Thursday, May 31, 2012


    The art of backyard grilling has changed a lot
over the years.
     I can still remember my Dad's small folding
steel grill that we carried in the trunk of our
1950 Buick along with a bag of charcoal and,
if we were lucky, a can of lighter fluid.
     More often than not we didn't have the fluid
and had to find some kindling to burn to ignite
the charcoal.
     Propane grills and lava rocks are the standard
these days. At least for those of us who end up
grilling at least a couple of times each week.
     Up until two weeks ago we had THREE
of those grills set up around our camper.
     One belonged to a friend who had moved
from the campground. One was an older,
smaller, unit we only fired up about once a
year if we happen to have a lot of guests and
needed the extra cooking space.
     A careful examination of that grill last
week reveled some serious deterioration so
we elected to junk it.
     Our old, larger grill, was our primary
unit anyway.....till we junked the other
     I guess it's one of those 'Murphy's Law"
things. We no sooner hauled one grill to
the scrapyard when one side of our
 "Old Faithful" stopped working.
    No problem. Our neighbor who left his
grill behind said we were welcome to it!
    But when we checked it out we found
it to be much smaller than we thought and
in need of some upgrades, including the
lava rocks.
    Thus began a surgical operation to
clean our old unit and transplant usable
parts from our former neighbor's grill
to restore "old faithful" to its days of glory!
    Four people worked at the task!
    You don't clean 5 or 6 years worth of
grease in 20 minutes.
    There were plastic shelves to be
    And a new burner to be installed.
    Except, with regard to the burner, the
"Universal" unit we bought was
apparently from a different universe than
our grill. A new unit has been secured
which may do the trick when we return to
retry installation.
     Some folks cleaned,  disassembled
then reassembled parts,  drilled new
holes to allow parts that didn't match to
match, and cleaned up.
    I assisted the best way I know how.
    I went for things I was sent for and
generally stayed out of every body's way!
    The story will probably catch up with
me when all is said and done.
    I'll probably get stuck doing the
grilling when "Old Faithful" is fired up
    Hope you've got enough hot dog buns
for all your  hot dogs and that all your
NEWS is good!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Full Speed Ahead!

  We took an interesting little shopping trip
   One of the boats in my fleet (I own three)
is in need of a new "power unit."
   That is to say....I needed oars!
   The vessel in question is an 8 foot long
Jon Boat. In fact I named it "Jon Buoy."
(Fans of the "Waltons" will have to explain
this to younger readers.)
    Anyway we discovered, in fairly short
order, that boat oars can be hard to come by.
    It seems that Kayaks dominate the
recreational sailing industry these days.
   Consequently there are all kinds of
accessories available for those boats.
   But several of the "Big Box" stores we
checked out had none of the old standard
wooden oars you used to find in most any
shop that featured boating supplies.
   We finally tried Dick's Sporting Goods.
   They seemed to have hundreds of
Kayak and canoe paddles on display. But
we saw no oars.
   A very friendly customer associate said
he thought he had seen some in the back
storage area so he began a search on our
   I began to laugh while he was gone.
   I spotted a small, folding camouflage
stool apparently made for hunters.
   It looked kind of neat. But my mind
envisioned a hunter trying to find it
again once he walked away from the
unit. I think that way sometimes.
   Anyway, the nice customer associate
not only found brand new oars made
of some sort of plastic....he came out
of the storage area with three of them.
   I suggested he keep the third one
for himself. Maybe he was just putting
it out to show the store had such
equipment in stock.
   As we left I remembered we had
the Miata. It's only a little bigger than
the oars!
   Two women passed me as I was
placing them in the car and gave me a
kind of "strange" look.
  I explained that I had recently found
myself up the creek without a paddle
and wanted to rectify the situation.
  I think they bought it!
  Hope you're headed "Gently down the
stream"...and that all your NEWS is

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Meanwhile...Back at the Park!

