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Brickerville serves up memories of D-Day and Ida Young’s secret recipe soup
For as long as anyone can remember, the shaded grove across from Brickerville United Lutheran Church has been the site for an annual community picnic. The century-old (or more) tradition continued Saturday.
“I have been coming to the picnic for many, many years,” said Paul Shirk of Schoeneck, who is in his 90s.
Shirk is a World War II veteran who served during the invasion of Normandy and was there at the fateful Battle of the Bulge. It’s a distant memory when he recalls D-Day in June 1944, when the initial assaults began and culminated in December with the Battle of the Bulge.
Known as the single biggest and bloodiest battle American soldiers have ever fought, nearly 80,000 were killed, maimed or captured in a test of courage and endurance that surpassed anything that could be imagined. Shirk lost many soldiers, friends, with whom he served.
This year’s picnic was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of D-Day, and Shirk felt honored to be remembered. He was especially happy to hear the Ringgold Band of Reading, which performed a concert to honor veterans of WWII.
“My favorites are the patriotic songs,” he said. “I like the marches, especially the National Spirit March.”
Shirk was among the crowd that lined chairs in front of the bandstand as the Ringgold musicians took them back in time. There were three concerts during the day, starting around 5 p.m. when the band opened with a the National Anthem and a selection of songs from Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein’s “Show Boat” musical.
“We wanted to have entertainment that our veterans could enjoy,” said June Kupstas, who organized the picnic with Ida Young, Deb Ober and dozens of volunteers.
As Kupstas explained, the first concert featured music of the 1920s, when many of the veterans were youths. The second show was a tribute to D-Day, featuring music heard as the war ended.
The final concert celebrated the birth of this nation with a medley of American songs, highlighted by a sing-along to “God Bless America” and other standards.
Even though Fourth of July festivities in Lititz Springs Park had been postponed to July 5, due to muddy conditions, organizers at Brickerville weren’t too worried about it affecting their picnic.
“I think we have a different crowd, mostly older people who like the peace and quiet here at Brickerville,” said Young.
It looked like she was right.
Crowds of senior citizens, a few families and some teens lined up for an abundance of food prepared by church members and other volunteers. There were hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecues, chicken sandwiches, salad and fruit. The star of the menu was the chicken corn noodle soup, a secret recipe passed down through Young’s family, with local chicken and kulski noodles instead of rivels.
Desserts were also a big attraction. The pavilion was lined with freshly baked pies, cakes and cupcakes in varieties such as cherry, coconut custard, pecan, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry, carrot cake and key lime. There was also ice cream, provided by The Udder Choice dairy.
There was also a display of wartime memorabilia, including vintage Life magazines, Look magazines and church honor rolls for World War II veterans. Newspapers such as the Lititz Record Express, Ephrata Review and Lancaster New Era featured stories about Vietnam, Korea and WWII.
Norman Eckert is a WWII and Korea veteran who thoroughly enjoyed the picnic. He liked the music and memorabilia. His wife, Fern, also served her country as a medical technician with the Women’s Army Corps (WAC).
Barry and Joan Decker of Quarryville traveled more than an hour to visit the Brickerville picnic for the first time. Dressed in their Fourth of July finery, they were looking forward to hearing the Ringgold Band and trying some of the food.
Admission to the picnic was by donation. As Young noted, donations are then given to a local charity. In the past, organizations like Love, Inc. and Disaster Relief have benefited.
The Brickerville community picnic was held right across from Brickerville United Lutheran Church on Route 322, from 4 to 8 p.m. … just in time to catch the fireworks in Lititz.
Laurie Knowles Callanan is a veteran freelance writer who got her start in the newspaper business when she was hired as a general assignment reporter by former Record Express owner Bob Campbell.