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Happy Birthday, Blossburg! The Town Turns 150 with Loving Hands Keeping it Strong By Gayle Morrow
The Art of Billtown Ocean’s Bounty in Watkins Glen On the Road to a New Life
Volume 16 Issue 7
14 Love Letter to Billtown
Happy Birthday, Blossburg!
By Linda Roller
How Williamsport became a FFAT— First Friday Artistic Town city.
By Gayle Morrow
The town turns 150 with loving hands keeping it strong.
20 The Shot Heard Round
By Michael Capuzzo
26 Great Cooks, Great
6 The Roads Less Traveled
By Cornelius O’Donnell
And Corning’s chef brings you some of their best.
By Gayle Morrow
34 Back of the Mountain
Facing loss and finding renewal in a Ram 1500.
By Linda Stager Supernatural delight.
12 Hey, How’d They Get Fresh Seafood? By Mike Cutillo
Kookalaroc’s brings the ocean to Watkins Glen.
Cover photo by Gayle Morrow; cover design by Gwen Button; (from top) Gayle Morrow, Stephanie DiCamillo, courtesy Stephanie DiCamillo; Roc Menio, by Mike Cutillo.
w w w. m o u n ta i n h o m e m ag . co m Editors & Publishers Teresa Banik Capuzzo Michael Capuzzo Associate Publisher George Bochetto, Esq. D i r e c t o r o f O pe r a t i o n s Gwen Button Managing Editor Gayle Morrow S a l e s R ep r e s e n t a t i v e s Shelly Moore, Richard Trotta Circulation Director Michael Banik Accounting Amy Packard Cover Design Gwen Button Contributing Writers Maggie Barnes, Mike Cutillo, Ann E. Duckett, Alison Fromme, Lilace Mellin Guignard, Carrie Hagen, Roger Kingsley, Don Knaus, Dave Milano, Cornelius O’Donnell, Brendan O’Meara, Linda Roller, Karey Solomon C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r ap h e r s Bernadette Chiaramonte, Cathleen Wilde Christ, Diane Cobourn, Becky Enders, Justin Freeman, Michael Johnston, Ann Kamzelski, Jerame Reinhold, Jason Robson, Debbie Stafford, Linda Stager, Matthew Stevens, Sarah Wagaman, Curt Weinhold, Ardath Wolcott, D i s t r i b u t i o n T eam Brian Button, Grapevine Distribution, Linda Roller T h e B ea g l e Nano Cosmo (1996-2014) • Yogi (2004-2018) ABOUT US: Mountain Home is the award-winning regional magazine of PA and NY with more than 100,000 readers. The magazine has been published monthly, since 2005, by Beagle Media, LLC, 39 Water Street, Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, 16901, and online at www.mountainhomemag.com. Copyright © 2021 Beagle Media, LLC. All rights reserved. E-mail story ideas to editorial@mountainhomemag. com, or call (570) 724-3838. TO ADVERTISE: E-mail email@example.com, or call us at (570) 724-3838. AWARDS: Mountain Home has won over 100 international and statewide journalism awards from the International Regional Magazine Association and the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association for excellence in writing, photography, and design. DISTRIBUTION: Mountain Home is available “Free as the Wind” at hundreds of locations in Tioga, Potter, Bradford, Lycoming, Union, and Clinton counties in PA and Steuben, Chemung, Schuyler, Yates, Seneca, Tioga, and Ontario counties in NY. SUBSCRIPTIONS: For a one-year subscription (12 issues), send $24.95, payable to Beagle Media LLC, 39 Water Street, Wellsboro, PA 16901 or visit www.mountainhomemag.com.
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Happy Birthday, Blossburg! The Town Turns 150 with Loving Hands Keeping it Strong By Gayle Morrow
lossburg’s Island Park is a green and lovely sixty-plus acres, a community hub tucked between Route 15, the Tioga River, and Ward Manufacturing’s (most everybody still calls it “the Foundry”) Plants 1 and 2. On a cool June morning, it’s the epitome of what we consider to be small town America at its best, with a couple of hundred people gathered to celebrate a 2021 high school commencement—Mansfield-North Penn. Full disclosure—my granddaughter is in that graduating class, and we’ll hear from her later. But, back to the Island. Borough records cited in the official Blossburg centennial (18711971) commemorative book detail the beloved park’s establishment was somewhat irregular. On December 27, 1909, borough council members met in a special session to discuss the purchase of the property, known even then colloquially as the “Island,” for a public park. Evidently the man who owned it was not interested in selling or leasing, so, on January 7, 1910, council members adopted Ordinance #74, which cited state legislation enabling the borough to condemn the land for its own use. Rumor has it the fellow was mad at the borough for the rest of his life, and probably justifiably so. Oh well, when you’re 150 years old, there’re bound to be a few skeletons in your closet. How About a Bath, Peter? It was 1792. Just five years earlier, on December 12, 1787, Pennsylvania had followed neighboring Delaware, the first colony to take the plunge, and ratified the new Constitution, thereby becoming, officially, the second state in the new union. Now, a group of immigrants, characterized as “principally German redemptioners,” were making a road from Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, to Painted Post, New York, under the direction, at least partially, of brothers Robert and Benjamin Patterson. The road is said to have followed trails established by Native Americans, in this case members of the Seneca Nation. Redemptioners, by the way, were those Europeans who gained passage to the American colonies or states by selling themselves into indentured (or involuntary) servitude to pay back the
shipping companies which had advanced the cost of their trip. They came from areas that we know today as Germany, and also from the British Isles. It sometimes took years for them to repay their debt. Anyhow, as the centennial book and other local history sources relate, a man by the name of Sir William Pulteney paid for the road so that his holdings in New York State were “accessible.” You might call it another colonial case of “build it and they will come” and you, subsequently, will make lots of money. A Mr. Charles Williamson served as his agent, thus “Williamson Road” as the name of Blossburg’s main thoroughfare. So, there they all are, working their way north, but they have to eat and sleep sometimes, right? Various enterprising folks along the way established taverns, blockhouses (blockhauss, as the Germans said), depots, and other sorts of accommodations, not all particularly pleasant or welcoming, but the only game in town. Peter’s Camp was one such establishment. It’s not clear if Peter was the man’s first or last name, but he was a baker with the Pulteney/Williamson/Patterson party, turning out his breads, cakes, whatevers, from “an immence [sic] oven” that must have been very near or in present-day Blossburg. Peter was a man not noted for his “cleanliness of person; and his comrads [sic], unable any longer to tolerate his filth, caught him and commenced the necessary ablution by pouring sundry buckets of cold water upon his head…” Those co-workers were about to dunk him in the river, but the “superintendent of the road interfered.” It seems fortunate that Blossburg bears the name of Aaron Bloss and not the baker who didn’t like to bathe. Aaron Bloss had come to Peter’s Camp in 1802 via travels from his original home in Connecticut, to Chenango County in New York, and finally to Covington. He owned one successful hotel/tavern at Peter’s Camp, then another, and around 1821 gave the community his name. The Other Black Gold Who was actually the first to discover that in those hills around Peter’s Camp there was not gold but coal? Most history gives credit See Blossburg on page 8
(6) Gayle Morrow
Planned preservation: Blossburg businesses work together to preserve the past by adding to its future (clockwise from top left): John Martin, owner Blossburg Beverage Co.; Dave Crawley, owner Farmer’s Table; Tonya McNamara, owner Blossburg Company Store; Ivan and Rosemary Erway, owners Bloss Hardware; Cheryl Bubacz, Blossburg Borough secretary; and Mayor Shane Nickerson holding one of his skateboard decks.
