Earl Blank Jr. is the first person I ever met that remembers the date and time of events in his life — everything from births, marriages, good things and the bad things included.
Earl was born in Phoenixville in, what he proudly boosts as, “the old hospital.” He is referring to the hospital of the 1940s that was situated on Nutt Road near Main Street and not the sprawling facility it has become.
It is Earl Blank’s religious faith that guides him through life. He is the youngest of Earl Sr. and Ethel Blank. He has two older sisters — Miriam and Leona; Earl is considered “the spoiled one.”
Earl and Margaret Fedorsic (known as Peggy) met while “cruising” the downtown. For those of you who do not know what this was, I’ll tell you. A carload of “kids,” or just one (the driver) for that matter, would ride around for hours on Bridge Street, south on Gay Street to Fifth Avenue, onto Main Street, back down to Bridge Street. Sometimes this ritual was done in reverse. At times, two cars would stop to have a conversation. Then the whole process will begin all over again. Some nights were better than others to “cruise.” They married on Nov. 15, 1969, at the Hungarian United Church of Christ at 6 p.m., according to Earl
After high school, Earl went to work for Danco Tool on Bridge Street at Walnut in town as a die setter. With a growing family, he took on a part-time job at Harry Yeager’s Service Station in the tire department in the evenings. In June 1972, he took over the ownership of this gas/service station in the Village of Kimberton, which he owned for the next 18 years. After the gas station closed, he went to work at National Foam in Lionville. Due to health issues, Earl retired in 2006.
A very dark and faith-testing time came to the Blank-Hoffman families when older daughter Tracey Blank Hoffman suddenly died at the young age of 42. The family lived in Kimberton for 27 years and for 13 years in Royersford. Five years ago, Earl and Peggy moved to Lower Pottsgrove to be closer to their two young grandchildren and help in their day-to-day life. Rearing Mason and Melana has become a family endeavor. Peggy and Earl’s younger daughter, Brook Blank, has been a major influence on their lives.
The family worships and is active in the Chesmont Church of Christ near their home. The church is housed in Coventry Christian School.
His natural mane of white hair and beard was a big help for a calling to be Santa Claus in 1995. He first appeared at a holiday bazaar for the Phoenixville Hospital. Today, he still makes his appearance as this jolly fellow on a limited basis.
Earl is a real “meat and potatoes” man, but he does like filled cabbage (specially the one Peggy makes).
(or, as some call it, stuffed cabbage)
1 lb. ground pork1 lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. salt1 Tbsp. paprika1 tsp. black pepper
1 lb. white rice, washed well1 large onion, minced
3 Tbsp. shortening1 (15 to 16 oz.) tomato sauce
Core cabbage, and place in enough boiling water to cover. Work with a fork in one hand and a sharp knife in the other and keep cutting off the leaves as they become limp. Drain. Or if you have frozen the head of cabbage, thaw; the leaves will fall off. Trim thick center vein of each cabbage leaf. Brown onion in shortening. Mix together meat, seasonings and rice evenly. Place a tablespoon of the mixture on each leaf. Fold edges towards center, and roll up tightly. Some people use a toothpick to make sure they stayed rolled, but if you roll them tight enough, toothpicks are not necessary. Cut up leftover cabbage, and place on bottom of large pot. Layer the cabbage rolls into pot. Combine sauce and enough water to fill the pot approximately 2/3 filled. At a medium heat, bring to a boil. Cover and slowly simmer for 1¼ hours or until rice is tender when sampled. Or you can bake them in the oven (less chance of burning) — his is a much slower cooking process — by layering them in a roasting pan or large foil throwaway pan. Combine sauce and water; pour over the filled cabbage. Bake in a 350-degree oven. The length of time for it to bake through is two or three hours or more or until rice is tender when sampled.
Enjoy!Let Bette hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org. Search YouTube for “Look Who’s Cooking with Bette Banjack,” as well phoenixvillenews.com (search bar: Banjack) for this column. Find Bette on Facebook by searching “Bette Banjack’s Downtown Kitchen.” Her book, “2 Cups of Yesterday,” is available at Gateway Pharmacy or by contacting her.