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posted: 3/10/2012 4:10 PM

St. Charles' Peterson remains as active as they come

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  • Melvin Peterson, 91, of St. Charles, works almost daily at the Wasco Blacksmith Shop, and here spends time cleaning special horseshoes that were used on Clydesdale horses.

      Melvin Peterson, 91, of St. Charles, works almost daily at the Wasco Blacksmith Shop, and here spends time cleaning special horseshoes that were used on Clydesdale horses.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer


About 15 months ago, I started writing about trying to figure out who might be the oldest living residents in each of our communities. The caveat was that they had to have lived in their hometown since day one.

Walking history book Melvin Peterson of St. Charles helped me out on occasion with those searches. It's too bad he'll never qualify as a candidate at some point, because Melvin and his wife Ruth spent a couple of years in Randall Square in Geneva.

However, Peterson, who celebrated his 91st birthday last week, certainly qualifies for this recognition: The most active older gentleman still doing things to serve his community.

For Peterson, that means doing good stuff for St. Charles. Being a member of the Baker Community Center Board for nearly 70 years earns Peterson a certain measure of gratitude and respect.

But it's the things he does on his own that continue to astonish. No one says Peterson has to continue to work at the Wasco Blacksmith Shop, which he does every day. Even more so, no one says he has to build commemorative pieces, made of wood and horseshoe iron, to celebrate people and places in St. Charles.

Peterson was at it again a couple of weeks ago, presenting the St. Charles Park District board with an impressive piece of art to represent the district's past 50 years. It was a "follow-up piece," if you will, for the other one he created commemorating the first 50 years as part of the district's 100th birthday celebration last year.

"I enjoy doing it and I want to keep making these pieces so we remember our history," said Peterson, who has created dozens of these salutes to history.

He's currently working on a piece for the St. Charles Chamber, and it's quite likely he has a list of still others for the future. After all, when you're a young, active fellow at age 91, it helps to have a list to keep track of all of your projects.

Sandwich and twist of fate: My readers, particularly Mike Davis of Geneva, were right about this one. Davis sent a note, singing the praises of the Italian beef sandwich at Morano's, on 417 Hamilton St., in Geneva. I tried this tasty creation, and Davis was correct. It ranks very high among the top Italian beefs in the area.

The fact Morano's offers the sandwich in Geneva is a story in itself. Two years ago, owners Peter and Debbie Morano were looking to open a pizza and sandwich joint in Naperville. But Peter's drive down Butterfield Road one afternoon changed all of that.

"A chunk of ice flew off a truck and smashed through Peter's window and into his face," Debbie Morano said. "It was really bad, and he had to have a couple of surgeries, and he lost sight in one eye."

But through it all, her husband stayed positive about opening a restaurant, she said. The delay cost them a shot at the spot they were looking at in Naperville, but the hunt eventually landed them in Geneva.

"We couldn't be happier," Morano said. "The people and businesses in Geneva have been so nice, and business is picking up well as more people learn about us."

The restaurant has been open for four months, but staged its official grand opening last week. The menu is an Italian delight, with everything from pizza to chicken Parmesan to calzone. And, of course, that tasty Italian beef.

In the summer, this carryout restaurant will offer outdoor seating, which should go over well with customers.

Don't forget pizza: My favorite pizza in the area, for as long as I can remember, has been Salerno's in St. Charles. Others that have ranked high include the pizza at Munchie P's, Antonio's Pizza and the recently departed Monterey Place pizza, all in Geneva.

Most recently, the pizza at Aurelio's and Morano's in Geneva have joined those lofty ranks. In addition, I am not afraid to admit I have always enjoyed Pizza Hut in Batavia.

My mouth waters at the thought of any of these pizzas. If it is even remotely possible you have not tried one, take your pick. You can't go wrong.

Wardrobe help needed: My role on the "Dancing With the Geneva Stars" planning committee is fairly simple. I write news releases and media alerts, offer ideas and help with event logistics. Important stuff, I suppose, but likely not as much so as finding someone who can work with the dance couples to put together their wardrobes for the event, making sure everything fits the routine and fits the bodies of the dancers.

When it was revealed that our talented volunteer wardrobe mistress was no longer going to be available, it was apparent I couldn't add much insight into discussions about whom we could possibly get to replace her next year.

I did suggest that maybe a retired, former Broadway wardrobe designer, or an aspiring theater wardrobe mistress or a college kid studying in the field could live in this area and might enjoy this challenge. So my contribution again is to write about it and let anyone interested in this fun task know they should contact Carolyn Hill at (630) 232-8313 to learn more about it.

For the fish: At this time of year, readers ask for advice on the best Friday fish fries in the area. It used to be that American Legion posts and the Knights of Columbus offered events that community residents would flock to. They still do. But now, so many restaurants offer fish fries as well it is hard to say where the truly best ones unfold.

You can't go wrong with the Geneva American Legion or the Maple Park American Legion events, though the event in Maple Park is held only the third Friday of the month.

Readers have told me The Filling Station in St. Charles offers a great fish fry. I know from experience that Little Owl in Geneva and Gabby's Kitchen in St. Charles also offer tasty fish plates on Friday during Lent. The popular Colonial restaurant on Randall Road has been getting some good reviews for its fish fry as well.

Basically, your favorite restaurant likely offers a decent fish option during Lent, and your Legion posts offer the community-setting type fish fries.

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