Monday, August 21, 2017

Under My Hat

Saturday, February 7, 2015
Thirty-five years ago this month during the Three Mile Island nuclear tragedy, I met Gov. Richard Thornburgh while working on statewide publicity related to health care issues. Afterward, I traveled to Canada to study their system of national health insurance, an issue being addressed today in the U.S.

National health insurance, for some, is a dream come true.

Many baby boomers, for instance, are using the Affordable Care Act to find their way to early retirement.

After federal subsidies for those who qualify, the monthly cost might be $100 to $300 a month, as opposed to $700 or more.

It's making a difference for some workers in their late 50s and early 60s who want to retire early, the pre-Medicare years.

Still, I think ACA provisions are too intrusive and far-reaching and hopefully will be toned down.

Saturday, January 24, 2015
Linda Koehler

Sometimes I think retirement should be illegal.

It forces us say goodbye to people who've become family to us.

Like everyone else, I've grown to know Linda Koehler through her interesting news stories, fascinating features and hilarious columns.

Oh, those columns!

If anyone knows how to entertain in a way that touches the heart, it's Linda.

She's the Erma Bombeck of the Times News.

And that's important because daily news is often dismal and heavy. Writers like Linda know how to make us laugh, and they're precious for doing so.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

When the end of the year arrives, it's natural for us to pause and take stock in the previous 12 months.

Well, I did just that, and from what I saw, the end of 2014 can't come soon enough.

For me, the past year has been one of the most difficult times in terms of tragedy and sorrow.

I lost lifelong friends and classmates Tom Shea and Bonnie Schuetrumpf.

We first met at school, where we were thrown together by the alphabet, last names starting with sc, se and sh. But we quickly became close friends.

At times, the Three Musketeers.

Saturday, December 13, 2014
Hess's Inc. knew how to create illusion and it was fun being part of it, such as this Star Wars advertising image from Christmas, 1977, when I was in my 20s. I left the following year. The store was sold one year later.

Some of my most magical Christmas moments took place years ago at my first job at Hess's of Allentown.

If you shopped beneath those grand crystal chandeliers at 9th and Hamilton, you know how special Hess's was. Magic and glamour. Fashion models. Strawberry pie.

It also was a place of mystery, a series of buildings five stories high, joined together to appear as one, with secret halls leading to areas designated as "Co-Worker Only."

I was hired in Hess's advertising/public relations department in the 1970s and spent several years learning the business.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

One of best parts of journalism is the opportunity to meet people and write their stories.

In my opinion, you just can't beat it.

Telling other people's stories provides an opportunity to see new faces every day, broaden your horizons and, best of all, make new friends.

I had the chance Tuesday night to spend time with historian Bernie Krebs, along with wife Jane and her dad, Gary Solt, all of Jim Thorpe. Wonderful people.

Bernie grew up on West Broadway and is impassioned about old tales of Carbon County.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

It wasn't a typical Thanksgiving.

We finished eating a turkey meal, except for Mom.

She wasn't eating. Her appetite was fading. I suppose she wasn't feeling well, but I wasn't sure. Communication had become an issue. Mom didn't say much, as always. She'd never tell us if she was sick. Of course, that was the norm. Mom never complained, not once in her life.

But this was different. Mom no longer spoke full sentences.

She'd look at me and smile. She loved me as much as ever. But she no longer knew my name.

Saturday, October 25, 2014
DONALD R. SERFASS/TIMES NEWS  The Stone Couch is a curious rock formation along the Weatherly-Eckley Road, a place some believe is haunted.

The site is peculiar in its plainness.

A flat stretch atop the mountain. No houses, no buildings. Nothing but woods.

So very nondescript. So unassuming and not to be noticed.

Except for a monolith of mystery.

It rests there alongside the road, appearing, at first, to be a large rock. A second glance identifies it as a piece of furniture, a sofa made of stone. But this is one piece of furniture you don't want inside your house.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Nicknames and labels can be dangerous things.

In 2008, a York man was killed by accident because he had a similar nickname as the attackers' intended target.

The 29-year-old was known as "Big O," and apparently some thugs were looking for a man with the same moniker. They were caught and sentenced for murder, but justice can never be served.

Nicknames are popular, especially in our area. I did an informal, unscientific survey and asked people if they had a nickname. Virtually every person said yes. Some said they also were called names.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Anything can be dipped in batter and deep-fried.

Agricultural fairs exist to show us how it's done.

In a way, I've always wondered about the dichotomy of good old country fairs.

We go there to look at things all natural, such as cows, chickens, canned fruit and handmade quilts.

But while we're doing it, we eat things totally unnatural.

I just had my annual visit to the Bloomsburg Fair and a taste of deep-fried heaven and deep-fried Hades.

Deep-fried pickles? Yuk.

Another popular item this year was the deep-fried Oreo. Not bad at all.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

When I hear the Drifters sing "Under the Boardwalk," I think of the casinos because they're going under.

New Jersey gambling houses are shutting down faster than Secretariat on steroids.

The Revel, opened in 2012, never found profitability and recently had a bankruptcy auction. It was the third casino to close this year. The Atlantic Club closed in January, and Showboat closed in August. Another, Trump Plaza, was set to close this week.