(717) COLLABORATION ALE ABV:7.17%
Style:American IPA / Saison Hershey, Enola & Harrisburg, PA
Brewery:Troegs / Pizza Boy / Appalachian Brewing Co
Brewmaster:John Trogner / Terry Hawbaker & Artie Tafoya
The man appeared suddenly at my front screen door last night.
"Corbett!' yelled the big man. "Corbett!"
Then he rang the bell. I didn't recognize him at first and wasn't sure if he was friend or foe. I opened the door, stepped onto the front porch and made sure to keep him at arms-length.
"I didn't know who else to talk to," he said.
I recognized him as a man I knew from a work crew in the neighborhood last summer. We had talked a few times and he said he grew up in the Hill Section of Scranton where I live. In his 60s he's still a man you'd want in your corner in a pinch.
"You don't know what happened," he said.
A small gathering of past and present public officials had gathered earlier on Courthouse Square with a few military veterans to unveil plans to pay tribute to the 52 Lackawanna County residents who died during the Vietnam War.
The man on my porch said he was a Vietnam combat veteran.
But the event earlier in the day had seemed to upset him more than comfort him. He called it a flop as his eyes filled. He said he saw nothing of the announcement on the 6 o'clock news.
Anxiety is too mysterious for its own good. It sneaks into your mind like a thief and steals confidence from even the most steadfast person. A little panic can go a long way – too far, in fact, when you feel lost and worry that stability might never be found again.
That's why a friend in need is a friend indeed. We all need somebody sometime to help us through the haze – especially when the years start to blur and aging takes over against our will.
Although I'm still not sure what exactly upset the man who came to my home last night, I am sure that he – and countless other Vietnam veterans, particularly combat veterans - needs some well-earned reassurance that we have not forgotten the tours of duty, draft and death that defined a troublesome time in our personal and national history.
Although their patrols stopped a long time ago, time marches on. Growing older is an often lonely post. After all those years since Saigon fell in 1975, the memorial is the least we can do. The real mission of compassion and honor comes when the memorial is finally dedicated, the names read and the politicians go home.
Poor health remains an enemy for too many of our region's military veterans. So do high taxes and service charges for unassuming men and women whose income never gets higher as the cost of food skyrockets and other expenses inflict invisible wounds on those who have already sacrificed too much. Depression also waits in dark ambush, ready, willing and able to claim its next victim. So does despair.
Of course, other veterans from other wars have experienced similar torment. The death camps left their marks on liberators, Korean vets still revisit the bitter years and the ongoing inner turmoil brought home from Afghanistan and Iraq continues to take lives by suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder.
But the man at my door last night was a Vietnam veteran asking for help.
Money, power, kindness, training, treatment and more shape the litany of offerings we must continue to provide. Civilians are duty bound in our connection to those who fought and fight the wars. Not everyone puts on the uniform and picks up the gun in service to the nation. Not everyone should. But everyone must provide constructive service to the nation and our individual communities in one way or another.
I opened the door to my friend last night. Now we must open our hearts and minds to him and others who need our help. Because by helping them we also are helping ourselves.
When my father Shamus was growing up in Scranton during the Depression, maybe he swam below the "cut" in the Lackawanna River where his dad dug bootleg coal. If so, I doubt that my father or his nine brothers and sisters had real bathing suits. Shamus probably wore a pair of older brother Gene's hand-me-down shorts or just his knickers.
If city swimming pools existed in the 30s, Shamus never told me about them.
We've come a long way in 21st Century Scranton.
Or have we?
City taxpayers foot the bill for several swimming pools, including the big outdoor pool equipped with a brightly-colored plastic winding sliding board at Nay Aug Park, a place that should be packed each summer day with squealing, laughing children.
But several pools will remain closed this summer for a variety of reason – capped by the overall incompetence of city officials who can't figure out how to open them and provide city kids a much-deserved respite from sweltering summer heat and humidity.
Nay Aug will only offer "free swimming for kids" to those 12 years of age and under.
The rest can either come up with the price of a ticket or go swim in the river. Some will likely find their way to the dangerous nearby gorge and risk their young lives showing adults just what kind of recklessness they can find if abandoned without guidance, encouragement and support.
That's why the rallying cry "free swimming for kids" must be heard far and wide loud and clear.
A neighborhood group raised enough money last summer to cover the cost of the kids. In previous years no such thing as free swimming for kids existed at Nay Aug. This year, official "action" is a compromise that's not a compromise at all.
That's why I'm putting city officials on notice.
"Free swimming for kids" is non-negotiable.
The city simply must pay.
Officials from this recreation board and that city council and this mayor's office and that bureaucratic sewer authority claim that the money is simply not available, that the cash does not exist.
Yes it does. Find it. Take it from somewhere else – the mayor's salary, conferences or the coffee fund. Make New Jersey consultant Henry Amoroso pay. City officials helped him grab a fat raise for his "expertise" in urban planning. So tell him that "free swimming for kids" is part of our overall progressive approach to improving the quality of life in the city he's taking for a ride in his luxury consulting machine.
Henry can either find the money in an existing bank account or get it somewhere else. Scranton residents already pay high enough taxes and service rates to cover the cost – and add free popsicles for kids once a week as well.
One neighborhood organizer accused city officials of discriminating against poor kids. So what else is new? Poor kids always pay for the free ride self-absorbed politicians give themselves, their families and friends.
Go to any of the slew of campaign fundraisers and observe the amount of beer guzzled by campaign workers and supporters, paid for by candidates who claim to support the bright future of the city – a once bustling place now on the verge of collapse led by a mayor who can't see the forest or the trees. At the most popular political fundraisers the cost of beer alone could pay for free swimming for kids.
If you ostracize the young and make them feel as if they don't matter because they don't, you tempt fate by marginalizing the simplest of their dreams.
Innocence lost can turn rabid.
In a dog-eat-dog political world, the bites resulting from such cruel attacks will only fester and get worse.
Free swimming for kids! Free swimming for kids! Free swimming for kids!
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Did two ham radio operators in the 1960's capture the last radio transmissions of Russian cosmonauts who would never return to Earth? Click Locklip to read the story of the Cordiglia brothers.
Oh, portals and cloaking. That explains it. Attendees of the Bigfoot Habituation Research Conference found out why there isn't a decent picture or any other real evidence of Bigfoot. Click PhantomsAndMonsters.com.
Einstein said the past, the present, and the future are all just 'a stubbornly persistent illuson.' Does the past exist with the present exist with the future? Is everything all at once? The story at HowToExitTheMatrix.com.