PHOTO INDEX: PAST MAYORS OF SCRANTON WITH CURRENT MAYOR CHRIS DOUGHERTY (LEFT-SEATED) DAVID WENZEL MAYOR FROM 1985 to 1989, STANDING: JAMES BARRETT MCNULTY, MAYOR 1981 TO 1985, JAMES CONNORS, MAYOR FROM 1989 TO 2003, JUDGE JAMES WALSH MAYOR FROM 1965 TO 1969, AND EUGENE PETERS, MAYOR FROM 1969 TO 1977 AND THIS BLOG EDITOR IN STUNNED REACTION TO HIS NEW/OLD SHOES.
HEROES AND VILLAINS
That old Beach Boys song was playing in my mind this weekend as a series of events and news tidbits hit the wire. First off, Scranton Mayor Chris Dougherty hosted a very successful conference for Pa. Mayors. Mayors from across the state took a look at the redeveloped Scranton and its charismatic Mayor. Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta showed up late on Thursday night. His anti immigration stand was rebuffed by the Pa. Conference of Mayors with the city chief executive officers saying immigration was a national, not a local issue. Dougherty invited past Scranton Mayors to the festivities. Mayors Peters, McNulty and Wenzel conducted themselves with their usual class and dignity. But class clown and Mayoral buffoon (still after all these years he hasn’t lost his touch) Jimmie Connors said that being Mayor was like being hit with a hammer, you enjoy it when they stop hitting you or some nonsense like that. Now that didn’t stop Connors from feeding at the public trough for three terms. Mayor Peters went back in time and talked about his days as host of the Mayor’s conference in Scranton too. But the strangest thing happened when Mayor David Wenzel made this remark to the Scranton Times.
"To really sum it up, before I became mayor, I called (Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce president) Austin Burke, and his secretary took the message, and it took Mr. Burke three days to get back to me,” Mr. Wenzel said. “When I became mayor, I called Mr. Burke, told his secretary it was Mayor Wenzel calling, and Mr. Burke was on the phone in three seconds. After I left office, I called him, and he never got back to me.” Wenzel’s point was that the power of being Mayor could enable a politician newfound respect and leadership clout. To me, that’s all he meant. But Austin Burke, the deeply entrenched and arrogant head of the Scranton Chamber took exception (somebody must’ve stole his baby rattle) to the comment and responded to the Times with this childish comment. From the Times: Mr. Burke, however, said he is sorry Mr. Wenzel chose to use him to make his point. “It’s a total figment of his imagination, and I consider Mr. Wenzel a good friend and I feel that I go out of my way to be responsive to everyone, including mayors,” Mr. Burke said. “I think the comment is totally bizarre.”
First off, let me say this. In the mid 80s, I had the misfortune to deal with Mr. Burke and his tight ass suck up staffers at the Scranton Chamber. The group I was with floated innovative ideas that finally came to fruition years later without Mr. Burke’s help. Our group never got the credit, but at least it got done. Like Mr. Wenzel, before and after, he became Mayor, I wasn’t important enough to get phone calls returned from Burke. His arrogance has grown in leaps and bounds judging from the comments he made against former Mayor Wenzel, a disabled, decorated war hero and public servant. Austin Burke, I’ve met David Wenzel, I worked with David Wenzel, I got phone calls returned from David Wenzel, to paraphrase Lloyd Bensten, “Austin Burke, you’re no David Wenzel”.
THE TAURUS CLUB
All my adult life, I wanted to join the Scranton Taurus Club. Finally a few years back, I received an associate membership. I was told the people were friendly, the food was delicious and the fellowship was beyond compare. So Friday after work, Mrs. LuLac and I popped the top, plugged in the Temptations and proceeded to enjoy our membership in the popular Scranton Club. Well, here’s what happened, we sat at a table unattended for 25 minutes. In that time, I was attempting to get a few drinks at the bar for the two of us only to be constantly ignored and bypassed by the zombie like sexagenarian bartender. Waving my cane in front of her didn’t even get her attention. I was told by a member that I had to stand in the “bar line” to get a drink. So if you were to sit at the bar, you first had to stand in line and then get your drink. Gee, customer service at its finest. (The Taurus Club joins my long list of American institutions where you can wave at fistful of money at people and instead of taking it, they’ll ignore you and dare you to go somewhere else). In the meantime, Mrs. LuLac was told that food could be ordered at 6pm. “A girl will come around and take your order” she was told. 6:30PM, no girl, no food. After one hour and five minutes of this nonsense, we left but not before I nearly took a header on spilled beer in the doorway. We were rudely treated, ignored and basically told we weren’t welcome. Ladies and Gentleman, the famed Taurus Club of Scranton! Well, at least I got to use my card to get in the joint. But as Groucho used to say, “If a club lets me in, I might not want to join it”. Years ago, rumors abounded that radio and TV salesman become alcoholics by spending their time in the afternoon drinking liquor at the Taurus Club. From Friday's experience and the way we, as members were treated, I honestly can’t see how they became sauced. Unless they were on their hands and knees licking the spilled beer in front of the bar. Yeah, I’m enjoying this membership!
