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E E R F he wind

as t

The Pen Pals

Fifty Years Later, A Vietnam Vet Finally Meets the Young Boy Who Supported Him Through a Controversial Time By Carrie Hagen

Taking the Waters in Watkins Glen Fall Fishing Magic Bakery Delights at Roy’s in Williamsport


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Volume 12 Issue 11

14 Fall Fishing Magic

The Pen Pals

By Dave Wonderlich

By Carrie Hagen Fifty years later, a Vietnam vet finally meets the young boy who supported him through a controversial time.

Fresh food and the desire to survive can provide an enchanting experience.

26 East End Furnishings By A.J. Sors

32 Taking the Waters in

Watkins Glen

6 The Scent of the Past

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By Melissa Farenish Tradition is alive and well at Roy’s Bakery in Williamsport.

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34 Feasts in Flight

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42 Back of the Mountain

20 The Right Ingredients for Success

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Cover by Tucker Worthington. Cover photo Ed DeWitt, Hampshire Review. This page (top) courtesy Richard Hamblin, (second) courtesy Roy’s Bakery; (bottom) Rich Paprocki Photography.

By Ann E. Duckett A combination of love of community, passion for food, and an understanding of seasonality is Nick and Jenna Thayer’s proven recipe.

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The Pen Pals Fifty Years Later, A Vietnam Vet Finally Meets the Young Boy Who Supported Him Through a Controversial Time By Carrie Hagen


n December of 1966, Dick Hamblin arrived in Da Nang, a territory of coastal plains and mountain ranges in the northernmost region of South Vietnam. Da Nang City held the main U.S. airbase during the Vietnam War; outside the city limits, the rural midlands hid Viet Cong guerrillas fighting to secure Communist control of the countryside. As part of the 1st Marine Division, Dick Hamblin spent thirteen months on a rice paddy along a hillside north of Da Nang City. His draft card had come a little over a year before, on his nineteenth birthday. Born and bred in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, Hamblin went to Wellsboro High School and grew up working on his father’s dairy farm in Holliday. He remembers walking through the fields to say goodbye to his father before reporting for basic training on Parris Island. “I wondered if it was the last time I would see him.” After basic, Dick Hamblin attended infantry training at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, followed by jungle warfare training at Camp Pendleton in southern California. By the time he arrived in Da Nang, over 500,000 U.S. troops occupied South Vietnam. Approximately 20 percent were assigned primarily to direct combat; the rest, like Hamblin, worked in combat support units. “I wasn’t safe,” seventy-year-old Dick Hamblin reminisces today, “but I was a lot safer than others.” During the day, Private Hamblin protected the interior of the command center and assisted in battalion work; at night, he manned foxholes, relieving fellow infantrymen so they could sleep. But amidst rocket launchers, the sound of dropping mortar shells, and the unpredictable tactics of the Vietcong, rest evaded most everyone. See Pen Pals on page 8


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Pen Pals continued from page 7

“There was no off duty, really. You worked, took guard duty, or you tried to sleep,” remembers Hamblin. “It was the longest thirteen months of my life. I just lived one day at a time. You wanted to go home.” And he did, in February of 1968. After his honorable discharge, Dick Hamblin returned to Tioga County, eventually taking ownership of the family dairy farm with his brothers. In the early 1980s, after attending night courses at Corning Community and Mansfield colleges, he sold his business shares to his brothers and worked as a loan officer. Later, he moved to West Virginia and became a bank president. For nearly fifty years, Dick Hamblin didn’t talk about his Vietnam experience—not to his two wives, his three daughters, his friends, or his colleagues. And then, about a year ago, his wife, Mary Lee, said a man named Bob Cranmer had left a message for him on her cell phone. The voice—one he had only before heard on paper—would reopen a chapter of Hamblin’s life, offering a new context for a story he had never told. “I don’t know any Bob Cranmer,” Dick told his wife, ignoring the request for a return call. Bob Cranmer phoned again. Returning the message at his wife’s insistence, Hamblin came to recognize the name: it was that of a ten-year-old kid from Pittsburgh who had written to him during the war nearly fifty years before. “Dick was always in the back of my mind,” says Bob Cranmer, now sixty-one, a former commissioner of Allegheny County. The youngest of three sons to a homemaker and a retired Army officer, Cranmer grew up with romantic notions of the military. “My dad was fifty when I was born,” he chuckles. “When he was in the Army, people still rode horses in combat.” Bob loved hearing his father’s war stories and aspired to enter the Army just like his dad. In November of 1966, as he sat at his kitchen table, his mom showed her military-minded son an advertisement in the Army Times. “It said something like, ‘If you would like to send a letter to a serviceman, send it here.’” So he wrote a letter and sent it to any soldier who might read it. He included a personal touch, mentioning that he was sad about a friend’s moving away. Dick Hamblin had only been in Vietnam a few weeks when someone handed him Bob Cranmer’s letter. “It was probably the guy who distributed the mail,” he recalls. “He said this kid wanted to correspond with us.” Private Hamblin was lonely and tired. Against a backdrop of intermittent explosions, he lived out of a tent without access to hot water, and he was exhausted from working consecutive days and nights. After a colleague of his wrote to the makers of “NoDoz” caffeine tablets, the company sent a bunch to his platoon. Dick says they fed on the pills until the medic told them to stop. “I was just a zombie.” More than fatigue, he says paranoia “tore people up.” He gives, as an example, his memory of a young boy who served the First Marine Division as one of many Vietnamese civilians. The boy was a regular at the command post, taking clothes away to clean and bringing them back so frequently that military police stopped frisking him—until one day, when a suspicious MP stopped and searched him. The boy’s laundry sack contained a See Pen Pals on page 10



