The guy with the jack

I drove home Wednesday evening thinking about my old friend and mentor Richard B. “Dick” Cosgrove. How could I not? I had just attended the swearing in ceremony of his son Joe to the Commonwealth Court at Luzerne County Courthouse. How proud Dick would have been. “Richard B,” as I’d call him sometimes just for fun, died a few years ago at age 87. As Joe pointed out in his remarks, Dick worked in the newspaper field for 69 years, right up to his death. He wrote a column on the day he died. I began working alongside of Dick… Continue Reading

The twins of summer

Word tore through the neighborhood like the British were coming. “Massara’s has root beer,” would get us all buzzing and scurrying home to beg for nickels. Or even better: “Massara’s has vanilla.” Or my own favorite: “Massara’s has banana.” These were not your everyday flavors of Popsicles. Most of the time, practically all of the time, the freezer at Massara’s Market on Butler Street had plenty of cherry, orange and grape Popsicles, each a treat in its own way … well, for me, maybe not orange … but when the rare flavors, the root beer, the vanilla, the banana, made… Continue Reading

The Cadillac of parade candy

“Anybody can throw a few Tootsie Rolls at your feet,” I told people lining the streets for the Pittston Tomato Festival Parade, “but a Swedish Fish must be placed right in your hand.” Then I’d place a Swedish Fish in their hand. Not just any Swedish Fish either, but the original ones. The soft and chewy ones. And, get this. Individually wrapped ones. That’s what I’m talking’ about. I bought them, close to 50 bucks worth, the day before from Dick Yaniello at his Pittston Cigar and Candy Store on Broad Street. They were worth every penny. I envisioned eyes… Continue Reading

The elusive truth

Right around the time I was hearing on TV that Ryan Lochte may have concocted part if not all of his story about being robbed in Rio, I was reading in Terry McDonell’s book “The Accidental Life” that author Ken Kesey (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”) liked to say some things were “true even if they never really happened.” You may be tempted to ask if I really watch TV and read a book at the same time. I do. But this is not about that. Forget that. This is about the truth. As someone who’s spent just about… Continue Reading

Life on the tennis court

Another summer of tennis is rapidly coming to a close. It’s my 43rd in a row. I began playing tennis at 23 years old. A lot of us did. It was the early ’70s, the height of the tennis boom. Am I any good? Well, that depends. I actually play better now, at 66, than ever. And I might be just as quick. Still, there are dozens of players around here, some older than I, who would clean my clock, and thousands across the country who would clean their clocks. None of that matters. An avid fisherman once told me… Continue Reading

The lesson in your lawn

The grass in your front and back yards is trying to tell you something. Like beloved basketball coach Jim Valvano, it’s telling you, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Ten days ago I was almost afraid to walk across my lawn for fear the grass would break apart under my feet. That’s how dry and brittle it was. It had stopped growing, gone dormant, weeks ago. I had not had the lawn mower out in more than a month. Then a miracle happened. It rained. Not heavy rain, mind you. Not a deluge. Just a little rain one afternoon.… Continue Reading

Simple (?) math

Last fall was billed as the 50th season of Pittston Area football. It was. But it was not the 50th anniversary of Pittston Area’s first season. That will be this year. Confusing? You bet it is. The problem with things like anniversaries is that we tend to forget the difference between the first and the first anniversary. Take birthdays for example. Our first birthday is actually the day we are born. But we don’t refer to it as such. We call the beginning of our second year our “first birthday,” when in truth it is the first anniversary of our… Continue Reading

A joyful noise

If Msgr. Jack Bendik were a character in a cartoon strip, his laugh would be spelled “Har!” in the little text balloon. Actually, it would be more like: Har! Har! Har! Har! Better yet. Make that all caps. HAR! HAR! HAR! HAR! Yep, that’s better. In fact, that’s perfect. Msgr. Bendik laughs with his whole being. I’ve known this laugh for more than 25 years. He was our pastor at Our Lady of the Snows Church in Clarks Summit when we lived there from 1989 through 1995. Psalm 100 says “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” and that’s how… Continue Reading

Costas and Crystal

With NBC covering the 2016 Summer Olympics, we’ll be seeing a lot of Bob Costas on TV, presumably without the conjunctivitis that plagued him during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. All the controversy over his enhanced wrinkle-free complexion (they say Botox injections caused the pink eye) and jet black hair aside, I really like Bob Costas. I just watched him on the Today Show and it conjured up fond memories of meeting him five years ago in Cooperstown, New York, and coming away thinking “what a sweet, sweet man.” The occasion was a Baseball Hall of Fame event commemorating… Continue Reading