In 1991, I went to the Crossings Shopping Center in the Poconos and bought 3 pairs of shoes at the Ralph Lauren outlet. One black, one brown, one cordovan. Loved those shoes. Instead of buying new ones, I had these three pair resoled through the years. I had other shoes, most likely too much for a man. But these shoes were the ones that were comfortable in the summer, steady on an icy sidewalk in the winter and easy to coordinate with anything I was wearing quickly. Since my accident, wearing any other shoe cramps up my back quickly. (Especially wingtips and sneakers.) But these shoes made my pain bearable. Well by 2005, they started to give up the ghost. My main shoe repair man, Frank on Northampton Street died in the early part of this decade. Frank remade my shoes. But now with Frank gone, I sought out a guy on Pierce Street in Kingston with a shoe repair shop. Don’t remember his name but what an ignorant bastard. So by accident, I came upon June’s Shoe Repair Shop. I gave him the shoes and he said, “Had these a long time, huh?” “Since ‘91” I replied. “16 years old, they’re old enough to drive!” I asked him if he could do something. He said, “If it’s important to you, it’s important to me”. Needless to say he did a magnificent job. Fast forward to the end of 2006, I see the Cordavons are getting frayed around the edges. I go see the guy at June’s and he tells me that they are truly on their last legs. I told him I’d wear them into the ground and then try to find some new ones. By the end of May, the soles were filled with holes and the stitching was coming apart. I went to June’s and talked him into saving the shoes. I explained to him my condition and how the shoes were a comfort to me. He took them but made no promises. Sighing heavily, he said, “I’ll do my best!” I had no doubts. After a week, he called my cell and told me they’d be ready but to pick them up during the week because he would be closed on Saturday. Since my work schedule conflicted with that plan, Mrs. LuLac went to pick them up. The shoemaker was visibly disappointed when he saw her. “I wanted to see his face, I really pulled out all the stops!” Mrs. LuLac promised to take my photo when I pulled them out of the bag. (That’s the photo you see in the index above). The 18 year old shoes were rehabilitated with brand new tassels, an expanded sole and heel where my dented posture seems to concentrate my weight and a shine right out of the box. It was a job well done by a craftsman who took pride in his work but more importantly did not refuse the order. In a world where you have to beg people to take your money for inferior goods and services, my friend at June’s Shoe repair in Forty Fort, right off Denison Street, rehabilitated something I loved wearing, but more importantly, listened to me, a customer. I thank him, a true gentleman, craftsman and capitalist, for all of the above.
Mrs. LuLac and I wound up at La Trot in Scranton after being shunned at the Taurus Club and then had dessert at Krispy Kreme. There we saw a flyers that said, “DON’T STOP MY BUS!”
More Money is needed to keep bus service alive. Call before it’s too late, contact:
Senator Mellow 342-4353
Rep. Smith 342-2710
Rep. Staback 876-1111
Rep. Wansacz 451-3110
TELL THE PERSON WHO ANSWERS THE PHONE
“MY NAME IS _________________________”
“I RIDE THE BUS TO GO TO___________________”.
“PLEASE SUPPORT MORE MONEY FOR PUBLC TRANSIT IN _________________________________
“IT’S VERY IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO VOTE YES ON THIS ISSUE”
In Scranton, and other areas of the great northeast, public transportation is one of the few ways and in some cases the only way low income people trying to make their way up can get to work. Let’s support this.
Saturday, Mrs. LuLac and I finally said goodbye to our first home computer. Sadly, we packed it up and put it into the car and drove it to Hanover Area High School for the annual county electronic recycling. The average usage for a home computer is about 2 and ½ years. Our unit was heading into year number eight. It re-established ties for me with old friends from around the world, helped me write three books, countless angry letters to the editor, and gave me the opportunity to publish two blogs and contribute to so many on line with topics ranging from my beloved 4 Seasons to Italian cooking. It served more than its purpose. Over the past four years Luzerne County residents have recycled a mind boggling 1, 254, 338 pounds of electronic equipment. That’s a lot of gadgets! The effort was smooth as strong young men and women complimented me on my ragtop and took away our first home computer that served us both so well. We’ll come across it in another manifestation I’m sure, so for now, we’ll just say “so long!”
AGNES 35 YEARS LATER
This weekend marked the 35th anniversary of the Agnes Flood. What a contrast Saturday’s weather was from that fateful day. Since our topic on this edition was Heroes & Villains (you distinguish which is which) we’d be remiss in saluting the heroes of Agnes. Just a few names:
Daniel J. Flood.
The Red Cross.
Franklin D. Coslett.