Friday, November 30, 2012

Calling Off Well!

  It's the 30th of November....another one of those
bizarre "holidays" that few people know anything
about! But you've got to love this one!
  This is "Stay At Home Because You're Well Day!"
  I kid you not!
  According to, the creators of this special
day, the objective is to call in "well" to your work. It's
as simple as that. It is, by the way, a copyrighted
   So, if you're reading this first thing in the morning,
you should pick up the phone, call your boss, and tell
him or her you won't be coming in today because
you're feeling really good.
   Chances are there will be a pause or, perhaps, a
good laugh on the other end. Use that moment to
say something like "see you tomorrow' then
quickly hang up, go out and enjoy your day.
   You shouldn't feel guilty. You're being honest.
   Think about how many of your coworkers make
the same kind of call....only claiming they're sick...
then hang up, go out and enjoy their day.
    Anything ever happen to them? Probably not.
    I like the idea of another day off. But the end
of November isn't what I'd call "Prime Time."
    And yet I find that is affiliated
with a company called Wellcat Herbs which is
based in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Maybe it's a
little warmer there? has copyrighted some 80 "holidays."
    Classics like "Bathtub Party Day, Pick A
Pathologist Day, and Barbie and Barney Backlash
Day" to name just a few.
    With an outstanding record like that it seems
quite clear these "holidays" are serious events!
     In fact I'm so inspired I believe I'll pick up my
own telephone right now, call WYOU  and.........
...oh.......wait a minute. I'm retired.
     Maybe I can ask my wife if I can put off that
"Things To Do List?"
     Hope your boss will understand when you
call in well! Just in case he doesn't you can find
the number of your local Bureau of Employment
Security Office in the phone book.
     I wish you well in the future and hope
all your NEWS will be good!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Sorry.....Wrong Number!

    You are probably not going to believe this!
     I did not win the Power Ball lottery drawing
last night! No.....I'm not kidding. It's true.
     I wonder if they give anything for not having
any of the numbers drawn? That would still have
me in the running!
     Ironically, had I actually picked the numbers I
wanted instead of allowing the computer to do it
I would have had 3 correct numbers!
    None of them, that I would have picked, were
the Powerball so, if I understand how it works
correctly, I would have won $7 for a net profit
of five bucks!
    And that's only $579,900,095 less than the
Jackpot! Wow! How could I have come so close
and still lose?
    I'm thinking maybe it was a faulty computer
(the one that picked my numbers).
   Maybe I should have spoken up and told the
clerk I wanted to pick my own!
   Wait till he finds out he lost a big tip!
   You know....20% of $5.00 is a dollar!
   He could have bought one of those scratch
off cards for that!
   Then he might have won a thousand dollars!
   I wonder if he would have given me a tip?
  So many "would have," "could have." things
involved with this.
   I just bought my ticket Wednesday morning.
   Fortunately I didn't have a lot of time to
plan how I'd spend the money.
   I do know it would have been the biggest
stimulus to the economy since the Government
   But, since I didn't win I must assume YOU
   Hope you'll remember me and that all your
NEWS is good!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snow Day!

     The publication of today's Blog was elayed for
seceral hours due to yesterday's snow storm.
     The first "Blizzard" of fall was waiting for me when
I got up yesterday morning.
      The storm, predicted by all the forecasters, was
anticipated as a "nuisance" by a few.  That term sounded
pretty accurate to me too!
      We had about an inch or two on the roads in my
area as I prepared to drive my wife to an early morning
doctor's appointment.  Of course an inch or two
missed the roadway and landed on my van instead.
       That meant broom patrol first thing before I ever
got to see exactly how slick the roads were. You've
got to clear of the top of your car so your excess snow
doesn't blow or avalanche off onto the poor soul following
       Now some of you will probably be surprised to
hear this.....but you're suppose to clean off your windshield
AND windows too! I don't know about you..but I'm
usually a little apprehensive when some body's driving in
my general vicinity with a spot about as big as a toaster
cleared in front of their steering wheel and the rest of
their vehicle sealed like an igloo at the North Pole.
      I catch a break because my son installed a remote
starter in my car. I can fire it up while I'm still
comfortable inside and the heat that builds up after a few
minutes allows for a easy sweep of the roof and windows.
      It makes for a warm seat when I get inside too!
      Most schools had called for a two hour delay by the
time we got moving. Several cancelled completely by
the time I was driving home. That surprised me!
       I don't remember it but my friend tells me we had a
snow day once back in my school days in Hazleton. That's
"once" in 1 time!
       I guess the weather has gotten a lot worse since then.
Maybe the snow has gotten slicker?
       Guess I was born too soon!  I would have enjoyed a
few Snow Days every year!
        A remote start back then meant you sent somebody
else out first to start and clean the car.
        Of well....a little snow has its benefits. Think about
all those factories that make the rulers so the weathermen
(and women) can measure that first inch of snow!
        Hope your car windows were clean and that all your
NEWS was good!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Rockettes Red Glare!