Courtesy Marisa Gunzenhauser
Blossburg continued from page 6
to the Patterson brothers for the initial find. As for who did the first digging, digging to sell, that is, David Clemons (sometimes seen as “Clemens”) seems to be the likely candidate. He reportedly began digging in Bear Run around 1812; Aaron Bloss also opened a vein in Bear Run around the same time. There is speculation that one or two of the German or English redemptioners, who perhaps were coal miners in their homelands before they crossed the Atlantic, may have also seen or dug some coal. Blossburg coal soon made a name for itself—locally, regionally, and beyond. Various coal companies came and went, as did the multitudes of businesses and industries that supported coal mining. The railroad between Blossburg and Corning opened in 1849, making it easier for coal, and people, to get from here to there. On August 29, 1871, just seventy-nine years after construction began on the Williamson Road, Blossburg was incorporated. Before and after that momentous date, Blossburg had, as did small towns everywhere in a growing country throughout the 1800s, its periods of prosperity and its times of troubles. There were fires. Reliance on “extractive industries” means booms and busts. There were banks, hotels, churches (even a synagogue!), assorted shops, post office, tannery, saw mill, silk mill, glass factory, blacksmith, and dry goods/grocery stores. There were a number of Past to present: schools, including the first one, built in 1835 at (from top) William B. the southern end of town on the river bank, then Wilson (an advocate one on Granger Street, one on North Williamson for miner’s rights) Road, and, in 1850, one called Union School, graces the cover of which was two stories and could accommodate the 1937 Old Home 200 students. Days program; Ward And though he was born in Scotland, the Manufacturing cast country’s very first secretary of labor, William B. a commemorative trivet for the Wilson (1862-1934), was a “Blossburg boy” for sesquicentennial most of his life, also a miner and an outspoken celebration. and tireless advocate for miners’ rights. He was, in fact, blacklisted by Tioga County when he was just twenty years old. Why? Because of his work on behalf of miners and his promotion of trade unions. Things that make you say “hmmm.”
(2) Courtesy Blossburg Borough
In Between Then and Now
At the borough office on Main Street, borough secretary Cheryl Bubacz admits she and Shane Nickerson, the mayor, are Blossburg history freaks. So, it’s a good place for somebody who is also interested in Blossburg history to poke around. One old newspaper clipping housed there describes a downtown fire in February of 1906 that may have been caused by spontaneous combustion in a bale of cotton. The lead story in the June 25, 1915, edition of the Blossburg Advertiser (safely ensconced in plexiglass) is “Beautiful Blossburg.” The borough is touted for its “many fine residences of modern style and considerable architectural beauty,” for its variety of businesses and opportunities for “manufacturing purposes,” and even for its dentistry. Dr. Howard S. Kiess, D.D.S., has “exceptionally fine dental equipment,” we’re told, and has “wisely adopted these painless methods of dentistry.” Thank heavens! In 1926, members of the Blossburg Chamber of Commerce visited the Ace Motorcycle Factory in town, where the motorcycles were assembled. Ace had had its beginnings in Philadelphia several
years earlier under the ownership of William G. Henderson, and was a precursor to the Indian motorcycle brand. In 1937, Island Park was the scene for the Old Home Days celebration. The official program book from that threeday event is dedicated to William B. Wilson, for whom American Legion Post No. 572 is named. Weekend activities included dancing at the park’s new pavilion; a softball game between “the old residents of Morris Run and Arnot,” with the winner to play Blossburg the following day, boxing matches between the guys working at the local CCC camps, band concerts, and National Guard demonstrations. The centennial celebration in 1971 included a ball with 500 guests, many in period costumes, and the presentation of “Ole King Coal”—a historical accounting of Blossburg in twelve episodes, with a cast of characters whose names you would recognize today if you’re lucky enough to have any familiarity with Blossburg folks. It looked as though it was a blast to be in, and must have been a joy to see. And, throughout almost all of the past nearly 100 years, Ward Manufacturing has been one of Blossburg’s cornerstones. The J.P. Ward who started it all was Joseph Patrick Ward (1885-1938), who had been in the foundry business in Elmira with his father and brothers. In 1924, following discussions with some Blossburg business leaders, he came to the borough, put up a couple of steel buildings, and began churning out an assortment of pipe fittings. It was hot, dirty, physical work, but it provided many, many area families with a livelihood—the economic impact on Blossburg and the county cannot be overstated. Today, as a subsidiary of Hitachi Metals, Ward employs several hundred, and its products, including the innovative WARDFLEX gas piping system, are sold all over the world. A Group of People… When you’re coming into Blossburg from the north on old Route 15, Blossburg Beverage Company is one of the first businesses you’ll see. It’s on the left at 334 North Williamson Road, and it’s a fun place, with all kinds of beers and See Blossburg on page 10
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Blossburg continued from page 9
wines and ciders to choose from. You don’t have to buy by the case, so that makes trying something new way less of a commitment. If you’re a fan of regional craft beer, this is the place to be; there are tastings, too, throughout the summer. “That’s worked out really well,” says owner John Martin. “It’s become sort of a social event, and has helped us move into the craft business.” John bought the business in 1976 from Jim Bogaczyk, noting he’s just the third owner since Prohibition ended in 1933. He grew up here, then, like so many others before him, moved away for school, for a career, for different/better opportunities. But, after the flood of 1972, Blossburg needed him. All it took was for a “town father” to call, he remembers, and “I was here” to oversee flood recovery operations. He’s still here. “Blossburg runs in our blood,” John says. “It just does.” Son Tim, who partners in the business with his dad, agrees. He came back, too, and remembers right after the move that his son got on his bike and rode over to the Island. All by himself. He hadn’t experienced that kind of freedom before. Tim’s on borough council. He laughs when I ask him how long. “Four or six years—I’ve lost track now.” He gets thoughtful and adds that “there always 10
seems to be a group of people who are there, keeping the town going,” He names a few, adding, “I’d like to think I’m part of that.” He says the town is constantly evolving, and “we push for that on council.” He thinks Blossburg seems to be “a new place for commuters,” with folks who work in places like Williamsport or Corning choosing Blossburg as their home. Drive on a little further, past some of those “many fine residences,” cross the river, and you’re downtown, where you’ll find the Farmer’s Table, across Main Street from the borough office. Owner Dave Crawley opened the restaurant in 2019 and says business, “generally speaking,” is good, although it was touch and go during the height of the COVID-19 shutdown. Blossburg came through for him, however. “ This community is a special community,” he says. “They knew they had to support it [the restaurant] during the pandemic, and they did.” An unexpected source of customers came from the Laurel Health Clinic across the street in the Riverside Plaza. Hungry pharmaceutical reps would want food for themselves, and they’d often buy lunch for the office. Since they couldn’t come into the restaurant, Dave would deliver; when the reps visited other Laurel Health clinics in the county, they’d call him and he’d deliver there, too.