  Sunday's Blog was suppose to be about our
visit to Konebel's Amusement Park.
  Instead it turned into a horror story about
the huge thunderstorm that washed out roads
in that area.....while I was trapped on them!
  We survived the road that turned into a
ragging stream, the rocks that washed off the
mountainside and into our path, some two
hours being marooned between two wash
outs, a gas gauge that read "Empty", and
a couple of mountains worth of thick fog.
    But what about our day at the park?
    As usual it was sensational!
    Konebels has got to be the top amusement
park in the least for "adults"
like me!
    You don't have to pay for parking. There's
no admission charge so I'm not paying for
rides I don't ride.
    I used to ride a lot more when the grand
kids were really little. I had no problem
boarding the Merry-Go-Round right beside
them or hopping on "Old Smokey" or the
other little train that carries you through the
woods to an area where the squirrels feed on
cobs of corn.
     But these days the same kids, slightly
larger, look for rides like "The Phoenix"
"The Log Flume,' or the one where two
people sit inside a caged wheel then spin
around like a tire while the rotates in a circle!
    Have you ever really looked at the
"Warning Sign" next to the entrance to "The
    There's another "wheel" where you simply
stand against its wall while it spins round
and round then tilts into the air while it's
     I'm so thankful the park has height
limits on most of its rides!
     I think you have to be 54 inches to ride.
    Fortunately I'm taller than that so I didn't
bother to try to get on board.
    Did I mention Konebel's tickets are good
from one year to the next? I think that means
I can still use them to get on that little train!
    Hope you've got some tickers stashed
some place and that all your NEWS is good!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Marooned in the Monsoon!

    Konebel's Amusement Resort has some pretty scary
rides! The Phoenix, the Scrambler, the Twister! They're
all designed to give you a thrill, a scare, a fright!
    None were as frighting as the ride we took, in our
family van, while trying to come home from the park
in a blinding thunderstorm yesterday!
     We had just about completed a day that was filled
with fun for the grand kids. I had made it through the
humidity that tried its best to stop my breathing.
      Then the rain began to fall.
      It waited, of course, till the kids and a good
family friend (at least she was until yesterday) got
on board an open air device that spins around while
tilting all sorts of which ways so as o allow the rain
to saturate every bit of their clothing.
      But the precipitation seemed to nearly stop as we
made our way back to the parking lot and let the
two kids traveling with us change their clothes for
the ride home.
      It took awhile to escape the parking area as
everyone else had decided to leave then too.
      But two things happened as we finally pulled
out. First, the rain got heavy again. Second the little
bell that sounds as a warning that my gas tank was
on "Empty" sounded.
      No problem. There's always a little extra. Right?
      But just how much? It was a question that would
haunt us more than the Haunted House back at the
       As we headed out on the long hill that leads
away from Konebel's the rain intensified. Water
poured across the road, colored dark brown by the
dirt from the adjoining farm fields it was washing
      We reached the top of the hill and started
down, towards the town of Catawissa.
       Now the rain was ripping at the side of the
road dislodging stones and rocks as it poured
from everywhere.
       That's when it occurred to me. I was driving
downhill! In the same direction as the water was
running.So what awaited me at the bottom?
        Well, as it turned out, what awaited me was
a stalled line of cars as far as we could see!
         Seems the road ahead of us had washed out!
         A Police officer, heading the other way and
stopping at virtually every car, informed us the
road behind us had washed away at one point too!
         We were in for a long wait!
         I turned off the engine to preserve what fule
was left in my tank and we waited. And waited.
Then waited some more.
         Nearly two hours later some emergency
worker informed us we could turn around then
connect with another highway that would
eventually lead us to Interstate 81.
          Of course the route took us through towns
like Aristis and Numedia where not a gas station
was to be found. When I noticed Centralia along
the detour I had thoughts of spending the night
stranded in the "ghost town" or walking from
there some 5 miles to the metropolis of
          But that unknown quantity of gas hidden
below the "Empty marker" served us well!
          We made it through Centralia and into
Ashland where the sight of the open "Turkey
Hill" station looked like an oasis in the
          There I pumped 17.9 gallons into what
turns out to be my 20 gallon gas tank!
          Heck! I could have made it to Frackville!
          Have a look at the video I was able to
shoot while marooned in the car!
          I hope your gauge is "Full" and that all
your NEWS is good!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Holiday "Road Blocks!"

