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Monthly Archives: September 2013


Join Us for TONIGHT’s Hobo Picnic in Derry!

A $2 donation is suggested for the cost of the meal.

Railroad Days festivities continue  on Saturday and Sunday in downtown Derry!



The New Gray Boys Alan & Gary: Two Brothers, Two Best Friends , Bound Together by Music

by Debbie Gray

“In the previous generation of the family were five brothers: Charley (Mrs. Armstrong’s father), Laney, Dan, Joss (Joshua) and Abe, all skillful on some instrument, and accustomed to playing together for dances. …  All of these men are now gone, and Mrs. Armstrong, who began playing at the age of five, is the sole legatee of their melodic treasure.  As a young girl she used to listen by the hour to her uncle Laney – the most expert fiddler of the group, and the one possessing the largest repertory of tunes – absorbing his music and learning to play it herself. She also use to play cello, on which she would help the group out when they were playing in the pavilion at “Kist’s Grove” (a dancing ground on the outskirts of Derry), and elsewhere in the neighborhood.”  About 1910 Laney Gray went to live in the Far West and the “Gray Boys” ensemble broke up, although they individually continued to play for dances throughout the area.”

When Alan and Gary’s musical careers began as fourth graders, both vocally and instrumentally, who would have ever guessed  that music would prove to be a “gift” for them both as they both excel as trombonists. Both Alan and Gary participated in concert band and Show Choir at the elementary level as well as con-cert, jazz band and ensemble in middle school. Alan and Gary were both selected to represent Derry Area Middle School at the county, district and collegiate level consecutively during grades 6 through 8. Alan and Gary both competitively auditioned for Seton Hill’s Youth Honor Concert Band and subsequently participated with the Westmoreland Symphonic Winds Orchestra. Gary further auditioned and was selected to play in the Seton Hill Youth Honor Jazz Band as an eighth grader. Alan and Gary also participated in County and District Chorus during the course of their middle school career grades 6 through 8. Gary was recognized and awarded with a Principals Award at his eighth grade award ceremony for his vocal and instrumental achievements, nominated by his chorus and band teacher.

As a high school student Alan’s gift of music was apparent and continued to flourish. Alan was selected to represent Derry Area High School all four years at the county and district level, ultimately advancing to the region level while fulfilling his dream at the Pennsylvania All-State level. In the meantime, Alan was selected to participate in the IUP Honors Band as well as the Pennsylvania Music Educators District I Honors Band. Not missing a beat, Alan participated in Marching Band, Pep Band, and Pit Band when he was not busy with choir, ensemble, musicals, soccer, trombone lessons, ranking as an Eagle Scout, school organizations, scholastic achievements, volunteering, and work. Alan enjoys playing his acoustic guitar for leisure. Two weeks after graduation Alan was recruited to be a member of the Derry Area Alumni Brass Band and participated at a concert at the Amphitheater. Alan has been called upon many times to play his trombone in community-based orchestras, ensembles and quartets. Alan was recognized as Music Student of the Quarter as a junior and senior and received the Director’s Award at his senior concert band concert in recognition of his outstanding musicianship and leadership skills. Alan was the recipient of the prestigious Arion Award at his senior chorus concert, an award that is awarded to a choral student selected by his peers who they deem as a vocalist has demonstrated outstanding musical achievement. Alan has received numerous medals, trophies, certificates and plaques as keepsakes for his musical accomplishments and achievements. Prior to budget cuts in education, Alan wanted to pursue a degree in Music Education. Alan will continue his musical career at St. Vincent College as a member of the St. Vincent College Bearcat marching band while searching for more musical opportunities.

Following in his big brother’s footsteps and deter-mined to make a name for himself, Gary will begin his high school career as a member of the Derry Area High School Marching Band. Gary also plans to participate in concert band, jazz band, choir, ensemble, and musicals while pre-paring to audition for PMEA Honors Band, county, district and region band in pursuit of acquiring a PA All-State Concert Band medal to add to his collection of existing medals and certificates. Gary is in the process of preparing to rank as an Eagle Scout, play soccer, and he is excited to think of what the next four years has in store for him musically. Was it irony that Gary set out to be a fiddle player at the age of eight (prior to the onset of an unexpected illness) or coincidence based on recent genealogy discovery?

Alan and Gary are doubly blessed having the voice of music ever present on both sides of the family. As per Alan and Gary, “Music is Life. Life Is a Song. Music is the Reflection of Yourself.”

The New Gray Boys: Gary (left) and Alan (right) Gray.

The New Gray Boys: Gary (left) and Alan (right) Gray.

Tunes of Gray: Derry’s Own Sarah Gray Armstrong and the Gray Boys

by John Matviya
President, Derry Area Historical Society

If you entertained any doubt that a trait such as musical ability is contained a person’s DNA or “runs in the family” this should convince you otherwise. A query sent to the Derry Area Historical Society’s family research library from a “fan” of Sarah Armstrong led to our rediscovery of Derry’s most prolific song writer of the past and to the recognition that her musical talent lives on in members of the Gray Family.

Photo 1 – Another Gray Family of musicians was headed by Davis Gray (seated with violin) with his daughters and sons, first-cousins of Sarah Gray Armstrong.

Photo 1 – Another Gray Family of musicians was headed by Davis Gray (seated with violin) with his daughters and sons, first-cousins of Sarah Gray Armstrong.

