From birth to present, Jim Bowden connected to history channel

GEORGETOWN — History will show that Jim Bowden’s first experience in newborn life was quite eventful.

Handed a newborn snugly wrapped on a cold November day, his parents left Beebe hospital and headed to their home in Seaford.

“They sat the bassinet down and everybody was saying like, ‘Hey, that kid looks just like his father.’ Then, either my sister or older brother walked up to the bassinet and looked at the ceramic bracelet. And they said, ‘Mom, this doesn’t say ‘Bowden’ on the bracelet!’”

9 Q&A Jim Bowden


Several phone calls solved the panic puzzle.

“Come to find out they had the wrong baby,” said Mr. Bowden. “So they rushed back and got me. The other baby boy was from Laurel. I never found out his name. I’ve been trying to do some research.”

Perhaps that historic moment as a newborn inspired Mr. Bowden’s passion for history.

He is a life member of Seaford Historical Society, president of Georgetown Historical Society, a member of the Historic Preservation Board for the state of Delaware and recently was selected vice president for Sussex County’s Return Day Committee.

Mr. Bowden, a 45-year telephone company retiree, is also curator of the Delaware Telephone Museum at Nutter Marvel Carriage Museum in Georgetown.

And he is vice president of the Nanticoke Senior Center and a facilitator of the Georgetown Nonprofit alliance that last year launched a First Saturday in Georgetown historical initiative (this year plans are to juggle the calendar with Second Saturday in Georgetown).

Mr. Bowden, 65, resides in Georgetown with his wife Christine. They have two sons, James III (Trey) and Skyler, who is currently serving with the U.S. Marine Corps.

Mr. Bowden retired from the telephone company in March 2014. His career spanned Diamond State Telephone through Verizon.

In February 2015, he was hired on as the 911 technical adviser for Sussex County.

From his office cubicle at the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center at the Delaware Coastal airport, here is a conversation with Jim Bowden – noted historian.

What was communications technology like when you began your telephone career?

“We had rotary dial and we also four-party telephone lines. Eight party lines had just gone out before I came on board. We just transitioned. They went to design line phones in the late 1970s where you could get Mickey Mouse and Snoopy and those kinds of things. Then the evolution kept ongoing.”

You were lured out of “retirement” about year ago as Sussex County’s 911 technical adviser?

“Yeah, I get my hands dirty a little bit. We just put in a new 911 System here. I was here just making sure it conformed to what we need on the county side.”

What hooked you on history?

“Probably my best subjects in high school were social studies and history. For some reason I gravitated toward that. Once I got out of school I became friends with a gentleman – Wright Robinson. Wright used to feed my yearning for more history. We would sit and talk on his front porch somedays and talk over the old days in Seaford. That just whetted my appetite for learning more about my hometown and any history in general.”

“It is a very unique area. I have my own miniature Seaford Historical Society in my house. I’ve been buying artifacts and paper goods of Seaford history for many years, including railroad history. It has also spilled over into milk bottles and Georgetown milk bottles.”

“Being president of the historical society in Georgetown gives me the unique opportunity to delve into a lot of local history here also. It has just been a natural gravitation for me from high school on to just be involved with anything like that, any knowledge of local history. Sussex County is such a unique place.”

Speaking of unique, shall we segue into Return Day (not Returns Day)?

“Even reporters back in the day got it as Returns Day. It was kind of an on-and-off type of thing as far as how we used the word. I fielded many phone calls in the last six Return Day events. I can think of reporters from across the country, especially as the campaign started getting a little more contentious, heated. I can think of one down in Dallas, Texas that was just in amourette that we bury the hatchet and we have continued in the tradition of trying to seat the parties together, always with the winning party facing forward and the losing party facing backwards in the carriages and the vehicles.”

2016 is an election year so planning is underway for Return Day, staged two days after the election:

“It is a unique tradition and it is one of our own; the only one of its kind in the country. I am honored to be elected as vice president and I look forward to working with Rosalie Walls, former Return Day president, and the new president, Debra Jones.

Your plate seems to be full with work and the many organizations. What does Jim Bowden do in his free time?

“I’m not as much into NASCAR as I used to be. It has changed. I used to be a New York Yankees fan and Green Bay Packers fan back in the day. Both sports have, in my opinion, changed drastically. I still follow the Orioles. But I was a Yankees fan for many years.”

“I do like to dabble; I have a little blog called: Seaford, Delaware: A Look Back in Time. I try to put together stories with pictures that I have acquired over the years. It has got quite a following and I enjoy putting it out and seeing people’s reactions to it and what their memories are.”

“And I have flowers every year, window boxes. I love to see flowers around the house.”

You are also into meteorology with CokeDOT, a social media Facebook blog that combines fun and humor surrounding a mythical Sussex metropolis coined Cokesbury with some serious forecasting?

“CokeDOT has taken on a life of its own. And we have become very aware that people actually pay attention to that and we make sure that the weather report is as accurate as we can make it. And we do poke a little fun with CokeDOT and the town of Cokesbury, which there is none!”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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