    I got stopped in traffic again as we headed out for
the first of  Memorial Day's three-day weekend.
    But this time I can't blame PennDot.
    It was my old nemesis.....the "Holiday Coin Drop!"
    We hit two along our 25 mile route.
    Good thing I took the"back roads!"
    I've blogged about these "boot" or "basket" or
"bucket drops" before. I didn't much like them then.
    That hasn't changed!
    Don't get me wrong. I have yet to see one of the
organizations involved that wasn't representing a
good cause.
    In fact I've donated to most of them through mail
solicitations or at specific events. I've even ignored
my own dislike and dropped some change in their
containers on occasion.
    But that hasn't changed my feelings about these
highway "roadblocks!"
    First, they're dangerous! Especially when kids,
like Little Leaguers, are the ones standing literally
in the center of the highway, then dashing from car
to car when the vehicles happen to be stopped for
a red light or a Stop sign
   Second they are intimidating! You feel bad when
you aren't in a position to give something or when
the collector in the north lane gives you the "evil
eye" as you pass....even though you donated in
the south lane just a half hour before when you
were headed in that direction.
    Fire companies are notorious for conducting
these highway fund raisers around the holidays.
    And, again, I believe they deserve our support.
    I donate in the Township where I live and in
the one where we have a summer camper. These
volunteer companies do need all the help they
can get.
    I just wish they wouldn't get it in the middle
of an intersection!
   The Federal Emergency Management Agency
just allocated eight million dollars to the
Scranton Fire Department which will allow the
City to open some closed fire houses and
rehire a number of firefighters who were laid
off because city taxpayers couldn't afford
the costs involved.
     I'm wondering how many
Volunteer departments could be assisted if an
additional eight million went to them?
    They'd have to divide it of course. But even
divided a lot of companies could get or
maintain a lot of equipment with their share of
eight million dollars!
    Maybe they should think about holding out
their boots to FEMA?
    With that kind of help they could go back to
being firefighters rather than "Highwaymen!"
    Hope you're supporting the good causes, in
a proper and safe way,and that all your NEWS
is good!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stringing Along with that Birthday Present!

  My wife thanks all of you who sent well
wishes along yesterday as I wrote about her
Birthday present!
   If you read yesterday's blog you already
know I got her the Weed Trimmer she
   You'll also recall the unit is know by a
couple different names. Weed Whacker,
Weed Trimmer, and one I didn't mention,
"Weed Clipper."
   After one day of use we've come to
believe the "Clipper" moniker best fits
this device!
   It has clipped our tall grass, our weeds,
and our wallets!
   Seems the "string" that rotates at high
speed to rip through the grass and weeds
is just a few inches long and disintegrates
on impact with rocks, bricks, and the like.
   My wife went through the cartridge that
came with the unit and one replacement
pack just going over our small yard.
   Additional replacement packs run
about nine dollars each and, at that rate,
this could be a very expensive summer!
    She opted to try to restring the
cartridges herself. Of course she does
have occasional trouble distinguishing
right from left and clockwise with
counterclockwise so we'll have to wait
a bit to see if the Trimmer cuts the
weeds or Whacks the handler!
    I wonder how much a goat would
cost? Or maybe some weed killer?
    Hope your lawn is neat and all your
NEWS is good!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Wife's Birthday Present!

   Diamonds may be a girl's best friend but
my wife didn't put any precious gems on her
"Birthday Wish List."
   Dinner was not requested, although we did
join four very good friends at our favorite
restaurant the day before her big day.
   She's already got plenty of flowers
including a new hanging basket that
brightened her Mother's Day, and those
she has cultivated in our own back yard.
   I was sure that family and friends would
come up with a gift idea or two.
   But what could  I get that would make sure
she had a Happy Birthday?
   Obviously I asked her! And the answer
will probably not surprise most of those
who know my wife!
   She wanted a "Weed Whacker!"  I guess
the politically correct name is "Weed
   Whatever you call it, this kind of gift
can put a husband "on the spot."
   If you get it you've full filled her wish.
But you run the risk of getting raised eyebrows
from other females who ask her ... "What
did your husband get you for your birthday?"
   I think a fair number of them might be
looking for a ring or picturing dinner and
a bouquet of flowers.
   As it turns out the selection of "Trimmers"
is about as varied as any collection of
   There are gas trimmers, electric trimmers,
even battery powered trimmers. And each of
those has multiple styles, colors, and sizes.
    Not wanting to make a mistake on this
important decision I escorted her to the
"Tiffany's" of "Weed Trimmers".....our local
Sears store!
    She picked the one she wanted and I threw
in an extra spool of line and a garden hose
holder to sweeten the deal!
    Happy Birthday Hon....your wish is my
    Hope your flowers sprout when those
weeds are gone and that all your NEWS is


