EwEind Fs R the
The Magic of Mooney’s Or, how Kevin McFall’s rocky path to success was paved with macaroni and cheese
By Gayle Morrow
Second Chances at Wellsboro’s Winter Fest At the Pajama Factory, a Valentine for the Ladies The Man Who Broke the Bank
Volume 12 Issue 2
The Magic of Mooney’s
By Gayle Morrow
A Divinely Feminine Event By Gayle Morrow
Turn Valentines’ Day sulking into igniting your spark.
It’s All About Second Chances
By Maggie Barnes
By Anne Lugg Alexander ...For animals, chocolates, and chili.
The Man Who Broke the Bank By Don Knaus
From prominence and pilferage...a story some towns tried to forget.
Or, how Kevin McFall’s rocky path to success was paved with macaroni and cheese.
12 Join the Club (and Pass the Pepper
By Cornelius O’Donnell Bringing singular thoughts to a collective kitchen. Cover by Tucker Worthington.
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Tag, you’re it: Steve Adams after Say cheese! Sharing a smidgeon of eternity another successful hunt. with his family, from left, Jada, Lucky, fiancée Amy, Kevin, and Jacob. 6
of Mooney’s Or, How Kevin McFall’s Rocky Path to Success was Paved with Macaroni and Cheese. By Gayle Morrow
o ya like bleu cheese?” “Uh, well, sure.” Actually, my fondness for bleu cheese has been a fairly recent development, relatively speaking, and I couldn’t reply as enthusiastically as I had minutes before when Kevin McFall had asked me if I was hungry, and would I like some macaroni and cheese. Yes and yes, I’d replied, and he had promptly procured a large container of, as the menu says, “our original cheddar cheese mac, topped with panko bread crumbs and baked” for me to take home. But I had a feeling I might be missing out on something yummy if I didn’t say yes to the bleu, so four little dishes of a thick and creamy bleu cheese multi-purpose dip (I used it later to make quesadillas—fabulous!) went into the to-go bag as well. It was the right decision. People find their callings in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of circumstances. For some, that path toward “what you’re supposed to be doing with your life” is a smooth, straight road, bathed in light and blessed with well-marked corners. For others the path is shadowy and circuitous. It can detour and it can dead-end. The signage, if there is any, may be outright lies. The path can, as was the case for Kevin McFall, lead you right under a rock. But, if you happen to be Kevin McFall, you crawl out from under that rock and then you own the rock pile. And then, you make your own path. Kevin owns and operates Mooney’s Sports Bar & Grill (not to be confused with a rock pile) at 64 West Market Street in Corning. He also owns seven other Mooney’s Sports Bar & Grill restaurants, all in the Buffalo area, and will be opening a ninth Mooney’s at the Arnot Mall in Horseheads. The Corning Mooney’s, open less than a year, is wildly popular. Who’d ’a’ thunk it? A restaurant whose claim to fame is macaroni and cheese? An owner who deems financial success as secondary to paying it forward, to “treating people right all the way around,” and to “getting back at an addiction that had control of me for so long”?
Let’s have a bit of backstory. Kevin today, in his Sabres jersey, his Titleist hat, sitting in his business, his direct and clear blue eyes not missing a trick as his restaurant comes to life around him (it’s almost lunch time), is not the Kevin who called Corning home thirty years ago. That Kevin was something of a bad boy. Trouble followed him, he followed trouble—it doesn’t matter now who was the leader. Suffice it to say it was a time of the path being a long, dark, roundabout route to an unsavory destination. He made it out, but barely. With the birth of his first son imminent, the Fates stepped in at a time when Kevin needed them most. The path took a slightly sunnier turn. “I have four kids, and it’s because of them I was able change,” he says. He credits the impending birth of the oldest child, seventeen-plus years ago, as the catalyst for that change. But, before that, he was a young man who grew up in the restaurant business, a young man who wasn’t particularly good at channeling his excessive energy in appropriate directions. A young man who, at one point, was left with not much but something to prove. “My whole life, people told me I couldn’t do something,” says Kevin. So his attitude evolved into “Ya know what? I’ll show you!” And since, he acknowledges, he already knew what to do to make a mess of his life—having an addictive personality ensured that—the time was right to do the opposite. A different reality. A better path. One that went toward something delicious. One that included macaroni and cheese. “If you’re gonna do something, make sure you’re the best at it,” Kevin says. And what was he going to do? He was going to open a restaurant, and he was going to do it in an area where he would have “lots of good competition.” “Western New York has good food—some of the best,” he says. Kevin had been living in the Buffalo area since he left Corning, and was intimately familiar with the food scene there. “I like to eat,” he admits, and he likes to eat good food, so he knew what he was up against. “And so if you can survive there…” Survive he did. See Mooney on page 8
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Good food; good people: Kevin believes one tip for success is to “...treat everyone right all the way around...” Mooney continued from page 7
