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If you want my advice …

Published June 26. 2019 01:04PM

Our local graduates were asked to recall some of the best advice they had been given by their teachers, and their responses were recorded on the front page of Saturday’s Times News.

It got me thinking about some of the best advice I have been given over my 80 years of existence.

My Summit Hill High School mathematics teacher, Mary Liebensberger, was a great source of important advice. To this day, I quote her to my children, grandchildren and friends.

I didn’t have a study hall built into my senior year schedule in 1956-57, but one day, my physics teacher, Robert “Biffo” King, didn’t show up, so we had a study period with Mrs. Liebensberger.

At one point, instead of studying, I was daydreaming about an event I would be attending during the coming weekend when I was snapped back to the present. “Nothing to do, Bruce, and all day to do it?” said Mrs. Liebensberger, who was now standing next to me.

After the study hall, I apologized. She smiled and told me that I had a bright future. Then she stretched out her hand and looked off into the distance. “Shoot for the stars, Bruce, because even if you fail to reach your destination, you are sure to pick up some stardust along the way.” Whenever I came up short in life’s pursuits, this was one of the first things that I recalled, and it helped ease the pain.

Mrs. Liebensberger also told me: “Each day is a little life; live it well.”

My French teacher, Blodwyn Llewellyn, who inspired me to major in this beautiful language in college, was a stickler for punctuality. “Ne soyez jamais en retard (Never be late),” she advised. Ironically, as a journalist, I was ruled much of my life by deadlines where being late was right up there with committing life’s deadly sins.

I had a long conversation one day with former Summit Hill mayor and later Carbon County sheriff, the late Louie Lisella, who lived a few doors away from my brother and sister-in-law on West Ludlow Street.

I asked him how he was able to put up with all of the public criticism that officeholders encounter. “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” he advised. “Wasting energy on unimportant crap will make you go crazy. Concentrate on really important (expletive).”

My roommate at East Stroudsburg University for two years was Bob Marouchoc, a Nesquehoning Borough Council member at the time of his death. Bob was a terrific darts player and tried to teach me the finer points of the game — without much success regrettably.

Despite downing a half-dozen draft beers, his accuracy never diminished. “How do you do that?” I asked in wonderment. “Be good at something, even if it’s throwing darts,” he advised.

One of my favorite instructors at ESU was Dr. Alfred Sumberg, with whom I became close friends after graduation. This man was highly regarded nationally in his field (history) and had impeccable credentials. I was honored to sponsor him for membership in a service club I had joined a few years earlier.

I was absolutely floored when the membership committee informed me that his membership was rejected, but I could not get a straight answer about why he was turned down. Finally, I learned that one member of the committee blackballed him because he is Jewish.

I immediately submitted my resignation, because I wanted no part of an exclusionary community service organization. Dr. Sumberg told me that he was not surprised, that he had experienced similar discrimination much of his life.

He gave me this advice: “When someone tells you that another person is of the ‘wrong’ race, just remind them that there is really only one race — the human race.”

I’ve saved the best for last: My immigrant mother, Frieda, who was on the receiving end of much anti-Italian verbal abuse when she and my father first operated our family’s grocery store on Market Street in the 1920s, never retaliated.

Her advice: “If people attack you because of your heritage, just smile. The best way to prove them wrong is through success and giving back to society.”

By Bruce Frassinelli |

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