Atlanta St. Petersburg/ Clearwater

Orlando/ Sanford

See Marks on page 10 9

Courtesy Lesa Cranmer

Marks continued from page 9

MId-winter meeting: Fifty years of memories, questions, and memorabilia surfaced when Dick Hamblin (left) and Bob Cranmer finally met. Pen Pals continued from page 8

bag of grenades. “He was going to blow us up,” Dick says with a hint of disbelief. “You didn’t know where the enemy was coming from. You learned to watch people like a hawk.” The atmosphere—full of tension, exhaustion, and an increasing lack of morale—was toxic to a twenty-year-old. “Nobody was saying ‘have a nice day,’” Dick emphasizes. So when he opened up the letter from Bobby Cranmer, an idealistic ten-year-old who lionized soldiers, its optimism shocked him. He wrote back on January 23, 1967. “Dear Bobby, Bobby I was very surprised when I read your letter that a young man of your age would even think of the war or the men who fight it. I only wish older people would give it half as much thought. I am glad to hear you are from Pennsylvania. I am from Wellsboro, Penns. which is about 50 miles north of Williamsport better known as the home of Penna’s Grand Canyon. I am a little older (20) but thank you for writing. Take care and may God Bless You, P.F.C. Richard Hamblin, U.S.M.C. 10

P.S. I am sure you will make new friends … Over the next year, the two became pen pals, exchanging about ten letters. (This is the only surviving one). “I was ten years old and a Marine from Vietnam was sending me letters!” Bob Cranmer exclaims, easily channeling his childhood awe. His mom helped him send packages and cookies abroad, and Dick mailed the boy Vietnamese money. Bob recalls that the soldier wrote one letter by candlelight. Dick remembers the boy’s heroic view of the military and his decision to limit his comments to topics like the weather and the food. Still, he says, “I tried to make it meaningful.” Both remember when the letters stopped: around January of 1968, when Hamblin wrote that his thirteen-month tour was ending, and he could depart from Vietnam at a moment’s notice. The boy wouldn’t hear from the Marine again for nearly fifty years. Lance Corporal Richard Hamblin returned home to Holliday, Pennsylvania, in February 1968, weeks after North

welcome to Vietnam launched the Tet Offensive, a surprise series of attacks on South Vietnam that resulted in high casualties. Launched during the “Tet,” or lunar New Year holiday, the well-orchestrated operation further damaged American military morale and propelled anti-war sentiment. Throughout 1967 and 1968, Tioga County’s daily newspapers covered the war effort. Readers learned about the successful blood drives in the Wellsboro High School gym and the efforts of Rotary clubs and union chapters to collect care packages (what to include: family pictures, KoolAid, presweetened drinks, potato sticks, bath powder, band aids). On behalf of the American Red Cross, the papers asked for single women to consider joining the overseas club mobile program, where an American girl could serve the troops by giving them “an hour away from the war” with an “organized recreational program.” Day after day, the papers published information gleaned from soldiers’ letters and proud family members, including the names of men going or coming from war, their placements and vocations, any awards received, and, of course, obituaries. On a short leave before his enlistment ended, Dick Hamblin flew from Da Nang to California, and then on to Philadelphia before catching a connection to Elmira, New York. Re-integration, he says, was perhaps the hardest part of his military experience. Since he had left the States over a year before, psychedelic culture had entered popular culture, and so had hippies, larger protests, and anti-veteran attitudes. Dick wasn’t at all prepared for the negative reception he would immediately receive. In Philadelphia, police boarded the plane, dismissing civilians before military personnel. Dick and others received escorted passage to their connecting flights as “people spit at us, threw stuff at us.” An even harsher greeting awaited him in Elmira. Upon arrival, Dick was told that the airport was closing and he couldn’t wait inside for his parents. He would have to wait outside, in the frigid cold. After serving the United States in a jungle for thirteen months, twenty-one-year-old Dick Hamblin was forced into the freezing outdoors. Then he heard a gentle voice. “Say, Marine, why don’t you come in where it’s warm?” An elderly black janitor held open a back door into the airport. Shaken, demoralized, and grateful beyond words, Dick sat speechless as the man waited with him, filling the silence with stories about his own family. “When I got home, I was so upset that I threw my uniform in a corner, dressed as a civilian, and grew my hair.” He had to make a sixty-day return to California to finish his service, but then he came home for good. He visited a lot of people—old friends and neighbors who didn’t know what to say. “They asked stupid questions, like ‘Did you kill anybody?’ So I learned not to talk about things.” Before long, he returned to work on the family dairy farm. Meanwhile, outside of Pittsburgh, Bobby Cranmer wondered what had happened to the pen pal he had so revered.



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Pen Pals continued from page 11

Bob Cranmer did end up following in his dad’s footsteps, taking a commission in the Army after graduating from Duquesne University. He served nine years of active duty and four in the reserves before leaving the military for civilian life. After working for Bell Laboratories in New Jersey for a time, he became involved in the local politics of his hometown, eventually serving as the commissioner of Allegheny County. Today, he runs a consulting firm. About twenty years ago, he came across the first letter he received from Dick Hamblin, written on Marine Corps stationary. It has since been framed and hung in his offices. Bob tried to locate Dick over the years, searching through phone directories and then the Internet. When his wife got out the Christmas decorations last year, she also uncovered a box of pictures that had hung on Bob’s County Commissioners office wall, including the letter from Dick that Bob had framed. He doubled down online and found Dick’s name listed in the Wellsboro Gazette for his fiftieth high school reunion, along with his new town of Romney, West Virginia. It was enough to lead Bob to the cell phone number of Dick Hamblin’s wife. “I was flabbergasted,” Dick says, after he made the connection between the caller and the kid from long ago. The two men arranged to meet at Dick Hamblin’s West Virginia house on January 21, 2017, as Bob and his wife drove home from Donald Trump’s inauguration. Almost fifty years to the day after Hamblin penned his first letter (January 23, 1967), Bob Cranmer learned why he hadn’t heard from Dick Hamblin after his service: his duffle bag had been lost in transit from Da Nang to Elmira, and with it all of his letters and personal belongings. The two men spent hours sharing their personal and professional stories. Bob told Dick about his own military service, and his reason for leaving the Army when he did: one of his brothers had died tragically, and he wanted to be closer to his parents in their grief. He told him that his parents were deceased, and his last remaining sibling, another brother, had recently passed away. He told them about his three children, and that his son David, a Marine who had sustained a back injury in Iraq, had committed suicide after becoming addicted to painkillers prescribed by the VA. Dick Hamblin listened. He told Bob about his war experience, and Bob recognized a connection between his son and his childhood hero—both proud Marines whose service “had wounded their lives in different ways.” Since their meeting last January, Bob Cranmer says the two men keep in regular contact. “He and I have a real nice connection.” Dick Hamblin told a friend that Bob Cranmer’s phone call was “the best Christmas present I could have received.” When he learned that his younger pen pal still had the Vietnamese money he had sent him, he pulled from a box of military memorabilia. “Here’s some more.” He also gave Bob his medals. “I felt I owed him something,” says Dick. “He is my hero. That any kid ten years old back in those days would care…it stole my heart.” Inspired and haunted by true stories, Keystone Award-winning writer Carrie Hagen is the author of We Is Got Him: The Kidnapping that Changed America. She lives in Philadelphia.


