Sisters Come Together For Retirement Investment

Sisters Claudia Bemis and Carole Siverling, camped as children with their parents and many years later the women and their husbands, Jeff Bemis and Mike Siverling, began camping together. Occasionally the idea of owning a campground in retirement would come up around the campfire. In 2013 that idea became reality as the two couples took ownership of Top-a-Rise Campground in Falconer.

Although it has been a wonderful experience, with owning a campground comes a lot of work. Not only has the quartet updated the electricity, but a new water system and full hook-ups in pull-thru spaces have been added, as well as new bathrooms and a new laundry. The office/shop building has been completed and much general clean-up and landscaping has been done. Seasonal sites have been expanded from 28 to 60 sites with a total of 81 large, grassy sites now located on the property, each with its own fire ring and picnic table.

“It’s grown by leaps and bounds,” says Claudia who is still employed, working at the Randolph Branch of Community Bank.

Many activities take place throughout the summer, such as outdoor concerts, a kids carnival, a vintage weekend and a cornhole tournament. Christmas in July, a paint and sip and an ice cream social are other fun events that take place at the camp. A campwide birthday party takes place each year with each month having their own birthday table. Thirty-two crock-pots of chili were entered in last October’s chili cook-off. Each year the seasonal campers enter their decorated golf carts in the Ellington Town Picnic parade, with 22 attending in 2017. A non-denominational church service is held on Sundays.

There is plenty of opportunity for recreational fun on the playground, on the basketball court or at the pond where fishing for large bass is allowed. A recreation hall and pavilion are the sites of various activities. Although not part of the campground, an 18-hole golf course surrounds the property.

“People do not realize what is in here when they pull in,” Carole adds. “We have a real nice camp family.”

They tell of their appreciation for their seasonal campers, who took over cleaning bathrooms, mowing grass and covering in the office in their absence, when they lost their mother.

Even though many improvements have been made, the sisters say the couples aren’t finished yet.

Food plays a big role at the campground and the sisters often take the family recipes they grew up eating to group meals. They have fond memories of their mother Lynette Lictus’ kitchen and chuckle about some of the antics and special times. Mrs. Lictus taught her daughters to always cook an ample amount to prevent running short of food, “because you never want to run out.” A special code was taught to every family member and if their mother saw the food was running low she would say “FHB” which meant “family hold back,” meaning her husband, three daughters and son should not take another serving until the guests were finished getting their food.

The sisters share some of their mother’s recipes, along with those acquired from others.

Mrs. Siverling was surprised at the popularity her Cheese Peas dish had when she first took it to a Lictus-Legters family gathering. She concocted the vegetable dish made with peas, because she does not like green beans, a popular ingredient found in a similar dish.

“I started with one bag of peas and now I use three bags,” she says.

Her sister added memories of their mother. “The Gingersnap Pudding is probably a recipe Mom made up,” says Mrs. Bemis. “She only made it one or two times per year. When she did, she would put it in little individual footed dishes.

“If you saw the bowl in the refrigerator with the plate on it, you knew it was Gingersnap Pudding,” Carole says. “And her Rich Chocolate Cake is the only recipe we ever use for chocolate cake.”

Both women remembered stirring maple syrup into maple cream and say they would see who could make it the creamiest. Their mother always placed dill pickles and crackers on the kitchen table “to get the sweetness out of our mouths.”

Carole, who retired from 32 years as secretary to the superintendent of Clymer Central School, claims to always have the Peanut Butter and Hot Fudge Sauces in her refrigerator.

“It’s requested a lot for dessert. The recipes came from a Dutch cookbook our mother gave to each of us.”

The Corn Casserole recipe was acquired from Kathy Trisket, a Top-a-Rise camper, who jotted it down on the back of a paper plate when she took it to a campground Thanksgiving dinner. Recipes for Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole and Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies came from the grandmother of the Siverling’s daughter-in-law.

Because of spending six months together, from April 15 to Oct. 15, the community of campers has grown to be like family. Therefore, they continue to stay connected by getting together throughout the winter months at various locations.

