Friday, December 23, 2011

Sad News from the Lake

Sadly, the wonderful storyteller and always entertaining Mike died last weekend. We'll miss visiting her at Snails Pace Acres. The kids have so many fond memories of time with Mike - riding horses, speeding around in her golf cart, and listening to her stories. Her funeral is today in Conneaut Lake. Fittingly, the bar where Mike and Curly met is not the funeral home that is arranging her service and burial.
From the Meadville Tribune:

December 19, 2011

Michael Maria Frist Schell

MEADVILLE — Michael Maria Frist Schell, 67, of Conneaut Lake, died Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011, at the Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio.

She was born in Meadville, May 19, 1944, a daughter of Joseph and Blanche Ramsey Frist. She underwent the first successful Spina Bifida operation in Pittsburgh, shortly after her birth. She married Elwood G. (Curly) Schell on March 17, 1983, and he survives.

Everyone knew her as Mike and as she would often say when questioned, her “father wanted a boy.” She graduated from Conneaut Lake High School and attended Point Park College. She worked for several years at the state Employment Office in Meadville. She and her husband were the proud owners of Snail’s Pace Acres, where they bred and raised Morgan show horses.

She enjoyed raising and showing her Morgan horses, not only on the local level, but in world competitions at the Morgan Grand Nationals held in Oklahoma City, Okla. She loved dogs and rescued many of her pets from the Humane Society. She loved her animals and the farm. She was also an avid Pittsburgh Steeler fan, having attended the first four Super Bowls won by Pittsburgh and many games thereafter. Her last Steelers/Browns game she went to was on Dec. 8, 2011. They won. GO STEELERS!

Survivors, in addition to her husband, Curly, of 28 years, include a brother, Ramsey H. Frist of Pittsburgh; a sister, Lorraine Fought of Georgetown, Texas; two nieces, Heidi M. Frist and Erica A. Canfield; two nephews, Jon R. Frist and Stephen Fought; six grandnephews, Ian S. Frist, J. Alex Canfield, Colin F. Canfield, William R. Derry, Thomas H. Derry and Garret Hershberger; and two grandnieces, Jillian C. Frist and Ava M. Canfield.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by a sister, Ida Grace Hershberger; a nephew, Harry (Buddy) Hershberger; and a grandnephew, Patrick J. Derry.

Calling hours will be Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Waid-Coleman Funeral Home Inc., 12422 Conneaut Lake Road, Conneaut Lake.

The funeral service will be Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the funeral home, with the Rev. Dave Brumagin, associate pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, officiating.

Interment will be in Roselawn Memorial Gardens.

The family suggests memorials be made to the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, PO Box 931517, Cleveland, Ohio 44193-1655; or the Crawford County Humane Society, 11012 Kennedy Hill Road, Meadville, Pa. 16335.

Memories and condolences can be shared at

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Railroad and Tooling Museum Coming to Meadville!

Finally, the Conneaut Lake/Meadville area will have a museum to pay tribute to the area's rich history!

From the Meadville Tribune:

November 18, 2011

Site selected for Railroad and Tooling Heritage Center

By Ryan Smith
Meadville Tribune
MEADVILLE — The best museums, according to Ed Cronin, are those that present a true sensory experience: Sights, sounds, things to touch and smell ... and taste.

He said he’s spent a fair share of time thinking about how to incorporate that last one into the Meadville area’s industrial history-on-display at the planned Northwestern Pennsylvania Railroad and Tooling Heritage Center. The answer — a “ ‘Eureka’ moment,” he said — came to him over his morning cereal on Thursday: A chocolate chip cookie for every person who walks through the door.

Turns out that a little over a century ago, the 150 or so employees of one Meadville manufacturer — the Trowbridge Chocolate Chip Co. — were making and shipping around three tons of those sweet little confections every single day, to New York City, Chicago and points in between, by way of Meadville’s rail system.

With the news unveiled Thursday, Cronin and other Railroad and Tooling Heritage Center planners have some time to ponder such particular questions. At a special news conference, the center’s board, joined by the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County and the Northwestern Pennsylvania chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Association, announced the years-in-the-planning center has been given a site to call home.

