The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Judy Kunkle: Hickory nuts

Written by David Green.


Pignut, bitternut and mockernut. Shellbark and shagbark.

Several species of hickory tree grow in this part of the country, but there’s one that’s prized above the others for its fruit: the shagbark.

judymike Ask Judy Kunkle, who lives west of Harrison Lake. She’s collected a large quantity of nuts from the woods behind her house, and she’s ready for some good eating.

“I really like hickory nuts,” she said. “It’s my favorite nut.”

Judy knows her status as a hickory nut fan puts her in a minority, but it can’t be the taste of the nut that causes its low popularity. More likely, it’s just unfamiliarity with the nut and the work required to harvest it.

Hickory nuts aren’t an item you’ll find in a grocery store. Either you collect them yourself or find someone like Judy who offers them for sale. She advertised hickory nuts recently and didn’t get much response. Those who did call never showed up to make the purchase.

“I guess they thought I was charging too much or else they wanted them already shelled,” she said.

She did have one satisfied customer from a year ago who came back this fall for more.

In some areas of the United States, hickory nuts had a long tradition as a special part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. Now it’s rare to encounter someone who knows the rich, sweet taste of the nut.

“It’s something that elderly people seem to know more about,” Judy said.

The nuts fall in September and October and are collected before they all disappear by way of squirrels.

The fruit is dried for a week or so before the husks are removed. Judy gets the job done by placing a nut on rock with a slight depression and striking it with a hammer. It’s easy to see where she does her work—the low spot on the rock is stained dark brown from the husks.

Then  comes the thick shell.

Some people believe that every nut has a “door” that if struck, will open the thick shell. Hit just the right spot and the shell fractures cleanly to allow easy access to the nutmeat within. Hit the wrong spot and it shatters into little pieces, making the harvest almost impossible.

Judy isn’t denying the “sweet spot” theory, but she doesn’t have a reason to look for it, either.

“I’ve never had much luck with a hammer,” she said.

Instead, she simply places a nut in a vice and twists the handle to crack it open. She ends up with large pieces of nut most every time.

closeup Judy hasn’t done a lot of cooking with hickory nuts, with one exception: hickory nut cake. She adds hickories to the batter and loves the result. Her husband, Gene, sprinkles crushed hickories on ice cream.

Judy has also used hickories in banana bread and has substituted them for peanuts to make brittle. One thing she really wants to try is hickory nut pie.

This was a good year for hickory nuts, she said—the trees generally produce a heavy crop every other year—and there was also a heavy fall of black walnuts.

Judy still has hickories for sale, but don’t look for an advertisement for walnut meats. To her thinking, they just aren’t worth the bother.

“They’re too hard to crack,” she said.

And besides, it’s shagbark hickory that produces the king of nuts. There’s no better nut that grows in this area of the country.

• Have a hankering for roasted hickories? You’re probably too late to collect your own. Call Judy at 419/237- 2311.

- Nov. 9, 2005 

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