Nature near: Blossburg offers recreation and natural beauty at Island Park.
“What a tremendous piece of business that turned out to be,” he says. He adds that the new electric car charging station in the borough has been a help, too, as people come in the Farmer’s Table and frequent the other shops in town while their vehicles are charging. Does Dave want to compete with himself? Maybe. He recently purchased a former office building, also across the street, and is in the process of renovating it into a pizza place. He bought a wood-fired brick oven (it came in a crate and has been assembled inside the building) and plans to offer not only pizza but subs, soft serve ice cream, and bakery goodies/desserts. From the Farmer’s Table it’s a straight shot to the borough building, where Cheryl Davis Bubacz, the history buff, has been borough secretary for a couple of years. She loves the job, and clearly also loves Blossburg—she’s lived here all her life. She remembers some of the businesses that aren’t around anymore—Alfred’s Hotel, Stash’s, Dipsy-Doodle—she remembers the library being on the corner, and hearing that there are two houses in town thought to be part of the Underground Railroad. “It was the typical small town,” Cheryl says of the Blossburg of her youth. “My dad was chief of police, so I didn’t do anything he didn’t know about before I got home.” See Blossburg on page 32
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Courtesy Stephanie DiCamillo
Repurposed life: facing an uncertain future, Stephanie DiCamillo decided to hit the road in her renovated van.
The Roads Less Traveled
Facing Loss and Finding Renewal in a Ram 1500 By Gayle Morrow
need to get some sealant on here,” says Stephanie DiCamillo, peering at the plumbing for what she calls the “baby hot water heater.” It’s tucked under a tiny sink/ island combo, which is installed a few feet behind the passenger seat of her Ram 1500 FWD Promaster. Behind the driver seat is a very short couch with a swiveling tabletop that’s big enough for a laptop or a table setting for one. Adjacent to that is a repurposed wooden filing cabinet, painted white, that holds a small refrigerator. There are storage drawers underneath—Stephanie hasn’t quite decided what to fill them with yet, but she’s got ideas and plenty of stuff to choose from. The back one-third of the van is a platform bed, with space underneath for tools, totes, maybe a bicycle, and probably an inflatable kayak. She calls that area “the garage.” When it’s time to move on, some people don’t mess around. They read the handwriting on the wall, get their
proverbial affairs in order, and they’re outta’ here. Stephanie seems to be that kind of person. As her twenty-eight year marriage was ending, as her children were mostly grown up and out of the house, and as her job as an English teacher at New Covenant Academy in Mansfield was eliminated and she was laid off, Stephanie’s wheels were turning, almost literally. She’d done her share of camping and traveling over the years and enjoyed it. Before she was laid off, she’d rented a camper and did some cruising around. “I just loved it,” she says, and that “gave me the idea to do summers.” But why just summers? With life changes looming, Stephanie was talking with a friend about what she might do postdivorce and recalls that “immediately, without thought, the words ‘travel in a van and teach on an Indian reservation’” came out. John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley was the seed, she muses, and the film Nomadland was one more nudge.
So, she began van shopping. It was January of this year, and she admits it was “really hard” to find what she was looking for close to home. Not that she was completely sure what she was looking for, but she knew she couldn’t go to California or Texas to test-drive vans, and she didn’t want to buy sight unseen. Then fortune, or perhaps it was one of the travel gods, smiled on her, and she found a “fully built-out” van, with all the basics covered, just a two-hour drive from her Mansfield home (interesting trivia—the guy she bought it from had been a finalist on “The Voice”). It typically takes a year, she says, to “build out from scratch,” and that kind of time commitment was not what she had planned for herself. The fact that this vehicle already had some of what she needed—like a solar power system (“I don’t really understand how the solar works, but it does,” Stephanie says with a grin.), a foot-operated water pump, some cabinetry, the bed platform, and that “everything is pretty new”—made the
(2) Courtesy Stephanie DiCamillo
purchase one of those no-brainers you hear people talk about. “There were changes I knew I wanted to make,” she says, including having a lower carbon footprint. To kind of test things out, she’s taken a few local-ish trips, what she calls “shake-down cruises.” Those “few trips to Lancaster, Pittsburgh, and Coudersport helped me realize the renovations I needed to undertake to suit my particular purposes.” For instance, she thought a working sink would be important, so she tweaked the water delivery system. “A lot of van lifers have the refrigerator on the floor, but I didn’t want that” she continues, thus the repurposed filing cabinet to make the height of the refrigerator more Stephaniefriendly. The overhead cupboards with doors that opened out looked like a recipe for constantly whacking her head, so she learned about something called a concealed hinge jig and redid the doors to suit her. An electrician friend helped with the complicated wiring. Stephanie repositioned the heavy-duty brackets that hold the bed platform, which meant she had to tear out some of the interior siding to see into what and exactly where she’d be screwing fasteners. It wouldn’t do to put holes in the side of the vehicle. “I can put stuff together,” she says. “I like working with my hands. Just being in my head and [working with] Renewed focus: technology—I’m over it.” She’s got a few more weeks before her self- (from top) Stephanie sits inside the van imposed deadline to hit the road for a year. During with original owner, that time, she plans to dispose of what she can’t take Austin Giorgio Yarton; with her, finish packing what she’s going to keep, renovations begin; and take care of “some projects around here.” There Stephanie holds one the last elements of is “home decorating stuff” the van still needs, and of the van project. then she must “figure out the plumbing.” She says she’ll camp in the van, or “stay in friends’ driveways” until it’s time to go. She thinks her official starting point will be Maine, and says she wants to “touch every state, spend one night in every state.” “My plan is to get in the van and drive,” Stephanie says. She wants to stay off the big highways, instead travelling on those back roads, seeing the places the interstates have bypassed. She wants to spend time studying Native American culture and writers before she tries to find work teaching. Oh, and she has to pick a name for her ride. Stephanie refers to the van as “she” but hasn’t made the final decision… Rocinante, in honor of Don Quixote’s horse, is one possibility. “The last day is coming and there is a lot to do,” she muses. “So many people have helped me. It takes some out-of-the-box thinking. I wasn’t alone doing this.” And even though she’ll be alone, on the road, in the van, she says that “every day, I look out the window and see it, and I don’t doubt my decision at all.” Follow Stephanie on her YouTube channel at Van Life Renews and on her blog at re-knew.life/.
