I got yer fake news

Joe Hermitt pranced into the newspaper composing room, slapped a Sports Illustrated on a light table, flipped it open and began to read. We never saw him so happy and we quickly learned why: Sidd Finch. As we gathered around, Joe, a die-hard New York Mets fan, read the story broke in that issue by famed writer George Plimpton. The Mets had a secret weapon in their spring training camp in St. Petersberg, Florida, a kid (well, he was actually 28 years old, but a virtual unknown to baseball) who, according to the article, could “change the course of baseball… Continue Reading

Bob, you crack me up

When we turn to radio in my Mass Communications classes I get to tell a Bob Dylan joke. No, not a joke about Bob Dylan, a joke by Bob Dylan. I know what you’re thinking. The Bob Dylan? Yep, that one. The one who barely says a word during his concerts. He’s really funny. I still crack up every time I think of the press conference he did in San Francisco, I believe, in 1965. He was a new phenomenon then and the media had plenty of questions. “Do you think of yourself primarily as a singer or a poet?”… Continue Reading

A job finds you

I received an email from former student Michael Madry last week. He wanted to catch me up on what’s happening in his life. Mike was a Luzerne County Community College student a few years ago. He started out dreaming of a career in sports broadcasting but while in college also discovered the joy of writing and took every class he could to hone those skills as well. Few students I’ve encountered in 27 years at the college worked harder than Mike. It appears to be paying off. Mike graduated from Temple in January with a degree in Advertising and Public… Continue Reading

Aye, The Blarney Stone

Please suffer me one last item before we put St. Patrick’s Day to bed for this year. My friend James “Spot” O’Donnell, now in his 90s, is what I affectionately call a 365-day-a-year Irishman. He’s a resident of Wesley Village nursing home now but for years lived in a large mansion overlooking Harvey’s Lake. He called his property O’Donnell’s Donegal Hill. I know this because he had me paint a large sign proclaiming it. Spot was hosting a visitor from the Olde Sod one time and took him to a tavern at the lake where he was quite a hit… Continue Reading

St. Patrick’s Day in our house

My mom’s side is the source of our Irish heritage. And the reason we barely celebrated St. Patrick’s Day in our house. My mom’s father, William Strubeck, died on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, in 1936. My mom was 13 and the oldest of six children. His death left them devastated. And defined their entire lives. There’s no way of telling what would have become of them had he lived. We saw what became of them because he had not. By the time we Ackerman children started coming along in the late ’40s, my mom and her siblings all had… Continue Reading

Snow day

I remember my exact words when my brother suggested that as a newly divorced guy I buy the family house where our mom was living alone so that she, whose only income was a meager Social Security check, could spend her remaining days there. I remember those words mainly because of the many times I wound up eating them. What I said to him was: Sure, it’s not like I need a bachelor pad at Newberry Estates. I was 45 and after being with the same woman for 22 years, could not imagine a future love interest. Or even a… Continue Reading

What’s a pea?

My pal John Markarian and I were on a road trip. John will turn 100 on June 7 of this year. He was about 97 then. We pulled in at a convenient store for a pit stop and when we got back in the car, John said, “My mother used to say, ‘If a bean is a bean, what’s a pea?’” “A great relief,” he answered before I could muster a thought. A great relief. And this from a man with a PhD in Theology. You never know what’s going to pop into you head. The above is one of… Continue Reading

He’s the real Teddy bear

He’s Uncle Paul to my kids, “Dad” to my niece and nephew, “Poppi” to his granddaughter and “Hun” to my sister, who happens to be his wife. To his friends and other relatives, of which I am both, he’s Paul. Paul Kern. He’s a great guy … or as my late Aunt Dorothy would say, a “swell fella.” I was a teen when my sister started dating Paul so I barely remember a time when he was not in my life. And when Paul Kern is in your life, man, is he IN your life. He truly cannot do enough… Continue Reading

Must love dogs

I’m just getting to know my daughter’s father-in-law and I really like the guy. Don Mantooth (as far as I can tell there’s Dutch in his ancestry) is a genuine John Wayne type of guy. Born in Oklahoma, he’s spent most of his life in Texas and has the stature of a Texas Ranger, or at the least a Texas rancher. He’s big, strong, steady and soft spoken. The kind of man who speaks only when he has something worth saying. And when he does, it’s worth listening. As I said, I really like him. Don and his wife Cindy… Continue Reading