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Fall Fishing Magic

Fresh Food and the Desire to Survive Can Provide an Enchanting Experience By Dave Wonderlich


he still air was cool as the black blanket of night still held sway with the woods. I sat next to a well-used deer trail; the murmuring voice of a riffle entering a dark pool down a steep hill to my right slowly appeared as dark began fading to grey. Other than the water, there was little other sound—the oaks, maples, and pines held their arms still as if to contemplate what the new day would bring. Brief staccato sounds from the forest floor signaled the movement of squirrels and chipmunks, but the ever careful deer were more stingy about revealing their presence. The morning was, in every way except one, the same as I had experienced on all my early-autumn archery hunts. What made this hunt different? To my right was a long glassy pool

with that talkative riffle at its head, there were hatching mayflies, and, best of all, the scene was animated with sipping, dashing, slurping trout. I didn’t know it then, but it was a day that would change the rest of my life! My fun on the stream could have been a short-lived distraction from an archery addiction; instead, it captured my interests. There was so much to learn about fishing and aquatic life during the fall, but, thankfully the stream and its inhabitants were patient and back then I had it all to myself. I learned fall trout and bass are not patient when it comes to feeding, however. Fish are loaded with natural instinct, and behavior is automatic. Winter is the next season, and available food in the stream can be scarce. I’ve learned there is still an abundance in October and November, though, and the trout See Fall Fishing on page 16




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Fall Fishing continued from page 14

take advantage and feed with abandon. For them it is not just preference: feeding voraciously in the fall is to secure wintertime survival. What’s available? Terrestrials are blown into the water on fall breezes and rains. Crickets and grasshoppers are live meals and are easy picking when they are plopped into the water from streamside vegetation. I have seen a race by several fish to be the first to the food. I purposely grab my fly line at the end of a cast to force my imitation—I like to use a Psycho Ant—to strike the surface as a cricket would when blown by the wind. Many times the reaction is immediate. Such fun! Minnows, crayfish, and leeches are other staples for the trout and bass. Did you ever see a small school of fingerling minnows come up and splash on the surface at once? They were, most likely, frantically fleeing a large feeding fish deeper underneath. I’ve seen trout and bass right up next to shore feeding on baby shiners. When they detect movement or sound on shore, they are quick to streak back to the safety of deeper water. Wooly Buggers are great imitations for leeches (and minnows as well). Crayfish lures and fly patterns are abundant for this ever present food source. Other land-born creatures that provide many opportunities for our finned prey include beetles, inch worms, red worms and nightcrawlers, spiders, and ants (regular and flying). I once sat with Charlie Fox in his streamside meadow on the Letort Spring Run having freshly squeezed lemonade. We discussed aquatic insects as trout after trout fed off the surface not twenty feet from our position. They were rising for Japanese beetles. Charlie had put a structure of two-by-fours on the edge of the run so that the longest piece of wood extended well over a wonderful feeding spot at the head of a pool. He had tied a climbing rose bush to the structure and it was full 16

Fall Fishing continued from page 19

Courtesy Dave Wonderlich (3)

of flowers five feet above the water. Under the flowers Charlie had a beetle trap mounted to attract the insects and he had taken off the bottom cleanout allowing the beetles to enter the trap, drop down through, and plop into the waiting mouths of the Letort’s big brown trout. Beetles, inch worms, spiders, ants, red worms, and nightcrawlers all are subject to the weather. So many times I have caught both trout and bass as they lay in wait under overhanging limbs of trees. Those inch worms, beetles, spiders, and ants regularly drop from the leaves and vegetation above and are quickly consumed. The wind plays an important part in dispersing these insects to the fish, and the fish know it. Rain is the most important vehicle in delivering worms to the aquatic world. At times it is hard to believe how many worms are washed into the water, especially with a sudden downpour. The fish are waiting during and after a good rain, especially when the creek is on the rise. Great patterns for beetles, ants, Squirmy Wormies, and spiders—all very effective! I think what surprised me most about fall trout and bass fishing was the diversity and number of nymphs, emergers, and dry flies that hatch in October and November. Traditionally the fall has been a time for a great percentage of sports people to hunt, hike, and begin tying flies or making lures and poppers. I’ve seen a quickly increasing number of fisher persons and hunters bringing their fishing gear to their cabins and on rides to the big woods. They’re realizing that hatches start in small numbers and build to a peak in terms of insect quantity, and then they trail off, sometimes for longer periods than you’d imagine. Fish may still be looking for specific flies weeks after the hatch has ended. Great patterns that match the colors of fall flies include: Slate Drakes (through late November), Blue-Winged Olives, Light Cahills (in cream and yellow), October Caddis (a great hatch in larger sizes), black caddis, male and female tricos, midges, whiteflies (White Wulff at night), and yellow and dark stone flies. The old-school, time-tested switch between Light Cahills and Adams is still excellent, especially in moving water. Try any of the above that complements your favored fishing methods. Plan before approaching your casting position; remember, they want to fill up from now until the temperatures really drop. Be very careful with your approach; the fish want to eat but they also want to survive, and their reactions are highly attuned to self preservation. Other than the careful approach, fall fishing is there for your total enjoyment. The stream, the trout and bass, the fishes’ appetites, the insects, and the infinitely hued beauty are simply there for you How did all this change my life after that fall morning while archery hunting? It changed my life because it— nature—continually changes itself and changes me. From day to day and year to year, it is obvious our outdoor world is dynamic, and I have found every time I’m immersed in this changing world of the stream, I am once again the student with still so much to learn. Former high school English teacher Dave Wonderlich is an originator and a former editor of Shooting Sportsman magazine and Game Country Magazine. He is a full-time writer.



