On a dreary Sunday afternoon, my conversation with Kelly Schultz Coccia was a bright spot.

Kelly is part of that large Mitchell family I often mention. My connection with the Mitchell family is a long-standing friendship. So we had a lot to talk about.

She and her husband, Frank Coccia, were high school sweethearts. Both graduated in 1980. They have been married for 31 years, living in Kimberton. There are three Coccia children with two adorable granddaughters.

They actually met when Frank was working at the Sunoco Station on Nutt Road and Gay Street. Kelly spent a good amount of time cruising “the circuit.” For those of you who do not know what this was, I’ll tell you. A carload of “kids” or just one 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 would begin all over again. Some nights were better than other to “cruise.”

Kelly and Frank spent a lot of time at Gino’s across the street from the gas station. Today, Dunkin' Donuts is located where Gino’s once was.

Kelly grew on Valley Road behind the Acme. But she spent a great deal of the time at her grandparents on Washington Avenue.

Kelly and her mom, Ruth Schultz, were quite close. Actually, the entire family was close and overlapped one another. Kelly mentioned that her mom was unique — the first female (after World War II) who was hired by the Phoenix Steel Co. as a pipe-fitter.

I mentioned after Wordl War II because of stories my mother told me. She said during the war, the company was run by mostly women. They women had to give up their jobs to the returning men after the war. She told me about what I thought was an old woman who operated the crane. Old — she was most likely in for mid-40s.

Kelly and Frank have a cabin in Clinton County, which is about a 4½-hour drive. Located in part on the old Mitchell homestead, it is a little off the grid — no electric, no water except water pumped from a well. But they find the living quite comfortable and visit as often as it fits into their schedule

Kelly loves children. She has worked for 16 years at Penn Care for Children at the front desk. She is a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research — anything to aid in the awareness of the struggle.

She spent many years at KYAL (Kimberton Youth Athletic League). She was the first women on the board and served as its softball commissioner. All of the Coccia children played softball and baseball for the league for over 12 years.

Kelly loves to be in the kitchen. Once a year, she and two cousins, Drunette and Lisa, get together to bake nut rolls. At times, it turns into a circus — three cooks all with different recipes and a lot of different ways of doing things.

Kelly shares with us a favorite family recipe.

Baba Emma Mitchell's Pennsylvania Dutch Potato Filling

4 cups prepared mash potatoes

4 ribs celery — chopped

1 medium sweet onion — chopped

1½ tsp. poultry seasoning (or to taste)

1 Tbsp. dried or 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley

8 slices white or potato bread — cubed

½ cup milk

1 stick butter

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, sauté onion and celery in butter with poultry seasoning and parsley just until softened. Mix in bread cubes, mashed potatoes, milk, salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a greased casserole. If desired, top with additional parsley and butter pats. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes until golden brown.


Let Bette hear from you: banjack303@verizon.net. 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.

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