Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween History! (Mine that is!)

    Well the big day is finally here!
    Throughout the day you'll be seeing
witches and monsters of all sorts!
And that's just for those of you who still
have to deal with bosses at work!
    Then, this evening, the "little monsters"
will be coming around to do their "Trick
or Treat" routine.
     My Halloween experience has changed
some through the years.
     The observance was always a very big
deal for my Mom. She used to throw a
Halloween party for me and all my friends.
It featured a lights out scary story around
our dining room table during which she
would describe a murder and dismembered
body, then pass around the body parts for
everyone to hold. Of course those "body
parts" were actually chicken livers, grapes,
and such! And just think...this was years
before Jason from the Friday the 13th series
was even born....let alone died! Mom never
even had a Hockey mask!
     We used to pretty much roam free in an
around our neighborhood when I was a kid
out for Halloween. And nobody had to check
our candy. In fact, as I recall, about half of it
was consumed before I got home.
     Maybe it's because there were fewer kids
Trick or Treating back then, or maybe the
economy was just better, but I seem to
remember a lot more people giving out money.
      Of course I'm talking about nickels, dimes,
and quarters. But a dime would buy a comic
book in those days.
       But you usually were required to recite a
poem or sing a little song to earn your treat.
"Trick or treat, smell my feet" would probably
get you tossed out empty handed back then!
      There was always a Halloween Party in
Grade School! I'll never forget those. I almost
always got sick on that orange soda or whatever
that drink was they served. Come to think of it
everything served was either orange or black!
      Of course back then the costumes were
usually pretty simple. Cover up in a white sheet
and you were a ghost. I often went around as a
cowboy and (hold onto your hats for this) I was
allowed to bring my 6-shooter cap gun to school!
      Little did I know they were respecting my 2nd
 Amendment rights!
     Cowboys (and girls), Baseball and Football
players, Ghosts, and an occasional Frankenstein
were the more common costumes then. We didn't
have any Zombies back in the day.
     This year Zombies are "In." I expect to see a
flock of them (or however one describes a group
of Zombies.)  Of course these Zombies are not of
the flesh eating variety. They tend to be drawn to
Hershey bars and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
      I'll probably just stand there and hand them
out. On the other hand.....I love Reeses Peanut
Butter Cups!
      Hope you'll excuse me for a moment (and that
all you NEWS is ghoul.....I mean good!)


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's In The Cards!

   I generally applaud any game a
youngster will play that doesn't involve
   That's why I was happy to see my
teenage grandson willingly put down
his Ipod, or whatever they're using now,
and sit down in our small Game room
to play some kind of game with my wife
and me.
   Unfortunately, his game of choice
involved a deck of cards!
   My love of cards is about the same as
my desire to go to the opera. I might go.
But don't expect me to rave about the
   My grandson's idea of the perfect card
game is called "Liar."
   Basically, all the cards in the deck are
dealt to three or more players who must
dispose of their collection by, in turn,
putting down a card or cards in numerical
sequence. Confused? Yep. Me too!
   So, after starting with the Ace of Spades,
the next person puts down a two, or twos.
But the cards are placed face down. You've
either got to accept what they say or call
them a lier. If you catch them in a lie
they've got to take all the cards in the pile!
But if you're wrong, the cards all go to you!
   If you don't have the next numbered card
you're suppose to discard you can put down
anything from your hand and claim it, or
they, are the correct cards. If you're not called
on your "lie" you say "Peanut Butter" after
the next player takes his or her turn. How and
why the term "Peanut Butter" got into this is
any body's guess.
   I have never won the game. My grandson
is almost always the winner. The Gambling
laws of average suggest that I should get at
least an occasional win.
   It's very frustrating to have a perfect record
 when they're all loses!
   I think my grandson has some kind of system.
   He reminds me of Bret Maverick on the old
TV show.
  But I don't plan to complain! Instead, as soon
as he's old enough I'll take him to our local
Casino and bet on whatever he chooses! If you
can't beat them.....join them!
   Hope you're playing with a full deck and that
all your NEWS is good.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Carpe diem!

