Father Rokosz’s New Year’s blessing

Charlie Rokosz. Just the sound of his name brings a smile to the face of anyone who knew him. He was Father Charles rokosz, Catholic priest. When St. Joseph’s church in Duryea was closed for good a few years back, I joked with Father Rokosz, pastor of St. Joe’s and two other Duryea parishes at the time, that I was considering buying it and starting my own religion. “Hold off on that idea,” he responded without hesitation. “When Sacred Heart closes we’ll be offering buy one, get one free.” And when St. Mary’s church in Avoca was about to be… Continue Reading

Christmas used to be so simple

I finally sent my son and his wife their Christmas present on Dec. 26. The delay was partly because they’ve been traveling and I didn’t want a package sitting for a week outside the door of their condo in Los Angeles. But it was mostly because I had no idea what to get them. I finally settled on a couples package at a luxurious spa in the Larchmont section of LA, not far from where they live and near a place where they do spinning classes on Sunday mornings. I was able to send it via email, too, so my… Continue Reading

Love was in the air

With an hour to go, Kristie and I agreed we had to dig deep to bring this thing home. We had been ringing our bells next to a Salvation Army red kettle outside of WalMart in Piitston Township for five hours Saturday and it was starting to take a toll on our bodies. The weather, thank goodness, was not cold, maybe 41 degrees, but it had been raining all day and although we were under a roof, the dampness seemed to sink into our muscles and joints. We were both hurting. Then this little girl in a pink snowsuit, hanging… Continue Reading

The tree awaits

I got a really late start on Christmas this year, especially when it comes to the tree. It is sitting a few feet away as I write this (on the morning of Dec. 20) awaiting its lights and ornaments. We came this close to not even getting a tree this year. Two weeks ago when I told my wife I was going for the tree the next day she said she had been meaning to talk to me about that. First, you must know that I am a “live” tree guy. It’s not negotiable. Yes, today’s artificial trees are incredibly… Continue Reading

Christmas was coloring books

I got an Erector Set one Christmas. My dad loved it. He built a steam shovel. I watched him do it. I was never one for building things. Or, like my younger brother, taking them apart to see how they worked. That stuff never crossed my mind. What I did love was a new coloring book or two. And a fresh box of crayons. If I found a Crayola box of 64 colors under the tree with my name on it, I knew I must have been a good boy. Always one for delayed gratification, I never dove right into… Continue Reading

Best invention ever

Three fellas are talking, the old joke begins. The topic is the best invention of all time. Gotta be the automobile, one says. It defined the American lifestyle. The lightbulb, another argues. It turned night into day. The thermos bottle, the third proclaims. The thermos bottle? the other two say simultaneously. All that does it keep hot things hot and cold things cold. Yes, the friend answers. But how does it know? That joke was on my mind as I grabbed a rake Saturday morning and dashed outside. The last of my leaves (I had raked up 20 bags full… Continue Reading

See ya later at WalMart

Ruth Pryce and Bertha Harris. Those names are the first thing I think of every year when Christmas rolls around. They were the officers of the Salvation Army in West Pittston when I was invited to join the Advisory Board in 1985. The following Christmas they gifted each member of the board with two needle point Christmas scenes they had spent months working on. It’s not Christmas in my house until I hang those scenes on a wall. My entrĂ©e to the Salvation Army came by way of a phone call from Thomas R. Davis, since deceased, who ran a… Continue Reading

Egg foo young, s’il vous plait

My wife and I are regulars at the Star Asia Chinese buffet near the WalMart on Route 315 in Pittston Township. During one of our first visits there we ran into a doctor Mary Kay used to work with. He said this is his favorite place to go for sushi. We figured he knew what he was talking about. He is Chinese. Everything they serve is of exceptional quality. And I’ve said to several people, you could go there and eat your fill and never select a single thing that falls under the category of Chinese food. They have roast… Continue Reading

Be careful out there

My daughter was about 4 years old. We were wrapping up a little Christmas shopping at Boscov’s department store in downtown Wilkes-Barre, checking off the last few things on the list Mommy had given us of gifts for aunts, uncles, cousins and the like. “Before we go home, Greta,” I said, steering her toward the cosmetics counter, “let’s go over here and pick up a few things for Mommy’s stocking.” “But doesn’t Santa fill Mommy’s stocking?” she asked. “Well, yes, Greta. Yes, Santa’s fills Mommy’s stocking. Of course Santa fills Mommy’s stocking. But let’s get a few little gifts in… Continue Reading