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Eyes In The Sky!

   It's kind of amazing to think we can look
down on our own home from outer space.
   Just set the address on Goggle Maps and
you can punch up a satellite picture of the
place....or just about any other place you'd
like to check.
    I suspect "Big Brother" has better cameras
in his satellites and can probably watch "live"
and count the blades of grass in your yard!
   We can't get quite that close.
    I checked.
    Yesterday our good friends helped us
haul a load of scrap metal to an area
recycling center.
     One of those "scraps" was an old grill we
had been keeping at our camper. It was sort
of a "back up" to a bigger and better grill
that usually handles all our hot dogs and
      I thought about setting it up at our home
but we never did a lot of grilling there so
we were off to the scrap dealer.
      After we unloaded the grill, some metal
poles from a tent, a dead weed whacker, a
heavy table umbrella stand, and my trash
bag full of empty soda cans I went home
and trained the satellite camera on the Scrap
     Hard as I looked, I didn't see any of my
contributions in any of the trash piles. I've
included photos so you can look.
     The grill, by the way, was black.
     I suspect you'll find Waldo before you
see it!
     But I'll bet "Big Brother" could pick it
out!  Maybe even the calorie count on my
soda cans! He probably even saw the buck
fifty I got from all those Diet sodas!
     Hope you're watching to see who's
watching and that all your NEWS is good!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Protecting Your Parking Spot!

   Protecting one's parking spot is a lot like
protecting one's home!
   I can remember people putting chairs out
in front of their homes to preserve their
spot till they got home. You're not suppose to
do that of course because it's a "Public street."
  Of course they'd tell anyone who asked they
were expecting a delivery of coal.
   That could seem somewhat suspicious......
especially when you knew the people had oil
    The chairs showed up again in the winter.
 Along with boxes, garbage cans, or anything
else that could be used to save a parking spot
that had just been cleared of snow!
    Now, however, you don't need a chair, or
a box, or a garbage can!
    You just need a "Handicapped Sign."
    You'd expect to see a sign like that at
the home of someone who is wheelchair
bound. But you don't have to be completely
disable to qualify for a Handicapped Card."
     You can get them for your car with a
doctor's OK on a State application. That gives
you the privilege of using the Handicapped
spots at the grocery store  or your local
    But some communities will also preserve
the spot right in front of your home by
setting up a "Handicapped Parking Sign."
    I drove down one street in Wilkes-Barre
yesterday where there were nearly as many
reserved handicapped spaces as there were
      I kind of felt bad for the few houses
that don't have a reserved spot!  I guess those
home owners have to battle the mailman or
pizza delivery boy for those few spots.
      And then you've got to wonder how much
of the mail or how many pizzas are going to
the homes with the reserved spots?
       Streets like that may eventually have to
set aside a couple of spaces for "Visitors!"
       Hope you've got a garage or drive way
and that all you're NEWS is good!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Winning One For The "Limper!"