The first Mooney’s (it’s a family name) opened in February of 2010 in Kenmore, a Buffalo suburb (the others, just in case you find yourself in that neck of the woods, are in Depew, Tonawanda, Lancaster, LeRoy, Akron, and West Seneca). He is a sports fan, so sports were incorporated into the bar, as were leprechauns. The Mooney’s leprechaun, with one hand balancing a cask over his shoulder and the other with a firm grip on a frothy mug of some libation or other, is, in fact, trademarked. Other storefronts followed; Kevin says he even opened two restaurants on the same day. “Nine out of ten restaurants fail,” says Kevin. “Mine don’t.” Lest you mistake his confidence for cockiness, read on. According to one dismal statistic, of the 42,000 new restaurants that open yearly, 50 percent will be closed by the end of their third year in operation. The reasons for that sad state of culinary affairs are many: location (location, location), poor management, an absentee owner (although sometimes one who does work in the restaurant can be a problem as well), an owner who never worked in a restaurant—front or back of the house—and now believes ownership has somehow automatically and magically conferred knowledge, an owner who can’t do all the jobs in the business, poor customer service (customers don’t always say what they don’t like about the service they did or did not receive—they just don’t come back), ignorance about food costs, too much money spent prior to opening, the wrong atmosphere, and—the death knell of all death knells—lousy food. The reason Mooney’s makes it happen and that place down the road doesn’t is due to several factors—but mostly it can be
welcome to attributed to hard work on the part of the employees (and that’s according to the owner), an owner who stays involved with all aspects of his business, and an owner who truly believes “greed will make you broke.” “The goal with Mooney’s is to give people what they deserve and do it at a price they can afford,” says Kevin. “Customer service and great food. If you’re gonna do something, make sure you’re the best at it. You’ve got to separate yourself from everyone else.” So let’s start with the food. Why did he choose something as, well, ordinary, as macaroni and cheese to be the thing separating him from other restaurateurs? “Why not?” counters the self-proclaimed king of macaroni and cheese. “Cheese in anything is good.“ How secret is the recipe? Fairly. “I knew I wanted a béchamel and garlic,” Kevin says, but doesn’t divulge what else (other than cheeses) is in the sauce. My palate caught a hint of mustard, but it could have been my imagination. You’ll have to try some yourself to test your ability to discern the mysteries of Mooney’s Original. By the way, bechamel, in case you wondered, is a white sauce that is the basis for a plethora of delicious creations. A basic béchamel begins with melted butter and then flour, gently whisked in to make a roux. Milk comes next, and then seasonings—nutmeg is popular, adding a subtle, sometimes hard-to-pinpoint flavor. Bechamel is named for Louis de Bechamel, a French financier who was chief steward to King Louis XIV. Some sources give the king credit for first coming up with the sauce; others say a Bechamel-like sauce first appeared in Italian cookbooks in the Renaissance era. But no matter. Kevin approached three chefs with his béchamel base plan and asked them each to create a sauce. He picked his favorite—the taste testing was a hardship, but someone had to do it—then, he says, “I tweaked it.” The end result was a macaroni and cheese masterpiece that appears on the Mooney’s menu in sixteen different incarnations. The version with lobster seems to be one that is rather popular. Kevin says the Kenny Pow Supreme mac’n cheese is named for a friend who died—a man who had helped him with the building and in myriad other ways. So, a portion of all K.P. Supremes sold will be donated to help put both his children through college. So with more than one storefront, and a penchant for consistency, how does Kevin ensure the made-to-order macaroni and cheese is as delicious here as it is there (and vice versa, of course)? “It’s a process—I make it a very easy system.” He touches briefly on portion control and how much of this goes in the pan in relation to how much of that. He is emphatic about using fresh food. “Fresh is best. I would never sacrifice quality for quantity. It’s not frozen. It’s not microwaved. It’s not out of a bag. You’ve gotta have consistency in this business.” This business. That brings us to the part of running a restaurant that is, perhaps, less artistic than creating a beautifully plated panko-crusted haddock or a Buffalo chicken wrap served with some of that amazing bleu cheese (Mooney’s has a large menu and it’s not all macaroni and cheese—not that there would be anything wrong with that). The business end means not making See Mooney on page 10
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Mooney continued from page 9
the mistakes the other guys make. The business end means charging enough for your product to keep the doors open and make a living, but not so much that greed takes over. “Man made money; money doesn’t make the man,” Kevin affirms. He is, of course, not opposed to making a buck. However, for him there is value of a different kind when he sees that smile on a customer’s face as he or she prepares to tuck in to a plateful of steaming, creamy macaroni and cheese. “It’s not about the money,” he states again. What it is about is the customer (“win a customer’s stomach and you’ve got a customer for life”) and the employees. “I grew up in the restaurant business,” he says, and says, too, that he believes he can completely empathize with his employees. “I’m them,” he says. “You’ve gotta treat everyone right all the way around— customers and employees. I respect my employees. That’s what Mooney’s is: good food and good people.” And two final let’s-not-forget-these: the work ethic and the atmosphere. The Blues Brothers leaping out from the funny leprechaun logo, (Jake/ John Belushi was Kevin’s favorite), the wooden tables and chairs, the eclectic assortment of sports pictures and memorabilia (who knows where else you might find a photo of the late, great Muhammed Ali with the Beatles) all help create a fun, comfortable, and homey place to enjoy a meal and a cold one. Plus, it’s family-friendly, so no worries about bringing the kids along. As for that work ethic—Kevin says with no reservation that he loves to work. “I like to stay busy, to channel my energy. I’m up from six in the morning until midnight.” So there you have it. A recipe for success that includes a nice béchamel and a bit of philosophy. “We’re here for a smidgeon of eternity,” Kevin muses. “Share the wealth. Pay it forward.” And eat some good food while you’re at it.
