Category Archives: Endwell NY

Jell-O and other culinary delights #AtoZChallenge

J is for Jell-O and other culinary delights. Tenth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

My elementary years in the late 1950s and early 1960s spanned a time when home cooking gave way to the first glimmers of fast food. Thus I went from homemade Jell-O to other culinary delights during my Endwell childhood.

Jell-O permutations

Jell-O had been a mainstay in the home kitchen since 1897. But as the 1960s dawned, there were new flavors and colors and various ways to prepare it — all of them embraced by my mother and maternal grandmother.

Jell-O salad recipes circa 1952. During my elementary years, Jell-O launched  new flavors, colors and various ways to prepare it — all of them embraced by my mother and maternal grandmother. Image: Pinterest

My mom favored red Jell-O with a can of fruit cocktail dumped into it — which would sink to the bottom in a colorful hodgepodge. I think she served it with whipped cream as a sort of dessert. There always seemed to be a bowl of it jiggling away in the fridge.

Boom, my grandmother, was a lime Jell-O connoisseur. She fixed it as a fruit salad with crushed pineapple at the bottom served with a dollop of mayonnaise. Sometimes she even used clear gelatin to make aspic with tomato juice — but we kids preferred sweet Jell-O.

Southern Tier spiedies

As a main dish, the signature local delight was spiedies (pronounced SPEE-dees) — still popular all over New York’s Sounthern Tier. One commercial purveyor of spiedies and the marinade to make them was Lupo’s Char Pit — which was walking/biking distance from my house and is still open today.

https://kaionegal.typepad.com/the_art_of_nothing/2010/07/lupos-spiedies-in-endicott-new-york.html
Lupo’s Char Pit, Endwell, N.Y. Photo: Cheryl Simpson/The Art of Nothing

Spiedies are basically marinaded meat chunks (you can soak them in Italian dressing in a pinch). They are cooked on a grill then pulled off their skewer by wrapping a slice of soft Italian bread around them (although Lupo’s serves them with a studier bun).

Even though Lupo’s was nearby, my mom and other mothers on the block made spiedies at home — soaking lamb, beef, pork or chicken in a big bowl of marinade in the fridge or on the counter.

https://kaionegal.typepad.com/the_art_of_nothing/2010/07/lupos-spiedies-in-endicott-new-york.html
Lupo’s spiedies: An Endwell culinary delight.. Photo: Cheryl Simpson/The Art of Nothing

What our moms didn’t know is that we kids loved them so much, we would sneak the meat cubes out of the savory liquid and eat them raw! At a street reunion last year some of us “kids,” now retired, laughed about surviving this experience.

Hot Pie: An Endicott specialty

Another quick meal for our growing family was Sicilian pizza — known locally in the Endwell area as “hot pie.” There were Italian bakeries all over Endicott, the next town over — and all of them served hot pie.

https://thecommunikey.com/the-great-endicott-pizza-debate/
Hot pie: An Endicott specialty. Photo: thecommunikey.com

My family often made round pizza from scratch at home. But in a a pinch, hot pie — always in a rectangular pan and mostly bread with a bit of pizza sauce and cheese — was a special treat.

Grover’s Pig Stand

My parents were frugal, so we seldom ate out at restaurants. But one that we sometimes went to for all things pork was Grover’s Pig Stand on Main Street.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/189080884327229988/
Grover’s Pig Stand on Main Street in Endwell, N.Y. Photo: Pinterest

I remember the Pig Stand having sandwiches and French fries, which must have been affordable.

And nearby was the local distributor of Charles Chips — the fancy, perfectly cooked chips that were sold for pickup or delivery in beige and brown tins that I think might have been refillable. I loved to eat them with a cold glass of milk while watching TV.

Ad for the Endwell Carvel store. Source: Endicott Daily Bulletin, March 4, 1955

Carvel for dessert

One store we did frequent was the local Carvel up the block from the Pig Stand. Once in a while we should stop for a soft ice cream cones.

But usually it was to pick up a package of Flying Saucer® ice cream sandwiches — those large chocolate cookies stuffed with chocolate or vanilla ice cream — to put in our big freezer in the garage.

We seemed to always have a package on hand — especially in the summer — and the trick was to let the sandwich thaw slightly so the cookie mixed in with the ice cream as you ate it.

Yum! They truly were “out of this world” — just as Carvel promised.

Up next: K is for KDKA and radio mania. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads #AtoZChallenge

I is for Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads. Ninth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

One of the big area employers during my elementary years was the Endicott Johnson Corporation — a mass manufacturer of shoes.

EJ, as everyone called it, recruited workers from southern and Eastern Europe. This explained the large Italian and Czech populations in Endwell, N.Y. where I lived — and their closeness to their immigrant heritage, which was only one or two generations away.

I, on the other hand, was a motley mix of French, English, Irish, Welsh and Swiss on my dad’s side and German and Italian on my mom’s — all many generations back. Yet I longed for a more definitive ancestral identity to mesh with my playmates. Enter my Italian ancestors.

Four generations of Italian heritage (1956). Photo: Norman J. Charboneau

Just Italian enough

I took after my dad’s side — tall, fair with blue eyes and a mercurial Irish temper — but whenever my little neighbors or classmates rolled out their single-ethnic heritage I would chime up, “My mom is half Italian.” And just like that, I fit in.

