Thursday, September 17, 2009

The LuLac Edition #945, Sept. 17th, 2009



Mary Travers, a member of the folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary passed away the other day at 72. It is scary when the people you listened to as a teenager start to die off. It is even more frightening when they depart the pop culture stage only to be replaced by the likes of Kanye West. Anyway, all that said, here’s my Mary Travers story. It was the last weekend of the 1984 Presidential election and Luzerne County Chairman Joe Tirpak had an ambition fulfilled. Throughout the 1984 race, Tirpak had been bugging the Mondale national staff to have either the former Vice President or Veep nominee Geraldine Ferrarro visit our area. I had volunteered for the campaign for a number of reasons but the primary one was a promise I had made years before. In a 1973 thank you get together for his old volunteers and supporters in Washinginton, D.C. Senator Hubert Humphrey asked those assembled to channel our efforts into a possible Walter Mondale run for President if that ever happened. It did in 1984 and I worked closely with the local chapter of the ILGWU in the spring working phone banks as well as distributing signs. In the fall campaign, I was promoted to “coordinator of logistics”. Basically I had to make sure that if there ever was a campaign stop, the people traveling were picked up at the airport with Mondale and herded to the proper buses. My responsibilities was solely for the entertainment. So in effect I was the chauffeur for the band. Not even a roadie. Well since Mondale wasn’t visiting, I had little to do. Until that last weekend. The week of October 28th there was a rumor that Ferraro would be coming to town. Joe Tirpak squashed that rumor like a bug saying that Walter Mondale was coming instead. Most political pundits thought the election was a foregone conclusion but Tirpak was saying with a straight face that Mondale still had a chance and it was imperative he visit Luzerne County before the election. No one thought anyone, let alone the Mondale campaign would buy that but Tirpak was adamant that there would be a rally. On Halloween word came from the Mondale camp that indeed the former Vice President would address a rally on Public Square. Everything went into high gear. All of a sudden the local Mondale office started handling logistics with the national staff. A laundry list was made of things the campaign needed including hotel rooms. All of a sudden my job was in play, people were excited about the prospect of a candidate coming to town and Joe Tirpak was looking like a political genius…..again. A guy who played softball with me, Joe Sekusky also accompanied the campaign working in another area. But we touched base often on the big day. On Friday afternoon, November 2nd, the first of the planes began landing in Avoca and the bus I was assigned to had the “entertainers”. I sat down next to a guy who looked pretty familiar but my mind was on politics. We talked about the campaign for about 10 minutes until I introduced myself and he said, “pleasure to meet you, I’m Paul Stookey”. It didn’t sink in until 5 minutes later and it was then that I had the presence of mind to snag an autograph for Mrs. LuLac. The bus emptied on the square and the entertainers, after a brief respite began to sing. It was 4PM. Mondale was due at 5pm. After an hour, the entertainment stopped. The late Christine McLaughlin, the wife of then Mayor Tom McLaughlin had a group of Irish Step dancers and other youth groups with her. Quickly they were dispatched to the stage. After they were finished, the high school bands started to play. It was an improvised effort to keep the now gathering crowd focused. By 6:00PM, Peter Paul and Mary took the stage. They sang….again. It was a raw cold November Friday night. There was a time change the weekend before and things were as dark as Mondale’s prospects all across the country. Sekusy meanwhile was working crowd control helping with security to pave a way for Mondale's entrance. At that point we were told Mondale had landed and was at the hotel to “freshen up”. After 45 minutes, it appeared that the entertainers were suffering from “If I Had A hammer” fatigue and stopped playing. With the Step Dancers doing their third encore a livid Mary Travers made her way toward Joe Tirpak. Tirpak, no fool made a deft move to talk to some of his fans assuring people Mondale would be coming out of the Sheraton Crossgates shortly. So Mary Travers got me instead. She said, “Are you in charge?” Seeing Tirpak working the crowd and with no one else in sight my ego got the better part of me and I said, “Yes”. Her body language totally escaped me as I extended my hand and said, “I’m David Yonki and I’m coordinating here”. She put her hand on her hips and said, “What the **** is a David Yonki and why the **** should I care? Where the **** is he, we’re singing our ****ing asses off here in this cold!?” Somewhere, someone uttered the words, (and it wasn’t me) “I think he’s taking a bath in the hotel”. That immediately set her off again with expletives flying as she stormed the stage. With that her group started singing the meanest most biting version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane” you ever heard. By the time the tune was over, I saw Sekusky and the security people along with the Wilkes Barre Police escorting Mayor McLaughlin, the Mayor’s wife, Controller Merecedes Leighton, County Controller Joe Tirpak, and local labor leader Sam Bianco to the stage. The entertainment stopped and as the speeches began Mary Travers brushed past me headed for the Crossgates hotel. To this day I wonder if she was headed to the bar or for a hot bath.