Mrs. Sarah Gray Armstrong

Mrs. Sarah Gray Armstrong

Miss Sarah Elizabeth Gray was born in Gray Station in Derry Township, Westmoreland County, PA, on March 18, 1883. Her father was Charles H. Gray, a grandson of Israel and Rebecca Gray, the Ulster-Irish immigrant ancestors of the Gray family of that place. Like her father and his brothers, Sarah was very talented musically and can be credited with memorializing the traditional folk music that her family played in 19th century Derry Township. It was Penn State University professor Dr. Samuel Preston Bayard who captured the Grays’ music in his 1944 work, Hill Country Tunes – Instrumental Folk Music of Southwestern Pennsylvania. Bayard wrote, “(the Grays) absorbed and preserved the local tradition in which they grew up.” (1) Bayard’s interview of the 60-year old housewife, Mrs. Sadie Armstrong, at her Kingston Cutoff home, resulted in the recording, on paper, of a large number of songs played by Sadie and other members of the Gray family, the major contribution to his book. In his “Notes on the Players” Bayard wrote, “In the previous generation of the family were five brothers: Charley (Mrs. Armstrong’s father), Laney, Dan, Joss (Joshua) and Abe, all skillful on some instrument, and accustomed to playing together for dances.” Bayard continued, “All of these men are now gone, and Mrs. Armstrong, who began playing at the age of five, is the sole legatee of their melodic treasure. As a young girl she used to listen by the hour to her uncle Laney – the most expert fiddler of the group, and the one possessing the largest repertory of tunes – absorbing his music and learning to play it herself. She also use to play cello, on which she would help the group out when they were playing in the pavllion at ‘Kist’s Grove’ (a dancing ground on the outskirts of Derry), and elsewhere in the neighborhood.” About 1910 Laney Gray went to live in the Far West and the “Gray Boys” ensemble broke up, although they individually continued to play for dances throughout the area. Sarah, who married Charles Armstrong in 1899, “with the assistance of her daughter at the piano and her son on the guitar or banjo, has likewise continued playing the old music, either for dances, or on an occasional radio or theater program” wrote Professor Bayard. If he had done more research in the Derry area – and hung around another 70 years – he would have found that the love of playing music was not limited to the members of the Gray family he listed above.

In her book, Community Express, Eleanor Thomas made several notes of this fact in her section on Gray Station. In Notes from the Past: “Dances were held at the Grays.  Lena Gray would play the piano, or organ, and Davie would play the fiddle. What good times they were! Dance until early morning.” This would appear to refer to Davis Gray (1847-1923) and his daughter, Lena, born in 1879. Davis was a son of Israel Gray, Sarah’s grandfather, and his first wife, Eliza Bush. Later, Joseph William Gray (1898-1965), a son of Joseph Sr. of an uncertain relationship to Israel, acquired the Gray Homestead that was built by Israel’s brother, John. Eleanor Thomas noted: “He lived in the Gray homestead for many years. He was not married. He was a very likable man and loved to hold dances and have fun at his place on Saturday nights.  People from around the community would attend the dances.” As for his father, “Joseph Gray would take a piece of wood to make a ukulele, using fence wire for the strings.” (2)
As a result of Dr. Bayard’s transcriptions of traditional American Dance music of the 1800s, fiddlers of today attempt to recreate the techniques and melodies of the past. One song, called “Old Reel” in Bayard’s book is now known as “Sarah Arm-strong’s Tune” after the Derry native who played it for Bayard. This song can be heard on “You Tube” and on recordings such as Todd Clewell’s CD, “Sarah Armstrong’s Tunes” containing 27 of her compositions, and available at www.toddclewell.com/sarah.html.

You can also hear this tune played at: www.LaurelMountainPost.com

You can also hear this tune played at: http://www.LaurelMountainPost.com


1 Bayard, Samuel Preston. Hill County Tunes. American Folk Lore Society. Philadelphia. 1944.
2 Thomas, Eleanor. Community Express. Laurel Group Press. Scottdale. 1990.

Notes About Sarah Gray Armstrong

When she died in 1957 at the age of 74, few people near her Kingston cut-off home and throughout the Derry community noted the passing of Mrs. Sarah Armstrong and fewer yet remembered the joy she once brought to the community with her music. No one could have imagined that 50 years after her death, “Sarah Armstrong’s Tune” would be heard throughout the world on You Tube.

Sarah Elizabeth Gray, born March 18, 1883, was the oldest child of Charles and Julie Gray of Gray Station, a small village along the Pennsylvania rail line in Derry Township, Westmoreland County. Charles was one of 5 sons of Israel and Sarah Boyer Gray, all born between 1859 and 1867. The five also included Laney, Dan, Joss and Abe. They had an additional 6 older half-brothers and one half-sister, born to Israel and Liza Bush Gray from 1834 to 1853. Large families were common for the Grays of Derry Township. And so was music.

Samuel Preston Bayard, of the American Folklore Society, was also a music teacher at Penn State University. Interested in the rich folklore traditions of western Pennsylvania, on November 5, 1943, Bayard found his way to the Derry home of Mrs. Sarah (Gray) Armstrong, at the top of the Kingston Cut-Off. After explaining his interests, Mrs. Armstrong picked up her old fiddle and began to play. Bayard transcribed to paper four tunes that day. He must have been impressed because thirteen days later on November 18 he returned and transcribed thirty-three more tunes! These thirty-seven tunes would make Mrs. Armstrong the principal contributor to his book “Hill Country Tunes” published in 1944.

Although Professor Bayard mentions the presence of a “recording apparatus” in the Armstrong home, there are no known recordings of her playing. If any descendants have these recordings, please contact the Derry Area Historical Society.

Many of Sarah Armstrong’s tunes have been recorded by a modern-day fiddler, Todd Clewell of Felton, in central Pennsylvania. Todd wrote in the liner notes to his CD, “In June of 2002 I attended an old-time fiddler’s festival in Elk Creek, Virginia. We were jamming on the front porch …. Ellen Vigour played a tune that really caught my ear. She called it “Sarah Armstrong’s Tune”. The name stuck with me and I realized that I actually had a book called “Hill Country Tunes,” with more of Sarah Armstrong’s tunes in it. I learned a few, and then a few more, and before I knew it I was hooked. Over the last two years I have learned and recorded twenty-seven of Sarah Armstrong’s tunes.” “Sarah Armstrong’s Tune”, called “Old Reel” by Sarah herself, along with an additional 24 of her songs, are recorded on Todd’s compact disk, Sarah Armstrong’s Tunes, that can be ordered at: http://www.toddclewell.com/sarah.html or purchased through the Derry Area Historical Society.

