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Arts Playlist: ‘Secret Delaware: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure’

Secret Delaware Book Cover.jpg

A husband-and-wife team from central Delaware’s second book is out.

“Secret Delaware: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure” is intended to serve as an armchair explorer guide to the First State. Rachel Kipp and Dan Shortridge leaned on their four decades of combined experience in journalism and public relations to produce this look into some of the stories that make Delaware unique.

In this week’s Arts Playlist, the couple joins Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele to take us inside the book and how they pulled it together.

Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele chats with authors Rachel Kipp and Dan Shortridge about their new book “Secret Delaware: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure”

A new book from a husband and wife team from central Delaware is out.

“Secret Delaware:  A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful and Obscure.” is Rachel Kipp and Dan Shortridge’s second book.

Rachel Kipp.png
Rachel Kipp
Dan Shortridge.jpg
Dan Shortridge

The pair say they wrote the 184-page book to take a deeper dive into some of the stories that make the First State unique.

“This book really required really pretty extensive research," said Kipp. "So we got a subscription to so we could look at the archives of Delaware newspapers dating back decades and decades. And it was really interesting to be able to look at some of those old papers and kind of see how different stories behind certain things were reported - so at the time they were happening, then also decades later.” 

Some of the stories highlighted include why there’s a fake gravestone for a Hollywood actor who’s not buried in the First State and the story behind the creation of the Apollo astronauts’ space suits in Dover.

Several items in the book also focus on food, including ice cream, muskrat, lima beans, chicken, chocolate and beer.

Shortridge says the couple tried muskrat for the first time after writing about a local newspaper reporter who once noted that it tasted and smelled like “dirty socks, “I would say it was similar and tasted like a tough gamey chicken. I’m glad I tried it. But I’m not sure I would try it again though.” 

Muskrat apparently became a Delaware delicacy back when people had to hunt for their food in the dead of winter. Muskrats were easy to find in the marsh grasses, which do not grow in the winter months.

The book also draws special attention to people of color, women and the LGBTQ+ community.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.