Posted: June 28, 2004; updated with Spence's comment: June 29, 2004


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

State Rep. Wayne A. Smith, the Republican majority leader, has never made it to speaker, but his tie did.

So did his fists, his shoes, his shirt and his suit -- his entire body, but not him.

You can look it up. A new book called Democracy in Delaware, written by historian Carol E. Hoffecker to observe the 300th anniversary of the legislature, opens to a group photograph of the members of the House of Representatives.

The lawmakers are posed on the steps inside Legislative Hall in Dover. In the center of the first row, there is Wayne Smith's body, but it is topped by the head of Rep. Terry R. Spence, the Republican speaker of the House. Smith's body with his own head is standing next to the double of itself with the Spence head.

It looks like the General Assembly was crossed with General Motors and turned into a bizarre General Assembly-line of Wayne Smiths.

There is an explanation. During the picture taking in January, Spence was out for knee surgery, and the photo session could not be delayed because of the printing deadline for the book. JoAnn M. Hedrick, the chief clerk of the House, said the decision was made to pose the picture with a space left for Spence and to have Cedar Tree Books, the publisher, use the magic of computers to paste in Spence's photo later.

Not even Smith knew that his body was going to be borrowed. He found out by looking at the picture.

"For about a week I didn't realize it. One day I was looking at it, and it was awfully coincidental we were both wearing the same suit," Smith said. "I won't even go there in how accurately it describes the workings of the House."

Spence was not complaining about the body graft, which he had not anticipated, either. "I looked at the picture and wondered, what happened to me lately?" he said. "I kind of like his. It made me look a lot more muscular and younger."

If any body deserved to be in the photo twice, it was Smith's. The idea for the book came out of his head. He wanted something permanent to mark the 300th anniversary of the first colonial assembly, which met in New Castle on May 22, 1704, after the "Three Lower Counties on Delaware" separated from Pennsylvania, although they continued to share a governor until independence was declared in 1776.

Smith approached Hoffecker, one of the state's best-known historians, as she was winding up 30 years as a professor at the University of Delaware.

Hoffecker had four years to complete the assignment. She overcame a scarcity of political and governmental histories of Delaware by researching old minutes, compilations of laws, letters and newspapers and by interviewing legislators and their staff members, governors, lobbyists and others.

Hoffecker found her work on the most recent years to be the most challenging. "Historians feel very comfortable dealing with dead people," she quipped.

This book has it all -- dead people, live people and one digital figure composed with a historical nod to the three lower counties. Like colonial Delaware and Pennsylvania, the lower body of Smith and the head of Spence also have the same governor.