Tell Me Something Good

by Regan Chemski, Laurel Mountain Post Columnist

“Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible.“
– Charles Dickens

In today’s world, we sometimes have to make a concerted effort to look a little longer and a little deeper – beyond the negativity we are so often bombarded with – to recognize that good things are indeed happening all around us. What makes accentuating the positive even more difficult is that many of those doing good abide by the quote listed above and don’t seek out accolades or any recognition at all. Each month, we will bring you stories of people and/or organizations making positive change specifically here in the Laurel Highlands that frequently go unnoticed and un-heralded. We hope these stories will not only bring a smile to your face and hope to your heart, but also encourage you to pay that positivity forward in your own life.

DAYAA Derry Soccer
Contenders League – Derry

In fall 2012, Derry Soccer created a league especially designed for kids and adults with special needs in Derry and surrounding communities. The mission of the league is two-fold: first, to offer a sports and fitness activity in an adaptive environment for these young adults with special needs – players’ ages have ranged from 4 years-old through early 20s – but then also to give their families a chance to network in a different setting than a classroom or medical office. Because the league is truly a grassroots effort and comprised of a buddy system, volunteers are always needed as well as sponsors (like the Laurel Mountain Post) to keep the registration cost low for participants. The league has provided significant moments large and small to its members and organizers both.

As Head Coach Jodie Edmiston stated, “It is priceless to get that high five from a very happy player who got a goal or was just able to kick the ball for the first time.”

For more information or to learn how you can get involved in the DAYAA Derry Soccer Contenders League please visit www.derrysoccer-pa.com.

Thinking of Nikki Foundation Greensburg

The Thinking of Nikki Foundation was created by the Deniker Family in memory of their daughter, Nikki, who passed away at the age of 7 from complications sustained from her battle with cancer.In Nikki’s honor, her family has remembered the things that Nikki wanted to change in the world and in doing so has done their best to provide help to numerous families and children dealing with pediatric cancer. During Nikki’s battle the family was able to put money into the Nikki Fund from support they received, and now they use those funds and their partnership with Children’s Hospital of Pitts-burgh to get other families in similar situations what they need and give the kids special gifts and experiences.

“Our goal is to make Nikki proud and never forget what these children go through,” Nikki’s mother, Karen, continues, “We are proud of the kids’ last wishes we have done – a dog for one little girl and even a fixed truck for a teenage boy.”

The foundation continues to raise funds through various activities and events, including an annual gun bash taking place on Saturday, September 7 in Latrobe. For more information, please visit www.thinkingofnikki.com and follow the Thinking of Nikki Foundation on Facebook.

The Deceased Veterans
Cemetery Flag Fund – Blairsville

In 1990, veteran Harold A. Thomas approached the Blairsville Cemetery Board with an idea . . . he wanted to publicly display deceased veterans’ burial flags at the cemetery on Memorial Day with no charge to their families. The Board accepted his idea and a total of 37 flags were flown on Memorial Day 1990. The number of flags flown has steadily increased over the years as veterans’ families continue to donate their deceased loved ones’ flags. Today this beautifully breathtaking display is believed to be the largest of its kind in our area with, to date, the total number of flags flown having grown to nearly 850, with 450 flags flown during each special display. Flags are flown during Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day, and can include any deceased veteran’s flag regardless of burial location. In addition to his/her flag, each veteran is recognized in a permanent record and by a metal name marker at the base of the individual flag pole; a list and legend of the deceased veterans’ flags flown that day is also available in the cemetery office. Blairsville and the surrounding communities have truly embraced this project, and, with the dedicated efforts of volunteers from the local American Legion, VFW, Boy Scouts, and deceased veterans’ families, the poles, markers, and flags are put in place for each display.

Alfred T. Hogue, Jr., project caretaker, says, “Although the flag display has grown from a handful to nearly 800 flags, the mission of the Deceased Veterans Cemetery Flag Fund has not changed through the years. As Americans we honor our military veterans on our watch. As a protected free people we will strive to carry on this honorable duty and trust our heritage of freedom as a grateful nation will be carried on into future generations.”

The next display will be held during Veterans Day 2013. To learn more or to volunteer, please contact Mr. Hogue at 724-459-6878. Donations for flag maintenance can be made payable to “The Blairsville Deceased Veterans Cemetery Flag Fund” and mailed to Indiana First Bank 915 Route 22 West PO Box 66 Blairsville, PA 15717.


Regan-colorRegan is the Director of Community Initiatives at Building Bodeez Fitness and Wellness Center (BBFC) in Derry, PA, where she spearheads the company’s community and volunteer programs including Relay for Life, for which BBFC has raised nearly $50,000 since 2010. She is also currently putting her event planning background to good use as she prepares for her upcoming wedding this October. If you know an individual and/or organization doing good in the Laurel Highlands, contact Regan at rchemski@gmail.com.

Sugar Can Spoil Your Season

by Hayley Chemski, MSN, CRNA and Certified Fitness Trainer



Summertime picnic desserts turn to Halloween candy and fall festival treats. The weather changes, and although the beauty of the Laurel Highlands can be breathtaking as leaves turn majestic colors, our activity level drop when we come indoors from cooler temperatures. As mundane as seasonal changes may seem, one must realize that adverse activity and dietary changes can lead to an increase in disease incidences. Moreover, what you choose to eat and what you choose to ‘do’ are two of the leading contributors to your risk of developing Type II diabetes. Disease is lurking in the shadows, and you may be able to control its onset.

