About six years ago, we began an annual tradition with four friends. They actually initiated an annual trek to a state park in West Virginia by inviting us along on one of their trips. There are many fabulous state parks in Ohio and why not stay in-state, you wonder? Well the one couple is close by us, but the other couple is from the east coast and West Virginia seemed to be a good mid-point to meet.
We gather at one of the cabins at North Bend State Park which is a mountainous retreat nestled among Cairo and Harrisville, W. Va. Our weekend includes good food and drinks, hiking, games, reading, sitting around the fire chatting, occasional cigars, and a lot of laughter. We’ve also developed a tradition of going into Harrisville, specifically to visit three local emporiums.
The first is Berdine’s — an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned five and dime. They sell everything you can imagine and a few items you can’t, from kitchen goods to toys to candies to antiques in the back room. We always find something there to bring home.
Our second stop is Arlo’s Antique and Flea Market. You can find treasures there, but it takes some time to get through two stories of goods, each narrow aisle crammed with everything from home décor to vintage glassware to furniture.
Our third tradition is lunch at Carolyn’s Sandwich Shop, where Carolyn herself has been the chef since 1981. She appears to serve a crowd of “regulars” around the noon hour and I suspect we were viewed a little suspiciously the first time we noisily entered her cozy diner. We made a lousy first impression, too, I’m afraid, as one of our group asked her if her soups were homemade. She appeared a tad affronted and assured us “all” her soups were homemade, as were the salads, sandwiches, and pies. The only nod to pre-packaged food were the Conn’s potato chips (awesomely good) and the banana flips (ah, nostalgia) in the dessert case.
The décor was classic diner, from the red vinyl booth seats with a bit of duct tape to the local art work for sale on the walls. The food was served on paper plates and was classic diner quality — meaning, it was absolutely fattening and yummy.
We go back every year and this year we noticed new autumn décor and art work on the walls. We asked Carolyn if she remembered us. At first, I didn’t think so, then she said, “don’t you usually come on Saturdays?” which of course, we do! She is a not only a great cook, but also a welcoming soul and we look so forward to eating there. She was gracious enough to allow us to have a group photo with her.
We are already excited to see her again next year to enjoy grilled cheese, cheeseburgers, chili, and peanut butter pie.
If you’re ever in Harrisville, stop in for a step back in time and great fried cauliflower!
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Sue is a retired public servant who volunteers at a local elementary school and Hospice and keeps busy taking care of house, husband, son, and pets. She lives just outside of Troy, Ohio.