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It’s All About Second Chances ...For Animals, Chocolates, and Chili By Anne Alexander
ebruary is ideal chili weather in the Twin Tiers, but February weather is not so great if you are a dog or a cat without a home. During the annual Wellsboro Winter Celebration, chili fans will have an opportunity to help animals in need, sample an eclectic assortment of chilies, and have a chance to win a basket full of chocolate-themed goodies.
How does that all work? Second Chance Animal Sanctuaries is again hosting the “Chili with a Chance for Chocolate” slice of the Winter Celebration on Saturday, February 18, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at businesses up and down Main Street. Tasters purchase a chili-tasting passport, the proceeds of which benefit Second Chance. That passport, which is just five dollars,
and can be purchased in advance from the Wellsboro Area Chamber of Commerce and at Penn Oak Realty on the day of the event, allows them to sample each culinary masterpiece being offered at all of the participating businesses. The passport also serves as a voting ballot, with check boxes for the tasters to select their top three favorite chili creations. See Second Chances on page 15
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Second Chances continued from page 12
For the sweet end of this gastronomic affair, each chili merchant location will have a basket of chocolate treats just waiting to be won—and every passport holder may enter into each location’s basket drawing. The event will culminate in the drawing of the chocolate basket winners, and the announcement of which chilies were deemed, by popular vote, as the favorites. Funded exclusively through donations, and staffed entirely by volunteers, Second Chance is the realization of a dream that began for Sue Cook in 2000, when she and her daughter volunteered at Best Friends animal shelter in Utah. She decided, after two seasons of volunteering out West, to actively pursue the creation of a similar organization of her own. She brought her ambitions home to Tioga County, where some animalloving friends who shared her vision collaborated to rescue stray and abandoned companion animals. Eventually, the organization received a gift of land for a home base. A variety of ongoing fund-raisers, coupled with monetary bequests from local philanthropists who believed in Sue’s dream, at long last facilitated construction of the Heading Home Center on 725 Gee Road in Middlebury Township. Second Chance officially opened the doors of its new building in September of 2016. Inside the bright and warm Heading Home Center, Sue and Jim Howe welcome visitors. Cats of all sizes lounge in one of two furnished cat colony rooms, while kittens and new mothers enjoy solitude in the nursery. Dogs stay in individual kennels with radiant heated floors. They have access to the outdoors, and volunteers walk and play with them several times a day. Above the interior walls, a wire tunnel catwalk spans a portion of the building’s framework, allowing cats to freely wander atop the wall. Jim, who is the current president of Second Chance, explains a concept mosaic sketched on the wall near the front door. Donors sponsor or adopt small memorial tiles, he says. Once enough tiles have been adopted, they will be set in place to reveal an eight-foot by eight-foot “Voices Mural.” Stray and abandoned animals brought to the shelter are checked for health and temperament, and treated accordingly. Prospective and lost pets are photographed and featured on the group’s Facebook page, as well as on PetFinder.com. Besides taking in wayward or abandoned pets, Second Chance offers several assistance programs designed to help keep pets in their homes. Dog licenses are for sale at Heading Home, and the organization provides educational outreach programs and an annual low-cost rabies clinic. Second Chance relies solely on the community for donations, so involvement with the public is vital to them. Sue and Jim and everyone in the Second Chance family welcome guests to the Heading Home Center, and are always looking for volunteers of all kinds to work with the animals and help with building projects and fundraisers. Their vision is to make a difference for animals—and all life—through example, advocacy, and outreach. So how do you like your chili? How about with a side of chocolate and a chance to help the animals? Anne Lugg Alexander has degrees in welding and biology and has worked in in fabrication, organismal biology, and education. She is currently raising an eighth generation Tioga County native on the family homestead near Cowanesque Lake.