Diabetes (known to some as “sugar”) affects 25.8 million Americans, nearly 1/10, while upwards of 7.8 million have not been diagnosed. In one year, diabetes is either the cause of death or a contributor in over 230,000 deaths in America. Diabetes can lead to heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure (hypertension), blindness, circulation dis-orders (amputations), poor wound healing, kidney disease (resulting in kidney failure), and nerve disorders (neuropathy). As estimated in 2012, diabetes costs $245,000,000,000 (billion) each year!

The leading causes of Type II diabetes (non-insulin dependent type) are sedentary lifestyles and poor eating habits. By creating a healthy living pattern, you may be able to decrease your chances of Type II diabetes.

Fitness, such as the modalities offered at Building Bodeez Fitness and Wellness Center, can level your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. In addition to leveling your blood sugar by burning sugar for fuel (in several ways), exercise has been proven to make insulin more effective in the blood stream. Examples of exercise or physical activity can include, but are not limited to, walking (Walk/Run club), aerobic dance (Zumba/Hip Hop), strength training (Silver Fitness/Jam n Tone), swimming (Aqua Zumba), biking (Bike Club), and Yoga (Yoga Basics)—those listed in parentheses are available at Building Bodeez. Aim for activity of 30 minutes daily, at least 5 days/week. Keep track of your activity. You might find that writing every-thing down helps keep you on target and helps you to evaluate what works for you. Finally, find a buddy to exercise with you. Personal trainers are great ‘buddies’ and will keep you accountable and safe when trying new activities, but at fitness centers likened to Building Bodeez, you will find many clients are friendly and helpful, they will promote your activity through their welcoming and inclusive behavior.

In addition to fitness, a sensible diet is one of the best ways to decrease your risk of Type II diabetes. To revamp your pantry, shop on the outer perimeter of the grocery store where most foods are fresh or refrigerated (produce, deli, low-fat milk products). Limit your access to processed foods by scaling back on purchasing potato chips, boxed foods, and high-sugar snacks. Stock up on fresh vegetables/fruits, lean (non-processed) white meats, and whole-grain breads/pastas.

Next, spend time planning at least half of your meals weekly. As our Building Bodeez nutritional expert, Janine Koutsky, MES states, “failing to plan is like planning to fail.” She goes on to point out a nutritional plan (beginning with a few of your meals each week) will alleviate daily stress, avoid repeated trips to the grocery store, and decrease binge eating when ‘the cupboard is bare’ and you are ravenously hungry. Maintain a consistent blood sugar and avoid ‘inhaling’ wasted calories by eating regularly throughout the day; be-tween snacking and breakfast, lunch, and dinner, one should eat 5-6 times/daily.

Find time for your health this fall as you celebrate the change of sea-sons. Involve your family and friends in the choice to eat a healthy diet and to live an active lifestyle. Consult your physician for more information regarding your risk of diabetes, and read more online at www.diabetes.org.

* * * * *


HCHHayley is a Certified Fitness Trainer and the co-owner of Building Bodeez Fitness Center, located at 154 Pandora Rd in Derry, PA, as well as a full-time Nurse Anesthetist with the University of Pittsburgh Physicians, currently based at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Fox Chapel, PA. Hayley offers a wealth of fitness and health knowledge, serving as the Group Fitness Coordinator and Wellness Programs Director at Building Bodeez. She has developed several programs at Building Bodeez including initiation of the first ZUMBA classes in the area, as well as AerobaDANCE and Yogilates (her unique creations), and the wildly successful Building Better Bodeez weight loss intensive program.

She has also been a nurse for eight years, and obtained her Masters Degree in Nursing Anesthesia in 2008. Hayley has been recognized by the Westmoreland County YWCA as Sportswoman of the Year (2010) for her dedication to women’s’ health, as well as philanthropic work through Building Bodeez. She also recently won the prestigious 2012 Westmoreland County Winners’ Circle Award sponsored by the YWCA for exhibiting early professional success as well as the potential to obtain marked achievement. Hayley recognizes the marriage of fitness with healthy living and disease risk prevention, and offers suggestions for holistic wellbeing through her blog at Laurel MountainPost.

Roll Out the Barrels

by Patrick Thomas, Laurel Mountain Post Contributing Writer


As summer slowly begins to fade away, we see the leaves beginning to change colors, the temperatures dropping and that can only mean one thing; fall seasonal beers are here!

The history behind pumpkin beers (or at least what has been recorded) dates the whole way back to early colonial times, when the only “master brewers” were that of a Pilgrim descent. The primary motivations behind pumpkin beer arose from the decision to brew beer with cheaper, local products (such as pumpkin and squash) and lessening the burdens of expensive pricing on imported malts.

What we find in today’s pumpkin beers are a wide-range of ingredients including real pumpkin, imitation pumpkin flavors, cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar, nutmeg and caramel. While I attempt to group these fall seasonal beers into one category, let it be known that all of these beers have significant differences.

As you begin to embark on your flavorfully festive beer journey, you may notice vast differences in attributes such as alcohol content (average content is 5.0-7.0%), amount of hops, abundance of spices, color of the beer’s body and the strength of the aroma. Given the background information that I mentioned above, I wanted to share my opinion of ten fall seasonal beers to try during the next coming months. Before I jump into my list, I also wanted to share a few tips to make your experiences with each beer more enjoyable.

First, pumpkin beers pair great with a variety of foods including turkey, sweet potatoes, zucchini bread and (my favorite) bratwurst with sauerkraut. If you are unsure about which foods to pair these tasty treats with, a great base to work off of is to aim for foods with fall flavor, that can properly balance the pumpkin spices without “stealing the show.”
Secondly, for you experienced drinkers (there’s no need to be shy), try adding a shot of whipped cream or vanilla vodka once opening/pouring your pumpkin beer. Also, try lining the rim of your bottle, glass or growler with either cinnamon, brown sugar or both. These additional flavors not only please the taste buds, but are also guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Third, the ingredients, spices and aromas within these beers are highly preferred to be served at 45 to 50 degrees. Within this temperature range, the smell will be stronger and the taste is considered to be the most flavorful. Although this is the preferred temperature, there have been known cases where people prefer either ice-cold or room-temperature. My advice would be to test each scenario and see which you prefer.