   My body was in a lounge chair, by a lake, at
our camper.
   My mind was on a field in Plains Township.
   46 to 50 feet from home plate, depending on
who laid out the field and whether that person
was measuring or guessing.
    The WBRE Softball team was taking the
field for a charity game. The first of the
    The existing team actually evolved from
the WYOU team which had existed, in one
form or another, since the 1980's.
    That's how long I have been pitching for
the team.
    I was never a "great" pitcher. Just a
dependable one! I could field my position
and usually get the batter to hit fly balls.
    If you've got somebody who can catch
fly balls that's a good thing!
   We must have had good outfielders in
at least one of our seasons. We won every
game that year, including tournaments,
until we faced the Marines in the final
game of a tournament at the Lackawanna
County Stadium. They did calisthenics
before the their combat boots!
    We were afraid they might have a
sniper with his sights trained on us
during the game!
    Anyway, I was scheduled to be on
the mound for yesterday's charity game.
    I've been walking nearly two miles
most mornings to get ready.
    But  it didn't get me got me
hurt! Last Tuesday, at the end of one of
those walks, my right heel began to throb
with pain! I've been limping ever since!
Even replacing my Louisville Slugger
with a cane!
   Regrettably, I had to put myself on the
15 day "disabled list."
   I sent a message to Dave Kuharchik,
the Captain, asking the team to "Win One
For The Limper!"
   And....that's exactly what they did!
   Thanks guys and girls!
   Hopefully I'll be back......well before
Mariano Rivera!
   I'm including a Facebook photo from
Sunday's game as well as a look back to
one of our "earlier" teams!
   Hope you're all swinging for the stands
and that all your NEWS is good!



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Picky, picky, picky!

   May 20th as most of you surely
"Pick Strawberries Day!" didn't? Well it is.
   I actually got a great jump on this "sweet
   In fact I wrote about it in a blog I published
last month when I described my life as a
"Migrant worker!"
   My wife, sister-in-law and I found the
strawberries ripe and ready on March 21st
in Florida!
   That's the day we picked 37 pounds in
less than an hour!  And we paid less than
   I don't know if you'll find any deals like
that around here. But I don't think it's
likely you'll find berries the size we picked
   Of course, as is usual for strawberry
pickers, not all of the berries harvested  
make it back to the counter for a "weigh
   It is a great "family fun" activity and that,
I'm sure is a good description no matter
where you're picking!
   Of course if you're not into "farm work"
or just don't like strawberries keep in mind
that May 20th is also "Be A Millionaire Day!"
   Maybe you can work on that one!
   Hope you have a million dollar's worth of
fun in those Strawberry fields and that all
your NEWS is good!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"True Oldies!

  I showed up a little early yesterday as I drove
to the Wilkes-Barre Academy where my wife was
demonstrating the art of spinning wool to a class
of first graders.
   No problem.
   It was 72 degrees, low humidity, and the sun
was shining.
   I figured I just sit back and listen to some music
on the radio.
   Since my satellite receiver was still in its mount
in my other car I decided the next best option was
to tune in the area station that made its name
playing "oldies" when they were brand new!
    WARM! The "Mighty 590!"
    The "Sensational seven" are long gone and so,
apparently, is the signal and pride that once made
this company king of the hill.
     I can take the AM signal. In fact, sometimes,
when it comes to oldies a bit of static in the
background just makes it seem like old times.
    Then came the promotional announcement......
for "WARM's Operation Snowflake!"
     Yep. There I sat, on the most pleasant day
of the week, listening to a reminder that I'd
be able to get the latest on school closings as
soon as the snow began to fall! There was
talk of a "WARMland Winter!"
      Is anybody in Promotions or Production
      I scanned the sky's, just in case they knew
something the rest of us didn't. All I saw was
a blue sky with a robin here or there.
      Some of you may not take this as a "big
deal." In the total scheme of things, of course,
it isn't.
     But for those who have been a part of
broadcasting for any length of time we
remember how carefully the great stations
used to be programmed.
     You never heard commercials for two
competing car companies played back to back.
     And you certainly never heard seasonal
promotions played out of season.
     Anytime you're wondering if Federal
regulations are good or bad, consider the
radio airwaves back in the heyday of
"WARMland" when most stations were
locally owned, had local news departments,
and really cared about everything they put
on the air.
     I guess that's a "true oldies" thought!
     Hope you're on the alert for that snow
and that all your NEWS is good!

Friday, May 18, 2012

All Decked.... Out!