Top-a-Rise Campground is located at 4267 Dean School Road, Falconer, New York. Reservations can be made by calling 287-3222 or at Accommodations are available for groups of 21 or less.

Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

4 cooked chicken breasts (halves)

1 c sour cream

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 c melted butter

2 ¢ c cracker crumbs

2 T poppy seeds

¢-§ c chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line bottom of a greased baking dish with cut up chicken. Mix sour cream and soup, Spoon over chicken. Combine melted butter, cracker crumbs and poppy seeds. Sprinkle over top. Pour broth over all. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Berry Crisp

4 c sour cherries, raspberries or blueberries

1 ¢ c granulated sugar

4 T flour

1 ¢ c flour

1 c old-fashioned oats

1 c brown sugar

¢ c butter

¢ c shortening

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine fruit, granulated sugar and 4 T flour. Pour into 9 x 13 baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine 1 ¢ cups flour, oats and brown sugar. Cut in butter and shortening until crumbly. Sprinkle over berries. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until topping is golden.

Old-Fashioned Sour Cream Cookies

¢ c shortening

1 ¢ c sugar

2 eggs

1 c sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 § c flour

¢ tsp soda

¢ tsp powder

¢ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 370 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together shortening, sugar and eggs. Add sour cream and vanilla and combine. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Drop by spoonfuls on greased cookie sheet. Bake 14 minutes. (Do not overbake.) Frost with Butter CrËme frosting.

Rich Chocolate Cake

2 c sugar

¢ c cocoa

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp soda

1 tsp salt

2 c flour

2/3 c melted shortening

2 c boiling water

2 eggs beaten

2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine dry ingredients. Add remaining ingredients. Beat with mixer for 2 minutes. Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake 35 minutes.

Christmas Custard for Ice Cream

1 c sugar

4 eggs

1 qt warm milk

5-6 large marshmallows

1 tsp vanilla

Combine sugar and eggs. Beat until creamy and fluffy. Place in top of double boiler and gradually add milk. (Do not stir with whisk.) Stir slowly with spoon or spatula. Add marshmallows until melted and coats the spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Refrigerate.

Hot Fudge Sauce for Ice Cream

2 sq chocolate

2 T butter

2/3 c sugar

¢ c evaporated milk

1 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate and butter. Stir in sugar and milk. Whisk until smooth. Bring to boil. Add vanilla.

Peanut Butter

Sundae Sauce

1 ™ c brown sugar

§ c light corn syrup

1 ™ c peanut butter

™ c margarine

1 ¢ c light cream, approximately

Combine brown sugar and syrup in saucepan; boil until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add peanut butter and margarine; combine thoroughly. Cool; add cream using enough to make the sauce a proper consistency. Good when served slightly warm.


1 lb ground beef

1 c small curd cottage cheese

¢ c mayonnaise

8 oz. mozzarella cheese


Spaghetti sauce

Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef. Drain and mix with remaining ingredients. Par-boiled manicotti shells. Stuff with cheese filling. Layer in pan. Top with sauce, parmesan cheese and oregano. Bake for 45 minutes.

Corn Casserole

2 boxes corn muffin mix

16 oz sour cream

16 oz creamed corn

16 oz whole kernel corn, undrained

2 sticks butter

2 tsp salt

2 T sugar

1 c shredded cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and pour into greased 9” x 13″ pan. Top with cheese, if desired. Bake 45-50 minutes.

Gingersnap Pudding

1 bag/box gingersnap cookies

1 c hot water

1 carton heavy cream

In a large bowl, break up the gingersnap cookies. Pour the boiling water over top and stir. Seal bowl and let set until soft. (May need more boiling water.) Whip cream and beat into softened gingersnaps. Refrigerate.

Cheese Peas

2 pkgs frozen peas, thawed

1 lb Velveeta cheese

1 lg French Fried Onions

White Sauce:

2 T butter

2 T flour

Pinch of salt

Dash of pepper

1 c milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine white sauce ingredients in a saucepan. Whisk until thick. Remove from heat. Cut cheese into cubes and stir into sauce until melted. Combine with peas in casserole dish. Top with French fried onions. Bake 55 minutes or until golden brown.