The EPA has donated a 1.5-acre Bessemer Street parcel — identified in a 2010 feasibility study as an ideal location — for the development of the center. Part of the EPA-owned former 84 Lumber property, the property fronts on the French Creek Parkway and is near the former sites of an Erie Railroad roundhouse and train station, a locomotive service and repair facility, and the Erie Railroad’s original 1865 Atlantic & Great Western shops, officials said.

Fundraising and planning for the center — previously estimated to be a roughly $6 million project — have been in the works by a local volunteer-run nonprofit group for around the last seven years, according to Cronin. With the site now dedicated, plans can be further developed for the 24,000-square-foot building housing the center, which is envisioned as a showcase of Crawford County’s storied railroad and tooling and manufacturing histories as well as a place to highlight the importance of other modern, state-of-the-art local industries.

“The gifting of this land came at a perfect time for our project and we greatly appreciate the Alliance’s generosity, belief in our project and support of our efforts,” said Cronin.

The group, which has previously raised and received donations and grants totaling more than $103,000, was also presented a $20,000 donation on Thursday by Tammy Adams, executive director of the local NTMA chapter.

The group’s goal for the first phase of the project, which would establish half of the center building and an endowment fund for ongoing operational costs, is set at $2.5 million, said Cronin. Current efforts include embarking on a fundraising capital campaign that will gauge the interest and enlist the assistance of a variety of area philanthropic groups, organizations and individuals, Cronin said. A total of 50 potential donors are in the process of being privately interviewed by the group’s professional planning consultant, he said.

A full-scale public fundraising campaign is expected to be launched in 2014, said Cronin.

Plans for the center include putting massive, vintage railroad engines and rail cars on permanent display as well as the complete outlay of a Meadville machining pioneer, Foriska Tool Shop. The entire shop (the former Davenport Manufacturing Co. that began operations on East College Street in the early 1900s) has been preserved by the Foriska family and donated to the center, and is planned to be moved to the museum’s site once the center’s physical development is under way, according to organizers.

Other items set to be part of the center include a Talon zipper machine, display cases with artifacts and gaging (tool and die) tools, machine tools, a Talon apprentice bench and tools and draft table used from the 1940s through the 1960s.

The group is hopeful that the center’s construction will begin sometime in 2013, and, “with any luck,” completed and opened to the public in 2015.

Asked how he feels about that news, Dennis Mead, president of the Erie-Lackawanna Historical Society, said, “I can put it into a few easy words: I can’t wait.”

“We have a great deal of history to show,” he said, but “with no place to put it” before. The center’s board is doing “some phenomenal work on this project,” he added.

Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Summer of the birds

It seems that everywhere I turn this summer I find baby birds.
We had a bittersweet ending to our chimney swift saga. For three weeks, we lived with four little birds hidden away in our fireplace, behind our wooden screen, after their nest fell from the chimney. Even the thin plywood barrier didn't muffle the round-the-clock squawking. It sounded like we were living with wildlife in our living room. Fortunately, the parents went above and beyond and performed dive-bomb type swoops down our chimney and into our fireplace to feed their babies.

From the beginning, three of the babies were heartier than the 4th. The scrawny bird was never allowed into the nest and never seemed very healthy. After initially discovering the birds and moving them back in their fallen nest, we left them alone. We did sneak a peek every few days though.

These photos are each about two days apart, starting with the morning after we found them.

See the three birds together on the fallen nest and the 4th bird outside of the nest.

This was the first bird to leave the nest and cling to the wall. These birds have an amazing ability to grip onto the bricks.

Here, three birds are on the wall and are higher up each time we peek.

Below is our last view of the birds before they disappeared too high up into the chimney for us to see. We still hear them, but they've officially left the nest! The woman at the animal rescue told us that when their wings got long enough to cross they were old enough to fly. Sadly, the fourth little guy didn't make it. It was amazing that it hung on for so long in it's strange living conditions.

