Who is Aunt Irene? Aunt Irene was my mother. She and my father, Bernie, passed away in 2016.
Like many women from her era, making sure everyone was fed and happy was how she found her joy. Growing up in the coal mining town of Dunbar, PA is where she learned to feed and take care of family and friends. She knew no strangers.
After marrying my father Bernie, the catch of the town and her next door neighbor, they moved to Euclid, Ohio to begin their lives together. Living in Euclid was a wonderful place to start our family, but my father soon moved us to Salem, Ohio for his job at the GM plant in Lordstown.
Although Salem was a much smaller town it gave our growing family many cherished memories of playing with the neighborhood kids, walking to school, and being a part of a community.
My father felt that a man's worth was measured by owning land so when he read an advertisement in the local paper for the sale of 32 acres he couldn't pass up this great opportunity. We were on the move again to our next home located between the towns of Lisbon and Hanoverton, Ohio.
Raising 6 kids in a 200 year old farm house out in the country was full of many challenges and adventures everyday. Soon my parent's entrepreneurial spirit awoke and they established Li'l Beaver RV Park on the 32 acres. Li'l Beaver Park became the Northeastern Ohio destination for outdoor lovers of camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, and all-terrain vehicle riding and motocross racing. We all worked very hard to create a family fun and friendly environment for everyone from all walks of life.
When the summers ended and the holidays rolled around my mother worked hard baking Kolachi , Kiffles, and cookies to give for gifts to family and friends. By this time, my eldest sister, Deborah, was working for GM. Deborah would take a tray of my mother's goodies to work to share with her co-workers and they started to place orders for the treats. My mother's "Old World Pastries and Confections" became so popular that when it was time to sell Li'l Beaver Park my mother seamlessly moved into baking full time. My parents created a mini empire in their tiny basement commercial kitchen. They shipped all over the country every month of the year.
My mother continued baking until 2016 when she was forced to stop because of her poor health.
This picture is of my dad wrapping Kolachi. He had a whole system set up for wrapping Kolachi properly at his work station. He was my mom's biggest fan. He called her "I".
My mom had these two wonderful women who would come and help her fulfill her orders every holiday season. Vi was my mom's very good friend and Polly is Vi's daughter. There isn't a holiday I don't remember Vi and Polly being in my Mom's commercial kitchen, except once when my mom made Vi mad and Vi did't help her that holiday. There is another special lady that spent many, many hours with my mom. Her name is Mary Ann. If it were not for Mary Ann my mom wouldn't have completed all of her orders.
This is one of the last and my most favorite pictures of my mom.
My sister Deborah and her husband Jeff found Holden Beach through one of Jeff's high school classmates. Jeff's classmate's grandmother had a house on Holden Beach where Deb and Jeff were first introduced to the beach they would visit for many years to come.
For many years Deb and Jeff vacationed at Holden Beach with their children Jessica and Scott.
Once the rest of the family found out about Holden Beach there was no stopping them coming to vacation here. The extended family realized what a hidden gem Holden Beach was and what a fantastic family environment Holden Beach embodied. Soon Jeff's brother and sister-in-law became Holden Beach fans. Not far behind were my other sister Charlene and myself.
For 25 years, Deb, Char, and I spent almost every summer vacation together at Holden Beach.
Deb, Jeff, and the kids even survived Bertha!
The Jewell family made many memories at Cappuccino by the Sea. You'll find that part of the story by scrolling down.
The first day Nancy Elwell opened Cappuccino by the Sea Deb and Jeff were the second customers in line. Deb and Jeff overheard Nancy telling the first customer that her freezer had just broken. Jeff, being the gentleman that he is, offered to run to the gas station and get her ice. This was the beginning of a very long and wonderful relationship.
Many vacation days were spent in Nancy's store enjoying coffee drinks, shopping for souvenirs and painting pottery.
Around the same time Nancy opened Cappucino by the Sea, I was running Michelle's Care Packages which eventually turned into Aunt Irene's Sweets-n-Treats. I had started my business in Frederick, MD and then moved to Harpers Ferry, WV where I continued making sweets and treats in a retail location. Every summer we would go to Holden Beach for vacation, visit Nancy's shop, and I would wish and dream about someday having a shop like Nancy's where vacationers would come every year and enjoy some sweets and treats. Well...finally, in 2018, we moved to Supply, NC., 4 miles away from Holden Beach. The man who owned Nancy's building had wanted to sell for quite some time and Nancy had other plans to move to a new location so we were able to acquire the building. My dream of having my own shop and making my mom's specialty pastries and my sweets and treats is coming true.
So, if my sister Deborah had never married my brother-in-law Jeff, I don't see how we would have ended up in Holden Beach, NC.
This has been such a long journey with many trials and heartbreaks. The heaviest being losing my sister Deborah in 2009, my brother Bernie in 2010, my nephew Trent in 2013, and my parents in 2016.
With such great joy but intense sadness I begin this new endeavor knowing that my mom, Irene, and my dad, Bernie would be very proud of what I am doing. I know Deborah would love this new adventure.