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 director and as soon as I saw him I went right over to chat. The school board candidates were to be allowed two minutes to speak and Tony asked me if I had any advice.
Bob Linskey, a Jenkins Twp. resident, was one of his adversaries. Actually, his biggest adversary.
“Tony,” I said, “you’re in Bob Linskey’s back yard. Just about everyone here is supporting him. So, if I were you, I’d go up there and heap praise on the Jenkins Township Democrat Party, you know, for staging such a fine event, blah, blah, blah. Then thank them for all their support. Kill them with kindness.”
“Good idea,” he said.
He then went up and spent his two minutes trashing Linskey.
As he stepped down, he looked at me and shrugged. “I couldn’t help myself,” he seemed to say.
That was Tony.
We graduated from high school together in 1967, the very first graduating class of Pittston Area, but really became friends a few years later when I took up tennis. Tony, having played at Mansfield State College, was already a good player.
We were in our early 20s. Tony had the Corvette, the Arthur Ashe model Head racquet, the Fila tennis outfit, and the sweet, sweet backhand. He was a picture on the court.
That was Tony.
For all the times we played against each other, I beat him only once. The next time he saw me, he gave me a pair of red wrist bands. I swear he put a curse on those things because every time I wore them I played horribly.
He always denied it but the gleam in his eye told me he liked that he had gotten into my head.
That was Tony.
Tony started showing up at Planet Fitness last year. I had heard he was ill but we never talked about it. We just laughed about old times and how tennis was a lot more fun that a treadmill. Tony worked out in designer warm-ups. “You get the award for best dressed at the gym,” I’d say, and he liked hearing it. He deserved a “best dressed” award every place he went.
That was Tony.
The last time I saw him was on Main Street, Pittston, on a warm day last summer. His face lit up as it always did and he threw his arms around me. That time we did talk about his health. He was in good spirits and he told me he knew he could beat his cancer.
That was Tony, too.
He died Monday night. When I heard the news Tuesday tears rolled down my face.
I loved him and I will miss him.
Cursed wrist bands aside.

Ed Ackerman