  Our camping neighbor has officially left
his weekend get away spot. That's partly
because he didn't have enough free time
to get away there at all last year.
   The last remnants of his camping spot
was the deck that had stood in front of
his camper.
    He built it himself...a fact which
impressed me. Ever since the days of
Erector Sets I've know that I'm not a
builder! I have been able to put Legos
together. But not in any particular
   But our camping neighbor built his
deck with his own hands after first
designing the whole thing in his mind.
   And this was no Lego set!
   It withstood wind and rain, and the
winter snows.
   Even after his camper was hauled
away it stood there, as though waiting
for a replacement trailer to pull into
   Yesterday three men showed up with
crowbars and power saws to
disassemble the lonely deck.
   They needed all the tools and
mussel they could muster for this
   It took most of the day to reduce the
wooden porch to a pile of rubble. And
much of the material is still in such good
shape the "demolition crew" was overheard
to say they plan to reassemble parts of it
somewhere else!
  When they say.."They don't build
things like they used to" they may had
had my former neighbor's handy work
in mind. Talk about "American made!!!!
    Hope all your stuff is built to last and
that all your NEWS is good!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Let's Get "Serious!"

    Let's get serious folks. But, in this case, let's
spell it "Serius XM!"
    For those who don't already know Serius XM
is the satellite radio service that broadcasts just
about any kind of music to your home or car.
   It also offers sports, news, comedy,
talk, and entertainment.
   Much of it is commercial free.
   Subscribers pay about $200 a year for all this
    But why pay for something you can get for
    Well a lot of those "free" broadcasters are
providing the answer themselves! And they're
doing it with their programming!
    Yesterday I listened, again, as one local
talk show host spent another three hours or
so doing a "commercial" for a political
party. This host, one of several who
profess to be journalists, spends the better
part of each day destroying any sign of
objectivity to "sell" listeners a personal
agenda. Call and agree and the floor is
yours. Disagree and you're likely to be
belittled....or cut off!
    I switched to an area "religious station"
that also offers a call in "talk program."
    But the only talk, through most of the
program, was the announcer who offered
a few comments in between playing music
which can be heard...without other
times of the day. A forum wasted as far as
I'm concerned.
     I switched stations again, this time to a
"sports station." But the announcers at this
spot on the dial were rambling on about a
sport I don't follow at all!
     I didn't catch any music signals on FM
that interested me and the AM signals in my
car are very poor.
    And speaking of signals, if I did find an
AM or FM, or HD station that grabbed my
attention, I'd probably lose it by the time I
was 20 miles out of town!
    While there are "dead spots" here and there
I could pretty much pick a channel on my
satellite radio and listen to it all the way
across the country!
    I'll never completely give up on local radio.,
    It still has tremendous potential.
    But, at the moment, much of what I hear
reminds me of former FCC Cairman Newton
Minnow's comments about the "Vast Wasteland"
of broadcasting!
    Think I'll pick a 50's or 60's satellite channel,
sit back, and enjoy the show.
    Hope you remember that your radio has a
dial and an "On & Off" switch and that all your
NEWS is good!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Die Hard (s)!

 Tuesday was not a very pleasant day around these parts.
 Rain. Lots of it. Heavy at times.
 But yet, there they were.
 The "Die Hards."
 You'll find them standing near the exit to the parking lot of
the Wilkes-Barre Vocational-Technical School.........Oh......
wait a minute. It's not the "Vo-Tech School" anymore.
 Somebody changed it somewhere along the line. It's now
the 'Wilkes-Barre Area Career and Technology Center.
  Reminds me of the "Empire Yankees."  They're still called
the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees on the YES Network and
in most of the papers around here. Didn't somebody write
something about "a rose by any other name.....?"
  Anyhow, there they were, the "Die Hards."  Not as many
as usual. But a handful of people. Students? Teachers?
I couldn't really tell.
  They gather at this spot, technically off of school property
I guess, to SMOKE!
  You know that old line about the postman? "Neither snow
nor rain" etc. I think that motto should be transferred to a
group like this!
  You've got to give them credit. They're soaked,.but "smoked."
  They're on "public property", a state highway, so there's no
fear of retribution from the school.
  Hey, with the exception of getting pneumonia in the rain and
cold, or getting run down by a passing vehicle, or that other
health problem folks have been mentioning about smoking,
they're doing just fine.
  And the best thing may be the fact they're less than a half mile
from the Geisinger Hospital!
   Hope you know when to stay out of the rain and that all your
NEWS is good!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

All The Time In The World!

