Area well represented at Virginia picnic


Letter No. 297 | September 14, 2002

On this past Sunday, one week after Labor Day, my wife and I attended an annual church picnic held at a Byzantine Catholic Church in Annandale, Virginia. It was our yearly pilgrimage to buy a pastry called kolacky (see ethnic food definitions below). This pastry is a delicacy that one places in a freezer to await serving to relatives and guests during the forthcoming holidays.

The church cooking staff enforced the rule that nothing was to be sold before noon. While waiting, I met Mr. John Oravetz who informed me that he was a Vintondale native whose family departed Vintondale a long time ago. John is a retired military and civil service employee who resides with his wife, originally from Indiana County, in Woodbridge, Virginia.

During our discussion about our native towns, a female voice piped up, "Did I hear the town, Nanty Glo?" The voice belonged to Mary Ann (Bender) Hall, a 1957 graduate of Nanty Glo-Vintondale High School, who resides with her husband in Arlington, Virginia. She stated that she left Nanty Glo for the Washington, D.C. area immediately after high school and returns home rarely. A brother, Steve Bender, still resides in Nanty Glo, and a sister is also in the region. A review of the 1957 Nanty Glo graduating class failed to list Mary Ann's name. I found her to be a warm and vivacious lady who would be almost impossible for anyone to miss. I informed her about the Nanty Glo web site soon for mention of her name.

Meanwhile, another nearby woman, also making a food purchase, said, "Did you say Johnstown? My husband is from Johnstown." Before I could quiz her more, my wife remarked, "It's time to leave."

Definition of several Slovak or Polish foods:
Pierogi, also pirogi - A semicircular dumpling with any of various fillings, such as finely chopped meat or potatoes, that is often sautéed after being boiled.
Kolacky, or kolache - a sweet bun made from yeasted dough and usually having walnuts or poppy seed filling.
Halupki, or pigs in the blanket - ground beef mixed with rice, stuffed in a cabbage leaf.

Best wishes,




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