Some Christmas party memories

I’m sure I will miss all the Christmas dinners and parties attended as part of my work in getting information for this column and in arranging our newsroom holiday event. But right now, the scales tell me I didn’t miss one calorie along the way. And it was delicious and great fun.

There was the Woman’s Club of Mingo Christmas dinner at Manfred’s Banquet Hall, where I was the guest of my friend, Clara Sue Milewsky. My sister, Dorothy Toth, was the guest of Janet Petrella, a friend from work.

The planning committee went beyond the call of hostessing for the party. This consisted of Sharon Cole-Isner, president; Clara Sue Milewsky; Janet Petrella; Joanne Gorney; Stephanie Rouse; Bernie and Cheri Carpico; Mary Jane Tiberio; and Shelly Bateman.

Individual red poinsettias were at each setting, along with a decorated bottle of liquid refreshment. Bateman, made candy favors, using small candy canes and a Twix candy bar as the base of a sled, with a chocolate Santa, along with a chocolate drop as his bag of toys, perched on the back.

Judy Manfred had the tables arranged in a cozy atmosphere, making it easy to talk to everyone. And the Christmas truffle dessert was more than a trifle beyond excellent.

Because of where I was seated, I got an up- close view of Betty Ralston, an 87-year-old young, club member, belting out “Louisville Lu,” a 1930s song, in her own dramatic way.

Teresa Kropka was dressed as a perky elf in her leopard-print Santa hat, high black boots and red sweater for the entertainment portion. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “All I Want for Christmas is You” were two of her selections. She was singing in memory of her mother, Patricia Kropka, who died four months earlier.

She asked the group what they would like for Christmas and to tell the worst present ever received. This was done to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas.”

There were wishes for our servicemen to come home, peace on earth and family to be together, to name a few. The funniest “worst” presents were a University of Michigan sweatshirt for a graduate of Ohio State University – and she had to wear it at least once. Another was a spatula, and another was a robe in the wrong color that was exchanged for the right color, with the husband not being the wiser.

Sharon Cole-Isner, president, gave an inspirational reading as well as the welcome. Roetta Lewis gave the invocation. Joanne Gorney read a Christmas story, the kind that makes the holiday worthwhile.

Candy from the sale of See’s chocolates was distributed by Gorney to members making the sale.

Lewis reported on Christmas projects completed by the club, including donating pajamas to the ALIVE Shelter.

  • ????

Next came the Dillonvale American Legion Post 529 All-County Christmas dinner at the St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church social hall.

Charles Strizak, commander, was everywhere at once in making the dinner a success and in distributing door prizes.

The entertainment for the evening was by an Elvis who sounded and looked better than the older Elvis in his white jump suit. I think that Jack Marlin was having a bit of trouble with his wide jeweled belt as it was fashioned from a plastic-type material, and I am sure he did sweat off a few unnecessary pounds in his stint in front of the audience.

He made the day for Esther Panepucci by kneeling at her chair and singing to her. He sang to Lorrie Greene and Mildred Waldman at our end of the table, with Ed Waldman moving away from the singing in his ear.

I was writing and not paying attention to where Elvis was walking when suddenly a warm cheek pressed against mine, and I let out a squeak of surprise. I then got terribly embarrassed. Had I known he was heading my way, I would have acted more friendly.

I’m sure the vice commander of the Dillonvale Legion, Frank, and his wife, Phyllis, hear jokes each holiday season about their last name, which happens to be Santa.

I was happy to see Ethel Todoroff at the dinner. Her husband, John, was a Legion member, and she was an invited guest, as well as Mary Ann Cermak, whose husband, the late Bill Cermak, was a member.

We were seated with the Piney Fork American Legion Post 735 members, Tony and Judie Phillippi, Ed and Mildred Waldman, Charles and Lorrie Greene, Stan and Mary Frances Krulcik and Wally and Georgianna Jancura. None of the door prize luck rubbed off on us like it did on them though.

Mildred Waldman won three door prizes, including the big one of 25 scratch cards and a ticket for the many-million dollar drawing, which didn’t turn out to be a winner. But if it was, she had to agree to turn over half of the winnings to the Legion for needs in the organization. All the others won prizes, but Judie Phillippi asked that hers be given to another winner.

Strizak thanked Pat Marshall, auditor, for the cut in taxes for Legion property on the county level, saving about $1,000 a year.

Elvis ended his program by singing “Glory Hallelujah.” He had many members and guests singing along with many of the songs.

  • ????

Another big eating event was our annual newsroom Christmas luncheon and gift exchange. When invited to the Brilliant Lions Club Christmas dinner, I took a picture of a man with a snow white beard, looking like a member of the Claus family.

I asked Charlie Bane if he played Santa, and he answered to the affirmative, so I asked if he would be available Dec. 18 to give a run through the Herald-Star to say hello to everyone and then come to the newsroom and hand out gifts to co-workers.

I was so happy when he said yes, and this kept me smiling the entire week, wondering what staff members would say when having the jolly, old fellow, well not that old, walk into the newsroom.

They were surprised and many wanted pictures taken with the Banes, with Carrol accompanying him as his faithful Mrs. Claus.

Maggie McGinnis suggested getting as many staffers together as possible and having a group shot. We did, and I got the cushy job of sitting on his lap. I can’t sing a note but warbled off a few words from “Santa Baby” with many laughs from the gang, probably because of my singing.

Charlie and Carrol, thanks so much for treating us to an early Christmas at the newspaper. We could not get them to stay and eat though. He was due at his Fort Steuben Mall job in a few hours and needed a rest.

(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