Oral history project renewed at Selbyville Public Library

Date Published: 
July 21, 2017

In a quiet area of the Selbyville Public Library’s Delaware Room, there exists the oral histories of 22 people with many, sometimes little-known, memories of the town of Selbyville (first known as Sandy Branch as early as 1778). The stories are preserved in a written and audio version and can now be accessed online at the Delaware Heritage Collection of the Digital Collection of the Delaware Library Catalog.

Some of the oral history participants include Fred Stevens, who revealed in 1987 that he and Ralph Grapperhaus had created the Cypress Swamp Monster in the 1960s; and Raymond Moore, the first and only African-American elected to the Indian River School Board.

Other volunteers told of the variety of businesses that flourished in Selbyville in the mid-20th century, such as the movie theater where, during high school, Edward Mumford worked in all the job positions.

Janet Scott, who’s father-in-law founded J. Conn Scott Furniture in 1924, commented about all of the car dealerships in town, including Pontiac, Ford, Chrysler, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and GMC trucks. The long path that led to the opening of the Cactus Café in Selbyville in 2000 by Manuel Pavon is told by Jesusa Pavon, his daughter.

The original project was started in 2001 by then-library director Lynn Massey, with a grant from the State of Delaware that allowed the library to have a public launching event at Salem Methodist Church and to purchase recording and Dictaphone equipment. Most of the histories were collected over the next three years. Massey recently volunteered her services in order to head the project once again.

With the continued growth and evolution of Selbyville, the library has decided to renew the oral history project, with an accent on representing the different decades and demographics. Kelly Kline, the library’s current director, and Massey are soliciting help from the community to get this worthwhile collection going again.

Volunteer interviewers and people who want to share their stories are being asked to get in touch with Kline at (302) 436-8195 or Massey at Lynn.massey@lib.de.us.