Horses, baseball, the making of fabulous glass pieces and lavish buffets were all part of the three- day bus tour taken by the McCoys with the Mingo Senior Citizens last week. It was wonderful to get away for a few days and meet new people in the bargain.
The trip started with my texting our sons, Jay and Darin, saying we were getting ready to meet the bus, or coach, as they are now called. Jay fired back a message to say it reminded him of his school days, but now it was his parents meeting the bus.
Darin sent a message that Ozzie, our dog that was once his, was doing fine and sending along a friendly bark. The agreement when we took his Jack Russell terrier was if we got stuck for a sitter when going on a trip, that he would be willing to watch him. Jackson, our grandson, was very happy to have Ozzie back for a time.
Mingo Senior Center bus travelers pose in front of the statue of Barbaros at Churchill Downs. They are, from left, seated, Sue Zorbini, center activities director and tour guide; Cheryl Adams; Joann Sauvain; Kitty Kakascik; Elsie Petrella; Bev Higgins; and Peg Mathews; standing, Jim Zorbini, Henry and Flo Smith, Barb Recinella, Vivian and Charlie Snyder, Alda McGuire and Jean Marcott; and back, Ed Giacchino and Lamont McCoy.
The Smiths met with their son, Mike, executive host at the Belterra Casino and Resort, while on the bus trip. From left, Henry and Flo Smith of Mingo Junction; their daughter-in-law, Lois Smith, holding their grandchild; and Mike Smith.
From left, Kitty Kakascik, Beverly Higgins and Barb Recinella pose by a winning horse statue, adorned with a robe of red roses, at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
Jean Marcott of Weirton attempts to come in first in a simulated horse race at the Kentucky Derby Museum.
The Smithfield Apple Festival had a special vehicle, Morgan’s Mustang GT, in the car show. As the sign indicated, it is owned by 16-year-old Morgan Stock but maintained by Pops, her grandfather, Dick Freeland. Despite her illness over the years, she has collected beverage can tabs and other activities to earn money for others.
Our bus driver, Fred, from Group Tours Inc., made good travel time, and we got to Belterra Casino and Resort in plenty of time to lose money and wander aisles with wonderful food at the hotel buffet. They had cooked greens that I am beginning to take a great liking to and wonderful peanut butter pie. I could have made it through dinner on just those two items.
It was nice getting to meet Mike Smith, son of Henry and Flo Smith, who were on the bus trip. Mike is the executive host at Belterra Casino and Resort, and it was like old home week when the Mingo Smiths got together with Mike and Lois, both graduates of Catholic Central High School. And I learned that Lois is the cousin of Tim Cybulski, Larry's friend and fishing buddy.
Flo said that they were able to spend time with their son, making the trip extra special to them.
I seem to gravitate to people who are the same size as me, and Cheryl Adams and I took to each other right way. I took a picture of her standing by a life-size figure of Derek Jeter at the Louisville Slugger Museum, and she looked very tiny.
At the Kentucky Derby Museum, a comment was made that Cheryl could be one of the jockeys, as their weight ranges from 108 to 128 pounds. Her friend, Ed Giacchino, mounted a racing horse statue and looked right in style. Lamont made a striking horseback rider, too.
I am leery of live horses and seemed to feel the same way about the ones that look lifelike, so I stayed away from them.
Jean Marcott climbed aboard a horse for a simulated race, where you guide a horse through the maze of riders to reach the finish line. She placed sixth, which I didn't think was bad until she confided that there were only six horses in the race.
I marveled at the friendship of Kitty Kakascik and Barb Recinella, who said her first name was actually spelled Baerbel. Kitty preferred the casino but went shopping with Barb to the Croc Store where Barb talked her into buying an attractive pair of lavender and black shoes with a Mary Jane strap. She let me try them on, and they were very nice to look at.
When she learned how long I have worked at the Herald-Star, Vivian Snyder asked if I remembered Jonjean Thompson, who worked in the classified ad department at the office on North Fourth Street. I did remember her and learned that she is now living in Florida.
We had lunch with Vivian and her husband, Charlie; Sue and Jim Zorbini; and Jean Marcott at a place called The Brewery in Louisville. Vivian had tiny hamburger sandwiches that are called sliders, and they reminded me of little tea sandwiches and were so cute
I particularly enjoyed the Louisville Slugger Museum and seeing all the bats used by the players, knowing that each player had his own specifications for a bat.
I learned that Ty Cobb had a batting average of 366, the highest average of all time. The ideal bats are those made of 80-year-old Northern white ash or maple, and when hit with a hard jolt, a maple bat will splinter while an ash bat will simply crack.
A big league player will order between 100 and 120 bats per season, we learned. Babe Ruth probably had the biggest baseball bat at 35 inches and between 37 and 42-ounces. Jackie Robinson rivaled Ruth's in length at 33 to 35 inches but it only weighed up to 35 ounces.
Bud Hillerich made the first Louisville Slugger bat in 1884 at 17 years old, and the name continues today where the crack of the baseball bat is the heart of the game, our guide explained.
Lamont got to swing a bat belonging to Mickey Mantle, quite a heavy piece of lumber.
I would like to go back to the Smithfield Apple Festival that was held Sept. 21-23 and mention Morgan's Mustang GT that was one of the cars on display in the car show.
It was purchased for Morgan Stock but is maintained by her grandpa, Dick "Pop" Freeland. She is a tiny person but loved in a great big way by Pat and Dick, her grandparents.
Morgan is such an inspiration to everyone. Her health is not good, but when she was younger she was collecting masses of beverage pop can tabs to be used for charitable purposes for others.
Lamont and I had the pleasure of riding in the Mustang when we were parade grand marshals back in 2006. Megan was riding shotgun and was having a wonderful time.
I was quite surprised to hear from Ken Tomes, the rails to trails clown bike rider in the Johnny Appleseed parade in my column two weeks ago. He was told about his appearance in the column by someone from Follansbee.
The owner of the cat track business invited me to come to Wellsburg to ride in an event that would be traveling from Wellsburg to Elm Grove and back, a 50-mile trip that would be held today at 11 a.m.
He wasn't happy that I said my stomach muscles would be screaming when I saw the position of the riders. That is just out-of- shape me. No offense to the bike. It looked like fun but I didn't know if I could handle one in a semi-prone position. Thanks for the invite, though. Maybe another time.
In the meantime, I will start running on the treadmill again and try to do sit-ups.
(McCoy, a resident of Smithfield, is a staff columnist and food editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at email@example.com.)