30 Day Challenge – Day 12

Where your family is from

map of italy

Both sides of my family originate in Italy. Please don’t ask me where in Italy, because I don’t know…maybe one of my relatives will see this and tell me. ;)

My great-grandparents settled in Brockway, PA…then my dad’s parents in Ridgway, and my mom’s in St. Marys. I grew up in St. Marys.* (Ridgway is about 10 miles from St. Marys.)

PA Map

*No, there isn’t an apostrophe in St. Marys, PA. I don’t know why.

St. Marys is known for being the home of Straub Beer:

And Decker’s Chapel, which I used to think held some kind of record for being the tiniest chapel, but it doesn’t:

decker's chapel

Inspiring story

I graduated from high school with this guy…and back in the days when I was a reporter, I interviewed him for a story. The story got picked up by the AP, and they used the photo that I took with it. I got a little check for the photo.

To sum up, Craig Dietz–a Pittsburgh attorney who was born without arms or legs–competed in a triathalon.

You’ll have to click here to see the story.

Good news for my hometown

(I thought I published this post days ago, but apparently I only saved it as a draft…)

Last night, my brother called me to ask me if I remembered a Lawrence Donachy from high school. I told him that the name sounded vaguely familiar, but not really, no,

I asked him why, and he told me that he had read in the Pittsburgh paper that Donachy had been arrested for the 1999 murder of Irene Challingsworth.

Nine years ago.

The case kind of rocked my little hometown…there’s not a whole lot of violent crime there. When you did hear about murders, they were usually murder-suicide crimes of passion, usually neatly tied up with very little investigation needed.

Irene Challingsworth owned a beauty shop in her home. Someone broke into her home, presumably sexually assaulted her, and stabbed her three times in the neck.

At the time, I was a reporter for the DuBois Courier-Express. I escaped having to report on the murder itself–perhaps I was already tied up with something else?–and the paper sent another more seasoned reporter to get the story.

I was, though, the person who had to keep following up on the story…who had to keep asking the police if there was any new information, who had to attend press conferences and report that no, there was nothing new to report.

I, like many in my town, assumed this case would go unsolved, but I am very happy that it has been resolved.

Home sweet home

BufBloPoFo Topic for Day 9: Share your own insider’s perspective on your hometown. Most of you, like me, are Talkin’ Proud, so share your expertise. What’s your favorite way to spend a Buffalo summer day? Which old timey Buffalo movie theatre is to most old timey? What’s your most vivid Buffalo memory (any Buffalonian worth his or her road salt knows where they were when the pigskin went wide right.) Your favorite Buffalo restaurant? (If you say Wild Wings, you’re dead to me.)

If you aren’t a Buffalonian, what should we know about your hometown?

Well, as many of you are aware, I am *not* a native Buffalonian, but I have made it my home for the past eight years and don’t see that changing in the near future. So I shall answer this question in two parts.

Part 1: Things I dig about Buffalo (and WNY)

Summer in Buffalo rocks. Shakespeare in Delaware Park. Countless festivals involving bad-for-you (but oh-so-good) food. Thursday at the Square.

I love Buffalo’s proximity to Toronto and Niagara Falls.

I love the fact that you can get such a variety of amazing food without having to go too far for it. Within 15 minutes of my apartment, I can get fantastic Greek, Korean, Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese food…not to mention great pizza and wings!

Asking me to choose a favorite Buffalo restaurant…sigh. How can I possibly choose? Here are a few favorites, both within city limits and not: Gabriel’s Gate. Towne. Pano’s. India Gate/Taste of India. The Village Grille. Korea House. Morning Glory Cafe. Cole’s.

I love Wegmans. I love being able to get pretty much anywhere in 20 minutes. I love sitting by Glen Falls in the spring. But more than anything else, I like all the people I’ve met here!

Part 2: My hometown

Grew up in St. Marys, PA, a small town in northwestern Pennsylvania. What should you know about it? It isn’t near anything. It’s not near Erie, it’s not near Pittsburgh, it’s not near Philadelphia. The closest known commodity is State College (home of Penn State University), and that’s like an hour and a half away.

It was settled by German Catholics. It has a brewery and a convent. It consolidated with a surrounding township to gain the dubious distinction of ‘city’. And even though I’ve made Buffalo my adopted home, St. Marys will always be home.