It occurred to me that because I’ve been visiting my sister’s family in the City of Long Beach, New York, for so long, I should maybe write about life in Long Beach. Officially I’m still a resident of the Borough of Wyoming, Pennsylvania, though. I’ve gotten to know Wyoming quite well by now having lived there since April of 2006 and I still don’t know all that much about Long Beach. My parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania and I’d visited the region quite regularly since my earliest childhood, until moving there a while ago. I’ve always really enjoyed the Wyomings. It’s an exceptionally picturesque region with extremely nice scenery. Wyoming and West Wyoming-they share a common zip code, 18644-are such an exceptionally nice little suburban region. There are a lot of local businesses, including stores, restaurants, doctors, hospitals and lawyers, within driving and even walking distance of my neighborhood. They have an exceptionally nice mall only six miles away. The borough is very close to both Scranton and Wilkes-Barre. In northeastern Pennsylvania there are churches-Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox-all over the place. There are many towns in the region that literally have several churches on each street. I’d always been quite involved with Our Lady of Sorrows on Eighth Street, and St. Joseph’s on Sixth Street. The parish is now known as St. Monica’s. The churches, along with all the equally prominent secular organizations, contribute a lot to helping the poor, and to making things run smoothly in general. Having met quite a few exceptionally good people in and around the Wyomings I know that the borough’s residents are as good as any I’ve ever met although they can also be as offbeat a bunch of characters as one could expect. Considering that it’s the kind of small town where everyone knows other people’s business there’s the problem of too much gossip. On special occasions the borough’s representatives have parades and other events to commemorate whichever milestone is referred to. Jimmy Carter, the thirty-ninth President of the United States, even visited the Wyoming Monument, a landmark from the U.S. Revolutionary War. He was only the third United States President, besides Rutherford B. Hayes and Theodore Roosevelt, to visit the monument. There are also a few drawbacks to life in the Wyomings, though. Northeastern Pennsylvania is a very mountainous region and winters are inevitably bitter cold with a seemingly endless supply of snow, rain and ice. Driving in bad weather is treacherous. Flooding isn’t so bad in the Wyomings but when it happens the surrounding boroughs are subject to quite a significant amount of damage. Because it’s so close to the Susquehanna River, fog is quie a major problem too. Because there are countless potholes in the roads driving even under the nicest circumstances is quite a chore. Wyoming Avenue and other roads have a lot of traffic congestion. Because of their history of coal mines, northeastern Pennsylvania typically has a higher than average percentage of deaths attributed to cancer. There is a lot of radon, as well as other carcinogens in the environment. Luzerne County in general is politically very corrupt. If I were the mayor of the Wyomings I should be determined to make the Wyomings as safe as possible from any excessive damage from flooding. I should also want to get something done about the potholes and traffic congestion, and to invest as much as possible into affordable health care. The wear and tear on people’s vehicles is an absolute nightmare. In spite of all the relatively minor inevitable drawbacks and inconveniences the Boroughs of Wyoming and West Wyoming are quite an interesting likable environment.
For over seven and a half years I lived in the borough of Wyoming, in Luzerne County, in northeastern Pennsylvania. Because of my never having owned a computer during that time, I was in the habit of going daily to the Wyoming Free Library on Wyoming Avenue, next door to the Methodist church, close to the Eighth Street intersection. I soon became a part of the library’s collective peresonality and image. In most respects it was quite a very nice friendly environment frequented by a cast of decent likable offbeat characters. My one grudge against the people there was that they appeared to have had absolutely no respect whatsoever for the need for peace and quiet. I grew up in an environment where the obligation to maintain strict silence at all times, in both public and school libraries, was considered utterly sacrosanct, and the older I get the more I resent noise. There was a certain very nice family there, who showed up regularly, who really bothered me in this respect. Ultimately they were quite the likable friendly bunch. They were always so nightmarishly annoying though. The husband and wife showed up at least a few days a week, often with at least one of their kids. They were entirely too loud and talkative. Although there were signs in the library that specifically forbade the use of cell phones on the premises that rule was never enforced and they took every possible advantage of it. One day a few years ago I happened to have overheard a cell phone conversation between the father and one of his sons. The son had been sent to jail for either drinking, drugs or some equivalent offense. I can’t remember which it was. All his father did on the phone, for the course of quite a very long time, was yell and complain, and make explicit references to the specific problem. Besides the fact that excessive noise has always made me crazy, the subject matter of the phone call was hardly the least bit fit for public consumption. Predictably I cringed and got frustrated. It’s a confusing predicament to have to be in. Do I politely affect a couldn’t-care-less smirk and shrug? Do I give someone like that a mean nasty smirk, which I tend to do spontaneously? I’d always recognized that these characters were very much on the colorful side anyway but this was entirely ridiculous. I became so resentful and frustrated. His behavior showed an utter lack of prudence and tact. This wasn’t even an isolated incident. He and his wife would frequently say things, within earshot of others, that drove me crazy. The constant airing of their dirty laundry in public made me feel uncomfortable because I’ve never really looked forward to hearing all those private personal things about the dark side of strangers’ lives. Especially since they were always so very charming and friendly with me, it got me crazy. I knew they weren’t really bad but their tendency to be so loud and to let their guard down in public was enough to drive me entirely out of my mind.