Former Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, will sit down to discuss his book, “The Test of Our Times” on a special “PA Books” set to air Friday, September 18 at 12:00 p.m. and again at 4:00 p.m. on the statewide television network. Tom Ridge left his post as governor in 2001 after his appointment by President George W. Bush to head the newly-created Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As the nation’s first secretary of Homeland Security, Ridge was given the task of coordinating a federal domestic counterterrorism effort after the attacks on September 11, 2001. “The Test of Our Times,” is a political memoir which not only looks back on the challenges, political pressures, successes and missteps of the newly-created department, but looks to answer how America can protect itself in the future while still preserving personal freedoms. A native of Pennsylvania, Ridge served as Congressman for 12 years and Governor of Pennsylvania for 6 years. Ridge served in the Bush administration as the head of the DHS until 2005. A Harvard graduate, Ridge is currently President and CEO of Ridge Global. “PA Books,” which is hosted by PCN President and CEO, Brian Lockman, features authors or editors of new or recently released books about Pennsylvania. Since “PA Books” began in 1997, more than 450 episodes have been produced by the network and hosted by Lockman. The program is part of the network’s regular Sunday evening primetime lineup which includes “PCN Tours” and “PCN Profiles.” To learn more about upcoming PA Books programs and subscribe to an audio iTunes podcast of PA Books, visit


The longest running broadcast program leaves the air Friday. The Guiding Light ends its 72 year run as a soap opera staple for many in America. A few facts about the show: The Guiding Light was created by soap writer Irna Phillips, and began as an NBC Radio serial on January 25, 1937. In 1947 the show moved to CBS radio, before starting on television on June 30, 1952, on CBS television. The show's title refers to a lamp in the study of Reverend Dr. John Ruthledge, a major character when The Guiding Light debuted in 1937, that family and residents could see as a sign for them to find help when needed. Dr. John Ruthledge was based on the personality of Warren Moyer, a resident of Stouffville, Ontario, Canada. On September 11, 1967, the show was first broadcast in color. A year later, the show expanded from 15 to 30 minutes. The 1960s saw the introduction of African-American characters, and the main focus of the show shifted to Bill and Bert's children, Mike and Ed. A number of new characters were introduced during the mid- to late-60s, perhaps most notably Dr. Sara McEntire, who would remain a central character through the early 1980s. Guiding Light taped its final scenes on August 11, 2009, and it is scheduled to air its final episode on CBS on September 18. On October 5, 2009, to replace Guiding Light, CBS will air an hour-long revival of Let's Make a Deal. Through the years the series dealt with all type of social problems most notably alcoholism. It had a long run. The theme song was based on Variations on "Romance" from Wieniaswski's Violin Concerto # 2 in D Minor from the early days until 1967. Since we are a pop culture blog, here are three videos to mark this momentous departure.
In the first video, we see a young Bert Bauer talking things over with Poppa Bauer.

Then there were the sponsors and the theme:

There was a reason they called them soaps.
And there was this great promo when GL hit year 70.


Goldfinger opens in the UK.......Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery, premieres on ABC......King Constantine II of Greece marries in Athens, who is now Europe's youngest Queen at age eighteen years, nineteen days. Senator Barry Goldwater questions the need for Medicare saying that private citizens should help older Americans through volunteerism……The Pa. State Treasurer’s Association has their annual conference in Paoli. Treasurer for Luzerne County Matt Leib attends……the 1964 Phillies triumph over the Los Angeles Dodgers with Jim Bunning going the distance. The pitching staff is showing wear and tear but the Phils are 6 and ½ games ahead with only 12 to play. A Sports Illustrated color photographer is trailing Bunning taking possible cover shots of Bunning if the Phils get to the Series……..It is estimated that the Luzerne County nursing home Valley Crest provides over 1,000 meals a day…and in LuLac land the number 1 song in America was Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann.


At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, great Mary Travers story. And I remember that night, Mondale was late, everyone was cold, those step dancers kept moving and the whole night was surreal. You forgot to mention the networks being there as well as the New York Times. Good piece though.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you, fitz and the guiding light... all part of a bygone era.

At 6:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a song, Do Whah Diddy....that song makes me smile. Heard you on Nyehard yesterday and Sue Henry today. We like the way you think. Somehow there has to be a way to send these state officals a message if people don't run against them next time. In a way this is worse than the payraise because this is actually hurting people. Yet they break their necks to get table games.

At 8:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that Mary Travers story brings me back. One thing you can say about Tom McLaughlin was this: the city was hopping. His main man Bob Wilkie ran everything like Patton. And that Mondale rally was a tribute to the tenacity of Joe Tirpak.

At 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom Ridgfe is a good guy. Hope he runs for President someday.

At 9:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess the Mondale people felt there was nothing left to they made a stop in Wilkes Barre. I remember seeing him that day. They let us out of school an hour early.....and the guy shows up at 7 oclock!!!!!!

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Corey OBrien to run for Congress.
Didnt I say he was a one termer from the first using the Commissioners job as a springboard?
Does this meam Non Politician Washo stays on and Evie McNulty gets the job denied her by a young upstart? OBriens top priority has always been OBrien and I fear he wont have much impact on the Congressional Race.
They wont be impressed that he helped build a Senior Center when he was in High School. His performance in the County job has been underwhelming so promotion is clearly in order. Wonder if the Republicans will ever again be in power in the Lac?


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