  They're as American as Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and
Chevrolet! And they sure don't look 85-years-old!
   They are The Rockettes and we went to see them yesterday
in their home at Radio City Music Hall!
   My wife and I and two other couples joined three bus loads
of other folks headed for the "Big Apple" to see the annual
Christmas Show. It's the 85th annual Christmas Spectacular!
   I paid close attention to all of the precision dancers. I still
say none of them are 85! By the way a few of their many
costumes were red!
   But, whatever their ages, the show was fantastic!
   Of course there's plenty of time after the performance to
see a bit of New York too!
   The six of us walked toward and down 5th Avenue, stopping
every few feet to take pictures of something amazing and
looking a lot like tourists!
    Beyond the tall buildings and impressive Christmas displays
in virtually all the stores the thing that grabs your attention, mine
at least, is the traffic!
    Crossing a street in New York is a lot like playing dodge ball
against taxi cabs! Even when you get the "Walk Sign" there are
cabs turning towards your cross walk! I wouldn't have been
surprised to see little "people decals" on some of them as a sort
of testament to all the folks they've managed to either run down or
scare to death!
    You may also have heard there's a horn ordinance in New York.
    Drivers are prohibited from sounding their horns,
    Apparently, however, no one has told this to any of the drivers.
    We heard as many horns as Christmas Carols.
    And, again apparently, no one has told the Police either. Either
that or the officers we saw near us are deaf and couldn't hear the
cab or car horns!
    We had some evidence that seems to support the hearing
impairment theory. As we walked extremely close to one of New
York's "finest" my wife suggested very clearly that we were "glad
to have a Police escort."  Their was no reaction from the officer. He
continued in step with us with an expression that hinted his thoughts
were walking in a different direction!
      We helped the city's economy a little with a purchase here
or there. But I passed on the $5.00 bag of chestnuts that looked as
though it held about 5 nuts.
      After enjoying the show and our tour of the city for about six
hours we hurried to meet our 6pm bus. By 6:30 we were beginning
to think our driver had bought one of those watches they sell from
a blanket on a street corner in New York! By 6:45 we were sure
he had headed home without us. But then, at about 6:55, he showed
up complaining about all the traffic. Maybe he should have sounded
his horn!
       About the only things moving quickly were  bicycles! (And the guy
who sells the watches when a cop gets close!)
        All in all though, a great day in the city!
        Did I mention those Rockettes don't look 85?
        Hope you age that well..and that all your NEWS is good!



Monday, November 26, 2012

Where There's Smoke....There's......Pancakes?!!!

   In most cases firemen rush to people's homes.
   But, at least once a year, I know a place where people
rush to the fire house!
   The only flames you'll find are on the grill in the
company's kitchen. The "smoke" drifts off sizzling
sausage patties and piles of buckwheat pancakes as they
cook on that grill!
   It all happens at the Unityville Fire Company, a couple
miles off Route 118 in Lycoming County.
   From the day after Thanksgiving till Sunday night the
company turns its headquarters into a sort of community
restaurant to raise money to support its operations.
   We "accidentally" found the place about 5 years ago
and have been coming back every year since!
   I love "accidents" like that!
   This is one of those "all you can eat" affairs so we brought
three of our grand kids along so little kids in Europe won't
have to starve. I never knew how my eating helped those
kids. But my parents used to say that so it must be true.
   I've probably saved a couple of thousand kids over the years!  
   I've always been amazed by the fact these folks serve on a
24-hour-basis from Friday afternoon till Sunday night.
   I think I'm also amazed by the fact the fire company
members do the cooking ...but don't burn the food!
   It's all cooked to perfection!
   And it's really great to see the servers. They're mostly all
young people. Probably the sons and daughters of the firemen
for the most part. You'll see them staring at your table while you
eat. But they're not being impolite!
   Everything is served "family style." As soon as the servers
see an empty sausage or pancake plate they rush to make sure
it's re-filled and put back on your table!
   They probably draw straws when they see our gang coming!
   Short straw gets us! We tend to keep them moving!
   This was the 53rd year for the Unityville Fire Company
Pancake and Sausage Breakfast. Just wish I would have found
out about it 40 years earlier!
    They serve about 5,000 people every year including small
groups that show up in the wee hours of the morning.
     We'll be back again. The food and the service is great, the
price is reasonable and, perhaps, I'll save a few more of those
European kids!
      Hope you find the place too and that all your NEWS is



Sunday, November 25, 2012

He's Here!!!!!!!!!!