      When I first heard the phrase "Carpe
diem I thought it had something to do with
a large bottom feeding fish found in the
Susquehanna. But that's not the case.
      Carpe diem is a popular Latin phrase
translated to the advice "Seize the day."
      I thought I'd give it a try yesterday!
      After another chilly start and a brisk walk
I noticed the temperature starting to climb a
      My wife and I decided to take in a movie
and, as luck would have it, I still had one coupon
for a free medium popcorn with the purchase of
a large soft drink. Using my large $3 cup
purchased earlier in the year I seized the
opportunity and had plenty of snacks for the
      As we left my wife noted that it was actually
hot in the car! So we seized another chance to
put the top down and enjoy what good weather
is left to enjoy! It was warm enough so I didn't
suffer a seizure!
      The evening took us to Scranton for a pre
trip meeting on a tour we're hosting to Bransom
in just a week and a half. The session was at Bella
Pizza and Pasta House. Although we were gathered to
go over highlights of our trip, somebody mentioned
that pizza was available for the taking so.....yep, I
seized a couple of slices....just to be sociable!
     I took Latin in Junior High School a couple years
ago (OK, it may have been a little longer than that).
    But I must have been absent the day they covered
 Carpe diem! I like idea and plan to follow the advice
 whenever I can!
    Hope you seized your day and that all your NEWS
 is good!

Monday, October 28, 2013


    My grand daughter and I were "Shanghaied"
     It happened in those few minutes just after our
church service ended when family and friends
discuss possible locations where we might like to
have our Sunday dinner.
     Our friends indicated a desire to go to a popular
Japanese Hibachi restaurant. My wife, daughter, and
grandson were quick to second the motion.
      My grand daughter shook her head in the
standard signal for "No." I indicated I would go
along with the decision. But my expressed
enthusiasm was similar to that I display when facing
a dental appointment.
       But allow me to explain.
       I enjoy the guy who spins the knives as much
as anyone. The huge fire on the cooking grill in front
of us is always impressive. And who could frown
when the chef ignites that little volcano made from a
chopped onion and some unnamed flammable liquid?
       The truth is I enjoy the floor show!
       I'm just not thrilled with the food!
       How can you trust a menu that doesn't include
hamburgers? Or French fries!
       Can't these folks contact somebody in Idaho
to get a couple pounds of potatoes? The rice is OK.
But I don't go in for that sauce that goes on top.
       I finally ordered a plain steak cooked in the
kitchen. That got me out of the "Sake circle" too!
       I was still a bit perplexed when they brought my
steak out since the only utensils in front of me were
a fork and a set of chop sticks! Fortunately someone,
probably assuming anyone who didn't want Sake was
likely to be a kid, had thought to cut my meat for me.
Perhaps they were afraid I'd try to spin my knife!
      Anyhow, the food was good and I was happy to
see my grand daughter smile when asked to catch a
piece of vegetable thrown by the chef in her mouth! I
know she liked the floor show too.
       Since the company was the greatest I suppose we
 would both have to admit we all had a good time.
       I didn't bring my camera......this time. But, you
see, I've been Shanghaied there before. So I'll just
recycle those photos for your entertainment!
        Hope you enjoy them and that all your NEWS is

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How I Spent A Month....Yesterday!

    Unbelievable! We awoke Saturday facing
no soccer games or any place we had to be!
    But, since I get bored easily, I immediately
started thinking about possible things to do
and places to go. My decision....the Discovery
Center in Binghamton, New York!
    The Discovery Center is a sort of Children's
Museum with all kinds of  "hands on" displays
and activities for the young and the young at
     You can sit in the cockpit of a jet plane, a
real fire truck and turn out gear so the kids
can play fireman, a model snack bar and all
kinds of other exhibits! There's even a
Television News and Weather set!!!!
     I figured my grand kids and one of our
nephews would enjoy a day there.
    What I didn't figure on was the Halloween
celebration they were throwing at the place
    I've never seen that many Spider men,
werewolves, and princesses in one place! And
I suspect there haven't been that many witches
together since the 1600's in Salem!
    We arrived just minutes before the staff, aided
by area college volunteers, started handing out
candy and all sorts of other treats! It was like
being on Times Square at Midnight on December
31st! My kids crowded into the line and got in on
the goodies!
     Of course once those treats were finally handed
out we got some breathing room and my gang got
to spend some time with just about all of the
exhibits. I sat down in the News set. That felt like
   And speaking of home, flashing police and fire
engine lights cut through the dark night as we
reached the community of Hallstead. The traffic
backup made Route 11 look like rush hour in
New York City. We prayed for the victims of
whatever misfortune caused the tie up.
    Minutes later we discovered those lights were
at the head of a community Halloween Parade!
Those of us waiting were at the tail end!
    25 to 35 minutes later we had negotiated the
six tenths of a mile long main street and were
finally speeding along at a comfortable 45 miles
per hour!
    All in all it had only been a day. It just seemed
like a month!
    Hope you'll let me know when your community
is holding a parade so I can avoid it...or at least
decorate my car! Hope you'll do that...and that all
your NEWS is good!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Look What I Found!