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Courtesy Jenne Johnson

The Scent of the Past

Tradition is Alive and Well at Roy’s Bakery in Williamsport By Melissa Farenish


radition is in the air at Roy’s Bakery in Williamsport, and it’s so strong you can smell it. “The smell is mentioned every single day,” says Jenne Johnson, who has worked at the bakery for a year. “You can’t duplicate it.” She says sometimes families will come in to the 524 Washington Boulevard business just for a tour. They are often parents with children who used to come in as kids with their own parents. They look at the cookies and cakes in the cases and then comment on the smell. “Smelling it is nostalgia for them,” she says. “The tradition is so strong here,” says Jenne. “The sugar cookies—the kids take them to school for treats. Parents take the cookies to school for the kids as their parents did for them.” And though Jenne is one of Roy’s newer faces, she has learned much about the bakery’s family history and is happy to share it. Roy’s has served old-fashioned bakery treats to area residents for sixtynine years and continues to draw in new business. Roy Berninger of Williamsport opened the bakery in 1948 at a location in the Newberry section of Williamsport. The bakery then moved to a few different locations before opening in the 1980s at its present Washington Boulevard home. Roy created the dough recipes that have been passed down through several generations

of the Berninger family. Though Roy passed away several years ago, as did his wife, Betty “Mo” Berninger, and son Gary “Bo” Berninger, the business continues to be run by family. Today, Roy’s daughter-in-law, Marian Berninger, and his grandson, Gary Berninger, Jr., co-own the business. Marian does the books and the cake decorating. Gary comes in at 2 a.m. each morning to begin making the favorites the customers love, goodies like the cakes and the sticky buns. No one but Gary knows the recipes, Jenne says. They are family secrets. “Things don’t change a lot,” she notes. “If there’s a way to continue the same way, they do.” Gary comes in that early to make the baked goods because, at Roy’s, everything is fresh and made to order and because “people get used to grocery store bakeries and having things instantly available.” Fresh cakes, cookies, cupcakes, and other baked goods are put in the store front daily and, with all that freshness, “no preservatives are used,” Jenne says. One of Roy’s signature items is the cutout sugar cookies, the shapes of which change according to the season or holiday. This time of year the cookies reflect the images of fall, with colorful leaf shapes and pumpkins. Soon the theme will be Christmas; other holidays and shapes will follow—Valentine’s Day hearts, Easter See Scent on page 24


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of the Lycoming County Historical Society 858 West Fourth Street | Williamsport, PA 17701-5824 Phone: 570.326.3326 | Fax: 570.326.3689 |

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Melissa Farenish Tasty traditions: newcomer Jenne Johnson enjoys sharing Roy’s history as well as their baked delectables.

Scent continued from page 20

bunnies, and American-themed cookies for the Fourth of July. Local businesses often get in on the fun. Jenne says a local dentist once called and asked for toothshaped cookies. She made syringe-shaped cookies for a medical office, using the lipstick-shaped cookie cutter. “Sometimes you have to look at the cutouts and be creative,” she says. Sticky buns are another one of Roy’s most popular creations, and they sell out quickly. If you don’t get there early in the morning, you won’t find them on the rack. Raisin filled cookies are also in great demand. “You can’t get them [like this] anywhere else except in Pennsylvania,” Jenne comments. The busiest time of the year is coming up—Christmas, of course. Once again tradition plays a role, as it is the custom for many folks in the area to order their holiday cookies from Roy’s. And they order a lot of cookies! “In half an hour, we sold 200 dozen cookies,” Jenne recalls. She says Gary starts coming in at eleven o’clock the night before to keep up with the rush. Other especially busy holidays are Easter and Mother’s Day; for some reason, coconut cakes seem particularly popular for those times, Jenne says. The custom cakes are another delectable treat for which Roy’s is known. Generations of families have topped off a birthday or other celebration with a cake from Roy’s. “People have come here their whole lives,” Jenne says. “There’s a long-standing tradition.” Roy’s still sees many elderly customers who have lived in Williamsport’s East End 24

most of their lives. That section of the town still has a neighborhood feel, as a number of businesses such as Tony’s Deli and the old Joey’s Place (now 505 Boulevard Brews) have been there for years. Many folks do their errands along Washington Boulevard and go to the deli and bakery on those same errand runs, says Jenne. These East End locals have kept the tradition alive by bringing their children and grandchildren along to Roy’s. The business “truly is part of the neighborhood,” says Jenne. But, there are still some people who live in the Williamsport area who have never been in Roy’s before and will stop in out of curiosity. “They will tell me that they have lived here all their lives and have driven by but never stopped in. Once people buy the baked goods, they are hooked.” The bakery also gets business from those who grew up in Williamsport and have since moved away. The comment from many of these returning locals is that “you can’t find old-fashioned bakeries anymore.” So they stop in at Roy’s to stock up on baked goods to take back home with them. “It’s that constant consistency of tradition,” that keeps customers coming back, says Jenne. “We offer something that is not offered anywhere else…it makes people happy.” Melissa Farenish has worked as a lifestyle correspondent at community newspapers, and writes for several regional magazines. She lives in Montoursville.

