Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Recipes of Youngstown Volume 3

Recipes LargeIt just could be that I am about the last person from Youngstown to find out about the latest addition to the Recipes of Youngstown series. I posted a picture last week of my “Youngstown library” which includes the first two volumes in the series, only to get a raft of comments about the latest addition to the collection. Volume Three is now available and may be picked up at the Arms Family Museum (if you can get to it with the Wick Avenue construction) or the Tyler History Center during regular hours (Tuesday-Sunday from Noon to 4:00 p.m.). You may also purchase copies for yourself and friends online at the Mahoning Valley Historical Society website. I just ordered mine.

As I’ve come to expect, the people behind Recipes of Youngstown Volume 3 came up with another great cause to support and some great ways to support it. On May 13 from 12-4 pm at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center, there will be a formal launch of the cookbook and a tasting event that will feature at least 30 recipes from Volume 3. Proceeds from the tasting and from cookbook sales both at the event and elsewhere will help establish a scholarship fund for veterans attending Youngstown State. Appropriately, the event is being billed “From Mess Hall to Mom’s Kitchen.”

Similar to other events this group has hosted, it will include the opportunity for tasting all these delicious recipes. You may purchase six tasting coupons for $5. There will also be a basket raffle and prizes, and a Best Cobbler Contest. Of course you will be able to purchase copies of Recipes of Youngstown Volume 3 (and probably the other volumes as well).

Here’s a list off of the Recipes of Youngstown Facebook page of the dishes lined up so far:

Johnny Marzetti
Shrimp Cocktail for a Crowd
Potato Pasties
Chex Mix
Homemade Italian Sausage
City Chicken w/ Mashed Potatoes
Baked Beans w/Kielbasa
Creamed Chip Beef on Toast
BBQ Smoked Pulled Pork Sliders w/Coleslaw
Ham & Bean Soup w/ Corn Bread
Sloppy Joes
Banana Bread
California Onion Potatoes W/Green Beans
Bolony Salad Sliders
Bean n Greens
Potato Pancakes
Chicken over Rice/Orzo
BBQ chicken
Summer Corn & Tomato Salad
Zucchini Pancakes
Daffodil Dip
Ham Rolls
Betty’s Potato Salad
Walnut Apple Cake
Tequila Lime Chicken
Mexican Rice
Mini Cupcakes
Potato Leek Soup w/French Baguette
Apple &/or Cherry Pie Wine
Zlevanka (Croatian Cheesecake)
Croatian Sliders (Mini Burgers)
Coconut Wine
Dago Red
Italian Beef Stew

This list makes my mouth water just to read it.

I have to admit that I am so amazed at what a group of Facebook friends who loved talking about and sharing Youngstown recipes has accomplished over the last four years, publishing three cookbooks, hosting a number of fun events, and funding three worthwhile projects in the Youngstown community. It seems to me that these folks bring together some of the best of what Youngstown is about:

  • Good food shared together.
  • Love for all things Youngstown.
  • A “go getter” spirit that sees a need and acts rather than waits for others.

If you are in or around Youngstown on May 13, why not stop by. And if not, you can always order a cookbook (or several for other Youngstown friends) and bring a taste of Youngstown to wherever you live!

Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Veterans


A service flag denoting a family member who had died in service and two others in the Armed Forces

My dad was a World War II veteran. He served in a medical evac unit in France and Germany during the last year of the war. He often talked about how hard it was shipping out to Europe, shortly after my brother had been born in 1944. I’m reminded of him this weekend as we remember all the men and women who served in our armed forces, and particularly those who gave their lives for our country. This weekend, flags will be placed at the graves of veterans in many cemeteries.

Many of the men from Youngstown who served in World War II and survived came back and started families and went to work, or back to work in the mills. Most never said much about the horrors of the war–the mind doesn’t want to go back there. Certainly, some experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder before there was a name for it. Some took advantage of the G.I. Bill and went to college, the first in families that may have been peasant farmers in Eastern Europe a generation or two before. Those were boom years in Youngstown–growing families, growing schools, new houses, and the valley aglow. I was born in the midst of all that nine years after the war ended.

By then, the Korean War had added to the ranks of veterans. I never heard much about this war. For many of us, the Vietnam War was what was etched in our memories. As a paper boy, I noticed the blue star banners in the windows of some homes denoting a family with someone in the service. Such banners were replaced with gold star banners for those who had died. No one wanted one of these, and we became more uncertain about the cause represented by the blue ones as the war wore on. Unfortunately, we did not do a good job welcoming home those who answered the call to serve. They should never have been made to bear the blame for what our politicians had gotten us into. It seems, at least we have learned since then as these veterans have spoken out and the beautiful Vietnam war memorial was erected in Washington, D.C.

Many of those vets also came home and went to work at places like Lordstown, like my friend Bob. Most of them didn’t say much about what they experienced, until they discovered that this was part of the process of healing from the nightmares that persisted. Since then we’ve sent others to the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and other trouble spots.