Finally, this list was compiled based off of my personal experiences, professional reviews and also, with the detailed help from a local beer distributor, Pittsburgh Street Beverage. But without further ado, I present to each of you my top ten list of seasonal beers to try this fall:

1. Punkin Ale, Dogfish Head Brewery
ABV: 7.00%. Key Ingredient(s): pumpkin, organic brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Description: As most avid beer drinkers know, Dogfish Head is known for brewing its beers on the extreme side with a plethora of hops and unique ingredients (i.e. pressurized orange peels and espresso beans), however the Punkin Ale hits the taste buds with a refreshing pumpkin flavor with a lesser “hoppy” taste. The Punkin Ale is viewed as a fall favorite, scoring one of the highest review averages with the professionals at BeerAdvocate. One final note, the Punkin Ale is also known for its distinct potency. While the aroma of the beer favors the mild side, the close similarity to pumpkin pie is a trait that the majority of pumpkin-flavored beers lack (so, don’t forget to take a whiff). Enjoy!

2. Pumking, Southern Tier Brewing Company.
ABV: 8.60%. Key Ingredient(s): pumpkin, caramel malt, vanilla, pie crust. Description: Southern Tier’s Pumking is back again this year and beer drink-ers anticipate the brewery to release more cases of its Pumking than ever before! This fall seasonal is known for its above-average sweetness, which is mostly credited to the caramel malts and vanilla flavoring. In addi-tion to the flavor itself, Pumking also offers a benefit to its drinkers with the beer’s aroma, which emits the smell of pumpkin pie with a buttery, pecan crust. The Pumking Ale is not for the mild beer drinker, expect this beer to deliver a strong, full-flavored taste (which of course is necessary due to the high alcohol content). If your mouth has started to water, have no worries because Southern Tier began releasing cases and kegs of its Pumking Ale in late-July.

3. Yuengling Oktoberfest, Yuengling Brewery
ABV: N/A. Key Ingredient(s): caramel. Description: America’s oldest brewery and a Pennsylvania favorite will return again this year with their nearly-infant version of an Oktoberfest (or MÓrzen). After sorting through countless numbers of reviews online, it seems that Pennsylvanians favor the Yuengling Oktoberfest (which I am sure is surprising). With a hint of caramel and an above-average level of carbonation, Yuengling enters its third year of Oktoberfest. This beer also has an enjoyable creamy, white head that goes down smoother than your average Oktoberfest offerings.An additional note for the Oktoberfest lovers, this mild version of an Oktoberfest beer has a weaker flavor yet that Yuengling touch that everyone enjoys. A word of advice for you Yuengling drinkers; when you get the chance, get your hands on a case of the Oktoberfest because they sell quickly!

4. Blue Moon Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale, Coors Brewing Company
ABV: 5.70%. Key Ingredient(s): vine-ripened pumpkin, wheat, clove flavoring. Description: Blue Moon provides customers with a drier version of a pumpkin-flavored beer, which results from lesser pumpkin spices and the slight wheat base. Crafted since 1995 (during a time which Oktoberfest beers were high in demand), the Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale combines the strong flavors from Oktoberfest beers with the delightfulness of seasonal pumpkin flavoring. The Harvest Moon Pumpkin Ale “hits it right on the nose” with a spicy, caramel aroma and a hint of gingersnaps. This fall seasonal also has a lack of hops to it, which is not only expected from a larger brewing company but also ideal for non-beer drinkers at holiday gatherings.

5. Samuel Adams Octoberfest, Boston Beer Company
ABV: 5.30%. Key Ingredient(s): Bavarian Noble hops (for slight bitterness), caramel, toffee, barley. Description: As always, Samuel Adams Octoberfest provides another seasonal favorite with a milder version of an Oktoberfest beer. This beverage is actually considered an amber lager, which is not far from the traditional Boston Lager that many have known and loved. The beer provides a mild sweetness, but also provides the signature hoppy combination that people love about Samuel Adams. In my opinion, the quality that Samuel Adams provides for the price that each case is sold for is nearly a steal, offering customers flavorful yet hoppy taste for a great price. Similar to the Blue Moon Harvest Moon, Samuel Adams October-fest is also favored by many non-beer drinkers and is a great choice for holiday gatherings.

6. The Great Pumpkin, Elysian Brewing Company
ABV: 8.10%. Key Ingredient(s): pumpkin, roasted pumpkin seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. Description: Elysian Brewing Company, out of Seattle, WA, brings their Great Pumpkin seasonal beer to the table this year. According to Beer Advocate.com, The Great Pumpkin has one of the highest ratings of all pumpkin beers (hitting the rank of “outstanding”). If you are looking for a beer that packs a mean punch this fall, the Great Pumpkin’s alcohol-by-volume content is well above the average at 8.10%. However, do not let the high ABV fool you, the Great Pumpkin offers an in-tense pumpkin flavor with heavy flavorings of dark caramel, moderate cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar. This seasonal brew is also recognized for its heavy aroma, and it is one of the most potent pumpkin beers out there (in my opinion). With such a high alcohol content, yet heavy spices and flavoring, the Great Pumpkin is very drinkable with a fairly smooth finish. Expect some dryness at the end of each sip, but not enough to scare away the craft beer rookies.

7. Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Matt Brewing Company
ABV: 5.40%. Key Ingredient(s): vanilla, cloves. Description: May I have the attention of the light, tastier beer drinkers? This seasonal beer is for you! For starters, not many professional beer critics favor this pumpkin beer as much, but in my opinion I have noticed that Saranac Pumpkin Ale has a great appeal to those who enjoy a tastier beverage (as compared to a stronger alcohol taste). This fall seasonal offers a very slight dryness, paired with a pleasant aroma comparable to pumpkin pie with a cinnamon finish. Perhaps the biggest benefit that Saranac delivers with their Pumpkin Ale is the cost efficiency component of the beer. Saranac Pumpkin Ale is among one of the cheapest fall seasonals available and comes highly recommended for the “beer bargain shoppers.”

8. Post Road Pumpkin Ale, Brooklyn Brewery
ABV: 5.00%. Key Ingredient(s): pumpkin, barley malt, nutmeg, wheat. Description: The Brooklyn Brewery gives their drinkers another beer to rant and rave about with the Post Road Pumpkin Ale. For starters, expect this pumpkin seasonal to be heavily spiced with a slight hint of hops, offering a taste dominated by pumpkin, cloves and a sweet caramel finish. Although Brooklyn’s Post Road has below-average alcohol content, the heavy abundance of spices and a slightly dry finish shows much resemblance to the typical Brooklyn style of beer. Another unique attribute is the strong aroma of Post Road Pumpkin Ale, so don’t forget to take in the scent of the biscuity malts and faint cinnamon! From the perspective of the beer experts, the “tasty tradition” that Brooklyn Brewery offers is always worth at least a taste test, so drink up!

9. Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, Shipyard Brewing Company
ABV: 4.70%. Key Ingredient(s): pumpkin spices, cinnamon, nutmeg. Description: If breweries were to create a light pump-kin beer, I think it would be very close to the Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale, brewed by Shipyard Brewing Company in Portland, Maine. The mild pumpkin taste is attributed to Shipyard’s addition of pumpkin spices (opposed to actual pumpkin) within this fall seasonal. Contrary to the majority of the available pumpkin beers, Pumpkinhead Ale also has an above-average level of carbonation that you will notice as the beer head begins to sizzle. This ale (although the attributes are closer to that of a lager) will be a slightly different than your typical pumpkin beer, given the artificial spicing and over-abundance of cinnamon spicing. The aroma is fairly weak, giving off a hint of pumpkin pie smell at best. For those of you who may check review websites such as Beer Advocate.com and RateBeer.com, do not let the reviews be misleading. Shipyard offers a pumpkin ale that is comparable to a light beer, with a mild presence of pumpkin flavoring and is not too aggressive with its alcohol content. If you are a bit hesitant, definitely stop by a local six-pack shop to give this underrated fall seasonal a taste!

10. Crimson Pumpkin, All Saints Brewing Company
ABV: 5.30%. Key Ingredient(s): 120 slow roasted pie pumpkins, toasty malts. Description: I wanted to take the time to recognize a local brewery located in Greensburg, All Saints Brewing Company, which has been very successful since opening their doors. They offer a fantastic version of a fall seasonal, Greensburg’s infamous Crimson Pumpkin. For starters, they use fresh (and local) pie pumpkins and combine those with a hybrid version of their most popular brew, the Crimson Halo (for those of you that have had it, I assume your mouths have started watering). This pumpkin brew goes down exceptionally smooth, with a comfortable touch of fall spicing that is certainly not over-whelming.The alcohol content sits at 5.30%, which is an average level for a pumpkin flavored beer. All Saints is open Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m., Fridays from 3 to 8 p.m., Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m. That being said, I highly suggest that each of you give this place a shot because their prices are beyond reasonable, the experience is unique, and most importantly, they brew each beer with exceptional detail and care. Enjoy your growlers!

I would like to personally thank my friends, Frank and Mary Mesich of Pittsburgh Street Beverage in Greensburg, for their fantastic knowledge of craft and specialty beers. Both of them were very helpful in providing detailed information on each beer, as well as going above-and-beyond to help me out not only for this column, but also as a fellow customer. For those of you located in Greensburg and its surrounding areas, I highly recommend that you stop by their store to check out the craft room (it’s like heaven in the form of a beer store). Also, Frank and Mary have assured me that they will have all of these beers available for walk-in or special orders, just in case any of you were “on the hunt” for some fall deliciousness!

I hope that each of you discovers at least one new beer to enjoy during these festive few months and remember, the beauty is in the eyes of the [pumpkin] beer holder. Cheers!

* * * * *

PatrickPatrick is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Complementary to his enrollment as a graduate student, Patrick has always had a passion for not only providing help to others but more specifically to our growing youth. As a graduate assistant with the University, Patrick specializes in resume building, interview skills, career growth and personal development.

Aside from his educational background, Patrick also believes in the importance of volunteerism. As a third generation member of the fireman community, he continuously works with various fire departments in the Greensburg area through fundraisers, community involvement and the company marching band. His belief is that we, as members of society, owe it to each other to lend a helping hand to all of those in need.

On a personal level, Patrick currently lives with his lovely wife, Carly, in their Greensburg home. Away from his work schedule and household duties, Patrick especially enjoys spending his time with his wife, where they partake in various activities including mini-golf, cooking out, attending a Steelers game, and building an igloo.
Patrick’s main goal is to relate with the young readers of the Laurel Mountain Post. The purpose of his pieces are to provide useful tips and advice to the younger generation, as well as offer some entertaining articles along the way. While Patrick does aim to reach the younger readers, however, he also hopes to inspire all readers (including the parents of those younger readers) to keep learning new things on an every day basis.
What can a reader expect from Patrick’s articles? The answer includes a wide variety of topics from career development to cooking basics to upcoming music festivals to seasonal beers. As a young writer, Patrick looks forward to interacting with each of his readers and welcomes input from each and every one of you.