Courtesy Debi Burch, Lycoming Arts
Love Letter to Billtown
How Williamsport Became a FFAT—First Friday Artistic Town City By Linda Roller
illed with music, theater, and art yearround, Williamsport has become a destination for people who love the arts, and a magnet for those who are artists in every medium. The downtown has several galleries, music flows from restaurants, and the streets themselves are the canvas. The parking areas are crowded as events are well attended at the Community Arts Center, and the art overflows into the streets every First Friday. It may seem like a town that has blossomed overnight, but in August, Lycoming Arts celebrates its sixtieth anniversary. And, as one of the
primary forces that changed the look of Williamsport forever, First Friday celebrates twenty years of art in the streets. It certainly didn’t look and feel like a town that had any art when I interviewed for a job at the old Williamsport Area Community College in 1981. At the same time, a young art instructor also moved to Williamsport to raise a family. Judy Olinsky was a woman always in love with art, and recently we talked about the 1980s in Williamsport, and how the initial appearance was a little deceiving. “The people were wonderful, but the
town was sad,” Judy says. “The art was there, but not ‘public’.” It was hidden, not seen in the streets, not widely advertised. The town was facing many challenges in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Arson was a presence. Several churches and many buildings burned, and the fear of older churches being torched led congregations to organize overnight sentries. Judy sums up what happened next. “In 1993, we were at a crossroads—whether our town was going to live…or die.” It sounds stark, but Judy was not the only See Billtown on page 16
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one who felt that Williamsport was on the brink. Years of policy by a state court system that believed drug offenders and addicts could be helped by removing them from cities to smaller towns—a fresh start—had resulted in a population large enough to attract the very dealers they had been sent here to escape. The big city problems of drugs, crime, and decaying neighborhoods threatened this little city. Longtime residents were looking to move. Balanced against that was a major investment in the downtown by the Pennsylvania College of Technology and by the Williamsport Foundation. The Foundation bought the old Capitol Theater and brought it back to former glory. By adding major upgrades in space and sound quality, the Foundation created a regional mecca for performing arts. The Community Arts Center opened in 1993. Then, “confronted with the loss of a ‘small town’ way of life, some of our citizens decided to do something,” Judy says. “We looked at the experiences of other towns in decline that had reclaimed their future. A large group came together on a Saturday
afternoon and asked the question, ‘What do we want to see in our future?’ We dreamed a little dream.” Luckily, there were many people dreaming, and there had been groups of people who had always believed in the power of art. The arts had long had a home in the area. “The music tradition in Williamsport was always strong,” Judy states. “And there was both a college performing art tradition and local theater.” Groups like the Repasz Band, Gesang Verein Harmonia, both founded in the 19th century, along with the Williamsport Symphony, and the strong programs in the Williamsport schools, had quietly made a fertile foundation for this dream. In 1960, a group of people from Lycoming College and the community met and recognized that the arts needed a voice in the area. With the founding of the Williamsport/Lycoming Arts Council in 1960, they began to “get the word out” about what was available here. Many of the founders were lifelong volunteers promoting art in the area. They loomed large in the Williamsport I eventually discovered under the gray exterior—Dorothy Maples,
Freddie Kisberg, Robert Bowers, Hugh MacMullan, and others. Debi Burch, now president of this organization (the afore-mentioned Lycoming Arts), added more names to my memory, including Eva Archer and Daphne Hill. It was all volunteer and operated on a volunteer organization’s budget. The Festivals of the Arts and the sponsoring of special exhibits were vital to the region. The work done cataloging and preserving the works of local 19th century still life painter Severin Roesen was nationally recognized. “The downtown businesses brought music into the restaurants,” says Debi Burch. “Places like Franco’s, DiSalvo’s, the Bullfrog, along with established restaurants like the Old Corner and the Herdic House—they made room for music and events and supported us. Because of these businesses, and the CAC, people came downtown in the evenings.” But how to take all this energy and transform a city? It takes cooperation and a plan. And there was a plan tailormade for this dream: the Main Street Program, a federal initiative to revitalize See Billtown on page 16
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communities. In 1994, “dreamers” Penny Vanderlin and Judy Olinsky had contacted Steven Capelli, who was then the Williamsport Community and Development Director. Getting the city government to support this initiative was an important component of bringing the town back. By 1997, the Main Street Committee was established as a sub-committee of City Council. It was a team effort. “Lycoming Arts was the ‘Chamber of Commerce’ for all the organizations,” Debi Burch adds. Lycoming Arts, in concert with foundations and government, began to write the grants and look for the kind of money that would take the vision out into the streets. By 2000, they were moving to a regional event, as Dale Wagner founded the Susquehanna Valley of the Arts. The result was an explosion of events. The Community Theatre League opened downtown in 1999. Within a year, the Uptown Music Collective was established and holding concerts in the city. The First Friday committee was established, culminating in the initial First Friday in March of 2001, under the umbrella of Lycoming Arts. It wasn’t long before First Friday asked muralist Michael Pilato to join us for a public art forum on murals and to create Lycoming County: Inspiration the Mural. Because the mural planned to show Williamsport’s history, many different groups became involved in funding its creation. The Chamber of Commerce and Our Towns: 2010 were lead partners in the mural project, and held a major fundraising party called Mural Madness where over $40,000 was raised. Suddenly, the art was on the streets, pouring out of businesses, and filling the downtown. Michael Pilato caught that energy. The result of this forum is the large mural next to the Bullfrog, and across from the Community Arts Center. Now, the art was on the street, for everyone, all the time. It was the mural and the energy in the city that led Mark Winkleman to buy the industrial complex west of the downtown district and create a space for artists and craft people to create—the Pajama Factory. 18
The women who worked on that project enjoyed the experience so much that they wished to continue having “fun with art.” That fun has become a committee in Lycoming Arts dedicated to supporting new public art, often created by Lycoming County artists-in-residence, and to promoting walking tours designed to view these local treasures. Galleries opened downtown, at first three student galleries, but followed by traditional galleries with shows and exhibitions. With the help of Lycoming Arts and the focus of First Fridays, the audience for galleries, shows in coffee houses, and just spending time with art became part of the Williamsport experience. The streets of Williamsport no longer looked boarded up. The downtown was alive, first with art in the windows, followed by retailers and others looking to serve the public that had returned. And the art doesn’t stay in the downtown or stay with established artists. “Lycoming Art is a three-legged stool,” Debi explains. It needs to travel. It does, through outreach. The “Only Love” mural, a forty-foot public art piece inspired by a Martin Luther King Jr. sermon, is a great example. In production throughout 2021, it’s been a collaboration between Williamsport Area High School art students via a grant the school district got from First Community Foundation Partnership. It will be installed at Firetree Place, a commercial building near the downtown, later this year. The pandemic brought First Friday, but it reopened in May of 2021. Shanin Dougherty and Beth Amanda, current chairs of First Friday, extend an invitation to the big anniversary celebration on August 6. Although every month of First Friday is different, with its own theme, this one is truly special. Fourth Street will be closed from Market to Hepburn, along with Pine Street. There will be vendors, exhibits, and live music, including a reunion of Clyde Frog—a group formed under the Uptown Music Collective. As Shanin says, “You never know what you’re going to find at First Friday.” But it’s a guarantee. It will be a party fit for a FFAT City!
