Several months ago, I wrote a short piece about how the Texas Hot in Wellsville, New York was started. The story naturally centered to a large extent on my father, James Rigas, who founded the restaurant and operated it with George Raptis for many decades. I now would like to tell you a little about my mother, Eleni Brazas Rigas, a woman who though not involved formally in the business or with a career outside the home, has a history that is no less interesting or meaningful. While her story in one sense is unique to herself, it is at the same time representative of the experiences encountered by countless immigrant women who have sought a better life in America. Continue Reading
John Rigas, August 22, 2006
A worthy community project
During this year’s Memorial Day ceremonies, I was struck more than ever by the majesty of the Civil War monument on the Courthouse Square. Once again, only this time with heightened appreciation, I marveled at the sight of the Union soldier soaring gracefully toward Heaven, lifted by an elegantly-shaped column of near-perfect proportions. I reflected how extraordinary it was for a small town like Coudersport to have such an impressive structure gracing its town center. Yet, while unusual, it is also perfectly fitting. Among northern United States counties, Potter County boasted one of the highest percentages of citizens fighting on the Union side. The monument is a testament to this achievement, an enduring memorial to those many soldiers who sacrificed comfort and life itself to preserve the union and to end slavery. Continue Reading
John Rigas, August 7, 2006
Texas Hot Origins
Now in its eighty-fifth year of operation, the Texas Hot Restaurant has long been a local institution in Wellsville, New York. Over the years, innumerable people have remarked to me that a trip to Wellsville is incomplete without a stop at the Texas Hot and a few of those hot dogs.
Although most people in these parts have been to the Texas Hot many times, few people know the story of how the restaurant got started. It is a story like so many others in our nation’s history—that of young, hard-working immigrants striving to capture a tiny part of the American dream. Continue reading
John Rigas, August 4, 2006
Jack-Knives and High-Tops
One of my clearest memories from the first four grades of school was the high-top shoes I and the other boys wore every day. Laced all the way to the knees, they complemented the knickobocker pants (“knickers”) we also wore, which extended from the waist to the knees. Always tucked in a pocket on the outside of our high-tops was a small jack-knife, with which we whittled wood, opened packages, and most of all played “mumbly-pegs” and other games on our way to and from school and during recess. These activities were part of our daily ritual, and we would have been lost without our trusted jack-knives. They filled the role that “game-boys” do for many children today. They were our toys, not weapons. Continue Reading
John Rigas, June 26, 2006
Cars Verses Interstate 80
The movie Cars played recently at the Coudersport Theatre. From everything I’ve heard, it is an excellent film in the tradition of other Disney-Pixar movies. A major theme of Cars is the role automobiles and superhighways have played in the demise of Main Street in countless towns across America.
This subject reminds me of a debate which occurred in Coudersport and northern Pennsylvania just about fifty years ago. The issue was where Interstate 80 should cross Pennsylvania. The original plan was for it to follow the path of Route 6 across the northern part of the state, with by-passes around the many small towns of the region. However, mainly through the efforts of a powerful politician from Williamsport, Z. H. “Dick” Confair, the decision was finally made to build the road more toward the center of the state and Williamsport. Continue Reading
John Rigas, June 12, 2006
For those interested in learning more about our appeal
For those interested in learning more about our appeal, I recommend reading Donald Gilliland’s article in the June 7 edition of the Potter Leader Enterprise (“Oral Arguments in Rigas Appeal Scheduled for Next Wednesday”). The article provides a balanced and accurate summary of the major arguments made by both our lawyers and the government attorneys in briefs submitted to the Appeals Court. The summary highlights our strong contention that this case is at its heart an accounting matter which should be decided by jurors who have been properly educated by qualified accounting experts on the complicated accounting principles at issue in the case.
John Rigas, June 2, 2006
Memorial Day 2006
On this past Monday, the 29th, I was honored once again to take in the Memorial Day Parade and the ceremonies on the Courthouse Square. The turnout was significantly smaller than in past years, which probably was due in large part to the sweltering heat. As always, the ceremony and speeches were very meaningful. But the highlight for me was when a small cub scout—probably no more than six years old—made a special point of coming up to thank me for helping our country in World War II. This simple expression of gratitude touched me deeply; here was living proof, at least four generations later, that what so many of us had fought for had not been in vain. I thanked him and hugged him, though I did not know who he was. The pleasant memory from this incident has been with me all week, and I would like his parents to know that because of him this Memorial Day was very special for one old veteran.