This tree, like most, had a story to tell

They cut down the tree Bobby Waitkevich fell out of and nearly killed himself. Yes, that Bobby Waitkevich. Whitey to some. Pedro to others. But I didn’t even know his name when it happened. He was just that little kid across the street. What was he doing at the top of that tree anyway? I know. It’s difficult to imagine Bobby Waitkevich as little. His high school chums remember him as a 6’7, 220 pound lineman. His more recent friends picture him as hovering somewhere on the north side of 250. I haven’t seen Bobby in several months. I hear… Continue Reading

Memorial Day at Arlington

Arlington, 2014IMG_0196Don’t know about you but Memorial Day caught me by surprise this year. It still feels like it should be this upcoming weekend rather than the one just passed. This is the first Memorial Day in a good seven years that Mary Kay and I did not travel to Washington, D.C. Since we were first invited by our friend John P. Cosgrove to spend the holiday in the nation’s capital, I’ve said and written that Washington is the only place to be on Memorial Day. From Rolling Thunder’s “Ride of Freedom,” with more than 100,000 bikers parading on Constitution… Continue Reading

King of the wild frontier

Born on a mountain top in Tennessee, greenest state in the land of the free Raised in the woods so he knew every tree, killed himself a bar when he was only three Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier! I hummed that ditty to myself all last weekend and even sang it to my daughter on my cell phone. She was shocked that I managed to stay in tune. In case she didn’t get it, I pointed out that “bar” is how they said “bear” back on the wild frontier. My wife and I were in Tennessee to… Continue Reading

Why I vote

“You’re old enough to kill, but not for voting’,” Barry McGuire sang to my generation in 1965. The song “Eve of Destruction” came out during a time when male high school grads who did not get themselves into college or a National Guard unit were bound for Vietnam. At 18 they were “old enough to kill” but could not vote until they turned 21. It seemed such a big deal in those days not to be able to vote at 18, but when the right was finally granted in 1970, not so much. Today, fewer than 50 percent of the… Continue Reading

Smiles and I

There isn’t a person who makes a living painting pictures with words who does not identify with the old Dorothy Parker lament “I hate to write; I love to have written.” Except one. Jack Smiles. And because of him, another. Me. Jack and I were colleagues at the same weekly newspaper for nearly 15 years, he a full time Jack (no pun, honestly) of all trades, and I his part-time editor. I arrived late one afternoon after teaching all day at the community college and told him we had been discussing the above Dorothy Parker quote in class. “I can… Continue Reading


Yogi Berra turned 90 Tuesday. I was never much of a Yankees fan but always a Yogi fan. Who isn’t? After all, Pittston is a town with an actual fork-in-the-road. Do you know how often I’ve repeated the Yogism, “When you come to the fork-in-the-road, take it?” I met Yogi twice. The first time was in New Orleans on the day after Super Bowl VI in January of 1972. I was 22 years old and my Uncle Eddie (Strubeck) treated me to a trip to the game with the Hughestown Sports Club. It was played at Tulane Stadium where the… Continue Reading

‘A hundred pounds of dynamite’

Fred Eshleman is nothing if not passionate. He never does small talk. He does big talk. Big, enthusiastic, love of life talk. Fred’s favorite topics include his native Avoca, his new home in Florida (especially if he’s hosted visitors from Avoca), baseball, and his mom. And Mom’s passing has only inspired him to talk about her even more. As Mother’s Day approached, he sent me some of his thoughts in a letter. “A hundred pounds of dynamite,” he called her. “She was Connie to most,” he wrote, “Nana to many, but mom to me.” Fred said his mom loved gardening,… Continue Reading

The other ‘unsinkable’ ship

Tomorrow, May 7, 2015, marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania. A few commemorative events are planned, but, except for those who just read the sentence above, most Americans will not even know. Or care. And that’s a shame. A Cunard vessel sailing under the British flag, the Lusitania set sail out of New York on May 1, 1915, with nearly 2000 passengers on board ignoring an ad in the New York Times placed by the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., that read: NOTICE! TRAVELLERS intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state… Continue Reading

Come for the festival, enjoy West Pittston

Well, Greater Pittston Pittston Progress has given me my walking papers. For Saturday’s West Pittston Cherry Blossom Festival Parade that is. A group of us from the paper will walk in the parade which starts at noon at the Blue Ribbon Farm Dairy on Exeter Avenue. That could pose a problem. It’s not a particularly long parade route but it may feel that way with a CMP (chocolate, marshmallow, peanut) sundae with peanut butter frozen yogurt under my belt. That’s my go-to sundae at Blue Ribbon these days. I don’t know why it pleased me so, but I was delighted… Continue Reading