The weirdest thing happened last week. One day, during the middle of the week, my father & I went on one of his usual jaunts to the Veteran’s Hospital in Wilkes Barre for his check up. I always have to drive him there. As I pulled into the parking space I wanted, the guy directly opposite me said we needed a new right rear brake light. That wasn’t the highlight of the trip. On the way down River Road in Plains we always have to pass over a railroad track that doesn’t have a gate that comes down when the train is on its way. There’s one like that on Eighth Street in West Wyoming too. As we passed by the track he made a comment about how there was an accident between a train & a car. The next morning, in the Citizen’s Voice, I read an article about the accident. There’s a couple, Rocco & Liz, in their seventies, who attend St. Monica’s Church on a regular basis. Liz was the driver of the car. She’s seventy~eight years old. Amazingly, although her car was totalled, Rocco said she went away from the accident, after only a brief time in the Geisinger Hospital, with minor bruises on her nose & wrist. That’s most certainly the luckiest break I’ve ever heard of. The meetings at St. Barbara’s Parish, St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, have been going really well so far on Tuesday nights. Oblates Brother Patrick McLaughlin hasn’t been available for the past few weeks because he’s visiting his family in Albany, N.Y. Fr. Phil Massetti has been covering for him. We have a big crowd each week. That girl Mallory is the only one we’ve lost so far. Last night was her last night. She is moving to North Carolina. Today is cousin Jamie’s birthday. Jerry Garcia, of the Grateful Dead, would have turned seventy years old if he could have lived until today. Tomorrow’s birthday girls are cousins Fran & Elaine.
This past weekend was quite active. St. Barbara’s annual feast, held at St. Anthony’s Church in Exeter, started on Friday night. I didn’t bother to go on the first night though because of the torrential downpour. We’ve been getting quite a lot of electrical storms & heat waves lately . I went on Saturday afternoon after I lectored at 4:00 p.m. Mass at O. L. Sorrows (I lectored at St. Joseph’s at 8:30 Mass last Sunday too) . It was a really nice time. I made sure I entered the raffle, as always. I got a root beer ice cream cone too. On Saturday morning I went to the monthly lay Carmelite meeting. It’s always at 9:00 a..m. on the third Saturday of each month at the Little Flower Manor on South Meade Street in Wilkes~Barre. We always welcome new people who are interested in joining us. Sr. Mary Robert & Msgr. Grimaglia were both there. It went quite well. On Sunday St. Monica’s annual bingo game was held at O.L. Sorrows Church on Eighth Street in West Wyoming. Because I always used to help when I was active in my old Knights of Columbus council 794 in Lindenhurst, N.Y., I made sure I called Tom a while ago to ask if I could help. He got me helping Mike & his wife in the kitchen. I spent most of the time selling soda & other drinks after that. I ate a hot dog with chili & later I ate a wimpie. Unfortunately unlike my old K of C council they didn’t have any knishes. They’ve never heard of them around here. I got some cake & a beer too. I even ended up going to the local Price Chopper for some Diet Pepsi. Unlike last year Uncle Frankie couldn’t go this time because he hasn’t been feeling so well. The Catholicism series, on Tuesday nights, has been going quite well so f ar. Br. Patrick, of the Oblates of St. Joseph, does a really good job of things. Daren’s birthday was on Saturday. She died of suicide a few years ago. I made sure I sent a card to her mother, Grace. Yesterday I got an answer from her.
Yesterday, although it started out quite nice, turned into quite an absolute nightmare at about 2:30 p.m. Uncle Frankie always wants me to go to his house to pick up his mail when he visits Fran. He’s there for Father’s Day now. I went yesterday on my usual mostly daily trip to get the mail. As soon as I first left there was a major bolt of thunder & lightning. Because of its having been such a nice warm day I honestly fully expected it to be just another lovely spring shower. It was an absolute nightmare from hell. There was wind that got up to beyond fifty miles per hour, along with hailstones & zero visibility. I got the mail from his mailbox. As soon as I got back into my car it occurred to me that I couldn’t see through my windows. I couldn’t even so much as dare to try to leave. I tried to call my parents but their phone didn’t work. I didn’t have Gino’s & Michelle’s phone number. They live only two houses away from Uncle Frankie. I couldn’t even dare to get out of the car so the phone was my only hope. Eventually it calmed down enough for me to try to go home. It was a long slow trip down Eighth Street past Wyoming Avenue. There were all sorsts of fire trucks & other emergency vehicles out. Eventually I got home. Amazingly it stopped after only a very short time. Many people’s homes & trees were damaged. There was no advanced warning of anything bad. On television there was a major storm watch for a lot of Pa. counties until 9:00 p.m. Conveniently I wasn’t terribly nervous or afraid but the frustration really got me crazy.
Today would have been the ninety~fifth birthday of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, thirty~fifth president of the United States. Kennedy was the United States’ first Catholic president. He was also the youngest man ever elected to the office. He was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963. His was the fourth presidential assassination. Today is also Burt Koza’s birthday. He was my eighth grade history teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Lindenhurst, New York. My niece Bridget’s birthday was on the 27th. She’s fifteen. My parents & I talked to her on the phone for practically a half hour. My cousin Gino’s birthday was on the 25th. My parents, Uncle Frankie & I all went over to his party on Saturday afternoon at around 4:00. Besides him, Michelle & their three kids, Aunt Helen, Michelle’s both parents & her family, as well as friends of theirs were there. My parents were the first to leave. Uncle Frankie left a few hours later. He only lives two doors away from Gino. I left very late at night. A splendid time was had by one & all. I only drank two beers, Miller Lite, & a cup of Captain Morgan rum & Coke. Because of that Gino made me let him drive me home. His father~in~law followed us. Yesterday after 8:00 a.m. Mass at O.L. Sorrows I got ready to go to the big annual parade we always have in the Wyomings for Memorial Day. Gino & his son Eric marched in the parade with Eric’s Cub (B0y?) Scout troop. I was a bit surprised, on two separate occasions, when a couple of people said hello to me by name . I didn’t recognize either of them. It was a really nice time. The parade went from Shoemaker Avenue in West Wyoming down Eighth Street & into Exeter by way of Wyoming Avenue.