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

Sure gonna miss Palazzo

The biggest shock when I arrived back in Pittston after spending Thanksgiving with my son and his wife in LA was not going from 90 degree weather to 30 degree. It was discovering that Palazzo had closed. For years I had said the success of downtown Pittston depended greatly on the success of Palazzo, the upscale restaurant in the heart of the city. And Palazzo did its part. A sign that Pittston was about to experience a renaissance was driving down Main Street on a Saturday night a few years ago and not being able to find a single parking… Continue Reading

When failure means success

The Great American Smokeout at the community college wasn’t that great, student news reporters said. “We went, but there wasn’t much going on,” said the head of the TV news team sent to cover the event. “It was kind of a dud.” Actually, I told them, that may be a good thing. I added that I was not surprised. I recently asked one of my classes how many of them smoked. Not one hand went up. Five, certainly ten years ago, 80 to 90 percent of the students smoked. Not today. “Why?” I asked. “Is it the cost of cigarettes?”… Continue Reading

Rutabaga will test you

We’ve been invited out for Thanksgiving dinner this year so it looks like come Thursday afternoon I should have all ten fingers intact. That’s something I worry about when we are cooking at home and serving rutabaga, an Ackerman tradition. I was a full grown adult when I learned not only is rutabaga not on the Thanksgiving table in every home but also there are a whole lot of people who have never even heard of it. Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. It’s flavor bears that out. In our house,… Continue Reading

A little behind in raking my leaves

(I’m doing something today I have never done before. And that is using a past column as my Friday blog. I’m doing it for a couple of reasons. One is that last weekend I raked up about 17 bags of leaves and there are at least that many still on my trees. Another is that I just read the following from fall of 2015 and I don’t think I can write anything better on the topic. A third is that in this I share some of my fondest memories associated with raking leaves. If you keep reading, you will see… Continue Reading

A matter of confession

The sign on the door of the confessional at my church reads “Closed for repairs.” The irony is delicious. Isn’t this the place we go to get repaired? To tell our sins and emerge a new person? If anything, the sign should read “Open for repairs.” Seeing it conjured up another memory of irony that occurred, believe it or not, in the same church. Following mass one Sunday morning, a fellow I know told me he was opening a strip club. But he called it a “gentleman’s club.” Funny, I always thought of a gentleman as a person who would… Continue Reading