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A Divinely Feminine Event Turn Valentine’s Day Sulking Into Igniting Your Spark By Gayle Morrow
f, for one reason or another (and it’s okay if you don’t want to mention his name), you’re feeling a bit left out of the whole Valentine’s Day thing, it may be a great time to consider options other than bingeing on those discounted chocolates in the cardboard heart boxes. It may be time to go “bellesque.” It may be time to go to Clearstory in the Pajama Factory complex at 1307 Park Avenue, Williamsport, on February 18
and enjoy a day of “Lady Love: A Divinely Feminine Event to Ignite Your Spark.” Lady Love is the brainchild of Ravyn Lunatique, owner of Bawdy and Soul Studio at 1063 West Fourth Street, also in Williamsport, and a teacher of belly dance/ burlesque (bellesque), and Lisa Andrus, Andrus Hospitality LLC, coordinator for the use of the Clearstory space. It will be a day of workshops focused on—you guessed it—the ladies.
“If you’re single, you may be thinking ‘here’s another day that doesn’t belong to me,’ or maybe your boyfriend forgot Valentine’s Day,” says Ravyn. Or maybe that’s not the case at all. Maybe you just want to learn to belly dance. Perhaps your spiritual self needs a bit of R&R. And it could certainly be possible that your latent burlesque abilities are just now ready to manifest themselves. Let ’em!
“I think when women choose to do burlesque, they think of it as classy stripping,” explains Ravyn. She has a little gentler take on it, at least for beginners. “It is really for your inner little girl, to feel pretty and fancy and say ‘look at me.’” She adds that “exploring your sexy options” is a good thing to do after Valentine’s Day. When you think burlesque, what might come to mind are ladies like Mae West and Gypsy Rose Lee and Blaze Starr, dripping in camp and draped in not much more than colorful feather boas. Burlesque is properly defined as a literary, dramatic, or musical work intended to cause laughter by poking fun at, or caricaturing, the manner or spirit of a serious work. It is a kind of performance art that can include stripping, or not, but definitely does include theatre, comedy, satire, music, and the somewhat nebulous “adult entertainment.” “A burlesque performer is displaying her version of sexy, whatever it may be, and the audience can either take it or leave it,” Ravyn says. Ravyn started doing burlesque about six years ago and has been teaching it for almost as long. The belly dancing came a little later—at a time when she was contemplating a burlesque performance and was just a tad anxious about the prospect of being relatively unclothed in front of strangers and wanted to drop a few pounds. She took a belly dancing class and a couple of workshops and was hooked. She had an affinity for the movements and found that she was able to take the dance and “break it down and teach it.” “Both belly dancing and burlesque are treasures for the modern woman,” Ravyn affirms. “Both help you be accepting of your body. Burlesque takes the distinctly feminine movements of belly dancing…and makes them bigger and more sensual.” The two forms of dancing, she says, “have been the dual yet parallel roads that have ultimately led me back to myself.” Intrigued? Then set aside 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 18 to pamper yourself at the Divinely Feminine Event. It’s just five dollars to get in and five dollars for each workshop, all offered in an amazing location (www.pajamafactory.net). Ravyn describes the venue as a “super beautiful space.” “It’s open, airy, with lots of windows, and a serene feeling. It is very spa-like.” Lisa Andrus says there will be at least ten vendors on site, including Medusa Inc., Divinity Qi, and Strangeheart Studio. Real Life Catering, a food truck, and Life’s Flavors, a new catering endeavor based in the Williamsport Community Kitchen, also sited at the Pajama Factory, will be on hand to take care of the body-nourishment part of the day. The Pajama Factory complex was built between 1883 and 1919 by Lycoming Rubber Company. Various companies have used the space in the ensuing years, including its namesake, the Weldon Pajama Factory. Mark and Suzanne Winkleman purchased the buildings in 2008; their plan has been to establish a space for a creative community. Watch for more classes with Ravyn (www.ravynlunatique. com) at Clearstory; contact Lisa (www.andrushospitality.com) for more information about what’s available at the Pajama Factory.