   You could hear the constant wail of sirens throughout
the tight knit neighborhoods of Plains Township!
    Had this been the 50's in Hazleton kids would have
been ducking under their school desks at that sound.
We used to do that to protect ourselves from a Russian
atomic attack. (Those desks must have been really well
     Anyhow, in this case, kids were anxious to hear those
     You see the long line of public vehicles sounding those
sirens were part of the parade bringing Santa Claus to our
      There was a police car, several fire engines, our brand
new natural gas powered Recycling truck, a couple of
Bucket trucks and a half dozen classic cars.
       The Plains Township Lions Club, which pulls off the
annual event, put Mr Claus into a convertible this year.
Last year he had some problems climbing down from a
Fire truck. I guess he's more accustomed to dealing with
        They picked a classic Chevy. I had one just like it!
Except mine was Lavender. I've never seen Santa, or anyone
else arrive in a Lavender colored car. My wife says she's not
         Santa was escorted to a waiting chair then proceeded to
chat with every single kid waiting in line and to give each of
them a large stocking filled with goodies! That's about 400
kids and stockings!
          I loved the way he took time to talk with the children
and give their parents and grandparents a few seconds to
take pictures. Some of them had actual cameras.
          You don't see that many cameras these days. A lot of
people use things like I-Phones and Tablets.
          When I was a kid a "tablet" was something your mother
gave you after you ate too much of the candy you got from Santa.
          I heard him tell one youngster...."You've been very good
and I'm gong to bring you everything you want for Christmas."
          I tried to sneak into the line myself at that point but
was unsuccessful! I think my mustache gave me away!
          Still, hats off to the Lions Club for bringing Santa and a
lot of smiles to our town!
          Hope you're sharing smiles too and that all your NEWS
is good!


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Escape from Black Friday!

    I guess you could call it a post Thanksgiving urge!
    While thousands of people raced to Black Friday
sales and others raced to their refrigerators for left
overs, I talked my wife, daughter, and two of our
grand kids into heading out for a picnic.
     We wanted to avoid the crowds. And I knew
just the place!
      Many many years ago in a heavily wooded and
somewhat secluded section of Worlds End State Park
workers from a group called the Civilian Conservation
Corps built two small stone pavilions....each with a
fire place and picnic tables.
     Armed with a Picnic basket, some cold meats, bread,
and a couple of snacks we got to one of the shelters just
as some light rain began to fall.
     The cloudy sky and dense woods made the place
pretty dark. But between the wood we grabbed off the
ground and some left inside by previous visitors we were
all set to build a comfortable fire.
      My grand son pulled out his trusty flint powered fire
starter. But numerous strikes failed to ignite our small
pile of kindling. My wife stepped in with just one stick
and started the blaze. I still say it was a match!
      Thanksgiving's turkey, stuffing, and pie was great!
      But there's something about pepperoni, ham, and fig
newtons in front of a fire that makes for a pretty good
feast too!
       I had to use my camera's "night vision setting" to
capture the moments. Of course that makes everything
look green!
       We thought we ought to leave the place even better
than we found it so we decided to decorate for Christmas!
       Believe it or not light strings,tinsel, and ornaments
are not easy to come by in the middle of a forest!
        That's why we decided on a more natural theme!
        Evergreens did the job pretty well on top of the fireplace
mantle. We found some little red berries too and added a
few of them to the mix. And, no, we didn't taste the berries!
        The crowning touch was provided by some aluminium
foil someone left behind. I fashioned it into a star. Then my
daughter refashioned it into a better star. Then
my wife refashioned it again and made it actually look like
a star. Hey,,,at least I found the foil!
         We set it up on among those evergreens on the center
of the mantel.
          Few visitors ever get to this place so I'm not sure how
many people, if any, will actually get to appreciate our
artistic endeavors. But, like they say, it's the thought that
          We'll probably do the house soon too.
          Hope I can find find some red berries and aluminium
foil...and that all your NEWS is good!

                    MORE PHOTOS                     

Friday, November 23, 2012

My Day In The Attic!

