Penryn gets its ‘Grove’ on 89-year-old man enjoys his 90th picnic

By on August 7, 2013


LAURIE KNOWLES CALLANAN Record Express Correspondent

, Staff Writer

Photo by Laurie Knowles Callananâ?©Penryn picnic veterans (left to right) Eleanor Israelson, Clifton Beach, Dina Zook and Gerald Zook. Gerald, 89, has been coming to the Grove for 90 years.

Gerald Zook has been going to the Penryn Community Picnic since before he was born.

That’s right, before he was born.

"My mother was pregnant with me when she came to the picnic," said Zook, now 89, who made his 90th appearance at the annual Sunday school picnic at the Penryn Picnic Grove on Saturday.

He was joined by family and friends, including his wife Dina Zook, Eleanor Israelson and Clifton Beach. They were all enjoying the famous chicken corn soup, burgers, and delicious desserts at a Penryn tradition that goes back 100 years or more.

The picnic has been sponsored by Jerusalem Church, and proceeds from the picnic go toward funding church programs, including the Sunday school. It’s an all-volunteer effort, with locals making and serving the soup, grillers for hot dogs and burgers, dishwashers, parking lot attendants and pie bakers. There’s plenty to do for this community tradition, and every year it gets done.

If you like dessert, the table of pies and cakes seemed endless. Each treat was lovingly made by local ladies and included fresh peach, rhubarb, shoofly, blueberry crumb, pecan, cherry, apple and strawberry rhubarb pie, as well as chocolate cake, sponge cake, carrot cake and angel food cake. Kathryn Shreiner and Esther Erwin were busy slicing and putting out the toothsome treats.

The highlight of the picnic, for many in attendance, is the chicken corn soup. This year’s soup de jour was made by Mark Gleasson and Larry Roth. They used an adaptation of a long-time recipe from Jerusalem Church, with chicken, corn, hard-boiled eggs and rivels made from flour. The early recipe was a little heavier, so the chicken corn soup was a lighter variation, but with with the same great flavor.

The popular soup went on sale for take-out orders early in the morning, and the sit-down picnic supper began at 4 p.m. The weather held out, despite a few clouds, and the evening’s soundtrack included the Lititz Community Band playing old-fashioned tunes and the Moonlighters with their nostalgic standards. An old-fashioned cake walk was set to the music as participants moved in a circle for an opportunity to win a cake or pie when the music stopped.

There was also a candy and toy stand, flowers and plants and crafts for sale. Nicole Eshleman and her children, Morgan and Cameron, were in charge of the confections.

The event attracted some 400 people for food and fellowship.

"I’ve been coming here for as long as I can remember, and even before I can remember," said Zook. "It’s tradition."

More PENRYN PICNIC, page A16

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