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n a chilly winter day, with stainless steel-colored skies hanging over the Gaffer District, the warmth of Wooly Minded, at 91 East Market Street, is enough to fog your glasses. Maybe it’s the stacks of yarn in every hue imaginable, already giving off the cozy feel of the sweaters, scarves, and socks they will become. Maybe it’s the charming English accent and sparkling eyes of owner Jean Gray. Or maybe it’s the laughter of the circle of ladies around a table near the window, chatting easily while they knit. Asked about why they come to Wooly Minded and the answers have their own common thread. “Comfortable.” “Encouraging.” “Supportive, regardless of your ability.” Jean, who is indeed a native of England, opened the shop nine years ago with the defined goal of offering an alternative to big box store craft supplies. She wanted to stock higher quality yarn and pair it with the kind of expert advice a true neighborhood business can provide. The result is a real community of crafters who share project ideas to help each other out. As the holidays approach, the window-side table fills up with crocheted snowflakes and knitted miniature stockings. Several times a year
the store orchestrates the making of baby items for hospitals or warming shawls for a domestic violence shelter. Jean oversees the work like a cheerleader, and steps in whenever needed. Doing so has provided her with special moments she will remember forever. “An elderly lady came in with an afghan that her late mother had started, but never finished. I helped her complete it. It made me feel good to know that family story will live on in that blanket,” she smiles. Wooly Minded (www.woolyminded. com) offers classes year-round, with Jean working up schedules for each quarter and deciding what to teach via an effective, albeit low-tech, system. “I ask them,” she laughs. “I come right out and ask my customers what they want to learn. Some classes fill up, others don’t. That tells me what I should offer again and what I should drop.” Jean’s customers run the age gamut from seven to seventy. That range bodes well for the future. “Even Millennials have gotten the bug. Knit and crochet are social happenings now, not solitary endeavors. It’s been on the upswing for fifteen years. I don’t see that ending.” ~ Maggie Barnes
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The Man Who Broke the Bank
From Prominence to Pilferage...A Story Some Towns Tried to Forget By Don Knaus
t would have been a perfect Hollywood ending. The handsome young man heard the sheriff pounding on the door of his posh home in a classy neighborhood of Philadelphia. The jig was up. Face filled with fear, his eyes were the size of his fine china saucers. His trembling hand reached for the pistol in the bureau. He took a deep breath and raised the handgun to his head. Then, he calmly placed the barrel into his mouth and squeezed the
trigger. If only that fatal shot were the end. The real end to the story would be a bigger mess than the brains splattered on the bedroom wall. • A personable and charming young chap had arrived in a small town along the newly formed “Pennsylvania State Road” in 1836. He landed with not much more than a pretty bride and child in tow. The
dashing dandy took Towanda by storm. Within months he had convinced some well-heeled prosperous people to invest in a bank. They were so pleased with his idea that he was named to the board of the bank, given shares, and named Cashier of the Bank of Towanda. The young man went by the moniker John P. Boyd. Folks assumed that he was a close relative, maybe even the son, of the See Bank on page 23
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Bank continued from page 20
few houses, and the town looked very much like an army camp. Most of the inhabitants were living in tents. Some folks were starting to build homes but most Blossburg residents at the time were young single men hoping to find work in the coal mines, lumber yards or foundry. From his very responsible cashier’s position, he convinced the Towanda Bank board that he could secure better lending rates from the big banks in Philadelphia. He established himself in that city and the bank funneled fortunes to him. It took some time for the bank to recognize that their dollars had simply disappeared.” He still, however, secretly continued his fraudulent issues of Towanda relief notes in Philadelphia, until a short time previous to the tragic close of his career…. Previously to his late dismissal as the cashier of the bank, it was ascertained that he had, as the signing officer of the relief issues of that bank, put out some thousands of dollars on his own account. The Penn Township Bank, one of the losers by this fraudulent issue, and by some of his other transactions, had commenced a suit against him…” The police in Philadelphia were alerted and, as the police were about to arrest him, Boyd committed suicide. Investigations disclosed that Boyd was known in the City of Brotherly Love as Henry Seymour. It was stated that “Henry Seymour represented himself as a drover having large transactions with the interior counties, and often spoke of his intimate friend in Covington, Mr. John G. Boyd.” The account continues, “About two years since, he had married an interesting young lady at Trenton, New Jersey, and was keeping house with her at the time of his suicide in Philadelphia. He had furnished this house splendidly; had settled upon his wife a farm near Germantown, worth about $8,000, and had made many munificent presents to her relatives. But it appears that all this time he had another wife, a most estimable lady, at Covington, Tioga Co., by whom he had several children, and with whom he was living on most affectionate terms, whenever his business called him to that vicinity…So adroitly was the deception maintained, that neither of these unfortunate ladies ever suspected the least impropriety in his conduct, or alienation of his affections.”