As soon as the chimney swifts left the nest, almost to the day, I found this baby bird in the middle of the road. He was looking up at me, as if saying, 'help!'. I used my hat to push him to the side of the road.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tammy Pescatelli and Luca Palanca, Meadville's Biggest Celebs

One of the more exciting things to happen to me last winter was the premiere of A Stand Up Mother, a reality show about a stand up comedienne who moves from Los Angeles to Meadville (Conneaut Lake's neighboring town) with her husband and young son. Unfortunately, the show only lasted for two episodes.
Tammy Pescatelli, the stand-up mother, is married to Luca Palanca, also a stand-up comic. Imagine my excitement when I saw a flyer advertising Luca's Meadville show. Two nights only! With a special guest each night.
Bob and I went to the show tonight, and I was not disappointed. Not only was Tammy the special guest, but we ran into the couple in the parking lot after the hysterical show. And, good news, she told us that six more episodes of her show were just edited - something to look forward to this winter!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Surfing? In Erie?

We didn't believe it. And after visiting, we still not sure we believe it.

We're told that people actually surf here, between Beach 10 and Beach 11 on Presque Isle. The kids have been anxious to visit for weeks. The water really couldn't have been calmer, yet we're told waves can get as high as 10 feet.

We visited the local board shop and found out that the larger waves are mostly in the fall and spring. Since the 'waves' are wind driven, they're not nearly as powerful as ocean waves. But, people do really surf.

Without waves large enough to even body surf, the kids played in the water a bit before we made it out ahead of the storm.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Jamestown Pioneer Days

We go to Pioneer Days almost every year. Like every other time, we spent a pleasant afternoon talking to the various re-enactors.

President Lincoln was even there!

You wouldn't see this in California! They're raffling off over fifty guns!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Market House Farmers Market

We've tried the local farmer's market before, but have always been disappointed. Today was different!

It was all quite quaint, with Amish farmers, beautiful produce and fresh flowers.

I shouldn't have been surprised when I saw this. Look closely. One seller offered us a sample of melon, then took his cigarette and stuck it in the side of a plum container so he could cut the melon. Yuck!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Snail's Pace Acres

We had our first, and my last, visit to Snails Pace Acres this week. I barely stepped foot in the barn when the allergies began. Other than that, the farm was beautiful, as always.

Speedy is still kicking. And still hanging out with Oliver the llama.

A friendly little kitty with no eyes. Not just blind. No eyes!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Good Day!

We drove up to Erie earlier this week for a back-to-school shopping marathon at the mall. Why was it such a good day?
1) 3G all day!
2) No sales tax on clothes.
3) Done getting kids clothes, shoes, cleats and shin guards.
4) Found a pair of my discontinued running shoes (that I have been unable to find at any other store or online).
5) Tart frozen yogurt.
6) Starbucks.
I definitely felt like I stepped off the farm and found myself back in civilization.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dog Grooming Class

The owner of The Pooch Parlor agreed to give us a lesson along with Sport's grooming today. I learned a lot. Mainly that grooming is best left to the professionals. I haven't even been bathing Sport correctly!





And, this is where we got sidetracked. You'll see why I forgot to get an after picture. The groomer breeds Cocker Spaniels and has two pups about to turn 8 weeks old. Just look at this face!

We're trying hard to persuade my brother and sister-in-law to get one of these darling girls.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The heatwave has FINALLY passed. I thought we were going to melt last week!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cambridge Springs and The Riverside Inn

We braved the heat today and drove to Cambridge Springs for lunch and exploring. It's only about 40 minutes away, but other than Campbell Pottery, we've never gone to Cambridge Springs.

Along the way, the three Hodges Sisters couldn't resist having their picture taken in front of Hodges Lane.

I can't really say that I've never been to Cambridge Springs. The very first time that I visited Conneaut Lake, when Bob and I were dating, his family surprised me with a group outing to The Riverside Inn's dinner theater. It was a Medieval themed meal and performance, complete with food like giant turkey drumsticks, but lacking utensils of any kind. Maybe it took me twenty years to get over that and finally return to The Riverside Inn.

The front door to the Inn. Cambridge Springs used to be a popular destination for the wealthy because of it's natural springs. The only remaining hotel, The Riverside Inn has been operating for 125 years.

Lunch in the dining room.

I ordered a Mediterranean salad. It arrived complete with red onions, olives, feta cheese and sweet potato fries. This shouldn't surprise me since fries are common on salads in Western Pennsylvania.

The hotel still uses old room keys.