New Year’s Day Monday

I won’t be drinking champagne Sunday night. Or watching a diamond studded ball ball dropping at Times Square on my TV at midnight. At midnight I will be sound asleep. That’s because I will be up bright at early Monday morning. There’s no room for a hangover on this New Year’s Day. I have to be at my best. At 8 a.m. I will step in front of a college class to begin my 26th year of teaching at the community college. I can’t wait. Maybe it’s because I did not become a full-time professor until I was 40 years… Continue Reading

Uncle Eugene made me cry

Eugene Pavlico, all of 12 years old and 80 pounds, was the right fielder on the Little League team I helped coach when I was a teen. He was a right fielder and an uncle. Eugene is the youngest child of a large family and his sister Maryanna Parrick would bring her little boy Bobby to the games. This was a good 50 years ago and I can still hear the innocent voice of that little guy shouting “Go Uncle Eugene!” from the bleachers along the first base line. Few Little Leaguers can say they’ve heard such a cheer. I’ve… Continue Reading

You say to-may-to

You say to-MAY-to and I say to-MAH-to. Actually, I say to-MAY-to. And I know a lot of people who say to-MAY-duh. But however you say it, when you refer to the Pittston Tomato Festival, you should always include the word Pittston. See, this is not a tomato festival that happens to be held in the City of Pittston. It’s a festival of the Pittston Tomato, a quality tomato grown only in these parts. That’s what one of the festival co-founders always stressed. The late Val D’Elia (he’s on the new downtown mural, by the way, the guy in the wild… Continue Reading

Just another reason to smile

I stopped by the new mural in downtown Pittston Sunday afternoon and much to my surprise found John Watson smiling down at me. Known by “Chick” or “Chickie” to many, but just John to me, he and I worked together for several years producing Pittston’s newspaper, the Sunday Dispatch. But my relationship with him began long before that. John was not much younger than I, but when I, as a teenager, helped coach in the Pittston Little League, John Watson was a slick fielding shortstop for the Moose Club team. Never a power hitter, he blasted a long home run… Continue Reading

A designer vegetable

In the early days of the Pittston Tomato Festival, mixed in with the professional chefs and restaurateurs you were likely to find a booth with your friends or neighbors serving something prepared from an old family recipe. That’s how I got to taste my first cardoon. The cardoon is a “thistle-like plant in the same family as the artichoke.” That’s in quotes because I just looked it up on the internet. When I was a kid growing up in Pittston all I knew of the cardoon was my friends of Italian descent ate them all the time and talked about… Continue Reading

Weed it and reap

The best headline I ever wrote as a newspaper editor, I believe, was “Weed it and reap.” It was a slant on the old phrase “read it and weep,” often associated with poker. I wrote it over an editorial which appeared a week or so prior to the Pittston Tomato Festival one year. The idea was to encourage Pittston residents to spruce the place up. I can’t remember, but I may have quoted the Mickey Mouse Club too. When I was a tyke, the Mickey Mouse Club designated each day of the week for a special purpose. Tuesdays were special… Continue Reading

Come play under the bingo tent

A former student once described my teaching style as “playful.” “I’ll take that,” I said. Of all the teachings of Christ one of my favorites is “be childlike.” To me that means don’t lose your innocence, don’t lose your sense of curiosity, expect good things to happen, approach every one and every thing with a loving heart, and, yes, be playful. I’ve always maintained that you can do very serious work with a playful attitude. In fact, it’s the best way to do serious work. Whether it’s been newspapering or teaching, I’ve always said I take what I am doing… Continue Reading

Corn? Raw?

There’s nothing like a piping hot ear of freshly picked sweet corn, dripping in melted butter and sprinkled with salt. Except, maybe, an ear of sweet corn eaten raw. I’m not kidding. A few years ago at the Farmers’ Market in downtown Pittston, when I asked a farmer if his corn was fresh, he picked up an ear, ripped down the husk and said, “Here, take a bite.” “You’re kidding,” I said. “Nope,” he replied. “That’s what we do in the field. That’s how we know it’s ripe.” So I took a bite. It was delicious. I wound up eating… Continue Reading