Mountain Home contributor Linda Roller is a bookseller, appraiser, and writer in Avis, Pennsylvania.
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The Shot Heard Round the World
By Michael Capuzzo
n May, Mountain Home magazine, “Free as the Wind,” blew around the globe and made history. My wife Teresa, the editor and publisher, published the first full account of how five worldrenowned American doctors, led by professor and doctor Paul Marik of the Eastern Virginia Medical School and professor and doctor Pierre Kory, formerly of the University of Wisconsin-Madison medical school, discovered the steroid treatments that became the global standard for hospitalized COVID-19 care, then went on to discover the remarkable COVID-killing powers of the FDA-approved generic drug Ivermectin. They saved hundreds of thousands of people around the world, including a Buffalo grandmother whose miraculous recovery from COVID-19 was the subject of our May cover story, and risked their lives at the bedside saving thousands of “the sickest of the sick” COVID-19 patients in teaching hospitals around the U.S. I wrote the story “The Drug That Cracked Covid” after spending the pandemic following the heroic exploits of Dr. Marik, et al. for my next book. But instead of the Nobel Prize that should adorn the finest clinician-researchers of the pandemic—a group of the most published academic critical care doctor-researchers in the world—I’ve watched astonished as big pharma, big governments, big tech, and major media in every country have sought to destroy their reputations and destroy the sterling reputation of the extraordinarily safe, cheap, generic NobelPrize winning drug Ivermectin. Dr. Robert Malone, inventor of the m-RNA vaccine technology, says Ivermectin is safe and if universally distributed could achieve herd immunity and drive the SARS-Cov-2 virus extinct with or without vaccines. Dr. Kory says doctors around the world last week reported to him that Ivermectin is crushing the Delta variant everywhere. Let’s see a show of hands: Who thinks these should be news stories? Global reaction to the Mountain Home cover story has been remarkable. A Taipei doctor who directed one of the largest hospitals in Taiwan spent a week translating all 10,000 words—forty pages in a book—into Mandarin for Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China “to give our people and families the ability to fight for their lives.” The director of a Fortune 500 company in Poland translated it into Polish to give frightened doctors in his country the courage to use the safe, legal drug they have used without controversy for decades—until it outperformed vaccines at preventing and curing COVID-19 (see flccc.net) and threatened the myth that COVID-19 is an untreatable disease only vaccines can address. Dr. Satoshi Ōmura, one of the most renowned microbiologists in history and winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for discovering Ivermectin, sent word from Japan that he loved our story, and urged us to keep going. So we are. “We are not stopping,” Teresa says. “We’re starting a new publication to save lives and break the back of censorship worldwide.” And we need your help. My wife and I invite all Mountain Home readers to join us (while continuing to enjoy Mountain Home every month) in a new online publication called RESCUE that will be emailed free to your inbox several times a week from substack.com. RESCUE will do nothing but publish independent reporting, stories, and art on the world’s most brilliant COVID-19 doctorscientists and their most effective, scientifically proven life-saving treatments for prevention as well treatment of all stages of COVID-19.
These include the common anti-depressant fluvoxamine, vitamin D, melatonin, and other therapies suppressed by major media. RESCUE is also a global community of doctors who can help you find Ivermectin or save the life of a loved one with COVID-19, as well as nurses, Nobel Prize winning scientists, and thousands of people in every country leading a global health revolution to put patients first. Go to substack.com and search for RESCUE to sign up. And tell your friends and family and neighbors to sign up, too. For more information you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, here’s a small sample of what readers around the world had to say about the story: “Remarkable. Earth-shattering. I read your story twice. I always wanted to believe that the CDC, all of us, were invested in the Hippocratic Oath. But your story of five amazing doctors who care about nothing but saving human beings on planet Earth…has changed the way I look at my profession.” ~University of Pittsburgh Medical Center physician “EVERYONE MUST READ THIS!” ~Sign in the library in Ulysses, PA. (pop. 610) “Thank you for your beautifully written piece, “The Drug That Cracked COVID.” I found it very moving, and I thank God that you are spreading the word about Ivermectin…I remain astonished at how much of an uphill battle it has been…Early treatment saved my father’s life, who is 72 and has at least one co-morbidity. May many more follow in your footsteps.” ~Assistant professor of early Christian studies, Princeton Theological Seminary “I am sending you a donation. I want to reprint this and I plan to send the article to my local and Washington State Board of Health members, and anyone else I can think of…doctors, family members, friends, and community. I believe Michael’s work is the most important piece of journalism of our time.” ~Sonia Story, Chimacum, WA, occupational therapist “Fantastic piece. Thank you for writing this. Have shared on Twitter (very far from my normal posting lane); will be interesting to see if it is censored.” ~Misty MacDuffee, conservation biologist, British Columbia “This is sooooo well written and edited! Congrats on a great job. An underlying theme of your piece, and highlighted in a Kory Wednesday video, is the complete corruption of Big Pharma, Big Health Agency, Big Academic Medical Center and Big Media.” ~Former policy aid to Democratic Philadelphia Mayor and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell “I read ten thousand words without stopping…The wonderful story of Judy Smentkiewicz brings all the issues “to life.” I applaud you for the time and effort, and above all, your courage in writing her story.” ~University of Pittsburgh Medical Center surgeon
“A most informative, beautifully told story, terrific and masterful science writing. A big tip of the cap to Michael Capuzzo.” ~Member of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing “This is a phenomenal job of reporting...I’m vaccinated and comfortable about my health, but thanks for sharing this. I will remember Ivermectin if things go south again. It definitely should have received a better treatment from the national media.” ~Former writer and editor, The Tampa Tribun. “Congratulations, from Australia. I never write to journalists about their work, or comment on social media, but your epic story about Ivermectin had a huge impact on me. It provides me with yet more evidence of the devolution of our profession from the primacy of facts and reporting to the primacy of agendas and ideology.” ~Bestselling author in Australia, former editor and senior writer at the Sydney Morning Herald “I just finished reading your brilliant article! I write for a weekly newspaper in Texas, and in my 30-plus years of writing and marketing have never seen such excellent reporting. If not suppressed, your work is worthy of a Pulitzer. ~Kari Short, owner, Short Communications, Houston, Texas Thank you so much for your essay, “The Drug that Cracked Covid,” and profound thanks to your wife, Teresa (Banik Capuzzo), for publishing this breakthrough reportage in Mountain Home magazine. I am sharing the link with everyone I know…Thank you, again. Here’s to overcoming the barriers to truth. ~Adrian du Plessis, editor, J’Accuse News, Canada “The multi-layered piece that you all have put out is, I think, inestimably valuable as well as a very good read. It reminds me particularly of Rolling Stone’s investigative pieces from the early till late 1970s.” ~Don Paul, San Francisco and New Orleans poet, musician, author, and progressive activist “Thanks to you, your wife and daughter for the wonderful article “The Drug that Cracked Covid.” Hopefully, more will hear and we can all break free from the dream/nightmare that only pharma drug vaccines can keep us healthy. ~Sat Ganesha Khalsa, quality specialist, Yogi Tea, Eugene, Oregon “I was camping up in Pettecoat Junction along the Pine Creek Bike Trail. I picked up your magazine, Mountain Home, and my partner and I were riveted by your article…This is the information that is not being told. Journalists are not asking the questions and are not demanding answers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!” ~Interior designer, New Jersey “I live in a town near Venice, Italy, where I teach English (at Middle School). I came across your article when I watched a video on an Australian TV channel, speaking about “The drug that cracked Covid.” I’m here to ask your permission to translate it into Italian… ~Claudia Colladon
