Some highlights of autumn season

‘Tis the season. And I don’t mean the time of pine needles, ornaments falling off the tree each time the door slams or going into a sugar frenzy after submitting to the temptation of many delicious cookies.

I’m talking about Halloween. Actually, I like Christmas decorations and the holiday in general, but I think that the colors and decorations of autumn are even more to my liking.

There aren’t big dinners to plan and extensive house cleaning to get done. Chili, hot dogs and pumpkin pie are just fine.

Lamont and I took a little trip up Toronto way last Sunday to visit the Goucher Hotel, and believe me, I wouldn’t want to stay overnight. Sometimes I can’t sleep in our quiet bedroom, but there would not be a bit of shuteye at Goucher with elevators shaking, people pleading for help and a train running through the building.

The hotel operators are a young man I have known from his 4-H days, Danny Kale, and Buster Bowman. It seems that every young person I know is from 4-H, doesn’t it?

We joined the tour Tom Nelson was giving for a family with a young man and another couple. I probably annoyed them with my gasping and nervous jumping.

In the lobby, a picture lit up with a devilish old- timer making dire predictions. Another room had the mirror seeming to explode – just how I feel when I look in the mirror early in the morning.

The elevator needs to be checked by the Otis people. It bounces, shakes, and the lights dim and brighten. I really didn’t like that, and I don’t think the young man in the group did either. Danny and Tom were grinning the entire time.

The long hall with a room 213 at both ends was confusing and even more so when a door opened to loud noises and the whispers of “Help me.”

A closet door opened to quivering walls and eventually the bright headlights of an oncoming train. I really wanted to run at that one.

I refused to go into the separate building with the maze. I don’t get along with those twisty trails where you get slapped in the face with fabric or find yourself closed in.

That is my Halloween excitement for this year. I do have something to brag about to my 14-year-old grandson, Matthew, about though. He would not go in the one in Columbus.


Another highlight of autumn is the Unionport Apple Stirrin’. And they are absolutely right about the stirring part.

I watched a troop of volunteers stirring the big copper kettles with long wooden paddles over an open fire, and it looked hot and tiresome, but the Unionport Grange folks and their recruited volunteers do it every year and they add something new each time.

I have taken part in the apple pie judging contest just about every year since the late 1980s, but this year we felt we were needed at the bedside of our son, Darin, as he came through an operation.

A member of our newsroom who knows much about cooking and bakes good pies himself, Mike McElwain, took over for me. I didn’t know who would be assisting him but when I asked, he told me he judged with a real judge. For a moment, I was a little put out but then realized that he was talking about Judge Dave Henderson. I haven’t judged food with him, but we sat beside each other for the Edison High School choir contest several times. Marian Weeks of Prime Time was the other judge.

Mary Catherine Mull, who takes charge of the contest each year, revealed the winners of the contest: Betty Cingaloni of Bergholz, first; Joanna Mann of Cadiz, second; and Mary Householder of Weirton, third and honorable mention. This was her first time to enter the Unionport contest.

Catherine Moore, co-chairman, and Shaina Schwartz, committee member of the fourth-annual Purple Palooza event on Nov. 16, were selling dark blue mugs that will be given as favors at the dinner, dance and fundraiser. The mugs on sale were filled with either frosted chocolate or white cake.

Jason Eddy, a parent and volunteer for the stand where the Cub Scout Pack 192 was selling painted pumpkins, was with Scouts also selling jams and jellies that were probably made by their parents.

I met Pat Caldrane, mother of a good friend of ours, Kim Zifzal. She and her husband, Tim, are avid walkers at Friendship Park, and Kim and I share the same birthday.

I was fascinated by the 1933 Hudson street rod that Tom Dowdel of Jewett displayed at the Apple Stirrin’ car show. The car had a role in the “American Grafitti,” movie and the car owner could even be seen in one scene. He has many cars from years past as well.

I bought cookies that were the size of a saucer. Mine was peanut butter, and Lamont had oatmeal/raisin. Perfect fall desserts.

Darin sent a snow scene from his backyard on Wednesday morning. I hope the youngsters do not have to wear winter coats over their Halloween outfits for trick or treat night.

Have a scary holiday. And don’t forget to turn on your porch light if you want to welcome the little ghosts and goblins. I know that Smithfield will have theirs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday.

(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