    I switched my walking habits yesterday and
made some interesting discoveries!
    I switched from the streets of downtown
Pittston and the neighborhood sidewalks of
West Pittston to the Lackawanna County
National Recreation Trail which runs along the
banks of the Susquehanna River and an active
rail line heading south out of the city.
   I had walked a short portion of the path some
time ago with two of my grand kids. But they,
or maybe it was me, gave up before we hiked
too far. Part of the problem may stem from the
fact we started off in the wrong direction and
ran out of trail!
   This time I knew the way and headed out to
see what there was to see. Turned out there
was more than I expected!
   There is, for instance, a small stone that marks
the site of the Eagle Air Shaft which provided
an escape route for some of the miners trapped
when the river broke into the Knox mine in
January of 1959. A path a little further on and
just off the trail leads to another stone marking
the site where the river broke through killing a
dozen men!
    It was was kind of erie to stand on the sites
where underground mining came to an end in
our area!
   But they weren't the only "eerie" sights!
   A sign at the beginning of the trails asks
people to clean up after their dogs. Some
previous walker had apparently made some
effort to do that. But, for some reason, they
decided to let the bag behind hanging on a
chain link fence separating the trail from the
railroad tracks! Somehow I don't believe that's
what the folks trying to keep the trail clean
had in mind.
    I also discovered a shopping cart from
Quinn's Market in Pittston. I don't know who
expected to find groceries along the trail!
Maybe they were waiting till the 2 mile
stretch is extended to 16 miles so they can shop
in Wilkes-Barre?
   Try the trail if you get a chance. I think you'll
like it!
   Hope you get your shopping done first and that
all your NEWS is good!

Friday, October 25, 2013

What comes between Wednesday & Friday?

    I woke up yesterday morning thinking it
was Thursday. I was wrong! It was Chore day.
    It's one of those days not found on a
calendar but, rather, on your wife's "Honey Do
    And, if you expect to have a Thursday, you'd
 better get Chore day out of the way!
    I began with some simple errands. Dropping
off some donations to the Rescue Mission,
mailing a letter and buying some stamps, and
providing transportation for my wife's hair
     I did so well my wife decided we should take
on a few other pre-winter tasks.
     There were plastic covers to be placed over our
front porch screens. They fit perfectly..once given a
little encouragement with a hammer and screwdriver!
     There was an air conditioner to be removed from
a bedroom window. All you have to do is move
curtains to one side, close the accordion doors on the
unit, lift the window (without allowing the air
conditioner to fall out), and grab and lift the 50
pound unit safely unto the floor. This is all done
simultaneously with your two hands! 
      Having checked off the errands and the To Do
list I faced the need to crawl under our house to shut
off the water line which feeds our garden hose.
      Negotiating the route is a little like crawling on
hands and knees through a small dark tunnel shared
by cob webs and spiders while trying to avoid cracking
your head on the steel beams just inches above.
      I elected, instead, to use my head for thinking! I
called in the "Marines" in the form of my small and
nimble 10 year old grandson who had the valve turned
faster then I could say "watch out for the spiders!" 
      All the errands run and chores complete, I was able
to salvage Thursday evening and get ready for today!
      Hope your list is all checked and your NEWS is
all good!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

This Is Only A Test!

   I never really was very good with tests!
   I remember once, in Junior High School, taking
a spelling test. I was misspelling a word as the
teacher walked by on her patrol. She noticed my
mistake and decided to alert me by slapping me
on the face with a ruler!
   I haven't been excited about spelling or tests
since that day. Fortunately somebody invented
"Spell Check!"
   That said, I went in for a Blood test about three
weeks ago. I failed!
   My family doctor called the following day to
tell me he was concerned about three readings
that showed up in the test results. I suppose
that's a little like getting three questions wrong
in a written test.
   My Doc will follow up on one of those results.
But the other two will be handled, or checked by
two specialists. I've been seeing one of them for
years. But the other one is a "new guy."
   How new is he, you may ask? That may best
be answered by recounting my wife's question
when we met the gentleman.
   "Have you graduated from High School?" He
assured us he had and, in fact, had even gone on
to Medical School!
    Adding my new physician to my list of doctors
 I already see from time to time, and including my
dentist, I am now providing financial support to
about seven members of the Medical Community!
    If I can come up with one more we can field our
own softball team...if they'll let me pitch!
    That should not be a problem because....I FEEL
    The only thing is, the new Doc wants me to take
another test or two in January. So I guess I'll either
have to study hard for a couple months or, more
likely, cram sometime after New Year's Eve. I've
just got to try to remember what I've heard over and
over during all my radio and TV years....."This is
only a test!"
     Hope my doctors don't read my Blogs...and that
all your NEWS is good!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

North, To Alaska!