Not only that, I had proof. Right before we moved to Endwell, our family went to Gloversville, N.Y. to visit my great grandmother Mamie (Curcio) Laurence [an anglicized version of Di Lorenzo] — and my dad snapped a picture.

Gathered on the steps of my Italian ancestors’ East Fulton St. home (shown above) are my great grandmother Mamie, my grandfather Antonio (Tony) Laurence, my mom Peg (Laurence) Charboneau along with me and my brothers — four generations of Italian-Americans all in one spot. So even if I wasn’t all Italian, I was still Italian enough to get by during my elementary years!

Indian arrowheads

Yet there was another heritage underlying our neighborhood that predated us all  — that of the Native American people who were early guardians of the land and inhabited the area before settlers arrived.

Depiction of a Susquehannock on the Smith Map (1624). The handwritten caption reads “The Susquehannocks are a giant-like people and thus attired.”  The Susquehannock people, whose original tribal name has been lost, lived along the Susquehanna River until displaced by settlers. Source: Wikimedia Commons

On my street —  just one block from the Susquehanna River — pretty much any digging with a backhoe unearthed carefully chiseled arrowheads.

These exquisite projectiles bore historic testimony to the sheer numbers of displaced Native people — like the Susquehannocks and others — who for generations had lived, planted, hunted and fished along same shores where I later lived during my elementary years.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Native_American_arrowheads.JPG
Indian arrowheads (2006). On my street, just one block from the Susquehanna River, pretty much any digging with a backhoe unearthed carefully chiseled arrowheads — tangible traces of the rich Native culture that preceded us. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The history of these Native people was not taught at Hooper School, so we kids had to learn what we could from Mr. Hughes — one of our street’s earliest residents.

He had a chest filled with arrowheads and other artifacts — unearthed as our houses were built — and once a year he’d invite us kids in to look over the amazing collection.

Our ancestors had been immigrants. But in Mr. Hughes’s living room we learned that a rich Native culture had preceded us — leaving tangible traces for us to discover many centuries later.

Up next: J is for Jello and other culinary delights. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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Howdy Doody and Hooper School #AtoZChallenge

H is for Howdy Doody and Hooper School. Eighth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

From the perspective of age, I look back wistfully on my elementary years and the prevailing cultural influences on the Baby Boom generation. Primary among them was television.

Today many young folks are cutting the cord to save money on cable and live streaming from the internet. But during my elementary years, it was network TV that got us hooked. And one of my favorite programs was the Howdy Doody show that aired from 1947 to 1960.

https://www.thevintagenews.com/2017/05/18/howdy-doody-the-most-celebrated-childrens-show-in-television-history/
Howdy Doody checks out his new look. When the Howdy Doody show ended permanently in 1960, I made a heavy-hearted entry in my diary mourning the loss of part of my childhood. Photo: thevintagenews.com

The program featured Howdy Doody, a freckled marionette, as a sidekick to Buffalo Bob, who hosted the circus/western themed show — supported by a puppet and human cast.

Today I would not regard this program as politically correct (what did children of color make of this show, I wonder). But at the time I was innocently mesmerized by the extensive cast of animal and human marionettes that seemed very real to me.

So real that when the show ended permanently in 1960, I made a heavy-hearted entry in my diary — mourning, at age 10, the loss of part of my childhood.

24 Sept. 1960 – Dear Diary, Today at 11:01 Howdy Doody went off the air and won’t be back again. I cried very hard. I had watched it since I was a little girl.

Hooper School

Yet life went on and with it the yearly rhythms at Hooper School, my elementary school for grades 2 through 4 — and there were definite advantages over Altamont Elementary, where I went when we lived on the farm.

For one thing, I could walk to school from home — so no more school bus bullies to worry about. For another, there were cool stores near Hooper School to buy candy and other snacks — or to just roam around looking at the inventory. Some of those buildings are still standing.

Former red brick Michaels 5 & 10 Store (2018). Michaels had a fabulous penny candy counter that was a perfect match for my meager allowance. Seely’s Ice Cream was located at the left, where Citgo is now. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Michaels 5 & 10 store — which was run by Mr. Michaels and his wife — had a fabulous penny candy counter that was a perfect match for my meager allowance. All of us kids shopped there — or just wandered the two aisles looking at the school, hardware and beauty supplies hanging on the racks.

Former Endwell Market  building (2018). Run by the Gowers in the 1950s-60s, the Endwell Market had a couple of gum ball machines out front and carried more expensive candy bars and other sweets at the counter. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Endwell Market across Main Street, run by the Gowers, had a couple of gum ball machines out front and carried more expensive candy bars and other sweets at the counter. That’s where I had my first Sky Bar, regularly stocked up on Necco Wafers and decided that Three Musketeers was my lifelong candy bar of choice.

Seely’s ad in the Endicott Daily Bulletin, Feb. 4, 1958. Source: George F. Johnson Memorial Library

Seely’s Ice Cream, up Main Street from Michaels, was the classic 1950s soda fountain. There were stools at a long counter, booths along the opposite wall and you could get all things ice cream — from cones, sodas and milkshakes to banana splits — or eat lunch there if your parents could afford it. Alas, the building is now gone.

Talk to anyone who went to Hooper School, and they will tell you how much they loved the stores nearby — important social gathering places where we children could take a break from our parents and from homework and have a bit of fun on the way home from school.

Up next: I is for Italian Ancestors and Indian Arrowheads. Please stop back! 

© 2020 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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