  I wrote about what I consider to be a good
look to downtown Pittston the other day.
  But after another stroll there yesterday I
realize I made a mistake. That's about three
in ten years now. The other two time I thought
I was wrong and turned out to be right.
   Anyhow, in my essay on Sunday I made
mention of the fact I didn't see any parking
meters in Pittston.
   It seems I didn't look hard enough.
   There are some meters along Main Street.
   Sort of.
   And there they were..right before my eyes!
   Sort of.
   I realized a few of the poles I was passing
were meant to hold parking meters. Right now
they don't.
   But, just a short distance away, the distinct
shadow of "Mickey Mouse ears" on the
sidewalk reveled that a few of those poles
actually supported parking meter heads.
   You might want to find one of these if you
have occasion to be there.
    That's because these "meters" are hollow!
    There is no mechanism inside to accept coins!
    You'll look like a good citizen who picked
a metered spot and never have to find a nickle
or quarter in your pocket.
    I suspect that, here and there, there a couple
of actual working parking meters in Pittston.
    I saw a couple that might be. But you can't
really tell. The glass over the gauge that
should display time is so "cloudy" you can't
tell if someone mistakenly picked one of these
spots and "fed the meter!"
    Between the improved look downtown and
the likely hood you'll be able to find a place to
park without worrying that a "Meter maid" is
lurking nearby this place is looking like a
pretty good place to shop!
    Sure looks like you can take you time!
    Hope you've got some change....just in case,
and that all your NEWS  is good!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Saturday Night In The Hot Seat!

   So, there I was, sitting on the stage of the
Shopland Hall at the Scranton Cultural Center.
   To my right, former Scranton Mayor David
Wenzel. To my left, Dom Keating and Jack
    I was teamed with these prominent
individuals to play a Jeopardy-like game
called "You Live Here; You Should Know
    That was the official title. The
unofficial sub title .... "Are You Smarter Than
An 11th Grader?"
     Students from Valley View and Riverside
High Schools came up with an extensive list
of questions to test one's knowledge of the
history of Lackawanna County.
     Just like on that popular television game
show each of us picks a category and a
point amount from 10 to 50.
     And just look at my team!
     Wenzel, as I said, a former Scranton
      Carling, years with the Scranton
Redevelopment Authority followed by a
long career with the State Department of
Community Affairs!
       Keating, possible the most knowledgeable
County historian any of us know.
      And then there's me! A guy who covered
news events in the area for years...BUT who
lives in Luzerne County!! did I get involved with a
contest about Lackawanna County History?
      Forget 50 plus years in the media......
 for me.......this was a Hot Seat!
      Then there were the questions. I picked
"Recreation" for 30 Points. I figured they'd
ask me about the Triple A baseball team or
maybe the Scranton Marathon.
      Instead I get a question about "Ethnic
Foods!"  And it happened twice!  I got one
wrong and guessed the other correctly!
     My greatest contribution was probably
lending guest Host Tony Bartocci of KRZ
Radio the quarter they used to determine
which team went first!
      Still, our team won the first game. So
we went again. More questions to rattle
my nerves.
      Then we won the second game! That
put us in the Championship Round.
      My three colleagues are ecstatic and
I'm wondering how I'll get out of town
if I cost them the game.
       Well, as it turns out, I may not be a
great historian when it comes to
Lackawanna County! But I'm a pretty
fair guesser! And I got just enough
guesses right to supplement the real
knowledge of  my fellow players!
       The result......WE WON!
       Wow! I can breath again!
       And it's all for the benefit of the
Lackawanna Historical Society so it
can preserve much of the history on which
we were tested!
       I may have to stop in and study if I
hope to return for another year.
       Have any of you seen Alex Trebek?
       Hope you know which Scranton
Department Store evolved from Cleland,
Simpson, and Taylor (I got that one)..and
that all your NEWS is good!

(This year's competition)

(Photo from last year's competition)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Looking Up...Downtown!