   A mysterious fire that destroyed a classic home
in West Pittston this week rekindled some
mysterious memories for me as well!
   The year was 1986.
   My family and I were on vacation when we
heard about a story unfolding back home about
a family called the Smurls.
    It seems they believed their home was
possessed by a demon!
   What a time to be away!
    I got all kinds of Police and political stories.
    But how often does a reporter get a chance
to cover strange knockings, flying furniture,
and other mysterious noises?  OK. Maybe a
few of those things do happen at Council
meetings. But, come on, home owners
reporting strange odors and their pet dog
allegedly thrown across the room! I mean....
that's news!
    The reports attracted national attention
and even attracted well known "demonologists"
Ed and Lorraine Warren to town to conduct
an investigation.
    But it was another visitor that brought me
into the story.....and into the house that hit
the headlines this week.
    The "Amazing Kreskin," a well known
Television "mentalist" had decided to
capitalize on the interest in the Smurls to
prove that things are not always as they
    He invited members of the media, me
included, to a seance in the attic of
another West Pittston home owned by
Mr and Mrs Joe Castellino.
    Kreskin had us look around that attic
room then sit down and hold hands round
a table and call on any "spirits" that might
be around.
    Some reporters back then knew a great
deal more about "spirits" than I. But not
the kind we were looking for!
     As we sat there quietly listening
for....well.....anything.......the table started
to move and shake! A few of us shook
a bit too! Guess that included me!
    We still don't know how it happened
except for the fact that it was a trick and
nothing supernatural.
    Kreskin had proved his point!
    I remembered that story as I stared
at the burned out ruins of that house and
attic as I walked past yesterday.
     Sadly, there's a real mystery now
connected with the place as police have
determined the fire that wrecked it is a
case of arson.
     Hope they have better luck finding
the arsonist than the Warrens had finding
the Smurl's "demon."
     Hope your "spirits" are high and that
all your NEWS is good!

The Smurls

The Amazing Kreskin

The Castellino attic

   The Castellino home

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Turkey Days Of Old!

  Thanksgiving Day is filled with traditions.
  Many of them, of course, are centered around
the menu for the day. And stuffed Turkey tops
that list. (I'm not totally sure why you have to
stuff them.....the one we got wasn't empty!)
   But one Turkey Day tradition is pretty much
   "Back in the day" local High Schools used to
meet on the Gridiron for a sort of "king of the hill"
Football game!
    In my case the rivalry was between Hazleton,
my home town, and West Hazleton.
    Most everybody went to those games.
    In 1957 5,500 fans showed up in a steady rain
at Harman Geist Stadium for the big Thanksgiving
Day game!
    I was there too......right on the field.....sort of.
    As I've written before, I was a "Manager" for
the team.
    Now  before you get me confused with the likes
of Joe Maddon, the term "manager" in my sense
meant that I and my fellow managers hauled and
packed the uniforms , carried the water buckets, and
quite often, hoisted the stretcher as we carried
injured players off the field. Often through the mud!
    Though it was only my sophomore year I "retired"
from that prestigious position and joined the Stage
crew the next year. Everything we did there was
inside and dry!
     Still, in many ways, I miss those Thanksgiving
Day games!
     Hazleton did very well during my High School
days. We beat West Hazleton in 57, 58, and 1959!
     But the game isn't the only thing that's disappeared!
     My Blue & White "Mountaineers" have become the
Red, Silver, and White "Cougars" as part of a merger that
united Hazleton and West Hazleton High Schools! Guess
it's a lot more colorful now. Even our photos were in
black and white!
     Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg (South) seem to
be the last two teams in our area to continue the
traditional Thanksgiving football rivalries.
     And I say good for them!
     I, on the other hand, will continue my own rivalry
as I take on the bacon wrapped turkey!
     It hasen't got a chance even with its wishbone
formation! I'll just do an end run around the table!
     Hope you're enjoying your own traditions and that
all you NEWS is good!



  Back in the day.......


HHS  1957

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Two hours to....Christmas!!!!

   My wife and I loaded two other couples in our van
yesterday and headed south.........right into Christmas!
   Well, at least, the Christmas mood!
   Our destination was Peddler's Village, a collection
of speciality shops, restaurants, and taverns in
Colonial-style buildings that's well know for it's
holiday decorations. It's about 2 hours from Wilkes-
    This week they turned of their Christmas Lights!
    All of the buildings, the light poles, the water
wheel, and most every tree is decked out in
colorful lights. It is a Power Company's dream!
     I'm not sure where they get all those extension
cords. But I'm sure they're glad they don't have
those old style light sets where one burned out
bulb caused all the others to go dark!
     Of course the lights aren't the only attraction.
     We all mounted some attractive horses and
had an informal race.
      I'm proud to say I won. But I guess I should
admit I was on the lead horse.......on a Merry-Go-
Round! Hey it's one of those "attractions" I
      I checked into some high tech weather
forecasting equipment.
      OK. Maybe "high tech" isn't exactly the
right term.
     What I saw in the German shop was little
house like buildings with characters that come
out as the weather changes. If the woman
comes out it's Fair weather ahead. If it's the
man, expect a storm!
     Probably designed and built by a man who
got some suggestions from his wife!
     Another shop offered various words of
advice printed on everything from pillows
to wooden signs.  
     And who could argue with a warning that
reads..."When they discover the center of the
Universe, a lot of people will be disappointed
they are not it!"
     There was plenty of speciality food too.
     My wife and buddy discovered jars of
     Their holidays will undoubtedly be "Vampire
free!"  Eat enough and they may be "people
free" as well!
     Some will argue it was a few days too early
for Christmas lights. But add friends, food, and
fun and we found ourselves ready to start the
     Hope you're ready too, with or without the
Garlic, and that all your NEWS is good!