“It brings me to tears; the human suffering brought on by the cruel obstinance, malfeasance, and cowardice of those in power… We know of doctors who prescribed ivermectin who then have been made examples of, their licenses revoked, their reputations smeared, and their professional and social status obliterated…But I take heart in the ethical, brave doctors, research scientists, and journalists who do care and who will turn the tide. You are one of them. We are not alone. Your writing has already saved people; I’m sure of it.” ~Lori Tooker, San Francisco “I just watched Sky News Australia recommend your article. Thank you for sharing your insight. Great decision to publish. World-wide attention. Stay safe and God bless you both!” ~Peter Robinson, Switzerland “I received a link today from my daughter to your superb article from earlier this month on ivermectin. It was just infuriating to read of the self-serving alphabet agencies, their puppet masters (aka Big Pharma), the cowardly politicians and the obstinate medical “professionals” ignoring the most elite collection of researchers in the world. The research team members deserve the Nobel Prize. And you deserve a Pulitzer Prize. Thank you very much.” ~Fed Ex courier, Renton, WA “What a wonderful, thorough article you published. I live in Canada and am experiencing the many obstacles you illustrate.” ~Lynn Walton, Picton, Ontario “Finally ONE brave journalist who stands up against the mainstream dictatorship.” ~Gaston Maqueda, commercial and art photographer, Alberta Canadian Rockies “Thank you for voicing this so freely and openly! We appreciate this honesty! Hi from South Africa.” ~Wolf and Bhakta Peyerl “God bless a real journalist. I have been writing every major paper and TV station in Denmark since December. NOOOO response. It starts with ONE.” ~Guri Nordenskjold “This is a Watergate waiting to happen, doesn’t anyone care about human life anymore? Thank you brave journalist.” ~Barb Lacy “Thank you for speaking out. I pray journalists will listen to you to save our world by reporting truth instead of the lies they have reported for over a year. Please continue to speak out.” ~Dolores Walton “100s of thousands of lives could have been saved! My heart aches...Thank you for speaking out with honor and a conscience...a hero!” ~T. Shields
Kooky clan: (from left) Tony Vickio, Roc Menio, Lorraine Menio, Matthew Menio, and chef Steve Allen bring fresh seafood to Wakins Glen.
Hey, How’d They Get Fresh Seafood? Kookalaroc’s Brings The Ocean to Watkins Glen By Mike Cutillo
hen the opportunity arose for Lorraine and Roc Menio to open a new restaurant in their beloved Watkins Glen, they looked at themselves not as competitors in an already vibrant food scene but as collaborators. “The village had many authentic and longtime restaurants. They have great food, and they own that. We didn’t want to step in where somebody else has already been,” Lorraine says. “But Watkins Glen did not have a true seafood restaurant and that’s why we set out to develop one. If you’re going to be a restaurant, it should be something that nobody else has, so that we can add to the menu of the village. We wanted to give the community something that people have been asking for for a long time.” And so—since the May 29, 2020, opening of Kookalaroc’s Bar & Grill—this historic Steuben County village on the southern end of Seneca Lake has something 22
else besides its bucolic state park and its history of fast cars at Watkins Glen International. It has a place that serves fresh seafood. That is no easy feat, either, considering that the village is about 300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean. To provide the eatery’s seafood and to make sure, as cousin Tony Vickio says, it’s “the freshest of the fresh,” it’s not flown in or trucked in; Roc and son Matthew make the 7 ½-hour, 445-mile trip to Wellfleet, Massachusetts, every week or two. No, seriously. Nestled halfway between the tip and elbow of Cape Cod, Wellfleet was settled in 1650 and almost immediately became known for its seafood, especially its Wellfleet Oysters. “Roc and Matthew, they’re literally out on the boats in the ocean getting seafood,” Lorraine says. “They select the clams, the
oysters, lobsters, scallops. They are all handselected.” Then they haul them back to upstate New York where Kookalaroc’s chef Steve Allen turns them into dishes such as broiled oysters, raw clams on the half shell, peel-andeat shrimp in a shrimp boil, and his signature seafood platter. Now, what about that name? Is it some kind of exotic seafood dish? Steve, from Ithaca, has experience cooking in California and Hawaii. Is it Hawaiian, maybe, for oysters on the half-shell? Nope and nope. It is Roc’s nickname. “I worked construction all my life, and people would hire me to do their job, and I’d get it done way ahead of schedule,” he explains. “They’d say, ‘You’re nuts, you’re kooky.’ And then it became, ‘Here comes Kookalaroc.’ So, it went from kooky to Kookalaroc. People said, ‘If you ever own a See Seafod on page 24
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(2) Courtesy Kookalarock’s
bar or a restaurant, call it Kookalaroc.’” Of course, as so many of these stories go, there never was any plan to own a bar or a restaurant for the two locals. Roc retired about five years ago from his job as a union carpenter, and Lorraine has been in the hairdressing business for over forty years. She still has a salon across 11th Street from the bar and grill. When they decided to take the plunge (no seafood pun intended) into the food business a couple of years ago, they purchased the land at 107 11th Street—almost directly across Route 14 from Watkins Glen National Park and behind Smalley’s Garage, famous in the auto racing world—tore down another hair salon that had been there, and proceeded to build a massive fortyby-eighty-foot post-and-beam structure that reflects the ambiance of the wooden buildings at the state park. Roc did much of the work himself with the help of Matthew (his co-fish monger who also is a skilled welder), his brother Mark Menio, his brother-inlaw Dave Cherock, who died in February from COVID-19, and Vickio, the idea man who has run the self-proclaimed “World Famous Vickio Signs” shop in Watkins Glen for forty-nine years and provides comic relief (“I was here when they dug Seneca Lake,” he quips.). If you get the feeling that this is a true family affair—and that they love being around one another—you would be correct. The building itself is part of the allure and could double as a museum to Watkins’ racing lore. Roc and Matt Fresh fare: Kookalaroc’s built the circular bar, which can accommodate thirty offers the freshest of race fans; there are numerous TVs suspended by seafood from the oyster hangers Matt welded; and glass garage doors open beds of Massachusetts to an outdoor hand-built wood-and-stone bar with (top) and fishing for room for another sixty patrons. Race teams, such as seafood themselves (bottom, Matthew Menio Ferrari, have donated jackets and other memorabilia; shows off fresh lobsters). Matt incorporated shiny gears, bicycle, and car parts into the stair railings; the ceiling is adorned with other bikes, car parts, a large canoe, even an anchor. There’s also an autographed photo of Mickey Mantle hanging on one of the walls, not far from a framed memorial collage of the late Dave Cherock. Remember, too, that this is a bar and grill, so seafood alone would not cut it, especially for the numerous race fans who flock from all over. Steve says burgers are popular, as are Philly cheesesteaks and his macaroni and cheese. And yes, as you may expect from a restaurant run by a family named Menio, there is a selection of Italian specialties, too, including Steve’s homemade gnocchi and sauces. He also makes many of the desserts himself, including what Roc calls “the best cannoli on the East Coast.” So, bar and grill, seafood restaurant, great desserts, chicken barbecues, live music on weekends, happening vibe, family affair (they cater and even do breakfast benefits for charity): those are some words to describe a joint that goes by one very distinct word—Kookalaroc’s. “We absolutely never thought that we’d be on the other side of the counter,” Lorraine says. “But we have been completely blessed.”
