Stirring up memories
February 9, 2005
What’s Lynda Wight Todaro’s most
favorite time of the year?
Anyone who knows Lynda; anyone who’s met Lynda doesn’t have to ask. It’s
Riverside Artsfest! No
question. And when Artsfest moved
from summer to May and from May to March, well that was just fine with
Lynda. Whenever, it’s always her
favorite time of the year and has been for the last seventeen years.
How long? That’s right; the
good folks of Bainbridge and Decatur
County have been celebrating and
learning about the arts and about many of our own United
States for seventeen years. In March we’ll observe our eighteenth
And Lynda has been right in the middle of everyone of them, from the
first in the extra hot summer of 1988 when we first celebrated the classical
music, art and wonders of Pennsylvania, right through the cowboy states of New
Mexico, Montana, Wyoming and Arizona, the Cajun carousing of Louisiana (remember
Al Hirt?) and the southern charm of our own Georgia, and Tennessee and South
Carolina. She’s entertained
artists and patrons, licked stamps, hung art, set up booths and been in the
middle of everything. If I’m not
mistaken, in her artist mode Lynda’s had work showing in the regional art
She thought she couldn’t be more in the middle than last year when she
was the chairman of the Riverside Artsfest Steering Committee as we celebrated
the great State of Kentucky. But maybe not.
This March our Artsfest focuses on the wonders of Michigan—and not only is Lynda Chairman of Riverside Artsfest, Inc., she’s a
A cold country
dad, Earl Wight hailed from the wilds of upper New
York State, but his
career as a CPA led him to Detroit where he met
lovely Irene Kate Walthall, a young nurse from England—met and
married her. After the two boys,
Byron and Allan and the baby girl Lynda came along, the family moved briefly to
Ohio, but then Earl remembered his two great
loves—Michigan and the wilds of New York. He put them together and the family
moved to the little Michigan town that Lynda
remembers as her hometown, East Tawas. Actually, near East Tawas, for the
family home was in the country in a house that hugged the banks of Lake Huron.
If you think of Michigan as the familiar mitten (not a bad idea
considering Michigan winters), then East Tawas and its neighbor, Tawas City, are
right on the edge of the pointer finger—way up north.
It’s a friendly place. Lynda
recalls that as the family moved in, they left the doors propped open to the
mild summer air. A nearby neighbor,
Queenie, dropped by with her three children and came on it without even
knocking. Not surprising in this
community except for one thing.
Queenie was a raccoon. She
made herself right at home.
Life on Lake Huron revolves around the
outdoors. Lots of folks not from
the community came to share it—Tawas is a tourist mecca year
In summer it’s sailing and motor boating, with plenty of
water-skiers. Fishing, at
least according to the Chamber of Commerce, is just about the best in the
world. And while they might not
have been there when Lynda was a lassie, today windsurfers abound. There are
landlubber adventures too—there’s 10 miles paved bike and hiking
trail for the tame, and for the wilder
spirited, over 200 miles of mountain bike trails in the nearby Huron National Forest.
We’re not the only community with a festival. Tawasians (if that’s the word) celebrate
each year with Summerfest. This
year it will be July 13-17 and features (sound familiar?) a street dance and
classic car show.
It’s no wonder they decide to celebrate in summer—winter comes often and
lasts long. Lynda remembers her
favorite day of the year as the day after Labor Day. That’s when all the tourists headed home
and she had her very own beach to herself—at least until winter set in and the
tourists came back, for Tawas is a winter sports center as well—for tourists and
the home folks.
Winter memories are Lynda’s fondest. While Lake Huron itself never completely
Bay does and so do the
surrounding ponds. There were no
skating rinks, Lynda recalls. Kids
just found a pond, scooped off the mounds of snow and strapped on the skates. Or
they’d ramble onto the ice-covered bay for skating and more.
Strong winter winds blew ice up into huge crystal-clear blue blocks. But these blocks weren’t solid; they
were spotted with deep caves.
Well-bundled children crawled over the blocks and down into the glassy
caves for an adventure.
“We’d hope not to fall through,” Lynda added.
But some folks did cut holes out in the bay. The bold ones, known as Polar Bears,
donned their swimsuits and plunged themselves in—and right back out as quickly
as they could. Others built
shanty-like houses around their holes. They’d drive their cars (yes, drive their
cars over the ice on the bay), go in and—just like in the summer time—go
It looked like a little town, Lynda told me. So much like a little town that it had a
name—Perchville—for the fish they were after. Sure enough, right in this year’s Tawas
Chamber of Commerce schedule—“56th Anniversary, Perchville, U.S.A.”
Intriguing. But I’d rather
be in Bainbridge, Georgia, U.S.A. in March amid azaleas, dogwoods and
daffodils celebrating the climate, culture and food of Michigan.
Food? I asked Lynda for food
memories. Fruit, and Michigan is famous for
fruit, particularly the crispy McIntosh apple—especially turned into applesauce
or apple pie by fine cook Irene.
But Lynda’s favorite childhood food was pasties, a sort of “fried pie
only baked,” that has roots in Cornwall.
Irene made them at home, but, Lynda adds, you could pick one up at the
bakery and they appeared on almost every menu.
1 1/4 pound cubed beef round
2 1/2 cups peeled and cubed
1 cup peeled and cubed
2 chopped onions
Salt and pepper to
Combine all ingredients, cover and set aside.
4 cups all-purpose
1 3/4 cup Crisco or other solid
1 tablespoon white
Mix the flour, sugar and
salt. Using a pastry blender, 2
knives or a food processor cut the shortening into the mixture until it
resembles course crumbs. Combine
the water, egg and vinegar; add them to the flour mixture stirring until you
have a thick dough.
Turn the dough onto a
floured surface. Divide into six
portions. Roll each into an 8-inch
Spoon filling onto one side of each round. Fold the uncovered side over the
filling, tucking it under the filling.
Bring the exposed edge up to meet the tucked edge, and then pinch the
edges together to seal. Cut a slit
in the top of each pasty. Place the
pasties on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Place in a pre-heated 400 degree oven and bake until golden, about 50 or
Pasties are equally good served warm or at room
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network