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Black Thursday?

   I got an email from a good friend earlier
this week.
   He works at one of those Wall Mart stores
that plans to move Black Friday up to 8pm
Thanksgiving night.
   He's been assigned to work part of the
holiday and, again, on the old fashioned Black
Friday as well.
   He's not real happy about the schedule...
especially since he took the job with an agreement
that he was not available on Fridays.
   The company, or maybe it was the "Captain,"
told him "it's all hands on deck" for Black Friday.
   I wonder if his Supervisor's name is Bligh?
   Heck, even Scrooge gave Bob Cratchit his
Christmas holiday. Of course, Cratchit undoubtedly
worked Thanksgiving. It's an American holiday!
   It seems my friend isn't the only one who is
unhappy!  More than 30,000 people have signed
an online petition asking Walmart not to make its
employees work on Thanksgiving. And Walmart
workers at 1,000 locations are planning a Black
Friday strike to protest the holiday opening!
    I've never really understood the fascination with
Black Friday.
    I never liked getting up early....for anything....
let alone shopping!
    If it's holiday shopping fun you're looking for
you should be out there on Christmas Eve! Now
there's a challenge!
    Ironically most of the places planning to open
on Thanksgiving offer on line sales. So, if you
absolutely have to shop, you can do it from your
easy chair while watching football and enjoying
a piece of pumpkin pie!
    Why would you want to leave all those left
overs to your cousin while you drive a couple of
miles to buy a Wax Warmer? What is a wax
warmer anyway? And won't it still warm wax
next Wednesday?
    I'm not real sure the Black Friday strike plans
make sense. Unless, of course, the pickets can
take turns so they'll have time to get some
shopping in!
   In my opinion the guy who came up with the
"Open Thanksgiving idea" is a real turkey!
   I wish he would have put as much thought into
a plan to make people get their shopping carts out
of the parking spaces!
   Hope you enjoy Thanksgiving AT HOME, and
that all of your NEWS is good!



Monday, November 19, 2012

Is Nothing Sacred?

     There have been some frighting headlines over the weekend!
     There's fighting between Israel and Gaza!
     We're a week closer to the 'Fiscal Cliff!"
     And just when we thought things couldn't get much worse....
we learn that the "Twinkie" is dead!
      I didn't even know it was sick!
      And I'm really feeling bad.
      I think I may have contributed to its death!
      The Twinkie has been around for 82 years.
      My first one, whenever that was, was also my last!
      Described as a "snack cake" the Twinkie has been
described as a "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling".
      Personally I found the term "sponge" especially
      The "Creamy Filling" was originally a banana cream.
      It had to be replaced with a vanilla filling during World
War II when bananas were rationed.
      The cake has a become a part of American culture.
      Somebody at the Texas State Fair decided to offer a
deep fried Twinkie to brave customers. Turns out a lot
of them liked it! That started a craze which now has
entrepreneurs, mostly at fairs and carnivals, selling all
sorts of foods in deep fried form! You can thank the
Twinkie for that!
       There's even a legal phrase..."The Twinkie Defense"...
a derogatory term for the claim that food allergies affected a
defendant's responsibility for committing a crime!
       It's kind of like the crook saying "The Twinkie made me
do it!"
       Of course some believe believe Twinkies never die.
       They believe archeologist's a hundred years from now
will discover an unopened package, tear off the wrapping,
and be able to eat the cake as though it has just been
delivered to a store.
        Come to think of it, the one I ate could very well
have come from the first batch baked in 1930!
        Officials of the Hostess Company say they'll put
their brands up for sale. So it's possible some other
firm may pick up the brick....excuse me......the ball, and
decide to bring Twinkies back from the cliff it's already
gone over!
        If not, you might be able to pick up a sponge and
some vanilla cream and make your own!
        Hope you Twinkie fans can survive and that all
your NEWS is good!