That’s what’s unsettling about war and about what those who have fought have had to experience. Even those who did not make the “ultimate sacrifice” bear the marks of what they have seen, and had to do. I’m grateful for so many who did this, like my dad, and then made Youngstown what it was during my growing up years. I’m grateful for all those like him, ordinary guys, who simply have done what has to be done. And that sobers me as well and makes me ask more and more questions the older I get of our politicians, and why this war, this fight is necessary. Because it will be men and women like my dad, like my friend Bob, who will bear the burden.

We remember.

All my posts on Youngstown are available by clicking “On Youngstown” either here or on the menu bar.



Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Memorial Day Parades

Parade Down Federal Street, circa 1940 / copyright Ohio Historical Society

Parade Down Federal Street, circa 1940 / copyright Ohio Historical Society

Memorial Day weekend. Time to fire up the grill if you haven’t already. Spring is coming to an end, the last frost is past and the gardens are going. And when I was a kid in Youngstown, we would make our way downtown to the Memorial Day Parade along what we then called Federal Street.

We usually found a place near the Home Savings and Loan building. The challenge was working your way in front of the tall people so you could see all the action.

Probably the most fun was to see and hear all the marching bands from the local high schools with the drum majors and majorettes twirling (and dropping) batons as they made their way down the street. There was lots of John Philips Sousa. Nothing says patriotism like his marches such as Stars and Stripes Forever.

There were the various veterans posts with men marching in their uniforms carrying American and veterans post flags. Of course this was fitting on a day when we honored the service of our military and those who died. Many of these were World War II and Korea veterans only fifteen to twenty years or so after these conflicts. My dad, who was an Army veteran from World War II would always stand a bit straighter, almost as if he was at attention. Maybe it was just pride.

Interspersed with these groups would be our local celebrities–the mayor and other local politicians riding in convertibles, and other local leaders. I always remember the pretty girls who would be perched on top of the back seats waving at the crowds.

As a small kid, it was always cool to see the police come by in both police cruisers and on motorcycles. And the fire department would always have at least one of their trucks in the parade sirens blaring.

There would be a mix of other groups as well. You would have dance groups dancing their way down Federal Street. There would be union locals with union officials in more convertibles, always carrying a sign with the local number and some slogan. There were ROTC units from Youngstown University and ethnic groups in costume

All this seems pretty tame fare by modern standards. But it was a great way to begin this day where we remembered those who served, and especially those who gave all for their country. Our patriotism was yet to be tempered by cynicism over our country’s involvement in Viet Nam. Our parents were members of “The Greatest Generation”.

We didn’t talk a great deal about those wars. Then as now, wars were terrible things and the most vivid memories were not ones easily revisited. But after the parade, we often went to a cemetery, to lay a wreath, to place a flag at a veteran’s grave, to remember. Years later, when my son was involved in Boy Scouts, his troop would place flags at all the graves of veterans at a local cemetery. When we finished, the place was abloom with flags. So many served.

But then it was often off to my grandparents until grandma passed in 1965. Cousins and uncles would be there for a big picnic in their big backyard. I remember how good the hot dogs were off the grill with relish and mustard. Then there was my grandmother’s potato salad. We topped off the day with the first fireworks of the summer at Idora Park. We’d often watch from Rocky Ridge, where we could see the fireworks over the trees.

School was almost finished for the year and Memorial Day got us thinking of all the fun things we liked to do in summer. Good memories of a simpler time.

[Want to read other “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown” posts? Just click “On Youngstown” on the menu bar at the top of this page to read any or all in this series.]

“The Dream” on Veterans Day

liberty and justice for allIt is customary on Veterans Day to speak of supporting our troops and honoring the service of our military. It is in fact a point of family pride that my father served in the Army in World War II, my uncle in the Navy, and I have a nephew who is an Air Force Colonel. Military service was/is a defining event in each of their lives. Love of country has been a prominent part of the motivation of each.

Yesterday, I posted on a book on Martin Luther King, Jr. and his “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” With King on my mind, I think today of his “I have a dream” speech. I think of these lines:

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

And I wonder, how well is that dream being realized for the many veterans of color who return to our cities from hazardous places where they have put their lives on the line? A good friend of mine wrote on this in her blog, By Their Strange Fruit, today. The truth is, from the Revolutionary War on, persons of color have served in our military, showing themselves bright enough to carry out orders, brave enough to face enemy fire and not flee, and human enough to shed blood and die.  My friend observes that we often speak of “supporting our troops”. Do we support these troops when they come home just as we would wish our own family members to be supported?

I’m troubled when troops who have acted with courage and integrity are racially profiled by our police and store security. I’m troubled when those who have done the job for our country return home and have a difficult time finding a job. I’m troubled when for-profit schools eat up veteran benefits without providing a real education leading to a good job. I’m troubled when our wounded warriors of whatever race fail to receive the health care they need to recover from the physical and mental scars of battle.

We contend that “liberty and justice for all” is something worth fighting or even dying for when it is too often the case that the reality of our system is liberty and justice for some. To speak of honoring service or supporting troops is hollow language if we do not strive for the kind of society where all our returning troops are treated equally under the law and enjoy equal access to the opportunities of education, healthcare and employment that all of us need to provide well for ourselves and those we love.

Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Whites, and others have served side by side on behalf of a nation they together have made great. How much longer will these veterans have to wait to realize the dream they’ve fought for? Hasn’t that time come?