As a journalist covering the Finger Lakes for over thirty-five years, Mike Cutillo digs seafood—or really any kind of food and drink—at the area’s various restaurants. Contact him at mcutillo1@rochester. rr.com.
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Great Cooks, Great Recipes And Corning’s Chef Brings You Some of Their Best By Cornelius O’Donnell
wonderful friend had a terrific way of describing those splatters and spots one can accumulate as you chomp through a breakfast, lunch, or dinner. She called them Meal Medals. And there are similar splotches you pick up while preparing meals, so I am a dyedin-the-linen believer in aprons. Over the years I’ve collected so many of these that I’m thinking of opening a shop and calling it Aprons Unlimited. Many of you know that I was the spokesperson for Corning’s line of kitchen products. Lately, I’ve been rereading some of the recipe booklets that I’d hand out to viewers who came to the cooking demos I’d do all over our country—and even in places like Japan, Australia, Canada, and the Philippines. Ah, the memories of working in makeshift kitchens in department stores… Those in-store demonstrations 26
were mostly devoted to seasonal favorites that were developed and rehearsed in the Corning test kitchens. I made so many of the same dishes so often I could chop, layer, stir, etc. and chat, all the while talking about product benefits. I was able to function on autopilot. One go-to source of recipes for me was James Beard, at the time probably the best known, along with Julia Child, American cooking professional. Jim Beard and the Good Cooks Promotion A bunch of us had a series of pow-wows to plan the advertising and promotion of the smooth-surface cooking ranges. One name of a possible spokesperson to lend a powerful endorsement for the new product was James Beard.Why? Because Jim was a big supporter of cooking with electricity rather than the more typical gas used by
cooking professionals. (A friend of mine once assisted Jim in his demos in Cleveland. A local food columnist commented that, “I assume you cook with gas, Mr. Beard.” “Only at the point of a gun,” replied Jim.) Once he was on board, Corning agreed to provide the appliances for the demos he gave to benefit non-profit organizations in addition to a series of television and print ads in which he was featured. At about the same time, Bert Wolf, later a successful TV host, devised a marketing scheme called “The Great Cooks,” involving eleven of the top food and wine professionals in the land, with Jim Beard as the star performer. Rochester’s Sibley’s was one of several U.S. department stores (including Bloomingdales in Manhattan,) to open a “Great Cooks Boutique,” a shop within the housewares section. It was filled See Memories on page 28
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with all manner of gadgets and tools endorsed by those eleven eminent cooks, chefs, and wine experts. I remember picking Wolf up at the Chemung County Airport when he flew from New York to present his ideas to the Corning executives. He appeared in an outfit topped by a mink poncho. Regardless, Corning agreed to help with the publication of the Great Cooks Cookbook. In it were full-page color photos of the recipes the cooks provided, with the food cooked in Corning pans. The Southern Living Show Each year the editors of Southern Living magazine presented a week-long trade show in a big auditorium in Charlotte, North Carolina. Corning was represented by a large booth, and a participation in a three-times-daily cooking class by yours truly in the hall’s demo kitchen. So off I flew to this rather grueling weeklong assignment. What made it even more nerve-racking was the gasoline shortage, then at its height. We needed a car to get from the hotel to the stores for supplies, and to the auditorium. There was no time for a long lineup at the pumps, so we were told to return the car when the fuel was low, and they would rent us a new one full of gas. After having seen how effective Jim Beard’s food program had been in Rochester, I asked for, and he gave me, permission to make the onion sandwiches, the main course (see below), and a lemon cream roll. As you might presume, I later made these things all over the country. I’d prepare the main course shortly after people gathered, and while it was in the oven making delicious aromas and enticing more people to hear my spiel, I’d present several cooking tips and finish making a dessert. It was a dramatic program, and we were able to award the food to a couple of attendees who had drawn lucky numbers. Sicilian Veal Roll W WHITE MOUNTAIN
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Using veal in a dish back then wasn’t as controversial as it is now. Make it with that meat or substitute skinned and boned chicken breast halves or braciole for the first layer of the recipe. You will need a source for good deli meats, but the end result is worth the effort. 3 large, very thin veal cutlets, from the leg, about 12x6 in. ¼ lb. salami ¼ lb. mortadella or bologna ¼ lb. prosciutto ¼ lb. Panko bread crumbs 2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and chopped (or rubbed through a microplane) Chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley 1-2 tsps. chopped fresh basil 5 or 6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and left whole Olive oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper 5 or 6 bacon slices 2 c. tomato sauce (canned or homemade) Leave veal cutlets in whole pieces. Pound veal very thin using a mallet (or even a small cast iron skillet). Use the smooth side in a “pound and slide” motion. Arrange slices side-by-side (the long sides adjoining) so they overlap slightly. Pound overlapping slices See Memories on page 31
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Memories continued from page 28
thoroughly to press them together. Arrange overlapping slices of salami on the veal. Top with rows of sliced mortadella, then with sliced prosciutto. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle surface of meat with bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, and basil. Down the center place a row of the hard-cooked eggs. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roll up very carefully as for jelly roll, making certain that eggs stay in place in center. (The crowd loved this.) Place the roll in a lightly greased glass baking dish and top with bacon. Place tomato sauce, with whole garlic cloves, over veal. Bake for 1 hour. Remove to a platter and slice or serve from the baking dish. This is also exceptionally good sliced cold or at cool room temperature. Perfect for these warm days. Simple Syllabub How about a simple and very summery dessert? Try this spooned over whatever fresh berries you can find. ¼ c. granulated sugar 4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice Grated rind of 1 lemon 6 Tbsp. dry white wine or dry vermouth 4 Tbsp. fine brandy 2 Tbsp. medium dry sherry 2 c. (1 pint) heavy cream ½ tsp. grated nutmeg (grate your own, it is better than the ‘
“dust” in those tins)
Combine all ingredients except cream and nutmeg in a ceramic or glass mixing bowl. Allow to stand for at least 2 hours. Strain into a clean 2-quart bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat at medium low, adding the cream slowly. When soft peaks form, add the grated nutmeg. Serve in small glass bowls over berries. A little goes a long way. It’s even better (the sauce) made a day ahead and stored, covered. Beard’s Most Famous Recipe What to have with a cool glass of Rosé or Prosecco? Try making Jim’s Onion Cocktail Sandwiches. Here’s how, and I echo his caution: “I warn you: you can’t make enough of these. Even non-onion types love them.” I have made these with red onion slices that I’ve soaked for an hour in ice water and then dried well in a dish towel. That smooths out the taste. With a biscuit cutter, cut very thin slices of firm white bread (Pepperidge Farm, for example) into circles about two inches in diameter. Spread each circle with a thin coating of mayonnaise— Hellman’s or your own. Peel sweet, mild onions. Slice very, very thin. I use a mandolin. Arrange a slice on one of the circles of bread, then top with another circle, mayo side down. Brush the edge of each little sandwich with mayo, then roll the edge in minced parsley. Arrange on a colorful plate. Top with a slightly damp linen towel if not serving immediately. Then watch them disappear…as I do now.