A Low-Tech Girl in a High-Tech World

Written by Ruthie Richardson for her column “Memory Lane”


Imagine any teenager you know wanting to chat with a friend and having to try again later because they got a busy signal. Do you think they even know what a busy signal is? And my definition of the word ‘chatting’ has no bearing on today’s definition of it. Next, imagine a teenager’s phone ringing and them having to actually answer it to see who was calling.

I can remember sitting on the couch in my living room back in little old West Derry and dialing the OX-bow exchange of one of my girlfriends so we could gossip about the latest scoop of the day. My finger would rotate that dial, one number at a time, and I would hear that click, click, click sound as the dial slowly returned to it’s place awaiting the next number. If I close my eyes, I can still see our old steel, five-pound phone sitting on it’s starched, crocheted doily on the telephone stand in our living room. I can also clearly remember the ‘beep-beep-beep’ on the other end of the line if someone at my friend’s house was already talking on the phone – the dreaded busy signal. How tired my pointer finger would get from dialing, and dialing and dialing those numbers, trying to get through. There was no ‘redial’ button, it was do it yourself. And if she did answer, there would be much whispering, along with all the giggles since there was no privacy to be found during anyone’s phone calls in our living room. It’s where we all gathered every night, and there was only one phone in our house, just like everyone else’s.

When I was very young, in the early 1950’s, there was even less privacy, for everyone in the entire neighborhood, since the only telephone services available were party lines. How can it be that I remember our original, four-digit number? It was 4562. And just for clarification for any younger readers, a party line was a telephone line you shared with three or four of your neighbors. Each neighbor was assigned a ring sequence, one long and one short ring, or two short ones, or one long ring. There was a whole series that old Ma Bell would assign to customers, and when someone called your number and your sequence rang, it rang in every other household in your party as well. And there was nothing to stop any of the other folks from picking up their phones and listening in on your conversations. I know this because when I was a little tyke my mom caught me sitting silently in the living room paying close attention to one of our neighbor’s chats. My mom was not pleased, and I was in trouble. This just wasn’t done.

Here are my friends and me having 'facetime'.  Wii was just 'we' back then, chatting with each other, by using our voices.  Notice our old phone on it's stand and the television is OFF.

Here are my friends and me having ‘facetime’. Wii was just ‘we’ back then, chatting with each other, by using our voices. Notice our old phone on it’s stand and the television is OFF.

I remember later, in our high school years, my ornery brother, Keith, getting the busy signal while trying to organize a party. Being the impatient guy he was, of course he would dial O. After she (and it was always a she) answered, “Operator!” he would give her the number he was calling and tell her it was an emergency and could she please break in on the call to tell them someone was urgently trying to get through to them. The operator always cheerfully complied, and Mr. Liar Liar Pants On Fire could complete his party plans. This was another infraction we would have gotten into trouble for, but mom never found out about it. I also remember my friend, Cherie, being limited to five-minute conversations during the periods her dad was waiting to get called into work. He was an engineer for the railroad, and didn’t always know his schedule. Big trouble for her if they tried to call and we were gabbing aimlessly for hours and he missed a shift.

I can barely remember what it was like to go to the store or out to dinner and being totally incommunicado. If you were away from the house, that was it, no one could reach you. Imagine that! After Doug and I were married and got a baby sitter for our little Nicole, we would leave the number where we could be reached, in case of emergency. And as for any calls we may have missed while we were out, that’s just what they were – missed. There were no answering ma-chines and no voice mail. If you didn’t want to be disturbed at home, you just took the phone off the hook. Caller I.D.? We identified the caller on the other end of the line by saying hello and waiting to see if we recognized the voice. The only call waiting was the line we stood in, waiting to use the phone booth.

Lately I have been thinking about today’s kids’ leisure activities and comparing it with what passed for fun when I was a kid. Our playtime as children revolved around our imaginations. Today, not so much. I see kids sitting on the couch now, lined up in a row and mesmerized by some little device or another, their thumbs twitching madly. The only time you could find us on the couch was when we were sick. I was always a reader, but even that activity had my mom scolding me that it was time to get my nose out of my book and go outside and play. We were always sent outside to find our own fun and to entertain ourselves, summer and winter. Our summers revolved around bike riding, and glorious adventures involving cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers, pirate ships and haunted forests. We would play house, build little towns in the sand pile, play ball in the open fields, and put on ‘shows.’ In the winter we would sled ride, and build igloos and snowmen. We had board games and dolls and trucks for wintertime fun, too, and coloring books and cut out dolls. Many of today’s kids aren’t impressed unless the toy has a flashing panoramic electronic, 3D screen, or a joy-stick that interacts with them. We had to interact with each other.

My brother Keith and me, chased off the couch again and enjoying the original  virtual playtime!

My brother Keith and me, chased off the couch again and enjoying the original virtual playtime!

Telephones weren’t the only technology-challenged aspects of our lives in the good old days. Take television for instance, and some days I wish someone would just take mine, but I digress. We had three channels; all black and white and all of them signed off the air at midnight with a little movie of Old Glory waving in the breeze accompanied by the National Anthem. The only thing you could watch after that was snow until morn-ing when you were greeted by the Conelrad logo. Most times the picture wasn’t very good, but there were several adjustment dials on the television itself that could slightly improve the picture: the horizontal, the vertical, the contrast, and the brightness. But we were forbidden to touch those; only daddy could adjust the TV. There was no ‘family’ hour viewing, either. No television executive was in charge of reviewing programming during the early evening hours to keep it ‘clean’; it was all family hour, all the time. There were no swear words, no revealing outfits, and no ‘adult content.’ For example, television programs only showed twin beds. Folks were never shown in the same bed, even if they were married! I’m not hesitant to use the word ‘wholesome’ because that’s exactly what it was, and I think we were all better for it. And as for cable, in those days the cable was the wire running from the antenna on the roof down to the tenna rotor, if you were lucky enough to have one. When you turned the tenna rotor’s dial on top of the T.V. it would rotate the antenna to bring in a clearer picture.