    I'm revisiting an old subject today....and an old
   This painting, by a local artist, depicts downtown
Pittston in days long gone. Days when Center Cities
were the center of a community's activities.
  The painting, along with several similar scenes by
the artist, is on display in the front window of one
of Pittston's oldest business places on Main Street.
   There were no where near the number of cars or
people along the street as I walked there yesterday.
   But I must admit......things are looking up in this
old downtown!
   A number of business places have had, or are
undergoing "face lifts."
   There's a new dress store, an Art Gallery, and a
brand new look to a popular pizza restaurant.
   One building, that used to house a State Senator's
office, has a new tenant and is getting a redesigned
entrance to make it more attractive.
    The city itself has provided new sidewalks.
    There are freshly planted trees and flowers to
brighten the walk ways!
     Of course there are still empty store fronts here
and there. Each is a sort of sad reminder to "better
     But, all in all, it was a pleasure to walk along
Main Street! You get the feeling there's a lot of
positive efforts here that are bringing this downtown
back to life!
     And I haven't seen any parking meters!!!!!
     Hope you're looking to the future as you remember
a pleasant past and that all your NEWS is good!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Where The Wild Things Really Are!

   With apologies to the late Maurice Sendak
I believe I know where the "Wild Things" really
   I know because I took one of them, my
grandson, to the place yesterday. He met another
of his kind there....a classmate.
   If Steven King is smart, he'll be crafting a
new horror novel about this place, or one like it
before they disappear from our landscape!
   The place is a Playground!
   Not one of those ultra modern politically
correct parks where youngsters slide on
plastic and fall upon some sort of crushed
   I'm talking about an old fashion American
playground with "Monkey Bars", swings, and
the incredibly dangerous "Merry" aka
"Jenny or Jinny-Go-Round." When you fall
here it's usually on the hard ground....often
with a couple of rocks thrown in! (Not
literally "thrown.")
    That last device, basically a metal circle
that kids spin around while they jump on
and off, has been banned in most new
playgrounds and has been removed from
some old ones.
    I watched two "wild things", my grandson
and his buddy,push each other around as
fast as possible, jump on and off, and stand
up as it spun. Somehow they survived.
    I was still watching it and thinking about
how dangerous it was suppose to be when
I turned to tell the kids I didn't think it was
wise to slide down the large sliding board
while standing on their feet.
    As my eyes surveyed this site I
marveled at the fact that most of the kids
who played with me on nearly identical
playgrounds so many years ago had lived
into their 60's! Maybe we were just
tougher then?
    On the other hand I know of at least
two "wild things" that handled the
dangers very well and are doing just fine
thank you!
    Hope there's still a little "Wild Thing"
in you and that all your NEWS is good!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mad Dogs and Englishmen

     If we're to believe the old proverb
"Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in
the Noonday sun," I've got to believe
one of our new neighbors is British!
    The guy spent a lot of time in his
back yard recently....building a pen!
    Shortly after it was completed it
became home to a pair of small
hound dogs. A third is chained a few
feet away while a forth a puppy of
unknown bred, is suppose to be on
a leash in the same small yard.
     I don't know if they're suppose to
be "alarm dogs" or not. But their loud
barks and howls are certainly
alarming to all of us who live nearby
when anyone walks anywhere close
to the yard.
     I never wanted a dog.
     We like to travel a lot and I was
never interested in cleaning up after
     The "non beagle" has reminded
me of the latter concern as he
frequently slips his leash somehow
and visits neighboring yards...including
      Too bad they don't market
"Invisible Fences" for neighbors!
      I see a lot of Facebook
messages from people who love
animals. I think it's nice to have a're willing to do what
it takes to care for one.
      I like horses....But I don't have one!
      I'm also inclined to think when
there's as many pets as people in a
house....there may be a problem. Of
course that theory does not apply if
we're talking about fish.
     Maybe the neighbor's "herd" of
beagles will get used to the people
walking by and will stop the barks
and howls.
      If not, I may have to dig out an
old amp and speaker system and
answer their "calls" with a particular
Elvis record I'm thinking about!
      Hope your pets are quiet, your
yard is clean, and that all your NEWS
is good!