Irish eyes smiling for weekend

Around this time in years past, we could always count on a familiar – and quite often regular – visitor at the OBSERVER. It was Ed Hamlet, who would drop off a news item, some photos and an annual treat for staffers at this newspaper: green bagels.

Hamlet, who died on April 17, 2011, was well known throughout the county for his giving ways. At a number of United Way or other non-profit events he attended, he would come bearing a gift for nearly everyone – a delicious apple.

His legacy of giving to the northern Chautauqua community continues today through Camp Gross as well as the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, both of which he was a member. It also continues at the store he founded this weekend: Hamlet Farm.

In keeping with the tradition, the store will be handing out dozens of green bagels to patrons from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Elizabeth Tytka, granddaughter and Hamlet Farms manager, says the green bagel tradition is nearly as old as the shop, which opened in the 1950s. “It’s been going on as long as I can remember,” she said.

As part of the green bagel celebration, Hamlet would dress as a leprechaun. The costume – as well as the spring bulbs – seemed to signal to customers and many in Sheridan it was the end of a long winter season.

Hamlet’s hat and shillelagh, key components to his Irish costume, will be on display this weekend at the shop. “We have to keep these things going,” Tytka said. “These events were the foundation for this store.”

Hamlet also left family and friends with plenty of memories. Tytka’s oldest daughter, Eva, who is 7, shares stories of her memories with the other great-grandchildren.

In 2009, Hamlet received the George B. Weaver Jr. Footprints award from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation. The annual award spotlights those who have made the region a better place through volunteering and philanthropy.

During the meeting in which he was honored, there was a delay in the presentation. Hamlet did not miss a beat. He led those in attendance in his famous “Corn sweet corn” song, which is often heard during the summer months on the radio.

“He gave of himself to everybody,” Tytka said. “It’s a great legacy to carry on and teach my children.”

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One of the area’s Irish gems is Doug Manly of Fredonia. Tonight he hosts “An evening with Malacy McCourt” at Fredonia Opera House beginning at 7:30. Tickets are still available for the evening performance to be filled with jokes stories and dance.

John D’Agostino is the OBSERVER publisher. Send comments to jdagostino@observertoday.com or call 366-3000, ext. 401.