My mom and dad had a big old radio/wire recorder in the living room and mom had that radio on all the time. I can still hear her singing along to ‘Sugartime’ by the McGuire Sisters, or ‘Hot Diggity Dog Diggity Boom What You Do To Me’, by Perry Como, as she prepared some yummy dish in her little kitchen. I also re-member Daddy telling us stories about his childhood, before television had even been invented, and how he would sit on the floor in front of the radio listening to Amos and Andy, Fibber Magee and Molly, and how “The Shadow” knew. Our music came to us in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s by way of our transistor radios. I got mine as a Christmas present one year. It had a little ear-phone connected to the radio by a wire. I would secretly listen to Dick Biondi on WLS out of Chicago and Cousin Brucie on WABC from New York in my room late at night before I went to sleep. From Perry Como to the Isley Brothers, the lyrics were squeaky clean. During the 1960’s, some of Porky Chedwick’s stuff on WAMO contained some sexual innuendo, but most of us never got the connection. Poor Lou Christy had to redo his hit “Rhapsody in the Rain” because the original lyrics were ‘we were makin’ out in the rain.’ This was considered scandalous at the time and the second release changed that lyric to ‘we fell in love in the rain.’ I am glad that between the deafening decibels of today’s music and my gradual hearing loss I can’t really tell what they are singing about. I made the mistake of Googling song lyrics for several of the rap hits today and almost fainted as I read what those kids were saying. If you haven’t researched this, my advice is DON’T! I never thought I would be wishing for the old days where there was at least a modicum of censorship, but GEEZ, my ears were practically bleeding from the filth!

Google. There is another word we never heard of. It’s our new online Webster’s dictionary that has be-come a verb. I guess when we have to look something up we are just too tired or busy to turn the pages in an actual book. When we wanted to research something in the good old days, we would look it up the old Funk and Wagnall’s or get ourselves to the library. The only thing at our finger-tips was the Dewey Decimal System and Miss Verlato (the school librarian’s) patience. When it came time to do our term papers there was lots of legwork involved. The only good thing about that was that it was easy to borrow the car from my parents if I said I had to go to the library. A little after-library cruise through St. Vincent and Eat ‘N Park never hurt, either, and what daddy didn’t know would never hurt him. Another innovation – my little digital camera, I love it. And who would ever have imagined that you could take pictures with your PHONE? I don’t even think Captain Kirk had that technology! Snap, re-view, delete, snap again, download and print, all in a matter of an hour or so. I am so used to it I can barely re-member what taking pictures used to be like. But I still have my dad’s old Brownie Box camera to remind me. Doug and I had a Kodak Instamatic camera, too. It used a film cartridge and flashcubes that would turn automatically to give you four flashes before you had to pop on a new one. The film came in 127 or 35mm and when we used up the 12, 24, or 36 exposures we would run the exposed film cartridge down to Kasperik’s Pharmacy or Tragos’s Store and have them send it away for development, and the wait was on. You could usually get your photos back in 10 days to 2 weeks. Imagine telling today’s kids they had to wait 2 weeks to see their photos. Later on we got a Polaroid Land Camera and could develop our pictures instantly. They were little, curled up photos that were usually streaked because you had to rub some sort of chemical over them with a sponge that came with the film.

We have become so dependent of today’s ‘conveniences’, like the ATM machine and automatic deposits that sometimes we don’t even carry any cash at all. In the olden days if you forgot to go to the bank for cash you had two choices: stay home or run down to your mom’s and borrow a 10-spot. Cash was king; we had no credit or debit cards. If you wanted to buy something, it was cash on the barrelhead. If you planned on eating in a restaurant, you better have had some folding money in your wallet or you would be washing dishes. When Doug and I first got married we opened a Sears Revolving Charge, but that was it. I had heard about the Diners Club Card, but we didn’t know anyone who had one. I guess there was the American Express card back then, too, but we were sure that only James Bond had one of those.

Computers . . . they have invaded every facet of our lives. Back in my day (I can’t believe that statement comes out of my mouth so often), we didn’t have such contraptions. Boys could work on their own cars without hooking up the engine to a $100,000 diagnostic tool. And our cars didn’t come with full Dolby stereo systems and 10 speakers. The only thing available was an AM radio, and that was an add-on accessory you had to order separately from the factory at an additional cost. My laptop was at my Grandma Stewart’s house, and I would climb onto it while she told me stories. Bytes? Those were what mom put a baking soda paste on to stop the itching. And RAM was the big sheep at the farm that you better not turn your back on. Yes, I embrace my old fuddy-duddiness. My daughter rolls her eyes at me and tsk tsk’s when she tries to teach me the latest upgrades. No matter how much urging from her telling me everything I am missing, I think I will just keep my old ‘dumb’ phone and hope for the best, and I think I will leave it in the car next time we eat out. It’s fun to hide out and be incommunicado sometimes; makes the kids perk up and pay attention.

OK, I admit that I have to laugh at my grumblings as I type this story using the Word program on my lap-top, click spellcheck/grammar one last time, scan my photos and email it all to Cathi, my editor. If I made a movie of my life, I guess I could call it, “Dr. Strenge-tech, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Ignore the Geeks.” Maybe technology is not ALL that bad, but at least when the grid finally goes down, I can continue to write my stories. I will type them on my portable, manual Smith Corona type-writer . . . it’s still in the attic.

Ruthie, going old school!

Ruthie, going old school!

* * * * * Ruthie grew up in an idyllic and magical place – a 1950’s childhood, and she loves to share these memories with you. Stay in touch: email her at: Ruth-Elaine@comcast.net, look for her on Fac-book, or join our LMP online community to read her new blog!

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