Peanut Stick

Pat Cawley had a great nickname. But save for my friend Bobby Roman and I and our old buddy Flash Flanagan, nobody knew it. Flash, a writer who I think really appreciated the alliteration, loved saying Pat “Peanut Stick” Cawley. And I loved hearing him say it. Bobby and I pinned the nickname “Peanut Stick” on Pat more than 40 years ago at the Jersey shore. We, meaning a gang of friends from in and around Pittston, were at the shore for a long weekend. Wildwood to be exact. One night we drove up to Margate where I knew of… Continue Reading

Christmas candy

The lad from next door had no idea the power he held in his hands when he showed up at our door with peanut brittle. I had not eaten or even seen peanut brittle in decades but as soon as I tore the wrapping paper off the box, I felt it transport me back in time. I immediately began thinking of Christmases at my grandmother’s house in Hughestown, and especially of my Aunt Dorothy who passed away in 2016. She would have been 92 on January 3. Aunt Dorothy was what every child should have: a single aunt. She lived… Continue Reading

That was Tony

As a newspaper editor I made it a rule not to attend political functions. To borrow from Bill Murrary’s character Peter Venkman in “Ghostbusters,” however, it proved to be not so much of a rule but more of a guideline when my wife urged me to attend a rally for Stan Rovinski who was running for re-election as a Jenkins Township supervisor. Stan’s wife Marie is one of Mary Kay’s best friends. It was several years ago and there was a heated school board primary underway. It was held at the Inkerman Lithuanian Club. Tony Rostock was running for school… Continue Reading

The Christmas bird

Just when Citizens Voice reporter James Halpin thought he was assigned to cover a boring small town council meeting, he got an early Christmas present. A bird. Not a partridge in a pear tree. Not even a turkey, but that can be debated. And not exactly “a” bird but “the” bird. Yep. That one. The kind someone flips, although usually not an elected figure and usually not at a public meeting. But then again, there is precedent. Even for this. In 1976, then-Vice President Nelson Rockefeller gave “the finger” to a group of hecklers in Binghamton, New York. It was… Continue Reading

Melt-in-your-mouth memories

They’re eating better in Heaven today. Biagio Dente has arrived. “Pittston’s Chef” died Wednesday at his summer home in Florida. He was 78. A Certified Executive Chef and member of the Chef’s Hall of Fame, Biagio fed us all during his long career in the catering business. And when we wasn’t feeding us, he was helping us feed ourselves through his weekly column “Table Talk” and his regular radio stint punctuated with his signature sign-off “Buono appetito.” During my early days as a reporter I knew Biagio was always good for a tasty story on a slow news day. One… Continue Reading

Tough Guy vs. Tannenbaum

Jimmy O’Donnell Jr. calls his dad, James “Spot” O’Donnell “Tough Guy.” It’s a nickname well earned. Several years ago, the two worked side-by-side as pressmen at the Sunday Dispatch in Pittston. And when they weren’t in the pressroom, they worked side-by-side at dozens of other projects, mostly around their home. Work was Spot’s life. And therefore it became Jimmy’s as well. Spot’s friends used to say, “Jimmy O’Donnell inherited a million dollars … worth of work.” One time following Memorial Day weekend I asked Jimmy how was his holiday. “Don’t ask,” he grumbled. “Tough Guy discovered a bunch of railroad… Continue Reading

Santa needs a support system

It was like that scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone guns down those two guys in the little Italian restaurant. Well, a little like it. Instead of finding a gun that was left for me in the bathroom and coming out shooting, I found a Santa suit and came out ho-ho-going. It was at the Moose Club in West Pittston. I’d say Christmas of ’86. I was the young guy on the Salvation Army advisory board and Major Ruth Pryce asked me to fill in at the board’s Christmas party for the regular Santa who had taken ill. She… Continue Reading

Everything changed 75 years ago today

War, to paraphrase the words of my friend Al Kridlo on the night he learned his son Dale had been killed in battle in Afghanistan, has a way of changing everything. It certainly did for the Ackermans of White Haven. My dad was, as he put it, sleeping off a hangover in his bunk at Schofield Barracks, about 15 miles from Pearl Harbor, on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, 75 years ago today. He wasn’t much to talk about the four years he spent fighting in the Pacific with the 25th Division, nicknamed “Tropical Lightning,” and never said a… Continue Reading

A handshake to remember

You’ve most likely heard by now that Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, had to be evacuated from the South Pole Wednesday because of what was termed deteriorating health. Aldrin was on a sightseeing trip. Reports Thursday were that he was doing well. Aldrin is 86 years old which means he was 79 or 80 when I met him six years ago following the Memorial Day Parade in Washington, D.C. As had been the case for the last nine years, we were guests of John P. Cosgrove, Pittston native who worked in and around the media… Continue Reading