Courtesy: Richard Trotta
famed Col. John P. Boyd, the hero of Tippecanoe. The famous Boyd was the second in command who saved William Henry Harrison’s bacon; was the soldier who was promoted to general in the War of 1812. When asked if he were related, Boyd simply flashed an enigmatic smile. Folks took that as gospel. So who was Boyd? He cut a handsome figure and the locals loved him. His presentation to the public exuded an assurance in his capabilities. Nobody was really sure of his background but the newcomer was impressive. To quote an early history,” Mr. Boyd had come…to Tioga and Bradford counties some three or four years since. He was a man of about 35 years of age, with a gentlemanly, but plain and business-like exterior, exhibiting extraordinary tact and readiness in matters of business, and a good degree of common sense, apparently, in the management of his enterprises. Although comparatively a stranger, so plausible was his address that he soon gained the confidence of wealthy men, who entrusted him with means to enter largely into the lumber business, and afterwards into the iron business, and coal land speculations in Tioga County.” He was a loving family man with a wife and children. He persuaded many to invest in his manufacturing and business ventures.”He had several large mills near Covington, a furnace at Blossburg, and was engaged in many of the most prominent schemes for improving these two places.” He teamed with S. S. Cleaver and L. C. Levalley to purchase the tannery in Covington. Boyd and Cleaver operated a huge lumber firm in Covington. In 1841, John G. Boyd built a grand hotel in Blossburg, the Seymour House. Everyone assumed that it was named in honor of Horatio Seymour, an early incorporator of the town. Seymour had just launched a political and business career and he would be thrice elected governor of New York and be the Democrat standard bearer in the presidential election in 1868 won handily by Civil War hero Ulysses Grant. Later evidence surfaced that had some folks speculating that the large inn across from the railroad depot was, in fact, named after Mr. Boyd’s alter ego. An early history details the seeming incongruity of the hotel taking up most of a block. The railroad had barely arrived, there were
See Bank on page 26
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ebruary has the feeling of a holding pattern. Some winter is behind us; some winter is still ahead. There are days for getting out and playing in the cold and snow and ice; there are days that the best strategy is to hunker down around the wood stoveâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;or the round bale feeder. In February, bridges are waiting to be crossed, silos are waiting to be filled, church bells are waiting to toll. Background courtesy Mia Lisa Anderson
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Bank continued from page 23
Towanda, Covington and Blossburg were shocked by the revelation of Boyd’s secret life and subsequent suicide. The extensive lumber establishment of Boyd & Cleaver carried on without him. His tannery was closed and the building used for the post office. His foundry in Covington was abandoned; the foundry in Blossburg was taken by his creditors. Others took over his coal interests in Blossburg with many investors losing out. Within the year, the Towanda Bank failed. Boyd was investigated post-mortem. The charges included fraud, theft, and bribing elected officials including a U. S. senator and Governor Porter, both Democrats. The revelations about him led the state legislature to set up a committee to investigate charges of bribery and corruption by the U. S. Bank. The bank had “furnished some $130,000 (well over three million today) to effect legislation to their benefit.” Boyd had assured the bank that he could bribe officials. The most noted locally was State Senator Robert P. Fleming of Williamsport. Hearings were held in the state capital and everyone was exonerated. It was determined that Boyd never knew Fleming or the other men he stated he could bribe. In fact, he pocketed the bribe money. Of course the Democrats blamed their political rivals the Whigs, for suggesting that Democrat law-makers were guilty of accepting bribes. They launched the investigation, found no wrongdoing by their colleagues and then vilified Boyd. The official report labeled him “an infernal scoundrel…a miscreant who could blast forever the reputation of a man…even Whiggery dare not do it.” In Tioga County alone, his holdings were massive. The Orphans’ Court set up auctions of his possessions at the behest of creditors. The sale required four auctions, one in February, two in May of and one in September of 1843. Up for auction in February were: a house and barn in Lawrenceville; a tannery; half interest in a lumber concern that included all saws, running gears, and water rights; a hotel; a tavern; more than 330 acres in Covington and Richmond Townships, along with six houses, five barns, several orchards, woodsheds, shops, carriage houses, and livestock. Later auctions of Boyd’s holdings included: one-fourth interest in 210 town lots in Blossburg, one-eighth interest in thirty-eight town lots in Blossburg in forty-four assorted blocks, as well as the entirety of Block 16, an iron furnace, a three-story hotel (The Seymour House), and more. Prominent New York investors lost fortunes. Locals were so embarrassed that Boyd had scammed them that it took several years to rebuild the communities of Covington and Blossburg. Towanda felt pain, too. His fraud executed on the Towanda Bank caused his name to be lost to history. So dastardly were his deeds, the powers that held sway in the area refused to allow his name to even be mentioned in Bradsby’s, A History of Bradford County. Boyd is barely mentioned in the 1883 and 1897 editions of History of Tioga County, and there is no reference to his illicit dealings. His was a “chapter” best forgotten. Retired teacher, principal, coach, and life-long sportsman Don Knaus is an award-winning outdoor writer and author of Of Woods and Wild Things, a collection of short stories on hunting, fishing, and the outdoors.
