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Celebrating good things, good people

April 8, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

All is well with my world again. The violets are back.

When we returned from Florida in the early hours of Saturday morning, I couldn't see our backyard for the darkness. Then I looked out the next morning to see the peach and pear trees alive with blooms, as well as the forsythia bushes.

In walking Ozzie, though, I noticed that the violets that usually grow wild along the edge of our lawn weren't present. We only had an overabundance of the nasty vine that snakes along the ground at a rapid pace and produces a tiny flower that resembles a bluebell-looking flower.

On Tuesday, I started seeing violets peeking out of the grass near the woods, then more on Wednesday. And I was happy again.

Next to lily of the valley flowers, violets are are my second favorite. It doesn't seem like spring until I see them in bloom.

They make me think of Easter, a time of rebirth, and today is that most wonderful day.

The Easter egg hunts are over, and children are filled to the brim with chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks. Now is time to appreciate family and friends who have gone on to bring a warm feeling to my life.

I appreciate the friendship of Ileen Baldwin, who wrote to me about a story I had written that pertained to the both of us.

I enjoyed the hand-written thank-you note from Kassy Piergallini. With the crowd of people at her bridal shower, I am amazed that she would take the time to write out each card.

As a bride, she is going to carry brooches on her bridal bouquet, an old-fashioned custom, I am told. Kassy asked for those in attendance to bring one with a story behind it.

I brought a brooch purchased when we toured a replica of the Titanic ship in Tampa about 10 years ago. I lost the history that came with the pin but wrote out all I could recall.

The brooch was a young lady, dressed in the high fashion of the 1812s, with a feather in her stylish hat. She was a dressmaker commissioned to come to America and serve as a seamstress for a wealthy family.

The dressmaker survived the sinking of the ill-fated ship by getting into a lifeboat and being rescued, a happy ending to her story.

Kassy commended me for writing the history of the brooch, saying she enjoyed it very much.

Thanks to Lisa Mason, who loaned me the movie "The Help," when I told her I had not seen it.

I laughed, I cried and I learned something about the shortening, Crisco, that has been in the kitchen of my mom, my mother-in-law and mine for years. In teaching the rich, non-cooking lady of the house how to fry tasty chicken, the maid explained that Crisco can also be used for bags under the eyes, taking off makeup, to soften the skin, making pie dough and even for the chicken.

Minnie, the maid, made a dish that I first tasted at Florence's in Florida - black-eyed peas. They were given to Florence by a neighbor, and I mentioned that I was willing to try them. There was a little amount left after dinner, and I kiddingly said I would eat them for breakfast.

That was the wrong thing to say. When I came out for breakfast, setting on my place mat was a dish of the black-eyed peas. And I ate them in great enjoyment.

I was really spoiled with having breakfast prepared each morning. Florence really knows how to treat her guests!

Given the choice of fruit salad or coleslaw with her barbecued pork chop dinner, I chose cole- slaw, another favorite of mine. You guessed it, at breakfast the next morning, was a dish of cole- slaw that I ate with a toasted English muffin.

I have been known to make some weird choices at breakfast: vegetable soup, baked corn casserole, turkey stuffing and ice cream, to name a few.

It was interesting picking strawberries at Plant City. I was somewhat leery of meeting a snake while putting my hand deep into a plant but that didn't happen. They were the biggest berries I have ever seen and tasted marvelous.

Getting back to Lisa Mason, we started talking when I did a food column on the wonderful "Food for the Soul" calendar her ladies compiled as a fundraiser for the St. Paul A.M.E. Church. She tells me because of the story, they sold 35 calendars. It really is a nice calendar with some great down-to-earth recipes.

I recently spoke with Rose Napoli of Steubenville, who is related to Norma Zambone, once the secretary at good old Smithfield High School. She has the same 1934 Hershey's Cookbook I wrote about in my March 28 food column.

Rose also has a F.W. Woolworth Cookbook from 1933.

It is interesting getting calls from those who have the same interests as mine, namely cooking and baking. It has been a hobby and necessity of mine since I was 10 years old.

Getting back to Florida, I was amazed to learn that Tom and Elaine Butler, Florence and Bruce's neighbors, know the parents of Tim Tebow. The Butlers' son-in-law, Jake, graduated from the University of Florida with Tebow's parents, where Tim also attended, and have come to know their children as well. The Butlers say they were wonderful people and their son, too.

Did you know the Roy Rogers Museum in Branson, Mo., has closed and the merchandise auctioned to the highest bidders? Roy's horse, Trigger, stuffed and shown rearing in photos, sold for $266,000; the saddle and bridle went for $386,500, one shirt was $16,250; and one hat sold for $17,500.

The "King of the Cowboys" seems to have been a baseball fan. He had Pete Rose, Duke Snyder and other greats' autographed baseballs that sold for a total of $3,750; and Yogi Berra, Enos Slaughter, Bob Feller and other player bats selling for $2,750.

It is sad that his "Happy Trails" memorabilia is now scattered to all parts of the United States, but he had asked his son to close the doors and sell all the memorabilia if it ever operated at a loss.

Lamont, his brother Larry and I went to the Dillonvale American Legion Post for a Sunday spaghetti dinner, sponsored by the Daisy Troop 1008 and Brownie Troop 1009. It was cute seeing the young Girl Scouts on the lawn of the Legion with signs advertising the dinner. When we turned into the drive to the post home, they all started jumping up and down. They helped out in the dining room to the best of their ability as well.

I saw Marcie Jarman there. She is busy with the Warren Ridge Wranglers 4-H Club as well as the Brownie troops.

I was in awe of the Iron Chef Clinic sponsored by the Jefferson County 4-H Committee recently. Many 4-H clubs worked hard on their chocolate-theme recipes for appetizers, main dishes and desserts. They had outstanding table displays and food presentation as well.

The Denim and Dust 4-H Club, a new organization originating in Smithfield, took part in the event for the first time. Steubenville Spirits had a great display for their Campfire S'Mores recipe and were the first-place winners in the dessert category.

Judges for the event were Stephanie Pethtel-Eygabroad, John Wajda, Jason Ryan and Katrina Bleininger, someone I have known since her youth from Harrison County 4-H.

Well, that is all of my reminiscing about the good people I have encountered in my work for this column and other news areas.

Happy Easter to all.

(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily times. She can be contacted at

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