Sensational Songwriters at Valley Folk Music

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Concerts held at 144 Cedar St., Corning, NY PUB SINGS in Watkins Glen • (607) 962-4461

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607-936-3032 31 E. Market St. Corning, NY 14830

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East End Furnishings


ho would have thought that great-grandma’s furniture from the 1940s and 1950s would be back in style and more popular than ever? Jolie and Robert Guiles, owners of East End Furnishings, that’s who. A little over a year ago they opened East End Furnishings and filled it with gently used and repurposed furnishings, a few modern pieces, some antiques, and a lot of interesting art. It is their dream come true, according to Jolie, who runs the 94 East Market Street store while her husband, Robert, retrieves the furniture they’ve purchased from individuals, estate sales, and other dealers, and brings it home to be reclaimed and refinished so it can be re-loved. “The timing was right for us,” says Jolie. “We had just one kid left at home, so we retired from our previous jobs and decided to work for ourselves.” They specialize in what Jolie refers to as shabby chic—items they have refurbished with crackled, chalk, or a scuffed paint surface or refinished with techniques learned via the trial and error method. While Robert does the refinishing and repainting, Jolie does the repurposing, taking simple items such as canning jars and liquor bottles and turning them into unique knickknacks. East End customers can also find signs, reproductions of Tiffany lamps, antique lamps, and collectables. “We sell a lot of vintage items from the ’40s and ’50s, some antiques, and a few modern items,” Jolie says. ““It may be old, but it is new to someone. Knowing we found a piece that fits in someone else’s life is rewarding. It is kind of like treasure hunting. People really seem to like the furniture from the 1950s. The style is plain and without many frills. It sells quickly. We try to price things to move. We’re not trying to break anybody’s bank.” Market Street is just where they want to be—it’s handy for local customers and is an easy find for tourists, though Jolie acknowledges that furniture shopping while on vacation can be a little problematic. “After she visits Corning, Aunt Sally isn’t going to take a dresser home on the plane,” she says, so the East End inventory also includes a lot of smaller items and furnishings as well as furniture. Visit East End Furnishings Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. You can give them a call at (607) 731-8288 or see them on Facebook. ~A.J. Sors 26



Crystal City Christmas C O R N I N G ,



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Courtesy Nick Thayer Local 62

Rooster Fish Brewing

Nickel’s Pit BBQ

Wildflower Crooked Rooster

The Right Ingredients for Success

A Combination of Love of Community, Passion for Food, and an Understanding of Seasonality is Nick and Jenna Thayer’s Proven Recipe By Ann E. Duckett


amily ties and a sense of community drew Nick and Jenna Thayer to settle into their life in the tiny village of Watkins Glen, New York, home to just 1,900 year-round residents. Five years later, they continue to demonstrate their commitment to neighbors, friends and family, launching a second business of their


own, and taking on daily operations for two of the most popular businesses in the area— the iconic Wildflower Crooked Rooster Brewpub and Rooster Fish Brewery, both established by Doug Thayer, Nick’s dad. From table to tap and beer to barbeque, Nick and Jenna have a knack for finding creative ways to showcase what the region

has to offer. These serial entrepreneurs are passionate about food and hospitality, bringing the right ingredients together for proven growth and success. The couple married in September, mere weeks after hosting a grand opening for their newest business—Local 62—a wine, beer, and spirits store carrying products

made only in New York. Most days, the newlyweds don’t give their busy life a second thought. “Work-life balance is always a challenge,” says Nick. “With four businesses now, including Nickel’s Pit Barbecue [more on that in a moment], it can be tiring, but we have an amazing staff and support structure in place. For us, having our dog Eli is important; he keeps us grounded and home as much as possible. Spending time together will always be our first priority.” Another challenge is in understanding the “seasonality of Watkins Glen” as Nick puts it, key to being successful. Seasonal tourism drives the economy for many businesses in the Finger Lakes region. In the areas around Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga lakes are more than one hundred wineries, plus dozens of craft beer, spirits, and cider businesses. Watkins Glen sits at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, its beauty epitomized in Watkins Glen State Park with its gorge, nineteen waterfalls, and pristine campgrounds. In 2015, the park earned national acclaim, taking third place in the USA Today Reader’s Choice Poll for Best State Park in The United States (from among 6,000 entries). It’s also home to the Watkins Glen International, one of the premier auto racing tracks in the country. The couple navigates the busy months, May through November, which bring in about 90 percent of their annual sales, with their team of nearly one hundred full and part-time employees. Business peaks in July and August. Quiet months allow for planning, revisiting the business plan, and hosting special events. “Our off-season months focus on events—theme nights and live music. Every November, we host Harvest Schuyler, connecting local restaurant owners with local farmers. It’s a great cause. Local 62 sources everything we sell from New York,” explains Nick. But the love of community and the beginning of Nick and Jenna’s story begins decades earlier—in 1990, with Doug. While part of a road crew working to repave NY-14, (North Franklin Street, which runs through the heart of the village) Doug spied the building which would become home to the Wildflower Café. Thinking the spot would be a great place for a restaurant—and with no previous restaurant experience—Doug jumped in and opened the café, which was an immediate success. The café grew to include The Crooked Rooster Pub, which opened in 1998 (literally next door). The two heralded eating establishments are different in décor and ambiance. Patrons enjoy food made from locally sourced ingredients, selecting from one creative and eclectic menu. It’s all made in one kitchen and served by one staff. Today, they operate under one name—The Wildflower Crooked Rooster Brewpub. A mouthful, yes, but wait…there’s more. “That’s how my dad usually does things—he comes up with ideas and runs with them. Opening the Café was a big one. He was a visionary in this area; the Wildflower is turning twenty-eight in March and he has employed hundreds of people since then,” says Nick. Still, Doug had more ideas, and began experimenting with home brews in the Café’s kitchen in 2002. Just like that, another venture was enthusiastically received by the locals, craft beer lovers, and tourists. With planning and perseverance, Rooster Fish Brewing opened in 2012, with enough of a following to warrant significant production space.

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See Ingredients on page 31 29



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Rich Paprocki Photography

Three’s company: Newlyweds Nick and Jenna Thayer and best friend Eli.