      Hitch up the dog sled Johnny Horton, I'm
heading North To Alaska!
      My wife and I spent last evening at a
Travel Show presented by Thompson Tours
where plans for our trip and numerous other
exciting destinations for 2014 were unveiled!
      I'm especially happy to be heading to our
49th State because I've got family history
      My "Great Uncle" Charlie Goyne (my
 mother's uncle) was a gold miner there when
the place was still a U.S. Territory! For years
he lived alone in a small cabin and hand dug
a tunnel in his search for the precious oar.
     He found some too. Though, ultimately, he
made as much money working the docks as he
did mining a mountainside.
     And he always complained about inflation
claiming the dollars he made were worth a lot
less than the dollars he came north with. I wonder
what he'd think about the value of today's buck?
      I don't know if I'll get a chance to look for
any gold on our trip. I'm not much good at
digging and the only tunnel I'm familiar with is
on the Pennsylvania Turnpike! I don't think there's
any gold in there.
      Still, this combination cruise/rail tour does
seem like a golden opportunity and since it's in
August I can probably let the snow shovel at
      Thompson still has openings for our
expedition so check it out! Hope some of you
will "Mush" along with us..and that all of your
NEWS is good!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I Think They're Trying To Tell Me Something!

    The sunset was beautiful Monday. Except for
the fact it was trying to slip down below my
horizon all too close to 6pm. I think it's trying
to tell me something!
     The neighbor's pear tree has lost most of its
leaves and only a few brave pears yet cling to
its limbs. I think its trying to tell me something
     "Weather Bob", my daily forecaster on
Facebook, has posted a message suggesting
there's a possibility of some Halloween snow!
I think he's trying to tell me something.
      Then there's my wife.
      Immediately after our top down ride home
from dinner with family and friends she asked
for help retrieving the plastic windows used to
cover the screens on our front porch. I helped.
      Next she suggested we carry both the
bench and bird bath in our yard into our shed.
      Then, while in the shed, she had me move
our snow shovels near the front of the unit
where they are far more assessable!
       I'm absolutely sure she was trying to tell me
something and, YES, I got the message!
       Hope they're all wrong...and that all your
 NEWS is good!


Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Fat Lady Has Sung!


     When I was a kid it was simple. You
played baseball in the Summer, Football
in the Fall, and Basketball in the Winter.
      If you weren't on an organized team
you still played. In back yards, on sand
lots (actually coal waste fields in our
area) or on any playground that happen
to be available.
     We never really heard or thought
about Soccer. That was a game played
somewhere else in the world. But that
has changed.                          
     These days more and more kids are
choosing soccer as their team sport.
     Two of my grand kids now play the
game. And play, and play, and play!
      There is a Spring Soccer League and
a Fall Soccer League. I haven't asked about
 Winter. I'm afraid someone will start a
League then too!
       We try to support our grand kids by
attending as many games as possible. With
two kids on two different teams often
playing on the same day on two different
fields that can sometimes be a challenge!
       It was with some relief when both
played their final League games of the
season last week.
       But wait! There's more! No sooner
had our grand daughter's team walked off
the field when we learned about a Soccer
Tournament scheduled for this past weekend!
It was a "Double Elimination Tournament."
Whether you won or lost on the first day, you'd
have at least one more game to play the
following day.
       As it happens, our team lost on Saturday in
overtime and came back Sunday to play again!
A win would require plans for next weekend as
the tournament continues!
       But, as luck would have it, after another
overtime game, the Fat Lady has sung and this
Soccer Season has, finally, come to an end!
        I'm not sure how we're suppose to spend
our weekends now...except maybe somewhere
warm and cozy where we can save our voices
for another season!
         Hats off to the players for a job well done
and to my fellow spectators for hanging in there
when an hour sometimes seemed like a day and
the season sometimes seemed like forever!
         Hope your shins aren't bruised and that all
your NEWS is good!

Honk If You Like Summer!

