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Bicentennial party continues today in Whitesville: “A Walk Through Time” and two new books for sale


Town Self-Guided Walking Tours Today by the Independence Historical Society and buy books form historian Elton Harris and local legend Shallee Lauzee

By Sandy Rigas

The Independence Historical Society will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

As they will be closed Sunday, Saturday is your last chance to stop in and spend some time with them.

“There is a very limited supply left of our two newest publications: People of Independence by Elton Harris, and The Independence Historical Society COOKBOOK – Recipes from Days Gone By,” said Shallee Lauzee, Historical Society president.

Harris’ book lists, in alphabetical order, families by last names, listing first, second and third generation members, with many accompanied by photos. Each family’s entry contains biographical information about from where and when the family first came to the Town of Independence, lists names of children by generation, and includes information about occupations and residences. A real treasure that would enrich every Independence home!

The I.H.S. cookbook’s table of contents includes vegetables/side dishes, soups & stews, main dishes, breads & rolls, cakes, cookies, pies, sweet treats, pickles/preserves/sauces, drinks, and leeks. There is an index of recipes and of last names of recipe contributors. This little gem also features historical photographs and vintage ads and short biographical information on some of the contributors. It also includes several very useful charts, such as a table of measurements, vintage measurements, and vintage oven measurements, which are rare to find in modern cookbooks!

Peruse through this book and you will very well see recipes from folks you know, have known, or have heard of. One woman whose recipes are featured was Anna “Annie” Allen (1900-1967), Whitesville’s long time telephone switchboard operator. “The rotary dial phone did not exist in Whitesville until 1967, when Annie retired,” said Lauzee. “Annie worked for the Whitesville Telephone Company from 1930-1967. Every call made from every line went through Annie. Her cheerful hello to every call and her helpfulness during a crisis endeared her to everyone in the community. Annie lived in the building that housed the switchboard, giving 24-hour-a-day service! The telephone office was a hub of the community where many residents stopped by regularly to visit with her,” she added.

Which is probably why, when I asked her which of the 100 recipes in the cookbook is her favorite, she responded immediately with “Anna Allen’s Chocolate Cookies” (page 23 in the cookbook) and promptly emailed me the recipe!

            Be sure to visit the Historical Society Saturday located at 540 Main Street in Whitesville!

Take the opportunity to take “A Walk Through Time” Saturday and really see the history of the Town of Independence. Stop by the Independence Historical Society, 540 Main Street in Whitesville and pick up a copy of their Self-Guided Walking (or Driving) Tour of Whitesville, including highlights of Spring Mills, Independence, and Fulmer Valley.

“This project was developed to help celebrate the Bicentennial. It is in no way meant to be a complete history of the town,” said Denise Clarke, Town Historian. “The Whitesville portion is designed to begin at the corner of Main Street and Commercial Avenue but it can be started at any point in the town you choose. There are 25 yard signs along the way to help guide you.”

Many, many of the buildings in town have served multiple purposes over the years, and the guide pamphlet details these original uses and changes.

Taking this tour could help answer many questions you might have especially about places that no longer exist, such as the Lyric Theatre, the Wildman Cheese factory, the Blacksmith Shop, Kendall Gas Station, the Whitesville News, Payne’s Barber Shop, and the Cow Palace, to name just a few!

The Cow Palace was, of all things, a restaurant! It predates this reporter’s moving to Allegany County, but if I could go back in time to one place in Whitesville, this would be it. “Prior to becoming the Cow Palace, the garage was a restaurant called the Capri. The Cow Palace was born in 1961 by D.H. and Peg Rumsey and was a place where customers and cows dined in the same building, separated by plate glass! In 1968 the Cow Palace was purchased by the Polaski’s, the cows were gone, and music was then featured,” states the Guide.

According to several “old-timers” the restaurant closed entirely in the late 1970s. If you want to see what is there now……..take the tour Saturday!

Incidentally, among the memorabilia in the Historical Society cookbook (available for purchase there) is a photograph of a menu from the Cow Palace, circa 1961.

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