Ingredients continued from page 29


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Soon, Nick was partnering with his dad, providing the grub to go with the brew. Both Nick and Jenna are from western New York, having spent time together in Buffalo after college. A selfproclaimed home chef and cook, Nick is comfortable in the kitchen. Jenna has enjoyed working in food and customer service positions. Together, the transition seemed natural. “After grad school, I got a job working for a big insurance company, traveling across the country assessing damage and helping clients; I was away for months at a time,” Nick recalls. “I traveled through the Midwest and loved the food. One thing led to another and I left the company, moving to Watkins Glen. I opened Nickel’s Pit BBQ and started working with my Dad.” Jenna notes, “It’s a very different area than I’m used to, but I’ve recently realized how tight-knit the community can be. The local families and businesses take care of each other, and that’s really special and something you don’t usually get in a bigger city.” “When I opened Nickel’s, the community was an important part of my vision,” adds Nick. “We focus on sourcing many of our ingredients and materials locally, supporting neighboring farms and producers. Not only do they make amazing products, but I firmly believe that

reinvesting in the community is good for everyone. There is a special connection between businesses and the communities they belong to. We give locals and tourists a glimpse of incredible New York products. The name “Local 62” sounds like a union shop—and in a way, it is. There are sixtytwo counties in New York, and we try to bring them all together in one place.” Today, Doug is in semi-retirement, enjoying time with his wife, and has turned the reins for the café and brewery over to Nick and Jenna. He’s still around for help and guidance, as is the team he created over the years. When asked what he hopes for the future of Watkins Glen, Nick reflects, “I want to see the community continue to grow and think progressively—welcome new ideas, businesses, and people. For local supporters and tourists, try to think about the community when going out to eat, buying a bottle of wine, or having a beer. Your choice matters to a lot of people that depend on the ‘little guys.’ I feel really good about our contribution to the local economy.” Ann Duckett is a certified cheesemaker and former cheesemonger, who now devotes her time to educating and helping others find their cheese bliss through classes, presentations, special events, and cheese catering. 31

Courtesy Inner Peace Floats

Taking the Waters in Watkins Glen ...and Coming Back Inside Yourself By Gayle Morrow


ell over a century ago, a man named William Elderkin Leffingwell read a newspaper report about the discovery of some very special water in Watkins Glen, New York. It seems that during an unsuccessful search for oil, the drilling revealed at 1,600 feet another liquid—a mineral-laden water that, upon scientific analysis, was said to rival the curative powers of the waters at Germany’s Nauheim Springs, which was the spa destination of the time. William and his cousin, Dr. James A. Jackson, had been operating the Jackson Health Resort in Dansville, a small town northwest of Watkins Glen, but had been looking for a site for a new facility. William was evidently intrigued enough by what he read to visit Watkins Glen; it wasn’t long after that the Glen Springs Hotel and Sanitarium opened and began attracting a regional and international clientele. Fast forward from 1890 and you will find the newest opportunity to “take the waters” in Watkins Glen at Inner Peace Floats, 111 West Fourth Street. The business is a collaboration


between three brothers—A.J. DeSarro, Clayton DeSarro, Danby DeSarro—and their mom, Kathie E. Notarfonzo. It found a home in a building that A.J. says was once-upon-a-time a family-owned liquor store. The family was the DeSarro family. Most recently a quilt shop, he says the big open space “seemed like it was waiting for us.” A.J. says he had heard a podcast about flotation therapy and its benefits; after doing some research the family went to a facility in Rochester and floated together. There were a few other instances of serendipity which convinced the family to take the plunge, so to speak, into the floating business. So far, so good. “This was our first summer and we’ve enjoyed having people stop and ask questions,” says Clayton, who shares the daytime shifts with A.J. Kathie still has a full-time job elsewhere, so she takes on some of the weekend work; Danby also has a full-time day job but has, and continues to be, in A.J.’s words, “a huge help.” So, of course, the big question for the uninitiated is “what is floating?”

Mark Twain Country “Floating doesn’t do something to you; it’s more like it takes things from you,” A.J. explains to a first-time-floater (that would be me). What kind of things? Oh, things like stress, anxiety, toxins, pain, icky stuff you don’t need that can make you feel bad. As for the mechanics of it all, the descriptive literature refers to “tanks” filled with highly concentrated magnesium salt water, but the floating spaces at Inner Peace—there are two right now— are more like shallow pools, tiled, wide enough that when you stretch out your arms you can’t quite touch the sides, long enough that, unless you’re quite a bit taller than I am, your toes and head can’t simultaneously make contact with the top and bottom. The lighting is subdued; you can make it completely dark if you want. The ceiling is pale and curved and is nowhere close enough to make you feel at all claustrophobic. The water feels quite warm at first, but after a time your body and the water become the same temperature—warm, still, but almost like an extension of one another. You’re buoyant. And it’s quiet. So, so quiet. “Sometimes a silent environment is not what people are used to,” A.J. muses. “The fundamental thing is for people to come back inside themselves, to look inward. There seems to be a need for this now.” “Here it’s just really relaxing,” says Clayton, who is one of his own best customers as he tries to float at least once a week. “We’re seeing people come out [from floating] in a different frame of mind. We’re happy about that.” There are other offerings afloat at Inner Peace Floats. Kathie, a health coach, provides what she describes as a “weight loss resistance discovery session” during which she’ll “walk you through a process” to help you figure out why you can’t shed those stubborn pounds. There is massage available, as well as integrated energy therapy, a kind of body work that gets the “issues out of your tissues” once and for all. There are yoga classes, with individual instruction as an option. Floating appointments can be had 24/7. “It’s pretty simple at the moment, but I feel like we’re just getting started,” A.J. says. They will have the upstairs space available for their use in the spring, but they’re not sure yet what they’ll do with it. There is a small kitchen on the main floor already, and there is talk of some cooking happening, which is interesting as A.J. and Clayton were both line cooks at a busy Watkins Glen restaurant. “We want to be able to offer people some nourishment when they come out,” he adds. Inner Peace Floats visitors can also purchase essential oils, T-shirts, therapeutic bean bags (heat them up, put them on sore spots, and wait for that lovely “aaahh” feeling). But, seriously, more than any of that is the simple, peaceful feeling you’ll experience almost as soon as you walk in the door. The fragrances, the lighting, the décor, the music are all there for your benefit, to give you, as A.J. says, “a time and space to collect yourself.” Nor does any of it have to be over when you walk back out the door. “May people question your smile” is the blessing I was given when I left Inner Peace Floats. To make an appointment, call (607) 535-6287, or just stop in. Keystone Press Award-winning columnist Gayle Morrow is Mountain Home’s managing editor.