       The top was down (but the heater on) as we
enjoyed what sunshine Saturday had to offer on
our way to the first game of a Soccer Tournament.
        I squeezed another half hour of open air while
we drove to a post game restaurant. Wisely I
raised the top when we went inside to eat. By the
time we came out a light rain had left beads of
water on the waxed body of the car.
       The cool wind added another sign to the
accumulating number of clues suggesting that old
man winter is thinking about moving in.
       Our home heating system kicked on the other
morning. The thermostat isn't set that high. But
the temperature got low enough to fire up the
furnace. It's a sign!
       There's still plenty of color in the Autumn
leaves. But a lot of those leaves are off the trees
and on the ground now. They form a colorful
blanket that ought to come equipped with a sign
reading "Slippery When Wet!"
       For me though it was the sounds I heard 3
sunny days ago that had me pull my warmer
leather jacket out of the closet. With all due
respect to the Weather forecasters I start getting
ready for cooler weather when I hear the "Honks"
from up above! They did not come from motorists
supporting a group of striking teachers or a move
to abolish property taxes.  They came from the
flock of geese flying overhead!
        I had hoped it was a local flight just heading
over the Susquehanna for an afternoon of fishing.
        But, alas, this group was heading out for the
season and, unfortunately, going South! I tried to
snap a photo but couldn't focus on time. I've
included a couple stock pictures that tell the same
story. I suppose if you've seen one flight you've
seen them all.
        Hope there's a nice "Indian Summer" somewhere
in their wake and that all your NEWS is good!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Great Escape!

     Sam escaped the other day. Sort of.
     Sam is our rescued Cockatiel. He belonged
to a friend of a friend who was moving a couple
years ago and found herself facing a sort of
"Sophie's choice." She had two pets but was only
allowed one in her new digs. She picked her dog
which left Sam looking for a new home of his
     My wife offered ours.
     Sam came with a selection of cages and
accessories and an interesting, if somewhat
limited vocabulary.
     He asks "How you doing Sam?" And
proclaims "Sam's a pretty bird!" Seems he was
not trained in modesty!
          He finds sustenance and security in the large
bird cage we selected and has shown little desire
to leave its confines. The grub in this "prison" is
pretty good!
     But the other day, with wings poised as though
ready to fly and the top door open, Sam elected to
join us in the living room!
     He said little. In fact nothing as he checked out
the vast surroundings just outside his usual perch.
     My Blue Jeans proved a handy ramp eventually
leading to my finger. The shiny nature of my wife's
rings attracted his attention too and Sam truly
seemed to enjoy his brief excursion into the "real
world." He watched TV for awhile and appeared
interested in the Baseball playoff series. Of course
the Cardinals were playing!
      Though seemingly content with his "Great
Escape" Sam seemed equally happy to return to
the seeds, water, and piece of pop corn awaiting
his arrival in his own home.
       He did leave a "memento" of his visit on our
couch. But we were able to clean it up!
       Hope you do your best to get out from time to
time and that all of your NEWS is good!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Over The River and Through The Woods!

        I know it's just a matter of days till we'll
only find "room temperatures" inside rooms.
       But when I saw the sun in the sky
yesterday and felt the warmth of its rays on my
face the top came down and my wife and I were
out the door looking for roads seldom traveled
not too very far from home. Just over the river
and through the woods if you know what I mean.
       That's a tall order for me! After years of
News coverage throughout northeastern and
central Pennsylvania there's very few roads I
haven't been on at one time or another.
        Still, if I seen a turn that doesn't look familiar,
I'll probably take it to see where it leads.
        Just such a turn yesterday, and a couple
others beyond that, lead me to a lake I had either
never seen or long since erased in my memory. It
was one of those lakes just off the "main", though
definitely a back road, with its own access lane
carefully marked "Private Road."
        There's nothing I like better than a private
road sign next to another that reads "House For
Sale." I mean, seriously, you must check out the
house just in case you like it and want to make an
offer. Right?
        So we slowly made our way along the
private road, checked out the lake, and the scenery
and, oh yes, glanced at the home with the Real
Estate "For Sale" sign planted in the front yard. It
looked a bit too rich for my blood. But since there
was no easy turn around spot we were forced to
drive the remainder of the road till we were able
to make a "U" turn and make our way back. There
were a lot of beautiful sights along that lane! A
few miles and turns later we found ourselves at a
road we knew well and headed back home with the
memory of some beautiful scenery and a another
back road adventure in the books!
        All too soon the top will have to stay up.
But that won't hold us back! After all, once those
leaves are down we'll be able to glance deeper
into the woods......and who knows what we'll see
       Hope you're looking for all the neat things
around these parts and that all your NEWS is good!