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Join the Club (and Pass the Pepper) Bringing Singular Thoughts to a Collective Kitchen By Cornelius O’Donnell
hen I first came to work in the Southern Tier (1963, in fact) there weren’t very many good, innovative restaurants around. (I remember two okay places). And that, my friends, is the understatement of the year! And for singles there wasn’t much to do. Oh, there were the Friday evenings at the bar in Corning’s Baron Steuben Hotel. And I joined a ski club. Now let’s see, what else? In desperation, a few of us took up cooking at home. Why not share our prowess or disasters with others? We decided to jazz things up a bit and make a “group meal each month.” After all, the area has some great wine, so why not cook some good things to go with it? The Singular Gourmet “Yes,” I say immodestly, “I came up with that name,” and 28
early on there might have been about twelve of us. Singular meant we were single. We added and subtracted members based on newcomers, folks who heard about us, or when members were promoted out of the area or simply lost interest. (I might add that at least a couple of marriages came out of this.) The idea was that someone was “it”—a.k.a. “the host”—for the month, and we planned a year ahead. We were a pretty “with it” group—well traveled, or at least well read. This host-of-the-month picked a cuisine, and researched the recipes that would work with the main course the host provided. These could be sides, desserts, or drinks. Members would volunteer, alone or with other members, to make the recipes the host had copied on the office Xerox machines. The date would be decided on, and off we went.
Sometimes the theme would be based on the ethnic background of the host, or simply food that he or she enjoyed cooking or eating. Often, family dishes dominated, and phone calls to parents, grandparents, or cousins, etc., would produce the menu for the evening. We did all sorts of things. I remember some of the settings: a picnic at the polo field in deepest Big Flats/ Horseheads, the women decked out in wide-brimmed straw hats fit for Ascot. Another picnic was at the boat launch on the east side of Seneca. We did a barbeque on the shores of Keuka Lake another time. We changed the way we picked a host. We put the names of members in a hat and drew the names for each month. My turn came up. I recall it was mid-winter, so I opted to do a lamb dish. (I’d given up trying to find lamb on local bistro menus.) I Go to Pot On my next visit to a housewares store I picked up a couscousier, and I still have this bit of kitchen bling. I must have read about it in a cookbook or magazine. It’s two roundish pots with a cover that fits the top or bottom pot. It may be aluminum, stainless, ceramic, or pricey copper. The top pot has colander-like holes on the bottom and this fits over a similarly-shaped pot. The idea is to add raw couscous to the perforated top pot and place it over a stew, fragrant with Moroccan spices that flavor the tiny precooked pasta. The pan is also great for steaming vegetables or chicken thighs or fish, etc. Is the pot necessary? Frankly, no, but it was a not-tooexpensive conversation starter and just exotic enough to make the gathering memorable. The food tasted great, and, fortunately, testing the recipe, I had another batch of the dish in the ’fridge that we reheated. There wasn’t a cooked couscous bit left. These days you’ll find an assortment of this kind of pot for sale online, along with recipes. I also played bridge with a prof from Corning Community College and another couple from the college. She cooked one week, I cooked another. That was a challenge, because we were both working, so we had to plan menus that came together quickly. Another challenge: one of the profs was allergic to shellfish and chicken. I remember his chiding me for cooking sausage. It was a small version of a “culinary club” but lots of fun. More Ways to Organize In checking the Internet for ideas for “cooking clubs,” I came across a fascinating site I never knew existed. It’s called “Meetup,“ and all I can say is “How long has this been going on?” I went to the site and was blown away, as they say, as it includes hundreds of topics that you can investigate. I clicked on “Book Clubs,” where you can narrow your search for soul mates to sites like “Coffee and Books,” “Classic Books,” “Novels,” and more. “Career and Business” has extensive sub-topics and there’s “Cars & Motorcycles,” “Dancing” (of all kinds), and even “Gourmet Cooking.” “Cooking and Dinner Parties” and “Cooking Classes” are listed and include “Vegan Pot Luck” and “Vegetarian.” By the way, there is a local club for the former listed when you type in local zip codes. Back to Reality Let’s face it, it may take a while to assemble a group to cook See Join the Club on page 30
Join the Club continued from page 29