The Clemens Center excites and delights audiences of all ages! Holiday Offerings at the Region’s Premier Performing Arts Center

Nov. 14-15 A CHRISTMAS STORY: The Musical (including a 2 p.m. matinee on 11/15) Nov. 25

Common Time Choral Group – Holiday Concert

Nov. 27

Moscow Ballet – Great Russian Nutcracker

Dec. 2

Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theatre – The Nutcracker

Dec. 3

Arctic League Broadcast

Dec. 6


Dec. 10

Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes Holiday Concert: Reflections of Spirit

Dec. 13

Danú: A Christmas Gathering with the Cantata Singers

Dec. 16

New Heights Dance Theater – Nutcracker in Motion

Dec. 19

Holy Family Catholic School – Christmas Concert and Pageant

Clemens Center – Downtown Elmira 207 Clemens Center Parkway, Elmira NY Box Office: 607-734-8191/800-724-0159 Visit for a complete listing of events


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Featuring 3 Floors, 9,000 sq. feet, 50 Vendors Antiques • Collectibles • Country Decor & MORE!

Horseheads Mill Street Market

Mon-Sat 10-5 Sunday 10-3

117 East Mill Street, Horseheads, NY 14845 607-739-2531



DRINK Courtesy Steven Roske


Feasts in Flight

Private Steward Steven Roske Builds His Dream Job, One Plate at a Time By Cornelius O’Donnell


hadn’t heard from my Elmira friend Steven Roske in a while, but that wasn’t unusual; he is a travelin’ man. And even though he may be a continent away, one can still call him on his local number. (How’d they do that?) Anyway, since to my mind he has a dream job, I wanted to interview him for this magazine. And, when I called him, he groggily answered. He was a continent away, somewhere in Europe. And this was not the first time I’ve awakened him by calling. (Another time, I recall, he was in Tokyo. I should keep a log.) As I said, Steve has a job some people can only imagine. He is the sole flight attendant on a private jet that seats up to sixteen,


although Steve rarely has more than the couple who own the plane, their family, and perhaps a few guests on trips that range from domestic to international. It varies. The plane is a handsome Gulfstream-5 model. That’s a good size, as befits a conveyance that can take folks from Elmira to, say, Paris, or perhaps Beijing. The compact galley holds a small refrigerator, a pantry, pots and pans, dinnerware, and a full-sized microwave, plus a convection oven. These are the tools Steve uses. He might do some of the meal prep at home, but he often cooks the well-planned, calorie-conscious meals on board, with the freshest ingredients. His clients prefer a simple, well-balanced menu.

And when Steve lands at home he enjoys concocting delicious meals for his partner, Jebb Dennis, and their friends. I know this, because I’ve been to a few of those gatherings and I’m also on Steven’s e-mail list. He often photographs his latest culinary creation. Do you have friends who enjoy cooking and do the same thing? To the list of babies and grandkids, nieces and nephews that I get to see from friends, I now can add Steven’s antipasto plate, pate en croute, coq au vin, and cherries jubilee (flames optional). The Back Story Steven is a native of western Massachusetts, and is number seven of eight siblings. As so often happens in big families, he was put to work setting the table and then helping in the kitchen. As if by osmosis, he learned to cook—and in large quantities. He is a graduate of Westfield State University with a degree in elementary education and moved to Elmira with Jebb (also from Massachusetts) with the idea that Steven would teach in the prison system here. They live in a wonderful Edwardian era (or slightly before) house of many rooms that they call The Ingleside because the shingled and brick place features several ornate fireplaces and woodwork to swoon over. Two things I was surprised to hear, given what Steven has ended up doing for a living. When he graduated from Westfield, he was petrified (his word) of flying. On the other hand, he wanted to travel. What to do? Combining his likes and dislikes, he applied to the United Airlines flight attendants school in Chicago. This is an enormously difficult program to gain admittance to. And even after two months of training, few are chosen. Largely because of his fluency in both German and French, and his outgoing, enthusiastic personality, Steven and one other were chosen over more than 200 applicants for that class. The curriculum covered all the aspects of a career as commercial steward. This entails everything from first aid to the handling of irrational passengers to the care of unaccompanied children. That schooling also taught him the how-to of running an aircraft galley. He flew with United for over a year, and was based in Washington, D.C. “It was four days on and three days off,” Steve said. He’s been a private-plane steward for eleven years now, “and I love it!” he added, beaming. By the way, Steve wears a snappy three-piece suit on board, and the jacket comes off when he is serving the meal. No apron. What’s on Steven’s Menu? Avocado/Poached Eggs, That’s What! This favorite—and easy-to-do—recipe knocked me out. I’ll be making this as a dinner starter or a luncheon main course, with a colorful mixed green, tomato, and red lettuce salad on the side (vinaigrette dressing). Avocados are loaded with good things, and they taste great. It’s a dish you can use any time. Start with ripe avocados, but not too ripe. They should lightly give when carefully pressed. Ripen the avocados at room temperature and, when they are not rock hard, put them in the refrigerator to complete the ripening process. You can figure out the shopping list for this based on how many people you’re serving. Preheat the oven to 425. Find a baking dish that will hold the filled avocado halves egg-side up when you place them, perhaps around the edge of the dish or touching each other for stability. You don’t want the eggs to tip over. Be creative—perhaps a flat See Dream Job on page 36

