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What was that sound?

December 9, 2012
By ESTHER MCCOY - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

Aside from falling down in front of many people, and I did this at the Steubenville Country Club in front of Laura Meeks and a huge crowd once, the next most embarrassing thing that can happen is to bend down to retrieve something and hear a slight rip. You know, like the back seam in your slacks is coming apart?

This happened to me on a day so scheduled with activities that I would be away from home for at least 10 hours and when I was shy of a tiny sewing kit or a few safety pins at that moment.

I was at the Brilliant United Methodist Church taking pictures of ladies making nut rolls for a future food column when I bent over to pick up my notebook.

Article Photos

FLOAT — Randall and Lou Ann Craven, the oldest couple in the Brilliant United Methodist Church, portrayed Joseph and Mary, with Lou Ann cradling Baby Jesus. A band of young angels were part of the “Reason for the Season” manger scene float at the Wells Township Christmas parade.
-- Esther McCoy

It was then that I heard the slight tattering of fabric. When I got back to the car, I asked Lamont to check for any open spaces in my slacks, and he said there were none.

Then it was on to the Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogy Society Christmas luncheon held at St. Florian Hall where I leaned down to put my camera case on the floor.

I heard the same sound again and decided to trot out to the ladies room to check for myself. This was after stretching the back of my sweater down to a length that I thought would cover a tear if it should be evident.

What I discovered was the taffeta lining in my slacks had apparently shrunk in a recent dry cleaning, and this is what was making all the pulling apart sounds. You notice I blamed it on the dry cleaning. I didn't even want to think of all the holiday dinners that had passed my lips and gone to my hips.

So the outside portion of my slacks was still staying together, and I went on to two other assignments with complete confidence.

The Jefferson County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society Christmas luncheon at St. Florian Hall was a huge success. Three young men, Robert Zuckett, Steven Westlake and Dylan O'Neil, sang some of the traditional Christmas carols, while Olivia Reese, young granddaughter of Judy Schmidt, chapter vice president, did a great job of singing "The Christmas Story."

A program was held to honor grandparents. and Virginia Glenn had items belonging to her grandfather, John Boyd, including a Bible given to him when going off to war from his mother. There was a framed documentation for the Mooretown Monument that is very rare and a very old wicker basket.

Rita France had a canteen from World War I and antique clothes belonging to her grandmother, including her lace and tucked cotton sheer wedding dress from 1917.

There was a 1917 Dickens Christmas Carol book and a 1955 Santa coloring book that were kept in good condition.

This Wednesday will be the birthday of Benjamin Champ, son of Josie and Joe Nocera of Steubenville and Todd Champ of Weirton. He has three number 12's going for him on that day. He will be 12 years old on the 12th day of December, the 12th month.

Benjie stayed with his grandparents, Bob and Mary Ellen Petrozzi, for a time, and in 2006 he was my model for the Holiday Cookbook. He was dressed in scarecrow garb and seated by a 3-foot scarecrow for the autumn issue. He autographed a few of the cookbooks for family and friends, too.

He plays trumpet in the Harding Middle School sixth-grade band and enjoys playing video games.

Benjie looks after and plays with his little brother, Alfonso, who is 9 1/2 months old.

I had loads of fun running in and out among the participants of the Wells Township Christmas parade at the Brilliant North Elementary School parking lot on Saturday afternoon.

I spoke with Roger Cline, Brilliant American Legion Post 573 commander, and two of the Sons of the American Legion members, Brian Voyers and Ray Sullivan, who were waiting to lead the parade.

Karen's Angels Foundation had a float resembling the Candyland game, and the Brilliant Methodist Church had a thoughtful float depicting "The Reason for the Season." Girl Scout Troops 8004, 1011 and 4642 were present; the Blazing Saddle 4-H Club, had its animal projects; North Elementary pupils were having a great time in a wagon; the House of Prayer had a thoughtful float; and I know there were some that I might have missed in running up and down the school parking lot.

I was amazed at the enthusiasm that brought the parade together. The Christmas season is alive and thriving in the Brilliant community.

The 173rd birthday party of Gen. George Armstrong Custer had a new addition with Marlene Rice, portraying Libby Custer. She is the fiancee of Rick Williams who is the Custer re-enactor.

We met Don Allison, Bryan Times editor and Williams County historian, out at the Custer kiosk, where the life of the Boy General is displayed in pictures and story. He was taking pictures and reading the history just as we were, happy to be able to see this sort of information and to be in the exact spot where the golden haired general was born in a log cabin.

Except for the parents, all members of the Custer immediate family were natives of Harrison County. Two infants died at birth and then there was George, 1839; Nevin, 1842; Thomas, 1845; and Boston, 1846. A sister, Margaret Emma, was born in 1852 in North Township. George, Tom and Boston died together at the Battle of Little Big Horn. So did Margaret's husband, James Calhoun.

Written on one of the large sheets of the kiosk are these words penned by Custer to his wife, Libby, from Fort Larned, Kansas, in 1867:

"In years long numbered with the past, when I was verging upon manhood, my every thought was ambitious - not to be wealthy, not to be learned but to be great."

Dave Rose, who serves as Harrison County Veterans Service Commission administrator, explained that the Ohio Historical Society maintained the kiosk, the looming monument of the general and the museum.

Siding was put on the museum thanks to a grant; the bricks at the kiosk were replaced where needed; the frames on the pictures were repainted; and there are plans to clean up and make repairs where necessary on the photos in the frames.

Rose showed his leadership at the fellowship room when he shouted out a command for the audience to quiet down to start the program. Everyone sat up at attention and did not say another word.

Paul Quinn, Custer Memorial Association vice president, took us - Lamont was included on that all-day jaunt - on a tour of the Custer Museum. He proudly showed off a steamer trunk that belonged to Boston Custer, who died in 1865. When discovered, the hinges were broken and the inside of the trunk had many water stains.

"This is a real piece of Custer history," he said, explaining that there is a good flow of visitors who call to make arrangements to see the Custer memorabilia throughout the year.

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

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