and share. It requires talking to friends, shop owners, local chefs, even farmers with seasonal stands who, themselves, may not enjoy gabbing about cooking but who know someone who does. In turn, these folks may know others who’d be good prospects. At a preliminary meeting (figure out whether to hold it at a home or restaurant and the timing, etc.) come up with some guidelines. Do you want a sort of potluck and have folks bring what they feel like cooking and sharing? Sure, you may have three macaroni and cheeses—I’ve been to more than one potluck when this happened—but who cares? After all, the idea is to enjoy the company of friends old and new as well as the food. There are professional cooking classes around town, especially those in Corning this winter/spring. Go to the Internet and type in www.171cedararts.org and click on “Culinary.” The people who attend are good prospects for your group. BOCES is another good source. What’s Next? Okay, you have some interested people, now what do you do? Again, I went to the Internet and there it was—a plan for the first meeting of your new culinary crowd. Here are some of the topics for discussion I found: 1. Decide on a meeting date. It’s best if you can identify “first Monday of the month,” for instance. 2. What’s your theme? Is it baking, party or family cooking, ethnic emphasis? If it’s the latter, try to get a list of these desired cuisines and a source for ingredients that may be hard to find. Perhaps it’s preserving foods or making preserves. Maybe it’s candy making. Cooking with herbs and spices is a surefire hit, especially if those herbs and spices are a bit exotic. 3. Will participants be bringing a dish to taste and talk about, or ingredients and recipes to cook on site? 4. Discuss funding for expensive ingredients. 5. A personal favorite idea: book club meets cooking club. The host chooses a cookery book, new or older, and each member reads the book—via library or lending among members—and chooses a recipe to cook. The host provides notes on the author—previous books, education, hometown, etc. This needn’t be one book; each member could cite his or her own favorite, bring a dish and a bio, and be prepared to discuss the food and the author. 6. Depending on the members, you could plan an occasional visit to farms, farm stands, or area restaurants including, it is hoped, a visit with the chef or the grower. What’s in a Name? Of course you’ll have to come up with a name for your group, and I enjoyed reading about several of them. New Jersey has a “Food, Fun and Friendship Over 40” group. And I’ve noted others that are restricted by age. Three clubs in Seattle were listed: “Chocolate Meetup,” a more prosaic “Let Us Cook Together Meetup,” and a lollapalooza called “The Pot-Licking Cookbookers.” That says it all, doesn’t it? St. Louis has a cleverly named group called “Best Food Forward.” And then there are the “Chaos Cookers” in New York City and another for twenty-to-thirty-somethings called “My
REAL ESTATE Dinner Parties.” I can hear distant wedding bells, don’t you? As you can see, there are lots of ways to go with the idea. But let’s set down the aim of such an organization. I found this paragraph in reading the Meetup information: (fill in the name you’ve chosen)…is an organization of “like-minded individuals that brings people together to do, explore, teach and learn the things that help them come alive.” Ina and Jeffery Speaking of love matches, I just picked up a copy of Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Cooking for Jeffery. Ina is “The Barefoot Contessa,” the name of the shop she once owned in the Hamptons, and Jeffery is a PhD in administration at Yale. Jeffery has loomed large in all her TV shows (the famous chicken for her fella’s return home on Fridays). And you’ll find pictures of her wedding and shots of the couple from forty-plus years ago. I like her television program, and I like her books. They contain information about appetizing food, include wellwritten recipes, and her personality is expressed on every page. Here’s a good example. Since I already mentioned couscous, let’s use Ina’s take on this delicious side dish. It would be a perfect addition to any meal in a cooking club. Ina’s Couscous with Pine Nuts and Mint Ina explains that couscous isn’t a grain. “It’s actually like pasta,” she writes. “It’s a granular semolina that is precooked and dried so all you have to do is simmer some stock, stir in the couscous, cover and let it sit for 10 minutes.” Then add whatever you have to complement it. In this dish, it’s pine nuts and mint. 2 Tbsp. good olive oil 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter 1 c. chopped yellow onion 3 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade 1 ½ c. couscous Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper ½ c. julienned fresh mint leaves, loosely packed ½ c. pine nuts, toasted (see note) Heat the oil and butter in a large saucepan (one with a cover) over medium heat. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper and remove from the heat. Cover the pot tightly and allow the couscous to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork (I use a carving fork) and stir in the mint and pine nuts. Taste for seasonings and add about 1 tsp. salt, depending on your taste and the saltiness of the stock, and ½ tsp. pepper. Serve hot. Note: Toast pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over low heat, tossing often, for 5 to 10 minutes. They brown quickly.
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Chef, teacher, author, and award-winning columnist Cornelius O’Donnell lives in Elmira, New York. CORRECTION to the January food feature: Betty White may have done a lot of wonderful thing in her long life, but writing the humorous book The Egg and I wasn’t one of them. The book’s author is Betty MacDonald. I’ve got egg on my face over that one. Cornelius.
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