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Dream Job continued from page 35

muffin-top dish. Another idea: cut a very thin part of the outer avocado skin on the bottom. That can stabilize it a bit. Be sure not to cut through or you’ll have that dreaded egg white drip all over the place. You will need: 1 just-ripe avocado per person (serving size is two avocado halves) 2 eggs per avocado 1 slice of bacon, cooked and crumbled for each avocado Garnishments: chopped chives, finely chopped fresh parsley, thyme, dill, or tarragon (all optional) Halve each avocado and remove the pit. The easiest way is to cut around the outside of the avocado and then twist the two pieces until they come apart, exposing the pit. You can remove this by whacking it with your sturdy chef ’s knife and twisting it free. Separate the eggs into two bowls, the yolks in one and the whites in another. Then carefully (with a slotted spoon) place a whole yolk in each cavity. Spoon in as much of the whites over the yolks as the cavity will

Courtesy Steven Roske

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Flavorful favorite: Steven’s avocado dish provides an easy-to-make starter, lunch addition, or supper side dish.

hold. Carefully place the avocado halves in your baking dish and bake until the whites are set. This takes about 15 minutes. To serve, I’d try nesting them in a quantity of spinach or arugula that can double (with a vinaigrette) as a side salad. Garnish with the fresh herbs and sprinkle the top with bacon. I like to serve this with a spoon and I also like my egg yolk to be cooked but somewhat runny, too. If you like a firmer yolk just adjust the time to suit you. It takes a person with good knife skills (turbulence!), as well as good people skills, to do what Steve does. This is decidedly not a “nine to five” career, but Steve is comfortable with his challenging and erratic schedule. I asked him what is most important in his position. “You have to be observant and know when to interact with the passengers and when to let them interact with each other.” And, by the way, I was impressed that Steven can offer passengers—at a minimum—two meal choices, and he can improvise other things with what he has brought on board. His favorite ingredient is eggs (mine too!) because you can do so many things with them. There is an electric tea kettle on board and, through experimentation, he can turn out poached eggs that go from room temperature to cooked in eleven seconds. We both agreed that if you’ve never tried a soft-poached egg atop a spinach salad, you should.

Enjoy a meal overlooking the Susquehanna River. Henry’s is not just a restaurant,


Chef, teacher, author, and award-winning columnist Cornelius O’Donnell lives in Horseheads, New York.

(570) 326-1607

5693 N. Route 220 Hwy., Linden, PA 17744 37


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Veteran’s Days Open House


Veterans Appreciation Days

Friday & Saturday Nov. 10th-11th 218 Main St • Blossburg


“Thank You” FREE Gift for Vets & Lunch for Vets and their families.

Serving the Community Since 1981

Larry’s Sport Center, Inc. 1913 US RTE. 6, GALETON, PA

(814) 435-6548 Hours: M, T, Th, F 9am-7pm; Sat. 9am-5pm; Closed Sun. & Wed.


ATV’s are recommended for thos aged 16 years or older. YAMAHA recommends an approved training course. See your dealer or call 1-800-877-2887. ATV’s can be hazardous to operate. Always protect the environment and wear your seat belt, helmet, eye protection and protective clothing. Read the owner’s manual and the product warning labels before operation.


Mountain Home




Ziggy’s Gun Shop We Sell Buy and Trade Guns FFL Transfers • Female Friendly Shop • Ammo Reloading & Shooting Accessories

Come as a customer, stay as a Friend

27 Watrous St • Gaines, PA 16921 814-435-6590 Hours: T-F 10-5; Sat 9-1; Closed Sun. & Mon.

Hauber ’s Jewelry • Diamonds & Quality Jewelry • Bulova & Seiko Watches and Clocks • Fenton, Charms, Trophies and Engraving “We do watch batteries!”

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L1 East iberty book Shop Park St., Avis, PA 17721 • 570-753-5201

w& Im pro ved hi Ve cle Lis tin

Matthews Motor Company is a family owned and operated full service car dealership. We have an on-site NAPA Service Center and a AAA Approved Body Shop. We also have the largest Car Rental Fleet in Tioga County. County.

You could promote your business here! Call (570)724-3838 today!


Visit our Website at Used, Rare and Out-of-Print Books. Your source for unusual books on any subject. Browse our in-stock selection of over 40,000 hardcover books and paperbacks.

Spend the night in a bookshop! Perfect room for Hunters & Hikers. See listings on HOURS: Thurs & Fri 10-6; Sat 10-3

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ROD COCHRAN BOOKS Signed copies available:

Bear Hollow - $25.95 A Temple in Nod - $15.95 The Legend of Augustus McBoone - $32.95 Send payments to author: P.O. Box 157, Westfield, PA 16950 or e-mail

Linda’s Country Treasures Doll Store & Christian Book Store 15” & 18” clothes to fit American Girl dolls

One of the

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Builders Parts • Custom Ramrods Service & Repairs • Old Trapper’s Products

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Potter County Veterinary Clinic Lindsay Windsor, D.V.M.

Open M, T, Th, F—8:30am-4:30pm; Wed—8:30am-8pm

Phone: (814) 274-0857

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The Love of Bare November Days By Bernadette Chiaramonte


ovember, the middle of autumn’s advance, is well known for its spectacular skies, and this evening was no exception. I caught this image on an evening drive in the area of Locey Creek. The whole vista glowed in the light of the setting sun, outlined by barren trees and washed by previous days of late autumn rain.


L A R R Y ’S




Meet our new gynecologic oncologists Dr. John T. Comerci and Dr. Brian C. Orr

Gynecological cancer care is here. UPMC Susquehanna has 2 of the fewer than 1,000 gynecologic cancer doctors in the U.S. Research proves that females with gynecological cancer treated by gynecologic cancer doctors live longer. And over 100,000 women will be diagnosed with gynecological cancer in the US in the next 12 months. We are fortunate to have two of the leading gynecologic oncology specialists right here at UPMC Susquehanna.

570-321-3300 |

Mountain Home, November 2017  

"The Pen Pals" by Carrie Hagen. Fifty years later, a Vietnam vet finally meets the young boy who supported him through a controversial time....