Chef, teacher, author, and award-winning columnist Cornelius O’Donnell lives in Horseheads, New York.
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Blossburg continued from page 10
She had younger siblings, and she’d take them to the Island, as “it was the place to be.” “It still kind of is,” she muses. She makes a quick phone call, and, shortly after, Mayor Shane Nickerson arrives. He’s been mayor almost eight years, he runs a construction company, and he and his wife, Jill, are 110 percent devoted to Blossburg and its residents. They’ve purchased downtown buildings and given them new life, started downtown businesses, and are part of that group of people Tim Martin mentioned earlier, the ones who keep the town going. One of Shane’s latest ventures is making skateboard decks (the part you stand on). There is a skate park on the Island, and Shane says his dream is to have a skateboard factory in Blossburg. He’s got some of the equipment already, and he even has a name: Mayor’s Skateboard Company. “The point is to make where you are the best you can be,” says Shane. That doesn’t mean you ignore the big problems you hear about, but that you do think local, because “lots of times it’s easier to make real change in a small community.” He credits the Blossburg community with having great volunteers, and acknowledges the residents’ strengths and tenacity. “There is a certain amount of grit and determination that comes with mining coal and pouring iron,” Shane states. “In Bloss, we argue about issues but at the end of the day we’re all pulling on the same rope in the same direction.” That direction is keeping downtown Blossburg alive. A little ways on past the borough building, on the opposite side of the street and adjacent to the Victoria Theatre, I find Tonya McNamara, a recently retired registered nurse and newly established as the proprietress of the Blossburg Company Store. She and her husband, Tom, and her father are responsible for purchasing the long-shuttered Victoria about a dozen years ago, then renovating and reviving it. It is a pleasure to see a film there, whether it’s a Hollywood production or one of our local documentaries. Blossburg Company Store, which opened in March, is a knitters’ paradise, with all kinds of yarns, knitting supplies and knitted products (cozy slippers, anyone?), classroom space, even sinks to wash wool. The McNamaras purchase of the building, which had been a restaurant for years and years, was another of those ventures undertaken by that group of people interested in keeping the town going. Tonya says she was concerned about it being empty, and since it was next to the theatre, maybe there could be some mutual use? Anyway, she and Tom bought it. It needed new windows, flooring, wiring, and plumbing; they exposed some of the amazing old interior architecture—the brick and the tin ceiling. Tonya admits she’s “always been kind of craft-y,” and says that in the 1980s, when knitting got popular, “I kind of picked it up.” She has Rosevillearea knitting/wool expert Kathy England helping as a “consulting partner,” and she hopes at some point to have a “signature brand” of yarn in the BCS. At the end of this block is Bloss Hardware. Owners Ivan and Rosemary Erway have been here since 2012; the store itself is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year. They carry everything you’d think a hardware store should, and then some. There are locally made products, like the handcrafted copper rose and the Pennsylvania-made wooden clothes drying rack, as well as shovels and nails and plumbing supplies. “We’re trying to make it look more like an old fashioned
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In the Middle of Everything Remember I said you’d hear from my granddaughter the graduate? Braydden Spencer has lived in Blossburg all her life. “I think it was a good experience,” she says. When I asked her what she liked about growing up here, she said she liked how everything was easily accessible. One of her friends lived just down the street by the school, and they could get together and hang out at the playground. Blossburg is very safe, she acknowledges, and “there are good places to eat, too!” “Everybody knows everybody,” Braydden continues, and agrees with a laugh, as Cheryl Bubacz did, that can be good and bad. “I like the small-town feel, but I personally like a little bigger city. It’s just your individual preference.” Braydden will be attending Salon Professional Academy in Altoona, but says that since Blossburg already has a salon [Beautifully Bliss], she’s not now planning to come back and open one here herself. You never know, however. As she observes, Blossburg seems to be, “like, in the middle of everything.” Sesquicentennial Celebration The festivities around Blossburg’s 150th anniversary are set for August 27 from 5 p.m. to midnight. Main Street will be closed so everyone can safely enjoy all the fun, including a DJ, bingo, cornhole, ping-pong, climbing wall, Keith Lindie (Blossburg’s late, beloved historian) films, food trucks, airbrush tattoos, birthday cake and cupcakes, volleyball, and more. From 8 p.m. to midnight, add bands, BYOB, T-shirt gun, glow sticks, and fireworks. If you’d like more information about this once-in-a-lifetime celebration and how you might be able to help make it the best birthday party ever, contact the borough office at (570) 638-2452.
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B A C K O F T H E M O U N TA I N
Supernatural Delight By Linda Stager
love standing out in the still of a dark night with my camera and tripod, trying to capture the night sky. On this August night, the full moon was clouded over, but I was still able to capture it and a smattering of stars in the upper sky. What a fantastic scene. Since the photo is taken at such a long exposure, the moving clouds give the photo a surreal look. This is one of my favorite views of Ives Run. It never gets old.
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