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Ohio Eatery Has Local Connection

The lead item in last Sunday’s Grapevine — regarding Mehlman’s Cafeteria in St. Clairsville being named by Food & Wine magazine as the sixth best cafeteria in America — has generated considerable interest, as well as a tip on another area

connection.

In fact, reader Margaret Erickson of Wheeling said she was excited to see that she had been to the number two spot, Sokolowski’s University Inn in Cleveland, on Food & Wine’s top 10 list of U.S.

cafeterias.

“As the name implies, the menu features Eastern European cooking, including chicken paprikas, pierogi and wursts. Visiting the restaurant requires some advance knowledge, at least for visitors from Wheeling, since it is open weekdays for lunch, Fridays and Saturdays for dinner,” Erickson said.

She also related that Sokolowski’s has a Wheeling connection. She said that Wheeling Jesuit University graduates Joe Balbier, Class of 2009, and Katie Balbier Ellison, Class of 2013, are the children of Mary Sokolowski Balbier, a member of the family that operates Sokolowski’s University Inn.

Erickson commented, “Katie’s wedding reception was held at the restaurant, which overlooks the Cuyahoga River. The food and music were outstanding, an ice cream truck made a visit to the reception and the Cleveland Indians played well so we were treated to fireworks and watched tugboats maneuver a laker through a tight bend in the river. It was an unforgettable wedding.”

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Just in time for holiday giving, “Americana Carols,” a recording by Wheeling native Nate Strasser and fiddler Matt Combs, is now available for purchase.

The compact disc features 10 tracks and includes Strasser’s and Combs’ composition, “Appalachian Rhapsody,” which had its West Virginia debut by the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in April 2018.

“Americana Carols” was recorded at the famed Ocean Way studio in Nashville.

The CD is available locally by calling 304-551-3237. All proceeds benefit the mission work of East Brentwood Presbyterian Church in Brentwood, Tennessee. Strasser, a composer and pianist, serves as music director of the church.

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As regular readers know, obituaries published in our newspapers often containing fascinating details about the deceased person’s life and experiences.

For instance, from an obituary that appeared Friday in our sister newspapers, the Herald-Star and Weirton Daily Times, we learned an interesting tidbit of information about Nora Miravalle Thomas, a Hopedale resident and native of San Francisco, who died Thursday at the age of 94.

The obituary stated that she was the store manager of Sherman Clay Music in San Francisco, “where she chose records to send to the troops during World War II.”

One can only imagine how she approached that task, perhaps with a mixture of delight and a sense of responsibility for selecting just the right sort of music to brighten the spirits of American troops facing danger and confronting death in wartime.

We often think of the “Rosie the Riveters” who provided valuable work on wartime assembly lines, but we also should remember the efforts of people like Nora Miravalle Thomas, who made another valuable contribution from the homefront.

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer.net

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