the state and the state was actually known as the chemical capitol as it was also home to Hercules, another one of our countries larger chemical companies.

Even folks in my now home state of New Jersey really don't know much about Delaware. Most only know of it to pass through it on their way south on I-95 going to Washington D.C. or other points farther south. In doing so, you only pass through Delaware briefly. I tell people you're actually cutting across the short width of the state as opposed to the longer length of the state. Passing through on I-95 maybe takes all of about 20 - 25 minutes, at most, assuming there is traffic.

I-95 Signage in Wilmington Delaware
I-95 Signage in Wilmington Delaware

Would You Be Able to Pick Out Delaware on a Map?

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I Can Find Someone Who You Know in Less Than 4 Attempts

I need to go back to the initial point I made in this article, the one about how everybody knows everybody in this state. OK, well that's alittle bit of an exaggeration, but not to far off from being true.

Anytime I'm in discussion with someone and they mention they know someone in Delaware, typically if I talk to them about these people, in a very short time, we would find someone that I know that can connect us to the person they mentioned. Now how many states can claim that?

I remember once sitting in a business meeting and as is typical in the beginning of the meeting, we all exchanged business cards. As this particular meeting had a lot of attendees, during the meeting, I started reading the different business cards and noticed one guys phone number had a "302" area code. Oh yeh, that's another thing cool about Delaware. It's so small that the entire state only has one area code. It still makes me laugh when I talk to relatives and friends from Delaware because when it comes to giving out phone numbers, they still all only provide 7 digits. Even though the entire country went to a 10-digit numbering plan, that had no impact in Delaware since area code 302 is just assumed. At least that's how it was for many many years growing up there.

Anyway, back to the business card, after the meeting was over, I went over to the gentlemen with the Delaware phone number, and told him I was originally from Delaware. In less than 5 minutes of talking, I knew exactly where it was that he lived and his first cousin, turned out to be my neighbor where I grew up. Not only was his cousin my neighbor, he was one of my best friends. Even though this newly found Delaware Colleague and I don't cross paths via business much anymore, we still stay in contact on a regular basis and have become good friends, simply because, we are both from Delaware!!

A Great Background that I Will Always Proudly Proclaim

So as you can see from these brief paragraphs, although small, Delaware has some traits and qualities that few other states can claim, Because of that, i treasure my time growing up in Delaware and still stay in touch with a lot of my great friends there. It was an experience that I will treasure forever. Hopefully, you can see the passion I have for Delaware coming through in this article. My goal is to continue writing additional hubs about specific parts of Delaware that have left a true impression on my life. Be sure to come back (or follow) me to read more on Delaware going forward!!


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