Let­ting the good times roll in Ha­zle­ton

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - OPINION - MICHAEL APICHELLA, a former Ha­zle­ton res­i­dent, is a writer liv­ing in Europe. Con­tact him at apichel­las­[email protected]­hoo.com.

One of the g reat things about writ­ing this column is all the peo­ple who write to me. I men­tion this be­cause many folks ask me where I get my ideas from. Grin­ning, I al­ways tell them it’s from peo­ple like you.

Case in point. Tom Bel­lizia writes, “Af­ter I read your food column to­day I couldn’t get the idea out of my head that many mem­o­ries are made with good food and friends. It’s like a dou­ble dip.

“Any­way, I re­mem­ber my wife say­ing that when she was an of­fice helper at the high school how they reg­u­larly got pier­o­gis from St. Stan’s Church. It made me think of all the won­der­ful lo­cal eth­nic food made at lo­cal churches and or­ga­ni­za­tions on a set sched­ule.

“I still en­joy oc­ca­sion­ally get­ting pasties from a church on Po­plar Street that has been mak­ing them my whole life­time. We had them on the first Tues­day of the month I think. My sis­ter picks them up for me now and freezes them un­til we meet.

“Some­times we would get them and eat them the same day. They were de­liv­ered by our neigh­bor‘ Fritz’ Pol­mounter, who was a mem­ber of the church. By the way, his wife’s mother was Mrs. Maduro, who ran the Maduro’s men­tioned by Deb­bie Ro­man Swink in your last column.”

I re­call be­fore Christ­mas Ray Cook wrote to tell me that when he was a kid at hol­i­day time he’d be dis­patched by his mom to go to the con­vent of St. Joseph’s Slo­vak Church at Fifth and Lau­rel streets to buy oplatky, tra­di­tional wafers, from the sis­ters which they en­joyed with honey on Christ­mas Eve.

Me? I went to Mother of Grace School, but I can’t say I re­call the nuns mak­ing food for the com­mu­nity, though they may have. I lived way across town on West Fourth Street and Wil­bur Court, too far away to know what went on at North Vine and West 12th streets af­ter school. But I bet my pal Mary Jo Ch­es­lock Bar­rett could tell me. Does any­one else have a sim­i­lar mem­ory?

In my end of town, I of­ten got food hand­outs from Mrs. Mor­ris Chenetz. My first job at age 11 was shov­el­ing coal into her base­ment hop­per on Di­a­mond Av­enue for a $1.50 a week, good money for a kid in those days. Over 50 years later, I still smell the scent of burn­ing an­thracite and ash.

Many’s the time Mrs. Chenetz would have a plate of baked chicken or a slice of home­made ap­ple pie for me when she handed over the crisp yel­low Peo­ple’s First Na­tional Bank and Trust Co. pay en­ve­lope with my weekly salary in it.

My old pal Vince Fay­ock wrote, too. “Nice ar­ti­cle in to­day’s Stan­dard-Speaker, but you for­got to men­tion one of the best! Jimmy’s Quick Lunch. Has to be one of the longest open in the Ha­zle­ton area.

“Started by Jimmy Ge­orge who emi­grated from Greece, now run by his g rand­son, Jimmy Gro­hol. Af­ter Fri­day night Can­teen at the YM/ YWCA, that was the place to be! And of course, the Rodino’s Colo­nial on Wy­oming Street, Mrs. Pete’s on the Heights. Come on Heights peo­ple, how could we for­get?! Maybe you can work the miss­ing ones in a fu­ture ar­ti­cle.”

Thanks Vince. I’ll al­ways re­call the time a waitress in the Colo­nial gave me a free plate of spaghetti when I was in be­tween jobs and do­ing pick-up la­bor in town. I still can see the look of con­cern in her dark eyes. Does that hap­pen any­where else but Ha­zle­ton?

From Face­book I have the fol­low­ing. Elaine Vito says, “Great ar­ti­cle Mike, I don’t be­lieve Fedullo’s Ital­ian Restau­rant was men­tioned as it was fa­mous up in the North­east side of town, lol!” Cathy DeAng elo Gasper a g rees. “De­li­cious ravi­oli and meatballs!”

Gina Don­ahue-Con­nors says, “I wish Fer­di­nand’s on 15th was still open. We loved that place. Had many spe­cialoc­ca­sion cel­e­bra­tions there with my kids. Clean, and the food was ter­rific, and a huge se­lec­tion.”

Oth­ers wrote to com­ment on Fer­di­nand’s food. Lou’s head must be ex­pand­ing, as this isn’t the first time he’s been ap­plauded in this column. See what hap­pens when you live a de­cent life and reach out to help oth­ers, Lou?

Alice Ken­der chimes in. “Two of our chil­dren were for­tu­nate to work for the By­orek’s at the Knotty Pines dur­ing their high school and col­lege years.”

Int he’ 60s,Iwai ted curb­ser­vice for By ore k and bussed ta­bles. Dave Quinn worked there, too. Chances are scores of oth­ers worked for the By­orek fam­ily at one time or other. We ought to start a club.

I’m grate­ful for the risk these busi­ness­men and women took on be­half of the folks of the greater Ha­zle­ton area who needed jobs. But Ha­zle­ton-area folks also go the extra mile in help­ing char­i­ties.

My friend Lori Kemp says her char­ity of choice re­cently hit a $100,000 mile­stone in sup­port of first re­spon­ders fight­ing cancer since 2005. “This past year was a land­mark year for Foun­da­tion 58 as the all-vol­un­teer or­ga­ni­za­tion reached its high­est to­tals in fundrais­ing, num­ber of grants awarded, and dol­lars granted.”

I’ll say with­out fear of con­tra­dic­tion as long as we con­tinue pro­duc­ing folks un­afraid of reach­ing out to oth­ers in love, there’s no need in look­ing back­wards for our good times. From where I’m sit­ting, it looks like the best years lie ahead for the Ha­zle­ton area thanks to its good peo­ple.

MICHAEL APICHELLA

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